Posts Tagged ‘Mo Evans’

Labor Talks: New Deadline To Deal With

– For labor updates, follow: @daldridgetnt | @AschNBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You don’t need X-ray vision to figure out where the NBA’s labor impasse is heading this week (“straight past the ‘Dead End’ sign and over the cliff” is the way an agent put it to us early this morning).

The league has given the players and their union 72 hours to respond to their latest “proposal,” delivered during a marathon Saturday night bargaining session in New York. Union president Derek Fisher made it clear shortly thereafter that said “ultimatum” would not even be delivered to the players for a vote.

The end of business Wednesday deadline issued by NBA Commissioner David Stern is a car wreck we’re all being allowed to watch from a distance far too close for comfort. The threats — of a considerably worse offer if this one is not accepted by the owners and of the dissolution of the union by the players if they ignore Wednesday’s deadline — only make for a yet another wicked twist to an already disturbing tale.

Anyone assuming that at least some of the players are not ready to fight need only scan Twitter timelines, where guys like Deron Williams make it clear that they were ready to fight months ago: “I’ve been ready to sign a decertification petition since July? Can’t believe we are just now going this route! SMH”

That doesn’t sound like a union ready to capitulate or compromise, as union attorney Jeffrey Kessler made clear in the aftermath of Saturday’s nearly nine-hour session. It sounds more like players, at least a faction of them, willing to stare the league down on deadline day and come out swinging the morning after. What that means for us, the true casualties of this lockout, is the loss of more games and potentially the demise of the entire 2011-12 season.

Ugh!

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Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:  In the end, the truest words spoken early Sunday morning came from Kessler, who said the owners’ tactics were “not happening on Derek Fisher’s watch. It’s not happening on Billy Hunter‘s watch. It’s not happening on the watch of this executive committee.” If the players successfully decertified, none of the aforementioned would be in power. A decertification petition requiring the signatures of 30 percent of union membership would put the union on approximately a 60-day clock before an election is held to disband it — and that’s only if the National Labor Relations Board authorizes the election. Typically, the agency does not when a union has an unfair labor practices charge pending. The mere signing of the petition by 30 percent of the union would not by itself cease negotiations since the union would remain in power until the election, which wouldn’t happen before January — if at all. That leaves two months for cooler heads to prevail. But really, the stopwatch has been set for four days — 96 hours to spare chaos. Of all the inflammatory words spoken after this latest fiasco, the words “best and final offer” were never among them. That’s legal mumbo-jumbo for this: There’s still time to end the ass-hattery, if everyone’s heads return to a place oxygen is available. The clock is ticking.

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Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: After reports that Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan had become one of the most vocal of hardline owners, union officials were anxious for him to speak up in Saturday night’s meeting. Union officials, just as they wanted to do back at the last labor meeting that Jordan attended on All-Star weekend, were determined to throw back at Jordan many of his old anti-ownership screeds from the 1990s. As one official said, “He never opened his mouth, not once.” The two sides didn’t spend a great deal of the 8½ hours engaging each other, but rather had the federal mediator shuttling back and forth between rooms, a source said. Stern’s ultimatum comes with the backdrop of player agents actively canvassing their clients to determine if there were enough votes to move forward with a decertification vote on the union, agent and player sources told Yahoo! Sports. Before proceeding, agents and players were waiting on the outcome of the weekend’s labor talks. Several agents and players believed support would grow for a vote on dissolving the union without significant progress on a deal. Agents and players took part in two conference calls this week on the subject of decertification. Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce has taken a lead in spearheading those discussions, sources said.

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Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com: The owners, Kessler said, had been the ones who brought an abrupt halt to the proceedings. After 3 weeks of preconditions that were levied and then removed and then levied and removed again, the owners circled back to basically the same place they have been all along while giving the players a take-it-or-leave-it offer that for all intents and purposes would max out at 50.2 percent of revenues going to the players, 49.8 percent going to the owners. The players had dropped to 51 percent, or as Kessler termed it: “Fifty plus one,” with the extra one percent ($40 million) being earmarked for improved pension benefits for both current and retired players. “These are professional basketball players,’’ Kessler said. “They are the finest athletes in the world. How do you think they feel about threats? How do you think they feel about efforts at intimidation? Who negotiates in good faith when they say it’s this proposal or (back to) 47 percent? Take it or leave it. This is not good faith to the fans. ‘’ Big, bad Michael Jordan had become Paul Allen 2.0 during the meeting, Kessler said, barely uttering a word. Arbitrator George Cohen’ suggestions, Kessler said, had been hijacked by Stern and turned into the owners’ official offer. The money quote from my news story, after the 8 1/2 hours of meetings and 60 minutes of dueling news conferences had ended: “The story here is they want it all,” Kessler bellowed. “They want a win, win, win, win. We wanted a compromise. Our 51 percent offer was based on a fair system. They would have to come to us on the system, but they did not.”

