NBA Players Association about to send proposal to owners, which will get laughed at

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stern_Hunter.jpgBack in February, the NBA Players Association laughed at and rejected outright a new Collective Bargaining Agreement proposal from owners. That proposal used the current economy as a reason to call for a radical shift in the NBA’s deal with players: Shifting 10 percent more of basketball income to the owners, a hard salary cap, no guaranteed contracts, and making all current contracts retroactively conform to the new deal.

The players said no way. Now after their weekend meetings in Las Vegas the Players Association is about to submit its first counter proposal to the owners, according to a FanHouse report.

The owners are going to laugh and treat it the same way the players treated their first proposal. Because the players first offer will want things to stay pretty much exactly as they are.

That’s part of the negotiating game — in your first offer you ask for the moon, knowing that there will be compromises but in the end you can get some of what you want.

But right now, the Players Association and owners disagree on the basic economics of the league, the foundation for any deal. The owners say they are losing money fast, with Stern saying at the All-Star break they would lose $400 million this year. The players disagree, pointing to teams like Dallas and New York where arena and television networks owned by the same owner are not factored properly into what counts as profit. Plus, the economy is starting to improve.

What does it mean, fans? Brace for a lockout one year from now.

“It’s very simple. We don’t want a lockout,” (Adonal) Foyle, an Orlando center, said Sunday in a phone interview with FanHouse about what could occur when the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) expires June 30, 2011. “We think that this business is going very well. But, at the same time, we are preparing guys for the next year just to make sure. We’re telling them to save their money more … We’ll take a deal yesterday or take a deal tomorrow. But it has to be a fair deal….

“I think it’s safe to say that we’re very aware of what’s happening in the economy, and we’re very sensitive to what’s happening globally,” Foyle said. “But we have looked at everything with the overall (financial) numbers (involving the NBA). At the end of the game … it’s how the numbers are split up (between the owners and the players).”…

“The league is very profitable,” Foyle said. “I think that the league is healthy … We’re waiting on the final numbers (from the NBA season, which should be available in the first week of July). The salary cap is not going to be as low as it had been expected, and that’s a pretty good indication we’re doing OK. It was thought it could be as low as $51 million … But it might be just a one-percent drop (many project the cap will be about $56 million, which actually would be nearly a three-percent drop from 2009-10’s $57.7 million).”

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.

Report: LeBron James not planning to sit for elaborate pitch meetings in free agency

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LeBron James held court in Cleveland in 2010, listening to pitch after pitch as teams flew in to recruit the superstar during free agency. That approach became a model, and Kevin Durant followed it in the Hamptons in 2016.

But maybe once is enough.

Durant announced months ago he’d stay with the Warriors. And now LeBron – who could definitely leave Cleveland – is making clear he doesn’t want the hoopla, either.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

sources close to the situation tell ESPN that he has no intention of hearing elaborate pitch meetings from teams.

league sources believe he and his agents Rich Paul and Mark Termini have enough understanding of the stakes and NBA landscape to handle the process without much fanfare.

LeBron is still haunted by The Decision. He’s a great player and philanthropist and does plenty to connect with fans. Yet, people still dislike him purely because of how he changed teams eight years ago.

If I wielded as much power as LeBron, I’d want suitors wining and dining me. He wants to avoid more backlash.

This will probably look similar to 2014 – LeBron’s agents hearing out teams then LeBron meeting with only the most serious options, though the final announcement will likely come via Uninterrupted rather than Sports Illustrated.

The Lakers, Cavaliers, Rockets and 76ers are commonly viewed as the favorites for LeBron. This approach makes it less likely for a longshot to emerge – though, for what it’s worth, we don’t know those four teams are his favorites right now.

Report: Nuggets re-signing Nikola Jokic to five-year max after declining team option

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The Nuggets are building around Nikola Jokic.

But a second-round pick turning into a franchise player so quickly creates complications. Denver is resolving one by declining Jokic’s team option, which will send him into restricted free agency (as opposed to unrestricted free agency next year) and paying him.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This ought to please Jokic. He would have earned just $1,600,520 next season if Denver exercised his team option.

Jokic is one of the best-passing full-time centers ever. He also shoots and rebounds well, though he must improve his defense to become worthy of this contract. At just 23, he’s worth betting on.

That said, I’m surprised the Nuggets didn’t get him on a slight discount. Though they clearly didn’t want to risk him testing unrestricted free agency next year, they gave him a MASSIVE raise (about $24 million) next season when they didn’t have to.

Jokic’s exact max salary won’t be determined until the salary cap and luxury-tax line are set this month. But this clearly puts Denver in cost-cutting mode now.

As constructed, the Nuggets are in line for about $24 million in luxury-tax payments. That’s without considering Will Barton, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent. Expect Denver to look to unload Kenneth Faried, Darrell Arthur, Wilson Chandler and/or Mason Plumlee.

Jokic was always going to be in Denver next season. The Nuggets have now secured him far longer. It will cost them next year – an important season to them – but they also clearly value a future with Jokic.