Author: Kurt Helin

LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler

NBA’s best urged to take less “if they want to win.” Agents, unions unhappy with trend.


Just how badly did the owners smack down the players in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)? Take these now regular comments as examples:

“If Carmelo Anthony really cares about winning he will take less money.”

“LeBron James demanding the max shows he only cares about himself, not the Heat.”

“Dirk Nowitzki showed he cares more about winning by taking that Tim Duncan-sized contract.”

In the last CBA negotiations the players went from receiving 57 percent of the league’s income down to 50 percent — that’s an estimated $350 million a year going from the players straight to the owners’ pockets. At the same time NBA owners are seeing the value of their franchises skyrocket ($2 billion for the Clippers from Steve Ballmer) and there is a new television deal coming in two years that is going to flood the owners with more cash.

Yet it is the players that are asked to sacrifice “if they care about winning.”

It was a complete and total rout by the owners two years ago at the negotiating table. The Christians had more success against the lions in the Colosseum.

As you can imagine, agents and representatives of the players’ union do not like this “take less” trend. A couple spoke to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News about it.

“Why is it that our best players should be getting less than they’re worth?” one union official told Sporting News. “We have a collective-bargaining agreement that already limits what star players can make, and limits the total amount teams can pay. We have a very tough luxury tax. And now you have teams publicly shaming their best players into a bigger cut?”

“It’s just ridiculous,” one agent told SN. “There is this whole brainwashing thing going on and teams are selling it to their fans that this player or that player should take less, that they would not take their money if they truly cared about winning. That’s BS. If you want to win, you’re the owner, go over the tax line.

“This is the CBA you wanted, this is what the owners wanted. Why does the money come out of the players’ pockets? The players just gave back a huge amount in the CBA. But, no, that’s the brainwashing — that the players are the bad guys if they try to get what the CBA says they should get.”

LeBron is getting criticism for exactly that stance — the Heat amnestied Mike Miller simply to save money last season (don’t let Pat Riley spin it another way, they could have done it this summer) and LeBron wants Micky Arison to spend. Part of what LeBron is doing now is making his point to Heat management. He wants to win and as his new contract, even at the max, is half (at most) of what he’d make on a true open market so he wants the owner to show he is committed to spending to win too. (And you think LeBron is going to get Robert Sarver to do that in Phoenix?)

The problem comes back to just how much the owners dominated the last CBA. As Mark Cuban has ranted more than once, being into the tax is more than just a money issue, the new CBA limits teams flexibility to make moves once their salary is up in the tax range — smaller mid-level exception, no sign-and-trades, and more. You can’t build a team the same way and GMs want that flexibility.

It’s not fair to the top players, but you had to know that many fans would side with management, because they pretty much always do. We don’t relate to what even an average NBA player makes, but we know we want our team to win. So the star player gets the pressure and too often to make that happen while the owner gets to skate.

Agents and union members may not like it, they can fight to change it, but it’s not going to change. They can tune it out as LeBron is doing, but the calls for players to take the hit aren’t going away.

Report: Devin Harris reaches three-year deal with Dallas Mavericks

San Antonio Spurs v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

Last summer, Devin Harris and the Dallas Mavericks reached a three-year deal for $9 million for him to be their reserve point guard. Then X-rays found a dislocated toe that was going to keep him out for a chunk of the season.

Harris did bounce back and play solidly for Dallas, getting in 40 games at an average of 20 minutes a night.

With Jose Calderon gone to New York the Mavericks wanted to lock down Harris again, and they did, agreeing to terms with him again on Saturday, reports Marc Stein of ESPN and confirmed by’s Tim MacMahon.

This is for three years, $9 million. Right at what he got last year.

In a world where Shaun Livingston and Darren Collison each just got $16 million, this is a good deal for Dallas.

Harris is a good pick-and-roll point guard who can get to the rim, passes fairly well and can manage a game. He’s not a great three point shooter but he can hit some (30.7 percent last year). He’s a solid veteran. This is a nice signing for Dallas.

