How does the NBA lockout get resolved? More talks, sadly.

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Here we stand, the first two weeks of the NBA season lay in ruins at our feet. More rubble will be falling on top of that soon as you can bet those are not the last games canceled.

The real question becomes: How does this get resolved now? How do the owners and players finally come to a deal after two years of negotiations that led to where we stand today?

Sadly, the best answer is more talks.

Yes, more talks. The two sides have talked plenty, but we need to see talks with real compromise and good faith bargaining. Things we haven’t seen yet. That is how a deal gets done.

The loss of games has led to some to call for decertification of the union — the step the NFL union took by declaring it was not longer a union, just a trade association, then having players file anti-trust lawsuits against the league. The idea is that the threat of damages — and if a court did rule for the players on one of those lawsuits the damages would be immense — will scare the owners back to the table.

But if the union decertifies you can kiss this season goodbye. It is a nuclear option. Both sides should be nervous about how a court may rule, but the owners also know that the courts are slow and that it would take more than a year for any real ruling to come through, and that can be appealed. You think the players can hold out for more than a season? Decertification now sets the clock back on the talks.

Plus, this strategy might not even work for the NBA players — it didn’t for the NFL players union. They didn’t get a court ruling that helped them, they just negotiated a deal with their owners. Under very different economic circumstances.

The legal leverage the players union could use is a ruling from the National Labor Relations Board that the owners are not bargaining in good faith. The players filed a complaint and if the NLRB finds for the players a lawsuit to end the lockout could be filed. But the NLRB also grinds at the speed of a federal bureaucracy, so who knows when the body will rule. And when it does, who knows how it will rule. The players could gain leverage here, but it’s not something they can sit around and wait for (and the owners filed a similar complaint against the players for not negotiating in good faith).

No, the way this gets solved is both sides sit down and talk it out. I know that hasn’t worked yet, but it’s how things will get done. The owners need to come off their hardline and give up more “basketball related income” points and keep most of a free system that existed. The owner want both more money and radical system changes, that is too much. The players have given up $160 million a season in salary and will give up more, those are real dollars they had and sacrificed.

That said, the players need to sacrifice more. The players need to come off their 53 percent of BRI hardline and allow some issues — like a stiffer luxury tax — that will help small markets compete.

There is a real middle ground here that is not that hard to see — frankly most people around the NBA knew about where the percentages would land in a deal when the lockout started. But both sides are dug in, making the other want to realize how serious they have been. Make the other side feel the pain.

Only the fans are the ones feeling the pain. And the more they feel it, the less revenue the owners and players will have to divide up.

Until the owners and players sit down and negotiate in good faith (you really think they have?) nothing is going to happen. In the end, this will be settled because David Stern wants it to be and because he and Billy Hunter reach a deal. It’s on them, nobody else.

James Harden on shooting struggles: ‘Who cares?’

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A couple of years ago, could anyone have imagined James Harden not only saying he’s willing to give up scoring to do the little things to win but then actually doing it?

That’s exactly what Harden has done through five games against Golden State, and it’s why his Houston team is up 3-2.

Harden has struggled with his shot the past two games: He has shot 16-of-47 overall the past two games (34 percent) but also 3-of-23 from three. Yet he has done a good job setting up others. In Game 5, in particular, he did a better job getting into the middle of the paint, opening up passing lanes when the defense collapsed on him. He’s also worked hard on the defensive end, played Stephen Curry reasonably well, and been a solid team defender.

With his team one game from the Finals, he’s not concerned about his shot.

“Who cares?” Harden said to reporters after the game. “I’m just missing shots. But we’re winning, and I’m trying to compete on the defensive end and do other things to help my team win. But if we’ve got a guy like Eric Gordon making shots and being aggressive, who cares?”

A lot of players give that idea lip service, but in recent games Harden has backed it up.

“It’s just the shots [are] not falling, and a lot of it has to do with how hard everybody is playing,” Rockets’ coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Probably his legs aren’t the freshest things in the world. But he’s invaluable to the defense and offense.”

