Wednesday, October 5, 2011
First Cup: Wednesday
- Dan Jovic of Fox 8: "So far this season the Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary football team has been ready for anything that came their way on the football field, that was until Tuesday. Members of the state's third ranked Division III team were shocked when two-time NBA MVP LeBron James showed up for practice wearing full pads and took part in the late afternoon session. 'I not gonna lie, it was pretty cool to see him out there,' said starting quarterback Kevin Besser. James borrowed the equipment and jersey of #13 Clayton Uecker, who did not practice today due to injury. Uecker is also the tallest player on the SVSM roster at 6'5". SVSM running back Sae'Von Fitzgerald said James looked just like every other member of the team with a helmet on. 'He wore everything. Shoulder pads, helmet, visor... everything,' said Fitzgerald. But when it came to tackling, James was off limits."
- Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "An NBA collective bargaining agreement will be reached by the end of this weekend. That's my prediction. That's where I'm putting my beer money. I've already told two friends I would buy the kegs if I'm wrong. If the lockout persists, regular-season games will be lost for only the second time in NBA history. But nothing that transpired these past few days convinces me to tap into the savings. Progress was made on a number of issues, including the adoption of a more generous revenue-sharing package that the small- to mid-market owners have pursued for years. Also, the owners softened their insistence on implementing a hard vs. soft salary cap, though details about luxury penalties, guaranteed contract lengths and player exceptions have yet to be finalized. ... Losing preseason games is a minor inconvenience. But a week from now? If Stern, Hunter and Fisher aren't seated together at a microphone, all smiles and ready to start collecting their salaries, I'll take back my beer bet."
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "In truth, the players have done the compromising. They are giving back from the current deal. The owners’ compromises are from their own previous proposals, not the previous system they put together or the mess they created. Stern, however, framed the argument in a way to put pressure on the players. Even if they can ignore public perception, many within the union will believe a version of a 50/50 split could be workable. There remain many other issues to negotiate. Even the 50/50 split was more of a proposal to make a proposal. Each percentage point is worth roughly $40 million, putting the sides $80 million to $160 million apart, depending on how the split is determined with guaranteed minimum and maximums. By the time the back-to-back news conferences were over, for the first time, the sides did not seem far apart. That is how Stern wanted it to seem. He orchestrated his little show masterfully. That won’t get a deal done. The 1998 lockout stretched into 1999, so this one could drag on, too. But increasingly, it seems as if Stern and the owners will get what they wanted all along. The trick will be to get it done by Monday so that the full season can be saved."
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "With no meetings scheduled and both sides seemingly dug in, the chances for playing a full season appear grim. While a 50-50 split appears equitable, the players contend that with the league holding 8 percent of player salaries in escrow, the figure is slanted toward the owners. ... NBA superstars such as Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant attended the meetings and were active in the discussions. On their Twitter accounts, many players sounded resigned to the idea of missing regular-season games. Stern said he truly believed the sides were close to an agreement, especially when the hard salary cap and rollbacks were eliminated from the equation. If Stern does cancel the first two weeks of the season, the Celtics also would lose home games against the Charlotte Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers."
- Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "The NBA is not the NFL. Heck, right now, amid the major leagues' thrilling late-season rush, the NBA is not even baseball. Yet the NBA's average player salary of about $5.1 million equals the average salary of those two sports combined. The NBA players need to do the math, listen to the yawns, and look in the mirror. The NBA players need to take a pay cut and go back to work in a sport that will be healthier because of it. Under the old agreement, the players were making 57% of basketball-related income. After Tuesday's negotiating session, the owners were talking about giving the players 50%. What happens if the players take that horrible pay cut? They will still be the highest-paid team athletes in American pro sports. Some of them will still make millions to spend their lives on a bench. The only thing that might radically change is that more owners might have more money to field better teams, increasing parity and popularity while ensuring survival."
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Detroit Pistons free agent Tracy McGrady denies a report that a deal is 'in the works' for the 14-year veteran to play in China during the NBA lockout. In fact, McGrady ruled out even exploring the option of playing overseas if the lockout threatens the regular season, which is scheduled to begin next month. 'Not at all,' McGrady texted the Free Press this afternoon when asked whether playing overseas is an option. The Philippine Star quotes a player who has signed with the Chinese league’s Foshan Dralions as saying the team also was pursuing McGrady, a 32-year-old six-time All-Star. Center Marcus Douhit said he was told that a deal is 'in the works.' ... He played for the Pistons on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract. Speculation is that he will sign with an NBA contender after the lockout."
- Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Spurs guard Tony Parker will announce Thursday that he will play for his French team ASVEL during the rest of the NBA lockout. Parker has been hinting at playing overseas for the past several weeks. But if the players and owners don’t settle, the French website sports.fr reports that Parker will play for his own team. There was an issue with insurance to guarantee Parker’s contract with the Spurs. But he will pay that stipend out of his own pocket to play for the team, perhaps as soon as Oct. 14 against Paris-Levallois. The contract has an opt-out for Parker to return to the Spurs as soon as the lockout finishes. But playing any kind of basketball comes with the risk of injury."
