The National Basketball Players Association needs a new plan to push the owners to compromise, get a deal they can live with and end the NBA lockout.
But first, they have to stop fighting amongst themselves.
The union’s executive board is set to meet Thursday in New York. That means union president Derek Fisher, long time director Billy Hunter and eight other players in a room together.
First order of business, making sure the rift between Fisher and Hunter has closed. That rift came to light Saturday with a Fox Sports report that Fisher had secret meetings with David Stern and was trying to broker a deal on the side. Everything comes down to the split of basketball related income (or league revenue) the players will get in the new deal — the owners are offering 50/50 (after they get expenses off the top); the union officially says they have come down to 52.5 percent, after getting 57 percent in the old deal, and that is enough.
Howard Beck at the New York Times explains the rest from his sources.
According to a person with ties to both men, Fisher believes that a 50-50 deal should at least be considered, if it would salvage more of the season. Hunter is more adamant about holding firm, believing the long-term gain justifies the short-term losses….
The picture is also muddled at the bargaining table, where Jeffrey Kessler, the union’s outside counsel (and a 52.5 percent hardliner), serves as the lead negotiator. According to people involved in the talks, Kessler does 80 percent of the speaking, while Hunter, who has a reputation for not being detail-oriented, takes a secondary role.
The rift between Fisher and Hunter’s positions has spilled over to the players speaking out. Some players are saying to end this and that 50/50 is fine, while others say Fisher should not be the one working side deals.
The union division even worries the league — they can’t strike a deal with a fractured union. Both Fisher and Hunter need to be unified in any deal made to be able to sell that to the players when it comes time to vote, right now it’s hard to see that happening.
Which makes Thursday’s meeting key. The sides need to clear the air (something the NY Times reports happened Tuesday in a conference call) and get on the same page. Then they have to figure out their next plan of attack in these talks. Because whatever deal the players strike will impact salaries and player movement for at least another six years and maybe a decade.
Last season in Minnesota — with Jimmy Butler torpedoing the team and ending the Tom Thibodeau era — was pretty much the figurative definition of a train wreck.
Out of that wreckage, the Timberwolves think they found some positives. Ryan Sunders was thrown into the fire as a young coach but bonded with Karl-Anthony Towns. Robert Covington sparked the defense before his injury. Josh Okogie emerged as a player. This summer the team drafted a player with a lot of potential in Jarrett Culver.
Minnesota also brought in the aggressive Gersson Rosas out of Houston to take over as team president and start reshaping the franchise into one that can live up to the promise of Towns’ potential. For that to start to happen, meaning a return to the playoffs, Rosas pointed to a couple of things needing to go right this season. First and foremost, they need more — and more consistency — out of Andrew Wiggins. Via Timberwolves writer/podcaster Dane Moore.
Most Timberwolves fans, and the rest of the league, have moved on from Wiggins, who has four years, $122 million left on his max contract. While he averaged 18.1 points per game last season, he doesn’t get those buckets efficiently nor consistently, and the result is an average/slightly below-average wing whose contract is an anchor on the franchise. We’ve learned no contract is untradable in the NBA, but this is as close to that line as it gets — the sweeteners Minnesota would have to throw in right now make a deal are prohibitive.
The only thing Minnesota can hope for is that in year six Wiggins takes some steps forward he did not take in the last five. Maybe continuity helps, but we’re all going to need to see it before we believe it.
The other thing Rosas said Minnesota needs: More consistent defense from Towns.
Saunders seemed to connect with Towns and got him to defend, and Covington played MIC linebacker calling out coverages and getting guys in position before his injury. Rosas said Covington would be good to go at the start of the season, if so that gives the Timberwolves real hope that the defense will improve.
Whether all of that will be enough to get them into the playoffs in a deep West is another question, but at least Minnesota seems to be moving in the right direction now.
WASHINGTON (AP) President Donald Trump is set to present basketball legend Bob Cousy (KOO’-zee) with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The award is being handed out Thursday. It celebrates individuals with a wide range of achievements and is the nation’s highest civilian honor.
The 91-year-old Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame member played for the Boston Celtics from 1950 to 1963. He won six league championships and the 1957 MVP title.
Cousy is also known for speaking out against racism. He was an ardent supporter of black teammates who faced discrimination during the civil rights movement.
Cousy will be the second person to receive the award this year from Trump. Golfer Tiger Woods received the honor in May.
In 2014, published audio of a racist rant by then-Clippers owner Donald Sterling rocked the country.
It shouldn’t have. Sterling’s racism and sexism were well-established by then. But few cared. The audio poured gasoline on the fire and moved people to act. I wish it didn’t require that. But it did.
What if the audio didn’t become public through TMZ? Apparently, there might have been opportunity for another outcome.
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:
The fact is Shelly and several people in the Clippers organization heard the recording and decided not to act on it or weren’t appalled enough to act on it. Maybe they didn’t understand how big a splash this tape could make.
It’s unclear when Shelly Sterling (Donald’s wife) and other members of the Clippers organization heard the audio. Maybe it was while TMZ was doing due diligence. If so, it was probably too late to change the course of history.
But perhaps it was when V. Stiviano – Donald’s girlfriend who made the original recording and was being sued by Shelly – was still the only one in possession of it. Stiviano was clearly upset with how things were going financially between her and the Sterlings. For the right price, maybe the audio would have gone away before becoming public.
I’m glad it didn’t happen that way. The world is better off knowing exactly who Donald Sterling is.
Yet, this leads to an incredible “what if?” What if the people who heard the audio in advance understood the magnitude, acted in Sterling’s best interest and paid to have the audio kept secret? Would Sterling still own the Clippers today?
The Lakers are desperate at center. They might even need Kyle Kuzma to play the position. He’ll have to work on, among other things, rebounding.
At least it usually won’t go as poorly as this play in Team USA’s exhibition win over Australia.