NBA players union not talking decertification yet

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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

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

Brown taking opportunities with Celtics as they come

BOSTON -- Compared to most high draft picks, Jaylen Brown doesn’t log a ton of minutes for the Boston Celtics.
 
Playing on an experienced team with legit hopes of making a deep playoff run, rookies seeing limited minutes is a given.
 
Knowing playing time will come in a limited supply, Brown understands all too well the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity he gets on the floor.
 
He did just that on Saturday in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia, and he hopes to do more of the same on Monday when the Celtics take on the Houston Rockets.
 
When you look at Brown’s stat line, nothing about it looks impressive. He played 15 minutes, scored two points with one rebound and one blocked shot.
 
But beyond the stats was the fact that he was on the floor for seven minutes in the fourth quarter in a close back-and-forth game on the road. Rookies on the floor in crunch time is not the norm in the NBA.
 
“It means a lot,” Brown told reporters after Saturday’s win. “I try to be as best I can be for my team; try to put my best foot forward every night out.”
 
And he did just that on Saturday.
 
In the fourth quarter with the Celtics leading 87-83, Brown blocked a Gerald Henderson shot that wound up in the hands of Jae Crowder. Moments later, Jonas Jerebko hit a 3-pointer that gave the Celtics their largest lead of the game, 90-83.
 
And just two minutes prior to the blocked shot, he was out in transition following an Isaiah Thomas steal and threw down a dunk that pushed Boston’s lead to 86-83 with 7:11 to play.
 
Brown acknowledged making the most of those opportunities bodes well for him and the franchise.
 
“It’s great for our team in general; not just for me,” Brown said. “Those plays helped us to pull the game out in the end. So I’m glad we got the win. I think we should have played a little better than we did.”
 
The continued pursuit of self-improvement is a hallmark of what Brown’s focus and desire are at this stage of his pro career. He has talked often about not wanting to be just one of the best in this draft class but also one of the best in the NBA overall.
 
But he’s also learned that to get there takes time and experience developing both physically and mentally. Part of that mental growth entails having the right approach to games.
 
“Usually you try to tell yourself not to mess up,” Brown said. “Now that I’m getting more comfortable, it’s just play basketball, bring energy, things like that; come out and do what you’re supposed to do. A lot of times you try to tell yourself to not mess up and it’s counteractive; just come out and play basketball and have fun.”
 
And by doing so the minutes will come.
 
“You can’t control that. I just have to control what I can control,” Brown said. “I trust coach (Brad Stevens); I trust my coaching staff. I have to come out and in the minutes I get, play my hand as best I can and take advantage of what I do get and impact this team as much as possible.”
 
This season, Brown is averaging 4.8 points, 2.0 rebounds while shooting 41.9 percent from the field.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

MORE ON CELTICS-SIXERS

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”