Lockout talks lead to no November games


Lockout talks lead to no November games

After all of the optimism surrounding the past two days of NBA lockout negotiations, Friday's talks in New York ended--somewhat briefly, compared to Wednesday's marathon session--with a much less positive outlook. League commissioner David Stern subsequently announced that league would cancel an additional two weeks of regular-season games, wiping the November schedule clean, an anticipated measure.

"Our games are cancelled through," said a grim-looking Stern, in contrast to his jovial demeanor after Wednesday's session. "The end of the month of November."

"It's not practical, possible or prudent," he continued. "There will not be a full NBA season."

No further bargaining sessions are scheduled for this weekend--Lakers guard Derek Fisher, the players' association president, told NBA.com he was flying back to Los Angeles--or otherwise. Friday's breakdown occurred because of the continued impasse over the division of basketball-related income--and the animus between the two sides apparently returned.

Union executive director Billy Hunter claimed Stern was "snookering" the media when the commissioner confirmed he was prepared to make a major economic move Friday.

"What he was trying to do was position himself on those other system issues (such as the luxury tax and mid-level exception) so he could get his number on BRI," said Hunter. "It appears that more we give on the system, we may be painting ourselves into a corner."

"They got to the place again where it was, '50-50, take it or leave it,'" he continued. "Today, we're leaving it, like we left it last week.

"Derek and I may it clear that we could not sell a 50-50 deal to our membership, not with the system."

Added Fisher: "We've dropped our BRI percentage from 57 percent to 52.5.

"Right now, it's still not enough for them to feel that this deal should be closed," continued the veteran guard, who cited "artificial pressure" as a reason to not rush through a deal that would last his constituents 10 more years. "We're still not sure if they're at 50 or they're at 47.

"Today just wasn't the day."

Stern confirmed that no further bargaining sessions are scheduled.

"I'm not going to project future negotiations," he said. "We've had, until this afternoon, several good days of give-and-take."

"We've made some major progress on length of contract," the commissioner continued. "We spent a fair amount of time talking about revenue sharing today.

"We made a fair number of concessions."

The commissioner revealed his take on how the negotiations ended for the day.

"Billy Hunter said he wasn't willing to go a penny below 52 percent," he said. "He closed up his books and walked out of the room."

"We were at 47," Stern added. "Today, our offer was 50."

Predictably, Hunter's view on the situation was very different.

"We did what it was the league said they needed," he said. "Their eyes got bigger and they wanted more and more and more, so finally, we had to shut it down and say, 'it can't be.'"

"Our number was our number," Hunter continued. "We just couldn't bridge the gap."

"I know that we have gotten a deal by this weekend, it was very likely, highly probable that we could have gotten a full season."

Ominously, Stern indicated the league's next offer--when the two sides meet again--will be less favorable.

"We're going to have to recalculate," said Stern.

"We've lost approaching 200 million," he continued. "We'll lose several hundred million dollars more."

"You can assume that our offer will change to reflect the changed economic circumstances."

So, despite progress on significant system issues, such as the mid-level exception and even some movement on the luxury-tax policy, it appears that if not back to square one, the two parties are again at odds, with conflicting opinions on their respective stances. One thing, however, is for certain, as Stern glumly summarized.

"The amount of dollars lost to the owners is extraordinary and the amount of dollars lost to the players is also extraordinary," said the commissioner. "In the short run, the owners will not be able to make it back and I know for a fact, in the short run, the players will not be able to make it back, and probably will never be able to make it back."

Neither will the dozens, even hundreds of people employed by the league and its teams or the people making their livelihoods based on games being played, not to mention the fans currently being deprived of NBA basketball.

Thad Young pleads Zach LaVine's All-Star case, offers advice to Lauri Markkanen

USA Today

Thad Young pleads Zach LaVine's All-Star case, offers advice to Lauri Markkanen

Before any assorted media had a chance to ask Thad Young a question following Tuesday morning shootaround, he had something to get off his chest.

"Before we start, I just want to say Zach LaVine should be an All-Star. It should be said and done already," Young began, unprompted. "That guy’s been putting on a show for the past couple months. Been doing his thing. He’s been incredible. So Zach LaVine for All-Star. I'm saying it here and now, lets make sure we get this done. Everybody go vote, go do what you gotta do."

