Players vote to reject offer, decertify union. Season likely doomed.

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This is Armageddon. Nuclear winter is upon NBA fans.

The players got together in New York on Monday and not only voted to reject the league’s ultimatum offer, but voted to start the process to decertify the union.

“We’ve arrived at the conclusion that the collective bargaining process has completely broken down, and as a result in the last hour we have served a notice of disclaimer on (David) Stern and the NBA,” union director Billy Hunter said after the meeting. “We plan to disseminate that to all 30 teams. …

“The players are not ready to accept the ultimatum. They thought it was completely unfair on the part of the NBA ownership and management. … We have negotiated in good faith for two years, but the players have felt they have given enough.”

That step — a notice of disclaimer essentially says the union has no interest in representing the players in negotiations any longer and is abandoning that right — is the first step in anti-trust lawsuits that will be filed by players in the coming days. This is the step the NFL players’ union took and something agents have pushed the NBA union to do since July. The timing essentially blows up the negotiating process when there wasn’t a lot of time left to save the 2011-12 season.

The courts move slowly, but the union has reached its breaking point. It has gone to the one, big card it could play.

The reaction of the owners will be to hunker down, play hardball and try to force their entire wish list — such as salary rollbacks and a hard salary cap — on the players. The owners are not going to be scared by this at all.

Basically, Commissioner Stern is going to let his hardliners have the run of the place. Guys who were already willing to miss a season get to have their way.

Meanwhile, NBA fans lose. And so does the league.

“This is where it stops for us as a union,” said Derek Fisher, union president.

It might be where a lot of fans stop if a full season is lost. But the union is moving forward with these plans.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, several players have hired top anti-trust attorney David Boies. If the name is familiar, he was involved in the NFL’s anti-trust cases. Boies is the guy who had the anti-trust cases against Microsoft (and had some success there) and he was they guy representing Al Gore in Gore vs. Bush.

Technically, what this legal move does is turn the union into a “trade association” that works for the players but does not represent them in negotiating a CBA. Ultimately when a deal is struck, the union will reform.

Stern did not back down in an interview on ESPN, saying the players got bad advice on negotiating tactics if this was their move.

“It’s not going to work,” Stern said. “If they were going to do this, maybe they should have done this a long time ago so we had a chance to save the season. But they seem hell-bent on self-destruction.”

The league already has filed a lawsuit trying to block decertification of the union, and there have been arguments on the players’ efforts to have that case dismissed (but no ruling yet). That situation just becomes a lot more messy.

The players’ announcement came after about a four-hour meeting where about 50 players were looking at a take-it-or-leave-it offer from the league. That deal offered the players a 50/50 share of league revenue (once the owners took a healthy cut of expenses off the top) and a much more restrictive system of player movement than had been allowed before. The offer the players had wanted would have returned about $280 million a season (in last year’s dollars) to the owners, but the players wanted a less restrictive system. The owners had long said the two were not tied. It wanted both the money and the system changes.

Stern has said that if the players rejected this offer, the owners would counter with a “reset” offer that would give the players just 47 percent of basketball related income (down from 50 in the last offer and 57 percent last season) and a hard salary cap. The players’ meeting was well-attended and featured not only team representatives but also Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and many other star players. They all raised their hands in the press conference and said they supported this move.

Stern has warned the players against decertification and called it a “nuclear option.” The players just pushed the button.

It is a dark, dark day for the NBA.

Anthony Davis will play in All-Star Game

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Everyone wants to read entirely too much into everything Anthony Davis has done and said this weekend, from saying Boston was “never not on my list” of destinations to a photo of him daping LeBron James (“They bumped fists, clearly he is going to be a Laker!”).

Among all the drama was “will he or won’t he play in the All-Star Game?” He was injured on the play before halftime of the final game before the break, left the arena to get an MRI (which found a shoulder bruise), and then up through Saturday said he “planned” to play but the call would be made game time.

He’s in.

Davis will come off the bench for Team LeBron. How many minutes he plays will be something to watch (under 10?), but he will be on the court.

Kevin Garnett didn’t like how Anthony Davis trade request was handled (VIDEO)

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Kevin Garnett was famously a franchise player for the Minnesota Timberwolves who requested a trade. He is perhaps one of just a handful of people on the planet uniquely positioned to understand exactly what Anthony Davis is going through with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Garnett has even spoken about Davis before, mentioning in December that Davis should request a trade from New Orleans.

Davis of course did that very thing, and word got out in January that Davis wanted out of Louisiana.

Despite all of this context, Garnett isn’t sold on the way things went down between Davis and the Pelicans. Speaking on TNT on Saturday night, Garnett said he wasn’t too hot how Davis’ agent, Rich Paul, handled things.

