Report: Owners first asked for $45 million hard salary cap

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When you enter a bargaining session, the first thing you ask for is your entire wish list. Everything you could possibly want. Some of the things on the list you need, some you’d be willing to give up. But come in asking for the moon.

Like a $45 million hard salary cap if you are the NBA owners.

According to the Sports Business Journal (via The Sporting News), that is exactly what the owners have asked for in their first proposal a year ago. SBJ got a hold of an April 26 memo from players’ union executive director Billy Hunter to the players just days before the owners second proposal was delivered to players.

The memo’s most eye-popping element is the league’s proposed $45 million hard cap, which cuts the current $58 million soft cap by nearly 25 percent….

The inclusion of non-guaranteed player contracts, while a negotiating point, also represents a radical shift for players who have long benefited from guaranteed deals. Taken together, Hunter felt compelled to send out the missive.

“The nature of the owners’ demands is so onerous that I feel it is imperative to reinforce the message of our recent team meetings with this letter,” Hunter wrote in the memo.

The latest proposal from owners talks about phasing in a hard cap over several years. It also does away with guaranteed contracts, having provision for at least a buyout of all deals at a steeply discounted rate. Also, things like a sign-and-trade proposal is out the window.

The real question is this: How many owners are hawks and how many are doves?

A lockout in July that kills Summer League and pushes back free agency is a very different animal than costing the league games. During a recession when the average person is hurting. The NBA has a tremendous momentum and has to see the bad press the NFL is getting right now. Both sides have to see the warning signs.

When push comes to shove, when games and paychecks are on the line, are the majority of owners hawks willing to give up games — maybe half a season or more — to get their cap? Or are the majority of owners more level headed and willing to comprimise — especially if they get an additional few points of Basketball Related Income to keep?

We are not going to know how hard either side really wants to fight until we get into late August and beyond, sadly.

Russell Westbrook has beef with Joel Embiid after hard foul (VIDEO)

Associated Press
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Russell Westbrook is always looking for something — real or imagined — to use as motivational fuel.

He found something real Saturday in Joel Embiid.

With 1:46 left in a close game on national television, Westbrook was off to the races in transition with just Embiid back and the result was a hard foul.

Westbrook was pissed after the game thinking this was not just a hard foul (warning, NSFW language):

Embiid essentially shrugged.

The actual foul was hard but a bit of a fluke. Embiid went up to block the layup/dunk but Westbrook lost his dribble for a second, and the result was an airborne Embiid crashing into Westbrook. Hard. Was there a little bit extra in there? Depends on if you’re on Team Westbrook or Team Embiid.

But the NBA could use more feuds, so bring it on.

The Thunder went on to beat the 76ers on a Paul George game-winner.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart goes after Hawks’ Deandre Bembry, gets ejected

Associated Press
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Marcus Smart will be lucky if all he has to do is write a check to the league office. This is the kind of thing that can lead to a suspension.

Midway through the third quarter in Atlanta Saturday, Boston’s Smart picked up his second technical foul jawing with Atlanta’s DeAndre Bembry before a jump ball. That got him ejected. But it was when it charged back after Bembry rather than leaving the floor that the real trouble started.

Predicting the league office on fines/suspensions is like predicting a roulette table, but that looks like it could cost Smart a game. Smart had picked up his earlier technical arguing calls.

Boston came from behind to win Saturday in Atlanta, with Kyrie Irving leading the way scoring 32.

Bucks to retire jersey Marcus Johnson’s number

via NBA.com
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Marcus Johnson is a Milwaukee legend. He averaged 21 points a game in his seven seasons with the Bucks and is sixth on the all-time franchise list in points (10,980), is its all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,468), is third in total rebounds (3,923), and made 4,546 during his time in Milwaukee. He is now a color commenter for the team.

Now, the team is going to retire his No. 8.

The ceremony will be March 24, a story broken by the Journal-Sentinel.

Johnson will be the ninth Bucks player to have his number retired and the first since the team’s move to its new home Fiserv Forum.

Current Bucks legend Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Journal-Sentinel he was happy. Antetokounmpo turned to Johnson at points for help with footwork, post moves, and more.

“I’m really happy for him, I think he deserves to have his jersey retired,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s amazing. He’s just sitting down there like a normal person, but this guy was one of the best players in the league when he was playing. … He’s a legend.”

Johnson won an NCAA national championship at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden before going on to an NBA career that included five All-Star appearances and three All-NBA teams.

Paul George hits game winner, lifts Thunder past 76ers 117-115

Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paul George converted a four-point play with 5.1 seconds left, sending Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to a wild 117-115 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

George’s clutch shot capped a wild finish that included another memorable exchange with Westbrook and Embiid. Westbrook hit the floor out of bounds under the basket after a foul by Embiid late in the game, and Westbrook fouled out with 14.9 seconds remaining after he got Embiid while shooting a 3-pointer.

Embiid made all three foul shots, tying it at 113, and Jimmy Butler‘s driving layup put Philadelphia in front with 6.9 seconds to go. But George drained a 3 while being fouled by Butler and made the foul shot.

Philadelphia had one last chance, but Butler missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The 76ers have lost 19 in a row to the Thunder.

George finished with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Westbrook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, and reserve Dennis Schroder also scored 21 points.

The Thunder had dropped five of six, including a 138-128 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Embiid, who was a game-time decision because of back tightness, had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. JJ Redick scored 22 points for Philadelphia, and Ben Simmons finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, but Philadelphia rallied in the second and trailed 59-56 at the break.