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Tag:James Harden
Posted on: February 24, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 10:57 am
 

Video: James Harden and Kobe get into it

By Matt Moore 

Last night as the Thunder were running away from the Lakers, James Harden and Kobe Bryant got into it. It was another horrible shooting night for Bryant, who scored 24 points on 24 shots as Harden was about as high up in his grill as you can get. Harden was also dropping threes and dunking in transition, essentially running the Lakers and Kobe out of the building. Bryant did not take well to it. The Orange County Register reported that Harde was yelling in Bryant's face after a three, and kept at it. Then this whole situation developed, courtesy of @Jose3030 on Twitter

 

Fun times!

The obvious response from Kobe is to say "Count the rings!" and the obvious respone from Harden is to say "That's ancient history, old man." The Thunder continue to make a statement this season that the power rests in the West with OKC and the Lakers are yet another team past its prime trying to hang on.

If these two meet in the playoffs, that's going to be a lot of fun seeing if Bryant can teach Harden a lesson in humility, or if Harden gets to have the last laugh with that beard of his.
Posted on: February 20, 2012 12:42 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 1:05 pm
 

Eye on Basketball Midseason Awards

LeBron James is having one of the best seasons of his career and is the midseason NBA MVP. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore
 

The 2012 NBA All-Star break begins this week as this season continues to fly by on a shortened lockout schedule. Already we've seen an incredible year, even in the midst of some ugly, ugly, ugly basketball. The Heat look better than ever, the Bulls are still dominant through injury, the Sixers are impressively complete. The Dwight Howard saga drags on. The Lakers and Celtics are struggling to find their dominant gear. The Thunder are blistering offensively, the Timberwolves surprising and of course, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lin all the time. 

With that, here are the 2012 NBA Midseason Awards, based on where we stand on February 20th, 2012. 

Eastern Conference Most Valuable Player: LeBron James


When CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel wrote that LeBron was different this year, he was spot-on. James has talked about how he spent the summer re-discovering his love of basketball, getting away from all the criticism, and getting back to the person he wants to be. He and the Heat have admitted that the resounding backlash to "The Decision" played a large part in their mental approach to last season. In short, James is not comfortable being bitter, angry, resentful. He's at his best when driven by a simple love of the game. That's the dichotomy with James. He is inarguably the single most arrogant and out-of-touch player in the Association, and yet he does possess a genuine love of basketball. It's always playing at his home. It's something he lights up when he gets to talk about instead of storylines. Basketball came easily to James athletically, but it's also something he works obsessively at. History teaches that you have to hate your opponent, have to be driven by anger and resentment. James is simply not built that way. In reality, he may be too goofy, too fun-loving to ever reach the kind of iconic play that is necessary to be considered one of the best, to have the killer instinct that so many criticize him for lacking, which he himself has admitted he may lack.

None of this changes the fact that there are only three things which can stop James from earning his third MVP this season, should he continue to play as he has for the first half of the year. The first is largely the same reason he failed to win it last season: vengeance. Voters showed their disapproval of James by not truly considering him for the award. Whether it was a distaste for the arrogance of James' approach to leaving Cleveland on national television, a disgust at the preseason championship comments at the presser with the smoke and fireworks, or disappointment with James seeking to team up with two great players instead of winning on his own (an element neither Carmelo Anthony nor Chris Paul have received criticism for), James was shut out, when by most measures, he simply played better than Derrick Rose. Rose was a phenomenal player last season and a wonderful story, well-worthy of the award. However, James was better. Those sentiments have cooled this season, but if voters decide to maintain their teeth-grinding disapproval of James, that could cost him. The second is simple injury. James has only missed a small handful of games, but that can always derail a player's path. And the third is the most likely impediment: minutes.

