Of Xavier Henry, Nate Robinson, rookie contracts and incentives

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henry_Stern.jpgXavier Henry and the Memphis Grizzlies remain at an impasse.

There are only two first round picks from the last draft that have not signed, and they both belong to the Memphis Grizzlies. It’s because Memphis has broken with what is seen as rookie contract tradition.

According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, rookie contracts are on a scale, in Henry’s case that first year salary is $1,683,500.

Memphis can offer from 80 to 120 percent of that scale. Teams almost always offer the 120 percent figure (the Spurs are the prominent exception). As is pointed out in a great contracts post at Sham Sports today, often incentives are used to reach that 120 percent figure (or a part of it). But those incentives often are pretty obtainable things, such as keeping up with workouts. Things that the player can control.

Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace doesn’t see it at way, as he told David Aldridge at NBA.com.

“There have been some teams that have tied performance bonuses to the 20 percent,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said on Sunday. “Basically, our position is that the extra 20 is a bonus. And bonus means additional performance. We feel like if a guy gets on the court and plays for us, then you’re contributing to our team in a significant way.”

Wallace is tying the bonus to the number of minutes Henry plays.

That brings us to the Nate Robinson story. Last year late in the year, Doc Rivers sat Nate Robinson for a few games. Robinson had a couple rough games before that, but that is Nate — some nights brilliant, some nights he struggles more. Sit him and you risk missing one of those nights when he wins the game for you off the bench. Rivers sat him anyway.

Then it turns out missing those games cost Robinson a contract bonus of $1 million. As Boston was paying the luxury tax, that is $2 million in savings to the franchise.

Look at that and you can see why Henry and his agent Arn Tellem balk at the idea of Henry’s bonus being in control of the team. Over the course of his rookie deal, that 20 percent could be worth $1.7 million. A lot of money to a rookie and to a small market team.

So here we stand. Memphis has picked a fight with a tiger in Tellem, and the fight drags on. To the potential detriment of the franchise and the player. Maybe it’s all just a foreshadowing of the lockout next summer.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott
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Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi
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Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.

Jahlil Okafor fights man in Boston (video)

Jahlil Okafor

The 76ers lost a heartbreaker to the Celtics last night, dropping Philadelphia to 0-16.

Jahlil Okafor was apparently in a foul mood after the game.


We’re told everyone got up and fled the scene and no arrests were made.

We’re told the altercation began because one of the men in the other group yelled at Jahlil, “The 76ers suck.”

We spoke with a rep for Jahlil who tells us … Okafor says he was being heckled from the moment he left the club and felt threatened because people swarmed him on the street.


This video obviously doesn’t show everything, but it certainly makes Okafor look like the aggressor.

Okafor will probably face punishment from some combination of the legal system, NBA and 76ers.