Will the NBA be back by Christmas?


Will the NBA be back by Christmas?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Commissioner David Stern said his "gut" tells him there will be no NBA basketball on Christmas without a labor agreement by Tuesday. That day, when owners and players are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator, is a "really big deal," he added. Owners will then open two days of board meetings Wednesday, and without an agreement to bring them, Stern believes further cancellations are coming. "Right now, Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, just before my owners come into town, having brought in the labor relations committee and Billy (Hunter) having brought in his executive committee, it's time to make the deal," Stern said Thursday. "If we don't make it on Tuesday, my gut -- this is not in my official capacity of canceling games -- but my gut is that we won't be playing on Christmas Day." Stern canceled the first two weeks of the regular season on Monday when the sides couldn't reach a deal before a deadline he had set. Christmas is traditionally the first big day of the NBA season. This year's three-game schedule features the NBA finals rematch between the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. The sides will need to act quickly to save it. The talks have stalled over the structure of the salary cap system and the division of revenues between owners and players. They will meet Tuesday with George Cohen, the same mediator who tried to resolve the NFL's labor dispute months before it eventually ended. Asked if Cohen had the ability to move the sides toward a deal, Stern said: "I'm hoping he does because I think that if we don't make a deal by the time my owners meetings come in Wednesday and Thursday, after we've met with the mediator on Monday and then met with each other on Tuesday, then I despair. "Because we will have lost two weeks for sure on our way to losing more games, offers will get worse, possibly on both sides, and the deal's going to slip away from us, as may the season," he added. "So this is the time to make a deal." In a separate interview with NBA TV, Stern said he thought one was in reach Monday. The sides met for more than 12 hours over two days before talks broke down, and he says despite frequent meetings lately that "we aren't making any progress." "How many times does it pay to keep meeting, and to have the same things thrown back at you?" Stern said. "We're ready to sit down and make a deal. I don't believe that the union is. Hopefully by Tuesday, aided by the mediator, they'll be ready to make a deal. Certainly, I'll bring my owners ready to make a deal." Hunter is meeting with players on Friday in Los Angeles. The union has balked at owners' proposal to replace their hard salary cap plan by making the luxury tax much more punitive. Players believe it would become such a deterrent to spending that it would essentially work as a hard cap. The sides also have to decide how to divide up about 4 billion in annual revenues. Players were guaranteed 57 percent of basketball-related income in the previous collective bargaining agreement and have proposed lowering it to 53 percent. Owners are seeking the same 53-47 split in their favor. The parties have discussed a 50-50 split, which the players rejected. In the radio interview, Stern repeated a claim he made Monday that the original discussion of an even split was initiated by the players. They also are still clashing over the length of the agreement, with players not wanting to go beyond six years and owners seeking a 10-year deal but offering the players an opt-out after seven. Player contract lengths, luxury tax payments and the use of spending exceptions are among the other big items remaining. "We haven't even addressed many of the issues," Stern said. So there is a lot left -- and now perhaps just a few days to save basketball in this calendar year. "Deal Tuesday, or we potentially spiral into situations where the worsening offers on both sides make it even harder for the parties to make a deal," Stern said. The NBA TV interview aired Thursday at 10 p.m. EDT.

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

49ers players get week break, while coaches search for answers

SANTA CLARA -- In the early afternoon Monday after the 49ers’ day-after-game meetings concluded, the players were excused for the next seven days.

Coach Chip Kelly opted to give the 49ers a week break, rather than going through a couple days of practices before providing the players with a mandatory four consecutive days off during the bye week.

The 49ers on Sunday dropped to 1-6 on the season with a 34-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But there will be no extra practices to attempt to sharpen their performance.

“They’ve been at it since July 31st,” Kelly said. “They haven’t had more than one day off in a row. So I think at this point in time that’s what our whole MO has always been.

“They’ll meet with our strength and conditioning coaches. They have their lifting programs in terms of what they can do and what they have to do. And I think at this point in time we need to heal up. I think it’s a good break for them to do what they need to do and that’s the way I’ve always done it and our teams have been fresh coming out of the bye week.”

While the players will be off for a week, Kelly said the coaching staff will continue to work through Friday in an attempt to identify areas in which they can improve and snap out of their six-game losing streak on Nov. 6 against the New Orleans Saints at Levi’s Stadium.

“We’ve got a lot of self-scout that we have set aside,” Kelly said. “We’ll be in here all week kind of looking at what we’ve done in the first seven games, what have our opponents done to us in the first seven games relative to what we thought going into the game based on the break downs. Did they change?

“If they were 60-percent pressure going into our game and they were only 30-percent pressure in our game, trying to delve into how people are defending us. How are people attacking us from an offensive standpoint in terms of attacking our defense and what their tendencies were going into the game and then what actually transpired in the game. So we’ve got a lot of film work and a lot of studying to do here during this week.”

Kelly reiterated on Monday that he is not looking at leaving the 49ers after this season. He said he has not heard from any schools with coaching openings or potential openings. Kelly said he has tried to remain focused on his job through the longest losing streak he has ever experienced as a coach.

“No one’s happy, so I don’t know if the word’s anguish, but I mean obviously you try to keep it consistent in terms of your approach to everything that you do,” Kelly said. “I don’t think being consistent and being even-keeled means that it doesn’t bother you or that you’re not frustrated in terms of what’s gone on.”

Kelly said the 49ers have the talent to win games. When asked why the coaches have not been able to extract more victories, Kelly placed the blame for the team’s poor play on himself and his staff.

“That’s on us,” Kelly said. “I agree 100-percent in terms of what you’re saying. But our job is to put our players in position to make plays and we’re not doing a good enough job of that right now.”

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders were certainly happy they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars into submission. They jumped out to a strong halftime lead, played smart complimentary football and, at 33-16, ended up with a large margin of victory.

All, however, was not right with the world.

Derek Carr lamented settling for too many field goals. Latavius Murray wanted more efficiency from his runs. Defensive players saw progress in several deficient areas, still seeking greater cohesion and consistency.

[BAIR: Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 33-16 win over Jaguars]

Sunday’s big victory over lowly Jacksonville was not a sign they've arrived. It was proof these Raiders remain a work in progress.

Records normally suffer with much to correct. These Raiders are 5-2, and feel better football’s ahead.

“That’s what is great about this team is that we haven’t played our best yet,” Murray said. “That’s a good feeling moving forward, knowing there are things you can get better at and you’re still 5-2.”

Winning while fixing things; that’s a coach’s dream. It’s also easier when players know it, that egos don’t expand and confidence doesn’t become arrogance.

“I like that part. I like the fact that we recognize it,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m certainly going to point it out. There are things that we have to do better. I think it’s healthy.

“You should enjoy the wins. You should feel good about the success. Take pride in it. We worked hard for it, but to have a healthy respect for what’s coming and the need to play better and the need to continue to grow as a football team as we go throughout the year. That’s a mature way to look at it, and I’m very pleased about that with a younger team.”

The Raiders are a confident bunch and have survived several games on guts, guile and turnovers -- a recipe for success with inconsistent production.

The Raiders defense believes it made strides in the Jaguars win, though there’s significant work remaining to be a decent defense. With the offense rolling, that’s all the Raiders need to be a top team. Defenders aren’t striving for decent. They want more, and believe that realizing potential could put them in position for a playoff push.

“This team has so much talent, with good coaches and good players,” cornerback David Amerson said. “The sky’s the limit. Once we all start clicking, we can go out there and beat teams 30-0. Once we get to that point, that’s when we can look towards the playoffs and things like that. We have just as much talent as any team in the league.”