In latest attempt to sway, David Stern has memo for players

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Say this about David Stern, he knows how to get his spin and story out there. Far better than the union does, with its halting and missteps. Stern wins the PR battle because he is better at it.

The latest attempt along those lines — and the latest attempt by Stern and the owners to talk over the head of the union to the players directly — was a memo posted on NBA.com where Stern makes a direct pitch to the players that landed before the union meeting started in New York. Make no mistake, this is the league’s spin, but at this point anything either side says is spin.

I disagree with some of the assessments — for example, I think this deal will stifle player movement, at least in ways that are good for fans and teams — but this is the pitch the league and owners are making to the players. We bring it to you so you can read it and decide for yourself.

MEMO TO: NBA PLAYERS
FROM: COMMISSIONER DAVID STERN
DATE: NOVEMBER 13, 2011
RE: COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

After further collective bargaining negotiations last week, the NBA on Friday presented a revised proposal to the Players Association that contained several improvements for the players over the NBA’s previous proposal. We informed Billy, Derek, and the other Players

Association negotiators that this is the best proposal the NBA is able to make, and they informed us that it would be considered for a vote by the NBPA Executive Committee and Player Representatives early this week.

Since then, there has been a great deal of inaccurate information published about the NBA’s proposal in the press and over social media. While we recognize the right of any player to disagree with the proposal, there should be no confusion over its actual terms — so we have attached it here for your review.

Under the NBA’s proposal, the players would be guaranteed to receive 50% of Basketball Related Income each year, and average player compensation is projected to grow to close to $8 million. In addition, the proposal is structured so as to create an active market for free agents, while enhancing the opportunities for all teams and players to compete for a championship.

Contrary to media reports over the weekend, the NBA’s proposal would:

• Increase, not reduce, the market for mid-level players. Under the NBA’s proposal, there are now three Mid-Level Exceptions, one more than under the prior CBA: $5 million for Non-Taxpayers, $3 million for Taxpayers, and $2.5 million for Room teams. While the proposal would not permit Taxpayers to use the $5 million Mid-Level, that is not much of a change – since Taxpayers used the Mid-Level to sign only 9 players for $5 million or more during the prior CBA.

• Permit unlimited use of the Bird Exception. The proposal allows all teams to re-sign their players through full use of the existing Bird
exception.

• Allow sign-and-trades by Non-Taxpayers. Under the proposal, NonTaxpayers can still acquire other teams’ free agents using the sign-and-trade. While Taxpayers cannot use sign-and-trade beginning in Year 3, this is not much of a change, since Taxpayers used the sign-and-trade to acquire only 4 players during the prior CBA.

• Allow an active free agent market and greater player movement.
Under the proposal, contracts will be shorter and remaining payments under waived contracts signed under the new CBA will be “stretched” –both of which will give teams more money each year to sign free agents.

• The proposal also requires teams to make higher Qualifying Offers and provides a shorter period to match Offer Sheets – thereby improving Restricted Free Agency for players. And the proposal contains a larger Trade Exception, which will foster more player movement.

I encourage you also to focus on the numerous compromises that were made to the NBA’s initial bargaining positions in these negotiations, including our move away from a “hard” salary cap, the withdrawal of our proposal to “roll back” salaries in existing player contracts, our agreement to continue to allow players to negotiate fully guaranteed contracts, and our agreement to a 50/50 split of BRI. While we understand fully that our proposal does not contain everything that the Players Association wanted in this negotiation, the same is true for the NBA.

It is now time to conclude our bargaining and make an agreement that can stop the ongoing damage to both sides and the countless others that rely on our game for their livelihoods and enjoyment. We urge you to study our proposal carefully, and to accept it as a fair compromise of the issues between us.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this memorandum.

Brandon Jennings no fan of the NBA’s new Awards Ceremony event

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Come June 26, Drake will be on stage in New York City, handing out the NBA’s awards — Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, and so on. (We need to set an under/over on the number of players Drake hugs that night.)

