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First Cup: Friday

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: With unsettling consequences awaiting them should they fail to reach an agreement, representatives for the NBA and players’ union met again on Thursday in an effort to salvage what remains of an already-shortened season. After negotiating for nearly 11 hours, the sides were unable to produce a settlement for a collective bargaining agreement, but the NBA presented a proposal to the players that, if approved by next week, would possibly result in a 72-game season that would begin on Dec. 15. NBA Commissioner David Stern refused to refer to the proposal as the league’s 'last best offer,' but intimated that it was the case after conferencing with members of the owners’ labor relations committee. 'There comes a time when you have to be through negotiating and we are. We have done everything possible that was possible to do,' Stern said. 'There is nothing left to negotiate about.' Derek Fisher and Billy Hunter, the president and executive director, respectively, of National Basketball Players Association, expressed disappointment that they were unable to close the gap on six salary cap and luxury tax system issues that have divided the sides throughout the four-month labor stalemate."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "If the union accepts the league's revised proposal, the deal would have to be ratified by a majority of the league's 30 owners, as well as the union's roughly 450 players. Stern said he is confident he could deliver the owners. 'I did tell Billy that that proposal has the support of the chairman of the Labor Relations committee,' Stern said. 'We await the response of the union.' Speculation — and frustration — swirled around why the union needed so long to assemble the 30 player representatives in New York. Whether the delay leads to cracks in the union remains to be seen. What's clear is the league has shifted the pressure and onus back to the union. 'I would not presume to project or predict what the union will do,' Stern said. 'My hope is events of next week will lead us to a 72-game schedule starting on Dec. 15.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "So now what? A 72-game season that starts on Dec. 15 and a deal the players loathe? Or the threat to dissolve the union and, if followed through, scuttle the season? ... I've seen some national basketball writers predicting this is the beginning of the end, that a deal is near no matter how unpalatable it is for the players. Me? I'll bet on chaos. I don't think this is over yet, not by a long shot."

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Cleveland native Mark Termini has been an NBA agent for 25 years. So has Bill Duffy, one of the so-called Super Seven, an unofficial advisory group of highly respected agents that represents roughly 50 percent of the players in the league. In their admittedly biased opinions, one little-discussed consequence of the recent deals struck between the NBA and its players association is the diminishing impact agents have in the league. They don't think it's unintentional, and they don't think it's likely to be reversed whenever the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ends the lockout that reached its 133rd day on Thursday. 'The agents represent a threat to the control of the owner and the team,' said Termini, who has represented many of the top players from Ohio, including Jim Jackson, Brad Sellers, Earl Boykins and Kosta Koufos. 'They want to just deal with the player. They're going to tell him what to do, where to go, when he's hurt, when he's not hurt, what doctor to go to, what's a good deal, what's a bad deal, when he's traded, what time to report. The agent gets involved in all of those decisions on behalf of the player and it's burdensome to the team. They don't like it. They'd like to eliminate that. So in these negotiations, as the options for the players become fewer and fewer, it has the hand-in-glove effect of reducing the role of the agent.' When Duffy was asked if he and the other members of the Super Seven agreed with that assessment, he said emphatically, 'Without question.' ... 'I used to have 10 tools in my toolbox,' Termini said. 'Now I'm down to one or two. I can still build a house for my client, but it won't be as nice and it will be just like all the rest in the neighborhood.' "

  • Brad Rock of the Deseret News: "If you're a Utah Jazz fan with no rooting interest in who wins between NBA owners and players, maybe this will tip the balance: Salt Lake could become a minor league town again. Hello, Albuquerque, Honolulu and Austin. Can we join your club? ... Cease fires are great, as long as everyone hasn't already been killed. Several of the proposed scenarios may seem like fairly middle ground, but in this economy, that's not good enough for smaller market teams. A negative split in revenue, the lack of a hard salary cap or no revenue sharing could send the Jazz downstream. Things can't be much different in Charlotte, New Orleans, Memphis Milwaukee or San Antonio. Ever wonder what the NBA would be like without the Sacramento Kings, Orlando Magic or Oklahoma City Thunder? Without the Jazz? We might find out. On the bright side, it would free up 82 dates for Exchange Club Bingo Night."