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Howard Beck of the New York Times: This latest negotiating session, the 21st of the lockout, lasted for eight and a half hours, ending around 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Under the guidance of George Cohen, a federal mediator, the parties actually narrowed the gap on some crucial items before the talks collapsed. The players — who had vowed not to accept less than 52.5 percent of league revenues — proposed a 51 percent share, with 1 percent devoted to aid retired players. That moved them within 1 percent of the league’s longstanding proposal. On Saturday, the owners proposed a “band” that would pay the players 49 to 51 percent, depending on revenue growth. But the union said it amounted to a 50 percent offer, because the threshold for growth was so high that the share would never get to 51. Jeff Kessler, the union’s outside counsel and chief negotiator, called the 49 to 51 band “a fraud.” Yet it was ultimately the mechanics of a new system, not the revenue split, that killed the talks. The league’s standing proposal would eliminate spending options for teams that pay the luxury tax, by banning them from sign-and-trade deals and the use of the midlevel exception. At Cohen’s suggestion, the league proposed a “mini-midlevel” that would start at $2.5 million — half the value of the full midlevel — and would be limited to two-year deals. The N.B.A.’s proposal also called for an additional penalty — a so-called “repeater tax” — on teams that exceed the tax threshold three times in a five-year span. The union is open to the concept, but not at the steep rates proposed by the league. The net effect of the N.B.A.’s proposal, the union said, would be to eliminate the highest-spending teams from acquiring top talent — thus devastating the free-agent market.

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Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: The owners have not threatened to impose a flex-cap since last summer. But it’s a sign that they’re running out of patience with the players, who continue to hold out for more of the same soft-cap features that were part of the last collective bargaining agreement. “We want our players to play and we’d like to have a season and these are the terms upon which we’re prepared to gear up and get in as many games as possible,’’ Stern said. The league has already cancelled all of its November schedule. With the players already rejecting the owner’s latest offer, it seems fairly certain that December games will soon start to go up in smoke, too. In addition to the split of revenue, owners in this latest proposal want players to accept a decrease in the mid-level exception, from five years to two years for teams over the luxury tax. There would also be reductions in the terms of the exception for non-tax paying teams. The deal would also penalize taxpayers by not allowing them to work sign-and-trade transactions. Jordan is one of nearly 12 owners who don’t want players to get above 47%. But Stern said that he would have enough votes to get the deal for the players allowing for them to get upwards of 51%. That’s because Jordan, Charlotte majority owner, and other small- and mid-market owners who lost $300 million last season do not have enough votes to kill a deal. To ratify a deal, Stern needs a simple majority of 16 votes. “This is not good faith to the players or to the fans,’’ said union counsel Jeffrey Kessler. “The players will not be intimidated. That’s what the league is doing in presenting an ultimatum to us.’’

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Marc Stein of ESPN.com: Bear in mind that there’s a big difference between rounding up the 130 players needed to sign a petition to vote on decertification and finding a 50 percent-plus-one majority in a union of roughly 450 members amenable to actually voting for decertification. Because decertification is “risky and messy,” as established above, there is undeniable skepticism around the league about how many players would be willing to go all the way through with it. And maybe that’s why some ownership sources insist that the decertification process won’t have nearly as much impact as its supporters contend. But if it merely gets as far as a vote — no matter what would happen when decertification ballots are passed out — that’s when you’ll know that there’s really no hope for a 2011-12 season. If the union ultimately does decertify fully, there won’t even be time at that point to do what NBA commissioner David Stern does not want to do and stage another 50-game season. The reality, though, is that we’re still some distance removed from that crossroads. Wednesday is the deadline announced by Stern for the union to take the deal as currently constructed, but this sad saga can rumble on for at least another good month — and probably longer — unless Stern can convince the union that they better take Saturday’s offer because he’s serious about canceling the rest of the ’11-12 season before Thanksgiving.XX

