Kurt Helin

Senate Commerce Committee Holds Hearing On Domestic Violence In Professional Sports

Players’ union director Roberts fires back at Adam Silver’s claims about league finances

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The question isn’t, “Will there be a lockout in 2017?” The question is, “Will we lose games — or an entire season — because of the 2017 lockout?”

While there are some optimistic that all the money on the table will get the sides to agree to a deal before some or all of the season is lost, the posturing and rhetoric two years out shows two sides trying to control the narrative and seeming pretty far apart.

On Tuesday, after the NBA owners meetings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver bemoaned that “a significant” number of NBA teams are losing money, that the 50 percent of the Basketball Related Income (BRI) that goes to the players is out of the NBA gross, and that the league would need to write a nearly $500 million check to the players union because the league did not meet its payroll floor under the current agreement.

Thursday, in a letter to media members, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts challenged those assumptions (hat tip Ken Berger at CBSSports.com).

Virtually every business metric demonstrates that our business is healthy. Gate receipts, merchandise sales and TV ratings are all at an all-time high. Franchise values have risen exponentially in recent years, and the NBA has enjoyed high single-digit revenue growth since 2010-11.”

Regarding the idea teams are losing money: “We agreed not to debate the finer points of negotiation in public, and aren’t going to change that approach now, in response to some remarks by the commissioner on Tuesday. We are, however, going to take him up on his offer to share the audited financials with the union. We also want to ensure that everyone understands the facts of this business.”

And that the players share of BRI comes out of the gross NBA revenues: “We do not have a gross compensation system. The players’ 50 percent share is calculated net of a substantial amount of expenses and deductions.”

She also went on to challenge Silvers’ comments that arena leases and deals are harming some teams, noting that a lot of teams get “generous” loans and subsidies from a variety of levels of government to help with those costs.

Going into the last lockout the NBA owners behind David Stern controlled the narrative — the players got 57 percent of the BRI, and the owners needed changes to the system to be profitable. Whether it was true or not is moot, the owners controlled the storyline, and eventually dominated the negotiations. Then union director Billy Hunter was forced out of his job not long after that.

Roberts, the new union director, isn’t about to let Silver and the owners control the storylines — and she’s got a strong case to make. With the Clippers selling for $2 billion and other teams’ values through the roof, plus a new national television deal that basically doubles that massive revenue stream, the owners cries of poverty can be more easily met with “well, that’s on you for how you choose to run your business, not just the players’ salaries.”

Right now both sides are trying to control the spin.

What will matter come the summer of 2017 is not as much the spin but just one thing — BRI. Who gets how much of the pie. Everything else — from the age limit through drug testing — is window dressing.

Reports: Josh Smith to sign with Los Angeles Clippers

Josh Smith
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Depth along the front line was a serious issue for the Clippers last season. There was Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, then… Spencer Hawes.

Now the Clippers are going to have a couple very nice reserves, they are expected to bring back Ekpe Udoh.

Now come reports that the Clippers have landed Josh Smith. Michael Scotto of Sheridanhoops.com had it first, others have since confirmed.

The Clippers could only sign him for the league minimum (all they had left) but Smith was good with it since the Pistons still will pay him $5.4 million as part of their waiving and stretch of his contract. (What the Clippers will pay him will be offset from the money Detroit owes him.)

At that price, Smith is a steal.

Smith has his flaws, starting with his love of the three ball — he’s a career 28 percent shooter from three who last season knocked down a barely passable 33 percent with Houston. But coming off the bench, Smith is a massive upgrade for the Clippers — he provides physicality and defense, plus he can still get points and rebounds and defend at a quality level. He brings some legit depth and versatility to the Clippers front line, plus he has stepped up in the playoffs.

Doc Rivers the GM has really helped out Doc Rivers the coach this summer. The formerly anemic Clipper bench will now have Jamal Crawford, Lance Stephenson, Udoh (probably) and Smith (plus guys like Austin Rivers that will get some run).

When you talk serious NBA title contenders next season, do not leave the Clippers off the list.

Report: Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell to work out with Steve Nash this summer

Steve Nash
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LAS VEGAS — I can envision Steve Nash becoming the point guard guru in the way Hakeem Olajuwon is with big men — eventually everyone who wants to be great at the position travels to the mountain top (or, Houston) to learn from the master.

Nash was as smart a point guard and as dedicated a person as there was at conditioning and taking care of his body. Steve Nash wrung as much great basketball out of what nature gave him as anyone in the league. It makes sense that other point guards might want to work with and learn from him.

Starting with young Lakers’ stars Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell, reports Bill Oram of the Orange County Register.

Russell has struggled some with both the speed of the game and trying to force the issue at Summer League. He understandably feels the pressure on him and admitted he has been attempting to do too much.

“I’m just trying to force the issue to get big guys involved, and for myself forcing the issue on the offensive end trying to just get something out of nothing when it’s not there,” Russell said. “Realizing it’s Summer League and being patient is my problem right now… Summer League is great for the adjustment process. I’m young, I feel like I’m going to get better every game, every practice, once I get under the system and get the hang of it a little more.”

Russell had the same issue at Ohio State — it took him a few weeks in the Big 10 to adjust to the game style and pace, but when he did he put up the kind of numbers that made him the No. 2 pick. Lakers fans are counting on that kind of adjustment again.

Nash could help with that process. A lot of guys should want to come workout with Nash.

Kings void Luc Richard Mbah Moute contract after he fails physical

Philadelphia 76ers v Cleveland Cavaliers
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This was unexpected — the Sacramento Kings have voided their one-year contract with forward Luc Mbah Moute after he failed a physical.

This was going to be just a one-year, veteran minimum deal. The Kings are deep at the three — Rudy Gay, Caron Butler and Omri Casspi — but Mbah a Moute likely would have played more at the four backing up Willie Cauley-Stein. Now the Kings need more depth behind the rookie, but with Casspi going into the room exception the Kings do not have much money to use, just minimum deals.

It’s not known right now why Mbah a Moute failed the physical, and if it is something that will prevent another team from signing him.

Mbah a Moute may have averaged 9.9 points a game last season in Philly, his career best numbers, although that was more due to the rest of the roster and it’s lack of other, better offensive options. He’s a career 6.8 points per game guy.

Jordan Hill on playing with Lakers: “All you hear is Kobe’s mouth”

SPO-BKN-NBA-PISTONS-LAKERS
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Jordan Hill spent the last three seasons with the Lakers, but now has signed with the Indiana Pacers (while Pacers center Roy Hibbert went to the Lakers). At his introductory press conference, Hill was asked about playing with Kobe Bryant in LA and this was part of his response:

“When he’s on the floor it’s like (exhales), all you hear is Kobe’s mouth. He’s on the floor all you hear is Kobe’s mouth, like during practice and games, it get loud. It get loud. A lot of people can’t handle that I guess.”

Hill didn’t sound like he meant this as an insult, so much as a commentary on the reality of being on the court for the Lakers. It didn’t seem to bother him.

Kobe is Kobe and he’s not changing. It’s worked for him to the tune of five rings, but it’s also not the only way to motivate and push teammates (see: Duncan, Tim). Not everybody wants to play with Kobe. The young Lakers looking to be the future of the team are going to have to deal with it, no matter what they think. Kobe is now their reality. And certainly there is a lot that can be learned from Kobe, both on the court and in terms of commitment and work ethic.

The Lakers are fully committed to the Kobe brand (it’s made them a lot of money over the years, plus helped them win banners) and this next season is likely going to be a celebration of all things Kobe in Los Angeles.