Washington Wizards v Chicago Bulls

Allan Houston Rule could become the Gilbert Arenas Rule

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Rashard Lewis is talked about as the poster child for bad contracts. But Lewis is a willing defender, can hit from the outside, and was very productive for most of his contract. So when talk of the so-called amnesty clause came up recently in NBA discussions, it wasn’t Lewis whose name was linked. It was a Hibachi-grilled issue.

From the New York Daily News:

So it was not surprising that when an amnesty clause was discussed between owners and players – a salary-cap lifeline for teams looking to shed a terrible contract – Arenas was viewed as the poster child for such a provision. Although he still doesn’t turn 30 until this coming January, who would want to pay him in excess of $19 million this coming season, almost $21 million next season and $22 million for 2013-14? Probably not his own team, for starters.

In these negotiations, which have broken down indefinitely over the money split, Arenas has taken the place of Allan Houston, whose name was linked to a similar clause in the previous collective bargaining agreement. Once suspended 50 games for his illegal and reckless use of guns with Javaris Crittenton, Arenas has replaced Houston as the face of bad contracts.

via NBA lockout negotiations to pick up with Gilbert Arenas-contract spurred amnesty clause.

Arenas represents so much about this conflict, actually. His injuries caused his value to plummet before his contract worth. His antics with firearms damaged the team’s reputation. His attitude stands as the kind of thing the owners are repulsed by. And that contract is an albatross.

I’ve long wondered what Ted Leonsis’ role in the lockout has been. After all, he’s one of the so-called “hockey owners’ who saw the benefits of missing a season in order to trample the union under-foot. And he saw the damage those contracts can do as a new owner, with Arenas shackled to his team before having to trade for Lewis just to get rid of him. He didn’t ask for Arenas, he was given him.(He did give Andray Blatche his contract, by the way.)

Consider these quotes from 2010 when Leonsis spoke at a business meeting. He was later fined $100,000 for his comments. This is before any substantial negotiations had begun (because they didn’t start serious negotiations until June, but whatever).

“In a salary-cap era — and soon a hard-salary cap in the NBA like it is in the NHL — if everyone can pay the same amount to the same amount of players, it’s the small nuanced differences that matter,” he said.

Asked after the speech to clarify his remarks, Leonsis pulled back from the comment, saying he was not authorized to speak about the ongoing NBA labor negotiations, but said he believed the NHL’s system “is a good one.”

“It’s working,” he said. “The teams are very, very competitive. There is no way that big markets teams can outspend small market teams. So when the season starts everyone thinks their team can compete for the Stanley Cup.”

via Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis expects NBA to adopt hard salary cap – ESPN.

Are the Wizards the microcosm of the lockout? Are they the center of the dispute, with a hard-line owner who was shackled with a terrible contract he couldn’t get rid of, his first experience with the team dealing with the fallout from Arenas’ nonsense?

And if that’s the case, what does that say about this being a big market vs. small market issue?

Side note: If it does become the Arenas Rule, can we please call it either “The Hibachi Element” or “Agent Zeroing?”

Team USA has sing-along on plane leaving Chicago. Well, except for ‘Melo.

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States Men's National Team looks on during player intro duction prior to playing the China Men's National Team in a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Team USA had their “Tiny Dancer” moment.

Like “Stillwater” in Almost Famous, Team USA’s Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving were leading a sing-along of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” on the team plane out of Chicago to Houston for the USA’s final exhibition game. Hat tip Alysha Tsuji who pulled the snapchats.

Everyone was loving it… except for Carmelo Anthony, according to DeMar DeRozan.

Melo ain't having it…😂

A video posted by DeMar DeRozan (@demar_derozan) on

Watch Kyle Lowry’s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler in USA win

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There were a lot of ugly things for Team USA in its exhibition win over Venezuela — the 4-of-25 shooting from three comes to mind. There was more, it was not a strong offensive performance from Team USA.

But like usual, we can overwhelm teams with athleticism, and that means wins and highlights. Like Kyle Lowry‘s tip-pass alley-oop to Jimmy Butler.

Or DeMar DeRozan‘s late-game windmill dunk.

Kyrie Irving helps USA to ugly 80-45 win over Venezuela

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  Kyrie Irving #10 of the United States Men's National Team looks to make a move with the ball against the China Men's National Team during the first half of a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at ORACLE Arena on July 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Kyrie Irving scored 13 points, DeMarcus Cousins powered a dominant performance in the paint, and the United States pulled away from Venezuela for an ugly 80-45 exhibition victory Friday night.

Coming off three straight flashy victories in Las Vegas and California, the United States shot 42.4 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers in by far its worst offensive performance of its five-city tour in preparation for next week’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics. But the Americans used their superior athleticism to limit Venezuela to 24 percent shooting and owned the interior with a 54-29 rebounding advantage.

Returning to Chicago for the first time with the U.S. national team, Bulls star Jimmy Butler was cheered every time he was announced at the United Center. He had four points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes in his first start with Team USA.

Butler had one of the few electric plays for the U.S. when he ran out on the break and dunked Kyle Lowry‘s tip pass in the fourth quarter. DeAndre Jordan also had a vicious dunk off a lob from Kevin Durant, and DeMar DeRozan drew chants of “USA! USA!” with a windmill jam in the final minutes.

Klay Thompson also scored 13 points, and Cousins finished with seven points and 12 rebounds. Durant had nine points of 3-of-9 shooting.

John Cox scored 14 points for Venezuela, which will play the U.S. again on Aug. 8 in the Olympics.

Irving and company were greeted with a round of hearty cheers when they came out for pregame warmups. Fans lined the side of the court where the Americans had their layup line, and Anthony and Durant posed for pictures with a couple of eager boys.

Before Butler’s introduction drew the most applause of the night, former Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau received a thunderous ovation when he was announced with the U.S. coaching staff. Thibodeau took a year off after he was fired by the Bulls in May 2015, and then was hired as Minnesota’s coach and president of basketball operations in April.

The star power also extended to the sideline near the U.S. bench, where former Olympians Scottie Pippen and Dwyane Wade watched the action attentively. Wade was joined by his wife, actress Gabriel Union, hours after he held his introductory press conference for his new contract with his hometown Bulls.

Pippen played on the 1992 Dream Team that rolled to gold in Barcelona, and also helped the U.S. win gold in 1996. Wade was on the Americans’ gold medal-winning teams at each of the last two Olympics.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Monty Williams is back coaching with Team USA, ready to get back on NBA sidelines

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 18:  Draymond Green #14 of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team drives against assistant coach Monty Williams of the 2016 USA Basketball Men's National Team during a practice session at the Mendenhall Center on July 18, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Watching Monty Williams back on the court at the USA basketball camp/practices in Las Vegas, you could see he was at home. He’s easily the best 44-year-old defender on the planet — he went toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, and the rest, was physical, and made them work for buckets. Then he’d instruct. He’s just a natural.

Back in February, Williams’ wife was killed in an auto accident. It devastated the devout family man, in ways it’s hard for us to understand who have never experienced it. He walked away from coaching the rest of the NBA season with the Thunder, and nobody questioned it for a second.

Now, after getting his feet wet with Team USA (where he is an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski), he told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman he is ready to get back on the sidelines.

“I wouldn’t even think that if I didn’t know, one, my wife would want me to; my kids talk about it all the time. And there have been some things that have happened in my life lately that have allowed me to get that back. I’m so juiced up and ready to get back into it again.”

He is one of the better respected assistant coaches in the league, and a guy who will get another shot at a top spot someday. Soon. Can’t wait to see him back on the sidelines.