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Chris Paul and the players’ moral paradox

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We can do this one of two ways. The quick and dirty way, or the abstract and more complex way. As usual, I’ll give you the quick and dirty version first.

In an interview with Business Week, Chris Paul revealed the stunning information that the players know how much the lockout affects the fans and wish it didn’t hurt them. He also goes over the usual stuff about how the players just can’t give up as much as the owners want, and that they have a responsibility to further generations of players to protect their earning potential. He’s hopeful they won’t lose games, but he also says some day his son might grow up to need a contract and be proud that his dad fought for him.

You know. That old chestnut.

That’s the quick and dirty version.

Here’s where it gets a bit more complex, once you start to think about it. From Business Week, in Paul’s own words:

All I knew was that there was no basketball, which is why, this time around, it was so hard to walk away from the negotiating table without a deal. I know—we know—how much it affects the fans. And we know that if it weren’t for the fans, there would be no us.

We hate to see something like a lockout take place, but we can’t just take a huge step back. There are so many players that came before us—Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing—who got the game to where it is today. And what about the kids in high school who aspire to be in the NBA? We don’t believe in making sure it’s O.K. for ourselves now, but more difficult for them later.

via Chris Paul on Risking a Lost NBA Season – BusinessWeek.

Basic stuff, right? You’ve pretty much decided how you’ve felt about this. If you’re not associated with a team (in which case your response is much like Bob Hoskins in “Hook,” “What about Smee?!”), or the player’s association (a hearty “Right on!”) then you’re probably left wondering what the big deal is. The players are just protecting their millions and the ability of future players to earn millions while working class people struggle every day. It’s not going to earn your sympathy, nor should it.

But when we take it out of the pragmatic, and into the abstract or philosophical, we have a bit more of a sticky wicket.

Take out the context. Remove the players from what they do for a living, how much they make, the lifestyle they get to enjoy. Don’t even try to make them into something innocuous like plumbers, construction workers, database engineers, or the like. Just remove all of the details from their particular situation and focus on the actual construct of the dilemma they face.

The player’s primary responsibility is to what created them. In this case, that’s the fans. They exist, have meaning, are able to fulfill their dreams only because of this entity which gave them life. (The owners believe they in fact created the players, but this is a fallacy, without the owners, there would simply be another structure which would bring the players to ply their trade in front of the masses.) It’s a symbiotic relationship. The players entertain the fans, who then spend their money to further the players, who then play more, and so on and so on. While it’s true that corporate sponsorships, concessions, and merchandising deals all are third party entities who contribute to the players’ livelihood, those are all driven by the same beings, the creators (fans).

But then you have the descendants, the future players. These players are the same as the current players in every way. They have the same needs, likely the same backgrounds, the same experiences, the same desires. So let’s say the players were to say “You know what, it doesn’t matter. Not losing a year of income is what’s best for me. That’s what I need to do for me.” Can you really justify abandoning future people who you don’t know and who have no say in this debate in order to further your own desires?

Well, that depends on if the harm given to the fans is more important than the harm done to the future players. Or is it greater? Is depriving the people who allow you to do what you do (which is what you both want and need) for up to an entire year worse than harming the people who will come after you who have no say in this process and are depending on you to protect them?

That’s the paradox. They can’t protect the future without harming the present, and they can’t protect the present without harming the future. They can’t do right by the people who give them life (as basketball players) without doing harm to the people who are themselves in the future. They can’t do right by the people who they’re obligated to protect without harming the people they’re obligated to protect.

In reality, very little of this appears to the players. They’re worried about themselves and their pride. They’re worried about ensuring they can sail off into the sunset with as much money as possible. The fans are not at the top of their list of priorities, neither are the NBA players of the future. But if we remove the context of the players’ collective identity, their problem becomes easier to relate to, even if their lifestyle isn’t.

Report: Celtics agree to guaranteed contract with Demetrius Jackson, partially guaranteed deal with Ben Bentil

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 25:  Demetrius Jackson #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers with a score of 56 to 61 during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Celtics are slowly but surely taking care of their eight (!) 2016 draft picks.

They’ll sign No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown. No. 16 pick Guerschon Yabusele and No. 23 pick Ante Zizic will remain overseas. The Nos. 31 and 35 picks were traded for a future first-rounder on draft night.

And Boston has reached terms with No. 45 pick Demetrius Jackson and No. 51 pick Ben Bentil.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

As second-rounders, neither Jackson nor Bentil count against the cap until signed. So, the Celtics — with a little cap space plus the room exception and minimum-salary exceptions available — might wait a while to officially sign either player.

Jackson would give Boston 16 players — one more than the regular-season roster limit — with guaranteed salaries. Obviously, the Celtics will have to make a move — a big one, they surely hope.

Any deal could avoid a point guard, because Jackson makes four with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier. Most teams carry just three.

With this roster crunch, Bentil will probably head to the D-League after training camp. The partial guarantee is likely just designed to entice him to stick in Boston’s system rather than sign overseas.

