Players, owners see incremental progress on second long day of meetings

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Representatives of the NBA owners and players have sat in the same room with federal mediator George Cohen for more than 24 hours over two days.

That will have to do for progress; the two sides do not have a deal yet. But while there was no breakthrough, there was some progress on the key issue of the split of basketball related income, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo tweeted.

The two sides and Cohen will be back at it in the same room again on Thursday.

Cohen spoke to the media but shed no new light on the talks, other than to say Wednesday’s negotiations ended so owners could get to an already scheduled Board of Governor’s meeting to discuss revenue sharing.

“The discussions have been direct and constructive, and as far as we are concerned, we are here to continue to help assist the parties to endeavor to reach an agreement,” Cohen said.

Cohen said his gag order on both sides remains in effect. Nobody from the owners or players made public comments.

The owners and players met for about seven-and-a-half hours on Wednesday following a marathon 17-hour session on Tuesday.

What information has leaked out of the room suggests there has been incremental progress, but that the two sides had a long, long way to go to make a deal. On Tuesday it was reported that what Cohen was able to do was have the two sides not be emotional about the issues and just discuss them, so nobody has stormed out of the room and done anything rash. Like cancel a couple of weeks of games.

But that does not mean they are close to a deal, either.

The key issue remains the split of basketball related income (money the league gets from national television deals, ticket sales, clothing sales and so on down to some of the money from that beer you buy at games). In the last labor deal the players got 57 percent, the players had last formally offered to come down to 53 percent. The owners want a 50/50 split, and a different definition of BRI that lets them take more money off the top. Also tied to that are issues like length of contracts and the luxury tax, which would work as a form of revenue sharing.

Thursday’s negotiating session may not be long either as the owners have a second part of the Board of Governors meeting scheduled. Cohen had wanted to meet through the week when he first tried to set this up.

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

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NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

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It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

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After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

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The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.