NBA Commissioner Stern speaks to reporters in New York

Stern responds to allegations he’s not bluffing by saying he’s not bluffing


In the midst of this fantastically stupid game of chicken being played by the NBA and NBPA, the result of which will be a colossal train wreck resulting in massive damage to major economic entity, the loss of hundreds of jobs, and irreparable damage to the sport of professional basketball, right in the center stands the idea of “Stern’s Bluff.”

When Stern threatened to drop to the cap reset this past Wednesday at 5 p.m. without a deal, the deadline passed without a single plague, fire, earthquake, or cat-and-dog domestic union. So that was one bluff that didn’t go through, though you could take Stern’s side and say they “stopped the clock” or whatever. Now with the same threat looming over the current offer, the league has rattled its sabre about the incoming missile attack of 47 percent and a flex cap. The agents, because they’re agents and live to beat the other guy and not actually make a deal and who have substantially longer-term priorities than the career-spans of their current clients, do not believe him.

That’s what decert comes down to. No one actually believes decertification is an option. No one believes this strategy will work, because even if the players were to get a favorable ruling outright, then have the court recommend an injunction of the current lockout, and then get the appellate court to stay the injunction during the appeals proceedings, then have the initial ruling upheld by a significantly pro-NBA district court and so on up…. it would take too long to get that process through in order for it to be worth it to either side and either one caves or the other or the league dies. But the threat is supposed to get the league off its hard line, blow them back off the full-court press and to the bargaining table. And in addition, the agents are sure, just absolutely sure that the league is bluffing about the offer.

Stern would like to tell you he’s not bluffing. From the AP:

“Yes, I am worried,” Stern said, “because theyre talking up this thing called decertification which is not a winning strategy on the one hand. On the second hand, itll take three months to teach them its not a winning strategy, which would not augur well for the season.

The agents misunderstand it and all it does is delay things. They themselves think that if the players decertify, then the league will change its offer. And that will not happen as a result of decertification. Its a losing strategy for them.”

via Stern: Greedy agents hurting chances of NBA deal – NBA- NBC Sports.

Oh, and about those agents?

“By some combination of mendacity and greed, the agents who are looking out for themselves rather than their clients are trying to scuttle the deal,” Stern said in a phone interview. “They’re engaged in what appears to be an orchestrated Twitter campaign and a series of interviews that are designed to deny the economic realities of the proposal.”

“No one talks about the rise in compensation under the deal, no one talks about the amount of money being spent,” Stern said. “I just think that the players aren’t getting the information, the true information from their agents, who are banding together, sort of the coalition of the greedy and the mendacious, to do whatever they can not to have fewer opportunities for the agents to make money.”

via Stern: ‘Greedy’ agents hurting chances of NBA deal – NBA- NBC Sports.

Well, geez, David, how do you really feel? Don’t hold back. Let it all out.

So, as I am wont to do, I’d like to break this down to its simplest terms.

David Stern is publicly responding to allegations that he is bluffing by saying he is not bluffing, which, if he is bluffing, is another bluff about the matter of him bluffing. 

That sound you hear is me pounding my head against the wall.

So Monday, we’ll find out if Stern’s bluffing or not, and if he’s not, the union will have no choice but to blow up the season. If you’re wondering where the red phone is to stop this entire disaster, surprise! It’s a banana, and we’re all doomed.

51 Questions: Is Mike Malone the key to bringing Denver back?

Michael Malone
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PBT is previewing the 2015-16 NBA season by tackling 51 big questions that we can’t wait to see answered once play tips off. We will answer one a day right up to the start of the season Oct. 27. Today’s question:

Is Mike Malone the key to bringing Denver back?

One incident sums up how bad things had gotten in Denver under the Brian Shaw regime — breaking a fourth-quarter huddle in the final game of February, Nuggets players chanted “1-2-3-six weeks!”

The players didn’t like the coach, some of them didn’t like each other, and with six weeks and 24 games left in the season they had checked out. The young players (and some of the veterans) partied so much Shaw canceled shootarounds because guys couldn’t roll in for them in the morning. Shaw had lost the team long before when he’d tried to fit square pegs into the triangle holes of his offense, and it spiraled out of control from there. The culture in Denver was broken.

Mike Malone was brought in to repair that culture.

