Tag:Christmas
Posted on: December 2, 2011 5:26 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2011 6:18 pm
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Deal expected to pass, but not without drama

Players have been invited to New York for a meeting Wednesday to discuss the new collective bargaining agreement, and an electronic vote will be held Thursday on whether to approve the deal, two people familiar with the process told CBSSports.com.

The Wednesday meeting will be mandatory for the 30 player reps, but all 450-plus union members are invited. In the electronic vote, a majority of players who cast ballots must approve the deal for it to pass.

Members of the National Basketball Players Association's executive committee have spent the past few days sorting out confusion among players who felt they didn't have enough information about the deal or thought the vote to reauthorize the union was akin to a vote approving the deal. Some players who thought they were voting to approve the deal this week complained that they hadn't even seen it -- even though a summary of the major deal points was delivered via email to every union member.

The union was reformed Thursday with the approval of more than 300 players, and negotiators for the NBPA and the league reconvened Friday to finish hammering out the details -- including a list of secondary items that have yet to be agreed to, such as drug testing, the age limit and provisions that allow teams to shuttle players back and forth to the NBA Development League. None of those items is expected to be a deal breaker, and a key one -- the age limit -- may be left in its current form, to be revisited at a later date after the agreement is ratified.

Not unexpectedly given how painful this entire fiasco has been, it won't end without one more dose of drama.

While the deal is expected to pass overwhelmingly, a potential sideshow could emerge regarding the future of NBPA executive director Billy Hunter. As CBSSports.com reported Wednesday, there is an insurgency being led by a handful of agents who are attempting to have their clients' votes approving the new CBA contingent on Hunter agreeing to return as head of the union only on an interim basis. As far as player involvement, the movement is being led by Celtics stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. 

UPDATE: A small but vocal group of players is trying to have the executive community replaced, as well, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

Pierce is represented by Jeff Schwartz, who has been among the leaders of a group of seven agents from six of the most influential agencies who've long disagreed with the union's bargaining and legal tactics. Those agents, including Arn Tellem, Dan Fegan, Mark Bartelstein and Bill Duffy, believe the players should've voted to decertify back in July and sued for antitrust violations much earlier in the process. Garnett is represented by agent Andy Miller, who has had no association with the dissident agents and was not aware of his client's involvement, sources said. Rob Pelinka, who represents Kobe Bryant and union president Derek Fisher, also is said to be among the group of insurgents, sources said.

Maurice Evans, a vice president of the union and member of the players' executive committee, said he's spoken with about a half-dozen players who were dissatisfied with the deal and the process until the details were explained.

"Once I explained the CBA to them, they were disarmed and enlightened," Evans said Friday. "A lot of guys are really excited about the deal. ... It sounds like a bunch of disgruntled agents who felt their tactics weren't followed."

The flawed strategy of an earlier decertification could've jeopardized the season and resulted in a worse deal for the players if they'd failed in their legal efforts before pressure mounted on the league to make a deal or lose the season. Furthermore, once the union was reformed, the leadership was reformed with it. Two people with knowledge of Hunter's contractual situation told CBSSports.com that his contract was renewed at some point in the past year and has either four or five years left.

In any event, Hunter will not be in place when the next opportunity arises to negotiate a new agreement -- after the sixth year of this deal, at which point each side can opt out of it. Commissioner David Stern, Hunter's longtime bargaining adversary, is expected to be retired by then as well.

Evans said several of the players he's spoken with about the deal in recent days backed off once they realized they'd been given "misinformation" about it from "not credible sources."

"Anyone who wants to challenge Billy's position will have their opportunity come Wednesday," Evans said. "I think they'll find his credentials unmatched. ... I'm extremely confident. For them to get a deal like this that speaks to each class -- the minimum player, the mid-level player and the superstar alike -- there's no way they wouldn't take this deal."

Once the deal is approved by the players and owners, it will lead to the opening of free agency and training camps on Dec. 9, with a five-game Christmas schedule of openers on Dec. 25, which the league officially announced Friday: Celtics-Knicks, Heat-Mavericks, Bulls-Lakers, Magic-Thunder and Clippers-Warriors.






Posted on: December 25, 2009 4:27 pm
 

Have patience: Wade on his way back

NEW YORK – If you were expecting to see a memorable performance from Dwyane Wade on Christmas Day, you came to the wrong place. What you got instead was something that Wade, coach Erik Spoelstra, and lord knows Pat Riley prefer.

It was a pick-your-spots effort from Wade on the offensive end and another stellar defensive game for Miami. Was it a tedious, boring way for the NBA to kick off its slate of five nationally televised games on Friday? Yawn. But if Wade and the Heat look back after the season and wonder when they found their rhythm, their identity, the 10-day stretch culminating with Friday’s 93-87 victory over the Knicks will stand out.

It wasn’t exactly Riley’s Heat vs. Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks in this, the Knicks’ first Christmas Day since appearance since 2001 after 38 straight from 1950-87. But it was the type of grind-fest that the Heat are going to have to become adept at winning if they’re going anywhere in what could be Wade’s last season in Miami.

“The alternative just was not working for us,” Spoelstra said.

After enjoying eight of their first 10 games at home with a 7-3 record, the Heat fell into some bad habits with a road trip that began Nov. 18 against last season’s playoff opponent, the Hawks. They went 4-8 over the next 12 games, allowing the opponent to score at least 100 points in nine of them. They’ve allowed 100 points only once in the last five games, and it happened to come in their only loss – 102-95 against Portland.

“Going into training camp, that’s what Coach wanted us to be,” Wade said. “Have the ability to score the ball, but don’t rely on it, because scoring the ball is inconsistent.”

This, Wade knows. He entered Friday’s game shooting a career-low 43 percent, prompting Riley to publicly question his conditioning. This season, he’s averaging 1.26 points per field goal attempt, a significant decline from the 1.37 points per field goal attempt he averaged last season while winning the scoring title.

An NBA front office executive who has watched Wade closely this season said he seems to be trying to raise his production lately by deferring to his teammates for long stretches instead of shouldering the majority of the scoring load from start to finish. That approach was on full display Friday, with only eight of Wade’s 21 field goal attempts coming in the first half.

“I was picking my spots early in the game,” Wade said. “At the end, I just had that ‘take us home’ mentality.”

After the Knicks cut the deficit to single digits midway through the fourth, Wade pushed it back to 10 points three times – with two 21-foot jumpers and then a ferocious dunk that made it 81-71 with 3:29 left.

“What changed?” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s name’s Dwyane Wade.”

Wade was 11-for-21 from the field for 30 points, a far cry from some of his inefficient performances that coincided with Miami’s attempt to win 100-point slugfests. In the past five games, Wade is 54-for-116 from the field (.466).

The burst that he showed on that dunk with 3:29 remaining was something that had been missing. After his legs felt unusually heavy early in the season, Wade said personal trainer Tim Grover joined him in Miami for a crash course in core strength to get him jump-started again. At the same time, he’s tried to slow down his offense and speed up his patience.

“I pride myself on playing an overall game,” Wade said, “not just scoring.”

That formula is working for him now, and for his team, too.
 
 
 
 
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