Agents turning NBA lockout into three-way battle

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Agents turning NBA lockout into three-way battle

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

When you hear most people talk about the NBA lockout, it has an us-versus-them feel about it.

You have the owners on one side, and the players represented by the union on the other.

But in recent weeks, the players agents have entered the picture, turning this tug-of-war into a three-sided battle for power.

"It's almost like a triangle," Mo Evans, vice president of the NBA players union told CSNNE.com. "We're all separate entities, where we all have different interests. The union and the players are one entity, the agents are another and the NBA (owners) is another."

While agents have no official role in negotiating a new CBA, there's no question that their influence is alive and well behind the scenes as a number of agents have privately pushed for the players union to de-certify.

When the NBA players union met in Las Vegas earlier this month, de-certification was indeed a hot topic of discussion.

But the de-certification chatter has cooled off considerably since then, with the union and owners continuing to push forward - publicly at least - to try and iron out a new deal.

Several reports have the two sides meeting in New York City on Tuesday, with talks potentially resuming on Wednesday as well.

The players union and owners seem to be operating with a greater sense of urgency now, with the specter of regular season games being lost becoming more real with each passing day.

Last week, the NBA postponed the start of training camp along with canceling 43 preseason games that were scheduled for Oct. 9-15. It's unclear if any more games will be canceled, but according to CBSSports.com, NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said the league schedule will be re-evaluated on Oct. 1.

While there's a lot of work to be done by both sides before a deal is done, the fact that both sides are talking - and seem genuinely interested in communicating more often - is definitely a good thing.

"The owners are a sophisticated group of businessmen led by a great leader in Commissioner David Stern," Evans said. "They employ great tactical strategies and they're very crafty, educated and that's why Stern has grown this business - together with the players, grown this business - to where it is now. We don't underestimate them in any way. We respect the process."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

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Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

Celtics-Heat preview: Do C's need to bounce back from a win?

BOSTON – The final score on the Jumbotron Friday night said the Celtics beat the Phoenix Suns 130-120.
 
But there was a clear and undeniable sense of loss on the part of the Celtics, even if Friday’s victory was their third in a row and sixth in the past seven games.
 
The Celtics (47-26) hope to continue on their winning ways tonight against a Miami Heat team currently among a handful fighting for one of the last playoff slots, but are doing so without Dion Waiters (ankle) who has been instrumental in their surge after an 11-30 start to the season.
 
Beating the Heat (35-37) will require Boston to play better than they did against the Suns, a game Boston won, but in many ways had the feeling of defeat.
 
Yes, Devin Booker’s career-high 70 points was very much a blow – a huge blow – to the pride of a team that takes tremendous pride in its defense.
 
But the sense of a loss came in the form of purpose while playing as close to their potential as possible.
 
The Celtics fell short on both fronts Friday night.
 
Being just one game behind Cleveland (47-24) for the best record in the East, the Celtics understand getting as many wins as possible is the mindset right now.
 
But coach Brad Stevens knows that while winning is important, how the team plays is even more valuable.
 
“Like I’ve said before, I’m surprised at where we are record-wise because we’ve got to play at a higher level for 48 minutes,” Stevens said. “We just don’t do it.”
 
Is this Stevens’ way of trying to motivate his players after a not-so-great performance?
 
Or is he seriously concerned that his team isn’t as good as their record?
 
The Celtics, by their own standards, and to those of us on the outside looking in, know they are a better team than the one we saw on Friday night.
 
Not having Avery Bradley (sick) certainly hurt Boston’s efforts defensively.
 
Still, a Friday night’s game wore on, Booker’s confidence only grew and the Celtics’ desire to shut him down or at least slow him down, began to dissipate like an ice cube in hell.
 
And that’s a problem - a big problem - for a team that has to be connected at both ends of the floor for an extended period of time in order to play at the level their capable of and, most important, give them the best shot at emerging victorious in the postseason.
 
That’s why Stevens isn’t too caught up in the team’s chances of catching Cleveland, or whether they go into the playoffs riding a fat winning streak.
 
“I’m not going to get caught up in winning a couple of games in a row and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I want to get caught up in playing well. We’ve shown ourselves capable of playing well, we have not sustained it throughout a game. And it’s been pretty consistent.”