But when deputy commissioner Adam Silver (right) was so calmly dismissive of the need or inclination for such a gathering last week in Houston, it sparked frustration on the other side of the bargaining table. The announcement served as a possible backfiring of the players' silver bullet, presenting a major threat to the moment they so badly want and need.
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Role players and franchise players alike joining as one for all the world to see, the group galvanized like they were at All-Star Weekend 2010 in their strong belief that the current collective bargaining arrangement needs major tweaks and not a major overhaul. That stance was clear when I spoke with Maurice Evans, the Atlanta guard and NBAPA Executive Vice President of the NBA Player's Association who was so incensed at the possibility of the meeting not taking place.
And while a source close to the situation has informed me that the two sides have, in fact, agreed to meet at All-Star weekend, Evans was pretty sure he knew why they weren't eager to do so in the first place.
"What they want to do is they want to continue to have insignificant meetings with (NBAPA president) Billy Hunter and representatives of the players ... again (with) a small group of owners," Evans said on Wednesday. "They go in and meet behind closed doors, and it's easier to meet and have them negotiate on our behalf. And then they can sit there and talk tough, but they don't have to directly address us. ... It's like third-party negotiations."
If Stern and the owners hadn't agreed to meet, Evans had said there would have been a meeting even if it meant one side of the table was left vacant. And while it now seems likely that the meeting will take place, an NBAPA source indicated Thursday morning that an exact time and date of the meeting are not yet known.
"If they don't want to meet, then they don't want to meet," he said. "But we'll still be out there. We're still going to have our meeting, to update players and do our due diligence. But I think those guys, the owners, are really miscalculating and getting bad advice. Whoever is advising them is giving really poor advice. If you had heads and CEOs of these Fortune 500 companies, I don't think they would ever run one of those companies like that."
The Bad News Blazers Are Back
Portland's pregame coach's press conference began with an audience of two on Wednesday night at Arco Arena, where myself and the Oregonian's Joe Freeman asked Nate McMillan to discuss his team's latest setback on the injury front.
Yogi Berra was only there in spirit, with his 'déjà vu all over again' line running through my head while McMillan did his best, once again, to keep his chin from drooping and his hands from raising to the sky in disbelief. Center Marcus Camby will have surgery Thursday to repair a partial tear in his left meniscus, making it five Blazers in all this season who have had procedures done on at least one of their knees.
"This is another lesson that anything can happen, and you have to just continue to work," said McMillan, who loses a player who was averaging six points, 11.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game this season. "You can't give up. You can't give into it. You have to keep working at it. There's a plan somewhere here, and a plan somewhere here for us."
The plan in its current state involves the loss of two players who were expected to carry this franchise, with center Greg Oden having season-ending micro fracture surgery on his left knee for a second time and guard Brandon Roy undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees on Tuesday (no timetable for a return) after missing 18 games with knee soreness. As noted by the Oregonian's John Canzano, no one could blame McMillan if decided to skip town and escape the black and red clouds overhead when his contract expires after this season.
Until then, the spiritual man who has been at the helm in Portland since 2005 said all he can do is keep the faith.
"Privately, I'm thinking that God has a plan for us," he said. "This is a challenge. It's another challenge for us. (God) doesn't give you anything you can't handle. Whatever doesn't knock you out makes you stronger, as they say."
Tyreke Evans Puts Off Foot Procedure
When reigning Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans scored a season-high 32 points against the Clippers on Dec. 27, his Sacramento Kings coaches and teammates saw it as a strong sign he was recovering from his early-season struggles.
But Evans almost immediately stole the in-house optimism, saying after the game that he was considering treating his nagging case of plantar fasciitis on his left foot with a procedure that would sideline him for three to four months. A day later, he downgraded the estimated recovery time to one to two months. And now nearly a month later, Evans is unsure whether he'll have the laser treatment done at all.
"(The plantar fasciitis) has gotten a lot better -- much better," he told me Wednesday night after finishing with 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds in an overtime loss to Portland. "I still feel it, but not as much as I used to ... so that's a good thing. At this point I'm just trying to ride it out and play through it and just see what happens in the offseason."
If only it were the only problem.
Evans -- whose production and efficiency have improved this month but whose numbers are significantly down from last season -- missed three of the Kings' six games on their recent road trip with a sprained left ankle. He said the status of his foot and ankle will determine whether he plays in the Rookie-Sophomore game at All-Star weekend.
"I don't know yet," he said of the game. "I'm figuring out now how my foot is feeling and how my ankle is feeling and if I should play. I'm definitely looking forward to playing in it, but I've got time and hopefully I'll stay on the court if I'm feeling good."
A Slam Dunk Addition
The late Manute Bol might have been capable of hitting a three-point shot, but no one ever fancied the 7-foot-6 center as a prime candidate for the annual three-point contest at All-Star weekend.
And so it goes for Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings, who should be lauded for getting his 6-foot-1 frame above the rim for an occasional eyebrow-raising slam but who hardly seemed a prime candidate for the dunk contest.
Thankfully for those of us who will be watching, Toronto's high-flying DeMar DeRozan will take the place of the Bucks point guard, who is recovering from a fractured left foot. A league source confirmed to me what the New York Times' Jonathan Abrams first reported, that DeRozan will take part in his second dunk contest after taking second place behind Nate Robinson (then with the New York Knicks) last year.
To review, the rest of the field includes the Clippers' Blake Griffin, Washington's Javale McGee and Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka. FanHouse's Michael Katz already provided a preview of the previous field here, but here's a reminder of what DeRozan can do for your viewing pleasure.