Posts Tagged ‘Ric Bucher’

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 144) Featuring SI.com’s Seth Davis

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Digging into the history, life and times of John Wooden, the man, the myth and the legend, is an undertaking any lover of the game would relish.

For best-selling author, CBS analyst and SI.com college hoops expert Seth Davis, it was a literary pilgrimage a lifetime. And the end result, WOODEN: A Coach’s Life (Times Books, Jan. 14) is masterpiece on arguably the greatest coach and teacher in the history of sports.

We dive in on all things Wooden with Davis on Episode 144 of the Hang Time Podcast. While we had him we also discussed the current state of the college game, the NBA stars of the future incubating in college right now (Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon and the rest) and a host of other topics with one of the foremost authorities on the college game.

In addition, there’s discussion about Hollywood Rick hanging at the Golden Globes, the three-team deal between the Warriors, Celtics and Heat, the Heat’s White House visit (and President Obama‘s defense of Mario Chalmers), the Knicks’ J.R. Smith problem, Bleacher Report‘s Ric Bucher suggesting the Clippers are better off without Blake Griffin and a host of other hot topics around the league.

Toss in Sounds of the Game and the latest installment of Braggin’ Rights (you already know who leads the pack) and we should have all of your bases covered.

Check it out on Episode 144 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring SI.com’s Seth Davis.

LISTEN HERE:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: The Heat visit with President Obama at the White House

Buss, Lakers Need To Let Dwight Go



.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Sooner or later, the Los Angeles Lakers will move on from the pain and suffering associated with the brief Dwight Howard era — later being the operative word here. Because once again, the drama is being stirred by someone in the Lakers’ camp in regards to Howard and just how authentic a Laker he was in his one season in L.A.

Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss fires the latest verbal shot at Howard in an article in The Hollywood Reporter by Ric Bucher that examines the fabled franchise and their current state of affairs in the post-Dr. Jerry Buss era. Times have certainly changed:

Jim insists he’s just following his father’s blueprint, but the Howard situation suggests he missed a page. Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored “Stay” on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn’t surprised or dismayed. “He was never really a Laker,” says Jim. “He was just passing through.”

Those close to Howard say the Lakers could have persuaded him to stay. Even Jeanie believes that if her father had not been sick, he would have sealed the deal like so many before it. “It’s disappointing that Dwight isn’t here,” she says. “I feel like we failed him.”

Clearly, Jim, Jeanie Buss, Kobe Bryant, Magic JohnsonPhil Jackson and anyone else who has ever been associated with the franchise is being asked about Howard incessantly. A simple no comment is in order now. The continued examination and assault on Howard’s character has bordered on ridiculous for weeks now.

Bottom line: the Lakers aren’t doing themselves any favors by answering every question about Howard. He’s moved on to whatever the future holds in Houston. The Lakers need to move on as well. They need to let him go, set themselves free from this drama and concentrate all of their effort on the very real rebuilding campaign that needs to be begin with training camp.

And for the record, they knew that there was a very real possibility that Dwight was “just passing through” when they acquired him via that blockbuster trade last summer. There was always that inherent risk with a player with Howard’s track record. Their miscalculations, their choices (Mike D’Antoni over Jackson to replace coach Mike Brown) are what made the situation untenable for Howard when free agency hit. So blaming him in hindsight for not falling for the disingenuous “stick around, we love you” campaign is weak.

This talk now is just as beneath the Lakers as the whole billboard campaign was when they were trying to convince Howard to stay.

To her credit, Jeanie Buss takes a much more measured approach to this whole thing and it is her words, her tact and, ultimately, her voice that should rule the day inside the franchise on Howard. I’m sure her sensibilities were offended when Howard spurned the Lakers for the Rockets. But you can tell by her response. She insists that the Lakers somehow didn’t handle their business the way should have, the way they would have if her father was spearheading the recruiting charge.

She’s right. Things likely would have been different.

