Baseline to Baseline recaps: Drama with the Lakers? Shocking.

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What you missed while thinking you don’t hate your job as much as this guy

Lakers 104, Warriors 101: What’s a Laker win without more drama?

During the game the drama was the Lakers not pulling away against an undersized Golden State side, then the Warriors fighting back from a double digits deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead 97-95 on a David Lee bucket. That’s when Kobe Bryant did what he does — he drained to tough, contested jumpers in a row to give the Lakers the lead back for good.

But that’s only half the drama — Andrew Bynum attempted a three pointer from the top of the key two minutes into third quarter and was promptly benched by coach Mike Brown. He played only a short stint (2:49) at the start of the fourth quarter and while on the bench refused to join team huddles. Bynum acted like a pouty child. After the game he sounded even more immature and said the only problem with him taking a three was that he didn’t make it. Trust me, this is going to be a thing for the next couple of days.

Spurs 107, Suns 100: Our own Brett Pollakoff was at this one and files this recap:

The Suns had been playing their best basketball of the season heading into Tuesday’s home game against the Spurs. But Phoenix’s best still wasn’t good enough to take down San Antonio.

The Spurs executed masterfully offensively, while the Suns only did so at times. The result was another win for a deep and talented Spurs team that played with all three of its superstars for the first time in the last four games — all of which were wins.

It was odd seeing Boris Diaw contribute off the bench for the Spurs against his former team from a couple of years ago, but the damage he did was minimal. It was Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combining for 50 points that made the difference.

Shannon Brown did his best to keep the Suns close, filling in for the injured Grant Hill in the starting lineup with a career-high 32 points on 11-for-18 shooting. But the execution from the Spurs offensively never ceased, and when the Suns slowed down, a 13-2 run midway through the fourth quarter provided enough separation for the Spurs to seal it.

Sixers 103, Cavaliers 85: With the win the Sixers reclaim sole possession of the Atlantic Division (half a game over Boston). Philly played like a team with something on the line and the Cavaliers played like a young team playing out the string. Cleveland shot just 32 percent in the second quarter, fell behind by double digits and that was about it. Jodie Meeks had a big night, scoring 31 for Philly on just 16 shots.

Bucks 108, Hawks 101: That is what Monta Ellis can do — 17 points on 9 shots plus four assists in the fourth quarter to key the Bucks win. Ellis and Brandon Jennings still do not blend as a back court, but there are nights they can light up the scoreboard playing next to each other if not with each other. With this win, the Bucks move within two games of the Knicks for the final playoff spot in the East.

Grizzlies 93, Timberwolves 86: No Marc Gasol and Memphis still picks up a nice win. Memphis was the team that attacked the rim, they were rewarded with 28 free throw attempts (they hit 25). Dante Cunningham had an impressive 11 points and 14 boards on the night for Memphis to pick up the slack with Gasol out. Kevin Love with 28 points and 11 boards in a losing effort.

Mavericks 90, Rockets 81: Dallas won this game in the third quarter — they went on a 16-2 run while holding the Rockets to 12 points on 26 percent shooting. Dallas also got 21 points from Dirk Nowitzki and 48 from its bench. The loss dropped Houston half a game back of Denver for the final playoff spot in the West.

Thunder 109, Trail Blazers 95: This was pretty much the blowout you expected — Russell Westbrook owned the Blazers and had 32 points, Kevin Durant had 25 and this game really wasn’t in doubt from the second quarter on. We had a J.J. Hickson sighting, he had 21 off the bench for Portland.

Only two of 38 rookies surveyed say No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will have class’s best career

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The 76ers drafted Ben Simmons No. 1 last year, believing he’d have the best career of anyone in his draft class. This year, Philadelphia traded up to draft Markelle Fultz No. 1 for the same reason.

Their fellow rookies – Simmons missed all of last season due to injury – aren’t nearly as enthused.

John Schuhmann of NBA.com conducted his annual rookie survey, polling 39 players who weren’t allowed to vote for themselves or college or NBA teammates. Thirty-eight responded to the best-career question:

Which rookie will have the best career?

1. Lonzo Ball, L.A. Lakers — 18.4%
Jayson Tatum, Boston — 18.4%

3. Josh Jackson, Phoenix — 10.5%
Dennis Smith Jr., Dallas — 10.5%

5. De'Aaron Fox, Sacramento — 7.9%

6. Markelle Fultz, Philadelphia — 5.3%
Harry Giles, Sacramento — 5.3%
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 5.3%

Others receiving votes: Jarrett Allen, Brooklyn; John Collins, Atlanta; Jonathan Isaac, Orlando; Luke Kennard, Detroit; Kyle Kuzma, L.A. Lakers; Donovan Mitchell, Utah; Malik Monk, Charlotte

Simmons might not have come to mind to players at the rookie photo shoot, which was for the most recent draft class. And rookies have tended to pick someone other than the No. 1 pick for this question. Anthony Davis in 2012 was the last No. 1 pick to lead voting. Simmons tied for fourth at 6.7% last year – behind Brandon Ingram, Kris Dunn and Buddy Hield. Even Karl-Anthony Towns landed behind Jahlil Okafor in 2015.