The Heat did not take the tactic of prioritizing homecourt last season. It wouldn't have mattered, the Bulls were simply better in every way during the course of the regular season. But the Heat were clearly more focused on being healthy for the playoffs than capturing homecourt. And it's likely to be the same this year. The Heat have managed to handle the compact schedule well, outside of some Dwyane Wade bumps and bruises as to be expected. But when March rolls around, this team will start looking for rest, and that means James could sit out several games. The Heat will happily trade in April wins, provided they have a top four seed, for rest. James could lose momentum in that case as he watches from the sideline and another worthy candidate pushes his way to the finish line.

What makes James worthy of the award this year? Pick one. The Heat are the best team in the East, and you may claim that Dwyane Wade is still the focal point of the offense, metrics be damned, and that's fine, but James' overall work on both ends of the floor still takes the notch. Without resorting to statistics, you see James take over games as if he's a one-man army. He's seemingly everywhere, interrupting passes, working in the post, snatching rebounds, blocking shots, lobbing to Wade, dishing to Chalmers, attacking the rim over and over again. It's awe-inspiring basketball. You don't need metrics to see he's the best player in the game this season. This is all factoring in the fact he's taken a step back defensively. He's turned it on the past five or six games, but this hasn't been a season of his usual defensive dominance... and he's still been this good overall.

But if you want them, they bear it out as well. James is enjoying a career high (tied) in points per 36 minutes, rebounds per game and 36 minutes, field goal percentage, True Shooting percentage (factoring 3-point shooting and free throws), and of course PER. The confusion with PER most often is that it somehow measures value, that it establishes how good a player is. Instead, it's just what it's defined as. Player Efficiency Rating. It establishes who produces the most per minute, considering how many possessions they use in doing so. And right now, James is doing the most of any player in history in that department.



So that's fun.

James may not win MVP this year, for a variety of reasons. But there is absolutely no question at this season's halfway mark, that he's the best player in the league, and most valuable.

Western Conference Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant

If you prefer the classic mold of the MVP, AKA a scoring machine, Kevin Durant fits pretty well. He's a jump-shooter shooting 52 percent from the field. Think about that. The league average is 36 percent. Durant is hitting 15 more shots for every 100 attempts from the hardest place on the floor to knock them down. That's ridiculous. That's just absurd. He is the best pure-scoring machine in the league. Kobe Bryant may topple him for the scoring crown, but he'll need five to six more attempts to do so. The cherry on Durant's Sunday has to be his 51-point explosion Sunday night. He managed 51 points on 28 shots.

And really quietly, Durant's become an elite defender. He's allowing just 26 percent from the field in ISO situations according to Synergy Sports. Defense was a huge weakness in Durant's game over the past few seasons and he's really hit his stride this season. The Thunder aren't even that great defensively, Durant has just been individually incredible.

For him to catch James, he would need for the Thunder to continue their impressive winning percentage. He would need to top the league in scoring, and for his impressive uptick in rebounding rates to continue. It's a tall order, but there's no question he's within range. Durant has become the most impressive offensive force in the league.

He is 23 years of age.

Rookie of the Year: Kyrie Irving

Ricky Rubio is dazzling. He's a phenom. He changes the course of games and wows you with the eyes. No rookie has impressed more than Rubio, who has silenced all his critics, of which I was very much one, regarding his ability translate his game to the NBA level. Rubio is honestly poetry in motion, and the feel he has for the game is joy-inspiring more than awe-inspiring. It is such a fluid and spectacular range of abilities, it makes the Timberwolves so much fun to watch.

And Kyre Irving is a better player.

It's not really close.

Get past the fact that Irving has been shooting at historic levels, that his overall production is in line with some of the all-time greats in this league in their first years. Irving has a mastery of the game that Rubio does not, even after so many more years of playing professionally. Irving can run an offense more completely and calmly, and is a superb crunch time scorer (Rubio is brilliant in that area in his own right). But if you want numbers, it's simple. Rubio's a 38 percent shooter. Irving is a 48 percent shooter. You can talk about how you would prefer your point guard pass than score, but Irving's numbers are truncated by a lack of talent on the Cavaliers, while Rubio has Kevin Love, Michael Beasley (a scorer for all his faults), an emerging Nikolai Pekovic and Derrick Williams.

