Tag:Nets
Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:31 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 9:58 am
 

On big day for NBA, why is the max so sacred?

NEW YORK – A few thoughts on a very important day for the NBA:

• What does it mean that commissioner David Stern is giving mediator George Cohen one day to solve all the league’s problems before breaking away for two days of Board of Governors meetings? On one hand, it’s unrealistic that Cohen and his colleague, Scot Beckenbaugh, could do in one day what Stern and Billy Hunter haven’t been able to do in two years. On the other, it creates a sense of urgency – without which nothing ever gets done in negotiations. “That’s David’s style,” one league executive said. “He likes deadlines.”

• There are rumblings in the agent community and among team executives that the hawkish position of the players’ association – its line in the sand at 53 percent and inflexibility over competitive aspects of the system – is a recipe for doom. “Sad to say, but I think (the owners) just want to sit the season out,” one prominent personnel man said. The involvement of superstars Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the negotiations two weeks ago shook some team executives who believed the two sides were on their way to a deal. “It baffles me that a union of 400 guys is fighting for one or two guys, whereas hundreds of guys are the ones taking the loss,” another team executive told CBSSports.com.

• Several executives fear that Hunter and union president Derek Fisher have been swayed by star players and their agents into taking a hard-line position that could be devastating to hundreds of rank-and-file players if the season were lost. “The thing that they’re fighting for right now is not the middle-of-the-road guy, and that's who you would think the union would be fighting for,” one of the executives said. “They’re fighting for the max guys right now or the max-to-be guys.”

• Longtime agent Steve Kauffman, a player agent during the 1998-99 lockout who now represents coaches and management executives, agrees that not enough time has been spent examining how much money and system flexibility could be freed up by reducing max contracts. “The deal is there to be made,” Kauffman said. “It's ridiculous. The main thing is, tell me what the max salaries are going to be. Because if you want to really help your union, who does the union represent? Whose interests are they protecting? If it's supposed to be everybody, then you've got to strike a balance.”

• Among the negotiating points that the league has said it’s conceded is the initial goal of curtailing the size and length of max contracts. Kauffman believes that’s gotten in the way of getting a deal. “You can make the argument that the stars deserve to be paid 75 or 80 percent of the payroll,” Kauffman said. “But if the max got a 15 percent cut, there would be more room to do those contracts that (the agents) are complaining they can't do. … The superstars are always going to get theirs through endorsements and other avenues.”

• Does this point about max salaries bear out in the math? A 15 percent reduction in future max salaries would represent only 1 percent of BRI annually – about $54 million based on the 21 players who currently make $15 million or more. But over a six-year deal, that’s roughly $325 million – the difference between a players’ share of 52 percent, which sources indicate the union would accept, and 51 percent, a figure that owners likely also would agree to. If the league’s biggest stars took a pay cut, or at least agreed that future max contracts would be reduced by 15 percent, the difference could easily be made up by giving those players a bigger share of licensing money, which currently is divided equally among the players regardless of whether you’re Kobe with millions in jersey sales or Sasha Vujacic, whose only jersey sale likely was transacted by his finance, Maria Sharapova.

UPDATE:

• Some small-market executives are fearful that the amnesty provision being negotiated will turn out to be only another advantage for big-market teams. The provision would allow teams to release an underperforming player and spread the money left on his contract over twice the years remaining, plus one, for cap purposes. One small-market GM envisions this provision being used by big-market teams to collect players cast off by small-market teams. "It's a great idea until Baron Davis goes to Miami," the GM said.

• Do not underestimate the owners' obsession with creating a competitive system that mimics the NFL, through whatever vehicle gets them there. 
"In the NFL, every team has a chance," one team executive said. "That's what makes it great, and we don't have that. We're like Euro League. Until we have revenue sharing and a hard cap, we not going to be a fair league." 

• One final note on the two weeks of games that have been canceled so far. Given reports that league scheduling guru Matt Winick is working on a host of contingency plans, including an 82-game schedule that would begin Dec. 1, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that those games are lost forever. Of importance Tuesday in the mediation session with Cohen is that those games could enter the equation as a valuable bargaining chip. If the two sides reach another impasse on the BRI split, they could be enticed to move closer by getting back the $200 million each side “lost” when those games were canceled.

Posted on: August 5, 2011 4:22 pm
 

Sadly, it's players behaving badly

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.

Or not.

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: July 7, 2011 2:22 pm
 

NBA stars to Europe? Not so fast

When word began to spread Thursday that Nets star Deron Williams has an agreement to play next season in Turkey, one prominent NBA agent called foul.

"I don't think he's going overseas," said the agent, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the lockout. "I'll believe that deal when I see it."

