NBA PM: Union Files Complaint
The NBA Players Union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday in hopes of preventing the owners from imposing a lockout when the collective bargaining agreement expires on June 30th, reported ESPN.com’s Chris Sheridan.
Sheridan was told by a source that the union—which was clearly offended by the owners’ proposed 40% cut in existing contracts and proposed hard salary cap—will continue to take legal action before making a counter offer to the league.
According to Sheridan, the complaint includes mention of “harsh, inflexible, and grossly regressive ‘takeaway’ demands that the NBA knows are not acceptable to the Union.”
For those who thought the two sides were coming closer together, Tuesday’s news shows just how far apart they are. And not only is there a large schism between the players and owners, but it’s still unclear where this will be played out: the courts? the negotiating table?
There’s a formal negotiating session scheduled during the NBA Finals, but it’s hard to tell what could possibly be accomplished. Perhaps if the NLRB sides with the players and the owners no longer have the option of a lockout, leverage would shift dramatically in the favor of the union. Is that enough to avoid a lengthy work stoppage?
Rockets Growing With Lowry
There’s a perception that the Rockets have stalled without the presence of their franchise cornerstone; that Yao Ming’s foot injury has deprived Houston of its only true big man, and may have been the first domino in the eventual dismissal of coach Rick Adelman.
But even without the wins, Houston has seen some growth in the absence of Yao. Specifically the team’s seemingly endless search for a point guard (Matt Maloney, Steve Francis, Rafer Alston, David Wesley, Aaron Brooks etc.) stopped when Kyle Lowry signed a contract extension last August. By jettisoning Brooks and acquiring backup point guard Goran Dragic from Phoenix, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey put the team in Lowry’s hands; and the 25-year-old former Villanova Wildcat responded by reaching career highs in points (13.5 PPG), assists (6.7 APG), rebounds (4.1 RPG) and 3-point percentage (37.6%).
“I think I made a small step to where I want to be,” Lowry told HOOPSWORLD at last week’s NBA Draft Lottery. “I’m not going to say I’m one of the top guards in the West. I’d like to think I’m really good and I will be up there in the upcoming season, but I think my personal strides were very positive for me and the team.”
While Lowry has taken the reins, Yao has been making a slow march back from his nagging foot and ankle issues. The question is, what kind of team will the Rockets be when and if their 7-5 center makes his triumphant return.
“Hopefully his foot gets better, his ankle gets better,” Lowry said. “I had a chance to play with him when I first got traded here and it was great. Whenever he gets healthy and he gets on the floor, it’s always a pleasure to have him there and in the locker room and just as part of our team.”
Of course, there are still tons of question marks surrounding Yao’s return. Last week he told Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle that he “might” find out in August or September if he’ll even return to the NBA. Seeing as the team has been referring to 6-6 Chuck Hayes as a “center” for the past few years, Yao’s answer isn’t comforting.
Perhaps the best bet for the Rockets, who pick 14th, will be to take a big like 6-10 Markieff Morris or 7-0 Donatas Motiejunas.
“I think we do need height,” Lowry said. “We do need a rim protector. Chuck Hayes did an awesome job of doing the most he could with what he has, being 6-6, he took responsibility for holding down the fort. So I think we do need to get bigger. We need just a little bit of size to bang with the bigs so guys understand they just can’t get to our rim so easy.
“Just a quality player,” he continued. “A guy who can come in and help fill a void in our team. A guy who is competitive and understands his job and understands that this is a business and we’re committed to winning—not just for the limelight—we’re really in it for the grind to win games.”
One player who has matched the former Grizzlies backup’s competitiveness is Dragic, whose presence behind Lowry means the Rockets have not one, but two phenomenal defenders at point guard.
“Goran is a very long, very competitive defender,” Lowry said. “He’s very agile. He’s very athletic. Guys don’t think he’s athletic, but he’s sneaky. He’s really athletic. And he’s really competitive. Me and him, I think we’re going to be a great duo, a great tandem. We’ll play together and he’s going to give me minutes to rest and if I get in foul trouble, I know he’s a capable backup.”
Just how much time Dragic sees behind or next to Lowry will be up to the team’s next coach. The candidates have reportedly been narrowed to former Timberwolves GM and interim coach Kevin McHale, former Nets coach Lawrence Frank, and former Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey, but whoever ultimately gets the job, Lowry is prepared to serve.
“Whoever comes in, they’ll have 100% of me, my full attention and supportm” he said. “I’ll be excited for any of the three.
“I’ve played against all of three before,” he continued. “I’ve talked to them before. I know a little bit about the three.”
The next Rockets coach won’t exactly be getting a lottery-bound team either. Lowry thinks Houston is capable of much more, which might be one reason he’s the right person to lead the franchise into its next era.
“I felt like we should have been a playoff team,” Lowry concluded. “We had a rough start this season, a rough part of the season, made some trades, changed a few things, but I think we finished the season strong and I think next year we can just build off of this.”
And He Probably Won’t Date the Owner’s Daughter Either
Mike Bresnahan of The Los Angeles Times wrote that former Lakers coach Phil Jackson made around $22 million over the last two seasons, but the team’s next coach will be forced to slum it for something between $3 million and $5 million.
NBA coaches typically make slightly less than that, but the Lakers are obviously not most franchises. They can usually afford to pay larger salaries, however, with the league moving toward a work stoppage, Dr. Jerry Buss has apparently given the word to reduce spending until normal profits can be generated again.
Understandably, Spanish point guard and former Timberwolves draft pick Ricky Rubio is waiting to see if the league will lock out the players before deciding whether or not to buy out his current contract, according to a report by the Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
“That is the question,” Walters quoted Wolves owner Glen Taylor as saying. “He’s asking how that mught affect him if we don’t play or if we will play. Our answer is, ‘We won’t know the answer to that question. You’re going to have to make your decision before that.’
“I don’t want to guarantee him that because there’s no way that I know that.”
The Wolves can only contribute $500,000 toward Rubio’s $1 million buyout under the current CBA, but rules could be changed in the next agreement.
Need More Draft News?: Draft Express president Jonathan Givony will be hosting a few NBA Draft Chats for us again this year starting with his first chat on Wednesday at Noon EST. No one covers the NBA Draft better than Jonathan and his team at Draft Express, so be sure to drop in your questions now.
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