NBA Commissioner Stern speaks to reporters in New York

No deal yet, but NBA owners, players back at it Thursday

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Today, the NBA passed the NFL — but maybe it will not be by much.

The NFL lockout went for 132 days and on the 132nd day of the NBA lockout the owners and players met for 12 hours but it was not enough to get a deal done. However, the two sides will get back at it on Thursday morning.

Progress was made on three of the five key system issues, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted. At their press conferences, both sides played down potential progress. Whatever happened, it was enough that  NBA commissioner David Stern did not institute his threatened “rollback offer,” something that would set talks way back if not doom the season.

Neither side would give details after the meeting and both tried to sound neutral amidst multiple reports that there had been real progress.

“We’ve agreed that we have sort of stopped the clock and continue to negotiate, we’ve agreed to reconvene at noon tomorrow,” Stern said in a press conference broadcast on NBA TV….

“I would not read into this optimism or pessimism, we just continue to negotiate… nothing was worked out today.

Union President Derek Fisher said there was still a lot of work to be done.

“We spent a lot of time covering all the issues we have remaining, but we can’t say there was significant progress made today,” Fisher said….

“The fact that we don’t have a deal obviously let’s you know there’s still a lot of work to do on the system.”

The players had agreed to come down to the 50/50 split of revenues that the owners had wanted, but in exchange the players have expected a certain amount of give from the owners on system issues (such as the mid-level exception and other exceptions teams paying the luxury tax can use). The owners have said from the start — and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said again after these press conferences — that the owners see these issues as separate. Meaning give on the revenue does not change the system. Small market owners want a system that reins in big market teams. Both sides said there was no deal on the key system issues (regardless of what the leaks say), but if they spoke for 12 hours means there had to be some progress.

That’s not how negotiations really work, but both sides were tight lipped about how things really went or how close they really are.

But they will be back at it Thursday. Which is better than the alternative.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.