NBA talks break down; season in limbo

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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."

Knicks fire Phil Jackson after three ugly seasons

Knicks fire Phil Jackson after three ugly seasons

NEW YORK - Phil Jackson wanted to trade Carmelo Anthony and wouldn't rule out dealing Kristaps Porzingis.

Turns out, Jackson is the one leaving.

Jackson is out as New York Knicks president after he oversaw one of the worst eras in team history, with the team saying in a statement Wednesday that they had "mutually agreed to part company."

Days after Jackson reiterated his desire to move Anthony and said he would listen to deals for Porzingis, Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan reversed course and cut ties with Jackson with two years remaining on his contract.

"After careful thought and consideration, we mutually agreed that the Knicks will be going in a different direction," Dolan said. "Phil Jackson is one of the most celebrated and successful individuals in the history of the NBA. His legacy in the game of basketball is unmatched."

But his work as a first-time executive was awful. The winner of an NBA-record 11 championships as coach, Jackson couldn't engineer one playoff berth while running the Knicks. The team was 80-166 in his three full seasons, including a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2014-15.

His departure was quickly welcomed by Knicks fans such as film director Spike Lee, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram in a celebratory pose after it was first reported by The Vertical.

The move comes less than a week after Jackson led the Knicks through the NBA draft and on the eve of free agency that opens Saturday. Dolan said he would not be involved in the operation of the team, adding that general manager Steve Mills would run the day-to-day business in the short term and that former Toronto executive Tim Leiweke would advise him and help develop a plan going forward.
Jackson was a Hall of Fame coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, delivering titles with some of the game's biggest stars like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. He also played for the Knicks when they won NBA titles in 1970 and 1973.

He was welcomed back to the organization with a $60 million contract to huge fanfare in March 2014, but it soon became clear the transition would be a poor one. His first coaching hire, Derek Fisher, lasted just one-plus seasons, and Jackson's trades and free agency moves also failed to improve the team.

"I had hoped, of course, to bring another NBA championship to the Garden. As someone who treasures winning, I am deeply disappointed that we weren't able to do that," Jackson said. "New York fans deserve nothing less. I wish them and the Knicks organization all the best - today and always."

The turbulence he created off the court may have led to his departure more than the Knicks' record on it.

Jackson publicly talked about moving without Anthony - angering the National Basketball Players Association - though the All-Star forward has two years left on the five-year, $124 million deal that Jackson gave him shortly after taking the job. Anthony has a no-trade clause and has said he wants to stay in New York, and the stalemate that hung over the team for much of last season threatened to linger throughout the summer.

Then Jackson said before the draft that he was listening to offers for Porzingis, the 21-year-old forward from Latvia whom he drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2015 in one of his few successful moves.

Jackson believed the Knicks would compete for a playoff berth last season after he traded for Derrick Rose, signed Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee and hired Jeff Hornacek to coach. But after a solid start, they quickly spiraled toward their familiar position at the bottom of the Eastern Conference and finished 31-51.

Despite all that, Dolan said during an ESPN Radio interview in February that he would allow Jackson to finish his contract, and the sides picked up the mutual two-year option on Jackson's contract.

But the instability involving Anthony and Porzingis threatened to damage the team's ability to lure free agents and may have spurred Dolan's decision. Though he had been intent on keeping Jackson, the dysfunction within the franchise showed no sign of ending even as Jackson, 71, largely stayed out of sight.

He never spoke to the media last season after vowing openness upon taking the job and refused to provide Anthony with the communication he sought.

"It's like a total train wreck," tennis great and Knicks fan John McEnroe told The Associated Press last week.

"I mean, he's known as the Zen Master, like a master talker, and then he's not talking to anybody," McEnroe said of Jackson. "So this whole thing seems to have gone completely off the rails."

There was also incessant debate about Jackson's insistence that the team employ the triangle offense, which potential incoming players were schooled on during the run-up to last week's draft. The Knicks wound up taking 18-year-old French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who spoke highly of the triangle and Jackson's belief in the scheme.

"I think I can definitely fit with this system," Ntilikina said on draft night.

Not even a week later, the triangle is probably gone, and the Knicks will start anew.

Rose, the 2011 NBA MVP, will be a free agent. Noah - whom Jackson gave a puzzling four-year, $72 million contract last summer - will start the season by finishing out a 20-game suspension for violating the league's anti-drug policy. He averaged 5.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in his first season in New York, shooting just 44 percent from the foul line.
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AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.

© 2017 by The Associated Press 
 

Report: Clippers agree to trade Chris Paul to Rockets

Report: Clippers agree to trade Chris Paul to Rockets

Is one backcourt big enough for Chris Paul and James Harden?

We're about to find out as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports' The Vertical reports that the Los Angeles Clippers have agreed to trade Paul, an All-Star point guard, to the Houston Rockets, where he'll join Harden, the NBA MVP runner-up this past season. 

More from Woj's report: 

Paul, 32, agreed to opt into the final year of his $24.2 million contract, clearing the way for the Clippers to execute a trade with the Rockets and bring back assets for Paul, league sources said.

The Rockets will send the Clippers a package that includes guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forward Sam Dekker and a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3), league sources told The Vertical. There are smaller parts to the deal, including non-guaranteed contracts, league sources said.

Paul had until Wednesday to opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. 

Paul had informed the Clippers he planned to sign with the Rockets as a free agent but asked them to work out a trade, according to Woj. Paul will become a free agent in 2018, but the Rockets will have his "Larry Bird" rights and can re-sign him to a $205 million max deal then.

NBA free agency begins Saturday.