First Cup: Tuesday

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "Michael Jordan has stepped knee-deep into these negotiations. Numerous media reports named Jordan as the de facto leader of a small-market faction pushing for the toughest negotiating stance. Sources with knowledge of Jordan's thinking say the Bobcats' success rests on closing the gap between what big-market teams can pay for players vs. what the Charlottes, Sacramentos and Milwaukees can afford. ... Would Jordan's tough stance become a hindrance to future player recruitment? A former player agent, who would be quoted only anonymously because of on-going business dealings with the NBA, said that's a legitimate concern. 'Players and agents sometimes hold grudges. These people have a lot of pride,' the agent said. A source close to Jordan said that's a calculated risk the owner was willing to take because changing the system is so essential to the Bobcats' future. There are three distinct elements to remaking NBA economics: The division of revenue between players and owners, the system that controls free agency and the revenue sharing among the 30 franchises. The Bobcats believe all three of those elements must change significantly for the local team to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks."

  • Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic: "NBA Commissioner David Stern said if the deal isn't accepted by Wednesday, players will be stuck with an offer no better than 47 percent and one that features a more-restrictive flex cap. 'We hope that this juxtaposition will cause the union to assess its position and accept the deal,' Stern told reporters Sunday. Wow. That's not an ultimatum, it's a threat. Stern is saying, 'Take this offer or we'll really stick it to you.' Nah nah nah nah nah. The more Stern speaks, the more I find myself siding with players. He has just transformed himself from one of the sports world's more-innovative commissioners to one of its bigger bullies."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Player sources reached yesterday believe there will be strong moves in different directions at today’s gathering of reps. A push will be made by some to begin the decertification process, while others say there is interest in putting the league’s last offer to a vote. Clearly commissioner DavidStern and the NBA are trying to force the players’ hand in saying the league’s most recent deal — 49-to-51 percent of defined revenues going to the union — will be pulled at 5 p.m. tomorrow and replaced by an offer of 47 percent with a de facto hard salary cap. But, according to at least two agents, that negotiating move was a slap at the players that may have an effect opposite of what was intended. 'David Stern has done what Billy and Derek have been unable to do,' one agent said. 'They have unified the players.' The question now becomes whether that unity is legitimate and, perhaps more importantly, whether it will lead the players to a collective error."

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Every option will be discussed as a Wednesday afternoon deadline, set by Stern, bears down on the players. No votes are expected, but the player representatives are expected to help shape the union’s next move. Cracks in the players’ solidarity began to show Monday. Houston guard Kevin Martin said in an interview with Sports Illustrated that the players should accept the league’s offer, making him the highest-profile player to take that stand. Another veteran, the Los Angeles Lakers’ Steve Blake, was said to be calling players and advocating a vote on the league’s proposal, according to Yahoo Sports. Anthony Parker, the union representative for the Cleveland Cavaliers, spoke out against the proposal in interviews with ESPN and The Plain Dealer."

  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post: "One general manager, speaking anonymously, said decertification would kill the season. But even without that path, the GM questioned the possibility of saving the season. 'I don’t think we’ll have one,' he said. 'I think the players are strong and I don’t think they’ll be intimidated.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Timberwolves forward Anthony Tolliver is heading to New York City on a red-eye flight late tonight – Monday night -- for Tuesday’s meeting of team player reps sounding as torn about how to proceed as he says his teammates and league peers seem to be. Their most obvious options as Wednesday’s league-issued, take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum approaches: Decide to put an offer that has universally angered players to a vote or proceed toward decertifying the union, a complicated move that if followed through would send the matter to the courts and almost certainly scuttle this season. 'Pretty much everything is split,' he said on his way to the airport after playing in a charity game in Salt Lake City on Monday night. 'Half of the people want to decertify. Half the people want to vote on it.' His unofficial polling includes some teammates and other players in the league. He said he hopes to speak to more of his teammates before the 30 team player reps meeting starting at noon Minneapolis time Tuesday afternoon. Just like them, Tolliver also said he’s not sure yet what to think. 'Probably my best bet is to sit down and figure out what’s really important,' he said. 'I don’t want to make any outlandish comments about it right now. I want to see what everybody else has to say before I decide what I want to do. At this point, I’m split down the middle like everybody else. I don’t know what I want to do.' "

