Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 6:04 pm

Report: Owners will take hard line in a lockout

Posted by Matt Moore

The owners made what they felt was a concilliatory, compromising offer last week in the NBA labor negotiations. That offer was met with derision from the players' union that felt it was essentially offering to them what they already own while still asking for far too much in the way of compromises.  So now we have one more shot before the lockout we all knew was coming anyway starts Friday. 

But a report from the San Antonio Express News makes the lockout sound even more frightening, because it alleges that if there is a lockout, and there will be (no way this gets done in a day), the owners will take all the small consolations and compromises they've offered off the table, and will opt instead for the NBA negotiating equivalent of a nuclear winter. 

From the Express News
According to NBA executives familiar with the league’s strategies, once the lockout is in place, the owners will push for a hard salary cap of $45 million, the elimination of guaranteed contracts and ask that the players swallow a 33 percent salary cut. The concessions made in recent weeks, including the “flex cap” of $62 million and a guarantee of $2 billion in annual player payroll, will be off the table.

If this seems certain to guarantee the loss of the entire 2011-12 season, it is because there are owners who think it is necessary for the long-term viability of the league. The players likely know this is coming because hints have been leaked for weeks. How they react to the old, hard line once the anticipated stoppage begins will determine the prospects for next season.
via Spurs Nation » Mike Monroe: It only gets harder for owners, players.

Ye Gods.

A move back to the hard line for the owners would force the players into a fight-or-flight response. They'd have no option to digging a trench for the long haul other than complete surrender. And given that they feel this fight is not just about themselves and their money, but about the future earning potential of professional basketball players (it's a brotherhood, if you haven't heard), they would get the shovels and sink in. We could lose the entirety of next season, if this report is accurate.

For everyone's sake, the fans, the owners, the players, the league personnel, and the business owners who profit in the communities, let's hope the owners recognize that there's a reason the Cold War remained cold. No one wins in the other scenario, except rival sports.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 4:25 pm

What we learned from the 2010-2011 NBA season

Posted by Matt Moore

 Since it may be some time before we see the NBA again as everyone heads for the lockout shelter, it's important that we take note of this remarkable last season while it's still fresh in our minds. We need to preserve what we saw, and make notes of it so we don't forget when the optimism of a new season finally rolls around, be it in October or... you know, later.

So with that in mind, here are 13 things we learned from the 2010-2011 NBA Season. Why 13? Because we're trying to jinx a lockout, that's why.

The Heat will dictate the conversation, one way or another.

"Why does the media over-cover the Heat so much?" "I wouldn't hate the Heat if the media didn't cover them all the time." "Can we stop talking about the Heat?" These are a few of the kinds of comments we, and every other major media outlet dealt with this season regarding the Heat. As if we all got together in a big room and decided to torture fans of the NBA by devoting all this time and energy to covering the Heat. The reality is that the Heat provided huge traffic bumps whenever they were mentioned. The interest was there. Largely due to people's phenomenal interest in their failures. America rooted against the Heat this season, and they relished every moment Miami fell on their face. From the early season stagger out of the gates, to the mid-season lull that left tears on their faces, to their defeat on their home floor of the NBA Finals, fans went crazy wanting to rub it in. With as good as the Heat are, and they are very good, they'll be the starting point of every league-wide conversation going forward. They'll dictate what we say and how we compare teams and the question will be asked if a team can matchup with the Triad. We've just gotten through with Year One of the Miami Triad. Hope no one expects the talk to just go away now that they've fallen two games short of the goal.

You CAN win with a superstar-heavy, otherwise-limited team.

The Heat not winning the title was seen as some sort of victory, proving that superstar-teams are a flawed model, that you have to have a complete team to win a title. Tell that to the Celtics and Bulls, two of the best teams in the league who fell under the Heat's boot in the playoffs. Miami was two games away from winning the title, in a series that came down to a last minute or last second shot in four of the six games. The gap between the Heat and the Mavericks was not an ocean, it was a stream. That the Heat could not get across it is not an indication that the model is flawed, it's simply an indication that the Mavericks put together one heck of a run with one heck of a team.

But the model itself worked. If you consider that the Heat are highly likely to improve in the future, both in their internal mechanics and in improving their core, the Heat weren't a complete failure. A failure? Absolutely. No way should it have been this hard for them, no way should they have pranced like they did in preseason, no way should the roster have relied on pieces they knew were so out-dated. But they were successful, just not as successful as you would think they would be, or that they should be.

