Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks

Just a reminder: Next year the Lakers will be insanely rich

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So much of the recent NBA lockout was really about small market owners trying to rein in the spending of big market owners in the name of mythical “competitive balance.” (I would say a lot of that was misplaced anger at bigger markets having better management, but we can debate that another day.) The Lakers and their $90 million payroll had to be stopped, so the group of Republican owners put a bunch of socialist rules in place — luxury taxes and forced revenue sharing — to slow the Lakers spending down.

But in the case of the Lakers, the question starts to become will any of that matter?

You know that the Lakers signed a massive new television deal to be the anchor of a regional sports network in Los Angeles to be launched by Time Warner in 2012. (Why the Lakers didn’t get equity in that deal confuses me, it seems a mistake on their part.) Here is a reminder of just how massive it is and how it could lead to them spending like always, via Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register.

That $5 billion is over 25 years – or it’ll be merely $4 billion over 20 years if the future option isn’t exercised. It has been widely and wrongly reported as less.

Let’s pause and appreciate how much money one club, starting next season, will get per year all to itself just from local TV: $200 million … when Forbes values the entire Milwaukee Bucks franchise at $258 million.

It leads to a very good question: whether the NBA’s new supposedly prohibitive luxury-tax penalties to start in 2013 are really going to stop the Lakers from continuing to throw money at their problems – because they’ve solved a lot of them very well that way without having this new billionaire boys’ club.

Revenue sharing plays into this — the final details of it are not yet finalized among the owners, but the Lakers are likely to have to kick $60 million a year or more to small market teams. Plus the increased luxury tax could kick the Lakers’ tax bill from $20 million to $45 million in a couple years (at last year’s spending level. That’s an extra $100 million a year or more going out the door.

But the Lakers’ annual income from local television revenue is about to jump more than $150 million a year. So what’s to stop them?

It’s good to have the Lakers’ problems.

Carmelo Anthony predicts Knicks-Bulls on Christmas or opening night

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots over Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on March 23, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony said the Knicks should have gotten a Christmas game last year. In hindsight, the NBA reportedly agreed.

So, Anthony expects New York to get a marquee matchup — against the Bulls — on either Christmas or opening night.

Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal:

The storylines are overflowing.

The Knicks added Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah — two former Bulls — to join Anthony, who strongly considered Chicago in his last free agency. The Bulls answered with a couple big names: Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. They’ll join Jimmy Butler, whose stature is only growing — just like Kristaps Porzingis in New York.

Those are plenty of attention-drawing players, and the league will want to capitalize, even if we’re talking about a couple middling Eastern Conference teams.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that New York and Chicago are huge markets.

Newspaper uses crying Michael Jordan photo with article on his race statement

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Jordan to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame speaks during an induction ceremony on September 11, 2009 in Springfield, Massachusetts. 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 Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Michael Jordan issued a statement on race in America and donated $2 million to a couple worthy causes.

That drew international coverage, including one curious photo choice:

Only in Malawi.

Watch Amar’e Stoudemire’s top 10 career plays (video)

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When Amar’e Stoudemire retired, I said history will treat him better than present-day analysis — maybe even to the point he gets legitimate Hall of Fame consideration.

Get past Stoudemire’s injury-caused decline with the Knicks and his wayward years with the Mavericks and Heat, and Stoudemire was a heck of a player with the Suns (and in his first year in New York).

Thanks to the NBA, the process of remembering Stoudemire for his peak can begin immediately. I was blown away by the first few highlights before realizing they were just the introduction for the top 10.

Kings GM Vlade Divac: DeMarcus Cousins is ‘most dominant player in the whole world’

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #12 of the United States Men's National Team dribbles the ball up court 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)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Vlade Divac isn’t calling Rudy Gay with trade-talk updates.

So, how is the Kings general manager spending his time?

Watching DeMarcus Cousins with Team USA.

James Ham of CSN California on Cousins:

He’s primed to show the world what both he and plenty of others around the basketball world already believe — that he is the best big man in the world.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Kings general manager Vlade Divac said from his courtside seat. “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world. And being from Serbia, I have to root for Serbia, but I feel bad for them. He’s going to kill them.”

If we take Divac’s statement — “He’s the most dominant player in the whole world” — at face value, nope. LeBron James is. Other players like Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are also better than Cousins, but big men can dominate in a way perimeter players can’t

If Divac meant just among big men, there’s a case. When Cousins is fully engaged, it’s one I’d definitely buy. He’s a load to handle inside, and his defense can be top-notch.

There are just too many times Cousins checks out. It’s a fine line, because Cousins’ emotions carries him to his highs. But he hasn’t yet found an ideal equilibrium point. His lows are still too low and too frequent.

That said, no center nears Cousins’ peak dominance. DeAndre Jordan and Draymond Green, when he plays the position, need too much help from teammates to be considered truly dominant. Andre Drummond isn’t polished enough. Even with his flaws, Cousins is probably already the NBA’s most dominant center.

Most dominant player, though? No. That’s a step too far.