Does all this television money on the table mean no lockout in 2017? Don’t bet on it.

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“We all have to serve someone… I feel like I work for the players, they are getting 51 percent, and we did a really good job for them, and the raising tide will raise all boats.”
—Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards owner, worth an estimated $1 billion

It’s going to be hysterical during the 2017 NBA labor negotiations when some owner tries to plead financial hardship.

The numbers in the new NBA television deal are eye-popping — the deal will start with the NBA getting $2.1 billion a year in television revenue (up from around $900 million this year) and going up to $3.1 billion in nine years. The salary cap, currently at $63 million, will easily pass $90 million during the course of this deal. Owners, already seeing their franchise valuations skyrocket, now all should make money in the short term (unless they spend like the Nets last season) and have a lot more value in their teams.

Both the owners and players are going to get paid.

Is that enough money to keep there from being a 2017 lockout/strike? Are teams/players afraid of killing the golden goose?

Don’t bet on it.

I fear the best we fans can hope for is that it doesn’t end up costing any regular season games. Never underestimate anyone’s desire, no matter how rich, to get more money.

The current CBA came together after a lost summer and start of the season in 2011, with late night negotiations and lots of bad pizza eaten by media members staking out those meetings. It almost never came together, but in the end the owners got what they wanted — shorter contracts and the players’ share of league revenue down from 57 percent to 50 percent. That deal can be re-opened in 2017 and it expected at least the players and maybe the owners want to get back into it.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the potential impact of the money on the CBA at the press conference announcing the new television deal.

“In terms of the impact on the CBA, our current deal says that the players receive 50-51 percent off the top so, a lion’s share of this money will be paid directly to the players,” Silver said. “So I think it bodes well in terms of the effectiveness of the current collective bargaining agreement…. There is a re-opener in three years and I’m sure both sides will be staying the impacts of this deal and seeking to ensure it will remain a fair deal for both sides.”

The players rightfully feel they got crushed in the last round of negotiations and with a new, more aggressive president in Chris Paul and a new union director in Michelle Roberts, it is expected the players will want givebacks.

Some suggest the players will go after getting one or two of those revenue percentage points back — that will lead to a lockout and a lost season for sure. The owners will not surrender that money. Nor will the owners say the players should get a share of the profits from any sale of a franchise, another idea that has been suggested.

What might the players push for? From ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:

That’s just one of many issues.

Meanwhile, there are owners that still want a hard salary cap and you can be sure Adam Silver will start there with his side of the negotiations. Again. Or they want the players’ share of revenue down to 45 percent. The players will never go for that, but there are some owners who would be willing to wait it out (especially if this television contract has them still getting paid in the event of a work stoppage).

What we really need to hope for is calmer heads. Ones who look at how much money is being split up, the potential of fan backlash (although there wasn’t really any after the 2011 lockout) and say, “What are we doing here?”

CBA expert and well connected writer Larry Coon thinks that can happen. He wrote in a recent live chat at BasketballInsiders.com that he didn’t think 2017 would be like 2011 just because now everyone is making more money.

“To start with, I think the players are going to opt out of the CBA. Their reasoning will be that they did their share when times were hard, but now they’re past the hard times, and they want some of their concessions back. Plus the new national TV deals will be going into place, and they will want to reap in some of that windfall as well.

“How will the owners react? Unlike 2011, when they would rather shut down the league than continue to play under an unsustainable system, the owners will be more inclined not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. I think they will be much more amenable to finding some middle ground with the players, and therefore I’m thinking there will be a new agreement in place in time for the season to start as scheduled. So no — I don’t think the league will miss games in 2017.”

Let’s hope.

Report: Doc Rivers was surprised to learn Clippers were ousting him

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers
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The Clippers framed the conclusion of Doc Rivers’ coaching tenure as, “Doc Rivers Departs LA Clippers” and “Chairman Steve Ballmer and Doc Rivers have reached a mutual decision that Rivers will step down as head coach of the LA Clippers.”

What really happened?

Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

people with knowledge of the situation said Rivers was surprised to learn the Clippers wanted to move on.

Internally, Rivers enjoyed support even after the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals. But ultimately, the sting from yet another disappointing end to a season prompted the change.

The Clippers suffered a historic upset by blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets. In a season with legitimate championship aspirations, the Clippers fell short of even the conference finals for a record 50th straight year.

Of course, the coach was going to face scrutiny for that collapse. And Rivers deserved plenty.

But once the smoke cleared, Rivers appeared safe.

What changed?

Despite the Clippers’ initial spin, it’s becoming increasingly clear Rivers got fired. Still, many questions remain about the shocking move.

LaMelo Ball not worried about where he gets drafted, “Anywhere is a great fit”

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Lavar Ball has his opinion. Always. When the patriarch of the Ball family went on the “Road Trippin'” podcast a couple of months ago, he said he didn’t want his youngest son, LaMelo Ball, drafted by the Warriors because he would have to come off the bench behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. “Michael Jordan didn’t come off the bench,” was his logic.

