NBPA director Michele Roberts on max salaries: “The premise offends me”

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In 2017, the NBA and the NBPA both have the option of opting out of the current collective bargaining agreement. There will be many issues to resolve when the league and players’ union get back to the negotiating table — the players will want more money now that the league has a lucrative new TV deal; Adam Silver has been adamant that he wants to raise the age restriction from one year to two.

Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com recently conducted an extensive interview with new NBPA executive director Michele Roberts that covered many of these issues and more, including her opinion of the NBA’s current max-contract system:

CS: “Your thoughts on the max salary?”

MR: “I have difficulty with rules that suggest that for some reason, in this space, we are not going to allow you to do what is ordinarily allowed in every other aspect of American life – you can work and get compensated at the level that someone thinks you’re worth being compensated at. And for all the reasons that it might be reasonable, it still – as a base – the premise offends me. So for me, there needs to be a justification that is substantial. And I’m told that in large part it’s because there’s an inability on the part of some owners to control their check-writing habits. So that’s where I am. Now, there’s a history that led up to max contracts, and I’m not going to pretend it’s not significant. But if you ask me off the cuff, that’s my response.”

Currently, the league limits the salaries of the highest-paid players to a certain percentage of the overall salary cap and limits the annual increases. For players with six or fewer years of experience, the most they can receive in the first year of a new max contract is 25 percent of the salary cap. Players with seven to nine years of experience can make 30 percent of the cap, and players with 10 or more years of experience can make 35 percent of the cap.

Many of the league’s highest-paid and most visible superstars have spoken out against this system, including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban suggested that players should give up guaranteed contracts if they want maximum salaries eliminated; Kevin Durant did not take kindly to that idea.

In the coming years, as 2017 approaches and the TV deal kicks in in 2016, there will be plenty more talk about this and other issues. Let’s hope this time the two sides can resolve their differences without losing any games.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go head-to-head, literally (video)

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This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.

The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.

Harrison Barnes banks in game-winning, buzzer-beating 3-pointer (video)

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With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.

Emphasis on “almost.”

The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)