Union rejects deal as owners' deadline looms


Union rejects deal as owners' deadline looms

The NBA and the NBA Players Association continued their high-stakes game of chicken Tuesday, with the NBAPA rejecting the NBA's take-it-or-it'll-get-worse ultimatum, which came with a Wednesday deadline of 5 p.m.

"The current offer on the table is one that we can not accept," said Derek Fisher, president of the NBAPA. "We are willing to continue discussions on a compromise."

Added Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBAPA: "Players are still of the mindset they will not accept a bad deal. That's the message we have to send to the other side."

The union made it clear it is very much in the mood to continue to negotiate and work towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But it's unclear if NBA commissioner David Stern will stick to the take-it-or-it'll-get-worse mantra he adopted following the most recent bargaining session.

Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBAPA, said he'll place a call to Stern Tuesday night night to try and have another bargaining session prior to Wednesday's deadline.

"I anticipate we'll have a meeting before 5 p.m. (Wednesday)," Hunter said.

In an interview with NBA-TV, Stern said he would take a phone call from Hunter. But he did not say whether or not he would meet with Hunter, adding that he would have to first talk with the NBA's Labor Relations Committee.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Stern outlined several key components of the deal currently on the table, such as a 50-50 split of the basketball-related income, a "mini" mid-level exception, as well as mechanisms geared toward steering teams away from surpassing the luxury tax threshold so frequently.

"If we're unable to make a deal on those terms," Stern said at the time, "By the close of business on Wednesday, we will be making a new proposal . . . which is multifaceted, but for purposes of this press conference, suffice to say, it will be a 47 percent proposal and a flex cap and lots of other issues that you have become familiar with in the course of these negotiations. We hope that this juxtaposition will cause the union to access its position and accept the deal."

The union has made a number of concessions on the economics of a new CBA, and is looking for concessions on the league's part on system-related issues.

"There are certain things in the system we have to have," Fisher said.

Some of the system issues include:

Length of mid-level exception contracts (NBA wants the length to be four years, and then three years the following year; the union wants it to be four years, every year).

Tax-paying teams being able to use the full mid-level exception (the NBA wants them to have a "mini" mid-level which can be used once every two years; union is opposed to this).

Sign-and-trades for tax-paying teams. (The NBA wants to eliminate it; the union wants to keep it.)

Escrow funds withheld from players paychecks (players want a maximum of 10 percent withheld, while the owners are looking for a significantly larger chunk to be withheld).

So when Hunter says that the differences between the two sides involve more than just a few "tweaks," he's not kidding.

Hunter has been given the go-ahead to continue negotiating with the NBA on economic issues, which essentially means the union is now willing to accept a 50-50 split of the BRI, provided certain system issues are addressed.

In an interview with NBA-TV following Hunter and Fisher's press conference on Tuesday, Stern did not sound as though there was much, if anything, left to negotiate.

When asked about whether there was any wiggle room remaining to negotiate on regarding system issues, Stern responded, "As of Saturday, or Sunday morning as of 3 in the morning, there was nothing left."

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

Jaylen Brown may be the future of Celtics, but he's focused on now

BOSTON – This is not how this is supposed to work.

When the regular season ends for high draft picks, there’s usually a nice, warm island awaiting their arrival in late-April when the regular season ends.

But this was no typical rookie season for Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

And as we have seen, Brown isn’t your typical rookie.

Drafted with the third overall pick in last June’s NBA draft, the 6-foot-7 Brown found himself in the rotation on a Celtics team that advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before having their season end at the hands of the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

The path towards individual and team success is littered with struggles and potholes of strife along with the pain of disappointment cluttering up things as well.

From within that rubble lies promise; the kind that has Celtics Nation justifiably excited about the future of Brown with the Celtics.

But Brown isn’t about the future, folks.

“I’m excited about the now,” he said. “I’m excited about this summer. I try not to look too far ahead. Everybody talks about the future and how much potential we have; I’m worried about the now. I want to be part of the now. That’s all I’m focused on.”

That kind of focus is among the many reasons that despite being a rookie, his teammates quickly sensed that the now-20-year-old had his sights set on not just talking about cracking the rotation but actually putting in the work that would leave head coach Brad Stevens no choice but to play him.

“He’s going to be really good,” said Boston’s Gerald Green. “If he keeps his same mentality; he’s humble. And continue to work on his game and continue to learn.

Green added, “he couldn’t be in a better place, than being here. With his talent and his work ethic, he’s going to be great.”

But like most rookies, Brown’s play was anything but a steady on-the-rise movement.

His first NBA start came on the road at Cleveland on Nov. 3.

Boston lost the game, but Brown won over many with his career-high 19 points while spending a good deal of the night guarding LeBron James.

In his next four games, Brown scored a total of just 17 points.

And in Boston’s first-round series with Chicago, Brown's role shrunk in the last four games – all Celtics wins. In those games, he played a total of just under 10 minutes.

So what did he do?

He got back in the gym, continued to work on his game and do a better job at making the most of the minutes he received.

More than anything else, Brown attributes his improved play as the season progressed to simply figuring out the NBA landscape as far as what he could do and what he needed to work on, to get better.

Which is why there are many who believe that Brown will be a much better player than the one we saw this season.

That said, he still had decent numbers – 6.6 points and 2.8 rebounds while shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3-point range.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, coming into the NBA,” Brown said. “Throughout the year, I don’t think people expected me to contribute as much as I did. Now just getting to the Eastern  Conference finals and losing, it builds a hunger you know;  I have a bad taste in my mouth. Gotta put in work during the offseason and come back stronger.”

Like Brown, Al Horford came into the NBA as a high draft pick who wound up in the playoffs that rookie season.

Horford can totally relate to Brown’s comments about not knowing what he was getting into.

“The first year you’re really feeling everything out,” Horford said. “Jaylen has an understanding now of what the league is about. It’s a lot for a rookie to handle. Now he has a better idea (so) he can just focus on getting better, working on his game and I expect him to be much better his second year.”

Brown will have the knowledge gained from being part of a team that came within three wins of getting to the NBA Finals.

To come that close is tough to accept, but Brown sees it all as part of a bigger plan for him and his role with the Celtics moving forward.

“I can use it as fuel. I’ve been learning all year,” Brown said. “I’ve had ups, I’ve had downs, I’ve had opportunities, I’ve had mistakes. So I’ve been learning and growing and improving all year and I’m going to continue to grow and improve and prove people wrong, prove doubters wrong.”

And that process Brown speaks of has certainly been aided by being in a successful situation like Boston compared to some other lottery picks who saw lots of playing time but showed minimal growth playing lots of minutes.

“Being on a winning team and developing good habits, learning how to win, play the game the right way … learning that at a young age is really going to help me,” Brown said. “A lot of young guys, they don’t learn that early. They have to figure it out three, four, five years in. I’m happy I learned it now.”

And while the learning will continue on for Brown during this offseason, it won’t be nearly as tough now than it was when he came into the league.

“I know exactly what I’m preparing for,” Brown said. “I expect a really different result.”

Brown added, “I want to be ready for whatever is thrown at me; no excuses whatsoever.”

Now that’s how this is supposed to work!