Sick of lockout talk? Of the paranoia, guesswork, sniping and silliness? Well, there's been a line drawn in the sand by the NBA. And as both players and team employees that toe the line, from time to time, we're going to hear about it. And in the absence of actual games, transactions, or (God forbid) negotiations, this is what is going to fill our pages. I may as well save that intro to my desktop.
Coming out of the Portland Tribune, and via Pro Basketball Talk, we learned about the fine the Portland Trail Blazers were threatened with because the team's acting GM Chad Buchanan (pictured above, left) spoke honestly and openly regarding the canceled summer league. How it would affect the Blazers' future moving forward, as they work toward a youth movement. How sending their prospects and youngsters away toward an uncertain future during the lockout could hinder their growth. How the Blazers would be excited to be a part of the development of that youth. All that stuff, and more.
Except Buchanan didn't really go into such detail. He just said one word:
Witness a recent interview with Trail Blazers acting General Manager Chad Buchanan. When it was observed that it's too bad there is no summer league scheduled, Buchanan replied, "Yeah."
Shortly thereafter, the league threatened Buchanan with a $1 million fine, according to one source. Insanity.
Of course, the Blazers better be on full alert, because the NBA knows full well from what team the following quote came from:
"There's a line in the sand that the NBA has drawn for everybody, but nobody knows exactly where the line is," one NBA team employee says. "Everybody is scared, not wanting to be the first to be hit with a fine."
You did it, NBA. Real tough, real cool. There's no way someone like Buchanan -- or any other GM that doesn't have any hiring or firing to do -- is going to be giving many more press conferences from here until the end of the lockout. Not because they're scared off by the fines, but because there's absolutely nothing to talk about right now. So did the NBA have to come down this menacing, if only behind the scenes?
In the NBA league office's eyes? Of course they did. It's all part of what they think works. No matter how wrong they are.
There's also this, from the same Portland Tribune story:
[Former Blazer] Brian Grant — also on the Blazer payroll as an ambassador — can't have current NBA players participate in his upcoming golf event for Parkinson's disease.
The NBA can't make an exception for charity, because that could lead to the slippery slope of charity events mixing team employees and players that would then lead to a weakened bargaining stance in the fight that 30 really, really rich guys are pitching against 450 rich guys.
Good work all around, chaps.
An Oregonian report points out that Buchanan went well, well beyond merely saying "yeah," regarding his melancholy over a missed summer league season. It's still a ridiculous rule, to threaten someone for musing safely about how things have gone pear-shaped between the NBA and its players, but here is a snippet of what Buchanan said beyond what the Tribune reported this week:
"You would like to have that summer league opportunity because it's a chance for your coaches to get their hands on them and evaluate them against other players they're going to be competing against going forward," Buchanan said.
The other quotes are just as innocuous, and hardly fine-worthy, but it should be noted that it wasn't a single word.
It was a series of heartfelt, sincere thoughts. Hardly worth the sabre rattling.
(Photo credit: Associated Press)