Everything David Stern says right now to the media is spin. Everything is designed to put pressure on the NBA players and get a deal the owners like. (It’s the same for Billy Hunter and Derek Fisher, save they are trying to pressure the owners.)
But he stepped up the rhetoric after Wednesday’s negotiating session. Following two days of talks that have seen enough progress to warrant larger talks on Friday featuring owners and players negotiating committees, Stern decided to throw down the gauntlet (a quote reported several places including TrueHoop).
“Let’s get the two committees in and see if they can either have a season or not have a season. That’s what’s at risk this weekend.”
Stern also was going to threaten to cancel the entire NBA season if real progress was not made this weekend, ESPN reported. Something Stern and the league denied.
Be clear, this is not a total bluff — if there is not a handshake deal by the end of the weekend the first regular season games are in danger.
But David Stern is threatening the entire season now because he wants a deal now. On his terms. We don’t know exactly what those terms are, we don’t know exactly what the latest suggestions by the owners have been, but they appear to include a dramatic change in the division of basketball related income (the players offered 54 percent as their take, the owners suggested 48 percent), a reduction in the exceptions that allow teams to exceed the salary cap, and a much more stiff tax on the teams that do exceed it.
The players are not likely to be bullied by Stern’s tactics. The question is can they live with some variation of that deal?
Stern and the owners also wanted salary rollbacks, which likely would be a line the players will not cross without a lot of games missed. The players also will not allow league revenue to be decoupled from the salary cap — as league revenues go up with new television deals they want a piece of that money.
But is there really a deal in all that to be made? Maybe. If both sides are willing to give a little more.
If not games will certainly be lost. But to threaten the entire season is a bit much.
The Rockets have gotten by without Clint Capela in the paint the past month — they have gone 9-6 without him, thanks to James Harden being a beast — but they are not the same. Capela and Harden have a connection, and in the five games before he injured his thumb and had to sit out Capela averaged 19.6 points on 59.7 percent shooting, pulling down 11.4 rebounds a game, and they were +7.6 per game with him on the court.
Thursday night against the Lakers, the Rockets are expected to get him back, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.
Expect it to take a couple of games to get his legs fully back under him, but swapping out Kenneth Faried‘s minutes for Capela’s is going to be a significant upgrade.
A fully healthy Rockets team, with Chris Paul back in the lineup as well, can make a push through the end of the season, and come the playoffs cannot be discounted in the West. While Golden State is a clear favorite, Houston at its best can be a threat to Oklahoma City (or whichever team you think is second best in the West). Houston needs to improve their defense to be that threat, and getting Capela back healthy is a step in that direction.
David Griffin is a hot commodity — any time a general manager opening comes up in the NBA, so does his name (most recently New Orleans).
Griffin joins us to talk about what he wants in a job if he returns to an NBA front office. He also discusses what he learned from his experiences at the helm of a LeBron James team, as well as how that applies to what the Lakers went through at the trade deadline.
Also on the agenda — his new show on NBA TV, “GM School,” which debuts on tonight (Feb. 20) at 8pm ET.
After that, we bring in Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports to help break down the Eastern Conference playoff race at the top and the four powerhouse teams. Which one has the best chance of advancing? And who will make it in the final two playoffs spots in the East?
As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.
We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.
Joel Embiid is a big man like we haven’t seen in some time. He’s both an interior force and a range shooter, and is one of the more talented 7-footers in recent NBA memory.
So it makes sense that the Philadelphia 76ers star leans toward former big men when it comes to discussing the greatest players in league history. While most are obsessed with the back-and-forth between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, Embiid told Jason Concepcion of the Ringer this week that he didn’t think either were the best player ever.
To Embiid, Wilt Chamberlain is the true GOAT.
“He’s not the GOAT. To me, you got Wilt Chamberlain. I mean he has all the records. They’re never gonna be beaten. I don’t see anybody getting 100 points in a game. That’s it, he’s the GOAT.”
Chamberlain doesn’t seem to be brought up in the GOAT conversation much anymore, but his prowess was legendary and it’s mistaken to say that he only played against smaller, less athletic white players.
It’s sort of cool that Embiid decided to choose a different player as is greatest of all time. Whether or not that’s true — or whether Embiid truly believes in his choice — is another thing altogether.
I’m not sure how excited I am to watch “Space Jam 2”. I think LeBron James is a slightly better actor than Michael Jordan, and the original “Space Jam” was nothing to shake a stick at. I’m the perfect age for Space Jam to have meant something to me, but having watched the film as an adult I can tell you it’s largely underwhelming.
Still, Space Jam 2 is set to film this summer and we finally have a confirmation of that fact from LeBron himself.
Speaking at All-Star Weekend, James told a crowd in Charlotte that they are indeed going to film once the season is over.
I think filmmaking has evolved, particularly animated filmmaking in the wake of things like Toy Story, Shrek, and other big franchises. There is no doubt that Space Jam 2 will be a better movie than the original. The director of the film certainly thinks so.
Kids will love it, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that James want to get involved in when he moved to the Los Angeles Lakers this summer.
I’m sure that basketball Twitter will have a steady stream of opinions when it comes out in theaters. Maybe I will catch it when it’s on at Netflix a month later.