Posted on: August 5, 2011 4:22 pm
This was all working out so well for the players. Deron Williams said hasta la vista to the lockout and took his talents to Turkey. Kevin Durant lit up Rucker Park with 66 points. Dwyane Wade, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony went to China and supposedly came back with lucrative offers for themselves and all their pals.
To this point, no superstar has followed D-Will to Turkey or anywhere else. There are complications with these supposedly lucrative offers in China. And oh, we now bring you the widely anticipated and sadly inevitable news of Michael Beasley shoving a fan in the face and Matt Barnes punching an opponent during pro-am games on either coast.
We don't even want to get into the escapades of three former NBA players in the news this week -- Darius Miles, who was arrested for trying to bring a loaded gun through airport security, Rafer Alston, who was sued over his alleged role in a strip club fight, and Samaki Walker, who allegedly tried to dine on eight grams of marijuana during a traffic stop in Arizona, during which police also confiscated prescription drugs and liquid steroids.
Guns, strip clubs and weed -- the trifecta of ammunition for those quick to stereotype NBA players as outlaws, lawbreakers and menaces to society. Great job, guys.
It’s a lockout, so NBA players must be behaving badly. And they are.
I’ve written previously on my disappointment that the stars with all the clout aren’t speaking up for the union in the ongoing labor dispute, preferring instead to stay quiet and tend to their own affairs. The latest flare-up from the NBPA’s knucklehead contingent is proof why union officials disagreed with my premise all along. Simply put, they were happy that the players, by and large, had been conducting themselves professionally during the lockout and not stepping out of line – a la Kenny Anderson, who turned the public on the players when he lamented having to sell some of his luxury cars during the 1998-99 lockout.
The union, it appears, will give up a few sound-byte points to David Stern so long as it can avoid the Kenny Anderson moment. Except now, they have the Michael Beasley moment and the Matt Barnes moment.
The NBA has gone to great lengths in recent years to curtail on-court behavior, clamping down on gesturing, complaining to officials, and the like. But no such rules were in effect at New York City’s Dyckman Park, where Beasley “mushed” the face of a heckler Thursday night. Nor were they in effect at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco, where Barnes punched an opponent in a pro-am game on the very same night.
Such offenses in an NBA game would’ve earned an ejection, a hefty fine and a pointed rebuke from Stern. But the commissioner has no authority over the players now except in how he nonchalantly eviscerated all their bargaining positions with a smile on ESPN Tuesday night.
“They’re not serious about making a deal with the NBA,” Stern said, with no on-air response from any union representative. “They’re so busy talking about their decertification strategy, following the lead of their attorney, Jeffrey Kessler who did it for the NFL players, and engaging in conversations with agents about it and talking about it constantly, that we think that is distracting them from getting serious and making a deal.”
And now, some players are busy slugging playground wannabes and “mushing” the faces of hecklers from coast to coast, failing to realize that everyone in attendance has a phone capable of recording video and uploading it YouTube for all the world to see. Big difference from the last lockout, when we only got to read about a fraction of the follies the next day in the newspaper.
Making matters worse, just when it seemed that the players had a Kenny Anderson moment to pin on Stern – his bloated salary, which was reported to be between $15 million and $23 million – well, never mind. The Associated Press weighed in, citing multiple league sources who said Stern makes less than baseball commissioner Bud Selig ($18 million) and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell ($11 million). A person with knowledge of the activities of the NBA’s advisory/finance committee – a group of 11 owners who set Stern’s salary – confirmed to CBSSports.com that $10 million or less was “in the ballpark.”
So to sum up, the best strategy the players have against the owners is to walk a straight line (except, now some of them are not) and the threat of stars going overseas (except only one star has done so). And even if more follow – even if 20 more follow – where does that leave the other 400 players? To stay home and receive weekly updates from NBPA president Derek Fisher about how the owners still haven’t moved off their “my-way-or-the-highway” proposal – or to go out and play for free in some exhibition game, where one union member or another might just have to slug somebody?
It’s a tough act to follow, but several star players will try. Even if a dozen or more of them get lucrative deals in China or somewhere else for $1 million a month, that’s still a small fraction of their NBA salaries. Don’t you think Jerry Buss would jump at the chance to pay Kobe Bryant $1 million a month? That’s a hefty discount off his NBA haul of $25 million a year.
How is all of this intertwined? Everything is intertwined during a lockout, and must be viewed through the prism of whether it helps or hurts the players’ bargaining position. Going off on a heckler or opponent at some exhibition game does not qualify as helpful. Except to the traffic on YouTube.
Posted on: June 25, 2009 6:50 pm
Edited on: June 26, 2009 7:10 am
NEW YORK -- Last summer, the Nets were politely rebuffing inquiries about Vince Carter, not ready yet to part with their highest-paid and most impactful player as part of their plan to attract major free agents in 2010.
That plan intersected with the opportunity to move Carter and the $35 million left on his contract Thursday, when New Jersey sent Carter to the defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic.
