Eastern Notes: Labor, J.R. Smith, Butler, Cavs

The collective bargaining agreement is in place at least until 2017, but LeBron James wants to see constructive labor negotiations start sooner rather than later in the wake of sharp remarks this week from union executive director Michele Roberts and commissioner Adam Silver. Joe Vardon of the Northeast Ohio Media Group has the details.

“At some point we would like to start conversations, because you don’t want to get to a point to where the deadline happens and now we’re scrambling,” James said. “Our game is too good, it’s too popular, everyone loves our game all across the world and we don’t want to get to a point where there’s another lockout.”

While we wait to see if LeBron can help bring the sides to the table, here’s the latest on his rivals from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Knicks continue to have internal discussions about ways to trade J.R. Smith, just as they have since July, tweets Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. A report early this month indicated that New York and the Pacers had engaged in talks about a Smith trade, and while a follow-up cast doubt on that notion, the most recent dispatch indicates that the Pacers do have interest in the volatile shooting guard.
  • An anonymous executive suggests to fellow ESPNNewYork.com scribe Ian O’Connor that Smith continues to be a viable trade asset in the proper circumstances. “J.R. has had a lot of issues but he can be a big-time scorer when he’s doing the right things,” the executive said. “There’s always a team out there willing to take a chance on somebody if they feel he can put them over the top, and there’s no doubt J.R. can play. People are going to be concerned about chemistry issues in the locker room, so it would have to be a strong leadership and coaching staff that take him in.”
  • Randy Wittman was the driving force behind the Wizards‘ decision to sign Rasual Butler, as the coach prevailed upon the team to invite the 35-year-old to camp, according to J. Michael of CSNWashington.com, who writes in his mailbag column. The move has paid off, as Butler made the opening-night roster and is averaging 8.8 points in 17.6 minutes per game.
  • The Cavs have assigned rookie Alex Kirk to the D-League, the team announced. Kirk has only seen three minutes of regular season action thus far for Cleveland.
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