Winderman: Contraction not a bad idea, just bad negotiations

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Contraction as collective-bargaining threat is lamentable on so many levels.

In does little to advance the process, offers a solution to nothing.

But contraction as a means toward competitive renewal?

It is an option that should not be summarily dismissed, albeit one better debated at a time other than amid the expiration of a CBA.

Making a case is not all that difficult. In fact, it merely requires scanning the box scores from the first two nights of the season.

What do these players have in common: Joel Anthony, Jamario Moon, Austin Daye, Jason Kapono, Spencer Hawes, Landry Fields, Reggie Evans, Darrell Arthur, Donte Greene, Wayne Ellington, Nazr Mohammed and Shelden Williams?

Each was an opening-night starter, not a late-season selection of last resort. Yes, injuries factored into some of those equations, but injuries only increase over the course of a season.

Amid his early-season tour, David Stern certainly makes compelling cases for the top of the standings, the theater of the Heat, Celtics and Magic in the East, of the Lakers and Thunder in the West.

Yet while teams are charging premiums to see such attractions, making single-game customers also buy everything from NHL tickets to D-League tickets, it’s not as if they also are offering rebates to those who will take tickets to the Timberwolves, Pacers, Kings and Nets off their hands.

As a national brand, the NBA has no issue with putting its best faces forward. There certainly are enough marquee teams to fill the ample network slots on ESPN, ABC, TNT and even NBATV.

But would there be an uproar if the 76ers, Raptors, Pistons and Warriors didn’t come to town?

In fact, with everything that’s wrong about Major League Baseball’s division-loaded schedule (please, please, please not another Marlins-Nationals game), there is plenty to be said about Eastern Conference teams getting to host the Lakers more than once, or Western Conference teams not being limited to a single visits by Wade, LeBron and Bosh.

Already, Glen Taylor has issued a not-my-team contraction warning about his Timberwolves.

But will the conviction be there in the Twin Cities for the Jan. 29 visit by Toronto?

The bottom of the NBA is where nondescript happens.

Sometime later this season, the NBA almost assuredly will come out with a release about how sales of its league-pass program have reached record levels.

Sure. Everyone wants to see the Heat, Lakers, Magic, Thunder and Celtics.

But only because it’s better entertainment than actually sitting through the Raptors. ‘Wolves, Pistons, Pacers and 76ers.

Contraction as labor threat? Reprehensible.

Contraction for the betterment of the league? A perfectly reasonable concept.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Who needs good form? Hawks fan nails halfcourt shot for $10k (video)

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Former Hawks owner Bruce Levenson didn’t want guys like this shooting this shot.

I’m so glad this fan got the opportunity. This was Atlanta’s biggest highlight while losing to the Pistons — and John Collins had a nice dunk over Luke Kennard:

Kevin Durant kisses fan hit by ball (video)

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Kevin Durant‘s final line in the Warriors’ win over the Mavericks: 36 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, two blocks… and one kiss.

He has done this before.

Three Things to Know: LeBron James talks to Lonzo Ball and that means… nothing

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) The Cavaliers beat the Lakers… but who cares because LeBron James talked to Lonzo Ball. Everyone loves a good mystery. Apparently to the point of obsession. Thursday night the NBA got its big unanswered question to obsess over:

What did LeBron James tell Lonzo Ball after the game?

Somehow overshadowing the fact LeBron had a triple-double in leading the Cavaliers past the Lakers in an actual basketball game that counts, the topic of discussion has been LeBron pulling Lonzo Ball aside after the game on the court to talk to him, with LeBron wisely pulling his jersey up over his lips to foil lip readers.

This video will be analyzed like it was the Zapruder film.

When asked what he said, LeBron answered: “None of y’all business.” Good. It’s not.

LeBron is one of the few people on the planet who has been in Ball’s shoes — overhyped coming into the league, drafted and instantly thrown into the role of franchise savior. LeBron has lived up to the hype over his career, he’s been through the wars, and he has advice to pass along. LeBron also has praised Ball’s level-headedness and said he liked what he saw in the rookie’s game. Ball had 13 points and 11 assists Thursday to push a Lakers’ team that did not roll over for the Cavaliers, another game where Ball is showing improvement this season. LeBron likely said some variation of what he’s said publicly — “You have the talent kid, just put in the work, honor the game, and ignore the circus around you.”

That will not stop the speculation, rumors, and conspiracy theories. If the political world has proved one thing in the past year or two, it’s that logic and facts will not stop people from believing what they want to believe.

The “LeBron will come to the Lakers” rumors run so rampant that the man himself skipped talking to the media after shootaround or before the game Thursday just to avoid the ridiculousness. The rumors persist despite reports that call it a “longshot.” They persist despite logic — LeBron (and his agent Rich Paul) have made it clear that winning and chasing more rings will be the priorities in deciding where LeBron plays next season, and even if the Lakers could land LeBron and Paul George they are the third best team in the West right now. “But he bought a new home in Brentwood! He’s coming!” Ugh. One thing is for sure: LeBron is not basing his decision based on anything he saw in a December regular season game.

Still, the postgame conversation was fuel for the conspiracy theorists. Whatever. At least some on Twitter just had fun with it.

2) Kristaps Porzingis leaves Knicks game after tweaking knee, to be examined Friday. The scariest injuries are non-contact ones, so when the Knicks’ star forward Kristaps Porzingis went to the locker room Thursday night with one Knicks’ nation held its breath.

The good news after the game is that Porzingis was standing on his leg without a brace or crutch. Both he and coach Jeff Hornacek said it was not serious. Porzingis will be examined Friday and said he felt a little pain when his knee buckled, so the team is being cautious. Hopefully, this really is nothing, but don’t be shocked if Porzingis is out Saturday when Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder come to Madison Square Garden.

By the way, the Knicks beat the Nets behind 27 points from Courtney Lee.

3) Kevin Durant goes off for 36 points, 11 rebounds in another Warriors’ win.Stephen Curry? We don’t need no stinkin’ Stephen Curry.”

Okay, the Warriors aren’t exactly saying that, but they also are 4-0 without the point guard who was having a monster season but went down with a sprained ankle. The main reason is Kevin Durant. (Well, that and a more focused defense.) Durant went off against the Mavericks, taking control of the offense as he has done since Curry went down, scoring 37 points plus grabbing 11 boards and dishing out 7 assists. The Warriors won comfortably 112-97.

That makes eight straight wins for the Warriors, who statistically are on pace for 67 wins according to Ben Falk’s Cleaning The Glass (if you just extrapolate out the Warriors current record it’s “only” 65 wins).

Bucks’ Mirza Teletovic out with blockages in lungs

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks forward Mirza Teletovic is out because of blockages in his lungs.

The team said Thursday that pulmonary embolisms were discovered in both of Teletovic’s lungs (these are usually blood clots, often which have traveled from the legs). While we lack medical details on Teletovic’s case, this is not unlike what sidelined former Miami Heat player Chris Bosh.

The 32-year-old Teletovic consulted with Bucks team physicians after experiencing unusual fatigue earlier this week.

Following a 10-day rest period, Teletovic will begin a supervised rehabilitation program. The team provided no other for what it considers a long-term injury.

Teletovic has missed the last 16 games, including 10 after arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage in his left knee on Nov. 21.

In 10 games this season, Teletovic is averaging 7.1 points and 2.3 rebounds while shooting 46.7 percent from 3-point range. Teletovic has been in the NBA for six seasons.