How to make the CBA experience better in future

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How to make the CBA experience better in future

NEW YORK Whether you side with the NBA owners or players, there's one thing just about anyone who has followed their squabbling even the slightest bit can see.

Both sides have been screwing this up . . . a lot.

While there's no DeLorean that can take us back in time to fix all their mistakes, we can look ahead to ways to make the next Collective Bargaining Agreement sessions run a lot more smoothly.

And unlike the owners and players, we're not going to wait until the last minute to, you know, think about that kind of stuff.

So here are a few sure-fire ways that the next CBA negotiations won't be, as my fellow NBA scribe Ken Berger over at CBSSports.com would call, an asshattery.

YOU . . . ARE . . . ON . . . THE . . . CLOCK!

There's absolutely no excuse whatsoever why a lockout in any sport should happen. The sides know well in advance what the hot-button issues are, and yet they still wait . . . and wait . . . and wait until the absolute last minute to really try and work towards finding a happy medium - or at the very least, a deal that neither side feels good about which usually winds up as the best deal possible.

There are plenty of reasons why players and owners don't engage sooner, but one reason stands head and shoulders above the rest:

They don't have to.

Well, we're about to change that, my friends.

You know those luxury taxes that owners absolutely had to have in their next CBA? Let's apply some of those same taxing principles to get a CBA done in a timely fashion.

Real simple.

Every day after July 1 that the CBA passes without there being at least an agreement in principle, the league will pay 500,000 to a predetermined group of charities - chosen by the players, but not their own charities - in every NBA city.

Oh, I can see the Kool-Aid, ear-to-ear grins on the players' faces with that change.

You're part of this mess, too.

You'll have to pony up 250,000 for every day - it doesn't make sense that the guys who get the checks are punished the same as the guys who cut them, does it? - and those will go to a predetermined group of charities - chosen by the owners - in every NBA community as well.

And for every month moving forward, the owners will have to pay another 250,000 (i.e., on August 1, 750,000 per day, September 1, 1,000,000 per day, etc.) while the players will see their daily total increase by another 125,000 per day (i.e. on August 1, 375,000 per day, September 1, 500,000 per day, etc.)

This serves two purposes:

1) It gives the owners and players added incentive to start negotiating sooner, something they clearly lack and

2) It provides some much-needed financial assistance to groups who sure as hell could use it.

NBA, PLAYERS NEED TO BE FED UP

Is it me, or did things seem to FINALLY start moving in these talks when the federal mediator entered the picture? Whether it should be George Cohen again remains to be seen. But it's clear that an impartial, respected figurehead in the room can go a long way in smoothing things out between these two.

Both sides should be allowed to negotiate among themselves until July 1 without necessarily the mediator's interference, unless it's requested.

After July 1, a federal mediator should be injected into the talks because at that point, it's clear that both sides can't and probably won't strike a deal even with the threat of having to cut checks because they can't stick to a damn deadline, and . . . don't get me started!

Rather than have just one moderator, it might be worthwhile to have a "pool" of them (at least 3 or 5, but definitely an odd number total works best) that will work in concert with one another throughout the post-July 1 process.

If both sides can't agree on a deal by end of September, this is where the "pool" of mediators come into play.

We'll call this one the "Stern rule," because this is essentially what he did in coming up with the owners last proposal.

The "pool" of mediators will take all their notes, feedback from both sides, and gather for a couple weeks before making a handful of recommendations centered around the top 5 or 6 topics that both sides agreed to are major points of emphasis in a new CBA.

The NBA commissioner will take those suggestions back to his Labor Relations Committee, and the players will do the same.

A poll of the owners - this should be handled by a third party, and not the commissioner - will be taken to see if it should be voted on as being their proposal. If 10 or more owners think it's worth voting on, then the proposal will be voted on by the owners.

Same with the players. Similar to what has to happen with them to decertify, if 30 percent or more of the players - not the executive committee, the players - believe the deal the owners are proposing should be voted on, then it's put to a vote for the full body.

If they accept it, we got a deal.

If they don't, the fines for not getting a deal done will continue to rack up.

Of course, this all would have to be approved of well in advance by the owners, the players, and the agents. (Yeah, they're going to have a say in this, for sure.)

And that means . . . it probably will never come to fruition.

But one thing is for sure.

Both sides have to seriously look at ways to challenge themselves to work harder, sooner, at getting a new CBA done.

Otherwise, we truly will be driving back to the future in six or so years when all the ill-conceived, ill-advised decisions by both sides repeat themselves and as a result, we're back to a life of asshattery.

Isaiah Thomas' recent shooting woes mirror those of Celtics

Isaiah Thomas' recent shooting woes mirror those of Celtics

BOSTON – As Isaiah Thomas walked off the TD Garden floor Monday night in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' 114-98 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the All-Star guard’s franchise streak of 43 games with 20 or more points scored was about to end.
 
Credit the Hawks, whose defense made life miserable for Thomas most of the game, limiting him to 4-for-21 shooting (19 percent) which stands as the worst shooting night for Thomas as Celtic when he has taken at least 10 shots from the field.
 
Thomas chalks up his struggles Monday as just one of those bad nights that comes from time to time in an 82-game season, but it’s part of what has been a stretch of inefficient shooting games for him.
 
And it’s not a coincidence that the Celtics (38-22) have lost three of their past four at the same time Thomas finds himself in one of his worst four-game stretches for shooting the ball this season.
 
In fact, Thomas has shot just 35.4 percent from the field in Boston’s past four games. In that span, he has made less than 45 percent of his shots in each game, which is only the second time this season he has had a four-game stretch like that.
 
And while defenses certainly give him more attention than any other Celtic, he’s still getting to the spots he wants to get to while taking the shots that are best for him.
 
The only difference of late, is that more shots are off the mark than previously.
 
“I missed a lot of shots in the paint. I got where I wanted to,” Thomas said. “That wasn’t just me; that was our team. We missed a lot of shots we normally make.”
 
Which is why there’s no sense of panic or heightened concern on the part of the Celtics heading into their game Wednesday night against the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
 
Boston rookie Jaylen Brown was quick to credit Atlanta for doing a good job defensively against the Celtics.
 
But he too recognized that at times they were their own worst enemy with all of the blown opportunities.
 
“We missed a bunch of easy shots and I think that is just focus,” Brown said. “We’re not going to hit every shot every game, but I do expect us to play a little bit better than what we did and I think we’re more capable of being a bit more locked in. It happens; you just got to forget about it and bounce back Wednesday against Cleveland.”