All owners not on same page with CBA negotiations (neither are all players)

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There isn’t going to be any contraction of NBA teams, it’s a red herring in negotiations.

Why? Because first you need an owner willing to sell his team back to the league, and right now nobody seems willing (although NBA Commissioner David Stern did say on Los Angeles radio today it has happened in the past, just not recently). Even if there was, you’d have to convince all 29 other owners to pitch in to buy the team from the selling owner, by spending $250 million to $300 million at least (say roughly $10 million per owner). Will not happen.

How contraction ends up on the table at all is interesting, because it comes out of the fact that all the owners are not on the same page heading into the Collective Bargaining Agreement talks. A small market vs. big market debate on limiting salaries and revenue sharing has started but that is different than consensus.

Stern tries to make it like there is consensus, as he did in a pre-game press conference before the Lakers opener Tuesday. Look at what he said about revenue sharing:

“And actually we have broad agreement by the large grossing teams that this is a fair and necessary subject for discussion and that’s where we are.”

So where they are is that the big market teams — the Buss family and the Lakers, the Dolans with the Knicks, and a handful of others — are willing to talk about it. Not agree to it, not reach into their wallets and fork over money to strengthen competitors. They are just saying everyone should talk about it.

“On top of that with revenue sharing, which is a subject that’s going to be very much at the fore and I’m keeping it there, that’s what leads to discussion if we’re going to give a cut of TV money and we’re going to give revenue sharing — do we need so many teams?” said Stern….

“A team might raise its hand — and has — and said, ‘Listen, if we’re (giving up) $30 million from network television money and… let’s say we’re going to have to pay another $15 million in revenue sharing.  That’s $45 million. If (we’re paying it to) a team that’s never going to be profitable, why are we doing that?  Why don’t we have a different discussion?’”

And that’s how contraction gets on the table. Some big market owners trying to get leverage in their internal battle with small markets over revenue sharing.

The big market owners see what has happened with revenue sharing in baseball, where the Yankees and Red Sox and other have paid but some small market owners have basically just pocketed the money. The NBA big market owners want re-investment and some value back for what they give up.

We’re focused on the owners here, because Stern discussed it in a press conference a couple nights ago, but there are similar issues on the players’ side. Are the handful of max-deal players out there willing have their earnings cut back so that there can be more of a middle class in the NBA? Or are we evolving toward an NBA where there are a small percentage of guys at the top making huge money because they draw in fans and sell jerseys, then everybody else makes a million or two max? You can bet all the players are not on the same page about this.

It’s complex. Stern seems confident he can get there, that these same people have essentially negotiated the last few of these CBAs and they get the game. Maybe. But Stern works for the owners and I’ve talked to enough people on the owners’ side to know a few want blood, they want to make radical changes in the economics of the game and if that means missing part of a season with a lockout, so be it.

Everyone is not on the same page about that, either.

Hall of Famer Paul Westphal diagnosed with brain cancer

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Paul Westphal, the Hall of Fame guard who played at the peak of his career with the Phoenix Suns (and earlier won a championship with the Boston Celtics) has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

Longtime sportswriter Mike Lupica made the announcement.

Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive and difficult form of cancer to treat.

Westphal was born and raised in the South Bay area of greater Los Angeles and went on to play his college ball at USC. He was the No. 10 pick of the Boston Celtics in the 1972 NBA Draft and went on to play three seasons with the Celtics, winning a title with them in 1974.

After that he went on to Phoenix, where he was an All-Star player and was named to the All-NBA team four times. Westphal also played for the Knicks and Sonics during his career. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame last September.

After playing he became a coach, spending at least part of seven seasons as the Suns head coach, plus he coached the Kings for three seasons.

One of the best-liked people in NBA circles, there are a lot of people in Westphal’s corner today and going forward.

 

Draymond Green fined $50,000 for tampering with Devin Booker

Draymond Green fined
Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images
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“It’s great to see Book playing well and Phoenix playing well, but get my man out of Phoenix It’s not good for him, it’s not good for his career. Sorry Chuck, but they’ve gotta get Book out of Phoenix. I need my man to go somewhere that he can play great basketball all of the time and win, because he’s that kind of player.”

That was the Warriors’ always outspoken Draymond Green on Inside the NBA on TNT Thursday, talking about the play of Devin Booker and the fast start of the Suns in the bubble.

The second he said it, Ernie Johnson asked, “Are you tampering?” Green said, “maybe.”

The NBA said yes and has fined Green $50,000 for “violating the league’s anti-tampering rule.”

In past years the NBA has mostly ignored player-to-player tampering, but after complaints from owners last season the league is cracking down on — at the very least — public tampering by players. Going on a popular national show to say Booker should leave Phoenix qualifies.

Just a reminder for fans of a team desperate for a star and suddenly looking at Phoenix, Booker has four years left (after this one) on his max contract extension. The Suns are building around him and Deandre Ayton — and right now it looks like it’s working (coach Monty Williams should get a lot of credit for that). The Suns aren’t looking to trade, Booker isn’t looking to leave (and has no leverage anyway), and the Suns seem to be building something real down in the Valley of the Sun.

 

Watch Luka Doncic post 36-19-14 with just dazzling passing (video)

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The Bucks’ have one of the best defenses in NBA history, allowing 7.9 fewer points per 100 possessions than league average. The Mavericks have the highest offensive rating (116.5) in league history.

Something had to give.

And it was Luka Doncic – to teammate after teammate after teammate.

Doncic had 36 points, 19 assists and 14 rebounds in Dallas’ 136-132 overtime win over Milwaukee yesterday. He was in complete control as a scorer and passer, showing just how far he has come.

The Bucks already secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. But they played hard, forcing overtime. Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like the MVP with 34 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.

Doncic was just better.

Report: NBA could play next season at multiple regional bubbles

Warriors star Stephen Curry
MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images
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Other than waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to subside – a possibility – the NBA faces MAJOR challenges next season.

The bubble is working for finishing this season. But that’s with just 22 teams rather than the full 30. And this is just for a few months, not a full season. Players are already bristling about how long they’re separated from their families.

Yet, what’s the alternative to a bubble? It looks like the only safe way to play professional sports.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated

We’re a ways off from next season, but league sources have told me that the NBA is looking at options that include creating regional bubbles, should the COVID-19 pandemic still prevent normal business in the fall. Teams would report to a bubble for short stints—around a month—which would be followed by 1-2 weeks off.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Orlando is a consideration, and Las Vegas — a finalist for this summer’s restart — would reemerge as a possible site too, sources said.

This is an interesting possibility.

Smaller bubbles would reduce the odds of a coronavirus outbreak that undermines the whole league. But what happens if one bubble has coronavirus issues? Teams’ schedules could get significantly unbalanced quickly.

The shorter bubble lengths would allow players to spend time with family more frequently. But how many players would contract coronavirus while between bubbles? Look how many players got coronavirus during this last layoff.

There are no easy solutions amid this pandemic. This is one of many imperfect ideas that should at least be considered.