Reports of labor deal being struck premature, talks continue

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Former NBA executive Dave Checketts — the former GM of the Jazz and a guy once up the corporate ladder at Madison Square Garden — went on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City and said that he has heard the NBA owners and players have reached framework deal for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. That lit up twitter with a frenzy that we finally will have hoop.

But before you pop that champagne, everyone on the ground at the lockout hotel says they have been told that is not the case. Multiple reports out of the negotiating room say no deal yet. The sides are still talking going into their fifth hour Wednesday.

A tweet from Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated sums up the sentiment of many:

Source says a deal hasn’t been reached between NBA and @TheNBPA, but reasons 4 optimism continue. And I haven’t been the optimistic type.

However, there are other reports saying there has been no real progress toward a deal since Wednesday night.

Checketts is no longer in the NBA — he is the owner or Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. While he certainly has NBA contacts you want to take anything he says with more than a few grains of salt. He is not in the loop.

That said, he’s not a guy that has a reputation for leaking wild stories or being a loudmouth. There is a lot of optimism that a deal is close.

But it’s not that yet.

UPDATE 6:14 pm: Here is exactly what Checketts said in his radio interview (via Eye on Basketball):

“The rumblings coming out of both the players side and the owners side are suggesting that there is a deal,” Checketts said. “They were together for 11 hours yesterday, they met again this afternoon, I think that they are trying to finish this up.  I think this changed pretty dramatically when the owners set a deadline.”

“I’ve received a couple of phone calls from friends who are very close to the process who say, ‘We have a deal and it’s now a matter of getting everything straightened out.’ If that is the case, this will be a very big story.”

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.