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.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.