Grizzlies owner gives in, agrees to pay draft picks full scale and they sign

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Thumbnail image for henry_Stern.jpgJust a few weeks ago, Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley was adamant he was right and every other team in the NBA (save San Antonio) was wrong — the tradition of giving players 120 percent of their rookie scale deal was a mistake. Players could get 100 percent of rookie scale, but that extra 20 percent should be earned by reaching incentives for play.

Heisley insisted that was how it would be in the team’s newest contracts. So the Grizzlies neared the start of camp as the only team not to have signed their rookies to deals.

Heisley relented Wednesday, and Xavier Henry and Greivis Vasquez are signed.

Heisley told the Commercial Appeal he made a mistake.

Team owner Michael Heisley changed his stance after a recent meeting with league officials, who detailed the spirit of the collective bargaining agreement with regard to rookie contracts.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy the issue has been resolved,” Heisley said. “There’s no question I’m doing what I should have probably done earlier.”

“In the general spirit of the way (the CBA) was put together, I felt we should relent and not have a performance situation,” Heisley said. “I don’t think I was on the right side of the issue.”

Essentially, league officials came in and told Heisley what countless Memphis fans — echoed through members of the media — had been telling him for months. But this time he listened.

Henry — the Grizzlies lottery pick out of Kansas — did not play with the team in Summer League because he did not have a deal. Heisley had been demanding Henry make either the All Rookie team or be part of the Rookie Challenge All-Star weekend.

What Heisley requested was not unreasonable on the face of it, if other owners had joined in and had done so from the start. But the habit of giving players 120 percent of rookie scale — the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement — had been going on for more than a decade. It had become the standard operating procedure. To just decide to change it left Heisley on his own island. An island that other agents and future free agents would not want to visit.

But expect this to come up in the new CBA talks.

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.