At midnight tonight (or tomorrow, if you really want to be difficult), the NBA world as we know it will come to a grinding halt. Contact between players and teams will be reduced solely to a negotiative process that will determine the league’s short and long-term future, and all of the other off-season festivities — free agency, the summer trade market, Summer League — will be scrapped or delayed until all collective bargaining issues are resolved. It’s going to be a long, cold, lonely summer.
But in the meantime, the Cleveland Cavaliers are staying busy. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Cavs are open to the possibility of making a second trade today before the lockout officially begins. The motivating factor: a $14.6 million traded player exception acquired in the LeBron James sign-and-trade that would be otherwise almost impossible to use given the unique nature of this off-season.
The exception allows the Cavs to take back salary in excess of the the league’s standard trade rules, and though the Cavs don’t have all that many attractive trade chips, they do hold the ability to take on unwanted salary. Chris Grant, the general manager of the Cavs, has been afforded an opportunity to trade a player with a smaller annual salary in exchange for an overpaid one, and in the process perhaps add draft picks or other interesting young pieces. It’s feasible that a team itching to cut salary in anticipation of the collective bargaining agreement to come could take up Cleveland on such an offer, but there hasn’t yet been any indication of serious trade negotiations stemming from the Cavs’ trade exception.
Still, this is our last hope. There are but a few hours left of a real NBA off-season; once the clock strikes 12, it’s all over. This could be the last bit of relevant roster news, and though Cleveland’s reported openness to making a deal tonight may yield no actual transaction, the team’s mindset still grants the possibility of a final potential move before the NBA goes dark.
The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.
But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.
Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:
Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.
The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.
The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.
(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)
The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.
But it should have counted.
With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:
Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.
Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.
Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.
Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.
The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.
The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:
“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery. We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”
Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.
The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.
Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.
Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.
The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.
Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:
Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.
That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.
The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.