First Cup: Monday

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Well, now we know where the NBA stands. And how it apparently is not happy amid the lockout about where the Miami Heat stand. In addition to holding a question-and-answer session Sunday on Twitter, the NBA released a YouTube slideshow highlighting its latest proposal to the union amid. And there, on the final slide of the presentation, the NBA offers a 'sample team roster.' It is a roster that, in the league’s words, includes: One superstar, one All-Star and three starters. Only one player in the NBA example holds a max salary, unlike the Heat’s mix of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Sending a message? Perhaps. Watch, and judge for yourself."

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "The NBA applied a full-court, public-relations press Sunday aimed at ending the lockout on the eve of a pivotal meeting for player representatives in New York. The league solicited collective-bargaining questions on Twitter, released highlights of its latest proposal on its Web site and reiterated that if union decertification occurs, all contracts would become void. The NBA's presentation comes as the union's executive committee meets with its players reps Monday morning to decipher the latest proposal and decide whether to accept a deal. The league is offering a 72-game season, starting on Dec. 15, should players ratify an agreement. If the proposal gets rejected, some players will push for decertification or disclaimer of interest in the union, moves designed to gain leverage by threatening to take the league to federal court. Options are few and none particularly appealing for the players. NBA Commissioner David Stern vows the league is done negotiating and he says the next offer will be a far worse one for the union. The league went to unprecedented measures on Sunday night, conducting an 80-minute question-and-answer session that included fans, media and NBA players. Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver took turns supplying responses."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "In the reimagined, recalibrated N.B.A. of the future, Carmelo Anthony would have a tougher time forcing his way out of Denver. LeBron James would take a steeper pay cut to flee Cleveland. Gilbert Arenas would be a free agent, instead of a payroll albatross.Contracts would be shorter. Players would become free agents sooner. Making trades would be simpler. The gap between rich and poor teams might be smaller. There might be fewer superteams and more parity, too. In theory, anyway. The truth is, no one knows precisely how the N.B.A. will change under a proposed matrix of new regulations, which are under review by the players union. But the goal — aside from slashing player salaries — is a more vibrant league with more player movement. ... League officials say it will bring more parity. Union officials and agents scoff at the suggestion and say the rules will strangle the free-agent market. It could be years before either side can prove its case. First, they have to actually adopt a deal and start playing again."

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "In advance of the National Basketball Players Association's mandatory meeting of all 30 player representatives on Monday morning, a Sunday afternoon tweet announced that NBA Commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver would take any and all questions regarding the league's final proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement. Their answer to Wade: 'The economics & system favored the players in prior CBA — Teams lost over 300m last year.' Yep, shorthand — and 140 characters — ruled the day in advance of a nervous week for the NBA lockout. Stern has tried to make clear that if the union doesn't accept the standing proposal sometime this week, a far harsher proposal featuring a 53-47 split of income favoring the owners, rollbacks of current contracts and a hard salary cap will follow. In case the union doesn't understand, Stern reminded all of the sobering stakes in real time. 'If decertification occurs, players' contracts would become void,' the @NBA Twitter feed wrote in response to a fan's question."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "Jason Terry will head to New York for Monday's meeting of NBA player representatives and he's hopeful that the new tweaks have made the owner's latest proposal palatable enough so that the league can get back to business. If there has been one bit of positive fallout from the lockout, it's that players like Terry have gotten to do some things they don't often get to enjoy, like actually coaching his daughters' basketball team for a full schedule, instead of having it interrupted by NBA practices and games. He also got a kick out of the Rangers' run to the World Series, although it also brought back some painful memories for Terry. 'Game 6, that was one of the greatest games I've ever seen,'' Terry said of the classic night in St. Louis when the Rangers were one strike away from the championship on two occasions. 'Regardless of what people said about the errors, that's part of the game. How it was played, the passion, down to one strike, one out and they just couldn't get it, twice. It had tons of memories for us from '06 and being close.' That would be the 2006 NBA Finals against Miami."

  • Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: "Perched quietly at the corner of the Verizon Center basketball court Saturday and somewhat disguised by a winter cap and thick-rimmed glasses, former Georgetown swingman and current NBA free agent Jeff Green calmly watched his old team open its season while the fate of his hung in the balance. Green said he hadn't seen the 'last, best' offer handed to the players union by NBA commissioner David Stern last week. He didn't have any idea whether it would be rejected or approved. In fact, Green appeared indifferent to the entire process -- no help to the public perception that players are to blame for the lockout in the first place, even if it isn't true. 'I just want to play,' Green said, having left the details in the hands of his agent, David Falk, who was quoted on the same day in The New York Times advocating a full player vote on the deal. Green wasn't advocating anything at all. If the NBA season is lost altogether, at least he won't have to change his stance."