But the Lakers cannot dwell on what might have been anymore. They have to move on and get back to the grind, the same way Howard has in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale.

The Lakers need to let Dwight go once and for all.

Report: Curry Set To Replace Collins?



.

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – An already rough week could get a lot tougher for Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins tonight when his team takes to the TNT stage against the Chicago Bulls (8 p.m. ET).

After his “mind-numbing” description of his team’s performance after Tuesday night’s loss to Orlando went viral, rumblings about his days as the 76ers coach being numbered started spreading.

If Collins is indeed headed for an exit from the bench, CSN Bay Area’s Ric Bucher is already reporting on a succession plan. Assistant coach Michael Curry, whose last coaching work came with the Detroit Pistons, is poised to take over. Curry last just one season in Detroit. But Bucher reports that he will be considered for the job on a permanent basis, if he does take over for Collins before this season ends.

The Sixers have lost six straight games and still haven’t seen prized offseason acquisition Andrew Bynum anywhere but the practice court. Lingering knee issues have kept the All-Star center out of the lineup since training camp. And based on his comments the other night, Collins doesn’t seem terribly confident that Bynum’s return, if there is one, will do much to change things for his team.

This season has turned out to be a complete dumpster fire for a Sixers team that came into the season with plans to challenge for the Atlantic Division crown and a lofty playoff perch in the Eastern Conference standings. Pairing the free-agent-to-be Bynum with All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday and a solid supporting cast looked like an ideal plan, at least on paper.

Entering tonight, Philly is 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for No. 8 in the East. The Sixers appear to be headed back to the lottery at the rate they are going, not to mention into the mix of teams searching for a new coach.

Howard, Van Gundy Join Forces Again … For Seminole County School System




HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Their names will be linked in Orlando sports lore forever, former Magic superstar center Dwight Howard and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy.

But it won’t always be about their messy divorce and departure from the Magic. On at least one account, the former player and coach will come together to help bolster the future for students in the Orlando area, the Seminole County School system to be exact.

It turns out that Howard and Van Gundy do have a common interest outside of winning a Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Diametrically opposed on so many issues, Howard and Van Gundy are political allies (the combatants in contests across the nation in this election year need to take notice) when it comes to helping preserve the property tax base that helps fund the school system.

Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel informed us all of this rather intriguing arrangement between these two men:

If you read my column last week, you know Van Gundy is the chairman of a political group in Seminole County called Citizens for Preservation of Property Values. The goal of the group is to increase property taxes in Seminole County to help preserve the area’s traditionally strong public school system — a system that has been decimated by $73 million in budget cuts over the past five years. In the Nov. 6 general election, Seminole voters will decide whether to approve a 1-mill increase in property taxes for four years beginning a year from now. The increase would bring in as much as $25 million annually to the school district.

Van Gundy says Dwight, who was recently traded to the Lakers, is going to lend some financial backing  to the cause.

“Dwight has pledged his support,” Van Gundy said Monday during an interview on our Open Mike radio show on 740 The Game. “He’s a resident of Seminole County, and he’s keeping his house here. I think his history will show that he’s had great concern for kids in the Central Florida community. With him still living here, we asked him to help and he didn’t hesitate.”

Surprisingly to some, both Stan and Dwight say they are on good terms and have been communicating regularly over the last several weeks. Van Gundy even texted Howard and wished him good luck after he was traded to L.A.

(more…)

The Dwightmare Continues

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – In the wonderful world that is the never-ending Dwight Howard drama, the news one day can be debunked the very next day.

A Thursday report that suggested Howard was warming up to the idea of potentially signing a long-term extension with the Lakers, if traded there, is being refuted today by Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, who told ESPN The Magazine‘s Ric Bucher something that totally contradicts that stance.

According to this latest report, Howard will not sign an extension anywhere, and that includes Brooklyn, the one team he has said all along was his required destination:

“Dwight’s position has remained unchanged since the end of this past season,” said Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited. “He fully intends to explore free agency at the end of next season, regardless of what team trades for him, including Brooklyn.”