Rubio would be a fine choice. He's the most exciting rookie. Maybe even the most impactful rookie.

Kyrie Irving is the Rookie of the Year, halfway through. This one will be tight to the finish.

Defensive Player of the Year: Andre Iguodala

I know. It's always Dwight Howard! It has to be Dwight Howard! But here's the thing. Howard's effort hasn't been as consistent this season. Whether it's the trade talk, the lockout schedule effect, coaching, whatever, it hasn't been there. His rebound rate is there, it's the highest of his career. He actually is allowing fewer points per possession than he did last year, but if we consider the lockout effects on all shooting percentages, Howard has slipped from the 96th percentile to the 77th percentile in rank on points per possession. Howard is maybe the most impactful defensive player in the league. But his performance hasn't been worthy of the award this year.

Iguodala, on the other hand, is the star defender on the league's best defense (Philly is tops in defensive efficiency, points per 100 possessions), and is most often given the toughest assignment night in and night out in this league. He is tasked with stopping the best perimeter threat on offense each game, and in doing so, has limited opponents to 35 percent shooting. He is able to body up larger opponents, stick with smaller ones, switch, shift, deter, block, steal, cajole, harass and otherwise make his opponent's life miserable and has done so for the majority of the season.

A close second on this list is Luol Deng, who actually has better marks via Synergy. But a combination of Deng's missed time due to injury, and the Bulls' reliance on help defense under Tom Thibodeau's system barely, and I mean barely, gives Iguodala the edge here. Dwight Howard will wind up winning this award, but ask yourself, is it more difficult to shut down perimeter elite scorers in this league or to stop the awful, horrible batch of big men currently roaming the lanes?

6th Man of the Year: James Harden

Harden should be starting. By any and all accounts, he is a much better player than Thabo Seofolosha, or Daequan Cook, or whoever you want to start at two-guard for the best offense in the land. Harden should be the starter, he plays starters minutes, he finishes like a starter, he's close with the starters, he's a star in his own right. And yet, he's much better off the bench. He provides the Thunder with not only a scorer off the pine, but an offensive creator, maybe his best asset. Harden can run the offense, he facilitates, and can make a play go even off-ball. He's a capable if not excellent defender, and his decision making and effort is often times the difference in close wins and losses for OKC.

This award has been wrapped up for a good long time.

Coach of the Year: Doug Collins

The Philadelphia 76ers have the third seed in the East as of this writing, with signature wins over the Lakers, Bulls, Magic, and just about everyone not from South Beach. Doug Collins has managed to turn a team without a central star, without an Isolation scoring threat, without a dominant big man or an all-world point guard (no offense to the brilliant Jrue Holiday) into a powerhouse that overwhelms teams with defense, savvy, bench scoring, team play, and fortitude.

The players genuinely love to play for Collins and he's gotten through to them to a man. Spencer Hawes is playing well, for crying out loud. Elton Brand is producing. Iguodala is having the best overall season of his career by the eye test. They have the best defense, the best bench, the best record in a tough division. Collins has done an incredible job and is every bit deserving of this award as much for his process as the results it has garnered.

Most Improved Player: Jeremy Lin

What were you expecting? Usually second-year players are exempt in my eyes. They're supposed to develop and improve in their second season. But Lin is a special case. Lost in the Linsanity and all the great storylines surround him is the fact he has talked a lot about what the D-League did for him. This league too often doesn't allow players to develop, simply shreds them through and only the strong survive. Lin is a testament to the idea that players can develop, can improve, can learn this game and get better to the point of success. He's improved the most simply by making himself relevant, let alone raising New York from the dead for 15 percent of the season.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 7:40 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 9:11 pm
 

The five biggest All-Star snubs

Posted by Royce Young

Jennings tweeted after the announcement, "Just gotta work even harder now." (Getty Images)

The 2012 All-Star teams have been filled out and as always, there are some serious snubs. It's a select group that makes the All-Star Game as just seven spots in each conference are open for reserves. It's not easy to make it which means guys that have a great case to be there always get left out. You can't take everyone and there have to be cuts. So here the top five guys that have a reason to be disappointed. Feel free to create your own "snubbed from the snubs" list too.

