NBA players prepare to sit out half a season

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NBA players prepare to sit out half a season

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn LAS VEGAS After meeting for more than five hours on Tuesday, it appears the NBA is well on its way to a shortened season.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the players union, told reporters after Tuesday's meeting that the union is advising players that "they may have to sit out half the season before we get a deal."

Derek Fisher, president of the players union, added, "it's discouraging and it's unfortunate, but that's the reality of where we are right now."

Fisher added, "We can't come out of here thinking that training camps and preseason (games) are going to start on time at this point."

It didn't take long for the news out of New York, to make its way to Las Vegas where a number of NBA players are currently participating in the Impact Basketball Training Series.

"As you know, the meetings didn't go the way we planned for them to go," Charlotte Bobcats forward Corey Maggette told Comcast SportsNet. "We're so far apart, between both sides. Hopefully Derek as well as Billy, can figure out a way to fix this, and the owners can work this out."

When told about Hunter's comments, Boston Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal's first thoughts turned toward the NBA's expanding fan base.

"I feel bad for the fans that support this great league," he told CSNNE.com. "We want the league to be a great league, but we want it to be a fair league. We want to be fair to the owners, but we want to be fair to us, too. We don't want to be locked into something that's not fair to us."

The owners, for now at least, will not budge on insisting on a hard salary cap in addition to what will amount to reduced salaries.

Washington Wizards forward Rashard Lewis said he's not surprised that talks have stalled to the point where now the season's start is in jeopardy.

"Billy Hunter has prepared us for this situation," Lewis said. "A lot of the NBA guys were pretty much expecting. It's disappointing, but it's not a big surprise."

NBA commissioner David Stern addressed the media following Tuesday's talks which lasted more than five hours - most of which was spent with the owners talking among themselves, according to Hunter.

He told reporters that the players union was willing to make some concessions on divvying up the Basketball-Related Income, provided the current soft salary cap remain in effect.

Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver chimed in by saying the players had an "emotional attachment" to the current soft salary cap system.

"The owners are unwilling to move off of the position on which they've anchored themselves," said Hunter, who added that the owners did not present a different proposal.

Tuesday's meetings were a sharp departure from the seemingly upbeat nature of talks last week. Part of that had to do with Tuesday's meetings involving more members from both sides, which brought about a much deeper discussion on critical issues such as salary cap and the league's economic structure - both of which the owners want to change significantly from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement that expired on June 30.

"We understand that the world has changed and we need to make some changes," O'Neal said. "But what they're asking for ... it's just not fair to us."

O'Neal wonders why the owners aren't talking more among themselves about modifying their revenue sharing system to better spread the wealth to smaller-market teams which would create more parity and what he believes could potentially keep salaries across the league more in check.

"We can get a deal done, and we will get one done," O'Neal said. "But what the owners are talking about right now ... it's just not good for us or the league."

And unlike the last labor stoppage in 1998, there seems to be a greater sense of unity among the union members.

However, that bond will be put to the test in the coming weeks when NBA players start missing checks.

While veterans such as O'Neal have no plans to play overseas, some of the league's younger players will certainly look to keep playing somewhere.

Celtics guard Avery Bradley told Comcast SportsNet that his preference is to wait out the late start and begin the season with the Celtics.

But he wouldn't rule out taking his talents overseas.

"I'm going to do what's best for me," Bradley said. "If going overseas is what's best for me, then that's what I'm going to do."

Maggette said he too would consider playing overseas.

"Right now, we're unemployed," Maggette said. "When you're unemployed, you have to find another gig. it's not the NBA, but we need to find another solution."

Added former Celtic Tony Allen, now with the Memphis Grizzlies: "I don't care what job you have; NBA player, whatever, you don't want to miss any checks. None of us want to be out of work. But hey, we have to get the best deal we can. If we have to wait a minute on that, we have to wait."

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

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

Tatum easing into new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON -- While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder . . . we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.