Washington Wizards v Chicago Bulls

If the current structure holds, the new NBA will look much like the old one, just smaller

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The New York Times reported Saturday on several crucial details of the new CBA deal that’s currently being discussed. Basically, if the structure holds once either side gets its collective head out of its backside, these are the provisions that are already agreed upon. So if the players cave and give in to 50/50 or the owners elect for their first ever serious concession (fat chance of either), or if both sides would just agree to a 51-52 percent band on revenue, these are the elements that would be included in the NBA.

Go read the entire thing, then come back here. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. I’ve got nothing else to do with a lockout Sunday.

Back? OK, great. Let’s begin with contract length.

Under the old deal, players re-signing with their old team for the max (or re-signing and then getting traded, as in the case of the Triad last summer) would receive a five-year deal with an option for a sixth. That’s been tightened to a five-year deal. I’m assuming that means a four-year deal with a player option for a fifth, but you never know. If you don’t return to your home and instead take the adventurous route, you’ll then be seeing a four-year deal. That’s pretty huge. Consider that the Bulls’ acquisition of Carlos Boozer would mean he’s only on the books for another three years, meaning he’s trade bait in two instead of another three. Contract lengths is a huge provision due to that being the best way for players to guarantee financial stability. The players giving up a year on these is no small element. It means less guaranteed money.

If you’ve been paying attention, you likely know all about the amnesty clause already. But the Times’ report that says the team can exercise it at any point during the life of the CBA is gigantic. Example? You know that fancy new extension Tony Parker agreed to this year? Consider that if Tim Duncan retires at the end of his current contract and Manu decides to head back home after Duncan retires, forfeiting his final year through retirement, Parker will still be on the books for $25 million guaranteed over another two seasons. The amnesty clause mans that teams can finish up their run with their current core, then cut ties and rebuild. And if you want a totally insane scenario? Consider that the Heat could look at the 2012 free agency class and elect to amnesty Chris Bosh, freeing up money to spend on Deron Williams, Chris Paul, or Dwight Howard. That’s not going to happen, but it’s a nice example of what could happen. The Bulls freeing up Boozer once his production plummets in a few years is another example. Getting to hold on to that amnesty is a really big deal.

The stretch exception is more clearly defined, as outlined by the Times‘ Howard Beck:

Stretch exception: Teams will be permitted to stretch out payments to waived players, spreading out the cap hit, over several seasons. The payment schedule will be set by doubling the years left on the contract and adding one. (Thus a team waiving a player with two years left could pay him over five years.)

via N.B.A. Deal Is Close, but Last Hurdle Is a Big One – NYTimes.com.

If you’re keeping score, and if I’m doing the math right, if the Magic were to amnesty Gilbert Arenas and then stretch exception Hedo Turkoglu, his nearly $23 million guaranteed (he has a non-guaranteed $12 million salary in 2013-2014) salary over the next two years would be extended over the next five (2+2+1: it’s like that movie “Clue”). So instead of paying and getting hit with over $11 million each of the next two seasons, the Magic would be paying less than the projected mid-level exception of $5 million in salary and cap hit to get rid of Turkoglu. This kind of flexibility would do much of the same work the amnesty will do in terms of helping teams recover faster.

There are other details on the MLE and the structure of raises, but in reality, the biggest remaining piece of news is the luxury tax. The Times reports that the two sides have agreed on the tax structure. The basic tax for being over the threshold rises to $1.50 for every dollar over the line, then progressively higher as the amount over the threshold rises. It’s a pretty decent solution, allowing teams to spend if they want (for example, the Los Angeles Lakers can more than afford to pay the 3-to-1 dollar tax with their new television deal. There will still be payers, just not as many and you’ll have to really want to.

It’s an exciting set of provisions which could help make teams better over the course of the next six or seven years, depending on the length of the deal. Of course, the management in those teams will still have to make better decisions, the players will still have to play, and we have to a friggin’ deal first. Other than that, gold, Jerry, gold!

Coach Steve Clifford: Poor defense has led to Hornets’ losing streak

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 04:  Teammates Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 and Marvin Williams #2 of the Charlotte Hornets react at the bench as head coach Steve Clifford reacts during their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Spectrum Center on January 4, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  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.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hornets coach Steve Clifford points to one factor when explaining his team’s five-game losing streak – a lack of defense.

Charlotte went 0-5 on its recent road trip, surrendering an uncharacteristic 109.6 points per game during that span. The Hornets return home Wednesday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers, part of a stretch of five-game home stand which Clifford hopes will help turn things around.

But Charlotte’s fourth-year coach said nothing will get better until the Hornets start playing better man-to-man defense.

“It starts with our ability to guard our guy,” Clifford said. “When you get blown by a lot on the perimeter where you are constantly in need of help, then you are going to give up 3s – and that’s what is happening.”

