Arenas magic

Eight guys likely waived under new CBA amnesty clause

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Next time you’re positive you know who is going to get cut with the coming NBA amnesty clause, remember this: In 2005 it was nicknamed the Allan Houston clause after the wildly overpaid Knicks guard. Except the Knicks didn’t cut him.

We don’t know who will get cut this time around, but we have heard an amnesty clause that allows a team to wipe a player off the official payroll (luxury tax and salary cap) is almost a certainty in the new labor deal. It’s a one time shot.

Remember — the players will still get paid. The amnesty will wipe a player’s salary off the official books, but this is a signed contract and the checks will keep flowing. Chris Bernucca at Sheridan hoops is right — this is essentially a do-over for the wealthy teams and gives overpaid players a chance to still get paid and sign with a contender for less. But if you were smart with your contracts and managed your budget, this doesn’t help you at all. As always, the owners just want protection from themselves.

Here are our guesses for the eight guys most likely cut, plus one interesting scenario in the Pacific Northwest.

Richard Hamilton, Detroit Pistons. He is owed two years, $25.3 million. In theory they could keep him around to trade him, but there hasn’t been much of a market for him in the past year — and the market will shrink with the new labor deal.

Rashard Lewis, Washington Wizards. He is owed two years, $43.8 million. He may be the poster child for the amnesty clause. He also can still contribute and some team is going to get him for a song and he will help them (Miami may be the most likely).

Gilbert Arenas, Orlando Magic. He is owed three years, $54.3 million. They have a few choices, such as Hedo Turkoglu (three years, $34.8 million), but Arenas has the worst deal. Orlando needs to shed salary and bring in talent if they have any hope of keeping Dwight Howard after next summer.

Baron Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers. He is owned two years, $28.6 million. I know he is excited to mentor Kyrie Irving, but the Clippers were desperate to get rid of him (giving up the pick that became Irving) to stop him from mentoring their young team.

Brendan Haywood, Dallas Mavericks. He is owed five years, $45.3 million. The Mavericks gave him a big deal, then it turned out Tyson Chandler was the big deal they really needed. Dallas will bring back Chandler and let Haywood go, but he is still a solid center who can help some teams.

Luke Walton, Los Angeles Lakers. He is owed two years, $11.4 million. Another guy with NBA game that can help another team. He was a good triangle fit but may not work with the Mike Brown offense, plus the Lakers are going to need to trim salary whatever the new system is.

Travis Outlaw, New Jersey Nets. He is owed four years, $28 million. That he played just shy of 30 minutes a game last season in New Jersey speaks to the Nets roster issues. He is not part of the future and the Nets could use the cap space to maneuver.

Andris Biedrins, Golden State Warriors. He is owed three years, $27 million. He was going to be the center of the future, but his confidence fell apart faster than his free throw form. Or maybe they collapsed together. Either way, this franchise needs a change in the middle.

The biggest amnesty question is:

Brandon Roy, Portland Trail Blazers. He is owed four years, $68.4 million. His knees have robbed him of a game that was worth that money. He was one of the franchise’s anchors, but while he can still deliver spectacular playoff fourth quarters he can’t deliver every game any more. On paper this seems an easy cut, but there are emotional ties here in Portland that make it more difficult. This will be owner Paul Allen’s call.

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.