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Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times: Player reaction to Stern’s take-it-or-leave-it offer was swift on Twitter. “U gotta love an ultimatum,” tweeted San Antonio Spurs guard Steve Novak. “How does basketball ever even get to this point?” … All 29 owners gathered early in the day Saturday for a meeting among themselves, and Cohen met separately with players and owners before collective negotiations resumed. Small-market owners in attendance included Charlotte’s Michael Jordan and Portland’s Paul Allen, believed to be among those wanting to hold the players’ share of revenue to 47%. Among large-market owners were the Lakers’ Jerry Buss and Miami’s Micky Arison, the latter of the recent $500,000 tweet claiming he wasn’t the reason the lockout was lingering. The discussions lacked star power on the players’ side. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had attended earlier negotiating sessions, announced via Twitter that he had landed in Sydney for the start of an exhibition tour. “Got off the plane in my jordan sweat suit,” Wade wrote, “but as soon as I walked out the airport it felt like Miami.” Clippers teammates Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan exchanged trash tweets regarding their alma maters’ Big 12 Conference football game in Norman, Okla. Tweeted Jordan: “Sorry but Texas A&M is going to smack OU today!!!” Final score: Oklahoma 41, Texas A&M 25. Jordan wouldn’t find a happy ending with the proceedings in New York either.

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Alan Hahn of Newsday: Stern said that the league would spend Sunday writing up two formal proposals, one as outlined above and another based on a less appealing offer that would come if Wednesday’s deadline passes without an agreement. That deal, Stern said, would have two ominous parts: a 47-53 split of league revenue in favor of the owners and a “flex” cap system that would replicate the NHL’s hard cap. “We hope that this juxtaposition will cause the union to assess its situation and accept the deal,” Stern said. If they don’t take the deal, the union is faced with one option: to decertify the union and fight the league in court. That, of course, would take up the kind of time that would essentially kill any chance of having a season. Neither Fisher nor Kessler would address decertification, which has been promoted by several agents. Union executive director Billy Hunter did not speak to reporters after the talks because, according to a union spokesman, he was under the weather. It was yet another long day for everyone involved, as the owners met early Saturday afternoon to discuss their strategy going into the meeting with the players. Michael Jordan, the Charlotte Bobcats owner who is the marquee name among a faction of hardlining small market owners, was in attendance, along with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen and Heat owner Micky Arison, who last week was fined $500,000 for a few candid tweets about the lockout. On the players’ side, Knicks guard Chauncey Billups, one of the most respected veteran players in the league, made his first appearance at the talks at the request of the union’s executive committee, mainly vice president Mo Evans. But it was Kessler who had the strongest voice after the meetings, as he continually charged the owners with having no interest in making a deal. “Who negotiates in good faith and makes an ultimatum?” he said. Later he added, “The big story here is they want it all.”

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Labor Talks: In the Midnight Hour

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Perhaps “no comment,” officially, is the best thing anyone could say at this late stage of the NBA lockout.

After more than five hours of closed-door negotiations in New York Sunday night, the two sides agreed to stay quiet about what was said and resume negotiations Monday at 2 p.m. ET.

“We don’t have any comment at all, other than we are breaking for the night and reconvening tomorrow afternoon,” NBA Commissioner David Stern told reporters after emerging from the meeting, which was scrapped as of late Friday night only to be revived over the weekend.

The continuation of talk is better than the alternative. Stern issued a Monday deadline for a new labor agreement to be reached before the first two weeks of the regular season were canceled. Union executive director Billy Hunter was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles this morning for a previously scheduled regional meeting with players, but will instead be back in the meeting room alongside union president Derek Fisher and the rest of their negotiating team.

“We’re not necessarily any closer than we were [going into] tonight,” Fisher told reporters when he hit the New York sidewalk shortly before midnight.

Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, owners Peter Holt of San Antonio and Glen Taylor of Minnesota, and senior vice president and deputy general counsel Dan Rube met with Hunter, Fisher and union vice president Mo Evans. Attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Ron Klempner were also present.

Getting all of them in a room together just two days after both sides agreed that they would not meet without the precondition that the players accept a 50-50 split of BRI was a victory in itself. The introduction of the 50-50 split is what shut down talks Tuesday, when the players rejected the notion outright. According to Sports Illustrated‘s Chris Mannix the subject was not discussed at all during Sunday’s session, which focused solely on … .

We won’t find out exactly where things stand until someone speaks about it in-depth, and preferably on the record. (Both sides agreed not to do so, according to Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.) But the clock continues to tick on Stern’s deadline.

The regular season is scheduled to begin Nov. 1 …

Labor Talks: The Men In the Room …

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The key players for both sides of the NBA’s ongoing labor dispute are in the meeting room in New York. As first reported by the New York Times and later confirmed by TNT’s David Aldridge and Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the proposed “last-ditch” effort to save the on-time start of the regular season is under way in New York.