The Hornets raced to a 14-9 start this season and were third-best in the league in points allowed through 23 games.

Since then, things have steadily fallen apart, culminating with Charlotte giving up at least 100 points in eight straight games. The Hornets have since dropped to 12th overall in points allowed.

The Hornets have fallen to 20-21 on the season and are on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture. It hasn’t helped that Nic Batum and Cody Zeller have been in and out of the lineup with injury problems, but Charlotte’s struggles on the road – where it has lost 11 of its last 13 – is concerning.

Zeller said the Hornets spent Wednesday morning watching cutups of defensive miscues over the last five road games.

“All four years I have been here it starts with defense,” Zeller said. “That is what coach Clifford preaches.”

The 7-foot center said it is mostly simple things that can be corrected.

“There are sets that we know are coming – and we just aren’t defending them right,” Zelller said. “We are making too many mistakes.”

Added guard Marco Belinelli: “We need to speak a lot more on the court and help each other.”

Getting the defensive mistakes fix won’t be easy.

After Portland, the Hornets host Toronto, Brooklyn, Washington and Golden State. All five teams rank in the top 14 in the league in scoring offense, with the Warriors being No. 1 overall and Raptors No. 3.

A year ago, Hornets general manager Rich Cho pulled off a quality late-season trade, landing “three and D” guard Courtney Lee. He proved to be the driving force on the team’s playoff run and played well in the postseason.

The problem was Lee did so well it made it impossible for the Hornets to re-sign him. Charlotte re-signed Batum and Marvin Williams, and let Lee walk in free agency. He signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the New York Knicks.

The Hornets figured with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returning this year from a shoulder injury they would be fine defensively, but the struggles are mounting.

Clifford wouldn’t discuss whether the team needs to make a similar trade before the NBA deadline.

As for the offense, Clifford likes what he sees.

Kemba Walker, a first-time All-Star candidate, is in the midst of the most productive season of his career, averaging 23 points per game while shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range.

“I mean he’s having a great year,” Clifford said. “He’s worked really hard and it’s paying off for him.”

Chris Paul to have surgery on torn ligament in left thumb, out 6-8 weeks

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When the Clippers last were without Chris Paul (then due to a hamstring injury), they dropped six games in a row. Granted, that was without Blake Griffin, too, but this team struggles on offense without the Point God running the show.

He’s not going to be running the show again for them until March.

Paul will miss 6-8 weeks due to a torn ligament in his left thumb that will require surgery, the team announced Tuesday. He is set to have surgery on Wednesday.

Raymond Felton and Austin Rivers will get a lot more run with CP3 sidelined.

The injury happened in the second quarter of Monday night’s game against the Thunder. Paul was trying to get over the top of a Joffrey Lauvergne screen when he ran into Russell Westbrook, who had pulled up to take a three. Paul’s hand was on Westbrook’s hip and got caught in his shorts and Westbrook elevated for the shot.

It looked serious as Paul walked off the court — he kicked a chair and was cursing, a sign that he knew something was very wrong. He went straight to the locker room, where X-rays were taken that found nothing broken. It was an MRI on Tuesday that found the damage.

The Clippers are the four seed in the West but are likely about to lose ground, being without Paul until March and with Griffin still sidelined from knee surgery (but should be back in the next few weeks, according to his timetable). Starting Saturday The Clippers have 10-of-11 games on the road — and the one home game is the Warriors. That’s a brutal stretch of games under the best of circumstances, and now the clouds over this team got much darker.

PBT Podcast: Debating NBA midseason awards with Dan Feldman

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 14: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Western Conference and James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets and the Western Conference warm up before the NBA All-Star Game 2016 at the Air Canada Centre on February 14, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario. 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.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Russell Westbrook or James Harden for MVP?

Is Mike D’Antoni the runaway Coach of the Year?

Can anyone catch Giannis Antetokounmpo for Most Improved Player?

The PBT staff gave their picks for midseason awards already. Now Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports debate all of that, plus Sixth Man, Defensive Player of Year, and even takeaways​ from the Warriors win over the Cavaliers Monday.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

LeBron James reminds heckling Warriors fans he has three rings (VINE)

SACRAMENTO, CA - JANUARY 13:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers stands on the court during their game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on January 13, 2017 in Sacramento, California.  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.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Monday night was not exactly the best game of the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They looked like a team on the final night of a six-game, 12-day road trip and they were mailing it in. Then they ran into a rested Warriors team looking to gain a little confidence. The result was a Red Wedding-level blood bath.

LeBron James was none too bothered. He was downplaying the rivalry and the importance of the game before it tipped-off, and after the game he rightly said this was not going to have any impact in June.

And when Warriors fans heckled him, he reminded them of the hardware — he’s got rings. Three of them. The last one at the expense of the Warriors.

https://platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js

I’m going to miss Vine when it goes away.

Hat tip Matt Moore Eye on Basketball.