Bettman: This Process Is Over, NHL Prepared to Martyr Itself

Bettman: This Process Is Over, NHL Prepared to Martyr Itself

NHL labor negotiations once again hit a snag on Thursday, to
the surprise of nobody – although I’m not sure anybody was quite prepared for
what happened next. To be blunt, what followed the latest break in talks could
only be described as a complete and utter meltdown, with commissioner Gary
Bettman taking center stage for this tragic theater.

To make a long story short, the reported cause of the latest rift is the NHL
owners made a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the players, who in turn responded
with what is commonly referred to as a counteroffer. Apparently unhappy with any
response that deviated from, “Yes,” the owners took their puck and went home.

That in itself isn’t a big deal – extremely frustrating,
but not end-of-the-world stuff. NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr delivered
a pointed press conference explaining the union’s positions in some of the
discussions over the past week, then calmly took questions. The sides sounded
close. He even used the word “close.”

Then Bettman spoke. He always does that!

Visibly upset, Bettman raged for nine minutes, then he and
deputy commissioner Bill Daly uncomfortably answered questions for what seemed
like an eternity. Video below, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • • “The owners … said they don’t know what happened, but this
    process is over.”
  • • “Anything we put on the table this week is off the table.”
  • • “[Five-year max length on player contracts are] the hill we’ll
    die on.”

So as far as rhetoric goes, we are to understand that the
owners are done talking for right now, they are actually moving backwards on several
key positions, and a human being could be martyred over one of these
issues in particular. Because those are all perfectly reasonable attitudes to take.

Obviously, there is so much more to this story, and we have
some great links to go with the Bettman videos, but here is what you need to
know – that is if you still care of course. All is not lost just yet. There is –
well, there was anyway – a framework for a CBA that had people on both sides optimistic. If discussions pick back up
next week, the frost could thaw, and hockey may yet ring in the New Year.

Worst case scenario: this lockout is the hill the NHL will
die on. Such a shame, because its future looked so bright.

Read More:

>> NHL rejects union's offer as talks break down [CSN]
>> Four owners release statement, express 'disillusionment' [Puck Daddy]
>> You have got to be kidding me [ESPN]

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Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”