The key negotiators from each side: NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver for the owners, with union president Derek Fisher and executive director Billy Hunter representing the players, along with San Antonio owner Peter Holt, head of the league’s labor relations committee and Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who is chairman of the NBA Board of Governors. Attorneys for both sides are also reportedly in attendance, per Berger.

Berger also reported via Twitter that players union vice president Mo Evans is in the meeting room as well.  The negotiating session began roughly three hours ago, according to reports, with no timetable set for how long it might last.

Perhaps the most significant nugget unearthed tonight is that the reported precondition that the players had to agree to a 50-50 split of BRI in order for the meeting to take place was (obviously) dropped before the sides entered the room.

Stay tuned for more details …

Hawks Still Don’t Get The Point

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The last time the Hawks swung a trade deadline deal for a point guard, they got Mike Bibby from Sacramento and proceeded to make the playoffs three years in a row with the veteran big shot artist directing their attack.

That was February 2008. Fast forward to now and the Hawks are still trying to find the right fit at point guard. They traded Bibby, Mo Evans, Jordan Crawford and their 2011 first-round Draft pick to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong yesterday.

The Hawks are trying, once again, to solve the point guard problems that have plagued them since Draft night 2005, when they passed up Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Raymond Felton to take Marvin Williams with the No. 2 pick.

“In hindsight, that might be the biggest top three Draft mistake since the Pistons took Darko [Milicic],” an Eastern Conference executive said. “And it’s not just about the player you take, it’s about the player or players you pass up when you make that pick.”

The Pistons passed on Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to take Milicic after LeBron James was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 Draft.

“Anyone that doesn’t think you’ll pay for your Draft mistakes for years to come, just take a look at the Hawks and Pistons right now,” the exec said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t have some success even with those mistakes. But at some point, you will pay for the mistake.”

The Hawks reportedly targeted both Felton and Devin Harris as potential trade pieces but came up empty both times. Bottom line: the Hawks still don’t get the point. Hinrich is yet another short-term answer to a long-term problem. He only has one year left on his deal (at $8 million), meaning the Hawks will have to make decisions about their point guard future all over again this time next year.

Jeff Teague, the Hawks’ second-year point guard, is clearly not ready for a starring role  … and might not be anytime soon. He was given every opportunity to supplant Bibby and couldn’t do it. He’s the latest in a long line of supposed point guard solutions that ended up being a problem (Speedy Claxton, Acie Law) for the Hawks.

They’ve tried everything at the point from Royal Ivey to Anthony Johnson to Tyronn Lue to even playing Joe Johnson at point guard during his first season with the team. That’s nine different point guard options spanning two different regimes (former general manager Billy Knight is the man who drafted Marvin Williams, paid Claxton, drafted Law and also traded for Bibby while current general manager Rick Sund is the man who shipped Claxton and Law out of town for Jamal Crawford, drafted Teague and made the deal for Hinrich).

While Hinrich is clearly an upgrade over Bibby, particularly at the defensive end, he still doesn’t solve the Hawks’ seemingly eternal point guard problem.

League Pass Spotlight: Weekend Watching

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’re not done with you yet LeBron James.

You didn’t really think we’d just go away now that you got that trip home to Cleveland out of the way, did you?

As your fans have reminded us so many times the past month, one game does not a season make. So we’re diving right back in with you and the Heat this weekend now that you have your pre-“The Decision” flow back.

The Heat finally look like the team we thought they’d be, a metamorphosis that began at Quicken Loans Arena Thursday night, cathartic moment for James that was captured dramatically by my main man Israel Guiterrez of the Miami Herald:

The Heat, for the first time all season, looked unified. The Heat looked like a collection of talent instead of a frustrated bunch of individuals.

That’s because, for the first time this season, the Heat was playing for an actual cause. Not just the goal of improving, but for the cause of supporting James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas in their return to Cleveland.

No longer was Dwyane Wade playing concerned, wondering whether he was doing too much and not involving James enough.

No longer was James waiting his turn. No longer did the defense look confused or allow a point guard to devastate it.

The Heat played with a purpose. A playoff-like purpose.

This historic return home for one of the NBA’s greatest might have become his biggest victory to date.

He came out of this not only with the reassurance that he made the right choice, but he left more confident about it than ever. He came out of it knowing that Wade isn’t a player with whom he’s competing for touches, but possibly the best teammate he could have in moments like this.