A source said the Nets never insisted Howard commit to an extension as a prerequisite for acquiring him, which Nets president Billy King confirmed in a text message.

Howard told the Magic, according to GM Rob Hennigan, he would like to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets above any other team. The Nets made concerted efforts to strike a deal for Howard earlier this month, but were forced to stop when the Charlotte Bobcats threatened to sign their restricted free agent center, Brook Lopez, to an offer sheet.

(more…)

Report: Back Surgery Will Sideline Magic’s Howard For Rest Of Season





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The lasting image of All-Star center Dwight Howard from this season might very well be that scene at shootaround practice where he and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy did their “what did he say” tango.

Howard’s season has reportedly come to an end due to back surgery. The word came down just minutes ago, from ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher:

…  Howard will undergo back surgery Friday morning in Los Angeles to repair a herniated disk, effectively ending his season and eliminating him from participation in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Howard’s agent said Thursday night.

Howard has been complaining of back problems since early March, but it wasn’t until Los Angeles-based spine surgeon Dr. Robert Watkins examined him last week that the herniated disk was discovered.

Howard received an epidural to alleviate the pain at that time and the plan was that he’d rest and rehabilitate his back for 10-14 days before deciding if he could return to play or further treatment might be necessary.

But his back has worsened and both Watkins and the Magic’s medical staff determined that surgery is necessary.

Dan Fegan, Howard’s agent, said he hopes this development debunks any thoughts that Howard’s back problem was not serious and that he was utilizing it as an excuse not to play.

A report out of Orlando said that Howard told Magic owner Rich DeVos in a recent phone call that he did not intend to play again for Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who put Howard in an awkward situation by announcing that management informed him his All-Star center had asked that he be fired. Fegan, along with other sources, have disputed that report.

As devastating as Howard’s loss is for the Magic, who have already clinched a playoff berth, it’s just as devastating for the Olympic team. There are other options at center, but no one on Howard’s level and with his experience playing with the national team.

Stay tuned for more details …

Union Rejects Proposal, Will Disband

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

THE BEAUTY AND CURSE THAT IS TWITTER

– 4:53 p.m.: If you’re like most of us, one minute you love Twitter. And the next … well, you know what’s on the other side of that line.

As huge a role as the social networks have played in this saga since July, you had to know they’d be on fire in the aftermath of today’s decision by the players to disband the union and reject the owners’ latest proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement.

SI.com‘s Point Forward blog captured the moment in all of its enigmatic splendor shortly after the decision came down. Click here to enjoy it/punch-a-hole-in-the-wall (careful, that wall doesn’t give much).

Our favorite?

It comes from Seattle native and rookie Isaiah Thomas shouting out another diminutive guard from the Emerald City (which boasts one of the deepest NBA rosters in the league these days), Nate Robinson:

Welp, since we ain’t playing hoop in the NBA ima sign up for a 6ft and under league back at the crib u down @nate_robinson lol?

It’s not nearly as funny as it would have been four months ago!

***

NEW LABOR LEADERS SPEAK

– 4:27 p.m.: It didn’t take long to track down the men heading up the players’ fight in what has shifted from negotiations to a lawsuit.

Both union attorney Jeffrey Kessler and his new partner David Boies answered questions for reporters in New York after the union presser earlier this afternoon. Their answers shed some interesting light on where this process is headed (text courtesy of our friends at TrueHoop.com):

Since the decertification didn’t work for the NFL, how much better is this disclaimer?Boies: Well, remember, in the NFL case, the disclaimer …. although it was ruled valid by the district court, was never really decided by the court of appeals. The point, too, in the NFL case, was whether or not there could be an injunction. As you heard in there, we are not going to seek an injunction. While we’re going to go back, and we’re going to look at legal options, you heard Billy say that one of the things the players are not going to do is go seek an injunction here.Why not?Boies: Well, my view, and this is one that Jeffrey and I may have a different view on, is that under the Norris-Laguardia Act it’s very difficult to get an injunction. That doesn’t mean you can’t have damages. And in fact, the whole point of the Norris-Laguardia Act was to stop injunctions and force the these kinds of disputes into the damage arena.Even if you could get an injunction — let’s say Jeffrey’s wrong and I’m right on this — it would be, obviously, a drawn-out process. And I think what the players are focusing on right now is what is the fastest way to get this resolved.

