OFFSEASON

Players might not wait to decertify

585304.jpg

Players might not wait to decertify

There's a growing number of NBA players who may not wait until next week's meeting between the NBA Players Associations player representatives and the NBAPA executive committee, to officially start the decertification process.

With word that the union will likely turn down the NBA's most recent offer, those who have been pushing for the union to decertify - Boston's Paul Pierce has been one of the leaders of that movement - have stepped up their efforts in the last 48 hours, sources say.

In fact, there is a very strong possibility they will officially kick off the decertification process as early as Monday, which according to the New York Post, is when the player representatives and NBAPA executives will meet.

"We're just trying to make sure we have everything in order for when the time comes to get this rolling," one source said on Saturday.

Earlier this week, NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter said he was told that individuals within the union who were looking into decertification were fairly close to having enough signatures to set up an election to decertify the union.

"We know there are close to 200 players who are apparently in the process of signing these de-cert decertification cards," Billy Hunter told NBA-TV on Tuesday. "In my discussions with Paul Pierce, he had indicated that they already had in excess of 100, 130 guys so he represented as signed cards. I don't know if that's true or not."

Hunter has maintained throughout the decertification talk that he has not been pushing for it, and added that there has been very little talk about it.

"This is something that players are doing of their own volition, probably at the insistence of their agents," Hunter said.

Indeed, a number of prominent agents have been calling for the union to decertify for weeks.

That number, along with the number of players, has grown considerably since the last round of talks broke off Thursday.

While the union acknowledged that the NBA's "revised" proposal is an improvement of sorts on the previous one, they didn't make nearly as many concessions or compromises with the new offer to make it one that the union's executive committee felt was good enough to bring to their membership to vote on.

"I can't characterize whether they showed flexibility in certain system issues," said Derek Fisher, president of the NBAPA. "We'd have a deal done if the right flexibility was being shown. The fact that we don't have a deal lets you know that there's still a lot of work to be done on the system."

That's why the player representatives from all 30 teams will be in New York on Monday to discuss this most recent offer, and decide if it warrants presenting to their membership to be voted upon.

A number of player representatives have already indicated that the current offer on the table, is not one that they would be willing to accept.

But the players understand that right now, it's not like they have a lot of options to choose from. Which is why decertification is very much something they are giving serious thought to pursuing more vigorously.

The decertification process doesn't officially begin until at least 30 percent of the players sign a petition indicating they no longer want the NBAPA to represent them. From there, the petition is filed with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB is an independent agency of the federal government, designed to conduct elections on labor union representation. The NLRB is also presiding over the unfair labor practice charges filed by both the NBA and the NBAPA against one another.

After the NLRB verifies the authenticity of the petitions, an election can take place.

However, there's a 45-60 day window after the petitions are verified, before an election can be conducted. Within that period of time, the union can still negotiate with the owners.

But there's a chance that even with the necessary signatures, the union might not be allowed to be broken up.

Because the NLRB hasn't ruled on the unfair labor practice charges, there's a good chance they will be reluctant to allow the union to dissolve until that legal matter is sorted out.

The union can also file what is known as a "disclaimer of interest," which could essentially speed up the decertification process for the union.

Hunter would need to send a letter to NBA commissioner David Stern indicating that the NBAPA no longer exists as the representative for the players in regards to bargaining for a new deal.

For players, the advantage to this course of action would be that they wouldn't have to wait the 45-60 days for the NLRB to authorize an election to dissolve the union. Players could immediately pursue anti-trust lawsuits against the NBA.

Regardless of which approach the players decide to pursue, they need to do something quickly if they are to have any hope of salvaging what's left of the 2011-12 season.

After announcing the "revised" offer to the union on Thursday, Stern also highlighted that an agreed-upon deal soon would result in a 72-game season beginning on Dec. 15. Deputy commissioner Adam Silver said the new NBA schedule, with a Dec. 15 start date, has already been worked out, adding that the season would be extended by one week, along with the playoffs.

But if the union turns this offer down, Stern once again said the owners would continue to negotiate but would do so from a position that the union wouldn't like. The NHL-style flex cap will be back on the table, as well as a 53-47 split of the basketball-related income - in favor of the owners - as well as salary rollbacks, will be back in play.

Stern made a similar promise recently, only to return to the bargaining table with the union and ultimately adjust their last offer to what it is currently.

But looking at the calendar, it's hard to imagine the NBA will change its stance now.

Especially when you consider the starting point the league wants, is a lot closer to the NHL-model that will be their negotiating starting point, if their current offer is rejected.

"We have made our revised proposal, and we're not planning to make another one," Stern said. "There's really nothing left to negotiate about."