Young isn't the first Bull to plead LaVine's case, and he certainly won't be the last. The question, though, is who he is pleading to. Fan voting for All-Star starters ended Jan. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET, the night before Young's statement.

Perhaps it's a call to coaches. Though the last fan voting returns had LaVine as the sixth-ranked Eastern Conference backcourt player, there remains the possibility of him sneaking in as one of the seven reserves, which coaches vote on.

That pool will be crowded, but LaVine has made a tremendous case for himself with his recent play. This month, LaVine is averaging 30 points (t-6th in the NBA), 5.1 rebounds and 4 assists per game on 49 percent shooting from the field (35.9 percent from 3). He's played 36.8 minutes per night in 11 January games.

"He’s done more than enough, he’s more than capable. He’s shown it time and time again, and he’s been great for us all season long," Young said. "He don’t have to pay me anything [to say this], that was my rook in Minnesota. He’s a great teammate, he’s one of the best ever, he wants to get better each and every day."

But no Young media availability would be complete without imparting a bit of veteran wisdom. When asked what Lauri Markkanen — who's season-long struggles are well-documented — can learn from LaVine's ascension, Young was candid.

"I think the confidence level of Zach and what he’s done can be instilled in Lauri a little bit. Lauri starts to miss shots, sometimes he gets down on himself. Zach misses a shot, Zach’s like, ‘I’m going to shoot the next one. I’m going to be more aggressive. I’m going to try to get to the basket,’" Young said. "And then being able to mix up his game a little bit. Not just, ‘Hey, I’m just going to shoot the 3’ or ‘I’m just going to drive and take it to the basket’ [without] having an in-between game or being able to mix in some post ups here and there."

On Markkanen's ability to do that within the Bulls' system: "Our offense is structured and predicated on 3s and getting to the basket. But coaches are still encouraging him to mix everything up. The coaches are encouraging everybody to mix it up — try to give opposing teams something different, something that they haven’t seen."

Starters and captains for the 2020 All-Star game will be announced Jan. 23, with reserve announcements coming Jan. 30. If LaVine makes it, Bulls fans can look forward to the All-Star draft on Feb. 6.

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Thad Young on trade rumors: 'I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens'

USA Today

Thad Young on trade rumors: 'I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens'

Last July, when he controlled his free-agency decision, Thad Young chose to sign with the Bulls.

Come the Feb. 6 trade deadline, Young has no control.

“I’m just playing basketball. I’m a Chicago Bull. Whatever happens happens. I understand it’s a business,” Young told NBC Sports Chicago. “If I’m traded, I’m traded and have to go to the next city. If I’m not, then I’m here with my brothers, here with my teammates, and ready to fight.”

Still, given that the first season of his three-year deal hasn’t gone as planned, would Young want a change of address? The Bulls are one of the league’s biggest underachieving stories and Young’s playing time was so low that his camp last month conveyed to management his desire to play more.

“That’s not my focus,” he said. “My focus is on playing for the Bulls and helping us get some wins.”

Young is averaging 9.1 points and 4.5 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game. While his playing time has increased in light of injuries to Wendell Carter Jr. and Daniel Gafford, he still is playing the second-fewest minutes of his 13-year career.

A league source previously confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago that the Clippers’ interest in Young is legitimate, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times. A Clippers scout attended a recent Bulls game despite the fact the teams don’t meet again until April.

Even if nothing materializes there, Young is the type of plug-and-play veteran that fits on any team making a playoff run. Young has been traded three times in his career, so he knows both how disruptive it can be on a family but also how it sometimes can lead to a better fit.

Befitting his reputation as the consummate professional, Young is ignoring the rumors and focused on his current situation.

“We’re very upset we keep losing games, Young said. “It’s hard to win in this league. We have to understand that as a team. We have to face the hardness of the game and take advantage of the opportunities we do have. We need to play harder than other teams. We can play great for 38-40 minutes. But there’s an 8-minute span that can be detrimental to our team.”

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