Brandon Jennings

The Bucks aren't having a great season at 11-14, but it would be really bad without Jennings. He's averaging 18.9 points, 5.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. He's third among Eastern point guards in scoring and has been terrific in a number of big Milwaukee wins, including both over the Heat. Again, what hurts him is that his team is 11-14, but that didn't seem to affect Deron Williams' candidacy much. Jennings has a legitimate gripe to be left out.

James Harden

You're saying, "James Harden? There are way bigger snubs than that. But there should be something to be said for a guy that’s second at his position. It just makes sense for Harden to have been included. He’s second in PER (21.94) in the West for shooting guard, only behind Kobe. He’s 22nd overall in PER in the league. He’s fourth in scoring among 2-guards. He’s the third best player on the team with the best record in basketball. And his beard has the power to heal blindness. Those five things should add up to enough to trump Dirk Nowitzki, who even said himself he shouldn't be there.

Paul Millsap

The Jazz have basically come out of nowhere to contend for a playoff spot. People are saying things like, "Whoa, where did the Jazz come from?" and "Hey, what are the Jazz doing in the top eight?" You know why? Because of Paul Millsap. He's averaging 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds which aren't as gaudy as his power forward counterparts in the West, but definitely better than Dirk who has missed a good number of games and isn't playing close to his level.

Kyrie Irving

He's a rookie. He's playing for a not great team. But as Blake Griffin proved last season if your play is outstanding, those things aren't supposed to matter. Look at Irving's 21.66 PER. That's top 25 in the entire league. And he's exploded over the last month too. He's really blossoming into one of the East's very best point guard and with the reserves just having two point guards, Irving has a good case to be a third.

Kyle Lowry

The top snub in my mind. Lowry isn't just having an All-Star caliber season. He's having potentially an MVP caliber season. His numbers don't pop -- 14.7 ppg, 7.9 apg and 5.8 rpg -- but considering his importance to the now 15-11 Houston Rockets, he has to be considered one of the elite players in the West. It's tough because the Western team is already guard heavy and it would be tough to say Lowry should go ahead of Tony Parker or Steve Nash, but this shouldn't be about name recognition. It should be about this season and Lowry is having as good a year for a point guard as anyone in the conference not named Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook.
Posted on: January 8, 2012 10:37 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 10:40 pm
 

Oklahoma City is getting an early mental test

Posted by Royce Young



OKLAHOMA CITY -- Three nights, three wins.

That's what the Thunder accomplished with an easy 108-96 win over the Spurs Sunday, but there was a little deeper meaning to it. It wasn't just a win over a team Oklahoma City had lost six consecutive games to. It was a testing ground for something the Thunder haven't had to deal with since their rise as a Western contender -- a major injury to a key rotation player.

A night after losing backup point guard Eric Maynor to a season-ending ACL tear, the Thunder were left to find a new answer behind All-Star Russell Westbrook. Would it be Royal Ivey, the steady veteran? Just more minutes for Westbrook? Moving super sixth man James Harden for some time out front?

Or just hand the keys to a rookie taken in last June's draft? As it is in Oklahoma City, next man up.

Reggie Jackson -- yes, Reggie Jackson, real name -- stepped in for Maynor in a big way scoring 11 points and dishing out four assists. Head coach Scott Brooks didn't baby him along either. Jackson came in right at the time Maynor normally does and played Maynor's usual fill of minutes. And in those nine minutes spanning the end of the first quarter to the middle of the second, the Thunder were a plus-10 on the Spurs.

“I thought he did well,” Brooks said. “I thought he did a really good job of picking his spots and running the team.”