OFFSEASON

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

celtics-stevens-cloesup.jpg

Boston Celtics announce 2016 preseason schedule

New England fans will get their first glimpse at the 2016-2017 Boston Celtics when they kick off their preseason schedule on October 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers at UMass-Amherst’s Mullins Center.

That game will feature two of the top three picks in last month’s draft as Ben Simmons, the top overall pick, will face Jaylen Brown, who was drafted by the Celtics with the third overall pick.

Boston’s 7-game schedule features no back-to-back games, but they do face the Charlotte Hornets in their second and third preseason games on Oct. 6 (in Greensboro, N.C.) and Oct. 8 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Here’s a look at Boston’s full preseason schedule:

DATE               OPPONENT                  LOCATION                                                        TIME
Oct. 4               Philadelphia 76ers         UMass-Amherst Mullins Center (Amherst, MA)     7:00 p.m. ET
Oct. 6               Charlotte Hornets          Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, NC)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 8               Charlotte Hornets          Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)                  3:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 13             Brooklyn Nets               Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)                          7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 15             New York Knicks           Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)             7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 17             Brooklyn Nets               TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET
Oct. 19             New York Knicks           TD Garden (Boston, MA)                                   7:30 p.m. ET

OFFSEASON

Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

ap_05062904075.jpg

Rivers dismisses Griffin-to-Boston rumors, wants Pierce to retire with Celtics

Doc Rivers appeared on The Vertical Podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski and dismissed the Blake Griffin trade rumors, claiming that “bloggers” who “have nothing to do with the sport” were the cause of the Blake-to-Boston gossip.

“We are hoping that Blake ends his career playing for the Clippers,” Rivers told Woj. “No team is calling because teams know we don’t have any interest. It just tells you the different times. Things have changed. Everyone believes that they’re media now. There are so many good, credible guys, but then there’s some of the guys who are bloggers and have nothing to do with the sport.”

Rivers went on to explain that his youngest son, Spencer, even took the time out to trace the source of this "groundless" rumor.

“Danny [Ainge] and I have talked twice this summer. One was about the British Open, and the other was about another golf tournament. That’s about it,” Rivers explained. “But my son traced [where this rumor started] it to I think a Boston radio talk show and the guy didn’t say that we had been talking, but that Blake would be one of the guys the Celtics should go after. That started the next step, and then the next thing you know, it blew it up.”

Glenn Rivers sounds more like a politician than a doctor. Everyone knows politicians lie.

So Doc says he’s spoken to Danny only twice this summer -- both times about golf and “that’s about it.” But it's good to know they did apparently find the time to lay the groundwork for Paul Pierce to retire with the Celtics, if he does choose to call it a career.

“If Paul does decide to retire, we’re gonna make sure that Boston picks him up for one day and he retires a Celtic because that’s what he should retire as,” Rivers said. “We have all that in place. We just don’t know what he’s gonna do.”

Allowing Pierce to retire as a Celtic would be the right thing to do, for sure. He spent 15 seasons with the Celtics, won a title, and someday No. 34 will be hanging in the rafters. Ainge has also made it clear before that he'd love for Pierce to take on some type of front office role with the team after he retires from his playing career.

But Blake is the guy Celtics fans want now, so it’s understandable Doc would dispel the rumors regarding his four-time All-Star.

It doesn’t mean those conversations didn’t take place because trade talks happen every single day in the NBA. But considering Doc spent the opening minutes of the podcast discussing Blake, it certainly makes it seem like a deal is dead. At least for now.

OFFSEASON

A closer look at the five signings by the Boston Celtics

gerald_green_jaylen_brown_boston_celtics.png

A closer look at the five signings by the Boston Celtics

BOSTON – It’s official.

The Boston Celtics announced the signings of what should be the last moves made of significance between now and training camp.

All five players bring different strengths to the table, as well as areas of concern.

But more than anything else, they provide depth for a team that has made depth a calling card of sorts.

Here we’ll break down each of the newest Celtics, what they bring to the table this season, as well as do a little crystal-ball watching as to what their role should be for this upcoming season.

Gerald Green

Career stats: A nine-year veteran, Green has appeared in 497 games while averaging 10.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists while shooting 36.1 percent on 3s.

Last season (in Miami): Green averaged 8.9 points in 22.4 minutes per game while shooting 39.2 percent from the field and 32.3 percent on 3s.