Meanwhile, the Knicks put together their own superstar team, and got slightly worse than when they had a more complete team. But the Knicks still made the playoffs and have positioned themselves to be players in the title hunt in the future. Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire are a pretty tremendous one-two punch, and they're still going to have a good shot at a third free agent in the summer of 2012. Don't be surprised to see other teams follow this model that the Heat supposedly set which was actually set by L.A. and Boston three years earlier.

Speaking of Carmelo Anthony...

A star player really can force their way not only out of a situation they don't want, but into whatever team they do want.

The Carmelo Anthony saga was absurd. It was drawn out over the course of seven excruciating months, and during that time the same rumors were floated over and over again. The same information kept coming, particularly from our own Ken Berger of CBSSports.com that New York was where Anthony wanted to be, that's the only place he'd sign the extensoin for, that would be where he was traded. And yet the Nets made every attempt to try and spin the story for themselves, hoping momentum would push Anthony to consider them. It didn't, and he landed in New York.

But consider for a moment what Anthony accomplished. Under contract for a team, the team that drafted him, who had built their franchise around him, had promised him everything, Anthony not only managed to force a trade, but a trade to the one and only team he wanted to play for. If his wife had decided she loved barbecue, the Grizzlies would have him right now. If she wanted shellfish, the Wizards would have his poster on their arena. Anthony demonstrated an unprecedented amount of power for a player, overriding what was best for the club and managing to get the exact situation he wanted... while under contract.

It's a frightening situation that has to have small market owners looking for a way to prevent it happening to them as this lockout goes on.

And speaking of the Knicks...

You can still hoodwink the Knicks, you just have to get Dolan involved.

Part of you has to wonder if Donnie Walsh's step down from the office of the President of Basketball Operations was nothing more than one giant facepalm.

The Knicks got their man all right. They got Carmelo Anthony who decided he wanted to play in New York and New York only. But instead of capitalizing on what should have been the ultimate position of strength, the Knicks once again managed to bungle the situation, and in doing so, cost themselves a world of assets they needed to build around Anthony.

The Nuggets were going to break. That much was clear. After an All-Star Saturday night meeting between Anthony and Mikhail Prokhorov failed to convince Melo to hitch his wagon to the Brooklyn train, the Nuggets really had no other option. But instead of keeping Donnie Walsh's poker face as the expression of the organization, squeezing every bit of advantage out of a situation they couldn't really lose as long as they remained cool, James Dolan brought Chef Isiah Thomas into the kitchen, turned the burners on high, and torched everything.

The result is the Nuggets going from a team that looked like it would get minimal assets out of a deal with the Knicks, to a team that fleeced them up and down. Not just Raymond Felton, Raymond Felton and Danilo Galinari. Not just Felton and Galinari, but Wilson Chandler, and draft picks. The only thing Dolan didn't send the Nuggets for a player who had made it clear he only wanted to play for Dolan in the first place and was a free agent in less than six months was Walsh's heart. Mostly because he'd already crushed it.

We thought the days of the Knicks being the team you looked to try and take advantage of were over. But James Dolan proved that you can take the front office out of the crazy, but you can't take the crazy out the ownership.

Blake Griffin is the next "You Gotta See This Guy" Guy.

We expected good things out of Blake Griffin (okay, most people did; I had him pegged for third in the ROY race behind Wall and Cousins, whoops). But no one expected this.

And that was just the beginning. Griffin was a revelation in his rookie season. Yes, the dunks were impressive. Really impressive. And bountiful. But beyond that, Griffin showed everything you want to see out of a player you would expect to become a superstar. An All-Star in his rookie season, Griffin showed tenacity, smart rebounding, great conditioning, a versatile, if still unpolished offensive game, and a craftiness to put that crazy athleticism to good use. It got so bad teams started giving him flagrant fouls to get him off the rim. Nothing worked. And Griffin has managed, almost by himself, to make the Clippers a must-watch team and a squad on the rise. He turned the heads of every player in the league and has everyone expecting the Clippers, yes, the Clippers, to be a playoff team within a few years.

It was a remarkable ride, and it was just year one.

Dirk Nowitzki is worthy of "legend" status.