Said Harden: "[Jackson] was very good. He's got a long way to go but he made all the right plays, made shots and got into the lane. Over time, he'll get better and he'll get a feel for the game."

Some of you might be thinking, "So what, a backup point guard? Call me when Kevin Durant gets hurt." Thing is, the Thunder's bench has become one of its most valued weapons. With Harden, plus-minus machine Nick Collison and Maynor, the Thunder had at least one of the top three second units in basketball. That time during the early second quarter and early fourth when both teams have most of their benches in were times the Thunder could really take control of games.

So without a major part of that group, it was a legit question to wonder if the Thunder had lost a potential championship piece. And they still might have, but the early returns on Westbrook's backup's backup were very good. Jackson played under control, played confident and played smooth. It's one game and the key to any backup point man is consistency, especially when you're doing it behind someone as erratic as Westbrook. But Jackson made a strong case for claiming that role for at least the rest of this year.

For a young group like the Thunder though, part of the question with a loss like Maynor was the psyche of the team. They battled back Saturday night after Maynor left the game against Houston and won on the road. But how would they respond on the third night of a back-to-back-to-back sans one of their closest friends? The players were clearly shaken when Maynor had to be literally carried off the floor by Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.

"The whole season is now for Eric," Harden said. "It's a tough loss. We were all sad. We got to spend some time with him last night at his house just giving some comfort and showing him how much we care."

But injuries happen and you have to move on. Not an easy thing to do, but maybe playing a third game in three nights was a good thing for this young group. Instead of dwelling on what happened to their buddy, the Thunder just got to pick up the pieces, stop thinking and play ball.

You've got to be mentally tough to contend for trophies. Whether it's a media firestorm over your two stars having an alleged altercation on the bench or one of your key players being lost with an ugly injury, you have to block it all out and just keep playing. It's been an early test for the Thunder and right now, they're passing. The season isn't even a month old and the Thunder have already been through a lot. And so far, it looks like it might just be making them stronger.
Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:34 pm
Edited on: December 26, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Stern admits new CBA will make it tough on OKC

Posted by Royce Young



OKLAHOMA CITY -- Commissioner David Stern had himself a double-header Sunday, watching the Heat pound the Mavericks in Dallas and then making a short trip north to Oklahoma City to check out the Thunder.

His formal address to the media was the usual stuff. He talked about OKC's chances of getting an All-Star Game (the city needs more hotels), talked about the new collective bargaining agreement and how wonderful it is and talked about the NBA's business.

But after he wrapped, a couple of reporters chatted Stern up some more (or listened, if you're me). Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman led the charge asking Stern about how this new CBA that's supposedly designed to help small markets like Oklahoma City could be what tears the Thunder apart.

First, there's the new "Rose Rule," which allows -- actually scratch that -- forces teams to pay a superstar more money if he meets certain criteria. That's already happened in Oklahoma City as Kevin Durant has qualified by being named to two All-NBA teams. Durant will make roughly $15 million more over the life of his extension and some $3 million more per year. A number that has actually put the Thunder over the cap.

The new luxury tax, which is more punitive than before, goes into action in two seasons. Right around the time the Thunder will have potentially locked up Russell Westbrook for big money along with needing to re-sign James Harden and Serge Ibaka. Plus, if Westbrook makes another All-NBA team, he'll qualify for the Rose extension, which would hurt the Thunder even more. So that's where the Thunder are at right now -- needing Russell Westbrook to NOT make an All-NBA team.

Stern disagrees with the idea the harsher luxury tax hurts small markets like the Thunder though.

“The idea that the luxury tax hurts small markets is ludicrous," he said. "It may impact a small market that's a great team and has to raise its payroll. But at the bottom, it's designed to eliminate the ability of teams to use their economic resources to distort competition"

He's right. Because that's a blanket statement. It doesn't hurt all small markets. But specifically applied to this Thunder team and its current roster structure, it absolutely does. Stern put it this way though: If you're good enough to have to be forced with making the decision to "go for it," as he put it, that's a good thing. At least that's the league's perspective.
And then he dropped this bombshell:

“People are saying to Miami, ‘Well, you're going to have a decision to make with respect to one of your big three.' And they may say the same thing to Oklahoma City, and that's a good thing. That means you've arrived and you're out there being competitive."

