The NBA announced on Sunday night they would take questions from people on Twitter and David Stern and Adam Silver would answer them. What followed was a series of refutations from players and repetition of talking points they’ve been spewing for months. It was neither productive, insightful, nor revealing. It did not harness the power of social media, and only served to push the one-sided agenda they’ve been pursuant to for months.
So, no, it didn’t go great.
- They started out by saying contraction had been discussed but that it wasn’t a “complete solution,” a nice way of keeping it on the table to scare some fans.
- They did point out that the stretch exception can’t be used on contracts signed before the new CBA. Hedo Turkoglu signs a sigh of relief as Magic fans burn copies of the proposal.
- They got into a brief spat with Spencer Hawes, with both sides saying “Nuh-uh, season starts if you agree to the deal!”
- They backed off of calling the players greedy, instead just saying the system is “broken.” Instead, they’re just calling the agents greedy.
- They joined the massive chorus of people shooting down the D-League proposal report.
- They responded to a question about the players giving up 7% of BRI and the system changes with this: “We want a system where all 30 teams regardless of market size can compete for a championship.” That’s like me saying, “I turned off the power to my house and blew up my car because I wanted a unicorn.”
- The argument was made that the MLE is about competitive balance, not money. So a player salary level is not about money.
- Someone asked about replacement players. The league responded the “goal” is for a season with current players. Note how they don’t rule it out. Vague threats are the best!
- They had the gall to argue that competitive balance and spending are related, despite all of the comprehensive assaults on that line of thinking over the past three months by media outlets. Specifically, they argued it by saying “is so,” essentially.
- Pulling out the big guns, the league said that if the players decertified, their contracts would become null. That’s a big gun to waive (the league would have to pursue it through the courts for it to be binding). Just something to put a pause in the star players’ thought process.
- Their one productive message on the night was to say that all the executives for the NBA had taken a paycut. Doesn’t help the 300 people they laid off, but it’s something.
And that was it.
It was a noble idea. Reach the fans directly, communicate the league’s position, leverage social media. It just came across as more baseless rhetoric, more noise in a white sea of context-less nonsense. The league could have elaborated more on the specifics of the deal, shown how it isn’t as bad as the players have made it out to be. Instead they just said “No, it’s not!” and that was all.
The rhetoric continues as tomorrow’s doomsday clock ticks shorter.
LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and a number of Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets players wore “I can’t breathe” T-shirts in warmups after the death of Eric Garner in New York. LeBron and his then Heat teammates wore hoodies for a photo shoot after the Travon Martin shooting. NBA players have made other protest fashion statements, with no repercussions from the league.
But when WNBA players wore black warmup shirts in support of Black Lives Matter and other anti-violence protests, the WNBA came down with fines for the Indiana Fever, New York Liberty and Phoenix Mercury ($5,000) and players involved ($500) for uniform violations. That led to a lot of backlash — including among WNBA players. Some refused to answer basketball questions with the media after recent games.
Saturday, the WNBA rescinded the fines. As they should have.
The women’s players’ union supported the move, via a statement from the director of operations Terri Jackson.
“We are pleased that the WNBA has made the decision to rescind the fines the league handed down to the players on the Fever, Liberty, and Mercury. We look forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the league to ensure that the players’ desire to express themselves will continue to be supported.”
I want a league — for men or women — where player’s individuality and statements can be made — I don’t want the NBA to be the button-down, cookie cutter NFL. Let the players be themselves. And if players want to weigh in on the biggest social issue of our time, they should. Without fear of repercussion.
Good on the WNBA for coming around to that.
Meyers Leonard could be poised for a big season in Portland. His minutes jumped last season because he provided spacing. With Portland adding Evan Turner on the wing to go with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, any big who can stretch the floor is going to get run, and Leonard has turned himself into a stretch four.
Leonard just hopes he can show what he can do at the start of the season — he’s still recovering from shoulder surgery. Here is what he told the Associated Press.
“My hope is to be ready right around the start of the season,” he said. “It’s a progression, first introducing rebounding, grabbing stuff overhead, then one-on-one, three-on-three, extending to the full court. We’ll see. You just never know.”
Leonard had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in April (they could have used him in the playoffs), and the timeline then was to have him back around the start of the season. Before he was shut down, he proved enough to get a four-year, $41 million contract extension with the Trail Blazers this summer.
The Trail Blazers will start Al-Farouq Aminu at the four, and Moe Harkless can certainly play there too (I’m far less sold on the future of Noah Vonleh). Leonard wants to get back before someone starts to steal any of his minutes.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Pelicans say they have signed free-agent forward Terrence Jones and re-signed guard Tim Frazier.
A person familiar with the negotiations says Jones, a four-year veteran, signed a one-year deal Friday for the NBA minimum of about $1.14 million, while Frazier has signed a two-year deal worth about $4.1 million. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Pelicans have not released contract terms.
The 6-foot-9 Jones, who was Anthony Davis‘ teammates on Kentucky’s 2012 national championship team, has spent his first four NBA seasons with Houston, posting career averages of 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.
Frazier played in 16 games for New Orleans late last season, averaging 13.1 points, 7.5 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 29.3 minutes per game.
Deron Williams will be back with the Dallas Mavericks next season — and be ready to go by the start of the season.
He’d like to say he’d be back for the next few seasons, but coming off a Sports Hernia injury his options were a little limited. However, his recovery is going well he told NBC Dallas in an interview from American Century Championships celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe (which you can watch this weekend on NBC).
“Feeling really good. It’s healing pretty well, I’m doing a lot of work on and off the court. I haven’t got the full-go clearance yet, but that’s coming soon. I’ll be ready to go definitely by the time training camp rolls around.
“I’m running, I’m jumping a little bit. I’m just not going crazy. I kind of have to wait for August 1 for that, to go see the doc and get the go ahead. But it’s not much restriction right now.”
Williams averaged 14.1 points and 5.8 assists per game for the Mavericks last season and was solid at 32. His efficiency slipped a little (to be expected as he is on the wrong side of 30 and has plenty of miles) but he played well for Dallas.
Dallas signed him to a one-year, $10 million deal. Williams was hoping for a little more security.
“I was happy to come back. Would have liked a little longer deal but I’m back for one year and hopefully can build on last year and improve. I think there’s room for a lot of improvement. Hopefully I can stay healthy. I think that’s the biggest key but I’m excited about this year and this team.”
The one-year deal is more about Dallas than Williams — they could see a significant shift in plans when Dirk Nowitzki steps away (he inked a two-year deal but the second year is only $5 million guaranteed, so he could be in his final run if he wants).
Dallas added Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut from the Warriors to a starting five that also includes Nowitzki, Williams, and Wesley Matthews. If they can stay healthy — no little thing with that group — it’s a quality starting five that coach Rick Carlisle is going to love.