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

Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

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Blakely: No. 1 pick isn’t necessarily the road to title contention

BOSTON – Celtics fans are slowly but surely getting over the disappointment of the team not landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft lottery earlier this month.
 
As cool as that would have been, the conference finals serve as a reminder that while having the top pick can be a good thing, most teams have to take a different route when it comes to getting on track towards and NBA title.
 
Of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers are the only one that has truly been elevated to their current lofty status courtesy of landing the number one overall pick (first with LeBron James back in 2003 and more recently with Kyrie Irving in 2011).
 
That means the rest of the remaining field built their way up into an NBA power relying on a combination of making wise draft picks and shrewd additions via free agency and trades.
 
So much of that has to do with leverage, something the Celtics have plenty of on all three fronts.
 
They have the potential to free up enough salary cap space to sign a pair of max players, a first for this franchise. Boston also has eight draft picks in next month’s draft (three in the first round, five in the second), the most of any team leading up to the draft since it went to a two-round system in 1989.
 
Those picks plus a roster full of really good but not great talent, gives them the kind of ammunition to pull the trigger on a trade that could add that much-needed All-Star caliber talent.
 
But it’s like a high school chemistry experiment as the Celtics try to figure out the right combinations to avoid having it all blow up in their face.
 
For now, the emphasis has to be on the June 23 draft.
 
A big part of that planning process involves figuring out what to do with the No. 3 pick, the highest selection the Celtics have had since they took Jeff Green (and traded him that night) with the fifth overall selection in 2007.
 
If the Celtics keep the pick, it will certainly bring about some controversy regardless of who they select.
 
By taking Dragan Bender of Croatia, the Celtics will be selecting the youngest player in the draft (he turns 19 in November) who may take years to develop into a legitimate contributor.
 
Selecting Providence College’s Kris Dunn, arguably the best perimeter defender in this draft, seems a bit redundant considering all the guards Boston has under contract whose strengths are essentially the same as Dunn’s.
 
Buddy Hield of Oklahoma is another option. He’s the best shooter in this draft, but doesn’t provide much other than scoring. Is that really worthy of a No. 3 overall pick?
 
Regardless of who the Celtics take with the No. 3 pick (and that’s assuming they keep it and not trade it away which is indeed an option), one thing we know for sure.
 
History tells us that if the Celtics keep the pick, he will wind up being a pretty good player.
 
In the past 20 years, the No. 1 overall pick has produced 12 All-Stars.
 
Among top six picks in that same span of time, the No. 3 selection has generated the second-highest number of All-Stars (8), while the No. 2, 4, 5 and 6 picks each had five All-Stars.
 
That’s important to note because the need to have multiple All-Stars is paramount to a team’s chances at making a deep playoff run.
 
Take a look at the four remaining teams.
 
There’s the defending champion Golden State Warriors, whose roster includes a quartet of current (Stephen Curry; Klay Thompson and Draymond Green) and former All-Stars (Andre Iguodala).
 
Cleveland’s roster includes a similar breakdown of recent (LeBron James; Kyrie Irving; Kevin Love) and not-so-recent (Mo Williams) All-Stars.
 
And then there’s Oklahoma City (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook) and Toronto (Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan) who each have a pair of All-Stars.
 
For Boston, the team's lone All-Star is Isaiah Thomas, who knows all too well that he can’t carry this team to a deep, meaningful playoff run without getting some All-Star caliber help.

The top two picks in this year’s draft – Duke’s Brandon Ingram and LSU’s Ben Simmons – are head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class, but the Celtics are in a good spot if you’re talking about adding a key piece to a potential title contender. 

Report: Ainge in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender

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Report: Ainge in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his son, Austin Ainge, the team’s director of player personnel, will be in Israel this weekend scouting Dragan Bender, the potential No. 3 pick in the draft, the Boston Herald reported. 

Bender, a 7-foot-1, 18-year-old from Croatia, won’t be playing in games this weekend but will be practicing for Maccabi Tel Aviv.  Bender is a bench player for Maccabi, averaging 4.3 points and 2.6 rebounds. Still, his size and potential to develop  have him projected to go as high as No. 3.

Here’s CSN’s scouting report of Bender.

Danny Ainge was in Croatia earlier this week scouting 6-11 Ante Zizic. 

 

Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

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Report: 76ers look to deal Okafor or Noel in draft trade

There’s a high likelihood the Philadelphia 76ers will trade Jahlil Okafor or Nerlens Noel in connection with the June 23 draft, in which the Sixers hold the No. 1 pick, ESPN’s Chad Ford reported.

The Celtics, who have the No. 3 pick, have been rumored to be willing to part with it in a deal that includes Okafor.

Ford said in an interview with Philadelphia-area radio station ESPN 97.3:

You will not see the Nerlens Noel-Jahlil Okafor pairing at the start of next season. I think that they'll gauge the interest of both players. I think that there might be a slight preference for Noel, to keep him around with the Sixers, and I think you might be right, there might be a slight, better value for Okafor out on the market, but I think everyone agrees that that combination of those two players doesn't necessarily work.

The Sixers are expected to choose LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram with the top pick.  Ford and Marc Stein also reported Philly’s willingness to deal Okafor or Noel in this ESPN article. 

As a deal with the Celtics for the No. 3 pick, Ford told 97.3:

Absolutely…If I was Philadelphia, it would be done tomorrow. I don't know if Boston would do it, but for Philadelphia, 100 percent. That would allow them to actually I think bring in another guard, an elite guard, whether that's Kris Dunn or Jamal Murray, and suddenly now you've got a very, very bright future. I think that's an easy call for the Sixers if Boston would do it.