So David Stern thinks it would be a good thing if the Thunder are forced to give up either Westbrook, Harden or Ibaka because they can't pay to keep them all. The way Stern put it is that the new CBA doesn't just share more revenue, but shares more talent. He sees it as "player sharing."

A small market team like the Thunder, who have become the poster child for small market viability, could potentially be punished for their slick management and wise draft choices. Stern sees that as a good thing. I get his point -- if you're having to pay players lots of money that means you're doing something right. But at the same time, Thunder general manager Sam Presti has always preached on "sustainable success," which this new CBA makes a bit difficult to accomplish. You can have Durant plus either Westbrook or Harden. But not all three and definitely not all three plus Serge Ibaka. Something about that just doesn't seem right to me.

I wrote about this over the summer when the idea of a hard cap was floated. Build a team like Oklahoma City using the "Thunder model," as so many people like to call it, and you may be breaking it apart in just a few seasons. The irony here is that Presti might've done too good of a job assembling his team.

The idea with the new tax is that teams won't be willing to bust into it, large or small. Of course Oklahoma City can just choose to pay the harsh tax penalty. But are they really going to do that? Stern seemed extremely confident that not many would.

“They could, but they won’t," he said. "There are going to be very few circumstances where someone is going to go $20 million over to pay $65 million in total unless they’re sure this is their time and they’re going for it once.”

Basically Stern is banking on big markets shying away from paying the harsher tax. He could be right as it's possible the Lakers dealt Lamar Odom for virtually nothing to get away from paying so much of it. The Blazers, who once had a $57 million tax bill, won't be going into that territory again. But let's face reality: Stern talked about teams choosing to pay the tax to "go for it." Big market teams like the Lakers and Knicks will have the chance to "go for it" a lot more than the Spurs, Grizzlies or Thunder because they have a bigger slice of the pie. If they swing and miss, oh well, they can try again later.

No bother to Stern though. He's sure of this new system. Positive of it, in fact.

“You’ll see. It’s beauty,” he said. “It’s all going to happen and then we’ll look back at it rather than prejudge it. I happen to think it’s going to be good for all of us, and it’s going to hit small market and large market teams alike.”

Or destroy one like the Thunder. But whatever.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:21 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:26 am
 

Players talk lockout after OKC charity game

Posted by Royce Young



OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City got as close as it'll probably ever be to an All-Star Game Sunday with stars like LeBron James, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony showing up for Kevin Durant's charity game. Durant's team -- included LeBron, Russell Westbrook and LaMarcus Aldridge -- topped Paul and Melo's squad 176-171 in a fairly exciting overtime game.

But there was always an unspoken theme to the game. It might've been a fun night featuring a hefty number of stars, but this game shouldn't have been happening. We're just over a week away from the actual tip of the NBA season and it's not going to be happening, at least not on Nov. 1. The players wanted to talk about charity and how fun it was to be playing hoops, but of course the topic of conversation after the game was the lockout.

Chris Paul put it this way: "We try to explain (the situation) as much as we can, but it's really hard to understand unless you're in the situation. But I just want the fans to trust us and know that we're far from greedy. We just want a fair deal. We want to get out there and play more than anybody. But we understand that at the end of the day, we're the product. We're the reason the fans come and we just want a fair deal.”

Paul isn't wrong. The players are certainly the product. Nearly 13,000 fans turned out in one of the league's smallest markets to watch a group of stars play in a completely meaningless game.

Durant was asked if games will be played by Christmas.

"I wish," he said. "But I really can't say right now. We're just trying to work to get a deal done. We're going to continue to play in these games and show the fans that we love the game and we want to play.”

Thunder guard James Harden was very matter-of-fact a few weeks ago when he said the players absolutely wouldn't drop below 53 percent in terms of revenue split. And he reaffirmed that position Sunday.

