Stern issues ultimatum

546058.jpg

Stern issues ultimatum

NEW YORK (AP) Commissioner David Stern gave NBA players an offer and a deadline: Accept a chance to earn up to 51 percent of basketball-related income by Wednesday or get ready for a deal that's a whole lot worse.He wouldn't call it an ultimatum, but it didn't sure sit well with the union."The players will not be intimidated," attorney Jeffrey Kessler said early Sunday after eight hours of negotiations stretched late into the night. "They want to play, they want a season, but they are not going to sacrifice the future of all NBA players under these types of threats of intimidation. It's not happening on Derek Fisher's watch; it's not happening on Billy Hunter's watch; it's not happening on the watch of this executive committee."Kessler said the proposal was really 50.2 percent for the players and called the chance of them ever reaching 51 percent a "fraud" and an "illusion."Whatever. If players don't agree to it by Wednesday, Stern said they would get a deal that would guarantee them just 47 percent of BRI and call for a flex salary cap."We hope that this juxtaposition will cause the union to assess its position and accept the deal," Stern said.Thus ended another frustrating day, one that puts a lengthy 2011-12 season in doubt."Today was another sad day for our fans, for arena workers, our parking lot attendants, our vendors. Very frustrating, sad day," union president Fisher added. "We, for sure, unequivocally, made good faith efforts to try to get this deal done tonight. And we're at a loss for why we could not close it out."And it remains difficult to see how they can. Stern certainly wouldn't speculate on the chances."I'm not going to make percentage guesses or anything like that. We want our players to play. We'd like to have a season," he said. "These are the terms upon which we're prepared to gear up and get in as many games as possible."Players and owners met with federal mediator George Cohen for more than eight hours, and Stern said Cohen offered six "what if?" recommendations relating to the BRI split and the salary cap system.Stern said owners accepted the first five and would put them in writing in a formal proposal to the players, hopefully Sunday. But it wasn't acceptable Saturday, with Stern saying Kessler rejected it."I think it's fair to say that speaking on behalf of the union, Mr. Kessler rejected the mediators' recommendations and our proposal," Stern said. "But hope springs eternal, and we would love to see the union accept the proposal that is now on the table."Though insistent on no more than a 50-50 split, owners will offer the players a band that would allow them to receive between 49 percent and 51 percent of revenue. However, Stern's description of how it would work was confusing, and Kessler said under "the wildest, most unimaginable, favorable projections and we might squeeze out to 50.2."Fisher said the players' proposal would have given them about 51 percent, with a portion taken out to use for retired players' benefit.Day 128 of the lockout came at the end of a tenuous week in which both sides seemed as much at odds with themselves as each other. Some players took part in conference calls to discuss the option of decertifying the union and filing an antitrust case against the league, while hardline owners were in favor of offering the players 47 percent now and not going beyond 50.Although the lengthy meeting offered hope of compromise - despite the rare attendance of Hall of Famer and Charlotte owner Michael Jordan, and Portland billionaire owners Paul Allen, considered to be hard-liners - Kessler said owners never really made any."They came in here with a prearranged plan to try to strong arm the players," he said. "They knew today they were sticking to 50, essentially 50.2. They were going to make almost no movement on the system, and then they were going to say, 'My way, or the 47 percent highway.'"He added there was no reason to talk again before Wednesday if the owners stick to their current position.Other items in the new owners' proposal related to rules for teams paying the luxury tax and for the use of the midlevel exception. Players have said the system issues are just as important as the BRI split, because they fear owners' proposals essentially would prevent teams in the biggest markets from being free agent options.A month of the season already has been lost, and more games could be in jeopardy soon. Nobody said the decertification threat made any real impact on the discussions, but Fisher also said there's not a deal yet that's worth a vote.If they can't agree to one by Wednesday, it will be even harder to find common ground. Players already rejected a flex cap in June.Fisher and Kessler again questioned the owners' willingness to negotiate, but Stern said they were ready to make a deal - by Wednesday."We want to allow the union enough time to consider our most recent proposal, and we are hopeful that they will accept," he said.As for the Wednesday deadline, he added that it "doesn't aid the negotiating process to just leave it hanging out there."

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

Source: Kings hire Perry as Executive VP of Basketball Operations

SACRAMENTO -- The changes keep coming in Sacramento. NBC Sports California has confirmed that the Kings have hired former Orlando Magic executive, Scott Perry, to fill the role of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Perry will report directly to Vlade Divac, who will retain final say in player personnel decisions.

