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.”

Watch Kawhi Leonard chop boards ‘karate styyyle’ (video)

AP Photo/Eric Gay
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Kawhi Leonard, enabled by the Spurs’ no-nonsense culture, is probably the NBA’s most boring superstar.

He’s widely recognized as the league’s best defender, and he has worked himself into an elite offensive threat. He has already won a Finals MVP, and regular-season MVP could eventually be in the cards.

But Leonard is notoriously reserved. For someone who has been on this stage for so long, we know little about him.

Except we now know he apparently likes karate.

Leonard:

Gonna chop y’all up. Look at all of us. Karate styyyle.

If “karate styyyle” doesn’t become Leonard’s catchphrase, I don’t even know what we’re doing.

Leonard will finally have the chance to chop up an NBA opponent tonight, when he makes his return from injury.

Michael C. Wright of ESPN:

Kevin Durant brings fan to tears with autographed shoes (video)

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Kevin Durant has become a villain to many.

Clearly not to this Warriors fan, though.

Carmelo Anthony leaves without speaking to media, will probably get fined

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Lately, Carmelo Anthony has parsed whether the Thunder are frustrated or angry and said he’s going through the roughest stretch of his career.

It didn’t get any better last night.

Anthony scored 11 points on 12 shots with three turnovers, and Oklahoma City got outscored by 21 points with him on the floor in a home loss to the Hornets. The Thunder have now lost two of three, falling to the lowly Nets and Hornets and needing overtime to beat the freefalling Grizzlies.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Anthony today:

I’m sorry. My bad. I had a FaceTime session with my son, so I skipped out on you guys yesterday. I apologize. It’s true, though. That’s true. It’s true. He had a school night.

The NBA’s media-access rules state: “All players must be available to the media for a minimum of five to 10 minutes during the postgame media access period.” It’s been a while since someone got punished for violating the policy, but Kevin Garnett was fined $25,000 for not speaking to the media after Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

I’m sympathetic to Anthony wanting to speak to his son, who’s still in New York. But the league tends not to take these personal concerns into consideration, which is probably for the best. There’s a rule. Anthony violated it. Assessing which personal calls should supersede the rule is a can of worms not worth opening. Besides, Anthony probably could have returned to the locker room for an interview after concluding the call.

Anthony earns a lot of money. If he wanted to risk a $25,000 fine to speak with his son, I have absolutely no problem with that. But that’s probably the choice he made.

In my experience, Anthony has been forthright with the media. He spent years as the face of the Knicks, dutifully answering for problems created by James Dolan and Phil Jackson. Because he was available nearly daily while his superiors avoided interviews, Anthony was the grilled by the New York media.

I bet he expected a reprieve in Oklahoma City. Instead, the spotlight has shined on him as a problem with the underwhelming Thunder.

It’s understandable he’d rather talk to his son than reporters. But it’s also understandable the NBA wants to promote its business through the media, and the league has power to enforce its rules.

Grizzlies fan absolutely owns kids halftime scrimmage (video)

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The Grizzlies lost for the 15th time in their last 16 games, a 25-point drubbing at home against the Heat, last night.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Memphis.

This young fan – while playing in the halftime scrimmage – stopped his dribble, stepped on the ball, whipped off his youth jersey to reveal a Marc Gasol jersey, flexed, re-started his dribbled then drove for a basket.

Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation:

The Grizzlies don’t deserve this hero.