NBA, union 'within reach' of new CBA

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NBA, union 'within reach' of new CBA

Finally, there appears to be some light - dimly lit, but light nonetheless - that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NBA and the players union is on the horizon.

In fact, both sides said a new CBA could be agreed upon as early as Friday.

"We're within reach, within striking distance of getting a deal done," said Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBAPA. "It's just a question of, how receptive the NBA is and whether or not they want to do a deal."

Commissioner David Stern, who addressed the media shortly after Hunter, was a bit more cautiously optimistic in discussing the importance of Friday's bargaining session.

"There's no guarantee that we're going to get a deal done," Stern said. "But we're going to give it a heck of a shot."

While both sides agree that there's still plenty of key issues that have yet to be ironed out, it appears a deal is very much within striking distance.

Stern was asked if he had a concrete idea of what a new deal would likely look like between the NBA and the union.

"Yes," was his reply.

When asked to elaborate, he declined.

Both sides have spent the past couple days working towards reaching a consensus on several system-related issues, the biggest being the implementation of a new luxury tax system.

Under the old CBA, teams paid a 1 penalty for every dollar they exceeded the salary cap threshold, which was 70.3 million last season.

In a new CBA, the league wanted a system in which teams pay 1.75 per dollar for the first 5 million they exceed the luxury tax threshold. An increase of 50 cents would be tacked on for the next 5 million they were over.

For example, the Boston Celtics were about 6 million over the luxury tax threshold last season, so they paid about 6 million in luxury taxes.

Under the new system, a similar payroll would cost the C's about 11 million - 8.75 million for the first 5 million, and another 2.25 million for the other million.

According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, the union has "moved toward the league's numbers."

Hunter said reaching some consensus on the system was critical in moving forward in tackling the biggest issue of them all - how to split up the basketball-related income.

The union has insisted that they can not get into discussing BRI unless they had a better handle on they system-related issues.

However, the NBA has seen the two have two separate matters.

"One goes to the overall economic health of the league," said deputy commissioner Adam Silver. "The second issue goes to competitive balance and parity. We need to resolve both issues, but one is not dependent on the other."

Hunter sees it differently.

"Definitely have to have some agreement on the system," Hunter said. "Because if the system's not right, then as we've indicated before, the numbers aren't going to work. The two are inter-related. As we negotiate, we're also keeping in mind what we feel the number should be and we'll raise that tomorrow."

The union received 57 percent of the BRI under the old CBA, and have offered to have their take reduced to 52.5 percent. Meanwhile, the owners have put out several proposals, with the most recent being a 50-50 split of the BRI.

The union countered with a band that would give them at least 50 percent of the BRI, but no more than 53 percent.

"We're prepared to negotiate over everything," Stern said. "We're looking forward to it."

Both sides acknowledge that progress has been made, but it'll only get rougher now that the end is, for the first time, in sight.

"It's a tough process," said Derek Fisher, president of the NBAPA. "As we move through and try to close the gap in as many places as we can, it gets tougher towards the end."

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”