Players union draws line in the sand: no hard salary cap or rollbacks

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Right now, the negotiations between the owners and the NBA Players Association is a lot of posturing.

In any situation, there needs to be a deadline to spur real negotiations. Technically, for the NBA that deadline is July 1, when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires and a lockout would start. In reality, the real deadline is when camps open and then games would start — a loss of Summer League will be forgiven by fans, a loss of regular season games would be a much deeper wound.

So with the knowledge that we are still posturing, we bring you Billy Hunter, executive director of the Players Association, laying out the union’s position and counter offer to the owners in a podcast sent to players (via Howard Beck at the New York Times and Art Garcia at NBA.com).

The big issues were that the union would not accept a hard salary cap nor rollbacks on existing contracts, Hunter told the players.

The union is offering flexibility on the big number — the percentage of Basketball Related Income (BRI) that has to go to the players. Currently the players get 57 percent of that money. What Hunter proposes is that 57 percent is the ceiling but to create a new floor so players could make a smaller percentage of the pie.

The union also offered to loosen trade restrictions — currently teams making a trade have to match salaries within 125 percent, the union wants to double that number. It would make it easier for teams to unload contracts if they so wished.

The union has offered to reduce the maximum length of mid-level exception contract to four years (currently five) but they want a second one.

The players also want the age limit put back down to 18 and for owners to do more increased revenue sharing.

That is all radically different than the owners first offer last All-Star break, which called for a rollback of existing player salaries of more than one-third, a hard salary cap, an elimination of the mid-level and all cap exceptions, and a reduction in the length of guaranteed contracts.

The owners have not submitted a new proposal since then and a number are willing to take a more hardline stance to reverse what they see as a growing financial problem with the league.

Hunter says that with league revenues increasing year after year, there is no need for this kind of radical restructuring. Owners say revenue is not the issue, it’s expenses.

Lockout people. Learn to love it. Or at least tolerate it. Because it is coming.

Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma trolling now in ad for Wish shopping app

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The Lakers asked Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to back off on their social media trolling battle.

However, they made an exception for this new Wish.com app ad (Wish is the Lakers’ jersey ad sponsor).

Well played guys.

Miami bringing Briante Weber into camp with chance to make roster

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For three seasons, Briante Weber has bounced around the fringes of the NBA. The defensive-minded point guard has played in short stints (often 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, and last season he got in 13 games for the Rockets (plus five in Memphis). He’s spent most of his career in the G-League, working for his chance to get in the door.

Miami is bringing him into training camp, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

This is apparently camp invite.

There is roster space in Miami if Webber blows them away. Miami has 12 fully guaranteed roster spots and, with Webber, two partially-guaranteed deals (Malik Newman, who was undrafted out of Kansas, is the other).

The problem for Webber is Miami is deep at the point guard spot: Goran Dragic will start, and if Tyler Johnson is healthy (as expected) he will get a lot of minutes behind him, and then there is Newman. The Heat also have in the guard rotation Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and possibly Dwyane Wade if he returns (all of those guys are more two guards).

That’s a lot of guys for Webber to beat out and find a spot. On the other hand, his defensive style is something different from what the Heat have on the roster.

Webber is a longshot, but he’s at least going to camp.

Russell Westbrook “very, very excited” Paul George re-signed with Thunder

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What did you expect him to say?

Rather than a potential rebuild — or another “Russell Westbrook vs. The World” season — the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the big winners of the off-season when Paul George agreed to re-sign with the team. They also moved on from Carmelo Anthony, will get Andre Roberson back from injury, and added Dennis Schroder to give them a shot creator off the bench.

Needless to say, Westbrook is a happy man. We could kind of tell that from the party he threw the night George agreed to re-sign, but he said it directly in an ESPN interview while in China on his Jordan Brand Tour.

“I’m very, very excited. Paul has been an unbelievable teammate, obviously a great friend. I’m very, very excited that he is back and we’re ready to make some noise. We are just going to take it one day at a time. I think our team has a lot of great, young talent. We have one goal now and that is winning a championship.”

While it’s hard to envision the Thunder reaching that goal (as constructed), the Thunder could well be the three or four seed in the West and have home court in the first round of the playoffs. While the margin for error in the West will be minuscule (with 12 teams having a shot at the eight playoff spots), with the Thunder’s strong top-10 defense and two stars who can take over games nightly, they should be one of the more consistent regular season teams in the West.

Either way, the Thunder are a lot more interesting with George than without. It’s going to be a good season for the Thunder.

PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony officially a Houston Rocket now — this can work

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Did the Houston Rockets get better this summer? The conventional wisdom is no, they will miss the switchable defense and versatility of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute against the NBA’s other elite teams.

But with Carmelo Anthony officially signing with the Rockets on Monday, don’t expect a big step back, something I cover in this latest PBT Extra.

The Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA last season (almost tied with the Warriors) and ‘Melo can enhance that — he can still punish switches in the post, he has a catch-and-shoot game, and while he may not be as efficient as he once was, the man can get buckets. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, expect Mike D’Antoni to find him minutes while Chris Paul and James Harden rest where he can be an offensive focal point.

This all could work out in Houston.