LaMelo Ball is about as interested in his father’s opinions as most 19-year-olds.

“I’m my own man. He’s his own man. He has his opinions, I have mine,” the younger Ball said of his father on Monday while speaking to reporters via Zoom as part of the NBA’s pre-draft process.

“I feel I could play on any team and do good anywhere I go,” Ball said. “Anything that happens, I’m positive.”

Ball is projected to be a top-five pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled for Nov. 18. Rumors have bounced around the league that if the Timberwolves keep the No. 1 pick they will select Ball to pair with D'Angelo Russell in the backcourt. The Warriors have the No. 2 pick, the Charlotte Hornets select third, followed by Chicago then Cleveland.

Ball spent a chunk of his time with reporters denying having had contact with many teams at the top of the draft, although he said he didn’t know about Minnesota. He did say he had contact with the Knicks, who pick eighth, adding they just wanted to get to know him as a person (outside the online persona). Ball will not be on the board when New York makes its pick (the Knicks could trade up to get him, all the teams at the top of the draft are listening to offers).

Ball’s consistent point was he could fit in with any team.

“Anywhere is a great fit,” Ball said. “It’s the NBA. You put me with good players, I feel like it’s even gonna be better.”

Ball said he has adapted to the unprecedented pre-draft process, in part because his path to the NBA is untraditional. He said he realized back when his father had him playing in Lithuania at 16 he was not going to have the more traditional route to the NBA that his brother Lonzo Ball had, but LaMelo embraced it. LaMelo spent last season playing in Australia before returning to the states to prepare for the draft.

“I feel like I am dealing with it well,” Ball said. “I kinda like it, that nobody has been through something like this, it’s kinda unique, like me… I’m one-of-one.”

For now, Ball is in the Detroit area working out, preparing for the draft. He said some of that Detroit toughness is rubbing off on him.

But he’s happy to bring that with him wherever he gets drafted.

NBA playoffs, Finals schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

2020 NBA Finals schedule
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It may be five months after they were originally planned, but the NBA playoff schedule has reached the point the 2020 Finals are here.

It is down to the final two. There is LeBron James leading the Lakers against the team where he first won his ring. And then there is the gritty Miami team that nobody expected to be here — except themselves.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except for one two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5
Even more members of families for the players, coaches, and team staff are in the bubble for the Finals.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

NBA FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

Game 1: Sept. 30, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 2: Oct. 2, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 3: Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 4: Oct. 6, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5: Oct. 9, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 6: Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 7: Oct. 13, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
*If necessary.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Finals

No. 5 Miami beat No. 3 Boston 4-2

Western Conference Finals

No. 1 L.A. Lakers beat No. 3 Denver 4-1

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

Evolving plan for next NBA season has USA Basketball, Tokyo Olympics in limbo

Tokyo Olympics
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Will NBA players be available to represent their countries when the Tokyo Olympics begin next July 23?

Nobody knows. As the NBA pushes back its start date for next season — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently said it likely would be after the first of the year, but sources around the league tell NBC Sports to expect more like February or March — it leaves USA Basketball and the participation of NBA players in the Olympics in limbo. Here’s what USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo told Chris Sherridan of Basketball News.

“I was told the NBA season would start in December, and then it was Christmas, and then after Jan. 1, and that keeps pushing the schedule for me. The NBA season typically takes 170 or 171 days to complete, so that creates a conflict on paper,” said Colangelo, adding that a suspension of the NBA season in order to clear time for the Olympics also has been discussed…

“If the [NBA] season conflicts with the Olympics, I might have 14 non-playoff teams to choose from, but then other players will become available as the NBA playoffs progress,” Colangelo said. “The problem is that the IOC has a rule mandating an early submission of a 12-man roster. But with a pandemic, the hope would be that you’ve got to set aside outdated rules. I assume people will be reasonable and come up with some kind of a program that works.”

Right now, there is no answer for Colangelo and USA Basketball because there is no answer on next season. The only thing owners seem set on is playing a full 82-game schedule — after taking a financial hit this season, owners want to start making money again — with fans in the building for as many of those games as possible.

If the NBA season starts in February and was condensed slightly, the regular season could be done before the Tokyo Olympics. A Team USA made up of guys who missed the playoffs would still be formidable (this past season that would have included Stephen Curry, Trae Young, Bradley Beal, and others). However, other countries don’t have the luxury of that kind of depth.

Also being discussed is an NHL-style break in the NBA season to allow players to compete in the Olympics, then return to finish the season.

Team USA, despite its struggles at the World Cup last year, still qualified for the Olympics. That was a team depleted of NBA star power because of both injuries and guys not wanting to play the World Cup then Olympics in back-to-back years (nobody knew the coronavirus would blow up those plans).  What players USA Basketball will send to Tokyo remains up in the air.

And there’s little Colangelo can do but wait.