Kobe Bryant

Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Bobcats and Pistons both won. Seriously.

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What you missed while playing a sport where you use stun guns on your opponents

Pistons 88, Lakers 85 (OT): This is why I can’t take the Lakers seriously as a contender — because after each of their big wins this year they turned around the next game and laid an egg (beat Boston lost to the Knicks, for example). Because they are 6-13 on the road. Because they don’t take care of business like a contender.

Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 50 points on 21-of-32 shooting plus had 24 rebounds (Bynum had 30 of those points and was the best player on the floor all night). So of course, those two didn’t touch the ball down the stretch of a close game. Instead the Lakers relied on Kobe Bryant and a perimeter game where they shot 3-of-22 all night. Bryant made the big shot to send the game to overtime because he was able to go right and get to his favorite spot near the elbow, but he was 8-of-26 shooting for 22 points on the night.

A play before Kobe sent it to overtime Rodney Stuckey hit a big three to give the Pistons the lead — a shot he might well have hit anyway because he was hot (he had 34 points on the night — 17 in the fourth quarter and overtime) but when Metta World Peace didn’t even try to rotate out Stuckey got to set his feet and there was no doubt that was going down. It’s those kinds of things, those kinds of nights for the Lakers that makes me question them.

Charlotte 100, Orlando 84: The Bobcats were down 20 early in the second quarter and coach Paul Silas was ejected just before the half, so this was just going to be another routine Bobcats loss, right? Wrong.

You can’t stop Corey Maggette… well, at least nobody could on Tuesday as he had 10 points during the Bobcats fourth-quarter run and finished with 29 total. Bismack Biyombo outplayed Dwight Howard for long stretches. Orlando shot just 24 percent in that fourth quarter. Magic starters not named Howard shot 30.2 percent. It was just a disastrous performance by the Magic combined with about as well as the Bobcats can play.

Dallas 95, Knicks 85: I thought if Carmelo Anthony got roasted by the New York media because of fit issues around Jeremy Lin that it would be unfair. However, if he gets roasted for this performance — 2-of-12 shooting and an inbounds play where he jaws with Shawn Marion and throws it away to the Mavs — I can see it. But he shouldn’t take all the blame, the Knicks played about 7 minutes of inspired ball all night — a 15-0 fourth quarter run that made it close. Dirk Nowitzki was the closer with 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. Jeremy Lin had 14 points on 13 shots with 7 assists but was pedestrian on the night.

Miami 100, Nets 78: Miami is very, very good. The Nets are very, very bad. Not sure there is anything else we need to say, other than the Heat avoided the upsets the Lakers and Magic could not. This was over by half, so Dwyane Wade got to rest his ankle.

Celtics 97, Rockets 92 (OT): There are no easy wins over the Rockets — they make you work for everything — but this didn’t have to go to overtime if Rajon Rondo had hit the game-sealing layup with three seconds left. But he missed, Goran Dragic knocked down the shot and this one went the extra distance. Paul Pierce — the only Celtics who attacked on offense all night — had seven of his 30 in the overtime and Boston got the win. Ray Allen had 21 on the night.

Hawks 101, Pacers 96: It is test week for the Pacers and they are 0-2 now, with losses to Chicago and Atlanta. Miami and Orlando are up next. Josh Smith led Orlando with 27 points and the guy playing on revenge after being snubbed for the All-Star team did it on a night Zaza Pachulia outplayed All-Star Roy Hibbert in the fourth quarter. In fact, the Hawks won in the fourth largely thanks to a Tracy McGrady pick-and-roll play (he had six fourth quarter assists) that set up Pachulia and Jannero Pargo (11 points in the fourth quarter). If the Pacers can’t stop that combo they are in trouble.

Hakeem Olajuwon has nothing but praise for Joel Embiid, can “see himself” in rookie

Hakeem Olajuwon
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The most interesting comparison I heard a scout make about Joel Embiid was this is what people expected Greg Oden to be, before Oden’s body betrayed him.

But do you see some Hakeem Olajuwon in his game?

Olajuwon does, and he has nothing but praise for the rookie, as you can see in this video via the NBA’s Twitter account.

https://twitter.com/i/web/status/821424375819685888

I can see it in terms of mobility — Embiid is agile for a big man. He’s also a good passer and has a good feel for the game.

But he’d be the first to admit he has a long way to go to be in the same club with one of the greatest centers ever to play the game. Embiid needs to become a much better defender, and he needs a lot more polish on the offensive end.

Embiid has the potential to get there. That’s what we all see.

It’s official: NBA, NBPA announce new CBA signed

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  NBA commissioner, Adam Silver speaks during a press conference prior to the NBA match between Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets at the O2 Arena on January 12, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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When was the last time you saw any labor contract — not just the NBA, not just pro sports, but in any business — get done before either side could opt-out, let alone the actual deadline?

That’s what happened with the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The teams had until Dec. 15 of last year to opt out, with the real deadline for a new deal being July 1 of this year. Yet the two sides reached a deal before either side even opted out.