The Turkish television station NTV Spor reported Thursday that Williams has agreed to join the Turkish team Besiktas, the same team former All-Star Allen Iverson played briefly for last season. The report was confirmed by other media outlets, including The New York Times, which quoted Besiktas coach Ergin Ataman as saying "we confirm" the agreement. According to Ataman, Williams is expected to report to Besiktas on Sept. 1 to prepare for the season, which begins Sept. 27.

If true, Williams would be the highest-profile NBA star in his prime to sign a contract to play overseas. And with NBA players locked out for what many believe will be a long labor fight -- perhaps wiping out the entire 2011-12 season -- Williams going to Turkey could open the floodgates for NBA stars turning their backs on the NBA owners who have nullified their contracts with a lockout.

Or not.

"The guys I work with in Turkey say there's no chance this is happening," the agent said.

Williams, due to become a free agent in 2012, would stand to make $70 million to $80 million on his next NBA contract -- depending on what the new collective bargaining rules will allow.

"He's going to risk that to make a few million dollars?" the agent said. "What if he gets hurt?"

The most Besiktas is believed to be capable of paying Williams is $7 million to $8 million, sources said. No financial terms of his apparent deal with the Turkish team have been divulged, and Williams' new agent, Jeff Schwartz, did not respond to a request for comment.

Various agents currently are discussing deals with European teams, but they're mostly for undrafted free agents or journeymen looking to stay sharp and make money during the lockout -- not superstars in their prime. In exchange for a few million Bucks and a free flight to Istanbul, Williams would not only be risking his next NBA contract, but the rest of his current one -- for which he is owed $34 million over the next two seasons, with a player option for 2012-13.

No offense to Besiktas, but European teams have a history of not living up to contractual obligations, leaving players who signed there fighting to get money that was owed to them. Of course, a publicity stunt to drum up fan interest and sign a few sponsors is free of charge.

In speaking with the Times, Ataman made a point of saying he plans to contact "other guys," such as, you know, Kobe Bryant.

The sound coming from my agent friend on the other end of the phone conversation at that point? Laughter.

 
Posted on: June 6, 2011 10:22 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 2:10 am
 

Jackson finally gets his chance

DALLAS – Joe Lacob proved himself to be an out-of-the-box thinker when he hired high-profile agent Bob Myers to join his front office. Really, he showed himself to be an outside-the-box thinker by buying the Warriors in the first place.

But Lacob truly put his stamp on the franchise Monday with the hiring of Mark Jackson, putting a young, evolving roster in the hands of a first-time head coach.

Jackson, a 17-year veteran as a player but never so much as an assistant coach, agreed Monday to a three-year deal for approximately $6 million, sources familiar with the deal told CBSSports.com. The contract has a team option for a fourth season.

Going from the broadcast table to the first seat on the sideline will be a challenge for Jackson, who finally gets the chance to prove that he is more than a dynamic voice. Jackson, 46, has been in the mix for numerous head coaching jobs over the years, but it took a creative management team of Lacob, Myers and GM Larry Riley to take a chance that there are coaching chops behind Jackson’s commanding presence.

“It was the right time and the right place to give him a shot,” a person close to Jackson said.

Lacob also met personally with former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, and Hornets assistant Michael Malone, but may have been leaning toward Jackson throughout the interview process, sources said. Golden State’s new brain trust kept the decision under wraps until it was announced by the team Monday evening. Even those with close ties to Jackson believed that Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey would be meeting with Lacob after the NBA Finals. Casey, himself, believed that as late as Monday morning, sources said.

UPDATE: The Warriors immediately targeted Malone to be Jackson’s lead assistant, and the former Cavaliers assistant agreed to a three-year deal Monday night, sources confirmed to CBSSports.com. Malone, who worked for Mike Brown in Cleveland, had interviewed earlier Monday in Los Angeles for the lead assistant position on Brown's staff with the Lakers. But Golden State's offer will put Malone among the upper echelon for assistants in the NBA as far a pay sources said. Former Pistons coach John Kuester, another Brown assistant from the Cleveland days, also is in the mix to join his staff with the Lakers.

Perhaps moving things forward with Jackson was the fact that the Pistons had expressed interest in interviewing him for their head coaching vacancy.

Several names have emerged as candidates for Jackson as he begins to put together his first coaching staff. Included in the list of possible assistants are former Rockets assistants Jack Sikma and Elston Turner; Kings assistant Mario Elie; and Jerry Sichting, who was on Keith Smart’s staff in Golden State.
Posted on: June 5, 2011 7:07 pm
 

Woodson, Sampson on list of Pistons candidates

DALLAS – Pistons management huddled Sunday to begin formulating a list of candidates to replace John Kuester as head coach, with defensive-minded coaches possessing experience and/or a commanding presence dominating the early discussions.

