Is an 82-Game Season Still a Possibility for the NBA?

Is an 82-Game Season Still a Possibility for the NBA?

Leave it to the players and owners to wait until Day No. 116 of the NBA Lockout to attempt sound bargaining strategy.

It's been a somewhat common argument in both the NBA and NFL sagas that neither side will move to do anything substantial until games are potentially lost and the money stops flowing. We thought we had reached that point with the NBA earlier this month, when it "cancelled" the first two weeks of its regular season for the first time in over a decade.

But, wait. Is an 82-game regular season is still on the table?


The two sides engaged in what is being a dubbed a 15-hour "marathon meeting" on Wednesday in an effort to make serious headway on a deal. From the details that have emerged, it sounds as though progress was made, enough at least that Stern, Silver, Hunter, Fisher and the rest will be right back at it this afternoon.

Their Bold New Strategy: work on the system issues first—cap exceptions, the cap itself and the luxury tax—and then come back to talk about BRI (basketball related income) once those issues have been settled.

If this sounds familiar, Billy Hunter and the players tried this style of bargaining during the all-night meetings of October 9th and 10th. Though they were able to hammer out an agreement on a reduced version of the mid-level exception, that tiny sense of achievement was quickly squashed by a take-it-or-leave-it BRI ultimatum from the owners, a move that forced the Association to where it currently stands—117 days into a lockout.

But now, as is being reported by multiple outlets, given the progress that's "miraculously" been made over night, a full 82-game season might still be a possibility. From the New York Daily News:

David Stern and the NBA players are not only trying to save Christmas but they may even salvage the entire 2011-12 season.

Following a marathon 15-hour negotiating session that concluded at 3 a.m. Thursday, officials from both sides said there is a possibility that an 82-game schedule can be played if a new collective bargaining agreement is finalized within the next five to seven days.

Granted, producing a fully-ratified CBA in that span of time is unlikely. Moreover, the players could very well balk at the idea of an increase in back-to-back games to keep the league within in its normal dates. But the fact that playing 82 games is still even a remote possibility at this stage is simply awful.

Now, given the response it received, at least a few of you we'll remember my "What's with You People Hating on the NBA?" post from a few weeks back. Thus, you might be surprised that I'm suddenly terming a full 82-game season "sad" and then "awful."

Look, the fact is, even though I love the product, the NBA deserves to lose money over this. It deserves to lose games.

Though the NFL's labor talks were an amoral—perhaps even immoral—exercise in greed, at least the league got its collective "stuff" together in time to save the season without the forfeiture of a single game. The NBA, on the other hand, they've been operating not from greed, but from a position of obdurate stupidity since the beginning of this fiasco on July 1st, and, frankly, even long before that.

Is it good for basketball fans that they're making progress? Yes. But is it nonetheless inexcusable that this progress could not be made in the intervening months between July 1 and October 10th? Same answer.

Don't blame either side. They're both at fault. This video we linked to last week from The Onion captures that sentiment perfectly.

Sure, I want basketball; but, as a loyal fan of the NBA, I'm also more than upset that I've had to watch such child-like behavior unfold between adults who—whether they want to acknowledge it or not—run a profitable league.

Play 74 games for all I care. I'll be happy about it. I'll even be happy for 50. Hell, I'm in for any at all. But, after all this time, don't you dare reach back for those once "lost" 8 games worth of revenue.

None of you deserve an extra cent.

Image courtesy the JBOMB Basketball Blog.

Challenges await Darryl Reynolds, Villanova in run to repeat as national champs

Challenges await Darryl Reynolds, Villanova in run to repeat as national champs

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Darryl Reynolds said it hurt. And he wasn’t alone. 

A month ago, Reynolds and the rest of the Villanova Wildcats found out five-star freshman big man Omari Spellman would not be eligible to play in 2016-17.

And despite Spellman — at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds — being the biggest competition cutting into Reynolds’ playing time for his senior year, Reynolds understood the ramifications from losing what was expected to be a key cog in Villanova’s next run for glory.

“We lost a — no pun intended — big piece to the puzzle,” Reynolds said Tuesday at Villanova’s media day. “He went down, but everybody else has realized that we need that much more from everybody else.

“Me and Omari are close, in more ways than on the court. It would’ve been exciting to play with him. But it also provided that much more motivation.”

Motivation because Reynolds, a Lower Merion grad, also understands what the ramifications mean for him, too. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior may arguably be the most important player on the 2016-17 Wildcats. 

For three years, Reynolds has largely taken a backseat, hidden by the shadow of Daniel Ochefu. Now he’s front and center.

“He battled through that,” fellow senior Josh Hart said. “Never complained. Never had any down moments. Brought it every single day. We know he can play at this level.”

Reynolds heads a position in which Villanova was supposed to have depth. Now it has question marks. Reynolds and Spellman were going to be a 1-2 punch inside and a perfect supplement to a bevy of offensive talent around them. The question marks up front include sophomore Tim Delaney and freshman Dylan Painter. How quickly the two of them get going will be big. And so, too, will be figuring out where Fordham transfer forward Eric Paschall fits in the rotation.

Coach Jay Wright, who said Reynolds would be a starter, talked more about the other pieces behind Reynolds when asked what he’d be expecting from the senior big man.

“I think part of our challenge is Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter,” Wright said. “Which one of them, if not both of them, can step up and give us the depth that Darryl gave us last year up front when we needed size? Down the stretch in big games against big-time teams, you need that size. We’ve got to develop Tim and Dylan and see how they do with that, see how Eric Paschall can do. Can he play bigger? We definitely have our challenges.”

Those challenges also include replacing leadership roles vacated by Ryan Arcidiacono, Ochefu and a trio of walk-ons.

Insert Reynolds there, too. The Wildcats will start three seniors this year. Hart and Kris Jenkins may do most of the scoring, but they’re pretty reserved off the court and when talking to the media.

“Obviously Ryan (Arcidiacono) was a great leader for us. He was our rock,” Hart said. “When you look at this team, a lot of times we look at [Reynolds]. He calms everybody down. He vocally tries to make sure everybody’s on one accord. Basketball-wise, he’s always been good. You saw the Providence game last year when we needed him to step up and he had, what, like 19 and 11?”

Hart remembers the numbers well, even if he added an extra rebound to the ledger. Reynolds was 9 for 10 from the floor and had two blocks in 36 minutes of action to help the Wildcats earn revenge with a road win after the Friars beat them in Philadelphia two weeks prior.

That game was the last of a three-game stretch in late January into early February when Ochefu was sidelined with a concussion. Reynolds’ minutes over that stretch: 29, 31 and 36, respectively.

That experience, Reynolds says, coupled with the rest of 2015-16 — when he saw an uptick in minutes from his sophomore season’s 5.4 per game to 17.1 per game — will be easy to draw from in 2016-17.

“There’s nothing like getting out there and actually playing,” Reynolds said. “You see a lot from the sidelines. You learn a lot playing spot minutes. You get different things. But just being out there throughout entire games, playing 20-plus minutes, it teaches you things that you could never have learned from another perspective. I learned a lot from those experiences and I think it made me the player that I am in many ways. It’s the same thing with this year. I’m still going to learn a ton in a sense of being out there that much more and not having Daniel. 

“In many ways he taught me a lot. So not having him, not having that voice in my ear, not having that guy to go against in practice, it will make me grow up. 

“Nothing wrong with that,” he said with a smile.

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Doug Pederson not afraid to get aggressive with play-calling

Talk to Doug Pederson and he comes across … what’s a nice way to put it … dry?

Very nice guy. Very friendly. Very down to Earth. But not the most dynamic personality in public.

Which is why his personality on gameday has been so surprising.

Pederson is a risk taker as a playcaller. Aggressive and fearless.

Whether it’s going for it on fourth down with the lead, going for two after a successful PAT or throwing deep in a situation that doesn’t necessarily call for it, Pederson has proven to be the proverbial riverboat gambler that Chip Kelly was expected to be but never became.

“My personality is probably a little more conservative by nature, I think,” Pederson said Monday. “You'd probably agree with that.”

Pederson got a laugh with that comment because his public persona is exactly the opposite of his gameday demeanor.

It only took one day before we all got a taste of Pederson’s fearlessness.

In the season opener against the Browns, with the Eagles clinging to a 15-10 lead and a rookie quarterback making his first NFL appearance and a 4th-and-4 at the Browns’ 40--yard-line, he kept the offense on the field.

Carson Wentz responded by connecting with Zach Ertz on a five-yard gain to move the chains, and one play later, the Eagles took command on Wentz’s 35-yard TD pass to Nelson Agholor.

Six weeks in, the Eagles are 5 for 5 on fourth down. Only the Falcons have converted more fourth downs in the NFL this year, and they’re 6 for 10.

In the win over the Bears, the Eagles were 3 for 3 on fourth down, their best fourth-down conversion day in nine years.

This is the first time in 14 years the Eagles have converted five or more fourth downs through six games.

According to Pro Football Reference, the Eagles are one of only seven teams in NFL history to attempt five or more fourth down plays through six games and still be at 100 percent. The Lions are also 5 for 5 this year.

Pederson said analytics are a big part of his decision-making process, but he also trusts his instincts.

“I think it's both,” Pederson said. “But I trust our guys and I trust our offensive line and I think it sends a great message to the rest of the team, to the defense and special teams, that, ‘Hey, if we can convert this and stay on the field,’ it sends a good message.

“And on the other side of that, if you do convert, (it’s about) the message you send to the other team and the fact that you're going to stay aggressive.”

The Eagles are 29th-best in the NFL on third down at just 34 percent. But they’re one of only three teams that’s at 100 percent on fourth down.

“It's kind of a crazy deal when you're not great on third down, but you can be 5 for 5 on fourth down and convert them,” Pederson said. “It's a weird deal. But credit to the guys for the execution.

“I'm going to continue to look at it. I don't ever want to be in a position that I'm going to jeopardize the team at the time (by being too aggressive). Looking at the five fourth-down decisions this year, I don’t think they put us in any harm at that time.”

Wentz is 3 for 3 for 21 yards on fourth down, with the four-yard completion to Ertz, a seven-yard first down to Jordan Matthews in the Bears game and a nine-yard to Dorial Green-Beckham, also in the win in Chicago.

He also rushed six yards for a first down on a 4th-and-2 Sunday in the win over the Vikings. The Eagles’ other fourth-down conversion this year was Ryan Mathews’ one-yard TD on a 4th-and-goal against Chicago.

Pederson said as an assistant coach under Andy Reid, he always found himself asking himself whether he would be conservative or aggressive in crucial situations.

We’re all learning the answer now.

“Yeah, you definitely put yourself in those situations, as a coordinator and a position coach,” he said. “Putting yourself in those spots, it's a lot easier when you're not making the decision obviously to go, ‘Oh, yeah, I would have not gone for it there or not gone for it there.’

“Now, being in this position, it's my tail on the line if we don't convert.”