NBA talks break down; season in limbo


NBA talks break down; season in limbo

NEW YORK A week that began with such promise for the NBA and players union to strike a deal on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement hit an emphatic wall Thursday, as talks broke off between both sides - with no timetable for when talks will resume.

The impasse was reached when the owners insisted the players agree on a 50-50 split on basketball-related income (BRI) before any other details of a potential deal were discussed, and the players responding by saying they wouldn't commit to a percentage split before knowing what sort of deal would be in place.

"We have certain core beliefs that we have to address that we think are absolutely necessary to achieve before we play NBA basketball," said the league's deputy commissioner, Adam Silver. "And ultimately, we were unable to bridge the gap that separates the two parties."

While some progress was made in the last 30-plus hours of meetings, it was clear that two of the main issues from the beginning - basketball-related income and the system in which it will exists - remain problematic.

Silver said talks broke off over discussing how to divvy up the BRI.

"We made it clear to them yesterday that we were willing to go to 50 percent (on the BRI)," Silver said. "Despite the fact that we suffered enormous losses, we could see our way at a 50-percent deal."

Silver said the union, which had been seeking a 53-percent cut - down from the 57 percent of the BRI they received in the last CBA - reduced their offer to 52.5 percent.

"That's where talks broke off," Silver said. "They made it clear that, if our position was that we're unwilling to move beyond 50 percent, there was nothing else to talk about. That's when discussions broke off today."

Not surprisingly, the union tells a slightly different story.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA players union, said the union would not commit to a 50-percent BRI unless they had a better handle on what type of systematic changes the league was looking to implement in the next CBA.

"If you're pushing the 50-50 (split), there's no way in the world, even if it's feasible, for a 50-50 deal if we don't know what the system is," Hunter said he told NBA officials.

Hunter then said that Peter Holt, owner of the San Antonio Spurs who is also Chair of Labor Relations, told him that the owners wouldn't talk about the system unless the players agreed to the 50-50 split.

"So we then broke it off," Hunter said.

And with that, the NBA season took yet another dip into the abyss of potentially being wiped out entirely.

While the NBA wasn't prepared to announce any more canceled games Thursday, you can bet more are sure to come following Thursday's breakdown in discussions with no timetable for when the two will return to the bargaining table.

With the assistance of federal mediator George Cohen and his assistant, Scot Beckenbaugh, both sides seemed to be moving ever-so-slowly towards a new deal.

But whatever momentum both sides had towards a new CBA seemed to go away once the entire NBA ownership body arrived in town for their annual Board of Governors meetings.

"We came in trying to negotiate, and they came in saying, 'You either accept 50-50, or we're done,' " said Jeffrey Kessler, lead counsel for the union. "Something happened in that Board of Governors meeting. That was not where this committee was before."

Kessler added, "Wednesday we thought we were moving towards a deal. Suddenly today - we spent very little time negotiating today."

After gathering together to put together a proposal for the owners, Kessler said the owners didn't caucus among themselves to discuss it, as they had done in the past.

"They said, 'We don't have to do anything else. We can tell you now. We're at 50 (BRI split) and it has to be our way,' " Kessler recalled. " And they came back and said we will not discuss anything else until you agree to 50-50."

While commissioner David Stern (flu) was not at the meetings, there was a figure that apparently was quite influential among the owners - Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

"They were carrying out a mandate that they had been given, and Paul Allen was sent to see that the mandate was carried out," Kessler said.

Regardless of which side you fall on, it's clear the longer this lockout last, the tougher it will be to get a deal done that will salvage the 2011-12 season.

Even getting them back to the bargaining table will be challenging.

"Both sides hopefully won't harden," Holt said. "Right now, it could be tougher than it has been in the past to get back together."

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Monday, March 27: Hall call for Habs' Markov?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, with crunch time coming in the NHL.

*Jack Todd says that the Hall of Fame needs to reserve a spot for Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov. Is he Hall of Fame material, or Hall of Very Good material?

*The playoff streak is coming to an end for Joe Louis Arena as the Detroit Red Wings finish out a lost season.

*Thanks to PHT writer James O’Brien for providing the kind of relaxing hockey moment that any dog lover could appreciate.

*Boston College standout Colin White has signed an amateur tryout deal with the Senators, but it remains to be seen if the entry level contract is coming.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mitch Melnick offers his hot takes about the Canadiens after a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

*The US men’s hockey team may join the women’s team in boycotting the world championships if there isn’t a resolution soon.

*A group of longtime Leafs writers share some of their best stories from the press box

*In the shameless interest of self-promotion, here’s my hit with Toucher and Rich this morning talking about riding the hot hand with Anton Khudobin.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Tracey Myers wonders if a lopsided loss will snap the Blackhawks out of their malaise.

*Sidney Crosby fires back at Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk after he called the NHL star a whiner recently.

*For something completely different: getting to know new baseball analyst John Kruk, who we all should know pretty well at this point.



Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

Jaylen Brown steps away from social media to prepare for playoffs

BOSTON –  Like most of the NBA’s Millennials, Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown is active on social media.

But if you holla at him on Twitter or Instagram these days, don’t be surprised if you don’t hear back anytime soon.
That’s because Brown is stepping away from the social media game to better focus on his first postseason journey with the Celtics, which begins next month.
Brown said he isn’t the only player inside the Celtics locker room who has pledged to do things differently leading up to the playoffs.
More than anything, the changes Brown speaks of are symbolic to illustrate the need for everyone to make sacrifices critical for a team’s success.
“I’ve paid attention to that, how a lot of guys are making the sacrifices necessary to add to this team,” Brown said. “Some guys are only drinking water. Some guys are cutting out cursing or other aspects. Some guys have some personal stuff...Everybody is putting themselves in that mind frame to sacrifice for the betterment of the team.”
He added that taking a step back from social media was just one of a handful of changes he has made leading up to the playoffs.
“Some are personal, but some, just being a lot more focused and more locked in, eliminating distractions,” Brown told “This generation, we’re so social media dependent. So just eliminating that, filling that in with other stuff whether it’s gym time or film or just time to yourself instead of it being so predicated on the cell phone.”
Brown understands the battle Boston (48-26) is in for the top spot in the East heading into the playoffs and how important getting that would be to this team.

“It means a lot, especially being a rookie from my perspective, being on a team that’s number one seed in the East and being a contributor.” Brown said. “What more could you ask for, coming in to the league, coming into the NBA. It’s been great for me. It’s been a blessing.”
While Brown has had his share of ups and downs as a rookie, there’s no ignoring the fact that he’s progressing at a brisk rate.

“Offensively, I’m getting a little more comfortable scoring the ball; mid-range game, I’m developing,” he said. “Defensively, being in the right spot at the right time, stuff like that. I’ve come a long way and I still have a long way to go.”