The Jeff Van Gundy disciple has shown he can do that before. Malone was starting to build something in Sacramento (they started last season 9-6 before DeMarcus Cousins got sick), where he was asked to repair a franchise culture that by the end of the Maloof era was something akin to the Lord of the Flies. Malone also turned out to be the one coach who had gotten through to Cousins. Even with his defensive mindset and Cousins in the paint, Malone had the Kings playing at the eighth-fastest pace in the league in pace, but the Kings’ owner wanted to play faster (and maybe didn’t want to miss out on the chance to hire George Karl), so Malone got sacked.

The question becomes, is Malone alone going to turn things around in Denver and bring them back to relevance?

Not alone, and not just in one season, but he will get them on the right track.

The first step to show management was behind Malone was the trading of Ty Lawson. No doubt when focused Lawson is a quality point guard (as Houston likely benefits from this season), but he was part of the problem in the end in Denver, to the point of picking up two DUIs in six months (he checked into a rehab facility after the second one). He had mentally checked out and his example was an issue the Nuggets needed to change.

That turns the keys for the offense over to rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who impressed a lot of people at Summer League after bailing on SMU to play in China last season. But he’s still a rookie with a long way to go — as the 15 turnovers in his first two preseason games attest. Things that worked in China and Summer League don’t fly against an NBA defense.

With Mudiay at the point and a team that plays half its games at high altitude, Monroe wants to take advantage of that and get out and run. Expect the Nuggets to get back to their traditional up-tempo games, but with some things Malone loves to run (such as the Rick Adelman corner action).

But for Malone, all things — including good transition basketball — starts with defense. You have to get stops and steals to run well, and the Nuggets were 26th in the league in defensive rating last season (105.5 points allowed per 100 possessions). In the first two Nuggets preseason games, that was the Nuggets focus (with mixed results).

Malone’s challenge starts with getting Kenneth Faried to buy in and play as hard on defense as he does on offense — something Faried has never done. Faried has been a defensive minus since he entered the NBA and that becomes one of Malone’s first major projects (even if it’s just to boost Faried’s trade value). Faried, who clashed with Shaw over his role, has said he’s felt energized under Malone, now the coach just has to steer that energy to the defensive end of the court.

Malone will be searching for the right center to put next to Faried, and I expect that will mean a lot of Jusuf Nurkic (who is young and shows it at times). But also expect to see some small-ball lineups with Faried at the five. Something like Mudiay, Randy Foye, Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Faried. A lineup with some athleticism and shooting that could put up points, but would they get any stops? If Gary Harris slots in for Foye, does that help the defense (Harris is guy Nuggets fans may see more and more of as the season goes on).

The roster is a work in progress, and if you were to bet on the Nuggets doing one thing this season, it should be making trades. Things are going to change.

There are nice pieces on the Nuggets, but not enough of them and with some real questions about how it all fits together. This is not a playoff team this season, not in the West.

But it’s a team that Malone could have playing a lot better late in the season than at the beginning, once some of those questions start to be answered, and the young players gain experience. That should be the goal in Denver. Begin to change the culture, get buy-in on the system, get guys playing hard again rather than dreaming of Cancun vacations by February. Change can be incremental, but Malone will start the change.

Then in a couple of years, you’ve got the team you want.

Well, so long as the Nuggets ownership doesn’t get impatient and decide it needs to change directions again.

Another Pelicans center down: Omer Asik out three weeks

Omer Asik, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver
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The Pelicans will have to play Anthony Davis at center now.

With backup center Alexis Ajinca already sidelined, starting center Omer Asik suffered his own injury.

Pelicans release:

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that center Omer Asik is expected to miss the next three weeks with a right calf strain. The injury occurred during Wednesday’s practice.

If that three-week timeline is firm, Asik would miss two regular season games – at Warriors and at Trail Blazers.

Davis figured to be the most natural fit at center in Alvin Gentry’s up-tempo scheme. What happens if the Pelicans excel with him there and then stumble once Asik and Ajinca return? Because New Orleans had Bird Rights for Asik and Ajinca, re-signing them made some sense. And once they’re re-signed, Gentry must find a role for them. But that could get harder if it becomes obvious the team is best with Davis at center.

As long as Asik and Ajinca are out, Kendrick Perkins probably moves into the rotation. Jeff Adrien could also see minutes at center. Suddenly, Adrien, on an unguaranteed contract, has a much better chance of making the regular-season roster. Ryan Anderson probably plays more at power forward, too, with Davis logging more time at center.