NBA players ponder uncertain future

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NBA players ponder uncertain future

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

LAS VEGAS Leaders from within the NBA players union are expected in town on Thursday to bring its membership up to speed on what's next in the seemingly ongoing labor battle with NBA owners.

Following Tuesday's meeting, all indications are that the NBA season will not start on time.

Billy Hunter, the executive director of the players union, went a step further and indicated that players should plan on missing half of the season before a new Collective Bargaining Agreement can be reached.

With the overseas basketball market already drying up, opportunities to make decent money playing basketball won't be plentiful.

And while NBA players rake in millions, there's no question that there are some who live check-to-check.

With no timetable for when those checks will start coming in again, you can expect a lot of 'what-do-we-do-now?' chatter when the players gather among themselves.

"Guys will look at other options," Charlotte Bobcats guardforward Corey Maggette told Comcast SportsNet when asked about what he anticipates will happen in the players union meeting this week. Right now, we're unemployed. When you're unemployed, you have to find another gig. And hopefully you can make end's meet on the things you need to do."

For players like Maggette, money isn't nearly as big a factor as it is for younger, less-established NBA players.

To put Maggette's finances in perspective, he signed six-year, 42 million contract in 2003 and later signed a five-year, 48 million contract in 2008.

Maggette said he will consider playing overseas, depending on how long the lockout lasts.

"You have to be open to every option," he said. I think it's important. Some guys can hold out, financially wait. For me, if it's an opportunity to play, it's a good opportunity to stay in shape."

Still, there's no way to ignore the impact of not having an NBA season will have on younger players like Boston's Avery Bradley.

Heading into this third season, Bradley is more concerned with being somewhere - anywhere - working on his game.

"If going overseas is going to be good for me, that's what I'm going to do," Bradley told Comcast SportsNet New England. "If I can improve my game overseas, that's what I'm going to do."

Players seem to understand that with the late start to the season all but a given now, the league's fan base will surely shrink some. That's why it's so important for players to do what they can to be ready to play whenever the season starts.

In 1998, the first NBA lockout ever, Rashard Lewis was just a rookie. He recalls a number of players, not exactly coming into camp ready to play despite the late start.

"Some guys came in overweight," Lewis said. "A lot of injuries happened. If you start late, they're going to cram games in. Sometimes we played four games in one week. Back-to-back, day off, back-to-back."

Because the nature of talks are so fluid, there's no telling when a deal might be struck.

"When they say it's over, it's almost like they say you have to report that day or the next day and hit the ground running," Lewis said. "Playing here in Vegas in the Impact league is good for all NBA players, to get yourself in shape, work on your game and just wait to see what happens on the other side of the fence."

Added Maggette, "Whenever the league starts, wewant to be ready. We want our fans to know we appreciate them, and we're ready to come back and play basketball."

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

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

Thomas won’t play Friday night vs. Raptors

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. 
 
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. 
 
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
 
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season. 
 
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday. 
 
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
 
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
 
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
 
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious. 
 
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio. 
 
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
 
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart. 
 
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.