Tracy McGrady unbelievably confident, delusional

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Throughout the Tracy McGrady saga in Houston, I never got the vibe that McGrady really grasped what was going on. The very idea that a team would choose not to play him for the sake of chemistry seemed to baffle T-Mac, and to be fair, I imagine that any player of similar standing would have a reaction of the same ilk.

Most of those players, though, haven’t been significantly limited by injuries and averaged 49 games played over their last five seasons. It doesn’t take the eye of an expert to see McGrady standing around on offense, despite D’Antoni’s motion-heavy scheme that’s so reliant on counters and dribble hand-offs.

That may have been fine when McGrady was the primary shot-creator in Jeff Van Gundy’s offense, but much has changed since then. For one, Tracy is largely a ghost of the player he used to be, not only lacking the explosion that made him into a star, but is likely a below average NBA athlete at this point. He’s still an excellent passer on the wing, but as his PPG begins to fade, one can’t help but wonder if his willingness to dish won’t dwindle accordingly.

But the truly interesting thing about the decline in McGrady’s game is that Tracy himself hasn’t noticed it. From Howard Beck of the New York Times:

McGrady, who is entering free agency, wants much more for his
career. Whether he will take the next step in New York or elsewhere is
unclear, but he is certain of this much: He is not ready to fade into
obscurity. “There’s no question I will be an All-Star,” McGrady said. “Not right
now, but next year when I come into the season, I will be an
All-Star-caliber player, there’s no question.”


He added, for emphasis, “I will be myself next year.”

A tall claim for a guy averaging 10.5 points on 40.7% shooting for the Knicks, especially while doing so in decidedly unremarkable fashion. I seriously doubt that McGrady will be an “All-Star-caliber player” next season, regardless of where he ends up; the only teams willing to make McGrady a central part of their offense are likely to be desperate ones.

Still, there’s at least a possibility that McGrady makes the team next year. As a Rocket, T-Mac was consistently among the leading vote-getters for the All-Star starters. It begs the question: did McGrady earn legitimate fans out of China’s legion of voters, or were they just straight ticket voting for Yao’s hombres? 

Report: Age minimum still on table in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23:  The full draft board of the first 30 pics of the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft is seen at the Barclays Center on June 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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A new Collective Bargaining Agreement is expected to be finished soon, but with months until the current deal expires, both the owners and players can afford to take their time and get the details right.

Both sides reportedly agreed to keep the age minimum – which requires players to be 19 and one year removed from their high school class’ graduation – in place.

Or not?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Other issues, like the age limit for players entering the league, are still on the table. The league has long sought to increase the age limit from its current 19, and at least one year removed from one’s high school class, to at least 20 years of age. The union has talked about a “zero and two” setup, similar to that used by baseball — players can enter the Draft out of high school, but if they choose to go to college, they have to stay in college at least two years (in baseball, it’s three years) before declaring for the Draft.

The union wants to lower the age minimum. Adam Silver wants to raise it.

Most likely, the current one-and-done rule remains in place.

But a zero-or-two setup could be an interesting compromise. That would allow players certain they’re ready for the pros out of high school to declare for the NBA draft. In all other cases, Silver would get his wish.

Again, the status quo likely remains in tact. But it’s good both sides are discussing the issue to see whether there’s a better solution.

76ers increase Joel Embiid’s minute limit to 28

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, tries to get around Cleveland Cavaliers' DeAndre Liggins, center, and Kevin Love during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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Take comfort, chairs and staffers.

The 76ers have raised Joel Embiid‘s minute limit from 24 to 28.

Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly:

This was never a hard limit. Embiid played more than 24 minutes in five of his 12 games with a high of 27 in an overtime contest. Presumably, the new “limit” will also allow for Embiid to sometimes it.

Embiid’s numbers per 36 minutes are eye-popping: 28.6 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 3.8 blocks and 6.4 turnovers. A small workload likely factors into his per-minute dominance, and he’s still a long way from typical starter minutes. But I’m interested to see how his production translates over a larger sample.

The 76ers, in their mission to be less bad this season, will also appreciate a few more minutes of Embiid. They defend like the NBA’s second-best defense with him on the floor and the league’s second-worst defense without him. They also score a little better with him. Overall, they get outscored by just 2.2 points per 100 possessions with him and a whopping 14.2 points per 100 possessions without him.

This could give Philadelphia a couple extra wins over the rest of the season. At minimum, it’ll make the 76ers more enjoyable to watch for a few more minutes each game.

James Johnson dunks on Rudy Gobert in crunch time (video)

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Opponents shoot just 41.8% at the rim with Rudy Gobert defending it – which is now second to Hassan Whiteside among the 50 players who defend the most shots at the rim per game.

But James Johnson went up with no fear, scoring two of his 24 points in the Heat’s 111-110 win over the Jazz last night.

Nicolas Batum bounces assist through Dwight Powell’s legs (video)

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The Hornets didn’t just beat the Mavericks, 97-87, last night.

Nicolas Batum got Charlotte style points with this pass through Dwight Powell‘s legs, assisting Cody Zeller.