Celtics

NBA players ponder uncertain future

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NBA players ponder uncertain future

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

LAS VEGAS Leaders from within the NBA players union are expected in town on Thursday to bring its membership up to speed on what's next in the seemingly ongoing labor battle with NBA owners.

Following Tuesday's meeting, all indications are that the NBA season will not start on time.

Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players union, went a step further and indicated that players should plan on missing half of the season before a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be reached.

With the overseas basketball market already drying up, opportunities to make decent money playing basketball won't be plentiful.

And while NBA players rake in millions, there's no question that there are some who live check-to-check.

With no timetable for when those checks will start coming in again, you can expect a lot of 'what-do-we-do-now?' chatter when the players gather among themselves.

"Guys will look at other options," Charlotte Bobcats guardforward Corey Maggette told Comcast SportsNet when asked about what he anticipates will happen in the players union meeting this week. Right now, we're unemployed. When you're unemployed, you have to find another gig. And hopefully you can make end's meet on the things you need to do."

For players like Maggette, money isn't nearly as big a factor as it is for younger, less-established NBA players.

To put Maggette's finances in perspective, he signed six-year, 42 million contract in 2003 and later signed a five-year, 48 million contract in 2008.

Maggette said he will consider playing overseas, depending on how long the lockout lasts.

"You have to be open to every option," he said. I think it's important. Some guys can hold out, financially wait. For me, if it's an opportunity to play, it's a good opportunity to stay in shape."

Still, there's no way to ignore the impact of not having an NBA season will have on younger players like Boston's Avery Bradley.

Heading into this third season, Bradley is more concerned with being somewhere - anywhere - working on his game.

"If going overseas is going to be good for me, that's what I'm going to do," Bradley told Comcast SportsNet New England. "If I can improve my game overseas, that's what I'm going to do."

Players seem to understand that with the late start to the season all but a given now, the league's fan base will surely shrink some. That's why it's so important for players to do what they can to be ready to play whenever the season starts.

In 1998, the first NBA lockout ever, Rashard Lewis was just a rookie. He recalls a number of players, not exactly coming into camp ready to play despite the late start.

"Some guys came in overweight," Lewis said. "A lot of injuries happened. If you start late, they're going to cram games in. Sometimes we played four games in one week. Back-to-back, day off, back-to-back."

Because the nature of talks are so fluid, there's no telling when a deal might be struck.

"When they say it's over, it's almost like they say you have to report that day or the next day and hit the ground running," Lewis said. "Playing here in Vegas in the Impact league is good for all NBA players, to get yourself in shape, work on your game and just wait to see what happens on the other side of the fence."

Added Maggette, "Whenever the league starts, wewant to be ready. We want our fans to know we appreciate them, and we're ready to come back and play basketball."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

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Moving to power forward 'presents a different challenge' for Horford

PHILADELPHIA – For the third time in as many games, the Boston Celtics will field a different lineup.

It will have a domino effect on Boston’s usual starters, but no one more than Al Horford who will slide over to power forward with Aron Baynes inserted into the starting lineup where he’ll be charged with trying to defend Sixers 7-footer Joel Embiid.

Meanwhile, Horford will be assigned to defend Robert Covington who is one of Philadelphia’s better perimeter scorers.

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“I feel like one of my strengths is being able to play multiple positions,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “It presents a different challenge for me, which is making sure I do a good job of covering him out on the perimeter, staying between him and the basket.”

In Philadelphia’s 120-115 season-opening loss to Washington, Covington led all Sixers with 29 points which included him going 7-for-11 from 3-point range in addition to grabbing seven rebounds.

While Covington will be Horford’s first defensive assignment, he knows he will also be called upon at times to defend Embiid who ranks among the best centers in the NBA despite having played just 32 games over the course of three NBA seasons.

In the loss to the Wizards, Embiid had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Horford’s defense will be critical for Boston (0-2) to get its first win of the season, but the Celtics will also need him to take advantage of scoring opportunities as well.

“We have some guys down, but that creates opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute,” Horford said. “It’s going to all of us, the veterans, the young players, all of us to get that first win.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens agreed.

“I think that’s how we have to look at it,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have to make a few tweaks on how we do things, obviously. Hey, it’s gonna be something that we’re going to have to do really, really well on the fly.”

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