  • Brian T. Smith of The Salt Lake Tribune: "New York Knick veteran Chauncey Billups called the NBA owners’ current proposal to end the ongoing lockout 'a terrible deal' after he participated in Monday night’s charity game at Salt Lake Community College. During negotiations, Billups said, the players have been 'trying our best ... to make some significant concessions.' But ownership wants more, Billups said, and the players find themselves in a position 'that’s not much fun.' ... Golden State’s Stephen Curry believes the players must trust union leadership. 'They’ve been in the room the past three months,' Curry said. '... So they know the ins and outs of the deal and whether it’s a complete deal or not or it’s just bits and pieces.' ... A source told The Salt Lake Tribune that Steve Blake has contacted Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant and Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge, among others, and both are open to the idea of pursuing a vote [n the owners’ proposal]."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Thunder center Nazr Mohammed has been one of the league's most outspoken players during the lockout. He's frequently shared his thoughts on the NBA's labor dispute via the social networking website Twitter. On Monday, Mohammed weighed in with more of his thoughts on the dispute. 'It's crazy that most fans think that the players are on strike and that we're asking for more money. It's the complete opposite!' Mohammed wrote. 'We've expected that we have to accept less money to ensure that our owners can have the opportunity to compete and make a profit. We've given back more than $1 (billion) over the life of a (collective bargaining agreement) in our proposals. We're asking for a system that allows movement and competitiveness for our services. And to grow with the popularity of our league. But (their) proposals want a restrictive system & unacceptable givebacks. I'm pretty sure if they actually concede to something REAL that we can get a deal done. We've tried to meet them (three-fourths) of the way.' "

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "Cavaliers union representative Anthony Parker said he and teammates with whom he has spoken are opposed to the NBA's latest collective bargaining offer -- one which Commissioner David Stern warns will get worse for players if not accepted by Wednesday. Parker doesn't believe the proposal, which some in the union are calling an ultimatum, is a good deal for locked-out players. He added that dissolving the union is a choice that must be weighed. 'All options are on the table, including decertification,' Parker replied in an email to The Plain Dealer."

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "Judging comments from players — ones who've yet to play a minute of NBA ball to seasoned veterans — it's evident they want to do what they theoretically get paid to do. Even if it means settling for what's on the table now. 'There's millions of dollars here and everybody doesn't get that,' Jazz forward Jeremy Evans said. 'So I'm just like, (let's) take whatever is given and let's play.' Evans, a dunk machine Monday, was among the players who sounded like they'd vote to end the lockout this week if the National Basketball Players Association handed out ballots. 'We've got people out here struggling and doing things, and not living the best life,' Evans added. 'I just think it's silly that we're fighting over so much money.' Jazz center Al Jefferson smiled and hinted he might get in trouble if he were to go off on his thoughts about the whole sticky labor situation. 'I want to play ball,' Jefferson said."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "The week was fairly typical for the equally serious and silly Shane Battier. One day, he and his son dressed as Batman and Robin for Halloween. The next, Battier testified before Congress about the NCAA and college sports. He has met with Lance Armstrong to learn about growing his charitable foundation and cherished the extra time with his young family. Battier thought he would have signed what could be his last NBA contract by now. A 10-year veteran, he began his career hoping to play 13 years. A free agent after last season ended in Memphis following a trade, Battier thought the offseason would likely determine the last stop of his career. Instead, he waits, knowing that when the league is unlocked, there likely will be a frantic free-agent rush. 'This is the most uncertain time in my career and in my life, really,' Battier said. 'The basketball will figure itself out. I know I can go to one of 30 teams, be productive, help a team win. As father of two, including a six-month-old baby, my first concern is my family. Free agency … is going to be pretty hectic. My family and I are going to have to make a life decision in a very, very short period of time. That's unsettling. You want to go to a good situation for yourself and your family. Under these circumstances, it will be tougher to get done.' "

  • Carla Peay of the Washington Times: " 'I’ve never been in a situation when there was no basketball,' said Wizards swingman Othyus Jeffers. 'I just wish they could come to an agreement. If we don’t have a season, I think everyone understands what a big hit that will be to the league.' Jeffers made it to the NBA the hard way, by way of the NBA Developmental League, and looks at the lockout from a different perspective than those with million-dollar contracts. While a lot of fed-up fans have expressed emotions ranging from anger to apathy at a fight between billionaire owners and millionaire players, Jeffers offered a reminder that the collateral damage goes far beyond those two groups. 'A lot of people will be impacted, people who have families to take care of, and that’s not just about the players. I’m paying attention to what’s going on.' Jeffers said. 'We all need to [pay attention], because a lot of people’s livelihoods are at stake.' "

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Rajon Rondo has heard horror stories from the last lockout — the accounts of players who, instead of staying in shape during the first 32 forfeited games of the 1998-99 season, lived the good life. Shawn Kemp basically ate himself out of an All-Star career. Vin Baker, who finally would hit the wall as a Celtic in 2004, ultimately ballooned to almost 300 pounds. So Rondo doesn’t want for cautionary tales about the most notorious trap at a time like this, with negotiations between the NBA and Players Association headed for a free fall that could obliterate an entire season. 'It won’t be me,' Rondo said recently of the potential to fall off track. 'I’ll be fine, I’ll be ready when the time comes.' In one sense the lockout has been a blessing for the Celtics [team stats] point guard. It has given Rondo additional time to recover from the hyperextended left elbow he suffered in Game 3 of the conference semifinals against Miami in May."