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."

Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

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Thomas becoming one of the NBA's best in the fourth quarter

Isaiah Thomas has established himself as one of the NBA’s top players in the fourth quarter of games this season.

“I’d rather play that than any other quarter,” Thomas said.

But there will be times when the game’s flow or head coach Brad Stevens’ gut will tell him to go in a different direction with Thomas’ minutes which is something the two have had conversations about which has helped eliminate any confusion or misunderstandings.

“We’ve had player-coach talks, how he feels and how I feel,” Thomas said. “That’s the relationship we have. We changed it up a little bit (in the win over Sacramento) and I’m just happy we got the win.”

In that game, Thomas was replaced by Terry Rozier with 3:20 to play in the quarter and Boston trailing 66-63. He returned to the floor at the 8:31 mark and the Celtics were down 76-74.

“The key is, there are some times where you feel like those last few minutes of the third quarter will be real important moving forward,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game. “Especially based on how your team is playing. And you just have to make that decision. You have to make that decision, you take him out early in the third like we did (against Sacramento) and put him back in earlier; or play him through until the two or one-minute mark in the third, and then give him his rest up until the seven or six. Either way, we’ve talked about it like I do with all our guys, especially the guys that are playing and big in the rotation.

Stevens would love to come up with a game plan and stick to it with little to no changes being made.

But the NBA game is unpredictable and his job as the head coach is to make the necessary on-the-fly changes that best position the Celtics for victory.

“Ultimately there will be days that it will be very consistent and there might be a time or two where I’m gonna go with my gut,” Stevens said. “They know that and we’ve talked about it.”

And while Stevens’ decision may not sit well with some, players understand it’s all done to achieve one goal – win. 

“There’s a number of reasons why you make a decision to leave someone in or take someone out,” Stevens said. “Ultimately, we have to figure out game to game, moment to moment, what’s best for our team. That’s what I’m charged with. That doesn’t mean I’m always right. I’m not gonna act like that. Ultimately, those guys know I’m thinking about it all the time.”

C's Mickey sent to D-League

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C's Mickey sent to D-League

Jordan Mickey, inactive in five of the Boston Celtics’ last six games, has been assigned to the Maine Red Claws of the Development League.

“He’s been inactive in a few of these games here,” Stevens told reporters prior to tonight’s game at Philadelphia. “And rather than being inactive and being here in a suit and tie, we knew there was a hockey game this afternoon and it was going to be unlikely to get much action on the court at all today. So it made a lot more sense to play for a couple days and fly down to Houston and meet us.”

Mickey has appeared in just eight games this season, averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field.

Tonight will be the former second-round pick’s 10th missed game this season, five in which he did not play (coaches decision) and another five in which he will be inactive.

The lack of playing time for the second-year player has more to do with Boston’s depth in the frontcourt than anything specific to his game.

“He’s done a good job,” Stevens said of Mickey. “It’s the same old thing that last year although we’re not quite as deep at that spot. But it’s still, at the end of the day we have to make a decision of, are we going to play more traditional or are we going to slide like a Jonas (Jerebko) or Jae (Crowder) over to the four (power forward) and play more spaced which limits the amount of bigs you can have in a game.

Stevens added, “he’s done a good job.  He’s made progress. I don’t think there’s any question we think he’s a guy that can help us not only down the road but this year.”

Mickey is in the lineup for the Red Claws’ game tonight against Santa Cruz and he’s also scheduled to play in Sunday’s game against the Raptors 905 with both games being televised via Facebook Live.