Suns’ union rep Jared Dudley “90 percent sure” there will be a lockout

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The NBA Players’ Association distributed a “lockout handbook” to its members last week, in an effort to provide information on the labor talks and to warn players to be smart with their finances as the strong possibility of a work stoppage looms over the league’s 2011-12 season.

Jared Dudley is the union rep for the Phoenix Suns, so he wasn’t surprised by the handbook’s contents. And he believes that with so much at stake, that the rest of the players should remain educated on the situation, as well.

“That should be the last resort, in the sense of the handbook,” Dudley said after his team practiced on Saturday. “I mean, I’ve known about this handbook, and the only thing that the handbook shows is what (the owners) first offered. And by now you should know. You should know, you should be engaged, especially because it affects everybody. You should know what they’re proposing, why they’re proposing it, and what they’re trying to get. To have the information is needed. (As for) saving — everyone should have been saving.”

One of the things the handbook advised was that the possibility of a lockout was “very likely.” Dudley agreed, but also was careful to point out the fact that just because there’s a lockout, it doesn’t mean that the season will be lost.

“I think it is pretty likely, but the question is missing games,” Dudley said. “It’s kind of like football; they’re locked out, technically. But that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a season.

“I think there will be a lockout; I’m almost 90 percent sure. But that doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to prepare for that, but the question is, are you going to miss games? Missing games is missing money and possibly losing fans, and that’s what you’ve got to try to stay away from.”

Dudley didn’t point to one specific thing that is more important than the others from the players’ standpoint when it comes to the negotiations.

“I don’t think players are looking for a better deal,” Dudley said. “I think if you look from the last one to this one, I think the players actually lost a little bit, in terms of guaranteed money, length of contracts, and rookie scale. For the most part, I think guys just want to be fair. I know I don’t want to take advantage, or be taken advantage of. I think (we’re all) grown men, and we can work something out.”

There are important issues on both sides that need to be negotiated, and a lockout may serve as the means to that end. Dudley realizes that, but also knows that neither the players nor the owners can afford for it to last too long and destroy all of the goodwill the league has built with its fan base in recent years.

“No one wants a lockout, I’ll be the first one to tell you,” Dudley said. “At the end of the day hopefully something fair gets done, because no one wants to lose money and everybody wants to keep playing. I think right now the game is at an all time high with the public. But there are probably some teams that are losing money.”

Kyrie Irving on video with Kevin Durant: ‘Me and one of my best friends talking’

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The Knicks opened double-max cap space for next summer. Kevin Durant‘s company is moving to a new office in New York. Kyrie Irving backed away from his commitment to re-sign with the Celtics.

Plenty of people were already connecting dots when this video emerged of Durant and Irving talking at the All-Star game (in which, not for nothing, they jelled).

Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops:

Irving, via MassLive (warning: language in the above video):

It’s just crazy. This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. It doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league even more by doing bulls— like that, of just putting fictitious things on what we’re talking about. It’s crazy.

It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting? Do you get that? Like, do you get that? And then I’m asked questions about it? That’s what disconnects me from all that s—.

That wasn’t a denial.

Still, it’s hard to believe Durant and Irving really discussed free agency in a hallway with so many people passing. There are far more discreet places to have that conversation.

Like a restaurant in Miami where they were spotted together:

I understand Irving’s exasperation with this, just as I understood Durant’s testiness over constant speculation. They should be allowed to spend time together as friends without it turning into a bigger deal.

But there is immense interest in where they play next year. People will continue to search for clues – some that prove insignificant, some that might prove significant – about the stars’ futures.

So, I’m at least glad Irving addressed this. It’s going to get discussed either way. Better for him to enter his perspective into the conversation.

Report: Hawks didn’t clear John Collins’ airplane dunk until shortly before dunk contest

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There were two memorable dunks in this year’s dunk contest:

The Hawks nearly stopped us from seeing that latter spectacle.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN on Saturday:

Now, there’s a little curve ball here. The last update that I had was that the Hawks hadn’t approved John Collins jumping over an airplane yet and that they were a little bit were worried that he was going to trip on it and injure himself.

After watching the dunk, I understand the Hawks’ reluctance. Collins broke the plane!

At least he seemingly emerged unscathed.

Report: Pelicans interim GM Danny Ferry trying to convince NBA to soften stance on Anthony Davis

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The NBA reportedly threatened to fine the Pelicans if they sat a healthy Anthony Davis.

Then, Davis got booed by New Orleans fans. He got injured in another game. The Pelicans fired Dell Demps as general manager and elevated Danny Ferry to interim general manager.

New Orleans is reportedly uncertain how to handle Davis the rest of the season. But a key step to changing course is gaining NBA approval, and that’s apparently what Ferry is seeking.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

There were strong signals in Charlotte that the Pelicans — with Danny Ferry now serving as their acting general manager in the wake of Friday’s firing of Dell Demps — intend to re-engage the N.B.A. this week in hopes of convincing league officials to rethink their stance about forcing them to play Davis.

A big question: What does Davis want? He failed to give a straight answer about about his long-term future, but maybe he can explain his desire for just the rest of this season. He previously said he wanted to play, but that was before he got booed and hurt – developments that could change his thinking.

If Davis wants to keep playing, the players’ union could take up his cause. That might not be a fight the league wants.

Heck, the league might still want Davis to keep playing, regardless. The injury risk was real when the league handed down its initial edict. Unemotionally, Davis’ shoulder scare shouldn’t change the calculus. Davis is in the midst of a great season. Him being a healthy scratch for a month-and-a-half would be a black mark for the NBA.

But NBA commissioner has had Ferry’s back before, even reportedly urging the Bucks to consider him for general manager after Ferry made a racist remark that ended his Hawks tenure. Maybe Ferry will convince the league in a way Demps couldn’t.

If so, attention to will turn to Davis and his desire to keep playing.

Dwight Howard reportedly to return to Washington D.C., start on-court steps in recovery

Associated Press
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The return of Dwight Howard should solve all the Wizards problems…

Low hanging fruit jokes aside, Howard was expected to be out two-to-three months for back surgery that happened at the end of November, that would have him back in the coming weeks, and he is now on his way back to the nation’s capital, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Howard played in nine games for the Wizards this season, scoring an efficient 12.8 points and grabbing 9.2 rebounds a game.

The Wizards have been starting Thomas Bryant, with Bobby Portis playing some five behind him, in recent games. How Howard fits into that when healthy will be a question for coach Scott Brooks.

The Wizards would need to make up three games and jump three teams in the final 24 games of the season to make the playoffs.