This leaves just No. 58 pick Abdel Nader unaccounted for among the Celtics eight (!) 2016 draft picks.

Spurs sign 2013 first-rounder Livio Jean-Charles

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With the 76ers signing Dario Saric, that left just five players drafted in the first round before this year who are still active but haven’t played in the NBA:

  • Nikola Milutinov (No. 26 by Spurs in 2015)
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic (No. 27 by Suns in 2014)
  • Livio Jean-Charles (No. 28 in 2013 by Spurs)
  • Petteri Koponen (No. 30 in 2007 by 76ers)
  • Fran Vazquez (No. 11 in 2005 by Magic)

San Antonio trimmed the list by one.

Spurs release:

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have signed forward Livio Jean-Charles.

Because Jean-Charles was drafted more than three years ago, he’s not bound by the rookie scale. San Antonio could have signed him to a scale or standard contract.

The Spurs could use more length and athleticism on the frontline behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, and Jean-Charles fit the bill when drafted. But he tore his ACL and missed the following season. It’s less clear the 22-year-old is still on track to help.

 

Count on Dewayne Dedmon as a far safer bet to provide San Antonio with that dimension. If Jean-Charles helps, that’d just be a bonus.

DeMarcus Cousins: All-NBA voting ‘absurd,’ ‘joke,’ ‘popularity contest’

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 of the Sacramento Kings and DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers battle for rebounding position at Staples Center on February 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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DeMarcus Cousins was the only All-NBA player on a lottery team this year.

The Kings center made the second team behind DeAndre Jordan.

Credit voters for seeing past Sacramento’s dismal record and recognizing Cousins’ individual excellence. He has only so much power, and it would’ve been unfair to disqualify him due to his subpar teammates and coaching.

Cousins’ voting breakdown:

  • First team: 32
  • Second team: 28
  • Third team: 33
  • Not on ballot: 33

I wouldn’t have picked Cousins for an All-NBA team, but this struck me as voters being open-minded about an unconventional candidate — one from a losing team.

Cousins sees it differently.

Cousins, via Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

“I don’t even know what an expert is any more,” Cousins told The Vertical about the all-NBA votes. “I mean, I had some guys, didn’t even vote for me, and that’s absurd. It’s a joke. It really is. It’s a popularity contest. It’s the guys who like them, it’s the guys they like, the guys they get to see on a nightly basis. I still don’t feel I get the respect I deserve. But I’m going to keep grinding. I’m going to stick with it.”

I wouldn’t have voted for Cousins. I put Draymond Green, Jordan and Al Horford at center for the PBT Awards. So, I obviously didn’t find omitting Cousins absurd.

Likewise, I wouldn’t have found including Cousins absurd. He wasn’t far behind in a deep crop of center candidates that also included Andre Drummond, Anthony Davis, Hassan Whiteside and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Though Cousins posted monster numbers — 26.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks per game — he contributed to the toxic environment that derailed Sacramento’s season. That counts, too. So does Cousins missing 17 games.

But before we get too far down the rabbit hole of sober analysis, remember this: Cousins, for better or worse, always has a huge chip on his shoulder. Of course he thinks he was slighted.

In fact, many voters find that stubbornness endearing. That’s why a popularity contest didn’t keep Cousins off some All-NBA ballots.

His season, while very impressive, just wasn’t overwhelmingly dominant enough to demand inclusion on every single ballot.

DeMar DeRozan didn’t meet with Lakers because he wanted “legacy of my own in Toronto”

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  DeMar DeRozan #9 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team stands on the court during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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DeMar DeRozan was going to be one of the Lakers’ free agent targets last summer — an All-Star wing who could come home to Los Angeles and slide right into Kobe Bryant‘s now vacant spot in the rotation. But like the Lakers’ other top targets — Kevin Durant, Hassam Whiteside, etc. — the Lakers didn’t even get a meeting.

Durant’s reasoning was expected: “I really respect their team. I just thought they were a couple years away from where I wanted to be.”

DeRozan went another path — he loves Toronto and wants to carve out a legacy there, as he told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily recently:

“When you have an opportunity to go home, that’s something that certainly would cross your mind. But it wasn’t anything,” DeRozan told Southern California News Group. “After I finish playing, I’m pretty sure I’ll live in L.A. But I just wanted to do something special and leave a legacy of my own in Toronto.”

DeRozan is big on loyalty — he has the word tattooed on his hands. If he says he’s in for something, he’s all the way in. And he is in for Toronto — he and Kyle Lowry have built what that team has become. The Lowry/DeRozan backcourt fueled the Raptors to the best season in franchise history last campaign — 56 wins and reaching the Eastern Conference finals. Nobody who knew DeRozan thought he would walk away from that, not even for the chance to play for the team he grew up idolizing.

The Daily News story does a fantastic job of showing DeRozan is still loyal to Los Angeles, too — he is a regular at the Drew League to this day. He loves L.A.

But that’s different from leaving an impressive Raptors team for the Lakers.