Lockout looms large over festivities
LOS ANGELES — The threat of a possible lockout loomed over All-Star weekend, with the owners and members of the players association meeting yesterday afternoon.
“The way it’s been going since last year, we really haven’t had any movement on the talks,’’ said Celtics captain Paul Pierce, who came into the league the same year as its most recent collective bargaining agreement. “The players do talk about it amongst our teams. Some of the guys are talking about going to the meetings.’’
Pierce’s rookie year was the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season. He wasn’t fully aware of the issues at stake then, but with the owners and players divided, primarily on salary cuts, he wants to play a larger role in talks this time. If the sides don’t reach an agreement by June 30, Pierce’s rookie season could repeat itself.
“I think this year the players are really unified and really interested in carrying the league forward in the future, not only the veterans, but the younger guys,’’ Pierce said.
“If any player tells you it’s not on his mind, he’s lying,’’ Kevin Garnett said. “It’s something we’re going to deal with as players, as a whole, along with the NBA to get it done. Hopefully, we can get it done in a class manner, which both sides deserve. It’s unfortunate, but it’s business.’’
In 1998-99, the most influential names on the players’ side were Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal, and Alonzo Mourning. Pierce is the elder statesman in the room now, with younger players such as Chris Paul and LeBron James.
“Those are the guys when I was going to the meetings, they were the stars of the league and kind of like the ambassadors,’’ Pierce said. “So me being in that position now, I feel like it’s a need for me to go ahead — even though I’ve already gotten my career — and help just move forward and be an ambassador for the NBA. So hopefully when I’m done and doing whatever I’m going to do after my career’s over, this league’s still going to be in good hands.’’
Looking for a forward Riddled with injuries and particularly low on manpower after Marquis Daniels went down with a bruised spinal cord, the Celtics may be in the market for a backup small forward.
Celtics president Danny Ainge quickly shot down rumors of a deal for Detroit’s Richard Hamilton, or interest in Cavaliers swingman Anthony Parker.
“Nothing’s happening,’’ Ainge said in a text message. “Talk is all.’’
Ainge has, however, said that once they discover more about Daniels’s condition, the team will decide if it needs to make a move. Coach Doc Rivers said that the team isn’t expecting Daniels to return any time soon.
The Celtics have used Von Wafer in Daniels’s absence, but they have until the trade deadline on Thursday to make a deal.
Miller bypassed again Having just passed Reggie Miller to become the all-time 3-point leader, Ray Allen was shocked Miller wasn’t among the 12 Hall of Fame finalists announced yesterday.
“I am surprised because I don’t know what else he has to do,’’ Allen said.
Dennis Rodman, Jamaal Wilkes, and Tex Winter headlined the group of Hall of Fame hopefuls. It was the first year of eligibility for Miller, who retired in 2005.
“There are a number of people sitting up there who were not first-time selectees,’’ said Hall of Fame board chairman Jerry Colangelo. “Sometimes you want your turn . . . Reggie just didn’t get enough traction this time. He’s a first-time candidate.’’
We meet again? Hands are on the panic button with the Lakers closing out the first half of the season with an embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers, but former Celtic Bill Walton said he expected the Lakers to be back in the Finals and that the Celtics should be there, too, depending on how they navigate injuries.
“The Lakers and the Celtics are the two best and home-court advantage is critical,’’ Walton said.