First Cup: Thursday

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "This round of negotiations is being conducted with small groups on each side. Stern was joined by Silver, the San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt — who heads the N.B.A.’s labor relations committee — and the league’s top two lawyers, Rick Buchanan and Dan Rube. Representing the union were Fisher and the executive director Billy Hunter, along with the union’s outside counsel Jeff Kessler, its outside economist, Kevin Murphy, and its lead attorney, Ron Klempner. Although a group of strident owners, most of them from small markets, have been dictating the N.B.A.’s position, Stern has the authority to make the necessary compromises, according to a person involved in the talks on the league side. 'David is going to do what needs to be done,' the person said."

  • Tim Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News: "Spurs majority owner Peter Holt has been one of the most visible NBA owners during the lockout, mainly because of his role as chairman of the league’s labor relations committee. Holt has been grouped with several other owners such as Phoenix’s Robert Sarver, Charlotte’s Michael Jordan and Cleveland’s Dan Gilbert for his stance in bargaining sessions for a new collective bargaining agreement. That attitude has reached several players agents, according to Alex Kennedy of Hoops World.com. Kennedy reports that at least one unnamed player agent vows retaliation against the Spurs and other teams because of their ownership’s comments during the strike. ... Of course, the Spurs have never been huge players in the free-agent game in the first place. And for the right player, the Spurs’ unique team philosophy with Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford has always been attractive. It will be interesting to see if there’s any backlash coming to any franchise. Or, will players simply just be happy to play basketball again when the lockout is settled that they won’t hold many grudges?"

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: "It's believed many small-market owners, alarmed by the defections of LeBron James from Cleveland and Carmelo Anthony from Denver, desired radical changes to the system when the lockout began July 1. So did many fans in places like Milwaukee, Portland,Sacramento and here. But as of Wednesday, the league was no longer trying to impose a hard cap (although one might return to the table if a deal isn't struck). The concept of a franchise tag, used in the NFL to keep key players in a market, never seemed to merit serious consideration. That leaves hikes in the luxury tax, coupled with bans on taxpaying teams from using full midlevel exceptions and executing sign-and-trades, as the biggest deterrents to player movement. Were small-market owners, who represent a majority, willing to bend on those issues to secure a new collective-bargaining agreement? And if small-market owners traded free-agency issues for the revenue split, would some fans believe they bargained away a shot at more competitive balance? Commissioner David Stern was reportedly authorized by owners to improve their systems proposals slightly if it meant closing a deal."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Baron Davis is starting to get the itch. His body knows it's time he should be playing games. The Cavaliers point guard said he's definitely ready to play. 'You've definitely got the itch,' Davis said Wednesday at the Rock and Rock Hall of Fame and Museum. 'I'm starting to get jittery with all this extra energy.' Davis said he's usually looks at the bright side of things. He said he thinks the NBA lockout will end soon. 'I'm always optimistic,' he said. 'I'm an optimistic person. I know both sides are working hard, but I know that the players and the union are working extremely hard to get what's fair. I don't think that's always translated in the public. It's frustrating when you're always leading with your best foot and you still get a lot of backlash and people make comments to you on the street.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Apparently, Timberwolves players are ready to play. 'Outside howling ready for the season!!!!,' Wolves forward Michael Beasley tweeted and posted a photo of Wednesday’s full moon while the two sides continued to talk late into the night. 'Who with me #howlnation' A little later, rookie Derrick Williams tweeted, 'Minnesota..we will be there soon!!' With the 'clock stopped,' Stern said that deadline won't arrive until this current negotiating session ends. If it does without a deal, then he says that 'reset' proposal -- a 47 percent split for players and harder cap -- will be the one on table. 'We’re trying to demonstrate our good faith and I think the union is trying to demonstrate its good faith,' Stern said."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Glen Davis already has made his position clear. He tweeted last week, out of desperation, that the players should move to accept a 51-49 percent split of basketball related revenue (BRI), and end the process. He feels the same way now about hammering out a 50-50 split, the best offer ownership is likely to put on the table. 'Yeah, that (tweet) was true for how I felt,' he said. 'I want to play, but at the same time I want us all to be on the right track. I want something that is going to be fair for both the owners and the players. We should get what we’re worth, but we should also get back to playing. Hopefully we can work on this together. We have to see the fans’ side of it, too.' As a result, Davis is anxious to exercise his union right to vote. And he hopes that opportunity comes soon. If it were up to him, the union would accept ownership’s offer. 'I hope so,' Davis said. 'At the end of the day the (players’ representatives) don’t make decisions for the majority of the players.' "

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "It’s not often you get to see a behind the scenes look at two of the greatest basketball players in the world working out together. But LeBron James has released a video of a private workout with Kevin Durant that was held on the campus of the University of Akron. For six good minutes, you can see what a typical workout might be like for the two superstars as they are put through a series of strength and conditioning drills in the weight room and on the football field, as well as ball-handling and shooting drills on the basketball court."

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: "J.J. Redick is not just a sharpshooter on the basketball court, he is sharper than most when it comes to what is happening in the ongoing labor dispute. And to put it bluntly, he says, the players 'have gotten screwed.' He says he 'would not take the deal that’s currently on the table. And he says he’ ready to ;miss the year' rather than sign a bad deal. Redick had some strong opinions about David Stern and the hard-line NBA owners when he was a guest on our Open Mike radio show Tuesday. One of those hard-line owners is reportedly Michael Jordan of the Charlotte Bobcats. When he played, Jordan felt the players deserved the brunt of the money, but now he feels the owners deserve a bigger share. The stance, Redick correctly pointed out, is 'extremely hypocritical.' Redick said it’s gotten personal and emotional and many players are upset with owners who are trying to crush the players at the negotiating table."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The NBA lockout is real. So is amnesty. And for Mike Miller so is rehab from a pair of offseason surgeries. So, yes, that is Miller's Hillsboro Shores estate that recently was placed on the market for $9 million. And no, the Miami Heat forward is not looking to move. Or at least is hoping there is no need. The veteran forward said Wednesday he is just taking stock of the current situation in both his career and the NBA. And that means taking stock of his 9,968-square-foot estate with the $180,000 in annual property taxes. 'It's a couple of things,' Miller said. 'Just preparing myself; never know what can happen.' Among the expected provisions in the post-lockout NBA is an amnesty clause that would allow each team to remove one contract from its salary-cap and luxury-tax obligations, with that player still receiving his full salary upon his release."