NBA talks break down; season in limbo


NBA talks break down; season in limbo

NEW YORK A week that began with such promise for the NBA and players union to strike a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement hit an emphatic wall Thursday, as talks broke off between both sides - with no timetable for when talks will resume.

The impasse was reached when the owners insisted the players agree on a 50-50 split on basketball-related income (BRI) before any other details of a potential deal were discussed, and the players responding by saying they wouldn't commit to a percentage split before knowing what sort of deal would be in place.

"We have certain core beliefs that we have to address that we think are absolutely necessary to achieve before we play NBA basketball," said the league's deputy commissioner, Adam Silver. "And ultimately, we were unable to bridge the gap that separates the two parties."

While some progress was made in the last 30-plus hours of meetings, it was clear that two of the main issues from the beginning - basketball-related income and the system in which it will exists - remain problematic.

Silver said talks broke off over discussing how to divvy up the BRI.

"We made it clear to them yesterday that we were willing to go to 50 percent (on the BRI)," Silver said. "Despite the fact that we suffered enormous losses, we could see our way at a 50-percent deal."

Silver said the union, which had been seeking a 53-percent cut - down from the 57 percent of the BRI they received in the last CBA - reduced their offer to 52.5 percent.

"That's where talks broke off," Silver said. "They made it clear that, if our position was that we're unwilling to move beyond 50 percent, there was nothing else to talk about. That's when discussions broke off today."

Not surprisingly, the union tells a slightly different story.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players union, said the union would not commit to a 50-percent BRI unless they had a better handle on what type of systematic changes the league was looking to implement in the next CBA.

"If you're pushing the 50-50 (split), 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," Hunter said he told NBA officials.

Hunter then said that Peter Holt, owner of the San Antonio Spurs who is also Chair of Labor Relations, told him that the owners wouldn't talk about the system unless the players agreed to the 50-50 split.

"So we then broke it off," Hunter said.

And with that, the NBA season took yet another dip into the abyss of potentially being wiped out entirely.

While the NBA wasn't prepared to announce any more canceled games Thursday, you can bet more are sure to come following Thursday's breakdown in discussions with no timetable for when the two will return to the bargaining table.

With the assistance of federal mediator George Cohen and his assistant, Scot Beckenbaugh, both sides seemed to be moving ever-so-slowly towards a new deal.

But whatever momentum both sides had towards a new CBA seemed to go away once the entire NBA ownership body arrived in town for their annual Board of Governors meetings.

"We came in trying to negotiate, and they came in saying, 'You either accept 50-50, or we're done,' " said Jeffrey Kessler, lead counsel for the union. "Something happened in that Board of Governors meeting. That was not where this committee was before."

Kessler added, "Wednesday we thought we were moving towards a deal. Suddenly today - we spent very little time negotiating today."

After gathering together to put together a proposal for the owners, Kessler said the owners didn't caucus among themselves to discuss it, as they had done in the past.

"They said, 'We don't have to do anything else. We can tell you now. We're at 50 (BRI split) and it has to be our way,' " Kessler recalled. " And they came back and said we will not discuss anything else until you agree to 50-50."

While commissioner David Stern (flu) was not at the meetings, there was a figure that apparently was quite influential among the owners - Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

"They were carrying out a mandate that they had been given, and Paul Allen was sent to see that the mandate was carried out," Kessler said.

Regardless of which side you fall on, it's clear the longer this lockout last, the tougher it will be to get a deal done that will salvage the 2011-12 season.

Even getting them back to the bargaining table will be challenging.

"Both sides hopefully won't harden," Holt said. "Right now, it could be tougher than it has been in the past to get back together."

Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'


Ray Allen tells court he was 'catfished'

ORLANDO, Fla. — Retired NBA star Ray Allen said he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen filed an emergency motion in Orange County, Florida, on Tuesday, one day after Bryant Coleman told the court he is being stalked by the 10-time All-Star and two-time NBA champion.

Allen said Coleman is the one who is stalking.

“Coleman pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in Ray Allen,” read the motion filed on Allen’s behalf. “Ray believed he was speaking with these women and communicated with them.”

Attorney David Oscar Markus released a statement saying Allen took legal action in an effort to put an end to threats against him and his family, and that Allen was the victim “of an online scheme to extract money and embarrass him by someone who appears to be troubled.”

