NBA, Player's Association work to avoid lockout

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NBA, Player's Association work to avoid lockout

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

LOS ANGELES As expected, the NBA and the player's union met on Friday during all-star weekend for about two hours in Beverly Hills, Calif.

And as expected, no consensus was reached on the best course of action to avoid a lockout with the current deal between the two factions set to expire June 30.

Union Executive Director Billy Hunter and union president Derek Fisher met with the media following Friday's meeting with the ownership.

Fisher described the meeting as "constructive," with both sides showing a "commitment to trying to get this process done."

That will be easier said than done.

Because the NBA is looking for significant changes to the new CBA, avoiding a work stoppage will be difficult.

A hard salary cap, changes to the way guaranteed contracts are done, salary cuts and revenue sharing were among the topics discussed between the two sides.

"We talked about our willingness to negotiate and get a deal," Hunter said. "We spelled out some things we thought were impediments to getting a deal."

The fact that both sides are having dialogue is a definite sign of progress after some acrimonious exchanges a year ago.

Paul Pierce is the Celtics' union representative.

Although he was relatively new to the league, Pierce said he did attend meetings prior to the league's last work stoppage that delayed the start of the 1998-1999 season.

"I was part of it in 1998. I was a rookie, so I didn't know too much about it but I attended meetings," Pierce said. "This year, the players are really unified and carrying our league forward in the future. Not only veterans such as myself, but the young guys which is going to make itassociation we're trying to make the league great moving forward."

Avoiding a lockout would certainly help those efforts along.

While there are many who are pessimistic about a deal being struck between the players and the owners, Miami's LeBron James remains hopeful.

"I'm optimistic about it," he said. "Hopefully both sides can come away with an agreement that benefits both sides. No one wants to see a lockout, not the fans, not the players, not the owners. This game is too big and everyone enjoys it so much. Hopefully things can get situated before the start of the season."

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

NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

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NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

BOSTON – The NBA has become more of an international game as teams scour the globe in search of the next big basketball talent.

While some franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs have been poaching talented international players for years, other franchises have been more locked into adding American-born ballers.

The Boston Celtics have paid close attention to the best international players for several years.

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But more often than not, additions to their roster through the draft have come from the college ranks with an occasional international player added via free agency.

This season's team will definitely have a certain international flavor to it with overseas additions coming by way of players they drafted and signed as free agents to bolster what should be one of the deeper teams in the East.

Boston has six rookies with guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, four of which were born outside of the United States.

And of those four rookies, three of them – Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall pick); Ante Zizic (23rd overall pick) and Abdel Nader; 58th overall pick) – were selected in the 2016 draft but didn't join the team immediately. 

Yabusele who is originally from France, spent most of last season in China and came to the States and played briefly with the Celtic’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He will be among the bevy of young players competing for minutes off the Celtics bench. 

Zizic, born in Croatia, spent last season playing in his native country as well as in Turkey. The 7-foot center will come into training camp competing for playing time, possibly as Boston’s starting center.

And then there’s Nader, a G-League all-star as well as the G-League’s rookie of the year last season. The Egyptian-American wing player showed promise in each of the last two summer leagues which is in part why the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $6 million deal with only the first year fully guaranteed. 

They each have different strengths that only add value to a Boston squad that’s being built to play just about every style of play imaginable.

But the Celtics didn’t limit their pursuit of international talent to just the draft.

Boston has also signed German Forward Daniel Theis. 

Unlike the international players drafted by Boston, Theis is a bit of a mystery to most Celtics fans.

Last season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Brose Bamberg of Germany, while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 59.8 percent from the field.

And that season ended with a German championship, just like the previous two seasons for the 6-9, 243-pound forward who is expected to come in and compete for playing time off the bench for a Celtics team that’s looking for