Pierce at head of decertification charge

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Pierce at head of decertification charge

It's not unusual for Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce to step up in big moments.

But for all the buzzer-beaters he has taken, for all the euphoric moments he has delivered for Celtics Nation, the role he finds himself in now is bigger than any other.

With the NBA owners and players union still unable to work out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there's a growing number of players giving serious thought to de-certifying the NBA Players Association - with Pierce leading the way.

CSNNE.com has confirmed a Yahoo Sports! report that about 50 NBA players recently had conversations about decertification of the NBAPA, with Pierce being one the most vocal supporters of such a move.

"I give Paul props," said one player who was in on one of the two conference calls. "He spoke to the frustration that a lot of us are feeling right now. We've given the owners just about everything they want, and they still want more. Something's gotta change. Maybe (decertification) is the answer."

While there are many steps that still have to be taken before decertification becomes a viable option, the fact that it's now a topic of discussion among a sizable number of players has the potential to significantly alter negotiations at this stage and moving forward.

Before decertification can begin, a petition to decertify must be signed by at least 30 percent of the union. If the necessary votes are achieved, a vote to decertify will then be conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

However, the union filed a complaint with the NLRB against the NBA. Until that is resolved, it's unlikely the NLRB would allow for the decertification process to occur.

Both sides were in New York this week before a U.S. district court to address a complaint filed by the NBA in August against the NBAPA, a move that was seen by many to protect the NBA against a potential decertification of the union and the anti-trust lawsuits that were sure to follow.

The NBA claims that the union wants to use the threat of decertification as a negotiating tactic. The NBAPA counters that the suit should be tossed out because it's based primarily on speculation.

NBA attorney Jeffery Mishkin compared what the NBAPA is doing to having a loaded gun on the table.

"If they've put the gun on the table, it's not clear there are any bullets in it," said U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe, who is presiding over the case.

Dealing another blow to the NBA's case was Gardephe later adding that the NBA's assertion does have a "fair amount of speculation." The NBA also requested that if the union does dissolve, all existing contracts would become "void and unenforceable."

As you sift through all the legal jargon and he-said, he-said between the two sides, the bottom line in all this is pretty clear.

The NBA owners are getting stronger as this process rolls along, in part because there's a growing number of players unhappy with the job that NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter and NBAPA president Derek Fisher are doing.

The two have been negotiating with the owners for months, and have seemingly compromised on just about every issue discussed. By giving in on a number of system-related issues, the union was hoping the NBA would do the same on dividing up the basketball-related income.

It was wrong.

While it's worth noting that the NBA has increased its offer of the BRI to 50-50 (the players are willing to take 52 percent), that would a major drop-off from the 57 percent the players got in the last CBA.

There's a very good chance that the league's 50-50 offer will be off the table when the two sides meet this weekend.

One, because the additional financial losses incurred by more games being canceled. Also, there's a sense among the owners that the players are becoming more splintered, and thus more vulnerable to caving in and accepting whatever deal they put on the table.

That's where decertification comes into play.

At this point, it is seen by the players as the only move they can make, that can have an immediate impact on the bargaining process that has thus far been heavily in favor of the owners. Some players see decertification as their best course of getting a deal done that they deem to be fair and equitable.

But there's one major caveat.

Decertifying will make it very likely that there will not be an NBA season at all, something one league source said was very much a topic of discussion in both conference calls this week involving players.

"Nobody wants to lose a whole season; nobody," one current NBA player said. "But the way this is playing out, we may not have a choice other than to take a bad deal or decertify the union."

For established players like Pierce, missing an entire season would hurt. But considering the amount of wealth he has accumulated in the NBA, he won't be completely devastated. But for less-established players, a lost year of wages will be much tougher to handle.

When you throw in the domino effect that a lost season will have on the economy in those NBA cities and those nearby, the impact becomes even greater.

And now, with the talk of decertification -- and the lost season that will likely follow it -- you have to wonder if either side realizes the damage they're doing and that it'll take years -- long after Pierce, and Kevin Garnett and other aging superstars are gone -- before the NBA will ever be the same again.

Is it really worth it?

Ingram, not Simmons, set to attend NBA Combine

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Ingram, not Simmons, set to attend NBA Combine

BOSTON – The list of players who will be in attendance at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago next week has been released.

And not surprisingly, there are some projected near the top of the NBA draft board who will not be in attendance.

