Winderman: Shorter CBA length could be key to labor deal

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The owners insist they only grudgingly are offering this deal that comes with an expiration hour.

The players are saying they are willing to work with the proposed revenue split, as long as a few remaining system issues are addressed.

In other words, neither side finds the currently proposal in place particularly palatable.

So why not do what the rest of the country, or for that matter, the world is doing at this stage, live through the tough times with hopes of better days ahead?

The NBA lockout solution from this precinct:

A shorter deal, one where the two sides can see how the proposed terms work, but one in which players who have one more contract in them still might yet get to experience greater riches.

This started with a 10-year proposal by the NBA. Then we got down to the six-, seven-year range.

The league, of course, wants terms locked in before securing new broadcast riches.

But look at it from the other side, from the owners who are crying poverty. With a shorter deal, they would be able to judge whether the terms meet their revenue needs, or, frankly, whether even more is needed. (Or whether they should get out.)

Similarly, from a union standpoint, a shorter deal would afford the players time for the next time around, but not too far down the line, to better prepare for potential decertification, be in a position to spring it at the expiration of the next collective-bargaining agreement, instead of four months into the process.

The reality is that with so many star players locked into long-term deals, the Big Three with the Heat, Carmelo and Amare with the Knicks, even Kobe and Gasol with the Lakers, this competitive-balance thing isn’t going to change overnight, anyway.

But with a shorter CBA, the owners (and union) can see if the new work rules would take the league in that direction of greater balance without corrupting television ratings.

Beyond that, since the rookie scale calls for a four-year lock-in, this year’s rookie class, one not even eligible to vote on a new CBA, would not be locked long-term into the potentially onerous provisions of the current proposal.

For weeks now, David Stern and Billy Hunter have stressed it is time to get back to work, to make a deal.

By shortening the length of a proposed new CBA, the two sides could find it more palatable to do just that.

The hard-line owners? They never will be happy. That’s what Stern is there for.

The decertification-minded agents? They certainly will grouse about four or five years of uncertainty. Enter Hunter.

This lockout has been neither short nor sweet.

But a shorter CBA length could remove some of the sour taste for all involved.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.

Veteran NBA official Monty McCutchen to be head of referee development, training

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After 25 seasons running up and down the NBA hardwood and refereeing more than 1,400 games, NBA official Monty McCutchen got a promotion.

He officiated his last game Thursday night in Minnesota and will move to a desk at the league office where his new title is Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training.

“Monty has earned the respect of players, coaches and his peers during an exemplary career as an NBA official,” said Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle D. Johnson (who started on the job in October).  “He understands as well as anyone what it takes to be an outstanding referee and how the league can best support its officials.  With his wealth of insight and experience, Monty is uniquely suited for a leadership role in our officiating program.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to channel my passion for the officiating profession in a new way,” McCutchen said.  “While I’ll miss officiating games, I’m grateful to continue working with our incredibly talented referee staff as part of an organization so dedicated to excellence and innovation.”

Despite what some fans like to blast on Twitter (especially during the playoffs), NBA officials are the best trained and flat-out best basketball referees in the world (if you don’t think so, watch the college/scab referees from the last lockout of the refs, it was painful). Could they improve? Sure. Hopefully, McCutchen can help do that in his new position.

Kristaps Porzingis officially day-to-day, questionable vs. OKC

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Knicks fans can exhale now.

There was understandable concern after face of the franchise Kritaps Porzingis had to leave the game in Brooklyn Thursday night following a non-contact injury.

Turns out there is nothing to worry about. After the game, Porzingis spoke to the media and was standing on the leg, a good sign. By Friday, after a day of treatment, he was doing well. Officially Porzingis is day-to-day and may sit out Carmelo Anthony‘s return to Madison Square Garden Saturday, but the injury is nothing serious. Ian Begley of ESPN has the details.

Porzingis’ knee was “worked on” on Friday and the discomfort in his knee decreased, league sources told ESPN. It is unclear if Porzingis underwent an MRI or had X-rays to further determine the extent of the injury but sources say he did not undergo significant testing because it wasn’t warranted based on the state of the injury.

Good. We don’t need another star down with a major injury this season.

Especially Porzingis, who has led the Knicks to a 15-13 record (sixth in the East, in the playoffs) while putting up All-Star numbers: 25.5 points per game, shooting 39.5 percent from three, plus grabbing 6.6 rebounds a game. Maybe more impressive is how he has anchored a solid Knicks defense this season with his rim protection. Stay healthy and he should make his first All-Star team this season.