Kessler: If you look at it from a player’s standpoint, collective bargaining has totally failed. So rather than exercise their labor law rights to futility, they’ve decided to free up all players to exert their antitrust rights to triple damages. And we think — not we, the players — think that is the best protection for NBA players going forward.

How do you go about deciding who the plaintiffs will be?

Kessler: We’re not going to talk about any legal strategies or tactics.

Is there any indication, knowing how the NBA has been bargaining, that this will bring them back [to a more reasonable bargaining position]?

Boies: I have no expectation about that one way or another. I’m involved in this a few hours, OK?

I would hope that, in the face of a disclaiming union, where there’s no hope of collective bargaining, that the owners would reconsider whether, under these circumstances, it makes sense to continue to boycott. But I have no idea what their strategy is.

This is clearly uncharted waters for all involved, to a large extent. but these are the men that will lead the fight from the players’ side going forward. It would be wise to study up on them and their extensive histories in the litigation field.

***

***

PROPOSAL REJECTED, ANTITRUST ACTION TO BE FILED

– 2:19 p.m.: In the words of union executive director Billy Hunter, the “collective bargaining process has completely broken down” and the players have refused the league’s latest proposal. They have already begun the process to disband union. But they have not decided to decertify, there is a difference.

The players are filing a disclaimer of interest, an antitrust action against the league within the next two days. In basic terms, they are taking the league to court.

This decision puts the 2011-12 season in jeopardy and obliterates any hopes of the 72-game season that would have begun on Dec. 15 which was in the proposal the players rejected.

Hunter says players were not prepared to accept NBA Commissioner David Stern‘s ultimatum, saying they thought it was “extremely unfair.”

Stay tuned to NBA.com and NBA TV for more details.

***

MEETINGS OVER, PRESSER IN MINUTES ON NBA TV AND NBA.COM

– 1:47 p.m.: Meetings over!

Brace yourselves folks and tune into NBA TV and live here at NBA.com to see where things stand after the player reps’ review of the current proposal from the league.

… NOT SO FAST MY FRIENDS

– 1:37 p.m: We thought things were wrapping up in New York when we saw some tweets suggesting that the end of the meeting might be at hand.

But Asch informed us it was a false alarm. Someone mistook a break in the action for the end of the meeting. Oh well, back to what you were doing folks.

As soon as the meeting wraps, though, you need to be here. As my main man John Schuhmann tweeted earlier, if there’s a press conference it will be on NBA TVand right here on NBA.com.

***

STERN: NO TWEAKS

– 12:09 p.m.: Well, so much for adding a few notes and sending that proposal back to the owners for a few revisions.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said the league was done “negotiating” last week and he meant it. More from Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:

“I want to answer this diplomatically. The next time we meet to discuss anything, we’ll be discussing the 47 percent proposal. This is it …  we’ve been negotiating this for 2½ years. The owners authorized a revised proposal, and they said if it’s not acceptable and they want to keep negotiating, we present them with a 47 percent, flex cap proposal. They know it.”

This was in response to Mahoney’s question Saturday night asking whether or not the league would accept any tweaks for further negotiations.

That, my friends, is what the good folks at Merriam-Wesbter call an ultimatum!

***

AGENT(S) STRIKE BACK

– 11:29 a.m.: You had to know a weekend of direct hits aimed at agents representing NBA players would be met with some sort of rebuttal from said agents.

