Nazr Mohammed

Nazr Mohammed was doing so well, too

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For starters, it should be noted that at least the players are willing to talk about these things. They’re brave enough to go on Twitter, to talk to reporters, to have conversations about the state of the lockout and the potential end of the season. Their position is obviously as biased as it can be, but while they’re taking to social media and media outlets, the owners are hiding behind limousine windows. The response to that is “They’ll get fined!” but that belies what we’ve seen and heard, which is that David Stern is beholden to the owners. So which is it? He’s helpless against their insatiable desires or he rules them with the iron fist?

But I digress.

Nazr Mohammed was discussing the owners’ latest offer on Twitter and doing a pretty decent job. He won’t speak to specifics but continues to rail against the owners and explaining why the players will likely opt for decertification over a vote on Monday. But then, well, he went too far.

 

If this deal is accepted…I advise guys to stay in school and get ur degree, Master’s if possible. U might be able to make more $ that…Sat Nov 12 18:53:57 via Twitter for iPhone

…way than playing in the NBA in ur 1st five years. Being the 1st pick of the draft would mean nothing. #NBALockoutSat Nov 12 18:55:51 via Twitter for iPhone

 

That… was NOT what you wanted to say.

OK, so here’s what he’s talking about.

Everyone freaked out yesterday about a single 140-character tweet from Ric Bucher yesterday about a proposal element that would give teams the right to send a player to the D-League for the first five years of their career and pro-rate them at $75,000 while they’re down there. Now, I can tell you having covered the D-League for the past four years, the goal of the league is not to serve as some sort of Siberian prison camp for players to punish them. If that proposal did make it in, it would be used only for players who clearly weren’t ready. When they were, they would come up. If you draft a top draft pick, you’re not sending him to the D-League for five years to keep costs down. You want him up. The guys this would impact would likely not be part of the union long-term anyway. And we don’t know any of the surrounding details of the proposal. Oh, and what’s that? One more thing? Oh, yeah.

It’s not in the proposal anymore. It’s gone. It’s dead. It’s over. But players are still reacting to it.

NBPA COMMUNICATION = FAIL.

But just for kicks, let’s say that Mohammed’s right. That this could happen.

Via Wikipedia, the average salary for a graduate of a Master’s program several years ago, prior to the recession, was $63,000. Now subtract student loans. Now consider that most MA’s aren’t going to be in fields that yield significantly higher than that. Now consider how many MA’s you know who are working in service-industry jobs right now because of the economy. Now consider the per-hour rate of most MA’s vs. NBA players (who work very, very hard, make no mistake).

Yeah, that was not the best thing.

What’s worse is that this is the kind of thing the players don’t need right now. Even though winning the PR war will do nothing for negotiations, the players just don’t need something similar to Patrick Ewing’s famous “We spend a lot, too” comment. The players don’t necessarily have to have a high awareness of the job market outside the NBA. In a lot of ways many NBA members have a greater awareness of the poverty conditions in this country than most. But they don’t need to be talking about any NBA player being put in a bad situation. They’ll be put in a worse situation than they were under in the last CBA. But their lives overall will still be pretty great.

 

Tyronn Lue says he plans to keep minutes down for LeBron, Love, Irving

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 10:  Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 10, 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.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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There have been studies that have shown this, or you can just take the Gregg Popovich eye test, but we know this:

Rested players perform better and are less likely to be injured.

Which is why the trend toward resting players in the NBA is not going away. Enter Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, via Cleveland play-by-play man Fred McLeod.

LeBron James may not like it, but this is the right move by Lue, both in terms of trying to repeat and for future years. The Cavaliers are going to need a healthy LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love if they are going to pass the test the Warriors present again.

The league schedulers have done an impressive job of reducing the four-games-in-five-nights on the road and back-to-backs. However, as long as the NBA plays 82 games, fatigue and rest will be issues — and we know the owners and players are not giving up the revenue to go to a more reasonable 60-game schedule. Which means what you get now is the new reality.

How Big Papi helped save Al Horford’s wedding day

BOSTON, MA - JULY 08:  Al Horford of the Boston Celtics, holding his son Ean, hugs David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox after throwing out the first pitch before the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on July 8, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Al Horford is big in his native Dominican Republic.

But he’s no David Ortiz.

The Red Sox throwback slugger is THE MAN in the Dominican — and when Horford needed to get something big done at the last minute on his wedding day, he reached out to Ortiz. Who was the fixer.

As told to Andrew Sharp at Sports Illustrated, Horford was getting married on Christmas Eve in the Dominican, and he needed assistance.

