Ownership likely not budging on system issues

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Ownership likely not budging on system issues

NEW YORK It's still early in today's episode of, "As The NBA Stands Still," with both the NBA and the NBA Players Association having been together for around an hour or so.

But the more I talk with various league sources, the more it sounds as though this ownership group isn't willing to budge on the system issues that the union says it has to have in order to get a deal done.

"The owners have really dug their heels in on this," said one source on Thursday morning. "Hard to say right now what it'll take to get a deal done."

The union wants a 51 percent cut of the basketball-related income, but has said they are willing to negotiate that amount provided the owners show some flexibility on a series of system issues such as sign-and-trades, the mid-level exception for tax-paying teams and trade exceptions.

I asked Derek Fisher following the last bargaining session if there was anything he heard from the owners side that gave him confidence that they would be more flexible on the system issues in today's meeting.

"I can't characterize whether they showed flexibility in certain system issues," Fisher said. "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."

While both the NBA and NBAPA indicated little progress was made in their last bargaining session, multiple league sources said more progress was made than either side is willing to reveal as of now for fear that it will created heightened expectations.

Regardless, both sides are still at the bargaining table in hopes of getting a deal done soon.

And maybe, just maybe, that'll finally get "As the NBA Stands Still" axed.

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

Celtics miss an opportunity in first half with LeBron in foul trouble

CLEVELAND – There are 240 minutes of play in an NBA game, but Boston’s 112-99 Game 4 loss to Cleveland came down to seven (six minutes and 46 seconds to be precise).

That would be the amount of time left in the second quarter that LeBron James spent on the bench with four personal fouls (a first for him in the first half of an NBA playoff game ever) and Boston ahead by 10 points.

Boston could not have asked for a better scenario than that, especially considering how well they had played up to that point in the game and again, knowing that James wasn’t about to set foot back on the court until the third quarter.

But here’s the problem.

Boston’s 10-point lead when James left with four fouls.

Halftime rolled around and Boston’s lead was still at just 10 points.

Celtics players agreed that not finding a way to increase their lead with James out was among the more pivotal stretches of play in Game 4.

“They did a really good job of not letting it (the 10-point lead) get out of control while he was on the bench,” Boston’s Marcus Smart told CSNNE.com. “Every time we scored, they came back and scored.  They answered back with everything we answered.”

While many will point to that stretch as a time when the Celtics failed to make the necessary adjustments to increase their chances of winning, it wasn’t as if the Cavs are a one-man team.

“They still have two All-Stars out on the court,” said Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens, referring to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. “With the best player in the world they go to unreal, but they’re still a pretty darned good team when those guys are out there.”

Irving had a playoff career-high 42 points which included him scoring 12 of Cleveland’s 14 points in the final 6:46 of the second with James on the bench.

“He’s one of the best point guards in the NBA, and you know, you can tell he puts in a lot of work in his game, a lot of respect from myself, my teammates,” said Avery Bradley. “We have to do a better job at defending him as a unit, trying to make everything hard on him. He definitely got a great rhythm going tonight, and I felt like we had a chance to make it harder on him.”

James still finished with a strong stat line for the night – 34 points, six assists, five rebounds and a blocked shot.

As good as he was on the court, the Celtics have to be kicking themselves for not doing more with the time James on the bench in the second quarter which in hindsight, was among the bigger factors in them now returning home facing elimination as opposed to being tied at two games apiece in this series.

“What are you going to do?” said Cleveland’s Kevin Love. “You have to continue to fight through it. At halftime, we were down 10. We made some adjustments on the defensive end and we just fought; we needed to. They got everything out of us tonight in that second half, but we played more inspired basketball as well.”