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!

Paul George on Pacers after loss: “No sense of urgency, no winning pride”

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Indiana still has a 75 percent chance of making the playoffs (according to fivethirtyeight.com), they are two games clear of the nine seed with seven games to play.

But they fell to that seventh seed with a loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night, an evening that Atlanta, Milwaukee, and Miami all won. Chicago is the nine seed right now, lurking with its soft schedule, and looking for another team to slip up, and in a key game Indiana did.

The Pacers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night despite being at home and having a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Indy had no answer for Karl-Anthony Towns, who dropped 37. Paul George had 37 points as well, and afterwards pissed and frustrated would be good words to describe his mood. Here’s his quote, via Nate Taylor at the Indy Star.

“We should have a professional approach, man, and defend our home court, especially to a team that’s not even in the playoffs,” George said of losing to the Timberwolves (29-44). “That’s what it comes down to. As a team, we’ve got to have a grit and we’ve got to own up, man up….

“There’s no urgency, no sense of urgency, no winning pride,” he said. “This locker room is just not pissed off enough.”

If you don’t have urgency playing for your playoff lives with seven games left in the season, when will you have it?

Yes, this was a frustrated George venting after a loss. However, it also points again to the challenges Larry Bird and the Pacer front office have this summer — George wants to win, wants to play for a contender. Or if not that, maybe in his hometown. If George doesn’t make an All-NBA team (he likely just misses out, forward is a stacked position in the league right now) and the Pacers can’t offer him a “designated player” max, Indiana needs to put a contender around him, or consider trading him so they don’t lose him for nothing in a year. Both of those options present challenges come July.

In the short term, the Pacers need to make the playoffs. Even if they do, play like this against the Cavaliers (their current first-round matchup) or any of the other top-four teams in the East and Indy’s stay in the postseason will be short and uneventful.

 

Steve Kerr has now reached 200 wins faster than any coach in NBA history

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Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr already has a championship under his belt as a coach. Now the 51-year-old former NBA player has reached another milestone in an already decorated career as a player and coach. After the Warriors beat the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night, 113-106, Kerr became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 200 wins.

Kerr hit the mark in just 238 career games. His seasons at the helm of Golden State have produced just 38 losses — 15, 9, and 14 over the last three years, respectively.

In doing so, Kerr surpasses the mark set by former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

Congratulations are in order to Kerr and the Warriors. It’s certainly a huge accomplishment, and the lack of losses is dizzying to think about.

Three Things We Learned Tuesday: Warriors, Trail Blazers, Heat all help their playoff causes

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Tuesday was a big night for playoff chase games, so much so that the Wizards clinching the division title — their first since 1979 — or the bad night for the Pacers dropping them to seventh in the East didn’t even make the cut here. Here are the three big takeaways from the night.

1) In a battle of elite offenses, Warriors’ defense gets them key win in the race for the top seed. Wednesday night comes the game that will get a lot of media attention — Golden State heads into San Antonio in a battle of the two top teams in the NBA. The Spurs are 2.5 games back of the Warriors for the No. 1 seed in the West and all of basketball, any hope they have of catching Golden State requires a win tonight.

Except it may too late for the Spurs — with their win Tuesday night, the Warriors made it tough to catch them. Fivethirtyeight.com now has Golden State with a 93 percent chance to retain the top seed in the West.

Golden State held on to beat Houston on the road Tuesday, 113-106, in a battle of the NBA’s top two offenses. However, it was Golden State’s elite defense that was the difference — the Warriors held the Rockets to 38.8 percent shooting overall and 16.1 percent from three. The Warriors crowd Harden with multiple defenders, and while he still puts up numbers — he had a triple-double in this game — he’s not as efficient.

Not that there wasn’t an offensive show, between Harden’s triple-double and Stephen Curry dropping 32 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Those two put on a show.

Golden State raced out to a fast lead and pushed that margin up to 22 by getting stops (and the Rockets just missing looks, they were 2-of-16 from deep in the first 24 minutes), then turning their defensive stops into transition buckets. Credit the Rockets because they battled back, started getting to the line, grinding a little, and by halftime it was just an eight-point Golden State lead. The game stayed in single digits through most of the second half, but the Warriors always kept the lead, and with a little push late got the win.

Which brings us back to the showdown Wednesday with San Antonio. If the Spurs win, they will be 1.5 games behind the Warriors, one game back in the loss column, with seven to play. The Spurs will have the tie breaker, but San Antonio would still need to win out (and Gregg Popovich has said he will rest players) and hope Golden State loses again (they have now won eight in a row heading into San Antonio). Certainly not impossible, but also not likely. By at least getting a split in their Texas two-step, the Warriors have probably earned themselves the top seed in the West.

2) Portland beats Denver, essentially ending the Nuggets’ playoff dreams. This wasn’t a must-win game for Denver in the purest sense — the Nuggets are mathematically alive for the eighth seed, just one game back of the Trail Blazers.

However, in the practical world, Tuesday night was a must-win game for the Nuggets.

And the Trail Blazers beat them. Beat then because of the guy Denver traded them at the deadline — Jusuf Nurkic had a career-high 33 points plus pulled down 16 rebounds, six offensive. After the game, he wasn’t shy telling his former team to enjoy their summer.

Going into the game Portland and Denver were tied for the eighth seed in the West, the final playoff spot. With the win, the Nuggets are one game up and have the tie-breaker, so it is, in essence, a two-game lead with eight to play. The challenge for Denver is six of their eight games are on the road, while Portland has just two of their eight away from home.

Fivethirtyeight.com now has the Blazers a 92 percent chance to make the postseason, the Nuggets get 8 percent. That’s not impossible, but it’s not likely.

3) Hassan Whiteside’s tip in keeps Heat in eighth seed, all but ends Detroit’s playoff hopes. This one play was the dagger shot to Detroit’s playoff chances. They had what amounted to a must-win game Tuesday against Miami, the Pistons needed one stop at the end, and this happened.

If I’m Stan Van Gundy, what keeps me up is not even the Hassan Whiteside tip-in, it’s little Goran Dragic pulling down the first rebound in and amongst the trees. How do you let him get that?

It was a disappointing ending to a disappointing game that caps off a disappointing season in Detroit. This team should be better than this, but here we are.  Detroit is now 2.5 games out of the playoffs with seven games to play. That’s too much. Fivethirtyeight.com has Detroit’s chances of making the playoffs at 1 percent.

Miami, on the other hand, has a 74 percent chance of making the postseason, according to the same site. The Heat’s biggest concern should be they are just one game ahead of Chicago for that last playoff spot, and the Bulls have a softer ending to the season (Miami’s last four games are Toronto, Washington, Cleveland, and Washington, although those teams could be resting guys at that point).

Blazers’ Noah Vonleh posterizes Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic with huge dunk (VIDEO)

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Tuesday night’s game between the Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trail Blazers was an important one. The two teams are fighting for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. The Blazers have been on the rise as of late, and the atmosphere at the Moda Center was electric.

While much of the talk was about Jusuf Nurkić, Mason Plumlee, and Nikola Jokic thanks to the trade between the two teams, it was actually Portland’s Noah Vonleh that got people talking early.

During a play midway through the first quarter, Vonleh threw down a huge dunk that posterized Jokic.

Via Twitter:

Vonleh has played much better alongside Nurkić this season, and Portland fans are all hoping he continues to develop going into next year. This kind of confidence and aggressiveness is just part of what the Blazers will need from Vonleh moving forward.