Labor talks break off . . . again

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Labor talks break off . . . again

If the creator of the Peanuts cartoon (Charles M. Schulz) were still alive, he would have some fresh faces to insert in the classic scene in which Lucy pulls the football away from a (once again) hoodwinked Charlie Brown at the last minute.

Just when NBA fans were ready to gear up for the league's lockout to be over, labor talks hit yet another major snag on Friday.

After more than five hours of bargaining on Friday, a short day by NBA lockout standards, talks have broken off once again with no deal in sight or future meetings scheduled.

And as expected, NBA commissioner David Stern announced that there will be no games played in the month of November.

"We share the frustrations of our fans, partners, and those who rely on our game for their livelihoods," said NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver. "We remain committed to reaching an agreement that's fair for both the teams and the players and allows for the long-term growth of our game."

While there was some talk of the possibility of getting a full 82-game season schedule played, that's not going to happen, either.

"It's not practical, possible or prudent to have a full season now," said Stern. "We held out that joint hope together, but in light of the breakdown in talks, there will not be a full NBA season under any circumstances."

Unlike the last time talks broke off, don't look for these two to get back together this weekend.

NBAPA president Derek Fisher told NBA.com that he was on a plane back to Los Angeles tonight.

"We made a lot of concessions, but . . . it's not enough," NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter told reporters on Friday.

Fisher added, "Right now, it's still not enough for them to feel this deal can be closed."

The optimism displayed by both sides Thursday night, was replaced by the reality on Friday that as much progress had been made, there remain several issues still left unresolved.

And the biggest issue of them all -- how to split the basketball-related income -- came to a head on Friday.

The result, in a word, was disastrous, as both sides showed little to no movement towards what appears to be an obvious middle ground.

The owners came into Friday's negotiations having offered the union a 50-50 split of the BRI.

However, Hunter said the owners actually lowered their offer on Friday, to the players receiving a 47 percent of the BRI only to raise it back to 50 percent.

After Thursday night's bargaining session, Stern said he would be willing to make a move on the economics of a new deal.

"He made a move," Hunter said on Friday. "He went to 47. It's like when you play checkers, and you jump backwards, and then forward."

The players received 57 percent of the BRI in the last CBA, and had officially offered to drop down to 52.5 percent, which amounts to about 200 million a year.

From the owners perspective, Stern pointed out some of the concessions made by owners, such as keeping the mid-level exception worth 5 million - he said the owners wanted to do away with the MLE altogether - and to have contracts as long as five years (owners were seeking to limit those to four years) as examples of their willingness to get a deal done.

He's still committed to that, but the offers are likely to get worse.

"We're going to have to re-calculate how bad the damage is," Stern said. "We've lost, approaching 200 million dollars, loss of the preseason. Now we're going to lose several hundred million dollars more. So the NBA's offer, it's next offer will reflect the extraordinary losses that are starting to pile up now. You can assume that our offer will change, to reflect the change in economic circumstances."

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

Did Suns ask Josh Jackson to cancel his Celtics workout to keep him from Boston?

BOSTON – It appears there may be an answer to the mystery surrounding Josh Jackson’s decision to not work out for the Boston Celtics leading up to Thursday’s NBA draft.

While conventional wisdom tells us that such decisions are often made by the agent who in this case is former NBA player B.J. Armstrong.

Boston instead selected Jayson Tatum at No. 3 with the Phoenix Suns scooping up Jackson with the No. 4 pick.

MORE: Danny Ainge on Josh Jackson: 'He didn’t want to play for the Celtics'

During Jackson’s introductory press conference, there was a sense that it wasn’t necessarily Armstrong who strong-armed Jackson into not working out for the Celtics. But apparently, he got an assist from Suns General Manager (and ex-Celtics assistant GM) Ryan McDonough.

A reporter asked McDonough if Phoenix may have encouraged Jackson to cancel his workout with the Celtics who were flying into Sacramento, Calif. to watch Jackson workout only for it to be canceled after they had departed which as you can imagine, did not go over well with Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations.

“I’d like to consult my attorney B.J. Armstrong (Jackson’s agent),” McDonough said, smiling.

The more McDonough talked, the clearer it became that he and Armstrong were in cahoots to do all they could to get Boston to pass on Jackson at No. 3 which as McDonough mentioned, doesn’t break any rules.

“You guys all know my history with the Celtics and the respect I have for Danny Ainge and the organization,” McDonough told reporters on Friday. “But I think you guys who know me well know how competitive I am. Look, it is a competition. The Celtics were ahead of us at No. 3 and they could have selected whoever they wanted to. I think they got a very good player in Jayson Tatum, but that doesn’t mean B.J. and I and … other members of my staff couldn’t talk and try to formulate the best plan to get a player we were really high on to a place we felt he really wanted to go and would be a great fit for him.”

McDonough is right in that no rules were broken if he and Armstrong did decide to work together in an effort to get Jackson to Phoenix.

But to cancel the workout after the Celtics executives and head coach Brad Stevens had left, forcing them to spend a night on the road for a workout that Jackson’s camp probably knew wasn’t going to happen well before the Celtics contingent boarded for Sacramento … not cool.

Here are words I thought I would never say … the Ball clan got it right.

They told Boston from the jump that Lonzo Ball wasn’t going to work out for them, so the Celtics knew he didn’t want to be a Celtic from the very beginning.

Jackson’s actions said the same, but his words kept hope alive that he would work out or at the very least, talk to the Celtics organization – neither of which happened.

He kept referring to the fact that he didn’t think Boston was interested in him when they had the number one pick (that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if they asked him to work out for them; otherwise, what’s the point from the Celtics'  perspective of asking to work out a guy they had no interest in drafting?)

After they traded down to the number 3 pick, a deal that was cemented last weekend, Jackson said there wasn’t time to do a workout for Boston.

The draft was nearly a week away and he didn’t have time to work out for a team that had the third pick overall knowing that the top two picks (Markelle Fultz at No. 1 and Lonzo Ball at No. 2) were essentially accounted for?

“If I could have, I probably would have worked out for them,” Jackson said (with a straight face). “But I think everything worked out for the best.”

Yup.

Boston will once again be among the better teams in the East and will contend for the best record like they achieved this past season before their season ended in the Conference finals to Cleveland. 

Jackson will spend his rookie season playing a lot of minutes with a Suns team that probably won’t win as many games as he did a year ago at Kansas (33).

Enjoy.

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

Report: Celtics could land George if they sign Hayward

As rumors swirl in this post-draft, pre-free agency week for the NBA, Adam Kaufman of 98.5 The Sports Hub reported Friday that the Celtics could land long-rumored target Gordon Hayward AND trade for Paul George. And Kaufman says George would be more than just a one-year rental.

Kaufman elaborated on a possible George deal on his "Celtics @ 7" show Saturday. He said the trade with the Indiana Pacers wouldn't cost Boston next year's Brooklyn pick, rather it would be the first-round pick (Lakers 2018 or Kings 2010) acquired this week from the Philadelphia 76ers when Boston traded down the No. 1 for No. 3, along with Jae Crowder and another salary filler. 

MORE CELTICS: 

Before you run out and buy that No. 13 Celtics Paul George jersey, Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com explains how financially disadvantageous it would be for George - long thought to want to head to the Lakers - to do this.