Well, Mark Bartelstein countered, courtesy of Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:, with a straight right of his own:

“If the players are going to make the concessions to address over $300 million a year in a shift in revenue from the players to the owners, the one thing the players should get back is flexibility, freedom, freedom of choice and a more vibrant and free-market system, because it’s a zero-sum game,” Bartelstein said. “Instead, they’re ratcheting down the system in the name of competitive balance, and that’s completely disingenuous.

“A negotiation is supposed to be about making trades,” Bartelstein said. “The biggest part of any negotiation is the dollars. That’s the biggest part of this negotiation. The players are giving the owners the dollars. If the owners are concerned about competitive balance, it can absolutely be handled through revenue sharing. And the myth they’re putting out there that they can’t share losses, there’s no truth to that argument whatsoever. Revenue sharing has nothing to do with sharing profits and losses. It’s about making sure low-revenue teams can have more revenue so they can be more competitive and you can have a better product. That should be done through revenue sharing, not through getting concessions from the players.”

These are scraps we’d rather were not a part of this negotiation, but this is where we are!

***

SCOLA ROCKS THE VOTE

– 10:37 a.m.: Whatever the player reps decide today, there is no mistaking Luis Scola‘s position on the lockout talks. The Rockets’ big man wants the latest proposal put to a vote of the entire union.

He said as much on Twitter this morning:

At this point I believe that all the players should vote. not only the 30 reps.

Hard to disagree with him at this point. If nothing else, hearing from the entire union (rank and file, middle class and stars alike) would give us all a much better measure of where they stand on this latest proposal.

***

PLAYERS ARRIVE

– 9:46 a.m.: In addition to the player reps and executive board members in attendance at the meeting in New York today, our very own Steve Aschburner is on the scene with camera (phone) in hand.

Asch spotted Russell Westbrook (red hoodie) and Luc Mbah a Moute heading into the hotel:

The players arrive at the hotel in New York ready to dissect and debate the NBA's latest proposal.

***

There are still voices suggesting that even with today’s meeting there are major hurdles in the way of a new deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports highlights some of the “B-list” issues that could derail the process:

 If the players were to vote to accept the terms of the owners’ current proposal, the litany of B-list issues – including contraction, drug testing, Developmental League assignments and draft age eligibility – would still have to be agreed upon.

There’s a growing belief that Stern doesn’t have the ownership support to pass the very proposal he’s been pushing all weekend, and that owners would ultimately kill this deal with the list of non-negotiable B-list issues the players would oppose. This way, the league can say it worked hard to cut a fairer deal with players, but in the end, the owners will get the draconian ‘reset’ proposal that many of them have wanted all along.

“A lot of teams – more all the time – don’t like the deal on the table,” one high-ranking league official said.

That’s going to be an interesting discussion going on in that room this morning. We’re imagining this one turns into a pretty long day for all involved.

Sorry Asch!

***

***

MAJOR QUESTIONS LOOM …

– 8:33 a.m.: If your head is still spinning after a weekend of rumors, misinformation, Twitter chats and the ensuing chaos flooding the scene in the wake of the NBA’s latest proposal to the union, the next 24 to 48 hours will offer you no respite.

In fact, you’re in for another heavy dose of lockout-apalooza with the representatives from all 30 teams scheduled to meet with the union’s executive board members this morning in New York. They have decisions to make, be it season-saving or season-delaying, depending on the outcome of this meeting.

If they reject the proposal (read it for yourself in a PDF version of it here) without even taking a vote, as they did the last one, we’re floating into treacherous territory. And honestly, no one wants that.

The player reps need to go over this thing with BluBlockers. They need to study every word, absorb every nuance and then decide what comes next. But they don’t need to go into that room with their minds made up before examining the proposal.

What they do after that is a bit tricky. They could review the proposal and then pass it on to their membership for a full vote, and then we’ll have to await word on that outcome. They could also review it, add their own revisions and then try to send it back to the league (though NBA Commissioner David Stern made it clear over the weekend that he is done negotiating).

Whatever happens, it’s going down today.