Report: Sixers, Bucks likely landing spots for Jeremy Lin if Rockets pull trigger

Houston Rockets v New York Knicks

Whether it is Carmelo Anthony (not very likely) or Chris Bosh (still not likely) or Pau Gasol or Luol Deng or anyone else of note, the Houston Rockets need to clear out more cap space to make the signing.

Having already moved Omer Asik, next up was trying to find a home for Jeremy Lin, finding a team where the Rockets can ship him and get no salary back (just picks or a player who can be waived).

That appears to be the Philadelphia 76ers. Or maybe the Bucks. That according to Marc Stein at ESPN.

Sources told that the Sixers, who have ample room on their payroll to absorb Lin’s contract, have emerged as a leading contender to take on Lin in a trade that sends no salary back to the Rockets, which would enable the Rockets to extend a rich offer in free agency to either Carmelo Anthony or Chris Bosh.

Sources say that the Milwaukee Bucks are another team that would consider trading for Lin if the Rockets add a sweetener or two to the deal for the privilege of shedding Lin’s contract to a team that can comfortably absorb it.

Why would the Sixers do this? A future first round pick. They are rebuilding and GM Sam Hinkie is a pick hoarder. They get a backup point for a year (who they can use as a trade asset down the line) but mostly it’s about the pick.

Just something to watch. First, the Rockets need to land that star free agent to need the space. There has been a lot of flirting at the bar that is very different from going home with someone.

Sixers’ Pierre Jackson sufferers apparently severe Achilles injury at Summer League

Pierre Jackson

That does not look good. At all.

Pierre Jackson, a second round pick in the 2013 draft who split time between Europe and the D-League last season (the Pelicans had his rights and chose not to call him up despite some good numbers), came to Orlando as part of the Sixers’ Summer League team. He was there fighting for his NBA dreams.

Then this happened.

A non-contact injury, just a cut and then clearly a lot of pain in his Achilles.

The Sixers will only say that Jackson has an injured Achilles. However, Joshua Robins of the Orlando Sentinel reports that it was a ruptured Achilles, which would end Jackson’s season.

That’s a rough way to start off Summer League.

On the bright side for Sixers fans, Nerlens Noel looked good — he moved well and ran fast up and down the court, finishing with 19 points.


Report: Spencer Hawes reaches four-year, $23 million deal with Clippers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors

On the list of Clippers needs this summer has been depth along the front line. Last season Doc Rivers’ best option for most of the year was Ryan Hollins, at least until they upgraded to Glen Davis when Orlando decided to buy him out. So yes, the Clippers best big off the bench was a guy the Magic wouldn’t play.

The Clippers have upgraded now have upgraded.

Los Angeles has reached a deal to bring in Spencer Hawes, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent 7-footer Spencer Hawes has reached agreement on a four-year, $23 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Hawes was determined to sign with a contender and his commitment to the Clippers on Friday becomes a tremendous coup for president and coach Doc Rivers.

Doc Rivers is trying to turn this into a sign-and-trade, which would leave his mid-level exception to chase Paul Pierce for the three (another Clippers need).

The Clippers offered Hawes the full mid-level exception. In a world where Marcin Gortat gets $12 million and big men are routinely overpaid, this is a good value pickup for the Clippers. Hawes will come off the bench behind DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

Hawes is a skilled big comfortable at the arc — 35 percent of his shots last year were threes and he knocked down 44.8 percent of them. That said, he can rebound and he is a very good passer. He has a complete offensive game and creates matchup problems if you don’t lean on him to

This is a huge offensive upgrade for the Clippers bench — and the Clippers had the best offense in the NBA last season.

The key for the Clippers is Hawes needs to defend, that is the end of the court where the Clippers need to improve. Hawes will block some shots but the Clips need consistent effort out of him, and Hawes’ middle name has never been consistency.

In addition, this does raise some questions about the Clippers future up front.