Thursday the NBA and National Basketball Players’ Association announced that the new CBA had been signed. It’s a seven-year deal that kicks in July 1.

The deal got done primarily for two reasons. One, the league is awash in cash with the new television deal and neither side wanted to put that at risk. Second, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA Executive Director Michelle Roberts do not have the long, scarred history of their predecessors (David Stern and Billy Hunter), so they didn’t come to the table with distrust and looking to settle old scores.

The new CBA is largely status quo, which is another reason it got done quickly. Here are the highlights.

• The roughly 50/50 split of revenue remains in place (the players get between 49-51 percent of “basketball-related income” depending on if the league meets revenue goals). It’s always about the money, once this got done the rest tends to fall in line. The rising tide of the new national television contract has floated all boats and nobody wanted to rock that boat.

• The college one-and-done rule will remain. However, both sides will continue to look at the issue. (Will it change eventually? It’s a negotiation, if one side really wants the limit moved they are going to have to give something else up.)

• A new “designated player” rule, which we should just call the Kevin Durant rule. The rule allows teams that have a player they drafted that is entering their seventh or eighth year in the NBA to be offered a longer, larger contract extension — five years starting at 35 percent of the salary cap, same as 10-year veterans. The qualifications are the player has to be with the team that drafted him (or have been traded during his rookie deal, the first three seasons), and have been MVP or made the All-NBA team that season (or two of the previous three). Other teams could only offer four years starting at 30 percent of the cap. For example, Golden State can and will offer Stephen Curry that extension this summer. The more interesting test will be DeMarcus Cousins — the Kings say they will offer it and Cousins has said he will sign it.

• The NBA players’ union now will handle negotiations for player-likeness rights (such as those used in video games). This is something the union wanted and they see as a growth area of revenue, and how were the owners going to push back on the idea of players controlling their own images?

• The preseason will be shortened by three or four games, allowing the regular season to start a week to 10 days earlier. That additional time will be used to reduce the number of back-to-backs and nearly eliminate four games in five nights situations.

• The scaled salaries for rookies will increase.

• There will be some changes to cap holds that will make it harder to do what Kawhi Leonard and Andre Drummond did with their rookie deals, delaying signing an obvious max extension to allow the team to use that cap space to put a better team around them.

• The NBA will create a fund to help with medical expenses and more for retired players who need it.

• NBA teams can have up to three “two-way contracts” that will pay between $50,000 and $75,000. This is something the NBA borrowed from the NHL. These players will have two salaries on the books, their D-League salary and an NBA salary (the minimum, most likely) and will get pro-rated portions of said salaries depending on where they are playing. Teams will be able to move the player between the leagues much more freely.

• There will be changes to the NBA’s domestic violence policy which will clarify the disciplinary procedures in dealing with domestic violence incidents. This will include fines and suspensions, but also will go beyond that and include counseling and other steps to end the cycle.

There was the time Barack Obama taunted Joakim Noah for his shot, so Noah shut him down

Barack Obama
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Barack Obama is the biggest basketball fan ever in the White House, and the best basketball player ever to be president (Abraham Lincoln maybe could have given him a run for his money, except the game hadn’t been invented yet).

Over the past eight years, Obama has hosted a number of pick-up basketball games with NBA players, celebrities, and government officials. It’s pretty standard for half of Washington D.C. to pick up the hobby of the president, and when Obama took office suddenly everyone was a baller. Or wanted to be.

At GQ, they put together a great oral history of some of those games, and there are a bunch of great stories. But this one with Joakim Noah is my favorite.

David Axelrod: [The President] ticked off Joakim Noah because the president was trash-talking him about his shot, [which is], shall we say, unorthodox. The president said, “Where’d you get that shot? That’s the ugliest shot I’ve ever seen.” So at some point, Noah decided, “Okay, let’s see about yours.” And he completely smothered the President. I mean he was guarding him and the President could not go anywhere. But I will say that with all of that, somehow playing against all these NBA players, he mysteriously was able to hit the winning shot.

Obama is a lefty with — according to those who played against him — some old man at the Y in his game. He’s crafty.

Here’s another good story, but you should go read the entire piece.

Marty Nesbitt: The first possession when the president had the ball, Chris Paul was guarding him. He took a couple of dribbles right, and then he crossed over and went left, and then he threw this behind-the-head pass to Pau Gasol, who made a lay-up. It was spectacular. I was teasing Chris Paul a little bit. He said, “Hey, man, I led the NBA in steals. If I wanted to take that—” And I said, “No question, but you didn’t know the man could really play, right? So he surprised you.” He just didn’t expect that Barack could play as well as he could.

Chris Paul (Guard, Los Angeles Clippers): I was shocked at how good he was. Nice lefty jump shot. But he got lucky one time on the break. I sort of jumped out, made him guess which way to go and he made the right play, crossed over, made it look like he crossed me up. It’ll never happen again. Hopefully now that he’s out of office we’ll have some time to see if it was real.

I’m going to miss having a Baller-in-Chief in the White House.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.