Paul Allen issues statement, says nothing

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UPDATE 10:13 am: The Oregonian’s John Canzano tried to get more information out of Paul Allen last night. Didn’t go so well.

But I asked him at the end of the first half, as he headed into the room
he uses as an office, if he’d mind going stronger with the comments on
Pritchard. The Blazers owner waved me off and shook his head. I
asked him if there was anything more he wanted to say to Blazers fans.
He hurried off, waving his hands and shaking his head. He finally nudged
one of his private security guards and pointed at me before
disappearing into a room with a small group that included Vulcan
executive Bert Kolde, who was puffing his chest out at me.

1: 49 am: Fans are Portland are confused. They love Kevin Pritchard. He’s part of the team that drafted Brandon Roy and the young core of talent that give the Blazers a bright future. He changed the image of the “jailblazers.” He made it fun to be a Portland fan again.

And he is in trouble, maybe losing his job trouble. There is anger in Rip City. Fans do not like the idea of losing their savior. But they saw his right-hand man, Tom Penn, get fired. It is all the fans are talking about — they chanted and waived signs in Pritchard’s support at Thursday night’s game.

Owner Paul Allen wanted to quell this frenzy, so he issued a statement. One that will quell nothing because it really says nothing.

We are not going to make any more long-term decisions today. When the season ends we will evaluate how best to move the Trail Blazers forward. That’s no different than the way we have operated for the past 21 seasons.

I support everyone who works for me, including Kevin Pritchard, and that’s why he’s our general manager. We all have the same goal — to bring another NBA Championship to the great fans of Portland.

Paul Allen is telling the truth. Decisions on where the good ship Blazers will sail next — and who is still on the boat — will be made after the season. Henry Abbott at TrueHoop makes the good point that this is how Paul Allen runs all his businesses — deep annual reviews where the top executives face tough questions.

But Paul Allen also is human. He may not be certain what he is going to do, but you can bet he has an idea. He has an opinion. One that will become better informed, one that could be changed, but right now he has an opinion.

And he’s not going to let it be known in a statement. But the statement he did release is not going to quell the speculation in Portland. If anything, it is just going to fuel the fire. Because it doesn’t say anything.

Sunday is 16th anniversary of greatest dunk ever: Vince Carter over Frederic Weis

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It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.

But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.

Best. Dunk. Ever.

By anyone.

Weis was never the same.

In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.

Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.