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Referees’ top negotiator leaves bargaining table

Associated Press / September 29, 2009

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The lead negotiator for the locked-out NBA referees removed himself from the talks yesterday in hopes of resolving a dispute that threatens to have replacements on the floor this week.

Lamell McMorris released a statement saying the negotiations with the league would be handled by general counsel Brian Lam and the executive board of the National Basketball Referees Association.

McMorris said his departure was “in the best interest of the NBA Referees and the league.’’ He did not comment beyond his statement.

The contract between the league and its officials expired Sept. 1 and a new deal has not been reached. The NBA held referees training camp with replacements over the weekend, and those officials could be on the court when the exhibition season begins Thursday with Denver’s game at Utah.

Negotiations have broken down at least twice, and the sides remain apart on the league’s proposed changes to the referees’ pension and severance packages, as well as a plan to develop younger officials.

Magic extensions
The Orlando Magic have extended the contracts of general manager Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy, a person familiar with the negotiations said.

The source said the team picked up options that extend Van Gundy through the 2010-11 season and Smith through 2011-12. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deals have not been officially announced.

The duo led the Magic to only their second NBA Finals and first since 1995 last season. Van Gundy has a 111-53 record since taking over as coach before the 2007-08 season.

West back on meds
Cavaliers guard and former Celtic Delonte West does not want to discuss his recent arrest on gun possession charges but said he has resumed taking medication for bipolar disorder.

West was arrested in Maryland Sept. 17 near his home after police found he was carrying two concealed handguns and a shotgun in a guitar case after they pulled West over on a traffic violation. He was booked with two misdemeanors.

At the Cavaliers media day, West blamed his problems to being off his routine and said he is “back to taking my meds.’’

West passed his physical and said being back in Cleveland was “a breath of fresh air.’’

Heat ban Tweeting
The Miami Heat are banning social networking from the locker room or during games. Players are being urged to use good judgment when Tweeting on their own time.

Dwyane Wade used Twitter to tell the world when he left for work yesterday morning. That’s fine with the Miami Heat. Updates from work, though, are no longer allowed. When it comes to “office hours,’’ coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s forbidden.

Odom, Kardashian tie knot
Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian have tied the knot. The Los Angeles Lakers forward and the reality TV starlet were married Sunday at a private residence in Beverly Hills. Odom’s teammates Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic attended, along with Lakers coach Phil Jackson . . . Stephen Jackson, Golden State’s leading scorer, said he still wants out because he believes he has a more realistic chance of getting to the playoffs elsewhere. Jackson was fined $25,000 earlier this month for publicly requesting a trade.

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