It was the final blow to the core of Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson, and Carter, who led the Nets through some of the best seasons in franchise history. It also made New Jersey a major factor in the 2010 free-agent sweepstakes and signaled to their fans in New Jersey that they're packing it in for the move to Brooklyn. The Nets also had talks with the Spurs and Cavs about Carter.
The Nets cleared more hurdles this week in making their dream of moving to Brooklyn by 2012 a reality. And by moving Carter, they put themselves $17 million in 2010 cap space closer to putting a marquee star -- or two -- in that new playpen.
The Magic? To me, the trade signals that Orlando GM Otis Smith doesn't believe he can keep Hedo Turkoglu, who will be an unrestricted free agent in a couple of weeks. Carter will join a healthy Jameer Nelson in the backcourt, but he's similar to Turkoglu from the standpoint of ball-dominance and big shot-making -- two ingredients that the Magic would've sorely missed had they not hedged their bets by replacing them.
Orlando sent Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, and Tony Battie to the Nets for Carter and Ryan Anderson. Battie and Alston have contracts that expire after next season, while Lee and Anderson are a wash. So the Nets save $17.3 million from Carter's contract in 2010 and have only three players guaranteed money that season -- Josh Boone, Eduardo Najera, and Keyon Dooling. (They hold team options on Lee, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez, and Sean Williams.)
The Cavs, Spurs, and Magic have struck so far with a win-next-season-at-all-costs strategy. Who's next?
Posted on: May 7, 2009 12:28 am
Since Rafer Alston's slap to the back of Eddie House's head will be a topic of conversation until Game 3 between the Celtics and Magic on Saturday, I thought it would be appropriate to share details of a chat I had with Alston before Game 1 on Monday night in Boston.
I was asking Alston what he thought of Rajon Rondo's physical play in the first round against Chicago. Given his face-rake of Brad Miller and WWE move against Kirk Hinrich, Rondo certainly established himself as a focal point of confrontation as the Celtics ventured into the second round against Orlando.
Alston told me those two plays against Chicago weren't unique in Rondo's arsenal. "They just saw those two," Alston said. "He’s been doing it a long time. The series started to get a little physical and he was in the midst of it all. I don't think he’s a dirty player at all by any standard, But definitely, the latter part of that series, he started getting some fouls, getting into some physical confrontations."
Then I asked Alston what I thought was an important question: How do you match Rondo's intensity without crossing the line?
"I usually don’t get into that unless I think they’re taking too many cheap shots," Alston said. "But other than that, I don’t normally get into the back and forth, shouting match, hit-for-hit, and shove-for-shove. I try to let the refs handle that. But if it’s going on long, I may either say something to the refs or give a shove or something like that. But I don’t get into it for the most part."
Enter Mr. House. Now don't get me wrong, Eddie House is an immensely valuable 3-point shooter off the bench for the Celtics. Anybody who watches and knows the NBA knows that he's also one of the cockiest, most annoying, most willing trash-talkers in the league. He's known for barking at the opponent's bench after hitting a 3-pointer nearby. Whatever transpired after House hit the 3-pointer that led to Alston's slap, Alston is the one under the microscope. As well he should be. Should he be suspended? I think not. For a Three Stooges impersonation? C'mon. Sure, it was extracurricular, gratuitous, and had nothing to do with the play. But I think the standard for suspension should be a little higher than a Mo, Larry, and Curly move. But that's just me.
Given Alston's comments before Game 1, it would be interesting to find out what precipitated his decision to pop House in the head like a Catholic school teacher. If he was answering my question honestly -- and I have no reason to believe he wasn't -- then there must have been some other extracurricular activity to prompt him to go off like that.
Lost in all of this: Boy, the Magic are a weak-kneed bunch, no?
Posted on: March 8, 2009 1:14 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2009 6:41 pm
It's Marbury's first start since Jan. 11, 2008, when he had 13 points and eight assists for the Knicks in a home loss to Toronto. After that game, Marbury elected to have foot surgery and missed the rest of the season. The rest is history -- the benching in the season opener by Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, the banishment from the team over refusing to play, the lengthy contract dispute, and finally a buyout that freed him up to sign with the Celtics.
Welcome to the Gah-den. Happy to be here to bring you the Brooklyn vs. Queens point guard matchup between Marbury and Rafer Alston.
Brooklyn we go hahd, we go hahd ...
UPDATE: Marbury played about the way you'd expect after such a long gap between starts. He was 2-for-5 with four points and no assists. His timing and conditioning still have a long way to go, and a problem he had even when he was healthy and in good graces with the Knicks was evident again: Steph can still get to the basket whenever he wants to, but he can't finish the way he used to. Hey, it comes with age and not playing competitive basketball for almost 14 months.
Marbury was unable to play at the tempo the Celtics needed to keep the Magic off balance, which is why Doc Rivers went with Eddie House at the point for most of the third and all but the final 14 seconds of the fourth. With Marbury on the bench, Boston climbed back from a 22-point third-quarter deficit and got it down to single digits before falling to Orlando, 86-79.
I wished him luck after his postgame interview, and he thanked me and asked how I was. No hug. No hard feelings. No feelings at all, really. He plays ball and I write about it. One thing I'll say about him is that he almost always understands that.