Pistons president Joe Dumars and his basketball staff have a preliminary list of candidates including former Hawks coach Mike Woodson, Mavs assistant Dwane Casey, former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, and ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson, league sources told CBSSports.com. Former Pistons star Bill Laimbeer also is expected to receive consideration, as is Hornets assistant Michael Malone.

Malone, who worked with Kuester on Mike Brown’s staff in Cleveland, is a finalist for the Golden State head coaching position and also is in the mix to join Brown’s staff with the Lakers. Kuester, who ran the offense for Brown in Cleveland, also is expected to speak with his former boss about joining him in L.A.

Sampson’s push for a head coaching position is gaining momentum due to his expertise on the defensive side of the ball. The former Indiana University coach also has the presence and fiery personality the Pistons are seeking. Sampson’s name also has been linked to the Timberwolves, who have yet to decide Kurt Rambis’ future. Sampson also would be a logical fit for the Knicks, who are seeking a defensive assistant to add to Mike D’Antoni’s staff -- though it is uncertain whether the Bucks would permit him to leave for a lateral move.

Dumars said Sunday there is no timetable for the search, and teams are proving to be slow on the trigger with firings and hirings due to the possibility of a lockout.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:06 pm
 

Malone to meet with Warriors' owner


MIAMI -- Hornets assistant Michael Malone will meet with Warriors owner Joe Lacob about the team's vacant head coaching position and also will interview for a position on Mike Brown's staff with the Lakers, a person with knowledge of the searches told CBSSports.com Thursday.

The meetings will take place in the next three or four days, the person said.

Malone, who worked for Brown in Cleveland, is high on the former Cavs coach's list of candidates to join his staff in L.A. But Lacob, who is narrowing the field in his search for Keith Smart's replacement, indicated that he wanted to meet with Malone in person before Malone made a decision on joining the Lakers' staff. Barring a head coaching offer, Malone's interview for the position on Brown's staff would be little more than a formality, as Brown is comfortable working with him and is said to want him on the staff.

ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson and Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer are the only candidates known to have met with Lacob, who is putting his stamp on the team's coaching search. It is not clear whether Budenholzer wants to leave San Antonio.

Though the Raptors are in the early stages of their search for Jay Triano's replacement, Malone could garner some interest for that position as well. Raptors president Bryan Colangelo is looking for an experienced coach -- not necessarily with head coaching experience -- who can teach defense. Malone is Monty Williams' lead assistant in New Orleans, and he coached both sides of the ball under Brown in Cleveland. 

Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also are expected to become candidates in Toronto, where a significant reorganization is planned for after July 1 with Colangelo seeking a high-level basketball man to fill the position vacated when Masai Ujiri left for the Nuggets, sources said. 






Posted on: May 26, 2011 11:47 am
Edited on: May 26, 2011 9:33 pm
 

Rockets in final stages; McHale in W's mix?

The Houston Rockets are in the final stages of deciding on a head coach, with all three candidates having received two interviews for the job of replacing Rick Adelman.

“The next step is to make a decision,” a person with knowledge of the process told CBSSports.com Thursday.

Former Timberwolves coach and general manager Kevin McHale met with owner Leslie Alexander Wednesday in Miami, where McHale was broadcasting the Eastern Conference finals for TNT. Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey also have been interviewed twice.

UPDATE: A second person familiar with the process told CBSSports.com Thursday night that the Rockets are expected to extend a formal offer to their top choice as early as Friday.

Sources have been told that Frank has been losing ground in the three-man race, but that no clear favorite has emerged. The Rockets have not extended an offer or engaged in contract negotiations with any of the candidates, sources said.

While McHale’s candidacy has been bolstered by a strong recommendation from former Celtics teammate and current Boston president Danny Ainge, sources said Casey is on firm ground by virtue of the fact that he is the only candidate still coaching in the playoffs. Another person with direct knowledge of the interview process said all three candidates have presented compelling visions for the team, but not all aspects of the candidates’ strategies are on the same page with Houston management.

Meanwhile, Warriors management – bolstered by the addition of Hall of Fame consultant Jerry West – remains focused on a list of five remaining candidates the team has spoken with about its head coaching vacancy: Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Chuck Person; Hornets assistant Michael Malone; ABC/ESPN broadcaster Mark Jackson; and Frank. The team also had spoken with former Cavs coach Mike Brown, who was hired Wednesday to replace Phil Jackson as coach of the Lakers.

A person familiar with the Golden State search said “one or two” other candidates could emerge for the Golden State job as a result of “musical chairs” with other jobs. One example of that could be Shaw, who may not want to remain with the Lakers after being passed over for the head coaching vacancy he had long hoped to fill once Jackson finally retired.