LSU’s one-and-done stud Ben Simmons, projected to be among the top two players selected, will not be in attendance.

Joining Simmons among the more notable players who won’t be in Chi-town is Croatian big man Dragan Bender whose current team Maccabi Tel Aviv is still in the middle of their season. He is projected by most as being the third overall pick. 

Providence star guard Kris Dunn, projected as a top-10 pick, will be among those in attendance, as well as his Friars teammate Ben Bentil.

The Celtics usually cast a pretty wide net at the combine, but this year it’ll likely be even wider due to the fact that Boston has eight picks that represents 13.3 percent of the draft.

Boston has three first-round picks, with the first to be determined during the draft lottery later this month. The pick comes from Brooklyn, and will be no worse than the sixth overall selection.

The Celtics also have the 16th and 23rd overall picks in the first round, along with five (31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th) in the second round.

Here's the full list of prospects attending the NBA Combine:

Player College/Club
 Ron Baker Wichita State
 Wade Baldwin Vanderbilt
 Cat Barber North Carolina State
 Malik Beasley Florida State
 DeAndre Bembry St. Joseph's
 Ben Bentil Providence
 Jaron Blossomgame Clemson
 Joel Bolomboy Weber State
 Malcolm Brogdon Virginia
 Jaylen Brown California
 Robert Carter Maryland
 Marquese Chriss Washington
 Elgin Cook Oregon
 Isaiah Cousins Oklahoma
 Deyonta Davis Michigan State
 Cheick Diallo Kansas
 Kris Dunn Providence
 Henry Ellenson Marquette
 Perry Ellis Kansas
 AJ English Iona
 Kay Felder Oakland
 Dorian Finney-Smith Florida
 Michael Gbinije Syracuse
 Daniel Hamilton Connecticut
 AJ Hammons Purdue
 Josh Hart Villanova
 Nigel Hayes Wisconsin
 Buddy Hield Oklahoma
 Brandon Ingram Duke
 Demetrius Jackson Notre Dame
 Justin Jackson North Carolina
 Brice Johnson North Carolina
 Damian Jones Vanderbilt
 Skal Labissiere Kentucky
 Dedric Lawson Memphis
 Jake Layman Maryland
 Marcus Lee Kentucky
 Caris LeVert Michigan
 Thon Maker Orangeville Prep/Athlete Institute
 Patrick McCaw UNLV
 Isaiah Miles St. Joseph's
 Jamal Murray Kentucky
 Malik Newman Mississippi State
 Georges Niang Iowa State
 Chinanu Onuaku Louisville
 Marcus Paige North Carolina
 Gary Payton II Oregon State
 Jakob Poeltl Utah
 Taurean Prince Baylor
 Zhou Qi Xinjiang (China)
 Malachi Richardson Syracuse
 Wayne Selden Kansas
 Pascal Siakam New Mexico State
 Diamond Stone Maryland
 Caleb Swanigan Purdue
 Melo Trimble Maryland
 Tyler Ulis Kentucky
 Jarrod Uthoff Iowa
 Denzel Valentine Michigan State
 Isaiah Whitehead Seton Hall
 Troy Williams Indiana
 Kyle Wiltjer Gonzaga
 Stephen Zimmerman UNLV

Is Danny Ainge or Larry Bird a better NBA GM?

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Is Danny Ainge or Larry Bird a better NBA GM?

Danny Ainge and Larry Bird were both hired as NBA general managers in 2003. Ainge was back with the Celtics, where he spent the prime seasons of his playing career. And Bird went back to the Pacers, where he coached for three seasons.

There's no question that Bird was the better player. But who has been the better GM?

Trenni Kusnierek has a very interesting argument for why Ainge gets the edge. Watch the video above for her reasoning.

Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

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Bird not renewing Vogel's contract; McHale not a candidate

Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, a good friend of Brad Stevens, is out in Indiana.

Pacers president Larry Bird made the official announcement on Thursday.

Vogel’s contract was up in Indiana and Bird elected to not renew it. That, according to Bird, was hard for Vogel to hear.

Both Bird and Vogel spoke shortly before Bird’s press conference with members of the media, and that’s when Bird gave him the news.

There is speculation now as to who will take over as head coach. With Kevin McHale removing himself from consideration for the Sacramento Kings job, there was some thought that he could become the head coach of the Pacers under good friend and former teammate Bird.

That isn’t going to happen either.