Via Twitter and NBC Sports Boston:

“It’s not my taking,” Garnett said. ” … I don’t like the way the process has come out.

“I don’t like the fact that the agents are dictating the whole move of this. Shout-out to Rich Paul, shout-out to Klutch and what they do, but this was a bit unprofessional, to be honest.”

“To call for a trade that you probably couldn’t get in the long run and probably know that it was a long shot to get done during a season like this? Not only cause hiccups in your own program, but think about the Lakers and the hiccups this caused over there.

“Those kids was playing totally different basketball than they were after the trade deadline. Y’all saw that. The energy was different.”

That’s and interesting turn of events in how Garnett said he approached Davis not so long ago. For reference, here’s what Garnett said he told Davis to his face back in December:

“I told Anthony Davis this to his face,” Garnett told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone conversation this week. ” ‘You are not playing against the guys you are squaring up against every night. You are playing against history, man.’

“Anthony Davis playing in New Orleans, I don’t want to say they are wasted days, but they are non-days. He needs to be somewhere where he can be with another guy and they can have a run at a championship. He has been in New Orleans long enough. It is time for a change now. This is it. No better time to do this.”

It’s interesting that Garnett though Davis should request a trade, but apparently not to a specific location. Then again, don’t think Davis’ trade request was very artfully handled. To Garnett’s credit, how Klutch went about things was pretty ham-fisted, and they seem to have overplayed their hand.

Short of things getting resolved between ownership of the two teams, it doesn’t appear that a Davis-to-the-Lakers trade is on the table. LA definitely seemed to annoy former GM Dell Demps, and even with Demps gone, that doesn’t change the fact that other teams will be able to offer a better package for Davis this summer, namely the Boston Celtics.

Who knows where Davis is going to end up? LA could still be on the table. At this juncture, they seem like they’re at the bottom of the list.

People are really reading too much into Kawhi Leonard’s comments about Toronto

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Kawhi Leonard might not stay with the Toronto Raptors past this season, and so fans are trying as hard as they can to ascertain which way the star is leaning on a daily basis. Leonard doesn’t say much to media, and has a propensity to project a rather flat demeanor.

All-Star Weekend is upon us, and Leonard has naturally been asked about how he feels about Toronto halfway through the season.

Leonard, a native Californian, told reporters this week that Canada has some good food and that it’s good to bring a jacket.

Via Twitter:

Not surprising was the context in which fans on Twitter read into Leonard’s comments. These, in my view, are rather innocuous things to say about Toronto. However, many felt that Leonard’s remark about how cold it is in Canada means he’s leaning toward leaving the Raptors come July.

I think it’s probably time to cool it on projections about what Leonard wants. He’s difficult to read, and after the saga with the San Antonio Spurs, seems a bit tempestuous. If the Raptors end up being a Finals team, it seems like Leonard might stay. Anything short of that, and Toronto is in for some real questions.

If it’s any consolation, at least Leonard thinks the Raptors have a shot at making the final series of the year.

LeBron James on Colin Kaepernick: ‘I stand with Kap. I kneel with Kap.’

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LeBron James is no stranger to standing up for social justice issues, and he’s a leader in American sports when it comes to his sphere of influence.

James and his teammates wore “I can’t breathe” shirts back in 2014 to raise awareness of the treatment of the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police. Before a game in 2012, LeBron and his Miami Heat teammates stood in a photo in hoodies, heads bowed, to raise awareness of the death of Trayvon Martin.

So it made sense that James had an opinion about Colin Kaepernick when The King was asked about the former NFL quarterback at All-Star Weekend.

Kaepernick and former San Francisco 49ers teammate Eric Reid recently reached a settlement with the NFL with regard to their collusion case. James said that he didn’t feel as though anyone was ever really trying to understand what Kaepernick was trying to call attention to — police brutality — by kneeling during the national anthem.

Via Twitter:

“I think it’s important to stick up for what you believe in, you what I’m saying?” James said. “I think with Kap, I stand with Kap, I kneel with Kap. I just feel what he was talking about no one wanted to listen to. Nobody ever really wanted to understand where he was actually coming from. I think that anybody that would sacrifice their livelihood for the betterment of all of us, I can respect that and he’s done that. I mean, you got a guy who basically lost his job because he wanted to stand for something that was more than just him.”

That’s a pretty resounding endorsement by James for Kaep.

I think some are disappointed that Kaepernick is likely bound by some kind of NDA as part of his settlement, but it seems likely that he’s going to use whatever cash the NFL paid him for good. Kaepernick has already made significant charitable donations, a list of which you can see here.

Nice to see LeBron being vocal about being on the right side of history yet again.