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "Truth is, the owners never really negotiated at all. Citing mounting losses in arenas across the country, owners who weren’t part of the old collective-bargaining agreement were determined to wrestle back control of their league — much to the anger of players. ... What some players still fail to grasp, but Hunter and union President Derek Fisher seem to finally understand, is the owners were never going to move one cent beyond a 50/50 split in basketball-related income. They didn’t have to because they own the product, the marketing and the television contracts that make this league so successful. The players defiantly entered these negotiations in July believing they had leverage and other viable alternatives. It has taken a few months, but now they realize they never had either."

  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "Peter Holt has been in a shouting match with Chris Paul, and he’s been called 'unrelenting.' “You haven’t felt enough pain yet,” Holt told player representatives, according to one report. Holt, the most prominent owner in the NBA’s labor dispute, is carrying on a Spurs tradition. The late Angelo Drossos was known for a few fights, too. But this isn’t Holt’s nature, and this isn’t an accurate portrayal of what has happened, either. He has strong views because of his franchise’s small-market status. Yet he’s mostly been by David Stern’s side as a consensus builder, and the result has gotten a new bloc of hard-line owners to agree to a deal that is now in front of the players. This should scare the players. Holt is a reasonable one. If Drossos is looking down on these negotiations, he’s applauding. He was a creative and tough Spurs CEO, and he would admire Stern for what he has done. The players are now stuck in a half-court trap in which their best option is a painful one. Drossos would have done the same. He once argued for a system that would allow only one-year contracts, and he long ago came up with an idea that is the basis of nearly every discussion going on today. Drossos was the father of the salary cap."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "When the player representatives from around the NBA gather today, it will be high drama. The meeting won’t be televised, and more’s the pity. 'The Decision: Players’ Edition' promises to be louder and far better theater than LeBron’s duet with Jim Gray. Will the union leaders agree to take a deal in which they’ve done all the giving? Or will they take their talents to court and try to frighten the owners with a decertification death ray that only may injure the 2011-12 season and, to perhaps a greater degree, themselves? Having had the league’s latest “final” offer foisted on them late Thursday night, the players spent Friday and much of the weekend bathing in breathless rumors — many of them wild, false and wildly false. The NBA proposal does not mandate that teams can send players to the D-League at any time in their first five years for a fraction of their salary. It doesn’t include death panels, either. The reaction we’ve gotten here from players and agents has ranged from outrage to resignation."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "If NBA commissioner David Stern presented a significantly better deal than the players previously dismissed, the league's proposed 72-game season starting Dec. 15 likely will happen. If the new offer is close to what the players reviewed and rejected last Tuesday, then everybody in the NBA family might be home for Christmas, New Year's and Valentine's Day -- meaning no season at all. 'Players want to play but not in an extensively bad system, something that will hurt us in the long run,' Mike Conley said. 'I didn't know how bad the (last offer) looked until I got up close to it. Most people saw a 50-50 split and guys said, 'Let's take that.' And then once I saw everything in the deal it was like, wow, I can't see us taking this deal. That's what I told the guys. From my perspective, I couldn't see how we could accept it at that point and time. So guys were like 'OK, thanks for the info.' It just made you realize how much work needs to be done.' Player representatives are expected to vote on whether to present the league's proposal to its full membership. They unanimously decided against voting on the league's 'final' offer last Tuesday."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Well, it's about time. Vlade Divac – the former Kings center, international basketball icon and global goodwill ambassador – is among the nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame's class of 2012. ... Divac, one of the five Eastern bloc stars to shatter political and cultural barriers and enter the NBA in 1989, was widely regarded as the second-best center in international basketball (behind Arvydas Sabonis), anchored and choreographed Yugoslavia's superb national teams in the late 1980s, significantly contributed to the Kings' transformation after he signed as a free agent in 1999 and throughout his career was recognized for his charitable and humanitarian efforts around the world. That's my kind of candidate."

  • Zach McCann of the Orlando Sentinel: "When Dwight Howard thinks of the 1990s Orlando Magic, he doesn’t think of Shaquille O’Neal, the dominant big man who Howard is so often compared to. No, Howard says he associates those Magic teams with Penny Hardaway, who made four all-star teams with the Magic and Howard thinks so highly of Hardaway, in fact, that he thinks the organization should put Hardaway’s No. 1 jersey in the Amway Center rafters as its first retired number. 'I think when the season starts – whenever that may be – he should have his jersey put up for what he did not just the team, but for the city,' Howard said. 'We all know how great Penny has been for the game of basketball.' Judging by the reaction of the crowd at Howard’s all-star game Sunday night, he might get some support for the cause. The crowd went wild when Howard introduced Hardaway to the crowd — it was, by far, the loudest ovation any player received."