Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:40 pm
The NBA's labor talks have been big news in the days leading up to the tipoff of the 2010-11 season. Cutting player salaries by one-third ... contraction ... doomsday rhetoric from the commissioner to the union and right back at him. Oh, and by the way: the Heat play the Celtics Tuesday.
All of this affects some 400 players, 30 billionaires, and you ... the fan. But it affects one player perhaps more than any other: Carmelo Anthony.
The Nuggets star is days away from starting the season with a team he no longer wants to play for, and that's his own choice. But the dilemma is this: If Anthony can't compel Denver to trade him to a team of his liking, he has to be prepared to stare $65 million in the face and say, "No, thanks."
Or does he?
That is one of the unspoken uncertainties inherent in the NBA's labor fight. If the league insists on imposing a hard salary-cap, and if it follows the NHL model of rolling back existing contracts to make them fit the new system, Anthony's three-year, $65 million extension offer from Denver is a mirage.
An NHL-style rollback would result in Anthony's extension (if he signed it) and every other existing deal in the league being reduced to fit the new model.
Maybe that is why a person familiar with Anthony's strategy told me that Melo is fully prepared to spend the entire season in Denver without signing an extension and then take his chances under the new deal.
"Carmelo is not afraid to go into next year and test the CBA," the person said.
That seems like a bold statement, but in a way, maybe it isn't. What would be the point of begrudgingly accepting an extension with a team he doesn't want to play for just to get the money under the current deal when the new deal may very well wipe it out anyway with a rollback?
My former Newsday colleague, Alan Hahn, covered the 2004-05 NHL lockout and has been all over this angle as it applies to the NBA labor talks.
Several sources involved in the Anthony trade discussions continued to maintain Friday that the Nuggets will likely decide to move him after Dec. 15, when numerous players become trade-eligible -- thus widening the field of assets at Denver's disposal. But no team is going to take Anthony on a rental basis. More to the point: If Anthony believes there's a chance he'll have to accept a pay cut anyway under a hard-cap system with rollbacks, why not wait it out and sign with the team he really wants to play for, the Knicks?
It's a risk, sure. It's a lot of money to leave on the table -- or maybe it isn't, depending on how determined owners are to slash player expenditures. And based on commissioner David Stern's statement Thursday that owners want to take a $750 million to $800 million bite out of payroll -- a one-third reduction -- they seem sort of serious.
Stern was asked Friday for the second consecutive day about all things labor, this time on his preseason tipoff conference call with NBA media -- which typically is a chance for the former deli worker-turned-sports titan to spread his unique brand of sunshine on the masses. One of the more interesting questions was about Anthony and other stars trying to force their way to other teams, and whether that's good or bad for the sport.
Stern said it didn't bother him "in the least," so at least he's consistent. In the months leading up to the free-agent summer of 2010, Stern applauded the free-agent rights players had negotiated in the CBA while pointing out that the system was built to give the home team an advantage by paying more money.
Well, the system didn't work in the case of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, who took less money than their existing teams were offering to team up with Dwyane Wade in Miami. That was their right. And the home-team advantage won't exist in the hard-cap world Stern's owners are trying to create. A hard cap will only lead to more player movement; just look at the NHL, where Stanley Cup champions are routinely blown up soon after the victory parade.
"The players have no obligation to sign a contract," Stern said Friday. "And I remember these guys -- what were their names? -- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who actually asked to be traded; Patrick Ewing, who asked to be traded. Here we have a player who's keeping his options open. That's his right under the collective bargaining agreement, and I don't think it's fair to hold him to a higher standard."
I agree. I never had a problem with LeBron leaving Cleveland; it was the way he did it that bothered me. I have no problem whatsoever with Anthony deciding to bring his talents somewhere else. If there's a risk involved in that strategy, that's on him.
Stern embraced one concept Friday that may help in this regard, and it's one that I suggested here back in July : an NFL-style franchise tag.
"I think that the franchise player is an interesting concept," Stern said. "I think it's going to come up in our collective bargaining."
A franchise tag would build in protections for teams hoping to keep their stars under a hard cap. The players' union opposes all of it -- the hard cap because it would limit salaries, and a franchise tag because it would limit player movement. For the time being, we're stuck with a system that both sides enthusiastically agreed to only five years ago -- and one that has Anthony, one of the game's biggest stars, stuck in a self-imposed limbo.
Posted on: February 6, 2009 4:03 pm
This is what happens when you go to the videotape. The facts get in the way of a good story.
We told you about some video evidence that LeBron James' ninth rebound Wedensday night against the Knicks actually should've been credited to Ben Wallace. This would've meant that LeBron's 52-point triple-double wasn't really a triple-double.
Well, moments ago, the NBA released a statement that after reviewing the tape, the rebound has been officially credited to Big Ben.
That means Kareem Abdul-Jabbar can rest easy. His 50-point triple-double in 1975 remains the most recent in NBA history.
It was still amazing to watch LeBron soar desperately through the air to track down what he thought was his 10th rebound as time expired in the Cavs' 107-102 victory. But alas -- and to its credit -- the NBA corrected the record. LeBron's official stat line from that game: 52 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds.
Here's the NBA statement on the statistical change:
NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2009 – The NBA announced today that a statistical error was made during the Cleveland Cavaliers-New York Knicks game on Feb. 4 at Madison Square Garden. Cavaliers forward LeBron James was incorrectly credited with a rebound with 39.3 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter that should have been awarded to Cleveland forward Ben Wallace.
Due to the correction, James finished Wednesday’s game with nine rebounds – one rebound short of a triple-double – while Wallace ended with two rebounds. All NBA games are reviewed to ensure the accuracy of the game statistics.
Question: Does this mean that Kobe Bryant's 61-point performance Monday night at MSG was better than LeBron's because LeBron didn't have a triple-double?
Posted on: February 5, 2009 10:14 am
LeBron James probably wouldn't have risked life and limb diving for his 10th rebound Wednesday night -- the rebound that completed the first 50-point triple double since Kareem in 1975 -- if he'd known that it really was his ninth rebound.
I'm checking to see if the league office can and will review such statistical shenanigans. If so, Kareem's milestone is safe.
Sorry to let the facts get in the way of a good story.