D-League changes (plus age limit) not part of owners’ proposal

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UPDATE 4:36 pm: We now have confirmation on this.

The changes to the D-League are among things the owners want, but it is all part of what union chief Billy Hunter described as the “B-List” issues, along with draft age limit changes (there are reports the owners want to raise it from 19 to 20) and the like.

Those are still up for negotiation, they are not part of the take it or leave it offer.

Stern’s offer had to do with the handful of A-list issues, such as the mid-level exception for tax-paying teams, the sign-and-trade for tax paying teams and the like.

Once the A-list is agreed to there will still be negotiations on the B-list (which is pages long). There will be some interesting horse trading on those that will impact future NBA players, but these issues are not considered deal breakers in the least.

UPDATE 4:01 pm: While this proposal by the owners was on the table at one point, there are now some reports that it may not have been part of the formal proposal the owners made Thursday. Here is what Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated tweeted:

Hearing d league rule may no longer be part of league’s official proposal. Def was at some recent point.

We’re trying to find out where it stands.

3:44 pm: The players are not going to like this. Well, they don’t like a lot of things about the latest ultimatium from David Stern and the owners, but you can add this to the list.

The owners want to expand use of the D-League by teams and cut players salaries who go down, according to a tweet from Ric Bucher of ESPN.

New proposal would allow teams to send players to NBDL first 5 years of career and reduce pay to pro-rated 75K. Talk about non-starters.

Bucher is right, the players are going to balk at that.

Right now, players can be sent down to the D-League during the first two years of their NBA career, but when they go they still get the full money from their NBA contracts.

If the NBA wants the D-League to be a true minor league, then expanding the time frame in which players can be sent down makes some sense. (I like the idea of a rehab assignment, too, but let’s not go there today.) Expanding it to three or four years has some merit, it does take time for some guys to develop and getting to play in the D-League rather than riding the NBA pine can speed that process up.

But if you think the players are going to sign off on giving up salary, you ate the special brownies.

This sounds like the kind of thing that would make for future negotiations, which is what the players want to do next. But if the offer really is take-it-or-leave-it from the owners (it wasn’t last time) then this is another sticking point.

Al Horford had to tell Aron Baynes to take the ball to the basket (VIDEO)

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Boston’s Aron Baynes has seen his minutes increase the past couple of games of the Eastern Conference Finals as Brad Stevens tries to match up better with Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson.

Baynes is a solid big man who can step out and hit a three, but he’s not exactly blessed with the offensive gene — he’s no natural scorer. Sometimes it’s not even clear he knows where the basket is.

Such as on this fourth quarter play from Monday night, where Al Horford has to point Baynes to the rim and tell him to go there.

It worked. This time.

Baynes, Horford and the Celtics made things interesting in the second half, but could not overcome their early deficits and lost Game 4 to the Cavaliers 111-102, tying the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2.

Fast start, LeBron James enough for Cavaliers to hold on to win, even series

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For the first time in 11 days, we had an NBA playoff game that finished with a single-digit margin. Barely.

It didn’t look like it would be early — Boston missed lay-ups and dunks all through the first quarter, LeBron James was being LeBron James, and the Cavaliers had a 16 point first quarter lead. It was 15 at the half.

But these Celtics would not go quietly.

Boston started to find it’s offensive groove — hunting Kevin Love incessantly — but in the end couldn’t get enough stops because, well, LeBron James. He finished with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting, his sixth 40-point game of these playoffs. He got wherever he wanted on the floor all night, carving up the top-ranked regular season defense of the Celtics like a surgeon. No other Cavalier had more than 14 points (Kyle Korver), but the supporting cast played enough defensive and made hustle plays to hang on.

@realtristan13 with the swat and @kingjames with the finish!

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Cleveland got the win, 111-102, and evened the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Boston.

What Celtics fans can feel good about is their team’s resilience and grit. Down big for the second-straight game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics fought back from as much as 19 down earlier in the game to get it to single digits and make the fans in Quicken Loan Arena nervous in the fourth quarter. That is something the team can carry over to Game 5, as they can some defensive tweaks that shut down opportunities for Korver and the rest of the supporing cast.

What should bother Celtics fans was another night where they struggled to generate offense in the face of more intense defensive pressure.

That came from the opening tip, with the Celtics missing a few layups and a couple of Jaylen Brown dunk attempts — all of which allowed the Cavs to get early offenses and mismatches going the other way. Those missed shots fueled a 10-0 Cavaliers run that had Cleveland up 19-10 early. The Celtics shot 3-of-10 at the rim in the first quarter, shot 26 percent overall, and trailed 34-18 after one.

The second quarter saw the Celtics start to find their offense — they scored 35 points on 50 percent shooting — but they only gained one point on the Cavaliers lead because Boston couldn’t get stops. LeBron had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to pace a Cleveland team that shot 61.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-11 threes. That’s why the Cavs were up 68-53 at the half.

The Celtics energy was better than Game 2, but in the first half they looked like a young team, one that made a lot of mistakes.

In the second half, the Celtics started to figure things out — they started making the extra pass, they got stops for stretches, they looked more like a young team finding their footing on a big stage on the road. They finished the night with 25 from Jaylen Brown, 17 from Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier had 16 points and 11 assists.

They just couldn’t completely close the gap because they couldn’t get consistent stops — the Cavaliers shot 60 percent as a team for the game, and a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 59.6. Cleveland mercilessly hunted Rozier on switches — forcing him on to LeBron or Kevin Love then attacking — and the Cavs got enough from their role players. Tristan Thompson did what he needed to bringing energy in the paint and some defense, plus he had 13 points. Korver was diving on the floor for loose balls. Larry Nance Jr. had his second good game in a row. George Hill had 13 points.

And whenever the Cavaliers needed a play, they had LeBron to turn to. He set another NBA record on Monday night, most playoff field goals made for a career.

LeBron is what needs to worry Boston most of all. The Celtics will be better at home in Game 5 — they have not lost in TD Garden all postseason — but if this thing goes seven, it’s a dangerous thing when the other team has the best player on the planet.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

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LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

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Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.