Another could be McHale, whose candidacy is expected to be strengthened by owner Joe Lacob’s connection to the Celtics. As a former member of the Celtics’ ownership group, Lacob is open to advice from Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, who are solidly backing McHale for a head coaching position. Sources in the coaching industry expect McHale to emerge as a candidate in Golden State depending on how his bid for the Houston job turns out.

UPDATE: A person with knowledge of the Warriors' search said Thursday that McHale had an "informal discussion" with team officials about the job.

UPDATE: In other NBA front office news, the Raptors are assembling a list of candidates to work alongside assistant general manager Marc Eversley under team president Bryan Colangelo. Although Maurizio Gherardini's contract expires June 30 and he may pursue other opportunities, Colangelo is chiefly concerned with filling the hole in the front office left by Masai Ujiri's departure for Denver. A person with knowledge of the Raptors' search said Colangelo is seeking a "high-level basketball person" to fill that role in what is expected to be an ambitious reorganization of the Toronto front office after the draft.
Posted on: February 26, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 4:31 pm
 

Hamilton, Wilcox fined; Kuester safe for now

Richard Hamilton and Chris Wilcox have been fined for missing shootaround without an excuse, but the Pistons are not planning a coaching change in the wake of the perceived mutiny against John Kuester, a person with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com Saturday.

The team engaged in lengthy organizational meetings Saturday to discuss the latest meltdown in a season that has spiraled out of control. Though sources are downplaying a significant rebellion against Kuester, a proposal to buy out Hamilton -- who had another in a series of confrontations with Kuester recently -- will be presented to ownership before the March 1 deadline for him to be eligible for another team's playoff roster. The chances of a buyout for Hamilton, however, are "slim," a source said, given that he has two years left on his contract.

Hamilton and Wilcox flew back to Detroit with the team after the Pistons -- with only six available players -- lost to the Sixers in Philadelphia. Both players are expected to be available Saturday night against Utah, but whether or not they play will be a "coaching decision," the source said.

Tracy McGrady, Tayshaun Prince, and Ben Wallace also missed shootaround Friday prior to the Sixers game, but all three had legitimate excuses, the person said. The Pistons' training staff confirmed to management that McGrady and Prince had been sick. Wallace is dealing with the sudden terminal illness of a close family member, the source said.

Austin Daye and Rodney Stuckey were late for shootaround, missing the team bus and catching a cab, the source said. They were fined for being late.

Whatever the reasons, the incident -- and the perception of a team-wide rebellion against Kuester -- has put the Pistons' already miserable season in an even grimmer perspective for the remaining 22 games.

Each of the most sensible resolutions -- buying out Hamilton or firing Kuester -- is complicated by the fact that the team is waiting for an ownership change to be completed. It is unlikely, sources said, that the ownership transfer would be completed in time for Hamilton to be bought out before the March 1 deadline for him to be playoff-eligible with a new team.

"This is not the climate where anybody wants to cut a big check just so a guy can go play somewhere else," said the person familiar with the Pistons' latest controversy.

Hamilton, who has two years and $25 million left on his deal, was close to being shipped to Cleveland at the trade deadline but could not agree to terms of a buyout with the Cavs.

Hamilton and Wilcox apologized for missing shootaround. It was not clear Saturday whether the ill players -- McGrady and Prince -- or Wallace would be available for the Utah game.

Given the ongoing rift between the Pistons' old guard -- led by Hamilton and Prince -- and the younger core, the mere perception of a mutiny against Kuester will be enough to make the remaining six weeks of the regular season close to unbearable. The inability of team president Joe Dumars to take action without ownership clarity has made the situation one that Kuester and the coaching staff will have to navigate the rest of the way.

Tension that has been building for months between Kuester and the veteran players boiled over in an ugly recent confrontation between Hamilton and Kuester, sources said. It was not the first time this season that the two have verbally gone after each other, though this incident was reported to have been a one-way tirade from Hamilton to Kuester in which the former All-Star questioned the coach's decisions and credentials.

In mid-January, Kuester made the decision to move Hamilton to the bench in order to give more playing time to Ben Gordon. Soon after, Hamilton's agent, Leon Rose, attempted to have him included in a trade that would've sent Carmelo Anthony to New Jersey. The trade, like many Melo scenarios, never happened. But Hamilton has remained on the bench ever since, playing only once in the past 23 games.

Hamilton, 33, could be a useful addition to contenders such as the Mavericks and Celtics, who both have internally discussed signing him if he were bought out. It appears that he will instead languish where he's been since Jan. 12, on the Pistons' bench and at a point of no return in a lost season.
 
 
 
 
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