This is what a ring can do. From near-legend to legend. Nowitzki's season had pretty much convinced everyone that due to staying power and consistency, he deserved to be mentioned with some of the greatest offensive players of all time. His postseason run proved he was worthy of "legend" status outright. The comparisons to Larry Bird were made (even if slightly absurd given Bird's rebounding and passing). The comebacks, the last second game winners, the impossible fadeaways, it was a remarkable torrential downpour of tenacity, skill, and determination. Nowitzki took himself off Barkley's list and into the halls of champions. If there was an overriding theme in the Mavericks' locker room, mostly made of players who had been questioned their entire careers, it was this: "No one can take this away from us." They had been validated, no one more so than Nowitzki, the Big German Legend.

Derrick Rose is the next superstar with the polarizing game.

The MVP won in convincing fashion, but his postseason struggles (and successes) will continue the theme started in the regular season. There is a debate as to just how great Rose is. If you watch him, it's hard to see anything but a bonafide "best in the game" caliber player. The twisting layups, the pull-up jumpers, the incredible speed, it's all there. Rose had two incredible performances, one against the Pacers in the first round, and an absolutely blistering game against the Hawks in the semifinals. His regular season was marked by one important number, 62, the most wins in the NBA as he lead the Bulls to the top seed in the East.

But Rose touched off a heated debate between pundits and fans who consider advanced metrics overrated if they don't reward a player that shows what Rose showed in the regular season, and proponents of said metrics who questioned just what Rose's impact was beyond the eyeball effect. It wasn't a matter of points or effort, but efficiency and effectiveness. Rose's adjusted plus/minus and efficiency metrics showed a player anywhere from a marginal liability to a slightly above-average gunner. A key question raised was how Rose was better than Russell Westbrook in terms of his on-court effectiveness. The playoffs brought this into stark relief as Westbrook was buried for taking too many shots with a low percentage while Kevin Durant was on his team (also missing shots most of the time in the WCF), and Rose was excused for some of the mostly truly dreadful performances by an MVP in the Conference Finals.

Rose is young, and will improve. He is a remarkable talent, and in my opinion, very worthy of the MVP. But if his efficiency doesn't improve and the highlights don't fade, Rose will continue his ascension to the most polarizing player in the league in terms of his game. LeBron's character and willpower is questioned, but the strongest comparison to Rose in terms of his controversial effectiveness is really Kobe Bryant.

When the dam is burst, evacuate the town, bring in the bulldozers, and start over. Don't bring in mops.

The Cavaliers broke the record for consecutive losses in NBA history this season. That's going to hang on those players' career for all time. They will always have this season on their permanent records. But what's worse is that this monumental failure wasn't the result of cleaning the decks. The Cavaliers were actually trying to win.

The Cavs didn't try and start completely over once LeBron James left. Despite brining in new management and a new coach, and having a roster of extremely questionable talent, the Cavs tried to compete. The disaster that unfolded would have been more understandable if it had been D-Leaguers and undrafted rookies trying to make a future roster. Instead, the Cavaliers were a team of veterans, mostly injured, but some just inexperienced, thrown together facing what amounted to death from heartbreak from the team, its fans, and the organization. The arena even seemed sad.

If the Cavaliers taught us one thing this season it's that when things go as badly as they did for the Cavaliers, it's not best to try and compete. You blow it up. The Raptors embraced this to a degree. They gave out some bigger contracts in the offseason, but when things went badly, they did try and bring in young talent. Don't be surprised if Bargnani were to wind up elsewhere, provided anyone would want to take a flyer on him and his massive contract. More and more the younger players were given time. In Denver, the move was made preemptively. The Nuggets, and then soon after the Jazz both decided they weren't going to wait around for their superstar to stab them in the heart. They moved them for the most flexibility they could wrangle, set themselves up well for the future, and went back to the drawing board. It's one thing to have a losing team. It's another to pay quite a bit of money for a losing team.

As the Magic face the Dwight Howard situation, Otis Smith should pay attention. Sure, do everything you can to convince Howard to stay, because your window is shut for the next five years and your job is probably liquid if he goes. But he minute it becomes clear it's over, that you've lost the franchise center, do what you can to set the team up for the future. It's the only way to make sure you don't wind up with the black mark this season's Cavs carry with them, emotional victory over Miami or not.

A reminder: everyone is human, and they are vulnerable.

Shaq played a handful of games, tried to come back in the playoffs, got injured again, and that was it for a career. Shaquille O'Neal played his last season in the NBA, after a decade and a half as the Most Dominant center in the league. Jerry Sloan was thought invulnerable. There was nothing that could remove him from Utah. But instead, unrest from his star player and a young team that couldn't gel did him in. Sloan was a legend, a staple of the league, an unshakeable part of the foundation. And now he's gone.

