Should the NBA age limit go up? One more year? Two?

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Interesting tweet Thursday from Mike Rice, the college basketball coach at Rutgers (via Pete Thamel of the New York Times):

I keep hearing NBA owners want to adopt same rule as NFL. Players will have to wait 3 yrs to enter the draft.

I am not mentioning this because I trust the coaches sources, but rather the debate is interesting and alive as part of the ongoing labor talks. Right now the rule is players need to be one year out of high school to enter the NBA draft, which has led to the one-and-done college player, a system nobody really likes. The owners have hinted at wanting to increase that number, the players union says it wants to abolish it completely.

You can bet Rice and his fellow college coaches like the idea of locking up the best players for three years (and there is trickle down, if John Wall still has a year at Kentucky some good young point guard is going to go somewhere else, like maybe Rutgers). There is no doubt that would be good for the college game.

But to me it is fundamentally un-American to tell someone “you have the skills but you can’t earn a living doing it yet.” This isn’t making a person wait to drive or drink — those are issues of societal safety. This is taking years of earnings away from someone. Why should LeBron James need to go to three years of college when he was ready at 18 to play in the NBA? Again, we can go down the list of guys in the league now (Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett) who came straight out of high school and adjusted. (For the record, I get it more in the NFL where no 18 year old is strong enough physically for the pounding at the next level.)

The owners want a higher age limit because they want players to develop on somebody else’s dime. They think they can make better draft choices if their scouts get a couple more years to watch players (they don’t make better choices, they just find new busts). They see it as getting free player development and reduced risks.

Personally, I like the baseball rule: You can get drafted right out of high school, but if you are not you have to spend three years in college.

It’s hard to see this as being a sticking point in negotiations, not compared to the issues of money anyway. But don’t be shocked if the age limit goes up in these talks, if the owners are insistent this is an area where the players may give in.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.