Celtics

When paychecks stop, will NBA players crack?

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When paychecks stop, will NBA players crack?

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
The NBA players union has publicly said all the right things during the lockout, about the need to stick together, about their willingness to miss games to ensure that they get the best deal possible for themselves and future generations of NBA players.

It sounds great; even noble.

But up until now, it has been just talk.

The idea of missing games and the checks that come with those games, is one thing.

But to actually do it is easier - much easier - said than done.

Having players like Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce or Dwyane Wade champion their cause by talking about holding out for the best deal - however long that is - certainly resonates with the rank-and-file union members.

But the NBA's elite players can go decades without making another dime, and still live like kings.

Their economic status doesn't speak for the majority of the league's players.

Dwyane Wade not getting paid isn't the same as say, Delonte West (he recently took a job with a furniture company).

And the owners are banking on the belief that that difference will ultimately create some division among the players and thus make them more susceptible to a more owner-friendly deal.

Divide and conquer, an old but highly successful tactic.

The union has been prepping its members for years in anticipation of this moment, well aware that there would be some struggles along the way in reaching a new CBA.

"At the end of the day, this is about business," Mo Evans, vice president of the players union, told CSNNE.com recently. "We understand this, and so do the owners. Both sides want the same thing, the best deal they can get."

Yes it is business.

But the NBA and most professional sports franchises in general, are different.

In most businesses, there's a clear distinction between your labor force and the product being manufactured.

The labor helps develop the product, which, if it's really good product, will be gobbled up by consumers.

But the NBA, like most professional sports teams, doesn't function within the framework of your typical business model.

NBA players aren't just the labor - they're the product, too.

"We believe that we're the most significant and important asset to this particular business," union president Derek Fisher told reporters on Tuesday. "And with the level of revenue that will continue to be generated as this business grows, that there's just a fair place that the compensation should start for this particular group."

Players got a 57 percent cut of the league's basketball-related income in the old CBA, a figure they fully expect to be lowered in a new deal. They have shown a willingness to go down to 53 percent or possibly 52 if certain additional concessions are made by the owners.

Owners countered with giving the players 46 percent of the BRI, but have shown that they are willing to increase their offer to a 50-50 split.

Being mere percentage points apart - each percentage point is worth about 40 million - gives some hope that this particular part of the CBA will be agreed upon soon.

But the NBA owners seem determined to make the new CBA, one that comes as close to guaranteeing them profits as possible.

With most NBA owners having businesses outside of basketball as their primary source of revenue, having a team in the red financially wasn't that big a deal because they could write it off.

But when those primary revenue streams began to dry up, they looked at ways to make those companies more profitable such as downsizing or modifying the pay scale.

To some extent, they're looking to do the same in this new CBA, which is why they were pushing so hard early on for a hard salary cap along with other system-related changes.

Eventually, the owners backed off of the hard salary cap demand.

But the threat of canceling the first two weeks of the regular season by Monday isn't just tough talk rhetoric on their part.

Only a last-minute change of heart by the players union to accept a 50-50 split, could save the season from having the first two weeks wiped out.

The players union rejected the 50-50 proposal on Tuesday, and when told that agreeing to that was the only way the NBA was coming back to the table to talk, several reports indicated that the union turned it down again.

So far, the players union has backed up its claims that they're on one accord and will stay strong, together, throughout this process.

But then again, nobody has missed a paycheck . . . yet.

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

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
 
But six?
 
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

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And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
 
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.

Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
 
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
 
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
 
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
 
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
 
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
 
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
 
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
 
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
 
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
 
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
 
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”
 

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

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Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

BOSTON – As expected, the NBA has fined Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for using “inappropriate language” toward a fan at the Friday night game in Philadelphia.
 
The incident occurred at halftime as Irving and his teammates were heading to the locker room, trailing by four. Boston went on to win 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
 
A fan yelled, “Hey, where’s LeBron?” to which Irving replied with a lewd suggestion to the yeller.
 
The Celtics practiced on Saturday with Irving addressing the incident.

When asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving replied, “Hell no. Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s social media platform we live on.
 
Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”
 
When asked about the incident on Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not seen the video but was aware of it.
 
“People make mistakes; hopefully learn from them and move on,” Stevens said. “There’s a right and wrong. And if you’re in the wrong you have to own up to it and that’s that.”

It was the second such fine levied by the league in as many days. 

New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 for "inappropriate language" toward a fan when the Pelicans lost 103-91 at Memphis on Wednesday.