NBA players union not talking decertification yet

191544.jpg

NBA players union not talking decertification yet

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn

LAS VEGAS Even before the NBA lockout kicked in on July 1, the 'D' word - decertification - was being floated about.

With little progress having been made since, there's a small but very powerful group of NBA movers and shakers - agents - who are reportedly looking to push their clients towards decertifying the union.

The thinking behind decertifying is that it will cause just enough chaos, uncertainty and the potential threat of lawsuits, to make owners more inclined to modify their stance on issues such as the salary cap (they want a hard one, the players want to keep the current soft cap and the exceptions that come with it, in place).

"I don't necessarily think that's the way," said Roger Mason, vice president of the NBA players union. "We're trying to negotiate with the NBA. We're having dialogue, we're talking. We know their position. They know ours. We're at the table. We just need to get something done."

In addition to the salary cap, both sides seem to be at odds over how to address guaranteed contracts as well as divide the league's Basketball-Related Income. Under the recently expired Collective Bargaining Agreement, players received 57 percent of the BRI.

"If the number is 65 percent of BRI (in the next CBA), we have no issues," Mason said. "The problem is ... and you hear a lot of the guys today talk to me about a hard cap, we'll be fighting against our own teammates. If a guy gets hurt, there's a likelihood that he could be cut. It's a dynamic that you just don't want to see with teammates. I don't think it's good for basketball, to have players going against each other like that. It makes for a lot of selfish basketball."

The idea of decertification has been floated about a number of times under the regime of the union's executive director Billy Hunter.

But it seems to be picking up more steam with the current impasse between the union and the owners.

Mason said the union has not brought the prospect of decertification into conversations with the owners.

When asked about it as a topic among players, he said, "among ourselves, agents are calling for it. We're not blind to that. We just need to be on the same page. We don't need a contingent of agents pushing for one thing, and the union pushing for another. We have to be on the same page."

That's why it's unlikely that the union will address the prospect of decertification until after a ruling on their lawsuit against the NBA.

The lawsuit, filed with the National Labor Relations Board, claims that the NBA and its owners are not negotiating in good faith. A ruling in favor of the union could potentially bring about an end to the lockout.

While there's no definitive timetable for when the NLRB will render a verdict, Hunter is optimistic that a ruling will be made soon.

From Mason's perspective, all the talk about potentially decertifying the union can do nothing but make negotiations with the NBA even more daunting than they have been thus far.

"Anytime there's turmoil on one set of the negotiations, it hurts you," Mason said. "I'm sure they would love if we had dissension among us, today and tomorrow, it's our job to let the players know what's going on."

Mason along with other members of the union's executive board will speak with fellow players in Las Vegas on Thursday morning. At least 75 players are expected to be there, including Celtics forward Paul Pierce.

"A lot of it (Thursday's meeting) will be giving them the right information," Mason said. "Sometimes agents give them wrong information, and they're not knowing what's going on. So the big thing is exactly what's going on, what went on Tuesday and what went on with Derek (Fisher) and Billy (Hunter) in the small group meetings."

That agenda isn't nearly as upbeat as what Mason and the union leadership were hoping for.

"We were hoping to be coming to Vegas with some type of news, some type of offer from the NBA," Mason said. "They had no such offer for us. We gotta be honest with the players and let them know how far apart we are. I don't want anybody making decisions or going to Europe or other situations and not really knowing what's really going on."

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

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

The last time Boston played at Washington, the Wizards buried them by 25 points.

It seems the Wizards have a similar mindset for Tuesday’s game which will feature every Wizards playing showing up in all-black.

“You know where we’re going with that,” Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. told the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

Yes.

We do.

But in case anyone wasn’t sure, let John Wall put the cookies on the bottom shelf for you and explain in succinct terms.

“A fun-er-ral!” he said with the man who thought this up, Bradley Beal, in the background yelling, “Yaa!”

The Celtics players acknowledged that Tuesday’s game would most likely be a physical, trash-talking affair.

That stems from their matchup two weeks ago that included a lot of physical play both teams that ultimately ended with the Celtics coming away with a 117-108 win.

ROUND ONE: THE JANUARY 11 GAME

Bradley Beal was whistled for a flagrant-one foul against Marcus Smart that seemed to get both benches hyped up.

Those two have a history dating back to last season when Smart, while driving to the basket, landed his left forearm across Beal’s face. The blow resulted in Beal’s nose being broken in addition to being put in the league’s concussion protocol program.

And after the Jan. 11 game, Jae Crowder and John Wall had a heated exchange of words that ended with Crowder’s pushing his finger into Wall’s nose, and Wall retaliating by slapping Crowder’s face.

The league fined Crowder $25,000 and Wall $15,000 for their roles in the incident.

“It’s going to be a competitive game,” Wall said. “Hopefully everybody just keep it clean and … makes it one of those great battles.”

Said Beal: “We want to keep it clean as much as possible but we know it’ll probably get chippy, a little trash talking.”

Isaiah Thomas, who was whistled for a technical foul in the Jan. 11 game, understands emotions will run pretty high in Tuesday’s game.

 “You just have to be ready for whatever comes our way,” Thomas said. “We’re not going to shy away from it. But we’re all human. There will probably be a little bit of physicality, a little bit of things to carry over to tomorrow’s game. But the most important thing is we just have to try and take care of business.”