He came out of it knowing that, just days after he reportedly turned on his head coach, the Heat would still come together to support him.

“There are times where we don’t like each other,” Spoelstra said of his team. “That can be a good thing as well. You only really get to know each other and get tested when you’ve seen both sides and you’re able to respond and move on.”

Now LeBron can move on.

He can move on to Saturday night’s home game against Southeast Division rival Atlanta, a game featured prominently on the must-watch list known around here as HT’s League Pass Spotlight: Weekend Watching (sorry, there is no discount for Miami Heat fans or anything, but you can click here to make sure you don’t miss a second of the action):

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Hawks Lose Johnson For 4-6 Weeks

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Hawks All-Star and captain Joe Johnson will miss the next four to six weeks recovering from right elbow surgery, the Hawks announced before Wednesday’s game against the Hang Time Grizzlies at Philips Arena.

Johnson had an MRI Tuesday afternoon and visited with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham earlier this morning and it was determined that Johnson had “loose body” in the elbow. He’ll have the arthroscopic procedure in the “next few days,” a procedure Andrews will perform.

The injury helps explains the curious start to Johnson’s season. He’s shooting a career-low 41 percent from the floor and averaging just 17.1 points, his lowest totals in both categories since joining the Hawks before the start of the 2005-06 season.

Johnson is still the Hawks’ leading scorer, so his loss will be a major blow for a team that has two other captains (Al Hoford and Josh Smith) playing at an All-Star level. They also have the reigning Sixth Man Award winner in Jamal Crawford to turn to in a pinch, though veteran swingman Mo Evans started in Johnson’s place Thursday night.

Johnson signed the biggest deal ($124 million) of the famed Free Agent Summer of 2010. Hawks fans wondered what their team might look like without him before he signed that deal. They’ll have at least to month see exactly what it looks like now.

Red Out?

Posted by Sekou Smith

MILWAUKEE – In a blatant bit of playoff posturing, the Hawks took the floor in their red road uniforms for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first round playoff series with the Bucks.

The Bucks urged their fans to show up in red to match the Hawks’ attempts to “white out” Philips Arena in Games 1 and 2 of the series.

As they passed surprised observers in the bowels of the Bradley Center 90 minutes before opening tip, Hawks players tried to keep straight faces.

When I spotted Joe Johnson and Mo Evans in the coach’s locker room doing pre-game stretches, I moved in to inquire about their choice of attire for the night and was stopped in my tracks.

“What you looking at?” Johnson said before I could get any words out.

I moved on to Evans, who politely informed me that “it’s not about anything other than us having some business to tend to.”

The Bucks handled all the business early in Game 3. They led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter and made nine straight shots during one early stretch.

And for the record, their proposed “red out” wasn’t a rousing success. There was as much red on the Hawks’ bench as there was anywhere else in the building.

Lakers Falling, Can They Get Up?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — I was hoping a decent night’s sleep would give me a fresher perspective on what I saw from the Lakers last night.

I thought it might clear up the vision that seemed a bit blurry during and after the Lakers’ 109-92 drubbing at the hands of the Hawks before a record crowd of 20,190 at Philips Arena.

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Nope!

And this is no April Fools. I am witness, these Lakers have fallen and I’m wondering if they can get up in time to defend themselves and their title?

I saw nothing to inspire me last night.

“They just outplayed us,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said, “regardless of inspiration.”

Most startling was that the Lakers actually tried to turn on the gas against a game Hawks team and couldn’t do it. Kobe Bryant was in full Black Mamba mode and it didn’t seem to matter.

“What we did just didn’t work,” said Lakers forward Ron Artest, who took a shot to the chest from Hawks sub Mo Evans (18 huge points) and didn’t respond in kind, a move symbolic of the Lakers’ entire evening . “We tried to win but we just couldn’t.”

It was an alarming performance for a team that doesn’t seem to have the same win-a-title-or-else edge to it that it did a year ago.

And it wasn’t like this was some starters-on-starters playoff fight.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson‘s playing rotation is usually tighter than a Lady Gaga original. But he went eight deep into his rotation and caught the Lakers with combinations they had no answer for.

Evans had one of his very best games of the season and Zaza Pachulia had his first double double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in a year, the last one coming in a win over these same Lakers late last season. Jamal Crawford was his usual explosive self, prompting Bryant, to anoint him “hands-down the Sixth-Man of the Year.”

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The Hawks did their part last night, they showed up for a matchup of supposed contenders.

The Lakers, however, have us wondering … can they get up?