Mark Cuban goes to Dyckman… for about thirty seconds before lockout rules made him leave

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DyckmanPark has been as much of a hangout for NBA players opening classrooms on streetball courts as anywhere else. So much so that Mark Cuban decided to make a pit-stop by the place to see some basketball.

For about thirty seconds.

From ESPN.com:

The standing-room only crowd showed Cuban love as he entered with security flanking his every step. Cuban shook hands with the fans that were lined up behind a bench and the scorers table. The owner of the defending NBA champions posed for pictures and sat for a few minutes in a beach chair before departing.

As he was escorted out, the game’s emcee told the crowd on hand that because of NBA rules, Cuban was not allowed to stay any longer.

“I love anywhere where there’s basketball. Anywhere where there’s people coming out and having fun is always a good thing, man,” Cuban said as he exited the park. “I’m glad Greg (Marius, CEO of the EBC) brought me out to be apart of it. I wish I could stay.”

via Mark Cuban made an appearance at the Dyckman League in Washington Heights on Friday. – ESPN New York.

So, it’s really great that Cuban’s making an appearance and promoting basketball and willing to cross the line to where he knew there would be NBA players, even he was forced to leave.

Except…

Thing is, there have been published reports on how Cuban is part of the contingent of owners who have pushed hardest for the lockout, the relatively new owners who want to guarantee profitability by shifting the league’s course in terms of player salary structure to a hard cap and essentially enact nuclear winter to get what they want. The NBA’s official position, of course, is that the system is simply not sustainable and that a roll-back of the 57% BRI under the previous deal is part of what they have determined is necessary to stop the bleeding. Even if Cuban’s not part of that contingent, that’s the leading force from the owners, of which Cuban is a part of. So in the boardroom Cuban’s pushing to keep the players locked out and consequently the game on hold from the fans, and in front of the cameras, he’s hanging out with the Mavericks at the ESPY’s and making appearances at Dyckman Park before leaving as if it’s not his choice and he’s just doing what he’s told.

Listen, no one thinks more of Cuban as an owner than I do. He’s a smart, engaging personality that has pumped millions of dollars into the Mavericks to make them a winner. Seeing him with the trophy at the Finals in Miami after Game 6 was a highlight, it was validation to everyone who supports things like sports psychologists, advanced metrics, and entertaining owners who have their eye on the future. But Cuban seems to want to play both sides. The, pardon this, maverick owner who plays by his own rules and flirts with fines because of how close he is with his players, and the billionaire owner looking to kill a season in order to get what he wants, which is what he feels is a fair share of the pie.

If the reports are off, and Cuban’s not a part of that contingent, if he thinks the league should back off its hard line and settle a deal in the middle with the players, then this is totally off. But we’ll never know that because we don’t know where the owners stand. Transparency weakens their position, and it’s not something they should engage in. But that obtuseness comes with a price, and that price seems to be Cuban looking a little hypocritical.

But hey, I’m sure the hot dogs were nice.

(HT: IAmaGM.com)

James Harden puts on show to start second half vs. Timberwolves

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James Harden started Game 4 0-of-7 from the floor, including missing a lay-up. It was an extension of Game 3, and it let the Timberwolves hang around for a half despite their own offensive woes.

Then in the second half the MVP Harden showed up.

Houston started the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, and a lot of it was Harden (with a little help from Chris Paul). Harden had 22 points in the third (with 4:30 left in the quarter). After a couple rough games the Timberwolves were going under the pick when Harden had the ball, and suddenly he made them pay.

Or, he was just stepping back.

With all the buckets the Rockets turned a close game into a 25 point lead.

Tyronn Lue doesn’t hold back with retort to heckling Pacers’ fan

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It’s a part of the NBA experience that most fans don’t get to hear — some fans courtside heckling opposing players and coaches, and those guys occasionally firing back. We only tend to hear about it when things cross a line.

Sometimes the interactions are just funny, such as this one passed along by J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Well played, Lue.

Although is Cleveland really a city at the forefront of fashion? Well, I suppose if you went to college in Nebraska…

Report: Pelicans picked up Alvin Gentry’s option for next season before sweep

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Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.

The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.

That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.

Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.

It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.

Report: Suns talk to Jason Kidd, Vinny Del Negro about coaching job

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Mike Budenholzer is out (and may be thinking New York). Suns’ interim coach Jay Triano and former Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale are still in the mix.

The Suns also have reached out to Jason Kidd — who was let go by the Bucks mid-season — and former Bulls and Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro, reports Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic.

This is still early in a lengthy search process, there is a long way to go before anyone gets offered this job.

Kidd now lives in Phoenix. He’s considered a smart coach but one who falls in and out of love with players fast, pushes hard for the players he wants (and against those he doesn’t), and didn’t utilize the talent on the Bucks to its best advantage. The Suns have to ask if he is the right guy for a rebuild. He can coach, he’s going to get another chance, but do the Suns want to give it to him?

Mentioning Del Negro will lead to howls from the Suns’ fanbase, but to be fair he gets a bit of a bad rap as a coach. Del Negro won 53.3 percent of his games as a coach, and only one team he coached ever finished below .500. He’s had some success developing players, starting with Derrick Rose. All that said, there are reasons Suns’ fans are right to howl: simplistic offenses, a heavy reliance on pick-and-roll sets, and remember he broke the confidence of DeAndre Jordan (Doc Rivers had to build it back up).

Phoenix fired Earl Watson just three games into the season and are looking to replace him. The new coach will have a very good young scorer in Devin Booker on the roster and after that a lot of young question marks. This is a development job where the Suns need to hire a guy who can put in a system, then bring in more talent and stay out of the new coach’s way. We’ll see if the Suns can do that.