The NFL does it. The NHL does it. And the NBA has decided to follow suit with a broadcast awards ceremony where everything — except the All-NBA Team — will be announced that night. It’s happening because the broadcast partners want it.

Brandon Jennings is not a fan. Here is what the Wizards’ point guard Tweeted:

Jennings took down a Tweet that said if he had won the award he would have wanted to get it with the organization and his teammates around him. (And no, he knows he’s not winning the award. If you were going to put that in the comments be more creative.)

There’s something to what Jennings is saying. The NBA award roll out was awkward at times in previous years, but it gave the fans a chance to celebrate the awards with their favorite player. Now, everyone will watch it unfold on television from a ballroom in NYC. That feels a little colder. Also, we will get to see the reaction of those who don’t win (particularly this season, where several players can make a strong case for MVP).

It will be interesting to see how this first year goes, and how the league tweaks it going forward. The more than two month gap between the end of the regular season and the awards could feel a bit awkward. But we’re not going to knock the idea until we’ve seen it in action.

Portland GM makes it official, Festus Ezeli will not be back with team next season

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This season the Portland Trail Blazers found their center of the future (and the present) in Jusuf Nurkic.

Which makes the next step fairly obvious: Portland will not pick up the option on Festus Ezeli for next season, GM Neil Olshay confirmed at the team exit meetings Tuesday.

Portland signed Ezeli on what they thought was a great contract (one-year, $7.4 million, with a team option for the second year) because he was coming off knee surgery last summer. However, Ezeli was never healthy, needed a second surgery, and never got on the court. After taking it slow over last summer he practiced with the team twice in mid-October, there was more swelling, so he pulled back.

This summer Ezeli will not draw any guaranteed money from teams, but some teams may take a look at him. Athletic bigs get a lot of chances in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward will play for Jazz in Game 5 without minutes restriction

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Gordon Hayward has averaged 20.5 points a game in these playoffs — and that includes a 40 point outburst in Game 3 — but what has been more impressive is he has done it efficiently, with a true shooting percentage of 61.1. While Joe Johnson and others have stepped up, Utah will need Hayward’s shot creation if they are going to win this series.

They will have it Tuesday night in Game 5.

After missing the second half of Game 4 due to food poisoning (he tried to play but was ineffective in the first half), he is back and ready to go this time around.

So is Rudy Gobert. The Jazz will be at full health, while the Clippers remain without Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs.

Having those two back is a boost for the Jazz, they need to score more consistently against the Clippers, but the bigger key will be defensively trying to deal with Chris Paul on the pick-and-roll. He has been masterful this series, and the Jazz need to keep him in check to give their offense a chance.

When NBA switches to Nike uniforms next season, Hornets will move to Jordan Brand

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There are not going to be dramatic changes to the look of the NBA when Nike takes over the apparel contract for next season, replacing Adidas. Instead of the Adidas logo, there will be a swoosh, sleeved jerseys will fade away, and some teams will modify their alternate jerseys, but the league is not getting a total uniform makeover next season. Things will look basically the same.

Except in Charlotte — they will not have a swoosh, they will have the Jordan Jumpman logo.

The why is obvious — Michael Jordan is the primary owner of the Hornets and, obviously, the guy the Jordan brand was named after. The Jordan Brand is part of Nike. The Hornets made the announcement this week buried in a press release about moving the fan shop at the arena, hat tip to Sole Collector for finding this. Here is what the release says:

The re-opening of the Hornets Fan Shop will coincide with the launch of the team’s new Jordan Brand uniforms as Nike becomes the NBA’s uniform provider beginning this season.  The Hornets will be the only team in the NBA wearing Jordan Brand uniforms, and with the agreement taking effect, the Hornets Fan Shop will have even more of the popular Jordan Brand Hornets merchandise than it has had previously.

While it’s not like the Lakers or Celtics are going to be changing up their traditional uniforms, even teams like the Hornets will keep a similar look under Nike.

What should be interesting to see is what the Christmas Day and All-Star uniforms look like under a Nike touch.