Warriors show support for the LGBT community

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Considering the hyper-masculine nature of professional sports, it’s no surprise that the NBA (as well as the MLB, NFL, and NHL) hasn’t made anything resembling a big stride in regard to the established culture of homophobia. Openness toward sexual preference isn’t really an issue that can be tackled through a top-down approach, meaning that even if David Stern wanted to address the issue on a league-wide scale, it may not do much at all to influence the day-to-day actions of players, coaches, and front office types. He wouldn’t be banning steroids, “thug” attire, or evens straw-chewing, but…well, I’m not even sure what Stern could ban. Contemporary social issues are so difficult to address not only because of the lack of bright lines or consensus, but also because hardly anything is tangible in a way that it can be “legislated” away.

But it’s imperative that the NBA and the teams within it take steps toward acceptance, if not for the sake of personal identity and expression (which have become the most captivating things about the league and its players), then at least to be on par with the rest of corporate America. There are no openly gay players in the NBA, nor has there ever been (aside from John Amaechi, who announced his sexual orientation after he had already left the league). That’s a shocking testament not necessarily to the process of player selection — though it very well could be — but to the anticipated backlash an openly gay player might receive.

So the best thing to do is to take baby steps. Efforts by anyone in a position of power in the NBA to raise awareness, teach acceptance, and inform. That’s exactly what the Golden State Warriors are doing on March 11th, when they’ll sponsor an LGBT night at Oracle Arena, in which all proceeds will go to the San Francisco-based Positive Resource Center, a multi-purpose initiative to help those living with (or at risk for) HIV/AIDS. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s something.

Matt Moore, writing at FanHouse, tackles the implications further:

That these events are being held shows a a social awareness and proactive approach by the NBA and its teams, which is important. They’re not going to solve any problems with ignorance or discrimination on their own, but it does set a precedent which says something in and of itself. It’s a token, but that’s better than outright ignorance of a community. While we’re a long way away from an openly gay player in the league, it’s at least some small comfort to know there are forces working that aren’t opposed to certain societal pushes. The league has a responsibility to act not only as an entertainer but an educator, and these kinds of promotions provide those opportunities.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.