And the one nagging thing that’s impossible to shake from our collective psyche here at the hideout is whether or not these men, these proud players, are ready to risk the $4 billion in revenues (and all of the other periphery revenue associated with just one NBA season) for the promise of something better than what is one the table right now?

The best and most succinct summation of what the player are chewing on right now was played brilliantly by Howard Beck of The New York Times in the final two paragraphs of this story:

By any measure, the proposed deal would be a major win for the owners. The players are being asked to take a $280 million pay cut, with shorter contracts, lower raises and tighter restrictions on the top-spending teams. But league officials insist that the deal is not nearly as bad as the rumor mill suggests.

“It’s of grave concern to the league that there is an enormous amount of misinformation concerning our proposal, both on Twitter and in the more traditional media,” Adam Silver, the deputy commissioner, said Saturday night. “We believe that if the players are fully informed as to what is and is not in our proposal, they will agree that its terms are beneficial to them and represent a fair compromise.”

Beck did attempt to add a little more gravity on what’s to come in the new NBA, but this is more conjecture on the part of all involved, since no one is sure that a new collective bargaining agreement can deliver on any of the things this proposal is designed to bring. But union executive director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher are responsible for making very clear to the player reps what is on the table, not what everyone has heard is included.

(Stern used this memo to make that specific point to the players directly.)

In the name of competitive balance, ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher (the man who got us rung up by the NBA’s labor twitter feed over the weekend) has sources that continue to spell out the union’s displeasure with the current proposal. He cited several issues within the new proposal that could be stumbling blocks to an agreement, including an “unlimited escrow system”:

The escrow system would assure that owners would be reimbursed for however much they exceed the negotiated amount of basketball-related income allowed to be spent on player salaries.

In the current seven-page proposal, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN The Magazine, the players have a choice of selecting a 50-50 split of BRI or a 49-51 band.

If teams spend more than the allotted percentage, they not only retain the 10 percent of each salary held in escrow, but if that 10 percent doesn’t cover the excess then the additional funds can be deducted from a one percent of BRI dedicated to “post-career player annuity and player benefits.”

If the excess still hasn’t been satisfied, future benefits and escrow funds can be utilized to cover it. In essence, it assures the owners that no matter how much they spend in any one season, they will not have to pay more than the stated percentage.

Another source of contention from the players side, according to sources, are triggers that would implement a hard cap on any non-taxpaying teams that use an exception to sign a player.

Great. More mixed signals. That’s all we need this morning.

And that’s why today, we know you’ve heard this before, ranks as the biggest day of the lockout so far. This could be the day all this madness goes away. Or it could be the day when the real fireworks begin. We’ll know one way or another in a few hours.

Labor Talks: Cold Winds Blowing

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

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Don’t stick that finger in the air.

Not that one, the index finger you might use to gauge which way the NBA lockout winds are blowing. Let us save you the trouble. They’re blowing cold right now. That’s right, ice-cold is the read we’ve gotten on the owners’ 72-game season proposal delivered late Thursday night.

All of the early indications suggest that the players are not interested in accepting the “revised” proposal, the one with the 50-50 BRI split but with many of those pesky “system” issues still a problem for union executive director Billy Hunter, union president Derek Fisher and the men they represent.

The flood of instant reaction, even before the player reps from all 30 teams could make it to New York for Monday’s scheduled meeting with union brass to review the proposal, has been resounding. (That dream Dec. 15 opening night TNT double-header featuring the Heat-Knicks and Lakers-Mavs will vanish if the players punt on this latest proposal).

ESPN The Magazine‘s Ric Bucher identifies some of the elements causing the players to pause before their scheduled gathering:

Once NBA players digest all the details of the owners’ new contract proposal — including a clause that opens a way for more player demotions to the D-League — it’s hard to imagine even those desperate to play would be willing to ratify it, sources told Bucher.

The D-League clause, which previously had not been disclosed, is one of several elements in the owners’ proposal to the locked-out players that prompted one agent to describe the proposal as “draconian.”

