NCAA Men's Championship Game - Butler v UConn

Lockout has some top college prospects hesitant about NBA


If you’re an elite college basketball player thinking about the NBA, this is the advice you get from the sage people (not the dirty agents and others trying to be a parasite, but the people looking out for the students):

If you are a guaranteed first-round pick in the NBA draft, you have to seriously consider going.

Because it means — at the very minimum — three years guaranteed money and as players have a limited career to earn money this gets you on the clock and out of your rookie deal at a younger age so you can earn more down the line. You can still get your degree, but you only have a short window to earn money that can and should set you up for life.

But the looming NBA lockout changes the equation. There will be a lockout and potentially a protracted one (the NBA sides are farther apart than the NFL owners and players, and you see how well that is going.) The New York Times spoke to a number of people involved and while so far nobody is really seeing a difference because of the threat of a lockout it could happen.

“I had one N.B.A. guy tell me that anyone that is a bubble guy, the lockout should pop everyone’s bubble,” Georgia Coach Mark Fox said in a telephone interview. “Those guys are a risk anyway. Put this factor into the mix, and it’s just too volatile.”

“I think it will have an effect, and it should have one,” the agent Mark Bartelstein said, noting the consequence of leaving early and being sidelined by a lockout. “That’s a disastrous thing for a player in the development stage of his career. It is an issue, and something I’ve raised with coaches and families, and that’s part of the equation, I think.”

There are still guys in for it. Duke’s Kyrie Irving — the likely No. 1 overall pick — is expected to announce he is still coming out for the NBA soon. Kemba Walker of Connecticut also is expected to decide soon and told the Times the lockout will not impact his decision. Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (likely a top five pick) has said he is staying. (We should note that the list of players who said they are staying during the tournament then left anyway is a long and storied one, so stay tuned.) UCLA’s Tyler Honeycutt is in and hired an agent so he is committed. There are a lot of guys putting their name out without agents to preserve their eligibility, but about the usual amount the NBA says.

The equation of the lockout works two ways, as Butler Coach Brad Stevens told the Times.

“Does that make this draft weaker? Might,” Stevens said. “So you might be able to get drafted higher. Does it make it so that nobody wants to go out because they don’t want to sit out their whole senior year and not play basketball until February?”

Nobody is sure what impact the lockout will have on prospects coming out. So far none, but that may change as decisions need to be finalized. We know the lockout is coming, and we know it’s going to be bad. The Summer League and that development time are certainly going to be wiped out. The question is camp and games, and many around the negotiations are not optimistic about saving all of those.

There are no easy decisions here. It’s just another way the lockout is going to screw with people’s lives.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)

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Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked

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The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.