Is the NBA season in jeopardy?

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Is the NBA season in jeopardy?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Unable to reach a deal, NBA owners and players walked away from the table and don't know when they will meet again. If it's not in the next few days, they can forget about playing 82 games. Without an agreement by Monday, the beginning of the regular season will be canceled, and both sides will lose millions of dollars and perhaps countless fans. "We're ready to meet and discuss any subject anyone wants to talk about," Commissioner David Stern said. "We'd like not to lose the first two weeks of the season, but it doesn't look good." Though the financial gap closed slightly, once the players' association said it wouldn't entertain the idea of a 50-50 revenue split, the league canceled the remainder of the preseason Tuesday and will wipe out the first two weeks of the regular season if there is no labor agreement by Monday. "We were not able to make the progress that we hoped we could make and we were not able to continue the negotiations," Stern said after nearly four hours of talks between owners and players ended without gaining ground on a new deal. No further meetings are scheduled -- union executive director Billy Hunter said it could be a month or two until the next one -- making it even more likely the league will lose games to a work stoppage for the first time since 1998-99, when the season was reduced to 50 games. Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver said owners offered players a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. That's still well below the 57 percent that players were guaranteed under the previous collective bargaining agreement, but more than the 47 percent union officials said was formally proposed to them. The only numbers that matter now, however, are the millions that stand to be lost when arenas go dark. "The damage will be enormous," Silver said. Players had offered to reduce their BRI guarantee to 53 percent, which they said would have given owners back more than 1 billion over six years. They say they won't cut it further, at least for now. And they insist the 50-50 concept wasn't an even split, because it would have come after the league had already deducted 350 million off the top. "Today was not the day for us to get this done," players' association president Derek Fisher said. "We were not able to get close enough to close the gap." With superstars like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett standing behind him, Hunter said the players' proposal would have made up at least 200 million per season -- a sizable chunk of the 300 million owners said they lost last season. "Our guys have indicated a willingness to lose games," Hunter said. The sides are also still divided on the salary-cap structure. Training camps were postponed and 43 preseason games scheduled for Oct. 9-15 were canceled on Sept. 24. Both sides said they felt pressure to work toward a deal with deadlines looming before more cancellations would be necessary. Stern said the owners had removed their demand for a hard salary cap, were no longer insisting on salary rollbacks, and would have given players the right to opt out of a 10-year agreement after seven years. But the money split was always going to be the biggest hurdle in these negotiations, with owners insistent on the ability to turn a profit after the league said 22 of its 30 teams lost money last season. "We want to and have been willing to negotiate, but we find ourselves at a point today where we in some ways anticipated or expected to be, faced with a lockout that may jeopardize portions if not all of our season," Fisher said. After hardly budging off their original proposal for 1 years, owners finally increased their offer to players from 46 to 47 percent of BRI. It was then that the top negotiators discussed the 50-50 concept, and while Stern sounded disappointed that it didn't work, Silver was more frustrated. "I am not going to get a good night sleep," he said. "After this afternoon's session, I would say I'm personally very disappointed. I thought that we should have continued negotiating today and I thought that there was potentially common ground on a 50-50 deal. I think it makes sense, it sounds like a partnership. There still would have been a lot of negotiating to do on the system elements, but I'm personally very disappointed." On what both sides stressed was an important day, the owners' entire 11-man labor relations committee came to New York to meet with 11 players. They could still work something out before Monday's deadline, but neither side sounded optimistic. "Right now, we had our committees, we gave it a really good run, and it didn't work," Stern said. Hunter said the union would hold regional meetings with its players, set up workout centers and help in other ways. And many players -- including Bryant, who has been in talks with an Italian team -- will have to decide if they want to explore playing overseas. And without a deal, the battle could go to the courts. Hunter said the union would have to consider decertification, and on Tuesday a federal court judge scheduled a hearing for Nov. 2 to hear arguments in the league's lawsuit against the players seeking a declaration that the lockout doesn't violate antitrust laws. All things both sides hoped to avoid Tuesday. "It wasn't to be, and we don't have any plans right now," Stern said.

Michal Rozsival, Jordin Tootoo extensions give Blackhawks flexibility at expansion draft

Michal Rozsival, Jordin Tootoo extensions give Blackhawks flexibility at expansion draft

The Blackhawks agreed to one-year contract extensions with defenseman Michal Rozsival and forward Jordin Tootoo, the team announced Tuesday.

Rozsival's deal is worth $650,000 while Tootoo's deal carries a $700,000 cap hit, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.

