Pat Riley

Winderman: Odd NBA executive vote mostly anti-Riley sour grapes

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So what does the NBA think of the notion of securing a big bag of money and throwing it in front of three of the game’s best players?

Apparently not much.

So despite landing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh during last summer’s free-agency-free-for-all, Heat President Pat Riley received only a partial cut of the NBA Executive of the Year award when the balloting results were announced Tuesday.

Actually, Riley was gifted that piddling stake.

In the vote of one executive from each of the league’s 30 teams, Riley received 11 votes, as did Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.

Trouble was, Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson finished third with three votes.

In essence, there were 14 votes for what the Bulls accomplished, 11 for the Heat’s haul.

First, let’s recap: The Bulls visited Cleveland in July to woo James. They then held multiple meetings with Wade and Bosh in Chicago.

Riley signed all three.

Chicago then settled for consolation prizes Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

Granted, the Bulls did finish ahead of the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

But it wasn’t because of Boozer, Korver or Brewer.

It was because they won the 2008 NBA Draft lottery over the Heat, getting Derrick Rose at No. 1, with the Heat settling for Michael “since-traded” Beasley at No. 2.

There is no debating the Bulls had arguably the league’s best player this season in Rose, who was named MVP.

And Tom Thibodeau accomplished as much as any coach, closing with the league’s best record on the way to the nod as Coach of the Year.

But exactly which of the 19 team executives that didn’t vote for Riley wouldn’t have taken his haul over any other?

Non-Riley Voter: “Yeah boss, I know we can sign LeBron, Wade and Bosh, but this Boozer guy sometimes plays defense, this Korver dude does one thing very well, and this Brewer fella can defend when he’s not hurt.”

Owner of team run by Non-Riley Voter: “You are an idiot.”

Or, of course, someone who got burned by Riley.

Hmm, the Bulls, Clippers, Cavaliers, Nets and Knicks all interviewed LeBron in Cleveland. (We figure it’s safe to say that if you work for Dan Gilbert, you don’t dare vote for Riley.)

That’s five nays.

The Raptors lost Bosh.

There’s six.

The Magic and Mavericks have had their feuds for years with the Heat.

Seven and eight.

And many would-be contenders saw their chances evaporate when Riley got his Big Three.

Nine, 10 11 . . . you get the point.

There is, of course, consolation for Riley.

Along with half an award . . . he also still has LeBron, Wade and Bosh, and possibly some championship hardware on the way.

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

Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

Steve Clifford
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Kyrie Irving feels validated after hitting game-winning shot to bring title to Cleveland

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Back in July during the pre-Olympics USA Camp in Las Vegas, I asked Kyrie Irving what had changed for him, what was different for him after winning an NBA title. His answer was about the doors it opened, the possibilities that suddenly felt available to him. A month after winning the title he still seemed a little overwhelmed by the experience, and he hadn’t fully processed it yet. Which is completely understandable.

Now, as training camp is set to open for the Cavaliers and their defense of that title, Irving clearly has gotten used to being a champion — and he feels validated. Look at what he told Joe Varden of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

“Yes, my life’s changed drastically,” Irving told cleveland.com Saturday, during Irving’s friendship walk and basketball challenge downtown for Best Buddies, Ohio — an organization that gives social growth and employment opportunities to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“It’s kind of, you’re waiting for that validation from everyone, I guess, to be considered one of the top players in the league at the highest stage,” Irving said. “That kind of changed. I was just trying to earn everyone’s respect as much as I could.”

It’s amazing to think of the impact one shot — Irving’s three over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left in Game 7 — can have. If he misses, there is less pressure on the Warriors to answer with a three, maybe they come down and get a bucket inside for two (one could argue they should have done that anyway rather than hunt for the three), from there maybe the Warriors win. If so, that could change everything from Kevin Durant‘s summer plans to what the Cavaliers’ roster looks like today — there’s a good chance Cleveland’s lineup would have changed if they lost to the Warriors two Finals in a row.

One shot can have that kind of impact on a player, too.

Kyrie Irving was one of the top five point guards in the NBA for a while, a score first guy but one who had some floor general in him and got some steals. A lot of time seemed to be spent focusing on his flaws defensively and passing. But with that shot, he feels validated. If he carries that confidence into next season, the Cavaliers just got better.

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.

D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference to discuss the controversy with teammate Nick Young before the start of the NBA game against the Miami Heat at Staples Center March 30, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Did anyone ever fire up NBA 2K9 back in the day, decide to be the soon-to-be-champion Lakers, look at a roster with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom then say “I’m going to be Luke Walton”?

D'Angelo Russell says he did.

The Lakers young point guard has praised the new Laker coach at every turn — Russell and Byron Scott did not get along, the point guard is much happier now — and that includes talking about Walton’s playing days to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”

Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.

Jackson has a point.