NBA lays off 114 employees, says not due to lockout

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Today there are 114 more civilian casualties to the NBA lockout war… except the league says these are not casualties at all.

We’re not buying that.

So you can get the facts as presented, here are the key parts of the Associated Press report.

The NBA has laid off about 114 people over the last two days, planned cost-cutting moves that a league spokesman says are “not a direct result of the lockout.”

The laid off employees represent about 11 percent of the league office workforce in New York, New Jersey and internationally.

Spokesman Mike Bass tells The Associated Press on Thursday the layoffs are “a response to the underlying issue that the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues,” not because of the work stoppage that began July 1.

Here is the league’s official statement:

The layoffs are not a direct result of the lockout but rather a response to the same underlying issue; that is, the league’s expenses far outpace our revenues. The roughly 11% reduction in headcount from the league office is part of larger cost-cutting measures to reduce our costs by $50 million across all areas of our business.

The NBA did lay off about 100 people (nine percent) of their workforce a couple years ago, at the depths of the national recession. Certainly things around the nation are not good now, but even the skeptical admit things are better than they were a couple years back.

So, why the next round of layoffs this week? Well, the obvious answer is that it is directly tied to the lockout, the kind of layoffs we are seeing with teams around the league as they trim payrolls during the lockout.

But the league says that is not the case. I have a hard time believing they need to cut costs this deeply right now just as the league is starting to move on a real upswing in terms of national interest (and with that revenue)… unless you needed it to look like things were bad and the budget was way in the red ink. For example, like if you were in a lockout with serious CBA negotiations taking place.

Maybe I’m too cynical, but I don’t believe this is coincidental. Not in the least. In the end, this is just more innocent people getting hurt while the owners and players argue over how to split up the fans’ money. Sometimes I wonder if the two sides really appreciate the mood around the nation and how badly a lockout that costs games would hurt the image of the league right now. Both sides give that plenty of lip service, but their actions speak otherwise.

Grizzlies: C.J. Miles likely out rest of season

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward C.J. Miles is expected to miss the remainder of the season after injuring his left foot over the weekend.

Miles left a 135-128 loss to the Washington Wizards on Saturday due to left foot soreness. The Grizzlies announced Tuesday that an MRI revealed a stress reaction.

The 6-foot-6 Miles appeared in 53 games this season for the Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. The Grizzlies acquired him from Toronto in the Marc Gasol trade Feb. 7.

Miles came off the bench in 13 games with the Grizzlies and averaged 9.3 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 22.6 minutes.

Report: Timberwolves fan called Blake Griffin ‘boy’

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With his recent outburst at hecklers in Utah, Russell Westbrook ignited a long-overdue discussion of how fans interact with players during games. The Jazz even recently banned a fan who repeatedly called Westbrook “boy” last year.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t an isolated case of that racist language being used toward a player.

Pistons Blake Griffin confronted a fan in Minnesota in December.

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

The fan was seemingly ejected. The Timberwolves didn’t respond to questions whether he faced additional punishment.

I’m all for good-natured heckling. Racist taunts are completely unacceptable – and maybe still more common than we realized. Because Griffin didn’t get as enraged as Westbrook on video, this got swept under the rug.

It shouldn’t be Griffin’s responsibility to fix this. Teams must do a better job holding accountable fans who cross the line.

Bulls coach Jim Boylen left awkwardly waving to nobody after apparently offending Suns coach Igor Kokoskov (video)

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Jim Boylen is making friends within the Bulls.

Outside the organization? Not so much.

Boylen and Doc Rivers got ejected for yelling at each other during the Clippers’ win over Chicago on Friday. Rivers blamed Boylen for instigating.

Then, Boylen called timeout with the Bulls up 14 and 40 seconds left against the Suns last night. Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov appeared to take exception.

The Suns intentionally fouled, stopping Chicago from running its after-timeout play. As the game ended, Boylen gave the customary wave to the opposing coach – and was clearly rebuffed.

Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports:

Was Boylen trying to rub in the victory? He pulled his starters during the timeout, giving him plausible deniability. It’d also be reasonable to use the timeout as a teaching opportunity for running an after-timeout play.

But the Suns don’t have to like being used for practice. They’re in the midst of a trying season, especially Kokoskov. His bitterness is understandable.

I don’t think either coach was wrong here. Both were doing what was best for their teams. The Bulls should get experience running situational plays. The Suns should find motivation to no longer get treated like a pushover.

Boylen strayed further from the accepted norms, but I rarely support unwritten rules. If the Suns didn’t like it, they should have done something about it – which they did by fouling to stop Chicago’s play. It was petty, but it was well within their rights. Just like the Bulls were calling timeout.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Lakers-Bucks

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the NBA’s most popular players. They led the league in All-Star fan voting the last two years. Antetokounmpo is favored to win MVP this season, and LeBron is generally recognized as the best player in the world.

So, tonight’s Lakers-Bucks game is losing a lot of luster.

Lakers:

Bucks:

This is what happens when you get a game-winner blocked by Mario Hezonja. You must take a seat for at least one game.

The Lakers are apparently going through with a plan to rest LeBron James in one game of back-to-backs. This isn’t that. The Lakers were off yesterday then have tomorrow and Thursday off.

LeBron missed 18 games earlier this season with a groin injury. That’s the type of injury he could play through – while at risk of aggravating it. Maybe he came back before fully recovered in order to make a playoff push.

LeBron’s activated playoff mode went nowhere. The Lakers are almost certain to miss the postseason. At this point, it makes sense to be cautious with the 34-year-old LeBron.

The Bucks should also be cautious with their superstar – but for the opposite reason. Milwaukee is 2.5 games up on everyone else in the league.

Antetokounmpo injured his ankle against the 76ers on Sunday. He stayed in that game, scoring 52 points in a loss. Hopefully, this is minor. The Bucks also play the Cavaliers tomorrow, so maybe Antetokounmpo will play the other half of the back-to-back.