Report: NBA, players union nowhere near deal on HGH testing

30 Comments

To hear NBA Commissioner David Stern or commissioner in waiting Adam Silver tell it, the NBA has been working on setting up Human Growth Hormone (HGH) testing and is close, it’s just waiting for the players union to agree. There was even a report last March saying it could be in place for this coming season.

Um, not so much.

First came some suggestion new union president Chris Paul wanted to fight the league over the tests (which require the drawing of a player’s blood). Now comes a report from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that the league and union are nowhere close to an agreement on testing.

Officials from the league office and National Basketball Players Association met earlier this month in New York to continue discussions on the matter, but a person familiar with the talks told CBSSports.com, “Nothing is anywhere near being agreed to.” The negotiations are ongoing, but the gap may be too wide to close in time for a policy to be in place in time for the start of the regular season.

The talks are stalled, and not where the NFL ones are stalled either. The NFL and its players’ union reached a tentative deal, it’s the details of implementation that have stalled things out for football.

For the NBA, the issue is not the biological passport idea but even how to get there.

Among the matters at issue is the proper establishment of baseline levels, the reliability of blood screening for HGH and disciplinary procedures, league sources said.

The NBA has largely been able to stay out of the PED scandals; while a couple players have gotten nailed (Hedo Turkoglu most recently) it’s been around the fringes. But the idea that an NBA player wouldn’t benefit from a substance that would help him recover more quickly between workouts — or facing four games in five nights — is ludicrous. And with the millions of dollars on the line to suggest human nature wouldn’t push some players to use the substance is naïve.

I don’t think PED use in the NBA is widespread, but I don’t wear David Stern’s rose-colored glasses either. The only way to know for sure is testing.

But we seem a long way off from that.

Caris LeVert suffers injury so horrific, it brings teammates to tears and opponents to prayer (video)

Leave a comment

Caris LeVert has been one of the Nets’ biggest bright spots. The hard-working 24-year-old was a Most Improved Player candidate, and he seems well-liked throughout the organization. He’s even already hit a couple gamewinners this season.

But LeVert’s breakout campaign hit a devastating snag tonight, as he injured his leg.

The reactions of both his Brooklyn teammates and the Timberwolves say everything. This is a tough one.

Markelle Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

5 Comments

A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

Elsa/Getty Images
9 Comments

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.