NEW YORK (AP) After nearly two years of bickering, NBA players and owners are back on the same side."We want to play basketball," Commissioner David Stern said.Come Christmas Day, they should be.The sides reached a tentative agreement early Saturday to end the 149-day lockout and hope to begin the delayed season with a marquee tripleheader Dec. 25. Most of a season that seemed in jeopardy of being lost entirely will be salvaged if both sides approve the handshake deal.Barring a change in scheduling, the 2011-12 season will open with the Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, followed by Miami at Dallas in an NBA finals rematch before MVP Derrick Rose and Chicago visiting Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.Neither side provided many specifics about the deal, and there are still legal hurdles that must be cleared before gymnasiums are open again."We thought it was in both of our interest to try to reach a resolution and save the game," union executive director Billy Hunter said.After a secret meeting earlier this week that got the broken process back on track, the sides met for more than 15 hours Friday, working to save the season. Stern said the agreement was "subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations, but we're optimistic that will all come to pass and that the NBA season will begin Dec. 25."The league plans a 66-game season and aims to open training camps Dec. 9, with free agency opening at the same time. Stern has said it would take about 30 days from an agreement to playing the first game."All I feel right now is finally,'" Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade told The Associated Press.Just 12 days after talks broke down and Stern declared the NBA could be headed to a "nuclear winter," he sat next to Hunter to announce the 10-year deal, with either side able to opt out after the sixth year."For myself, it's great to be a part of this particular moment in terms of giving our fans what they wanted and wanted to see," said Derek Fisher, the president of the players' association.A majority on each side is needed to approve the agreement, first reported by CBSSports.com. The NBA needs votes from 15 of 29 owners. (The league owns the New Orleans Hornets.) Stern said the labor committee plans to discuss the agreement later Saturday and expects them to endorse it and recommend to the full board.The union needs a simple majority of its 430-plus members. That process is a bit more complicated after the players dissolved the union Nov. 14. Now, they must drop their antitrust lawsuit in Minnesota and reform the union before voting on the deal.Because the union disbanded, a new collective bargaining agreement can only be completed once the union has reformed. Drug testing and other issues still must be negotiated between the players and the league, which also must dismiss its lawsuit filed in New York."We're very pleased we've come this far," Stern said. "There's still a lot of work to be done."The sides will quickly return to work later Saturday, speaking with attorneys and their own committees to keep the process moving.When the NBA returns, owners hope to find the type of parity that exists in the NFL, where the small-market Green Bay Packers are the current champions. The NBA has been dominated in recent years by the biggest spenders, with Boston, Los Angeles and Dallas winning the last four titles."I think it will largely prevent the high-spending teams from competing in the free-agent market the way they've been able to in the past. It's not the system we sought out to get in terms of a harder cap, but the luxury tax is harsher than it was. We hope it's effective," deputy commissioner Adam Silver said."We feel ultimately it will give fans in every community hope that their team can compete for championships."The league hopes fans come right back, despite their anger over a work stoppage that followed such a successful season. But owners wanted more of the league's 4 billion in annual revenues after players were guaranteed 57 percent of basketball-related income in the old deal.Participating in the talks for the league were Stern, Silver, Spurs owner Peter Holt, the chairman of the labor relations committee, and attorneys Rick Buchanan and Dan Rube. The players were represented by executive director Billy Hunter, president Derek Fisher, vice president Maurice Evans, attorney Ron Klempner and economist Kevin Murphy.Owners locked out the players July 1, and the sides spent most of the summer and fall battling over the division of revenues and other changes owners wanted in a new collective bargaining agreement. They said they lost hundreds of millions of dollars in each year of the former deal, ratified in 2005, and they wanted a system where the big-market teams wouldn't have the ability to outspend their smaller counterparts.Players fought against those changes, not wanting to see any teams taken out of the market when they became free agents."This was not an easy agreement for anyone. The owners came in having suffered substantial losses and feeling the system wasn't working fairly across all teams," Silver said. "I certainly know the players had strong views about expectations in terms of what they should be getting from the system. It required a lot of compromise from both parties' part, and I think that's what we saw today."Even the final day had turbulent patches. It required multiple calls with the owners' labor relations committee, all the while knowing another breakdown in talks would mean not only the loss of the Christmas schedule but possibly even the entire season."We resolved, despite some even bumps this evening, that the greater good required us to knock ourselves out and come to this tentative understanding," Stern said.He denied the litigation was a factor in accelerating a deal, but things happened relatively quickly after the players filed a suit that could have won them some 6 billion in damages."For us the litigation is something that just has to be dealt with," Stern said. "It