Chaos within NBA players union

The executive director of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Billy Hunter. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

Adrian Wojnarowski has the latest on the turmoil within the NBA players association, and the picture isn’t pretty.

After Billy Hunter made the grand stand of marching out of Friday’s bargaining session, refusing to negotiate below 52 percent of the NBA’s revenue split, a strong movement within the Players Association emerged that vowed the union will never let him act so unilaterally again.

From superstars to midlevel players to rookies, there’s an unmistakable push to complete the final elements of the system and take this labor deal to the union’s 400-plus membership. Beyond that, there’s an even larger movement to push Hunter, the Players Association’s executive director, out the door once these labor talks are done. All hell’s broken loose within the union, and no one is exactly sure how they’re going to get a deal to the finish line.

“Billy can’t just say it’s 52 or nothing, and walk out again,” one league source involved with the talks told Yahoo! Sports. “That will not happen again. It’s time that the players get to make a decision on this, and there won’t be another check lost before they do.”

Rest assured, there’s a vast gulf in the union, and it’s growing with the passing of every day. Players Association president Derek Fisher’s(notes) letter to the players convinced no one otherwise. NBA commissioner David Stern and the owners know it, and it’s part of the reason they won’t raise their offer of the BRI revenue split to 51 percent. There are system issues that need to be resolved for players, but this deal gets done at 50-50, and that’s been true for a long, long time.

In the end, there are two courses for the union: Take the deal largely on the table or blow this up, decertify and lose the season fighting the NBA in the federal courts.

Only, it’s too late to decertify. Everyone wanted to do it back in July when the lockout started, and Hunter refused. His decision had nothing to do with legal strategy, nothing to do with leverage or getting the best possible deal for the players. It had everything to do with what it always does with Hunter: self-preservation. He worried about losing power, losing his job, and he sold everyone on a toothless National Labor Relations Board claim that’s going nowhere.

Jason Whitlock has a different view, putting more blame on Fisher.

Either way, the whole situation is a mess. I tend to think Fisher is right here, realizing that the players can only push this so far.

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Is progress being made in the NBA labor talks?

The president of the National Basketball Association players’ association, Derek Fisher, speaks to reporters after taking part in contract negotiations between the NBA and the players association in New York June 30, 2011. The NBA was on the verge of its first work stoppage in 13 years after negotiations over a new labor deal collapsed hours before the current collective bargaining agreement expires, the union representing players said on Thursday. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT EMPLOYMENT BUSINESS BASKETBALL)

ESPN’s TrueHoop dissected comments from player representative Derek Fisher and wonders if the two sides are holding something back:

The two sides have agreed not to characterize the talks to the media. And in the spirit of keeping that promise, Stern and Fisher peppered their talks with let’s-not-get-carried-away language. Stern said, “I don’t know if it’s positive or negative,” that the groups’ meeting will expand next week. Similarly, Fisher said, “It doesn’t imply that we’re somehow on the verge,” and added that, “We still haven’t found that place where we can come out and say here’s where we are, here’s where progress is being made.”

But it’s hard to talk for 15 unscripted minutes, as Fisher did, without dropping some hints as to what has happened behind closed doors.

The most alarming of the hints came when Fisher explained expanding the meetings: “From our perspective, we want to make sure that our executive committee members who aren’t in the room are able to really fully understand the deal, the deal points, all the information that’s being thrown around the room, all the ideas that we’re going back and forth with.”

A deal? Deal points? There are deal points?

The post has more positive quotes from Fisher which do sound encouraging.

Is it possible that the NBA could reach a deal soon? It doesn’t seem likely given the reported chasm between the two sides, but compared to media attention surrounding the NFL labor negotiations, the NBA and NBAPA have been able to negotiate in relative anonymity.

A month ago I would have pegged the chances of the season starting on time somewhere in the 0%-5% range. Now I’d give the two sides a 15%-20% of coming to an agreement by mid-October.