The clause would give teams the right to send a player down to the NBA Development League at any time during his first five years, paying him a reduced contract while he’s there, a source who has examined the proposal told Bucher.

Any player sent down to the D-League would be paid at a pro-rated scale of $75,000 a season, which is slightly above the current D-League maximum but roughly one-sixth of the NBA minimum, the source said.

The owners’ new proposal also would prohibit luxury tax-paying teams from sign-and-trade deals after a two-year “phase-in” period, according to sources.

Non-tax-paying teams also would be prohibited from using the mid-level exception if doing so would take them over the salary cap, sources said.

“They don’t want to do a deal,” one agent said of the owners’ proposals. “And what they’ve underestimated is the resolve of the players.”

UPDATE – NBA Commissioner David Stern told our Steve Aschburner Saturday night that there is a wave of misinformation, the item above included, about the proposal being spread by agents trying to stir up the masses.

According to a tweet the NBA’s labor feed fired off at us late Saturday night, Bucher’s info is “incorrect.” There have only been preliminary talks on the D-League/NBA relationship thus far. There is nothing concrete in the latest proposal, as Bucher suggested.

***

The players were sounding their own alarms (via Twitter and elsewhere) throughout the day Friday, as details of the proposal no doubt trickled their way. And they were just as emphatic in their dismissal of any deal deemed unworthy being something they would accept just for the sake of guaranteeing that Dec. 15 start to the season.

(more…)

The Big Author (Uncut) Reflects

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

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Appreciation for days like this one, Veterans Day, were forged years ago in Shaquille O’Neal, the son of a father who served in the military.

Preparation for the days like this one and the many ahead has been a part of O’Neal’s thought process for years, long before he began his 19-year journey in the NBA.

Unlike countless others before him, O’Neal didn’t wrestle with the idea of what he’d do when his playing days ended. He’s already kicked off his career as a TNT analyst (check him out talking lockout with several of his new colleagues). His biography, “Shaq Uncut: My Story,” with Jackie MacMullan, hits the shelves Nov. 15 and will include an extensive book tour where fans will no doubt want to hear more about some of his legendary battles, on and off the court, with some of basketball’s biggest names.

“Going into the next phase of my life never worried me,” O’Neal said. “Growing up and watching everybody else’s successes and failures, I’ve prepared for this. I even talk about it in my book. My father came home one day and hit me in the back of the head with a book. He said, ‘read this.’ And it was Kareem‘s book on how he lost all his money. And my father told me, ‘it’s never going to happen to you.’ It’s all about having a plan. And that’s how I got here.”

That doesn’t mean he spared anyone or anything in his book. With an extensive history playing with and against some of the biggest names in the game — including the league’s three biggest current stars, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — there will be plenty for fans to chew on once they get their hands on more than just the excerpts that have already circulated.

“The worst thing about the world we live in now, is there is more than one outlet that people respect. Back when we were coming up if it didn’t come from ESPN, NBC, CBS or ABC it didn’t have that stamp. But now, people are just taking excerpts and putting them out like they have the whole story,” O’Neal said of early criticisms, particularly his relationship with Bryant. “In the long run, it’s only going to help me have a No. 1 bestseller. Look, a lot of this stuff is just me reflecting on what’s already been out there and what’s been said. But a lot of guys that don’t have any creativity, guys like Bill Plaschke (of The Los Angeles Times) and Ric Bucher (of ESPN The Magazine), they don’t have any creativity to come up with their own stories. So to keep people paying attention and respect what they do, they keep bringing up old (expletive).

(more…)

Labor Talks: Finger-Pointing Season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – If you thought October was filled with empty rhetoric from both sides and nastiness that prevents progress in the NBA’s lockout saga, wait until you get a load of the new narrative.

The only thing worse than yet another breakdown in lockout negotiations is the incessant finger-pointing that kicked off in earnest on what should have been the opening night of the season.

And it’s open season on any and everyone connected.

(more…)