Report: NBA owners confirm they want players to take a salary rollback

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We’ve kind of known that NBA owners wanted to roll back existing NBA contracts across the board, even though that was never made official.

Now it’s official — Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed it to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

“It’s part of our proposal,” Silver said. “It included a reduction of existing contracts in addition to a reduction of the maximums going forward.”

A salary rollback. You can imagine how well that is going to go over with the Players Association — he everyone, let’s give back part of your salary.

Berger also says the owners first proposal — rejected out of hand by the players — had a “if you do this now it will not be as severe as what we will ask for later” proposal. Basically a Mafia kind of offer. Nice.

How much of a rollback the owners think they can get is just speculation. You hear some guesses at 20 to 30 percent, but remember the NHL got a 24 percent salary rollback at the cost of one entire season. The NBA will not get that much.

But can they get any rollback at all? Especially at a time when the players can argue that revenue is up, the Heat are creating levels of interest not seen since Jordan retired, and you’ve got the owners themselves going on spending sprees. How do you argue the league is hurting when the Memphis Grizzlies give $45 million over five years to Mike Conley?

Clearly the owners want a change in the business model, at a basic level. It’s not going to be a hard cap, but there will be smaller max deals and likely some kind of out on guaranteed deals so that teams are not stuck paying the Eddy Currys of the world the last few years of his deal.

David Stern and now Silver are taking the hard line. Pretty soon you can bet the Players Association will start pushing back publicly. We’ll be seeing a public debate, one that frankly will have little to do with the reality in the negotiating room.

The lockout is coming people. You can see it, off the record everyone expects it. But the question isn’t the July 1 deadline or the loss of Summer League (which will suck for us die hards but does not matter to the casual fan), the question is one year from right now.

If one year from today we’re writing about fights over salary rollbacks and the cap — if games are being missed — the league will have stepped on the golden egg that Miami has become. (Like them or not, they have spiked interest in the league.) It will take five years or more to get back. Players will lose money; the loss of casual fans will hurt the value of the franchises. Sponsors will flee, as will fans. Television ratings will fall. Everyone will lose. Big.

The players need to give back a little. The owners need to stop digging their own hole then expecting to be bailed out like a bank. Right now everyone is posturing, but we are counting on cooler heads. Some days you just wonder if those heads are out there.

Report: CJ McCollum has been playing through fractured lower back

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CJ McCollum hit two critical free throws late Tuesday to put Portland up three late on Dallas and secure the win.

But he had a rough night overall, shooting 2-of-14 overall. His shooting numbers are down across the board through this restart, not terrible but down from the level the world has seen from one of the games most feared scorers.

Now we know why: A fractured lower back. Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest broke the news.

Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to the game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman’s terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

While this injury is not as bad as “a fractured back” sounds, it has slowed other players who had it, including Utah’s Mike Conley.

Portland has had success despite a slowed McCollum, in part because Gary Trent Jr. has stepped up and taken on a larger role on both ends of the court (including drawing a charge on Kristaps Porzingis that sealed the Blazers win over the Mavericks).

That win put Portland in as the eighth seed in the West, a spot they can hold with a win against Brooklyn on Thursday. That would put them in a play-in series — where if they won the reward would be LeBron James and the Lakers. To reach that point and threaten Los Angeles, Portland is going to need a lot out of McCollum. The question is how much does he have to give with this injury?

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo ejected after headbutting Moe Wagner

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The Milwaukee Bucks are lucky they have another seeding game remaining because there is a good chance Giannis Antetokounmpo gets suspended a game for this.

The reigning (and soon-to-be two time) MVP let Washington’s Moe Wagner get under his skin. After Wagner took a charge from Antetokounmpo the two had to be separated. They kept jawing, and when they came together again, Antetokounmpo headbutted Wagner.

Wagner may have sold that a little, but that is unquestionably a headbutt. Antetokounmpo deserved the Flagrant II and ejection that came with it.

The one-game suspension that is coming will not cost the Bucks anything, they have the No. 1 seed in the East locked up. However, that one game is aginst the Grizzlies and if Memphis wins it gets the nine seed in the West at worst (eighth of Portland were to lose Thursday).

Wagner has a gift for getting under an opponent’s skin. Antetokounmpo has to do better keeping his emotions in check, because come the playoffs they will get tested like never before.

 

Damian Lillard scores 61 points, win vaults Portland to eight seed

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The Portland Trail Blazers control their own postseason destiny — and they can thank Damian Lillard for that.

Lillard got all the respect he wanted when he tied his career-high of 61 points Tuesday, and the Portland Trail Blazers needed every one of them to beat the Dallas Mavericks 134-131.

Lillard was 9-of-17 from three, plus got to the line 18 times and hit every free throw.

Portland’s win combined with Memphis’ loss to Boston puts the Trail Blazers into the eighth seed in the West — win on Thursday against Brooklyn and Portland is the eighth seed. That is a massive advantage heading into the two-game play-in series, the eighth seed just needs to win one of those two games to advance to the playoffs (and a first-round date with LeBron James). The ninth-seeded team needs to sweep the two games to advance.

Memphis can maintain the nine seed with a win Thursday. Should the Grizzlies lose again (to the Bucks, who have nothing to play for) it opens the door for the Suns or the Spurs to get the nine seed. Or maybe higher.

Portland is not safe just because of the win Tuesday: If it loses to Brooklyn on Thursday and two of Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio win, the Trail Blazers will be watching the first round of the playoffs on television like the rest of us. The race in the West is that tight.

It’s hard to imagine Portland losing a critical game, however, with the way Lillard is playing. He said he wants some respect on his f ****** name – and he’s more than earned it.

Watch Devin Booker score 35, keep Phoenix perfect 7-0 and in play-in hunt

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points and the Phoenix Suns protected their playoff hopes by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 130-117 on Tuesday to remain undefeated in the NBA restart.

Booker became the Suns’ career leader with his 91st 30-point game, breaking a tie with Walter Davis.

Mikal Bridges added 24 points and Ricky Rubio had 16 points with 10 assists for the Suns, who began the day only one game behind eighth-place Memphis in the Western Conference playoff race.

Phoenix is 7-0 as the only undefeated team in the restart and an unlikely factor in the tight race for a spot in this weekend’s play-in for the final playoff spot.

Phoenix pulled away late after leading only 105-102 following back-to-back baskets by Alec Burks, who led the 76ers with 23 points.

A dunk by Cameron Johnson capped a 10-3 run that stretched the lead to 115-105.

The Suns continued their high-scoring play in the bubble after averaging 120 points in the first six games.

Philadelphia, No. 6 in the East and already assured of a playoff spot, is attempting to prepare for the postseason after losing Ben Simmons to a knee injury.

Shake Milton was Philadelphia’s only healthy starter against the Suns. The 76ers also were without Joel Embiid (left ankle), Tobias Harris (sore right ankle) and Al Horford (sore left knee). Josh Richardson was rested.