So we remember that everyone will have their day, that eventually Kobe Bryant will have to hang it up, as will LeBron James and eventually Derrick Rose. But we also saw what conditioning can do, as Jason Kidd won a title on a team full of aging veterans. And even age doesn't protect you, as Greg Oden suffered yet another knee injury which ended his season. You can never tell when the ride is over, so players as competitors, and we as the fans that watch them, should appreciate every moment they're on the floor.

Chris Paul is still the best point guard in the league, when healthy.

Derrick Rose may be the league's best player, but his position is as much a hybrid as LeBron James'. For the best point guard in basketball, we were assured of what we were pretty confident of to begin with: Chris Paul is the best at his position in the league, when healthy.

The Hornets blistered out of the gates, and it was Paul showing that he could do all the things he could before injuries derailed his season in 2010. The super-vision, the flawless technique, the expert shooting, it was all back.

Then it left for a while. Paul struggled in the middle of the season with his aggressiveness, too often deferring in key situations. The Hornets would go on long winning streaks and long losing streaks, stabilizing just long enough to ensure their playoff berth.

But in the first round, Paul showed that he had been seemingly been saving himself. He torched the Lakers end to end, showing that they were vulnerable and foreshadowing the Lakers' second-round flameout. Paul is still the best at his position, and whatever team he winds up on after 2012 will have a franchise player for the rest of his career, most likely.

New Orleans is in trouble.

They made the playoffs. They met the attendance mark. They pacified Chris Paul. And still, the future of the New Orleans Hornets is very much in the air as we enter the lockout. The Hornets' prospective buyer, Gary Chouest, backed out, and George Shinn had all he could stand. So the league was forced to buy the Hornets. The NBA and its 29 other owners are in possession of one its franchises.

The league has promised to make every effort to keep the team in New Orleans, working with local leadership to try and find a stable ownership group in a region that can't seem to catch a break. But the longer the situation goes, the more it becomes untenable, and the more anxious owners will be to capitalize on their investment by selling to the highest bidder... which will likely come from outside the state of Louisiana.

Even after a season that showed so much promise on the floor, these are dark times for the Hornets.

No one trusts the Maloofs.

NBA ownership never goes against its own. That's a pretty solid unwritten rule. And yet when former NBA player and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson made the case for Sactown to keep the Kings, with plans in place to make them profitable, the league made it clear that if forced to, they would vote against the desires of the Maloof brothers. The team will stay in Sacramento another season.

So now you have fans that don't trust the Maloofs not to screw them out of their team. You have ownership that doesn't trust their decision making in deciding where to relocate and how. You have the league trying to deal with a weak ownership group and another publicity nightmare.

So no, it hasn't been a great couple of months for the owners of the Kings. It's unclear how this story ends, whether the Kings will be in Sacramento or Anaheim in 2012. But we learned this season that the Board of Governors and its ownership representatives do have their limits in terms of what they will go along with.

(Insert Donald Sterling joke here.)

This league can still surprise us.

The Lakers and Celtics were going to meet in the Finals. That looked certain. Then it looked like the Lakers and the Bulls. But it was Miami and Dallas. Surely the Heat would win, cementing their destiny, manifest style. But no, Dirk Nowitzki and Mark Cuban raised the trophy.

In a season that faced so much uncertainty about the future of the league as it became more and more apparent that neither side was willing to make the significant steps of compromise to avoid a lockout, we learned that nothing in the 2011 season was certain either. The Thunder weren't ready? They traded for Kendrick Perkins, became a contender. The Thunder were ready? A Mavericks assault on offense showed they still have some things to learn on defense. The Bulls are better, not great? They earned the top seed with a league-best 62 wins. The Bulls are worthy of being favorites? A five-game flameout against the Heat. It goes on and on.

The Lakers will be in the Finals as long as this core together? Buried under a Mavs avalanche of 3-pointers. The Celtics are still the favorites? Crushed beneath the Heat's athleticism. The Heat can't be toppled because of their talent? Dallas showed beat the team that won a title with a slogan of "15 strong" exactly what that means.