was not the reason for the settlement. The reason for the settlement was we've got fans, we've got players who would like to play and we've got others who are dependent on us. And it's always been our goal to reach a deal that was fair to both sides and get us playing as soon as possible, but that took a little time."It finally yielded the second shortened season in NBA history, joining the 1998-99 lockout that reduced the schedule to 50 games. This time the league will miss 16 games off the normal schedule.Though the deal's expected to be approved, it may not be unanimous as there are factions of hard-liners in both camps who will be unhappy with substantive portions of the deal."Let's all pray this turns out well," Pacers forward Danny Granger wrote on Twitter.But getting what the owners wanted took a toll. Stern, after more than 27 years as the league's commissioner, hoped to close a deal much sooner but was committed for fighting for the owners' wishes even at the risk of damaging his legacy. Hunter dealt with anger from agents and even questions from his own players about his strategy, wondering why it could so long for the players to use the threat of litigation to give them leverage that had otherwise eluded them.The sides met just twice in the first two months of the lockout before stepping up the pace in September, when it was already too late to open camps on time. The sides tried meeting in small groups, large groups and even mediation, but nothing sparked compromise.Things changed this week with the entrance of Jim Quinn, a former NBPA counsel who had good relationships on both sides. The meeting Friday was held at the office of his law firm, though he did not take part.Hunter said the terms of the deal would come out shortly, preferring to keep them private until they could be shared with the players. They might not like the deal, but it will be better than what many of them feared. Resigned to possibly missing the season, some had signed deals overseas so they would have some paycheck.Instead, they're a step closer to returning home.AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.
Sacramento — Sacramento Kings Owner and Chairman Vivek Ranadivé released the following statement.
“I have a deep respect for our nation’s unwavering commitment to free speech and support all Americans’ right to freely express themselves. The President's recent comments are deeply disappointing, because our focus should be on fostering a culture of sensitivity and inclusion. Our mission at the Sacramento Kings has always been to unite our community and use our platform to create positive change, so we continue to stand with our players, and all people, who use their platform to raise awareness and make Sacramento and our country proud.”
Kings media services
It’s been a summer of change for the Sacramento Kings. A roster upheaval has 10 new players vying for minutes once training camp opens on Tuesday. The coaching staff has been bolstered and fresh blood was added to the front office in the form of analytics guru Luke Bornn and assistant general manager Brandon Williams. On Thursday, one more piece to the puzzle was brought in to help develop the team’s young core.
With the hiring of Galen Duncan as the franchise’s new Vice President of the Kings Academy and Professional Development, Sacramento is making a major investment in the future of their team.
According to the team’s official press release, “Duncan is responsible for implementation of the Kings Academy program, a developmental, player-centric curriculum aligning multi-faceted organizational philosophies and ideals to help athletes mature into well-rounded professionals. Under Duncan’s oversight, Kings Academy will augment on-court progress with access to practical material and experiences that help balance on-court priorities and personal responsibilities with opportunities to become impactful contributors in the community.”
After 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Duncan is making the jump to the NBA game. He’s already had a taste of the league, working with the league office as part of the NBA Rookie Transition Program.
With five rookies and another four sophomores on the roster, the Kings are investing in a seasoned mentor and life coach. Armed with a Ph.D. in health psychology from Walden University, Duncan will aid the players in everything from finding an apartment to dealing with the stress of life as a 19-year-old millionaire with no experience paying a bill.
“My passion has always been sports,” Duncan told NBC Sports California. “Sports has done wonderful things for me. I don’t care what level they’re at or how much money they make, I think there is something to learn and I have something to teach.”
With the Lions, he brought incoming rookie classes through everything from etiquette courses to teaching them how to tie ties. His goal is to transform a group of young men into professionals, who just happen to be professional athletes.
It’s not just about making a polished product for the media and general public. Duncan will work with players on a variety of personal issues, including money management, dealing with family and professional on-court performance.
“Unfortunately, sometimes family can be your worst enemy,” Duncan said. “But if structured correctly and if nurtured, I think the education goes beyond just the player. I think you have to educate the family as well about what they’re doing.”
The transition to the NBA game will be interesting for Duncan. He comes from a game where the incoming rookie class can be anywhere from 10-15 players. He hasn’t dealt with 19-year-olds at the NFL level and guaranteed contracts are new as well, but the job is very similar.
Sacramento has always had a support staff to help with the transition to the NBA game, but the addition of Duncan is a new level of commitment by the team. They have a huge group of young players and they are making an investment into their futures and the future of the franchise. It’s a clear step in the right direction.