  • Dei Lynam of CSNPhilly.com: "The way I see it, if a team is over the tax and is eyeing a free agent say two years from now, it should become incumbent upon them to make the adjustments necessary to get under the cap so that the franchise can be a player in the free-agency game. Miami did just that last summer in order to build its dream team. Owners were once the employers and the players were employees, but when the players started making alliances and deciding where they would go when they became free agents together there was a shift in power that left a question for owners of many teams. Who is running this show? Just as players want the freedom to explore free agency and land the best offer possible, so to do franchises want to have an opportunity to give their best sales pitch to convince a free agent he’s their guy. In hindsight, Dwayne Wade toyed with the Bulls and Lebron James gave Cleveland false hope. These guys had a prearranged pact. No one said these are irreconcilable differences, but they are differences standing in the way of a 2011-12 NBA season happening."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Chris Duhon, the Magic’s player representative, told the Sentinel early Friday morning that Stern’s warning could be counterproductive. 'I think it [the current offer] is better than before, but more negotiations need to be done,' Duhon said. 'This ultimatum is just going to make most players angry and go the distance.' The players do have another option that could improve their bargaining power. They might begin the process of decertifying their own union, an option that, if followed through to its conclusion, would enable a group of players to file an antitrust lawsuit against the league."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Amid all the skepticism over one son in Jim Buss, the Lakers have re-signed Ryan West, Jerry's son, to what will be a streamlined scouting staff with increased reliance on video work. They're planning to re-hire video coordinator Patrick O'Keefe, a trusted aide in Bryant's pregame study, and bring back video services director Chris Bodaken for advance scouting. Lovable longtime equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas won't be back, his much-publicized departure in part performance-related, but the likely replacement is assistant Carlos Maples (who has spent 24 years with the team, not far behind Garciduenas' 28). Those non-player moves are all that can be made or planned before a new collective bargaining is forged, and Jerry Buss, Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak will need to know the new system before they endeavor to master it. However, by now we know enough about that system's structure to begin viewing the players as chess pieces again rather than dance contestants or college coaches."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Tony Parker is a busy man these days, what with running the team operations and playing for ASVEL Villeurbonne in the French League during the lockout. But Parker consented to a brief interview with the fashion website Grungy Gentleman.com. He talks about his passion for Tissot watches, rap music and hard work. But the most interesting part of the interview came when he was asked who his favorite teammate of all time was. Parker couldn’t narrow his list down to one player. So instead, he selected Tim Duncan, Bruce Bowen and Manu Ginobili. That group combined for three championships with the Spurs, so it’s obvious that Parker hold them in his highest regard. His other answers provide some revealing truths about Parker."

  • Don Walker of the Journal Sentinel: "The Bradley Center and the Milwaukee Bucks have reached agreement on a new one-year lease that covers last season, but the deal also contains a provision in which the NBA team won't get any money until professional basketball resumes. The Bradley Center owes the Bucks $9.5 million. But in the new agreement, those payments have been extended further to as late as 2019. The agreement, announced Thursday, is a reflection of reality given the inability of the players' association and NBA owners to find a way to end their lockout, as well as the Bradley Center's own challenged financial condition."

  • Art Garcia For the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Sitting across from Donnie Nelson at their usual coffee spot, Del Harris asked how the Texas Legends' coaching search was coming. 'We'll probably have one in the next five minutes,' Nelson answered. Harris, 74, couldn't resist the pull. After realizing he could handle the travel schedule and his teaching obligations at Dallas Christian College, the silver-haired basketball lifer agreed to his first full-time coaching job since the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. Being back on the bench is hardly a surprise in a career that's spanned more than 50 years. The former NBA Coach of the Year slides over from his Legends general manager seat to coach the Dallas Mavericks' D-League affiliate. Nelson and the second-year Legends sure know how to make a splash when it comes to coaches. Nancy Lieberman made gender-breaking history last season before the Frisco franchise failed to lure Bruce Pearl this off-season with a truckload of cash. (Lieberman moved into the Legends' front office.) The Legends began training camp this week in Frisco with 17 players, including last week's draft haul."