“We’re down there, and I realize I’m supposed to get a limo for [my wife], to pick her up and take her to where we’re getting married,” Horford says. “And then, obviously being in the Dominican Republic, things never go how they’re supposed to. So three hours before the wedding, we find out that there’s no limo….

Eventually he did what one does in the case of Dominican emergencies. He called David Ortiz: “I’m like, ‘Hey man, this is what’s going on. We’re getting married in a couple hours. I need a car. What am I going to do?’ ”

“Don’t worry,” Ortiz said. “I got you.”

Ortiz wasn’t even on the island at this point, but it didn’t matter. He told Horford to send a friend over to Ortiz’s house to pick up his Rolls-Royce Phantom. “I’ll have it there in 30 minutes,” Ortiz said. “I just gotta get it washed.”

Horford was amazed. “He didn’t even know my guy down there,” he laughs. “I sent a friend of mine. And he picks up the Phantom, brings it over to my wife. . . . And you know, that’s a very expensive car. But [Ortiz] tells me to keep it until I leave. So we’re there for a couple more days, and we have the car the whole time. It’s just one of those things, it shows he has a really big heart.”

Ortiz is going to be missed in Boston.

Horford is going to fit in brilliantly — on and off the court.

Heat’s Josh McRoberts says he broke foot in Game 6 vs. Raptors, remains out

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: A portrait of Josh McRoberts #4 of the Miami Heat on September 26, 2016 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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To call Josh McRoberts‘ time in Miami injury plagued might be the understatement of the decade.

Now with Chris Bosh out, the Heat could really use McRoberts at the four, but “shockingly” he is not healthy. Wednesday he finally admitted the reason he has been limited in training camp with foot issues.

McRoberts run of bad luck continues. And foot injuries — when your job involves running up and down a hardwood floor — are something that has to be taken seriously and allowed to fully heal, lest they become chronic. I’m not sure the Heat can bet on a lot out of McRoberts this season.

With no Bosh and McRoberts, expect Derrick Williams, Udonis Haslem, and maybe Luke Babbitt will get some run there. Coach Erik Spoelstra also likely will have some small lineups where Justise Winslow will play the four.

51Q: Will Larry Bird’s renovation of the Pacers pay off?

Larry Bird, Paul George
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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season.

There are two types of basketball analysts: Those who believe the Pacers improved by swapping George Hill for Jeff Teague and those who believe Indiana got worse in the trade.

Teague uses his superior quickness in the pick-and-roll to score and assist more. Hill defends better, commits fewer turnovers and shoots more efficiently.

I prefer Hill. Larry Bird opted for Teague.

I can’t wait to see who’s right.

Though I’m inclined to value Hill’s less-flashy contributions – and like his lead-guard skills if he were called upon for that role – I’m also not arrogant enough to believe I certainly know better than Bird. An all-time great who has excelled as a player, coach and executive deserves some benefit of the doubt.

Bird is leveraging it now.

Seemingly unsatisfied with the team that reached consecutive conference finals in 2013 and 2014, Bird has now fully torn down the roster to build a more dynamic offense around Paul George. The Pacers president has long talked about the change, and we’ll learn this season whether his vision will bear fruit.

In addition to trading Hill for Teague, Bird let Lance Stephenson leave in free agency, deemphasized and traded Roy Hibbert, offended David West into leaving and fired Frank Vogel. In came Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Myles Turner, Thaddeus Young, Teague and Nate McMillian.

And Bird hasn’t stopped after jettisoning everyone who regularly started with George in those conference-finals runs. Indiana will miss Ian Mahinmi‘s defense – maybe more than Al Jefferson works as a change-of-pace in the low post. But Bird is fully embracing the course of trading defense for offense.

Debate how he addressed it, but the team’s identity was clear. In the last four years, the Pacers stunk offensively and thrived defensively. Their rank in points per possession:

  • Offense: 20th, 23rd, 23rd, 25th
  • Defense: 1st, 1st, 7th, 3rd

The beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I see an excellent defense propping up an offense that could have been better. Bird saw a struggling offense and couldn’t look past it.

Indiana now has a deep squad of players who can break down opponents off the dribble. They will have matchup advantages – if they pass well enough to find the player in favorable position. The ball will move plenty between the hardwood and the dribbler’s hands. Between players? That’s a major question mark.

It’s one of numerous hitches in Bird’s plan.

He tried to fast-track the offense last year by moving George from small forward to power forward. Despite Bird’s demands, George resisted. The plan was largely scrapped early in the season.

McMillian was also a curious choice given Bird’s stated goals. McMillian’s Trail Blazers and SuperSonics teams usually played slow. Still, perhaps the coach can adapt his scheme to fit his players (and appease his boss). Bird chose McMillian for a reason, after all.

Bird chose it all.

This is the team he long desired – for better or worse.