Celtics

NBA expected to announce cancellation of the season's first month

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NBA expected to announce cancellation of the season's first month

Sometime today, the NBA is expected to announce the remaining games in November to be canceled, moving the league one step closer toward having the entire season wiped out, which would be a first in NBA history.

This latest round of canceled games will have a much, much greater impact than the first wave of cancellations.

Missing games the first two weeks of the season (Nov. 1-14) is one thing.

But losing the remaining games in November, beginning on Nov. 15, is a huge, huge deal.

Players usually get paid on the 15th and 30th of every month during the season, beginning in November and ending in May. Some have their payments spread out over the course of a year, from Nov. 1 through October 31.

And while there's still plenty of time left to get a deal done and salvage the remainder of the season, talks have taken a more drastic, negative tone following the most recent set of meetings.

Having spent more than 30 hours negotiating over a three-day period of time, talks broke off Friday evening with both sides claiming it was the other who ended discussions.

It doesn't matter who shut down the talks.

The end result is that there is no CBA in place, and there's little hope that one will get done anytime soon.

"Both sides hopefully won't harden," said Spurs owner Peter Holt, who is also chair of the league's labor relations committee. "Right now, it could be tougher to meet again and resume talks than it has been in the past to get back together."

The two biggest issues remain how to divide up the Basketball-Related Income, and the system under which the league will operate moving forward.

NBA owners want at least 50 percent of the BRI, after having had just 43 percent of the BRI in the last CBA.

Meanwhile, the players were initially offering to go down to 53 percent, and later proposed a band in which they would make at least 50 percent but no more than 53 percent.

The league rejected both, but did express some interest in a band that starts at 49 percent but goes no higher than 51 percent.

NBA commissioner David Stern's ownership group has a long list of desires for a new deal with the players, including the shortening of contracts, a harsher luxury tax, and the flexibility of having more non-guaranteed contracts all moves essentially designed to protect themselves from themselves.

Throughout this lockout, there has been a sharp contrast between the owners and players.

This was quite evident when talks broke off last week.

Holt, who addressed the media in place of Stern while the commissioner was home with the flu, had a different take on where things stood compared to the union's perspective.

"Both sides, for lack of a better term, felt stuck," Holt said. "We kind of wore each other out. We are where we are. They are where they are. We need some fresh air, and maybe some fresh thoughts and maybe try to get together."

Moments after Holt's words, the union said that they were prepared to negotiate with the owners throughout the weekend.

According to Billy Hunter, talks broke down when the owners gave the union a "take-it-or-leave it" offer on the BRI being split 50-50.

Hunter said the union wasn't going to make that kind of decision unless they knew what type of systematic changes the league was planning to do.

"If you're pushing the 50-50, there's no way in the world, even if it's feasible, for a 50-50 deal, if we don't know what the system is," said Hunter, who added that the owners didn't want to talk about the system changes unless they could get a commitment on a 50-50 split.

Regardless of which story you believe, it's clear that the NBA came into these negotiations with a very clear-cut agenda, and so far at least will do whatever it takes to get their way even it means losing an entire season.

"We don't take anything we do lightly at all," said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver. "But we have certain core beliefs that we have to address that we think are absolutely necessary to achieve before we continue to play NBA basketball."

Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

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Celtics thought it would be good . . . but this good?

After arriving in Boston and spending some time with his new teammates, Kyrie Irving felt good about this group doing big things this season. 

But when asked about the experience thus far being what he thought it would be, Irving responded, “It’s probably exceeded that.”

He’s not alone. 

Few would have envisioned the Celtics (15-2) would have the best record in the NBA at this point, let alone be riding a 15-game winning streak which ranks as the fifth-best winning streak in franchise history. 

Irving and his Celtics teammates will try and keep it going tonight when they take on the Dallas Mavericks.

Irving’s ability to mesh with his teammates and still find success was among the many questions out there when the Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers pulled off the blockbuster trade this offseason. 

Blending in has not been an issue for Irving, bolstered by the reality that his game stands out. 

We saw that in Boston’s 110-99 win over the Atlanta Hawks, which was a game in which Irving had 30 points on an insanely efficient 10-for-12 shooting night. 

There were many factors that went into Irving’s strong night against the Hawks, but he said it really came down to one thing above all else.

“I just made some damn shots for once,” Irving quipped. “That right there kind of made it seem better than I actually been shooting over the start of the season.  It would also contribute to being able to be in the right spots and guys being selfless in their approach driving to the basket or getting into the paint. It’s tell-tale sign of all of us getting more comfortable.”

Here are five below-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on as the Boston Celtics face the Dallas Mavericks, with Boston gunning for its 16th straight win. 

BROWN’S POSITIVE PLAY

Jaylen Brown has been on a bit of an offensive tear of late, the last being a career-high 27-point performance in Boston’s win over Atlanta. But even more telling is how well things seem to flow with him on the floor. Brown’s plus/minus this season is +146 which is tops among all players in the Eastern Conference. His closest competition in the East? That would teammate Al Horford whose plus/minus this season is +143. In addition, Horford has had a positive plus/minus in every game this season. 

YOGI FERRELL

You can count Yogi Ferrell among the ones that got away from Brad Stevens when he was coaching at Butler. Ferrell, who played at Indiana, was a player on Stevens’ radar when he was coaching at Butler. “I recruited Yogi, unsuccessfully,” Stevens told reporters in Dallas. While Ferrell came on strong as an undrafted free agent with the Mavericks last season, Stevens said there’s nothing about Ferrell’s game now that he didn’t see when he tried to woo him to Butler. “He would have been awfully good at Butler,” Stevens said.

HOMECOMING

While Marcus Smart grew up in Flower Mound, Texas (less than an hour from Dallas), tonight’s game is a homecoming of sorts for another Celtics player – Semi Ojeleye. The 6-foot-7 forward played at SMU which is located in Dallas. A second-round pick by Boston in last June’s NBA draft, Ojeleye has been among the many surprise performers for the Celtics this season. “We knew he could be a versatile defender,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Probably has exceeded our expectations in that regard with his ability to guard one (point guard) through five (center) at certain times. And he’s been pretty consistent shooting the ball. Right now, embracing that kind of 3-and-D role is what he has to do and he’s done it well.”

DEEP DRAFT CLASS

The Boston Celtics struck gold by drafting Jayson Tatum with the third overall pick. But as you look at the teams that had lottery picks in last June’s NBA draft, few come away feeling disappointed or discouraged by the player selected. The Dallas Mavericks are among the teams pleased with their first-round pick, Dennis Smith Jr. who was selected with the ninth overall pick. He has emerged as one of the top rookies this year, averaging 14.5 points, 4.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. And yes, he was a player that was on the Celtics’ radar leading up to last June’s draft. “We had Dennis in and he was really impressive,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “He’s a guy that’s going to have a great career and he’s got good veteran players around him to help kick it off.”

DIRK NOWITZKI

The numbers aren’t anywhere close to what we’ve seen for the bulk of Dirk Nowitzki’s illustrious career that’s now in Year 20. But there is a demeanor about him that seems to be at peace with where he’s at basketball-wise, even if the wins aren’t nearly as plentiful as he’s accustomed to. “I appreciate his game a ton,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “Just watching him talk on the court, cheer on the bench, sit at the scorer’s table with a smile on his face. You can’t play this long and be this good this long if you don’t’ love it. Everybody says they love it, but he’s got a different level of passion. You can feel it, you can see it. You root for guys like him to have success.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

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WATCH: Celtics vs. Mavericks

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Mavericks in Dallas. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's need to play Smart in Dallas

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE