Law & OrderNBA: Union Rejects Deal, Will Move to Dissolve

Law & OrderNBA: Union Rejects Deal, Will Move to Dissolve

The last time the NBA had a work stoppage, the deal to resume play wasn't struck until January of that year—a full three months into what would have been the normal season. As the date currently reads November 14, it remains early to go into full-on panic mode.

Wait, you mean the union actually wants to decertify?

Alright, nevermind. Forget it. We're all screwed.

If you were wondering what exactly defined "worst case scenario" when it comes to the NBA's ongoing lockout...well, here you go. This is honestly like the NFL's bastard little brother of labor strife. Whereas the NFLPA filed for legal relief even before their CBA expired and the league as a whole resolved its labor dispute after just 136 days, the NBA players are opting to file suit on day No. 137 of their own lockout. See, we're hitting a lot of the same notes, but at literally all of the wrong times.

Since we last left you with the idea that the clock was ticking down on the players' opportunity to keep these negotiations working in their financial favor, the union has rejected two consecutive proposals from the owners and is now, believe it or not, moving to dissolve itself.

The abandonment of its status as a union no longer makes the negotiations a collective bargaining dispute, and, instead, potentially makes the lockout a legitimate illegality. Once the union officially disbands, it will move to take legal action against the league—the benefit and, really, entire point of decertification in the first place.

The idea, in the minds of the players, is that the NBA is in violation of federal anti-trust law. The probable counter, in the minds of the owners, is that the players are now negotiating in bad faith and that their decertification is an unfair bargaining tactic that should summarily dismissed as such.

Which side is right? Well, neither really. All four major sporting leagues are in clear and flagrant violation of federal anti-trust laws, but have never been taken to task for it. The courts simply look the other way and more or less consider the leagues as special entities that—for reasons that are never fully stipulated—fall outside the scope of the legislation on the books.

Knowing this exemption is rather bewildering and potentially tenuous, the players are hoping to the blackmail the owners into a deal that's more to the former's liking before a court could ever rule on the league's legal status.

This, as you might unsurprised to hear, would take an absurdly long time to ever reach a definitive end. More than anything, the players have just made the proceedings even more bitter than before by walking away and opening up a lawsuit.

Whoever their legal team is should have hopefully advised the players that this maneuver will have very little effect on how the CBA ultimately settles. The lawyers will do their best to once again show that a professional sporting entity is in indisputable violation of the law. But that claim will once again be disputed. And the result will be appealed. And appealed again. And possibly remanded at some point. Then possibly appealed again. And, all the while, we will not have basketball.

Decertification is a tactic—not an end. It serves a purpose, but it will not get the players back on the floor any faster, unless both parties realize that the threat of a legal ruling is greater than whatever feelings are hurt via compromise. Indeed, if they perceive the move to the courts to be anything less than a tactic—i.e. a legitimate resolution to the lockout—then you can kiss the season goodbye.

Now, when I wrote up top that "we're all screwed," it was intended to convey that a solely legal course would indeed doom the season. That said, there's nothing that prevents the sides from continuing to negotiate. Indeed, this extra ax swinging over their heads might even result in a fairer and quicker deal. So, it isn't over. It shouldn't be over. Nothing about what happened today dictates that it's over. Now, we just have to hope that both sides are actually of that same mindset.

For the record, I know "most of you" really "don't care" about all of this, but there's like seven of us who are still into the NBA; so, you'll have to pardon me for—in no way forcibly—interrupting your lives with these occasional updates. If it makes you any happier, the prospect of even discussing this matter as related to antitrust action has me "listening to The Cure a lot."

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

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Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

Ben Simmons' fellow NBA rookies may not think too highly of him, but when the best basketball player on the planet is giving him pointers, he must be doing something right.

On Tuesday, a photo of Simmons and LeBron James dribbling side by side started making the rounds on Instagram. That's right. The Sixers' number-one overall draft pick and franchise savior is apparently training with the four-time league MVP and reigning world champion.

#Klutch @klutchsports

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Those workouts continued on Wednesday, when 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade posted a photo of himself, Simmons and James, as well as Richard Jefferson and Jordan McRae. That's some good company for a first-year player to keep.

Good day of work!

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

What does all of this mean for Simmons and the Sixers? Hard to say, but it can't be a bad thing that the rookie point-forward is spending time with a pair of future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Surely he must be learning something.

That's good news for the Sixers, who hope that Simmons can even come close to living up to the lofty comparisons some have drawn to James already.

Tonight's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for 1st time against Gio Gonzalez

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Tonight's Lineup: Tommy Joseph starts for 1st time against Gio Gonzalez

Tommy Joseph is back in the starting lineup … as he's expected to be for most of the final month of the season. Joseph bats fourth behind third baseman Maikel Franco.

Joseph did not start Tuesday night in the Phillies' 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals. The 25-year-old is hitting .251 with 17 home runs and 34 RBIs.

The slugger has a significantly higher average against left-handed pitching than righties, despite clubbing 12 of his 17 homers against right-handed pitchers.

Joseph has yet to faced Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez.

In other lineup notes, Tyler Goeddel gets the start in left field and will hit eighth, while A.J. Ellis gets his second start as a Phillie. He'll catch Adam Morgan.

Here is the full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Freddy Galvis, SS
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Tyler Goeddel, LF
9. Adam Morgan, P

For more on tonight's game, read Steven Tydings' game notes.

Villanova season preview: It's Zach Bednarczyk team now

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Villanova Athletic Media Relations

Villanova season preview: It's Zach Bednarczyk team now

VILLANOVA, Pa. — When star quarterback John Robertson suffered a season-ending injury early in Villanova’s 2015 campaign, Zach Bednarczyk was thrown into a difficult spot.

How could an inexperienced redshirt freshman be expected to replace the reigning Walter Payton Award winner? Could the Wildcats still accomplish all of their lofty preseason goals?

In the end, Bednarczyk probably handled it as well as could be expected, performing admirably in some spots (like when he spearheaded a late comeback against rival Delaware just after Robertson got hurt) and poorly in others (like when Penn upset Villanova for the first time in a century the very next week).

But now, after getting almost a full year of experience under his belt, Villanova head coach Andy Talley is expecting Bednarczyk to become a better, smarter player — and, most of all, someone who can lead the Wildcats into the FCS playoffs in Talley’s final season.

“I think the thing that he did last year was that he was a little bit of a gun-slinger,” Talley said. “He threw the ball around a little bit. Now he’s more judicious with where he throws the football, his outlet receivers. He’s not trying to gun the ball in all of the time and make a play.”

While Talley would certainly like his QB to cut down on some mistakes — he threw seven interceptions last season — he does appreciate that Bednarczyk possesses some of the same playmaking skills that made Robertson such a star at ’Nova, including the ability to gain yards on the ground.

In his first season last year, Bednarczyk led the Wildcats in rushing with 515 yards and five touchdowns while throwing for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns en route to nabbing CAA co-Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

This season, which begins for Villanova Saturday at Pittsburgh, Talley hopes he can match those running totals while becoming a 2,000-yard passer with fewer interceptions.

“Last year he was rookie of the year in the CAA but he really could have been an all-league player if he didn’t throw the ball in some bad spots,” Talley said. “I think he learned the hard way by having the ball go against him. In the last game of the year, we had a chance to tie for the championship and go to the playoffs if we had beaten JMU. And he threw two picks that went back for touchdowns. So he’s sort of learned his craft the hard way.”

That season-ending loss to James Madison still stings for the Wildcats, who finished with a 6-5 overall record and missed out on qualifying for the FCS playoffs for just the third time in eight years.

That’s something they hope to reverse in 2016 under the growing leadership of Bednarczyk, who agrees with his coach that he needs to become a smarter player.

“Last year I definitely took too many risks,” the sophomore QB said. “This year, although I still want to throw the ball around because that’s my strong suit, I definitely don’t want to force anything. I’ll try to cut back on my turnovers. If it looks like it’s too tight of a window to squeeze it this year, I’ll just tuck it and run.”

Bednarczyk will certainly need to be poised in the pocket with Talley admitting that the Wildcats aren’t as deep at receiver as they’ve been in years past. 

At the same time, he may not have to put too many points on the board, considering how good Villanova’s defense can be. Although the unit graduated star linebacker Don Cherry, who’s been in preseason camp with the Eagles, they still boast a veteran unit that includes linebacker Austin Calitro and defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon.

Kpassagnon, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound NFL prospect, is an especially intriguing player for the Wildcats.

“I think all the pro teams have been through to see him,” Talley said. “He can run. He’s tough. He diagnoses well. He’s in our business school, so he’s smart as can be. And he carries that over to the field.”

Kpassagnon, who was named to the CAA preseason all-conference team, is excited for his senior season but admitted that helping the Wildcats rise to the top of a loaded league won’t be easy. Villanova, which opens league play Sept. 17 vs. Towson, was picked fourth behind Richmond, William & Mary and James Madison.

“There’s no dropoff in competition throughout the CAA,” Kpassagnon said. “In some other leagues, there are a couple of teams that you know will obviously win the conference. But with ours, you never know.”

Of course, Villanova has aspirations beyond just winning the league. As always, the Wildcats — who check in at No. 23 in the STATS preseason Top 25 — will look to make a deep run in the FCS playoffs and, perhaps, try to send Talley out with his second national title.

“The goal is definitely a national championship,” Kpassagnon said. “We all believe we can do it. It’s something we have in the back of our heads.”