"No, no. Fifty-three. That's where we're staying at. We've had plenty of talks and we're not dropping," Harden said. "We already dropped and set our number at 53 so that's what we're sticking to."

Despite the hardline approach, Harden thinks it'll be settled soon.

“I'm definitely confident we're going to have a season. I just don't know when.”

Talks fell apart last week supposedly after Blazer owner Paul Allen intervened. LaMarcus Aldridge wouldn't comment about that or even expound on if Allen strikes him as the kind of owner willing to bring the hammer down.

"I can't really speak on that," he said. "It's not my place."

Fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the situation as games will officially be missed in 11 days. Paul was asked if he felt the same way.

"I don't know if frustrated is the right word. It's close," he said. "We just want to keep giving our fans an opportunity to see us. Because if not for the fans, we're not who were are. We just want them to know we still want to keep working towards a deal because it's not just about us. It's about the fans, it's about the employees, about all the people that makes our game happen. We want to play. Just want to make sure everyone understands that."

Said Rudy Gay: “We like playing these games for the fans, but we'd rather be doing our jobs. This is fun, but of course we want to get back to work. We're sorry to the fans for the long wait, but we're looking for a fair deal and that'll happen soon enough.”
Posted on: October 10, 2011 12:10 am
 

Harden says his drop-dead number is 53 percent

Posted by Royce Young

The league and players wrapped a five-plus hour meeting in New York Sunday in a last-ditch effort to save the start of the NBA regular season. How'd it go?

No comment. Evidently.

The biggest hangup between the two sides is current the Basketball Related Income split. The players have said they're firm at 53 percent while the owners are pushing for a 50-50 split. A good number of players are in Los Angeles playing in the Goodman-Drew rematch and ESPN.com spoke with a few and guess what they talked about. James Harden, and his beard, basically put it this way: It's 53 percent or nothing.
Harden falls squarely into the first camp. Prior to the game, the Thunder guard said he wouldn't rubber stamp a proposal, even if he received a personal call from union president Derek Fisher.

"I'd want to know what the deal is," Harden said. "Derek is someone you definitely listen to, but I'd also want to talk with the big guys -- LeBron, KD, and the rest."

Asked if he could see any scenario where a 50-50 split in basketball-related income (BRI) would be acceptable, Harden shook his head.

What's your drop-dead number?

"Fifty-three," Harden insisted. "No less."
Will it be 53? Who knows. We'll find out more by Monday after the players and league wrap another meeting. You'd have to think the players would be willing to come off that number to a degree in order to get a deal.

And like Harden conceded, he's not exactly involved all that heavily in the talks. He admitted that he'd defer to the bigger names involved like LeBron, Kevin Durant and others.

Harden's sentiment is sort of the battle Fisher and Billy Hunter are battling right now though. They desperately want to make a deal, but they can't feel like they've let down players like Harden. Those that are trenched into their position and are convinced that wavering is a bad thing wouldn't be happy with a 50-50 compromise out of nowhere. So Fisher has to please his base while at the same time getting a deal that works.

Such is a nasty negotiation like this.
Category: NBA
Posted on: August 20, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Top 10 plays from Goodman-Drew League showdown

Posted by Royce Young

The Goodman League topped the Drew League 135-134 in the highly anticipated pro-am showdown in Washington D.C. Saturday night. It came down to a controversial block/charge call that sent Kevin Durant to the free throw line where he calmly sank both to put the Goodman up one. Brandon Jennings missed a jumper with a few seconds left and Durant blocked James Harden's follow-up to seal the win.

All in all, a pretty fun night of pickup hoops during a time where any basketball at all is like manna from heaven.

And as you might expect, there were a bunch of quality plays. I mean, how could there not be in a game that featured Durant, Harden, Jennings, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, JaVale McGee, DeMar DeRozan and a couple streetball legends? So here are the top 10, compiled by Ball Is Life:

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com