The former Celtics draft pick returns to where his NBA dream began, albeit in a much different role. When he arrived as the 18th pick in the 2005 draft, Green was an athletic, above-the-rim freak of nature. Not too soon after that, he won the league’s Slam Dunk competition. From there, Green’s game showed little growth, which led to a two-plus seasons (2009-2012) in which he played overseas and in the D-League. The time away didn’t do much for him financially, but it did result in his game becoming more complete. His time in the NBA over the past five seasons has shown him to be more than just a human highlight waiting to happen. The 6-7 forward has become a more consistent 3-point shooter as he now boosts a career average of 36.1 percent. And he returns in a more humble state than when he arrived. His role is yet to be defined, but the need to add him became a necessity with James Young still not displaying the kind of growth that makes Boston feel comfortable with putting him on the floor to play meaningful minutes. Green won’t play huge minutes, but he’s the kind of X-factor that could help Boston win four or five games this season. And that could be the difference between a tough first-round playoff matchup that begins on the road, or a postseason that starts off at the TD Garden.

TYLER ZELLER

Career stats: Zeller has appeared in 289 games, averaging 7.6 points, 4.7 rebounds while shooting 50.1 percent from the field.

Last season (in Boston): Saw his role diminish significantly from the previous season, averaging 6.1 points and a career-low 3.0 rebounds per game in 11.8 minutes – also a career-low mark.

Throughout the year, Zeller’s patience was rewarded with an unexpected rush of minutes and more often than not, he came through. Having a player who does more than just buy into the concept of always staying ready but proves it time and time again, has tremendous value on this team. The 26-year-old center has shown flashes of being a reliable rotation player for Boston. Even with the changes, Zeller remains arguably their best finisher at the basket among the team’s centers. He will come into camp and just as it has been in the past, will compete for playing time. But most likely he’ll find himself in a similar situation where his minutes will be infrequent. But having said that, Zeller knows his chance to play will come and the Celtics know there will be games where Zeller’s activity, rebounding and scoring at the basket will be needed. And when that time comes, they know he’ll be ready.

Jaylen Brown

Career stats (at Cal): In his lone season at Cal, Brown averaged 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 43.1 percent from the field and 27.4 percent on 3s.

Taken by Boston with the third overall pick in last month’s NBA draft, expectations for a player selected so high are usually well, really high. Brown won’t have the pressure that most high lottery (top-14) picks have when they come into the NBA. As it was laid out to CSNNE.com by Brown’s mental skills coach Graham Betchart, Brown’s focus is on controlling what he can control and not getting overly caught up in results. You never want to put too much stock in what happens during summer league, but Brown showed certain strengths during summer league that typically translate well against better competition which he will face during the regular season. He averaged 10.2 free throw attempts per game, which is impressive, summer league or no summer league. He won’t live at the line nearly as much this season, but the aggressive nature of his play was a positive. And like signing Green, Brown also provides a high level of athleticism that has been in short supply on this team in recent years. As for his role this season, look for Brown to be used at both small forward and power forward for Boston as Jae Crowder’s backup.

Demetrius Jackson

Career stats (at Notre Dame): 11.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on 3s.

Last season (at Notre Dame): 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.7 assists while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 33.1 percent on 3s.

After talking with scouts shortly after last month’s draft, many were stunned that Jackson fell as far as he did (No. 45 overall, 15th pick in second round) on draft night. There’s no consensus as to why that happened, either. Winding up in Boston while may not necessarily be the best fit for Jackson in terms of getting on the court immediately, but it should do wonders for his growth and longevity in the NBA. He will see first-hand the work ethic of Avery Bradley, a first-team all-NBA defender as well as Bradley’s backcourt mate, All-Star Isaiah Thomas. The growth in Terry Rozier’s game provides Jackson with tangible proof of what can happen by watching and absorbing the teachings of more seasoned players at your position. But don’t think for a minute that he’s just going to stand idly by, folks. Jackson is a good player who will not back down from any of his more accomplished backcourt mates. He will eventually develop into a decent scorer in this league who has the kind of lateral quickness and instincts (he averaged better than one steal per game in three seasons at Notre Dame) that should serve him well in the NBA. But barring a Celtics trade, Boston’s backcourt depth will likely result in him spending most of his rookie season with the team’s Development league affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Ben Bentil

Career stats (at Providence College): 13.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game.

Last season (at Providence College): 21.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.

Another player who was projected to go higher than he did (51st overall, No. 21 pick in the second round) on draft night, Bentil is an intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-8 forward led the Big East in scoring last season, doing so with Kris Dunn – arguably the nation’s top point guard and the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft – getting him the ball a lot. Bentil has the kind of build and inside-outside game that more and more teams are looking to add to their roster. He showed flashes of that during summer league, but not enough to where you feel he can come in and contribute immediately. Barring trades or injuries to the frontcourt, Bentil will spend a large chunk of this season with the Red Claws.

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN