Players union pushing idea ‘Melo, other stars might play in Europe

10 Comments

Deron Williams has a deal in principle to play in Turkey should the lockout extend into September (and it almost certainly will be there at the start of the month).

We have our doubts about how many other elite players will follow in those footsteps — but it is great leverage for the NBPA (the player’s union) in negotiations with owners.

So when Newsday talked to union VP Roger Mason Jr., he threw out other big names who might want to play overseas.

“I can see anybody doing it,” said Mason Jr. said. “This is what people have to understand. It’s definitely about earning a living, but we’ve already been so blessed, a lot of guys love the game and want to be able to compete . . . I’ve talked to a lot of the star players, Chris Paul, Amar’e, (Stoudemire) Melo (Carmelo Anthony), I think that those guys are open-minded to everything.”

Again, we have our doubts. In the case of Stoudemire, his agent says in the same article this is not even being considered yet. Stoudemire has four years and $83 million left on his deal that can be voided if he got seriously injured playing overseas. And Stoudemire already has had microfracture surgery and an eye retina problem. You think he’s going to risk the physical play allowed in Europe.

Anthony has for years and about $87.6 million left after just signing and extension with the Knicks. Chris Paul is on the brink of his biggest payday ever as a free agent. Would they really risk all that to make a couple million for a season in Europe?

But it’s good leverage, so expect the union to keep selling it.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Leave a comment

LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
3 Comments

Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Leave a comment

Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.