NBA players are heading to the court here in Minneapolis...

The U.S. district court, that is.

Hired-gun lawyer David Boies late in the day on Monday announced the players were withdrawing that lawsuit filed in Northern California last week and consolidating it with the one they filed in Minneapolis at the same time.

So the lawsuit filed here that had Anthony Tolliver, Derrick Williams, Caron Butler and Ben Gordon named as plantiffs now also gets many other names added to it, most notably Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash and Chauncey Billups.

So why here?

Simply timing.

Boies said the move was made for expediancy's sake, which means he thinks they'll get a court date set faster in Minnesota than the March date set by the Northern California court.

All of this, of course, is intended never to get that far.

It's intended to get the NBA to reach a settlement, although thus far the two sides don't appear to have exchanged one word with each other except for sniping exchanges in press conferences or press releases.

Boies joked that he expects to hear from the NBA in the next three weeks, which is the time the league has to respond to the lawsuit.

Judge Patrick J Schlitz has been assigned the case. He recused himself from hearing the NFL Players Association's battle with the NFL  and its labor lockout last spring and summer because he had represented the NFL when he was a private-practice lawyer.

Boies was in that fight last summer, only representing the NFL owners and not its players last summer.

NBA commissioner David Stern didn't bother to comment on Boies' maneuver on Monday.

He had NBA executive VP and general counsel Rick Buchanan do so instead.

“We assume that Mr. Boies was not happy with either the reassignment of the case from Oakland to San Francisco or the fact that the new judge scheduled the first conference for March 2012,” Buchanan said in a statement released by the league.  “This is consistent with Mr.
Boies’ inappropriate shopping for a forum that he can only hope will be friendlier to his baseless legal claims.”

Don't be surprised if the NBA owners wait until early next month -- after players miss their second check, on Dec. 1 -- before they make any move to resume discussions with the players.

That could very well mean the league will announce the cancellation of Christmas Day games before then.

Stern has made it clear the league will need a month's lead time from the moment an agreement is reached until the first regular season games are played.

While all this asshattery -- to steal from CBS's Ken Berger -- swirls....

Ricky Rubio made his American debut Sunday night in Drew Gooden's charity game at the Cow Palace in San Francisco.

It sounded like it was more circusy than Michael Beasley's "All-Star Classic" game at Osseo High last month.

Here's the story filed for Tuesday's paper from our West Coast correspondent Frank Hughes.


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