The move gives the Blackhawks two players eligible to be exposed during this summer's expansion draft.

NHL teams must expose two forwards and one defenseman that have played at least 40 games in 2015-16 or more than 70 in 2016-17, and they must be under contract in 2017-18.

[MORE: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers]

Rozsival and Tootoo meet those requirements, which means the Blackhawks can now protect Ryan Hartman, who is also eligible.

They are allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters (regardless of position) and one goaltender. 

Rozsival, 38, has one goal and one assist in 16 games this season, often serving as the team's extra defenseman. Tootoo, 34, has no points in 36 games.

NFL Scouting Combine represents opportunities — good and bad — for Bears

NFL Scouting Combine represents opportunities — good and bad — for Bears

The NFL Scouting Combine convening this week in Indianapolis isn't really the high point of pre-draft assessing being done by NFL teams. Those evaluations have been going on for many, many months — on college campuses, at bowl games — and will go on with Pro Days and selected visits to team headquarters.
 
But what it does represent is two things: a chance for teams to probe for detailed medical information on some 300 potential draftees, and a case study in savvy brand marketing by the NFL that has become its own hot-stove league on steroids (hopefully not literally for any of the participants).
 
Covering the event 25 years ago, representatives of the three Chicago-area newspapers comprised one of the two largest media contingents (the other being New York's) going about the business of football reporting after the sport had largely moved off the sports-front with the wrap-up of the Super Bowl. No TV, no internet, and the Combine operators really didn't want media around for what was set up as a purely team-centric.
 
Now the NFL has created a media event that keeps it in news prominence at what had always been a dormant calendar nadir for pro football, with not only some 1,000 media members and outlets welcome, but also with fans able to attend events like the 225-pound bench press and 40-yard dashes, whose results were once something that reporters dug around for as news scoops.
 
But beyond the observed events, including group media interviews for the majority of athletes, individual draft stocks will be affected by vertical jumps, cone drills and such. And by interviews with individual teams, which are still private. (For now. Somehow, it's not beyond imagination that someday even those will be televised, in an NFL guise of "transparency" or something, but that's for another time.)
 
Strengths, weaknesses and the QB conundrum
 
One annual refrain are the assessments of the overall draft class, what positions are its deepest, its weakest, an evaluation that carries some weight because invitees to the Combine include underclassmen, which the Senior Bowl does not.
 
But a danger within the process is exactly that — the "weight" assigned to results, particularly the on-field ones. On-field evaluations are the best indicators, but the right on-field ones were there on playing fields and now tape, not inside Lucas Oil Stadium this week.

[RELATED - Which direction will Bears go at pick No. 3?]
 
Combine performance has affected drafts rightly and wrongly over the years.
 
ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio has made an excellent case for players declining that test for reasons of confidentiality. And frankly, if teams have a problem with a player declining the test, then teams and the NFL need to do a better job of keeping the results in-house, particularly given that correlations between the Wonderlic and NFL success are questionable at best.
 
But some player or players will move up or slip down on draft boards because of drill work. That may be unfortunate for the player, and for the teams.
 
QB or not QB
 
It is at this point that the Combine becomes increasingly relevant to the Bears, or at least to those trying to discern what realistic chances exist for the Bears to address their well-documented areas of need (quarterback, tight end, cornerback, safety).
 
An inherent problem at this stage is the difficulty in arriving at a right decision, particularly at the paramount position. NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock did some checking that illustrates the issue.
 
Between 2007-14, teams selected 21 quarterbacks in the first round. Nine of them are no longer even in the league, and only a handful have achieved something close to the coveted "franchise" distinction: Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Matthew Stafford in Detroit, Carolina's Cam Newton, Andrew Luck in Indianapolis and Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Only Flacco has won a Super Bowl.
 
"It gives a pretty good feel for the 'hit' rate of franchise quarterbacks in the first round," Mayock said on Monday.
 
"My message to NFL teams is, 'you've got to keep trying, keep on swinging.'"
 
Whether the Bears take a swing at a franchise quarterback at No. 3 is still many weeks off. But Mayock didn't endorse making that swing at that point.
 
"I don't have any quarterbacks anywhere near the Top 10," Mayock said. "That doesn't mean I think there's no talent there, because I think there are four quarterbacks that have first-round talent. In my order I had for my initial Top 5, it was [DeShone] Kizer, [Deshaun] Watson, [Mitch] Trubisky, [Patrick] Mahomes. All four of them have holes in their games.
 
"I don't think any of them are ready to start Week 1."
 
More to come over the next week. Make that "weeks."