NBA players prepare to sit out half a season

366304.jpg

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

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Highlights: Boston Celtics 109, Indiana Pacers 100

Catch the highlights of the Boston Celtics 109-100 win over the Indiana Pacers at home and hear from Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and Al Horford.

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

Bradley 'not even tired' after playing 39 minutes vs. Pacers

BOSTON – As Avery Bradley made his way to the middle of the post-game media scrum inside the Boston Celtics locker room, he was informed that he had played 39 minutes in their 109-100 win over Indiana.

“I played 39?” Bradley said. “Man, I’m not even tired.”

And that may be the clearest sign to date that Bradley, a defensive pest who has been pestered by injuries this season, is as healthy as we’ve seen him in some time.

In addition to scoring 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting, he also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out a couple of assists, had a steal and was the head of the defensive snake that made life as hard as possible on Paul George who still managed to have a big night scoring the ball.

For Bradley to play so many minutes is a bit of a surprise when you consider how overcautious the Celtics were with his return from a right Achilles injury that kept him out for 18 straight games.

Bradley attributes the Celtics having some time off leading up Wednesday’s game.

“It was good for us and we were definitely prepared (on Wednesday),” Bradley said. “And it showed we’re improving every day as a team. We’re really locking in when we need to.”

And while he was one of three different primary defenders on George (Marcus Smart and Jae Crowder were the others), Bradley was the guy head coach Brad Stevens turned to most consistently down the stretch.

Bradley was the only Celtic to play all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter. The only other players that were on the floor for the entire fourth quarter, were Indiana's Monta Ellis and George.

You think Bradley was out there to shut down (2-for-10 from the field) Ellis?

Uh … nope!

“He (Bradley) was on Paul some,” Stevens said. “Not the whole time he was in. Marcus (Smart) guarded him a lot. Jae (Crowder) guarded him some as well. We just felt like we had to rotate bodies on them. I did not plan on playing Avery quite that many minutes.”

Stevens put Bradley back in the game to start the second and fourth quarters, something he normally does for Terry Rozier who did not play (coaches decision).

“And he maybe sat a minute at the end of the second,” Stevens said. “So that’s 24 minutes and usually it’s about twelve-to-fifteen.”

The additional playing time is something Bradley certainly isn’t going to ever complain about.

The same holds true for the Celtics having clinched a playoff spot prior to Wednesday’s tip-off.

“I don’t think anyone talked about it,” Bradley said. “We were just treating this like any other game, try to be prepared, go out there and execute the offensive game plan … I feel we did a great job of doing that.”

Indeed, the Celtics are playing with a flow and overall rhythm that’s making it extremely tough on their foes.

“If you look at their roster, everybody knows what to expect out of everybody,” said Paul George. “There’s never a moment where a guy is like, ‘What kind of shot are you taking?’ or ‘what are you doing?’ They are beyond that.”