The Rockets are going to need more scoring from Harden to close this series out — Chris Paul is out for Game 6 with a strained hamstring, and it’s unlikely he plays if there is a Game 7. Eric Gordon will get the start and has lit it up the past couple of games (he led the Rockets with 24 points in Game 5), but more scoring and shot creation will fall on the Harden’s shoulders.

If the Rockets are going to close this series out, Harden is going to have to look every bit the presumptive MVP. The little things are great, but Houston needs him to get buckets now.

Suns GM: ‘Overwhelming likelihood’ team keeps No. 1 pick

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It takes a rare kind of courage, an extraordinary level of organizational backing, and a special kind of draft to do what Danny Ainge did a year ago trading the No. 1 pick. While a consensus had formed around Markelle Fultz as the best player in the draft, Ainge was a Jayson Tatum guy. Doubts about the top pick are common, but that alone is far from enough to trade that pick away — most GMs don’t have the job security to know if they miss on moving the pick and sliding down they will not be let go. Ainge had that, and he had his confidence in his scouting, so he made the move to trade the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia. (While it looks good now for Ainge, it’s too early to judge how that pick plays out — Fultz has barely played, we don’t know what extra pick the Celtics will get out of this, it takes time to fully judge these kinds of moves.)

This year is different. DeAndre Ayton is more of a clear No. 1, a guy with franchise changing potential. Plus Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough may not be standing on the kind of bedrock that allows for the trade of a No. 1 pick.

Recently McDonough said he’d listen to trade offers for the pick. That’s very different from trading it, as Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic had the GM saying Friday.

Because they should do their due diligence, the Suns will look at Luka Doncic (who does have a relationship with new coach Igor Kokoskov) and Marvin Bagley III, among others. Rumors may leak, spun by agents or other teams. However, at the end of the day, good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks Phoenix will not take Ayton — who attended college in Arizona — to be the inside to Devin Booker‘s outside. It’s the smart play.

Kokoskov and the Suns have a lot of work to do to build a foundation for success with this franchise. However, that almost never starts by trading away the top pick in the draft.

Rumor: Paul George’s agent telling people client will re-sign with Thunder

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That rumor Paul George will leave the Thunder?

How about the exact opposite?

Dean Blevins of News 9:

Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know. It’s not what people believe. But in separate conversations, I’m told P.G.’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that P.G. believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying. Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.

This, by Blevins’ own admission, isn’t the staunchest reporting. Nonetheless, I appreciate him sharing and contextualizing it. We can evaluate it for what it’s worth.

George is known to share his plans – though the previous example was him planning to sign with the Lakers. And he might have really believed it at the time, when he was still with the Pacers.

But throughout the season, George seemingly went out of his way to profess his affection for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. That only raised expectations in Oklahoma City of George staying, and if he leaves after doing that, he’d be inviting even more backlash. I think he’s smart enough to understand that, which is why I thought he made those especially strong pro-Thunder comments only after deciding he’d likely stay.

On the other hand, even if my assessment was correct, conditions change. The Jazz brutally exposed Oklahoma City’s flaws, and if George re-signs and Anthony opts in, the Thunder will have minimal cap flexibility to upgrade the roster. In fact, they might take a step back with the supporting cast to keep the luxury-tax bill manageable. George could see free agency as his chance to escape that mess.

Roberson was a huge loss, and if George is focused on that, that would bode well for Oklahoma City. Though Roberson was just a role player, he was pivotal to the Thunder’s defense. And his teammates had learned how to play around his offensive shortcomings. Oklahoma City didn’t have any good replacements for him on the roster. Roberson getting healthy is the clearest way for the Thunder to improve next season.

Of course, that’s predicated on George returning, too. Will he?

One last note of caution: People often believe what they want to hear. It’s easy to see someone in Oklahoma City hearing George bemoan the loss of Roberson and elevate that to George planning to re-sign, even George wasn’t going that far.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.