A full season? NHL fans should not count on it

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A full season? NHL fans should not count on it

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it looks as if a full-82 game schedule "is not going to be a reality," as the lockout nears its seventh week.Speaking at a news conference Wednesday announcing the New York Islanders' move from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2015, Bettman seemed resigned to looking at a shortened season with the NHL and the players' association still at odds after months of negotiations.Bettman stated, in making the NHL's most recent offer, that a deal needed to be in place by Thursday for the season to begin Nov. 2 and allow for each team to play a full 82-game slate. With no negotiations scheduled, reaching a deal in one day appears very unlikely."The fact of the matter is there are just sometimes that you need to take time off because it's clear that you can't do anything to move the process forward," Bettman said. "We're at one of those points right now because we gave our very best offer. That offer, for better or for worse, was contingent on playing an 82-game season. So I think things actually in some respects may get more difficult."The players' association reached out to the NHL on Tuesday night in an attempt to set up a face-to-face bargaining session Wednesday, but the league declined. The NHL's position is if the union isn't willing to talk about the league's offer that is on the table and isn't prepared to make a new proposal of its own riffing off that offer, there is no reason to talk."There seems to be no interest in making any sort of deal along the lines of what we have expressed a desire and a need for," Bettman said. "Sometimes in collective bargaining you have to take a deep breath before you can move forward."The union wants anything and everything open for discussion. Bettman wouldn't agree to those terms, so the hockey season remains in peril."The players made multiple core-economic proposals on Thursday that were a significant move in the owners direction," union executive director Donald Fehr said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Wednesday night. "We are and continue to be ready to meet to discuss how to resolve our remaining differences, with no preconditions. For whatever reason, the owners are not. At the same time they are refusing to meet, they are winding the clock down to yet another artificial deadline they created."A partial season is still a possibility, and the NHL hasn't called off any marquee events such as the outdoor Winter Classic on New Year's Day or the All-Star game.But at some point a deal will have to be made to get the players back on the ice."Sure, you can play an abbreviated season. I would rather play a full season, and I am sure our fans would rather we play a full season," Bettman said. "That's why we made the offer we did. That was our fourth offer against really one offer from the union in all the time that we've been negotiating from the summer. We very much want to play and we're very disappointed that we're not."Following a conference call held by the union's executive board on Tuesday night, the players' association informed the NHL it was willing to meet on Wednesday "or any other date, without preconditions, to try to reach an agreement," the union said in a statement.The NHL's response wasn't what the players' association had hoped to hear."We said to them that we are prepared to meet if you want to discuss our offer or you want to make a new offer," Bettman said. "They have no inclination in doing either, and so there really was no point in meeting at this point."The sides haven't met since the league turned down three counterproposals from the union last Thursday, two days after the NHL's offer that included a 50-50 split of hockey-related revenue."The league is apparently unwilling to meet," NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr said in a statement Tuesday. "That is unfortunate, as it is hard to make progress without talking."There is a major divide between the sides over how to deal with existing player contracts. The union wants to ensure that those are all paid in full without affecting future player contracts.Bettman refused to say whether the 50-50 split in the NHL's most recent offer would come off the table if a full season isn't played."I'm not going to negotiate publicly," he said.This is the third lockout of Bettman's tenure. The stoppage began Sept. 16.

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.