One player can't do that much damage to a franchise? Look at the Cavs. One player can't really change the fate of a franchise? Check out Blake Griffin. The Bucks and Kings will be must-watch League Pass teams? Only if you like DeMarcus Cousins techs and missed jumpers. The Timberwolves are hopeless? Hello, Kevin Love. The Timberwolves have to get better at some point? Hello, David Kahn.

The Grizzlies are a miserable failure of a franchise and professional basketball will never work there? Seven playoff wins, the first in franchise history, and an upset over the top-seeded four-time champion Spurs (kind-of).

Yao Ming can't get hurt again? Oh, sad. Greg Oden can't get hurt again? Sadder. You can't make the second round and push the top seed to six games and have a bad season? Ask Hawks fans. Superstars can't just decide where they play? Carmelo says "Hi" from New York.

The Suns will never trade Steve Nash? Okay, we're still waiting on that one.

But the fact remains, this was an absolutely stunning season, from start to finish. It was full of drama, last-second trades, intrigue, big-time personalities, new rivalries begun, old rivalries renewed, dramatic comebacks, and unlikely champion, and most of all, great, great, great basketball.

But if there's one thing we've learned from the season that was more than any other?

There's absolutely no reason to throw away all the good of this season for a lockout.
Posted on: June 24, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: June 24, 2011 4:24 pm

Players decline to offer owners counter-proposal

Posted by EOB Staff.

The situation, as Ken Berger put it so eloquently, is thus: "In other words, as Kurt Vonnegut would say, the excrement has hit the air conditioning."

The owners and players met Friday in an effort to make progress off of the owners' seemingly concilliatory last offer. The natural step in a negotiation is for the players to respond with another counter-proposal as the two move closer together. But after everyone thought the owners' proposal was a great step forward, the union went ballistic over it.

 The result? Beger reports that Jared Dudley told media Friday after the meeting that the players elected to not offer a counter-proposal, saying the two sides were "too far apart." With a Board of Governor's meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Berger reports that he players expect the owners to vote for the lockout at that meeting. 

It's been a long time coming, and we have a week to go with NBA players and owners agreeing to a "smaller bargaining session" on next Wednesday or Thursday, but the reality is here.

We're headed for an NBA lockout, without question.

If you're looking for subtext here, imagine that the goal is to get a plank balanced on a post. Both sides want as much weight added to their side of the plank while keeping it balanced up in the air. They add things the players want (and have) like guaranteed contracts and things the owners want (like restrictions) to try and get things balanced. After the owners' very Cold-War approach to negotiations for the last, really two years, their last proposal seemed like a move towards progress. But the players feel that the owners have simply moved the post far enough and counter-weighted their side to make it look like it's balanced. In reality, the players feel they's simply moved the post and gotten  more of what they want, by managing the story. 

The players' abrasive and ultimately toxic approach Friday represents the line in the sand. They're not going any further, and they're not going to let the ownership dictate terms any more. The players have been concilliatory about BRI, exceptions, revenue sharing, the works throughout this process. Now that the owners have tossed them what they feel are bread crumbs and called it progress,  the players have elected to throw the bread back in their face and walk out the door.

Berger reports Stern characterized his reaction to the decision as "disappointed."  I characterize his chracterization as "the work of Captain Obvious." 

Perhaps you're wondering why it's taken until a week before the end date of the current CBA to reach this point, why they couldn't have negotiated seriously earlier, to reach this point and then push through it instead of running up against the cliff. 

Welcome to the club.

There's almost no escaping it now. Barring a miracle or a significant coup among the owners by the voices of reason, it's game over.

Professional basketball stops on a dime at midnight Thursday night.
Posted on: June 22, 2011 5:27 pm
Edited on: June 22, 2011 5:29 pm

Doesn't sound like Fisher is all that optimistic

Posted by Royce Young

I'll admit, I got a little excited with yesterday's news out of the big blow-out meetings in New York. By all appearances, progress was being made with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement and it just looked like finally, the league might be on a path to getting this thing settled before June 30.

And then Derek Fisher came along and stomped on all that happiness. Via Sports Radio Interviews:
“Well, we’re hearing there’s some reports out there that there’s been significant progress made on things that the NBA and our owners are proposing to us, but in reality, there hasn’t been much substantial movement at all on a lot of key areas. So we’re still focused on getting a deal done, we’re going to continue to negotiate, and we’re going to meet again on Friday. But even with some of the things that are being released about what has been dropped out in proposals, there isn’t any agreement on anything at this point. We’re still working hard on that right now.

“Well the best way to explain it would be that where we were a couple of months ago as far as the proposal that we were given by the NBA, which was essentially the same proposal that we received some two years ago, that hasn’t changed very much. So what has happened is the NBA has really tried to put us in a position where we’re negotiating from what we consider to be an outrageous proposal to begin with."
Yikes. The way Fisher explains it, things sound a bit more dire. And with the way Fisher explains it, you almost start to say, "Yeah, those darn owners!" Fisher is good like that.

Then he dropped a money quote, basically putting everything on the owners.
“A lockout is an owner-imposed lockout. That’s a decision that only they can make. For now, as President of the Players Association, my focus is on negotiating on the deal. That’s the part that I control over is myself, Billy [Hunter], our Executive Committee, and our player reps are focusing on negotiating the actual deal. If the owners decide they want to lock us out because we don’t agree to the most dramatic rollback in professional sports history, then that’s the choice that they have.”
Good line, Fish. If the owners decide they want to lock us out because we don’t agree to the most dramatic rollback in professional sports history, then that’s the choice that they have. That's pretty strong.

Fisher said the players have made pretty serious concessions, but still sees what David Stern called a "flex cap" system as a hard salary cap. He basically said it's not the players' fault that owners keep dishing out silly long-term contracts.

And he's right. It's not. The owners control their own checkbooks and can sign and not sign who they want. But as owners know, in order to stay competitive and actually sign players, if the current system allows five or six-year deals, someone is going to offer that. Fisher can make that point -- which is valid -- but it's not entirely realistic. Bigger market, bigger money teams are going to be more able to absorb a bad five-year contract than a smaller market team that has to put its eggs all in that basket.

Things are still very much up and down, back and forth. It's touch and go and while yesterday seemed like progress, it might not have been near as much as we thought.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:29 pm

Video: Stern and Silver address reporters

Posted by Royce Young

The owners and players association had a pretty substantial meeting in New York earlier today in which the owners submitted a new proposal that will be reviewed by the players with word on that coming Friday.

The tone out of the meetings is encouraging, with Ken Berger reporting that there has been movement from the league from a de facto $45 million hard cap to a "flex cap," as David Stern called it, of around $62 million.

Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver addressed reporters after the meeting to answer questions and talk about the newest negotiations and any progress made.

I'm sure there's still a lot of ground to be covered before June 30 and a lot will hinge on how the players respond to this proposal, but considering the mood and tone from last week, it feels like there's been movement. Both sides seem to be edging toward the middle a bit.

But there will need to be a few big steps before a deal is actually done. I'm sure the path to an agreement is still bumpy and long. However, I think there's a little cause for optimism.

Via Salt Lake Tribune

Posted on: June 21, 2011 12:12 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 12:17 pm

Owners want a guarantee to profitability?

Posted by Royce Young

If you listen to, well, everyone, today is a massive day for NBA labor negotiations. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reports the players will submit a new formal proposal, and the owners are expecting it to represent enough of a shift in their position to warrant further negotiation.

Good news. I think.

David Stern called Tuesday a "very important day for these negotiations."

Some of that is certainly posturing. But it's mostly real. The clock is ticking toward midnight and when it strikes on June 30, the league could be headed for its first summer work stoppage since 1998. That's a bad mark to put on a league that's built an incredible amount of momentum in the past season. To slap fans in the face with a lockout and conjure up conversations that go, "It's billionaires arguing with millionaires over money," isn't good for anyone. Owners, players, the league -- not anyone.

Will they advance along? It's probably unlikely. Giving in now doesn't put any stress on either side. Don't forget, both sides want something. And that something is money meaning this won't come easy. This isn't trading baseball cards with your friends. This is a labor negotiations and those can get ugly.

Whatever happens today, both sides will likely say, "Nope, not good enough" even if it's close. With a week to go until the CBA expires, there's still time to try and wring out a little more from the other side. The owners backed off guaranteed contracts and players have moved away a bit from taking in 57 percent of the league's basketball revenue. So there is some movement. There's progress, even if as Berger noted, the sides are "hundreds of millions" apart.

ESPN.com reported that the owners are making pretty hardline demands, putting the players in a tough position to negotiate.
"The owners are asking for a give that puts them in a place where they've never been, which is guaranteed profitability," said a source familiar with the dynamics of this particular negotiation and past labor talks. "The biggest problem is that it is unreasonable for owners to even ask for $400 million when they say they are losing $300 million, and thus far they are nowhere near lowering their demands down to the $400 million range. So it's a question of when will they get to a number that is reasonable?"
The owners want to guarantee profitability. Of course they do. Makes sense to me. Who wants to lose money? Owning an NBA franchise used to be more of a hobby thing, but it's a business now. Owners want to make money. It's not about having a real life fantasy team anymore.