Perry spent the last five seasons in Orlando as Vice President of Basketball Operations and Assistant General Manager. He was let go from the Magic last week following the dismissal of General Manager Rob Hennigan.

Perry, 53, began his career as an executive with the Detroit Pistons where he held the position of Director of Player Personnel from 2000-2007. He briefly left the Pistons, joining the Seattle Supersonics organization as an Assistant General Manager of the team for the 2007-08 season, before spending another four years as Detroit’s Vice President of Basketball Operations from 2008-2012.

Highly regarded around the league, Perry adds another experienced basketball mind to the Kings front office.

During his postseason media availability last week, Vlade Divac spoke openly about his willingness to accept additional help.

“We’re open always to improve - the team, the front office, everything is open for improvement,” Divac said. “I’m very happy and confident in what we have right now, but like I said, we should be open if something can you better.”

With the addition of Luke Bornn on Wednesday to head up the team’s analytics department, and Perry on Friday, the Kings appear to be building a stronger infrastructure as they move into a full youth movement.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical was first with the information.

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

Kings add new stat guru Luke Bornn to front office

SACRAMENTO -- Changes are coming to the Sacramento Kings. The team quietly made news on Monday evening when it was reported that Roland Beech, the Kings VP of Basketball Results, will not return after two years on the job.

But Sacramento hasn’t abandoned the analytics movement. In fact, they are about to invest heavily in a new group, with a new face at the helm. -- Luke Bornn, who will join the Kings front office as the new VP of Analytics and Strategy, NBC Sports California has learned.

In accepting the role, Bornn, 31, will leave soccer giant A.S. Roma as well as his positions as an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University and visiting scholar at Harvard University. He’ll be taxed with building a new department in Sacramento that will look to bring in some of the brightest minds in the field of analytics.

He is a stat head for sure, but one with a focus on creating a system of sketching and mapping the spatial movements of players using the incredible technologies now available to teams through the NBA’s SportVU system.

“We’ll be looking at more advanced modeling tools often with the player tracking data to try and get a deeper understanding of player performance,” Bornn told NBC Sports California. “There is a lot of what happens on the court that really is not picked up by the box score. A lot of players that make big contributions make it in ways that don’t appear. It’s not an assist, it’s not a rebound, it’s not a block.”

According to their site, “SportVU utilizes a six-camera system installed in basketball arenas to track the real-time positions of players and the ball 25 times per second. Utilizing this tracking data, STATS is able to create a wealth of innovative statistics based on speed, distance, player separation and ball possession.”

Introduced to the basketball data world while working at Harvard in 2012 by Kirk Goldsberry, who now works for the San Antonio Spurs front office, Bornn is already well known in the basketball world for his work.

“Kirk and I sort of hit it off,” Bornn said. “He had just gotten SportVU data and he basically said to me, ‘I have this data, but I have no idea what to do with it, I have the basketball side, but I don’t have the technical side.’ I had the technical side and so it started a long collaboration of working with player tracking data.”

Bornn has co-authored papers presented at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in each of the previous four years, including four straight Sloan finalist papers.

Every team in the league has someone looking over this data, but Bornn hopes to tailor the information to the needs of the Kings’ staff.

“It’s not about me coming in and saying, ‘Here is how to think about the game and here’s the magic numbers,’” Bornn said. “It’s really about me going to them and saying, ‘How do you think about the game, what is it that you care about, is there questions you want answered and can I help you with that?’”  

The plan is for Bornn and his team to build a database of sorts that is accessible to players, coaches and the front office that relies heavily on video to show information, instead of just numbers on a page. They will have your conventional statistics, but an array of other options as well specifically created for the team.

“My role with the Kings will be all encompassing,” Bornn said. “It’s player evaluation, opponent scouting, it’s performance - with the sports science group there. We’ll be looking at all aspects, from the basics of stats, all the way to the more advanced metrics.”

From developing oncourt strategies to charting player health, Bornn and his team will make information accessible to the Kings’ front office, coaching and medical staff with the hope of adding yet another resource for the franchise.

Predicting player injuries is one of the hot button topics in the NBA at this moment with the league going as far as elongating the All-Star break and taking another 10 days onto the schedule to help spread out back-to-back games. It’s a complex issue that is in its fledgling stages.

“In terms of injuries, that’s where everyone wants to go and I think that’s where we’ll aim to go as well, but right now, that’s very much an unsolved problem,” Bornn said.

It appears that the Kings are jumping into the analytics field with both feet. Bornn is moving to Sacramento with his family and will be on the ground as the Kings prepare for a very important 2017 NBA Draft and then free agency.