From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Three players fighting suspensions from the NFL's bounty investigation have told a federal judge they are comfortable with their representation by union lawyers and see no potential conflict of interest in the arrangement.The players written comments on Thursday came in response to an order a day earlier by U.S. District Judge Ginger Berrigan, who lamented the failure of settlement talks and wrote that she was concerned there were competing agendas among lawyers on all sides in the dispute that were undermining the interests of the players.The judge asked whether it made more sense for New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove to have separate lawyers, rather than the same lawyers representing the NFL Players Association.The NFLPA also filed a response in which it explained that it has been seeking to engage league lawyers in settlement talks, "and the NFL continued to refuse to do so, never making a single settlement offer to the Players."The union added that it also sees no conflict in representing the players, but will help them get their own attorneys if the court desires.The NFLPA, the three players, and Saints linebacker Jon Vilma, who has his own attorney, are claiming in their consolidated lawsuits that Commissioner Roger Goodell abused his authority and followed improper procedures in disciplining the players for a program that, according to NFL investigators, paid improper cash bonuses for tackles that injured opponents. The lawsuit seeks to have the punishment handed down by Goodell thrown out.Vilma was suspended the entire season, Hargrove for eight games, Smith for four games and Fujita three games.Earlier this week, the NFLPA asked for a temporary restraining order that would allow the three players it represents to rejoin their clubs while the case proceeds. Vilma made the same request in July, and Berrigan has yet to rule on either TRO request, but could potentially do so before the Saints and Browns open the regular season on Sunday.Meanwhile, Smith, who like other suspended players has been barred from practicing this week, issued a statement expressing his concern that the matter was not resolved already, with the Saints' opener against Washington only three days away."I am disappointed my playing status remains in limbo," Smith said. "Irreparable harm has already been levied on me and the players. We have been unfairly labeled and punished by this process. While we believe in mediation and settlement, the NFL has never expressed a genuine interest in a mediation process that would provide the players with a fair venue that could be trusted, nor made a settlement offer for us to professionally consider, at any time. That is why we have asked the court for just relief. It is my sincere hope to have this matter resolved as quickly as possible so I may return to my job, teammates and fans, as we take the field against the Redskins."When Berrigan ordered the players and the union to address her concerns about conflicts of interest regarding the players' legal representation, she also ordered the NFL to respond by Thursday to the union's request for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the three players it represents in the case.The league complied, stating that it opposes the NFLPA's TRO request for the same reason it opposed a similar request by Vilma.Those reasons included NFL arguments that Berrigan did not have jurisdiction over the matter because the league's labor agreement was collectively bargained. NFL attorneys also have argued that granting a restraining order would motivate more players to bring similar frivolous requests to the courts in an effort to delay punishment in subsequent disciplinary matters.
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ROXBURY, Mass. – The Boston Celtics shocked many on draft night last week when they selected French forward Guerschon Yabusele with the 16th overall pick.
Well here’s another unexpected twist involving Yabusele: He said he plans to be on the Celtics’ summer league team which begins play next week in Salt Lake City.
“My agent is working in France to do something for me, to be able to play in summer league,” Yabusele said.
Like most NBA rookies, Yabusele is eager to get on the floor and get his first taste of NBA basketball this summer.
“That’s a dream come true,” Yabusele said. “When I was young thinking about the NBA all the time. I knew it would happen at some point.”
But the 20-year-old forward isn’t focused on testing the NBA waters and returning to overseas play soon.
“Not just stay three years or four, but stay all my life in the NBA,” he said.
Yabusele made the announcement following the Boston Celtics’ rookies (minus Ante Zizic) all participating in a basketball clinic at the Madison Park Community Center as the Boston Celtics celebrated their 50th Renovation project since 2008.
The news isn’t quite as optimistic for fellow international Celtic Ante Zizic who is not likely to have his contract situation overseas worked out in enough time to join Boston for summer league play in Salt Lake City and afterwards in Las Vegas.
Still, Yabusele getting a shot to play now is huge both for his own personal growth and that of the Celtics to get a better feel for how their first-round pick stacks up against fellow rookies and young teammates like Jordan Mickey.
This past season, Yabusele averaged 11.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in 28.7 minutes with Rouen Metropole Basket in the LNB Pro A league in France. He appeared in 34 games and grabbed 10 or more rebounds 11 times while tallying eight double-doubles.