Heat strike out on Fisher, land Haslem

April 12, 2010: Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) talking things over with Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem (40) while time is called during the NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Heat beat the 76ers, 107-105.

In his quest to build a solid bench to support the Super Friends, Pat Riley got both the good and bad end of loyalty. Derek Fisher spurned his advances and decided to stay in L.A., while Udonis Haslem took less money to stay in Miami.

First up, Fisher…

“I have decided to continue with Kobe, continue with our teammates and the fans of Los Angeles,” Fisher said in a statement on his website. “While this may not be the most lucrative contract I’ve been offered this offseason, it is the most valuable. I am confident I will continue to lead this team on and off the court. Let the hunt for six begin.”

“Kobe Bryant asked me to stay but supported whatever decision I made. He and I have played together for 11 seasons, came into the league together as kids, and has been loyal to me even when others had doubts. We have won five championships together.”

As for Haslem…

Shortly after reported Monday that the Denver Nuggets had joined the Dallas Mavericks in the bidding with a strong offer, Haslem sent an e-mail to the Sun-Sentinel reading: “Turned down full mid level from Dallas and Denver. See u next season.”

But every team that showed interest in Haslem in recent days did so with pessimism that he could be lured away from Miami, given his strong ties to the area and a close relationship with Wade. The Heat are trying to divide their remaining salary cap space between Haslem and sharpshooter Mike Miller.

Team president Pat Riley has often said that he wants Haslem to be a Heat lifer, such is the regard for the gritty forward’s contributions to Miami’s title team in 2006.

Even with missing out on Fisher, if the Heat can land Miller and Haslem, they will be well on their way to building a solid bench.

The Finals, Game 3: The Lakers regain control

Check out Ray Allen’s line from each of the last two games:

Game 2: 11-20 (8-11 3PT), 32 points, Celtics win, 103-94
Game 3: 0-13 (0-8 3PT), 2 points, Celtics lose, 91-84

I wondered how the Celtics would handle the long flight and quick turnaround from Game 2 to Game 3 and it appears that Allen didn’t handle it well. Kevin Garnett kept Boston in it, hitting 11-of-16 shots for 25 points and six boards in what was easily his best game of the series. Generally speaking, the Celtics played well enough to win, but they had trouble scoring largely due to Allen’s struggles from the field. However, he did play good defense on Kobe Bryant (29-7-4 on 29 shots), but it still wasn’t enough.

The reason the Lakers won was Derek Fisher’s excellent fourth quarter. He went 5-of-7 from the field for 11 points in the period. In essence, he gave the Lakers what Kobe usually gives them in the fourth quarter.

In Finals history, ten series have been tied 1-1 after the first two games and the team that won Game 3 went on to win all 10 series. That, coupled with Phil Jackson’s amazing record in series where his team wins the first game, would seem to make the Celtics big underdogs. They absolutely have to win the next two games and hope that they can steal another game in L.A.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

OKC’s win important on many levels

There are a few things to take from this game:

— Derek Fisher is having a tough time guarding Russell Westbrook. Don’t be surprised if we see more Shannon Brown in the next few games (but it was Jordan Farmar who was in the game at the end). Phil Jackson trusts Fisher, but he just can’t keep athletic guards in front of him anymore. Westbrook had 27 points last night.

— The win gives the Thunder confidence. They know now that they can beat the Lakers in a playoff situation. Even if they don’t come back to win the series, this victory is big for this young team.

— Through three games, Ron Artest is averaging 8-3-2 and is shooting 32% from the field (16% from 3PT). Trevor Ariza averaged 11-4-2 and 50% shooting (48% from 3PT) in last year’s playoff run. If Artest were shutting Durant down it would be one thing, but KD posted 29-19-4 last night. He only shot 33% from the field, but he went 12 of 13 from the free throw line.

— After 17 blocks in Game 2, OKC had just three blocks in Game 3. I’m not sure what this means, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

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