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: "Heat employees, who took a 10 percent paycut July 1 when the lockout started, saw their paycut increase to 25 percent this week, which will be the case for five months or until the lockout ends, whichever comes first... Shane Battier and Grant Hill – who are on Miami’s list of potential free agent targets – both have interest in talking to the Heat after the lockout, friends say."
- Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Jazz rookie center Enes Kanter has returned to the United States and resumed workouts with trainer Tim Grover in Chicago. Grover worked out Kanter last spring during predraft sessions. Utah then selected the Turkey native with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Kanter plans to remain in Chicago for the immediate future, keeping an eye on the progress of the NBA lockout. Contract offers from Chinese professional teams are off the table. 'The China thing, what happened is … Enes' priority is the NBA, as an NBA player,' said Max Ergul, Kanter's agent. 'Once [China] came up with that rule change — we thought they could've bent it around — it's just not happening. They're very stern; they don't want a player coming and leaving. I'm not going to put my signature on something that might force him to stay there for a whole season.' Kanter will consider signing with a European pro club if a strong offer is presented and the NBA's work stoppage continues."
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Samardo Samuels is trying to make the best of the extra time he has on his hands. The Cavaliers' 6-9, 260-pound forward from Jamaica, who thought he'd be in training camp by now, spent most of his summer working on his game in Los Angeles and Las Vegas and is currently working out with former Cavs assistant coach Chris Jent, now an assistant at Ohio State. While Samuels may be working on his shot with Jent, the most important things he said he learned this summer were how to prepare and how to win. He spent time with Baron Davis, Mo Williams and Elton Brand, and then played in the Impact Basketball summer league with former NBA champion Chauncey Billups, whose approach and attitude really impressed him. 'Even in the little games we played in the Impact League, to see the approach he takes and the seriousness he has for the game was fun to be a part of,' Samuels said of Billups. 'He's one of the best at doing it right now.' Samuels picked up a lot just watching the veterans getting ready to play. 'Those guys know how to win,' he said."
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "First-round pick Nikola Mirotic said the only reason he stayed in this year's NBA draft is because of the strong possibility his rights would be acquired by the Chicago Bulls. In an interview with HoopsHype.com editor-in-chief Jorge Sierra, Mirotic said he was 'thrilled by the Chicago option' and was told by Bulls management roughly two to three weeks before the June draft that it planned to try to acquire him. Because of his prohibitive buyout with Real Madrid, Mirotic spooked some teams away despite his first-round talent. The Bulls sent picks Nos. 28 and 43 and cash to the Timberwolves for the rights to the Montenegro forward, who was picked 23rd. ... Mirotic's deal with Real Madrid runs through 2015 with an NBA out, however the Tribune previously reported his buyout is roughly $2 million Euros. Mirotic told the web site he wants eventually to play in the NBA, however he isn't sure if he will make the jump in 'two, three, four or five years.' "
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times: "When he won his lone NBA championship as a player in 1972, Jerry West felt uncomfortable basking in champagne and celebrating. When the Lakers unveiled his statue this year during All-Star weekend, he expressed paranoia no one would actually attend the ceremony. And in his autobiography,'West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life' slated for an Oct. 19 release, West says the book centers more on what he calls 'growing up in a very abusive household' in West Virginia than it does about sharing salacious details. 'This book is not a book trashing people,' West said Monday night at a local Best Buy, which promoted the debut of NBA2K12. 'I don't trash anyone in this book. This book is an honest accounting of who I am. Maybe it's a little bit too honest. It was painful to write, to be honest with you. I'm hoping that people who led a very awkward life can take something from this book. There's not a whole lot of basketball in it.' "
- Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The Cavaliers reportedly have selected their new radio play-by-play announcer. Unfortunately, they are not ready to announce the candidate for another day or two. Several industry sources say the Cavs wanted to 'stay local' in replacing Joe Tait, who retired after 39 years after the 2010-11 season. They appeared to be looking for a younger candidate who was adept with social media. Everything pointed toward Cleveland native and Detroit announcer Matt Dery. However, he was told on Tuesday that he didn't get the job. Cavs broadcasting director Dave Dombrowski has been reaching out to candidates to let them know that they didn't get the job. An industry source said former television announcer Michael Reghi also got that call on Tuesday."
- Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: "The NBA on Tuesday officially canceled its entire preseason schedule and the first two weeks of the regular season could be next. A large chunk, if not all, of the 2011-12 season is in serious jeopardy. For those who invested in Trail Blazers season tickets, this entitles you to a refund. According to a team source, season ticket holders will receive refunds based on when and how many games are ultimately canceled. Refund checks will be mailed from the team to season ticket holders by the 10th of the month during the month after games are missed."