Derek Fisher, Billy Hunter

Next step in spin control: Questions raised about Fisher’s audit law firm


Right now, it’s all about spin. It’s all about trying to make the other guy look like they are in the wrong when it comes to Derek Fisher vs. Billy Hunter over the NBA players union.

Clearly someone who back Fisher pointed Bloomberg to its story about $4.8 million being paid to relatives of Billy Hunter and their firms. It’s a legitimate ethical concern. It’s also an open secret — those people were on staff, those firms being used for years under Fisher’s watch. He’s only complaining now?

Then comes the latest from the Sports Business Journal, a story that questions how Fisher went about setting up the audit.

Sources said Patton Boggs was hired after Fisher held a conference call with four other Exec Committee members on April 13. Five NBPA player members are needed to have a quorum, and it would have taken at least a majority vote (three votes) of that group to hire an outside firm. Patton Boggs informed NBPA staff on April 15 that it was retained, sources said. But now, according to two sources, two of the five players are saying they personally did not vote, and a third said he dropped off the call before a vote was taken. Another source said there was a vote taken and that the measure passed 5-0, adding that there were minutes taken of the conference call that were provided to Exec Committee members.

It’s moot now, after meeting with Hunter the full executive committee killed the audit. Then asked Fisher to resign. Which he has refused to do. At that meeting the committee member Mo Evans said the issues of nepotism were discussed and covered to the satisfaction of committee members.

It’s not clear how this battle for the union will end, but you get the feeling that the smear tactics are just starting on both sides. I hope I’m wrong, but it feels like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

Byron Scott
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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D'Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.