NBA PM: Back to the Bargaining Table
Labor talks will resume Wednesday, Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated and several other outlets are reporting. According to Amick’s report, staffers from both sides—but not commissioner David Stern, any of the owners, union executive director Billy Hunter or union president Derek Fisher—will get together for something that could spark a “formal negotiating session” on Thursday. NBPA attorney Ron Klempner and league attorneys will be there, writes Amick, but deputy commissioner Adam Silver’s presence is still up in the air.
Amick goes on to write that both have made “significant progress on the economic front,” but there are obviously still hurdles before we get anywhere close to an agreement.
Ultimately, the issue of a hard salary cap could determine if the two sides go back to the negotiating table on Thursday. If the owners are willing to forgo their insistence on a hard cap, then the players will be more willing to continue with the negotiations.
Wright, Warriors Have Already Started Their Season
Joe Abunassar’s Impact Basketball Competitive Training Series in Las Vegas is probably the best way for NBA players to improve individually during this stage of the lockout. However several members of the Golden State Warriors are using the forum to improve as a team—a prospect that could give new head coach Mark Jackson an edge when the NBA season ultimately resumes.
Notably, small forward Dorell Wright—who was one of the league’s most-improved players a season ago—continues to smooth out his game while building chemistry with his teammates such as Stephen Curry, Ekpe Udoh and Monta Ellis.
“It’s very important, you know, to get this early comradery,” Wright told HOOPSWORLD. “You know guys came down to Vegas, you know. We thought this would be a fun place to come, great atmosphere, so we’re here just trying to get as much work as possible during this lockout since we can’t go to Golden State and use the facilities. So we’re trying to get to other places, you know, and use the facilities and, you know, just try and get work in because this week right here, or these few days we get together is going to go a long way. So we’re in here just trying to get proper work in, and trying to, you know, pick guys’ brains and see how they play so this is a great time to play.”
It’s also important for a team that’s trying to build on some late-season momentum from the 2010-2011 campaign. The Warriors went 4-2 over their last six games, including wins over the eventual champion Mavericks, the Lakers and two wins over the Trail Blazers. But as good as Wright had been for the majority of the season, he was actually struggling when the team was playing its best basketball. Wright made just 25.5% of his 3-point shots and 31.5% of his total field goals over that stretch.
But Wright’s late-season swoon is also the fodder of Golden State’s great aspirations. If the team can steal victories from the Lakers and Mavericks without one of its premiere players at his best, how good can this team be when its firing on all cylinders?
Wright finished the season averaging 16.4 PPG on 42.3% field goal shooting and a 37.6% mark from beyond the arc. Those numbers were the best of his career, but he still sees plenty of room for improvement, which is why he continues to smooth out his offensive game.
“Just a lot of ball handling,” he said. “I’m trying to be more of a playmaker this year. So I’ve been doing a lot of that. A lot of jumpers as well. Just trying to get my all-around game right. I really want to get my 3-point shot a little more consistent. I don’t want to be a streaky shooter. I know I’m going to get a lot more shots next year off the dribble, so I’ve been working on midrange as well. Just a total game. It’s not one thing in particular. It’s just things I need to tighten up.”
Defensively, Wright has been solid even going back to his days in Miami, which is why he’s so excited to play for Jackson, who promises to stress defense next season.
“I was in Miami for 6 years,” Wright said. “They emphasize that to the thousandth power. So I’m really looking forward to it. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’m looking forward to it. That’s how we’re going to win games. That’s how we’re going to win 10 to 15 games when the offensive side isn’t doing what we need to do. We’re going to get gritty wins down on the defensive end. I’m really looking forward to it and our group of guys is going to be focused.”
Perhaps the biggest addition to the Warriors isn’t Jackson, but rookies Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins and Jeremy Tyler—two of whom Wright is already familiar with.
“I had seem him down in Seattle for the “Seattle vs. the League” game,” Wright said of Thompson. “So I already knew what he was capable of doing. He’s really going to help us a lot. We need more firepower, you know, coming off the bench, and, you know, stepping in and hitting big threes like he did. He’s very athletic. He’s a playmaker as well. So we’re really excited, you know, having him be on our team, you know, being focused and being able to score, put the ball in the basket like he did tonight.
“I’ve been knowing Jeremy since he was 17 and he decided to bypass his senior year of high school,” Wright said of the 6-10 big man. “I’ve known about his toughness and things like that. I’ve never doubted his toughness. His main thing coming out was just maturity, so he’s changed. He came a long way. I think he’s really going to help us as well, bringing some toughness down there with (David Lee), with Lou (Amundson) and Epke (Udoh), and you know he’ll also be down there to get that little garbage stuff around the rim and dunking it and putting it back in.”
Of course, the Warriors’ young talent is just sitting on the shelf until the lockout ends. Wright is confident that a solution can be reached, but it seems as though he’s taken himself out of the situation until something gets resolved.
“You just got to stay focused, you know,” he said. “Stay together as a unit, hope for the best, you know. Believe in our union, that they’re going to get the best deal for us. So that’s all we can do.”
The season can’t start soon enough for the most of the locked out NBA players, but for Wright and the Warriors, it may have already begun.
(Make sure to check out Lang Greene’s piece on Udoh from today’s NBA AM.)
Gallinari Goes Home
Denver’s Danilo Gallinari came to the NBA from Olimpia Milano before the 2008-2009 season and now, until the NBA resolves its labor issues, he’ll be returning to the club, the Associated Press is reporting.
Milano’s coach, Sergio Scariolo, recently coached Spain to the EuroBasket championship in Lithuania while Gallinari, Marco Belinelli and Andrea Bargnani failed to reach the knockout stage.
Gallinari, whose father also played for Milano, is signed until the NBA lockout ends, according to the report.