Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks c

Winderman: NBA’s post-lockout startup time can be quick

Leave a comment

Based on the slow-go turn in lockout negotiations, it is safe to say that we’re officially on the clock, a backwards timetable to the earliest-possible start to the NBA season.

Those involved in the process are virtually unanimous in a two-week timetable being necessary for agreement-into-final draft and then a union vote.

Conversations with others indicate that a one-week schedule for camp/exhibitions is feasible, if only because while rosters still have to be rounded out, there are a significant number of teams that not only have their starting lineups in place, but many of those lineups are the same that ended last season.

In some respects, the timing of this 2011 lockout could not have been better, with this having already set up as an offseason of continuity for many teams.

But what about free agency, a process that normally runs for three months, a typically measured, methodical approach by front offices?

Don’t overstate the process. A week sounds about right. And with most teams merely looking for complementary pieces, you conceivably could have a workable resumption even with teams fiddling with rosters through the opening days of the regular season.

Foremost, with a rookie wage scale already assured in a new agreement, draft picks could be signed immediately, as was the case even when the moratorium period was in place in previous agreements.

As for free agents, consider that in the last free-agent signing period, 15 players were signed on the opening day of free agency in 2010 and 44 in the first week of the process.

While an argument could be made that the seven-day signing moratorium positioned teams for such swift movement, an argument could be made that teams, in effect, this time already have had a three-month moratorium period to mull such considerations.

Further, while the previous agreement had the mid-level exception, bi-annual exception and all varieties of Bird Rights, the new agreement, one that at the least will have hard-cap characteristics, may have none of them.

In other words, agents won’t have as much ability or need to shop offers. There will be teams with cap space, teams with minimum-scale offers, and perhaps incumbent teams still with some sort of Bird Rights to retain their own free agents.

The reality is teams have had more than ample time for Plans A, B, C, all the way to the ones that forecast Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler to instead play in China.

Put it this way, one agent confided he already has a $4 million offer in place from a team for his middling swingman.

Which means either people already are talking, or plenty of advance work was set in motion before the July 1 onset of the lockout.

No, you’re not allowed to discuss such matters during a lockout. But you also were never allowed to discuss potential free-agency machinations prior to July 1 of any other year, and, well, we’ll leave that conspiracy conversation for those who want to revisit elements of LeBron, Wade, Bosh.

Basically, in the wake of slow-moving negotiations, there still can be a fast-moving free-agency process.

So while pondering those reverse calculations about how quickly meaningful games can be played upon an agreement, don’t overstate the personnel game.

Those plans are in much better shape than, apparently, any plan to actually end the lockout itself.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
Leave a comment

Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
Leave a comment

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.