We’ve been here before but it looks like an end to the lockout is within sight.
The two sides are meeting this morning, and Chris Sheridan reports that the split of basketball revenues is at the top of the agenda. That’s been a source of contention between the sides in earlier sessions. Also, things have usually gotten tougher once the small negotiating groups go back to their constituents. So there’s still time for everything to fall apart but there was real optimism after last night’s bargaining session.
Union exec Billy Hunter said the two sides are “within striking distance of a deal.” Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports quotes a source saying: “There’s a strong expectation [within the negotiations] that hands will shake [Friday].” Howard Beck of the New York Times goes so far as to report that there’s still the possibility of an 82-game schedule if a deal is reached soon and that the league has called arenas to clear dates in late April.
There also have been reports that the new deal would include an amnesty clause, which would allow teams to waive one player and, according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, wipe most of the salary off the books for cap purposes. There also are reports of a “stretch exception” that would allow a team to waive a player and spread the money owed out over several years. Both provisions could potentially help the Hawks shed payroll and gain some cap flexibility.
Of course, once the lockout ends the Hawks are going to be in flux because of the Alex Meruelo issue. ( When earlier reports surfaced about “seller financing” potentially being a problem, my understanding was that it was not an NBA concern since the league’s lawyers were involved with the deal from the beginning. There is no “seller financing” as part of the deal but there was confusion on that point because some ASG members would retain a minority interest in the team.)
Once the lockout is over, who will be calling the shots on Hawks basketball operations? If it’s ASG, do those owners proceed with the belief that Meruelo will eventually buy the team? If the sale falls through, I’m assuming the current owners still want to sell the team so do they proceed with any long-term planning in the interim?
Wilkins plans game
You don’t have to wait until the season to see NBA-caliber ball. Damien Wilkins has organized a charity game at Morehouse on Nov. 5 with proceeds benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of America. League guys expected to play: Teague, Smoove, J.J., Lou Williams , Jordan Crawford, Anthony Morrow, Chris Wilcox, Derrick Favors, James Harden , Jarrett Jack, Jeff Green, Jonny Flynn, Micheal Beasley, Rudy Gay, Russell Westbrook , Shannon Brown and Trey Thompkins.
The game was originally scheduled to be played at Clark Atlanta but Wilkins said high demand for tickets prompted the move to Morehouse. I can see why. That’s a hell of a lineup if all those dudes play. A lot of them have been playing in those pickup games at an ATL church. Someday I’d like to show up at a court with a squad like that.
Speaking of those pickup games. . . . For my blog people worried (for some reason) that Smoove engaged in a summer of sloth, he’s been showing off a hint of abs at those church pickup games. He said he’s not going for the full six-pack look, though. . . .
Reports in Europe indicate Italian club Dinamo Sassari is on the verge of waiving Hawks draft pick Keith Benson and replacing him with Steven Hunter. There were similar reports last week, which the club denied, and Benson stayed. It’s hard to know what to make of this development since I’m not familiar with the dynamics of Dinamo (hey-o!) but it could all end up being moot if the lockout ends soon. . . .
JC2 never did lack confidence. . . .
Michael Cunningham, Hawks beat