In the filing, Allen said Coleman threatened to reveal details of their conversations, and that the sides eventually struck a deal to keep everything private. Allen said that deal has been violated and that Coleman has continued to harass him and his family through several social-media accounts.

“He posted about Ray’s wife, Ray’s children, Ray’s dog, Ray’s homes, Ray’s wife’s restaurant, and numerous other personal items,” read the motion. “Coleman not only posted about these things, he would actually post while physically located inside Ray’s wife’s restaurant in Orlando. And he would make sure they knew it, tagging Ray and his wife on those posts.”

Allen asked the court to stop Coleman from “cyber-stalking.” It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found.

“Ray regrets ever engaging with this person online and is thankful they never met in person,” Markus said. “This experience has negatively impacted Ray, and he hopes that others might use his mistake to learn the dangers of communicating online with strangers.”

Allen is the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made. He starred in college at UConn and won championships with the Celtics in 2008 and Miami in 2013, the second title coming after he made one of the most dramatic shots in playoff history — a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of The Finals against San Antonio, a game that the Heat would win in overtime to extend the series to a seventh game.

Allen also played for Milwaukee and Seattle, and last appeared in the league in 2014. He and his family have lived in the Miami area since.

© 2017 by The Associated Press 

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Blakely's takeaways: Stevens downplays Celtics' streak

Brad Stevens likes the fact that the Celtics have shown an unusually strong resolve this season by consistently finding ways to win on nights when they don’t play their best.
It’s to the point now where fans, as well as the players, feel no deficit is too steep to overcome.


That said, there’s a level of expectations on this team now that you would think would bring about a heightened level of pressure, right?
They’ve won 16 in a row, the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Not according to Stevens.
“Coaching basketball is not pressure,” Stevens told reporters after Monday night’s win. “Playing basketball is not real pressure. Sometimes we overdo this stuff. We’re just trying to prepare well for the next game. That’s all we’ve done, that’s all we’ll continue to do. The streak doesn’t mean anything to me; maybe it does to the guys in the room. But it’s about finding ways to get better and finding ways to get the job done.”
Here are five other takeaways from the 110-102 overtime win at Dallas that extended Boston’s winning streak to 16:

There may not be a player on this team – maybe in the NBA – that’s more difficult to get a read on, than Marcus Smart. He has been a historically bad shooter throughout his career in Boston. And yet when you look at their 16-game winning streak, he’s one of the main reasons for it. He plays with an edge; he’s gritty and defends at a level that few can match. He makes big plays in big moments. But he's having his worst season ever shooting the ball yet his impact when he’s on the floor has never been greater. So, what do you do if you’re Stevens? You keep playing him. Because as much as his poor shooting hurts the team’s overall scoring, he makes so many clutch plays whether it’s facilitating, defending or – wait for it – making shots. He adds tremendous value to winning, even if his shooting numbers might suggest otherwise.

When you’re getting “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants on the road, you know you’re ballin’ hard. Kyrie Irving wowed the Dallas crowd with 47 points, 10 of which came in overtime as Boston rallied after facing a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. If the numbers continue to climb along with the win total, Irving will continue to cement himself as a top-five MVP candidate. 

One of the few constants in Boston’s string of success has been their rebounding. Against the Mavericks, the Celtics once again won the battle on the boards, 53-45. And it hasn’t been one or two players, either. Against Dallas, the Celtics had five players grab at least four rebounds with no one securing more than nine. That kind of rebounding balance makes Boston an extremely difficult team to out-work on the glass.

The scoring punch we’ve come to expect lately from Horford just wasn’t there against Dallas. Instead, he seemed more consumed with getting others (mainly Irving) involved offensively. He missed four of his five shots from the field and scored just three points. But he almost had a double-double in rebounds (eight) and assists (seven) along with blocking a couple of shots. And as always, his plus/minus was among the best on the team with the Celtics being +7 when he was on the floor.

While Irving was delivering one big shot after another down the stretch, one of his running partners in late-game situations this season has been Jayson Tatum. He ranks among the league’s best shooters in the fourth quarter and Monday’s victory only solidified his status. Against the Mavericks, Tatum had six points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. According to NBA.com/stats, Tatum is shooting 64.1 percent in the fourth quarter, which ranks eighth in the NBA among players who take at least two field goal attempts per game in the fourth. Right ahead of him is teammate Marcus Morris (65 percent).