But so few votes for Fultz – the consensus top prospect in the draft – is fairly stunning.

Dennis Smith Jr. received the most votes for Rookie of the Year, but at just 25.7%. A large majority of rookies picked someone other than the Mavericks point guard.

Lonzo Ball (71.8% for best playmaker) was the only player to receive a majority of votes in a category. Luke Kennard (48.6% for best shooter) and Smith (43.6% for most athletic), who each tripled second place, came close.

LeBron James reemerged as rookies’ favorite player after a three-year run by Kevin Durant. Maybe that Warriors backlash if finally catching up to Durant?

Kendall Marshall, Marshall Plumlee headline Team USA’s AmeriCup roster

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AmeriCup, previously called the FIBA Americas Championship, lost its luster when FIBA decided the continental tournament wouldn’t double as World Cup qualifying.

But the U.S. is still sending a team, coached by Jeff Van Gundy. The roster (team last season):

  • Billy Baron (UCAM Murcia, Spain)
  • Alec Brown (Windy City Bulls)
  • Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  • Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns)
  • Darrun Hilliard (Detroit Pistons)
  • Jonathan Holmes (Canton Charge);
  • Kendall Marshall (Reno Bighorns)
  • Xavier Munford (Greensboro Swarm)
  • Marshall Plumlee (New York Knicks)
  • Jameel Warney (Texas Legends)
  • C.J. Williams (Texas Legends)
  • Reggie Williams (Oklahoma City Blue)

The Americans should still be favored, though obviously not as overwhelming as they’d be with NBA players, in a field also comprised of Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Uruguay, Panama and U.S. Virgin Islands.

This will be a good benchmark, as the U.S. might take a similar roster into World Cup qualifying.

Report: Tampering investigation stems from Magic Johnson’s TV interview

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In April, new Lakers president Magic Johnson went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and discussed then-Pacers forward Paul George:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

Now, the Lakers – at Indiana’s request – are being investigated for tampering.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The investigation, which has been going on since May, stemmed from comments Magic Johnson made on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that angered Pacers owner Herb Simon, according to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

This doesn’t mean the Pacers believe Johnson tampered with his televised comments. It seems as if that was the last straw following numerous rumors about George going to Los Angeles.

However, there’s a case Johnson’s televised remarks alone would constitute tampering. The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits “assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), between a player (or any person or entity controlled by, related to, or acting with authority on behalf of, such player) and any Team (or Team Affiliate)” – and even attempts to solicit assurance of intent or understanding – when the player is still under contract with another team. Johnson sure appeared to do that.

But it’d be shocking if Johnson or the Lakers were punished for the interview alone. Indiana probably needs more evidence.

Then again, the arbitrary way the NBA enforces tampering, who knows?

Report: Nerlens Noel hires Rich Paul as agent, looking for big deal from Mavericks

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It’s been a rough year for restricted free agents (and plenty of unrestricted ones). After NBA teams spent like drunken sailors on shore leave last summer, this time around — with the cap not rising as much as had been expected — the market got tight quickly, and few questionable contracts were handed out. A year ago the Brooklyn Nets were making the Miami Heat pay big to retain Tyler Johnson and the Trail Blazers pay big to keep Allen Crabbe. This year teams were not biting the same way on restricted free agents.

Which left guys like Nerlens Noel, who expected to be maxed out by the Mavericks (or someone), still looking for a deal. Noel was frustrated enough to switch agents, picking up Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

Paul is LeBron James‘ agent, and in recent years has done well getting Tristan Thompson and Eric Bledsoe good contracts as extensions to their rookie deals. In both cases, he showed a fearlessness in holding out longer and being willing to push the envelope. That had to appeal to Noel.

But it doesn’t change the underlying dynamics at play — and not just with Noel. Paul also represents restricted free agents this summer Shabazz Muhammad — who has yet to sign a deal — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had to take a one-year deal with the Lakers for $18 million (well below his max). Throw in Noel’s injury history, and teams were not eager to jump in with a big offer for the athletic big man.

At this point, no team has the money to offer Noel a max contract right now — the Bulls have the most available money at $17.3 million, the Sixers and Suns have about $15 million and $14 million. Noel’s max is $24.7 million a year. Dallas is playing hardball because they can — without another offer on the table, Noel’s only real threat is to sign the qualifying offer (about $6 million) and play the season for that, then become an unrestricted free agent next summer. That’s possible, but a guy with Noe’s history of injuries may want to be careful betting on himself like that.

With Paul in the negotiations, expect them to drag out. That’s about the only sure thing.