But if you're negotiating to make absolutely certain you make money? That's where things get hung up. There's a fine line between guaranteeing profitabilty and guaranteeing profit. All they deserve is a system that presents a solid opportunity to make money, not one that makes it a rite of passage. You still have to be a good businessman. You still have to spend wisely. Just giving owners an erasable blank canvas that they can scribble all over and start anew when a bad $6 million contract goes awry (hello, Travis Outlaw) is just ridiculous.

Capitalism provides opportunity, not guarantees. If the latter is the mindset the owners have going into Tuesday's supposed D-Day talks, I don't see anyone getting anywhere. The system needs some fixing. Even the players understand that. They've made concessions already and will have to make some more eventually. The owners though like their money and think the players get way too much of it. That's probably true, but that's life as the check-signer.

The players get to make their money because they are the employees. At any company -- Microsoft, Wal-Mart, the small-time appliance store around the corner -- owners have to manage a payroll, expenses and everything else correctly and if they do, they'll make the biggest profit of all. Owners are in a system where they can't do that now. So that has to be fixed. But the only guarantee they need is the opportunity to do so.
Posted on: June 17, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 7:13 pm

NBA officially cancels Las Vegas Summer League

The NBA has officially cancelled the 2011 Las Vegas Summer League. Posted by Ben Golliver. adam-silver

The clock is ticking on the NBA's labor negotiations, and the word is on Friday that the league has run out of time for one major annual event.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reports from New York City that NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver confirmed that the league has axed plans to hold the 2011 Las Vegas Summer League.

"We also told the union at the conclusion of today’s session that we would be canceling the Las Vegas Summer League this weekend and we made clear to the union it was purely a function of the calendar and drop-dead dates with hotels and the arena," Silver said. "No intent to send signals of any kind to the players, but it was an unfortunate consequence that, at this late date, we still do not have a deal beginning July 1."

The league's annual Summer League pits draft picks, second-year players, D-League players and unsigned free agents in a round-robin style format that typically brings the league's basketball executives and national media together in the desert.

Summer League has grown in popularity in recent years, and games are regularly televised on NBA TV. The event serves as both a first-chance look at lottery prospects for fans and as an excellent swap meet for executives looking to fill out their rosters.

This decision was widely anticipated and had been rumored for months. The league's Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire July 1, and Las Vegas Summer League typically runs through the second and third weeks of July. With games set to start less than a month from now and no major progress to report in the CBA negotiations, there's not much point for the NBA to continue delaying the inevitable cancellation announcement.
Posted on: June 9, 2011 12:09 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2011 1:03 pm

Report: Nenad Krstic to sign with CSKA Moscow

Posted by Royce Young

Three years ago, Nenad Krstic left Russia to re-join the NBA, signing a contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was his second stint in the NBA after leaving the Nets -- where he was a borderline All-Star -- to play in Europe for half a season, rehabbing a surgically repaired knee.

Now he's going back.

According to Interbasket.com, Krstic has signed a two-year deal with Euro giant CSKA Moscow.
The Serbia national team centre agreed to a two-year deal worth six million euros with the reigning Russian champions.  Despite being targeted by other European giants, such as Olympiacos and Barcelona, the 27-year-old opted for the Reds given the amount of money involved.
Krstic was a productive center for the Thunder, starting every game that he was healthy. He was traded to Boston in the deal that sent Kendrick Perkins to the Thunder and Jeff Green to the Celtics. He never was able to contribute much in Boston, more just finding a spot on the bench.

A lot of people see this as a lockout issue, but I don't think it's really related all that much. I'm sure it was in the back of Krstic's mind, but the fact he's had success in Europe and likely wants to play on a team where he's the focus once again pushed him toward going overseas.

It's only a two-year deal and I'd imagine there's a favorable buyout, so there's potential Krstic could return once again to the NBA. But at 27 and the fact his recent stint in Boston wasn't all that successful, it's hard to see a team making a play for an aging jumpshooting big man.

Last season Krstić averaged 8.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in the NBA with the Celtics and Thunder and completed one chair throw for his Serbian national team. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com