Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden durin

Tuesday And-1 links: The new NBA luxury tax and you

7 Comments

Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.

• There’s a great post from Mike Prada at SBN that starts to explain why traditional big-spending teams — Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Mavericks — are making moves now to lower payroll, because they are scared of the increased taxes that will kick in starting in 2014. He has a great paragraph explaining the implications:

As an exercise, consider the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, they had a payroll of nearly $86 million. Under the old system, which was in effect, the Lakers owed just under $16 million in luxury-tax fees. Under the new system, though, they would have owed $7.5 million for the first $5 million over the tax, $8.75 million for the next five million, $12.5 million for the next five million and $3.25 million for the final $1 million. Right there, that’s a $32.25 million tax bill. In addition, since the Lakers were over the tax in four of the past five years, they would have owed an additional $5 million at each juncture. That leaves them with a tax bill of over $52 million for being $16 million over the threshold.

• Despite the future tax implications, James Harden expects to sign a new contact with Thunder this summer. Nobody doubts he will, but there is a big bill coming for the Thunder down the line and they will make changes.

• My take on those last two notes — the owners fought hard to have this heavy tax and flattening of payrolls in the NBA, thinking it would flatten out the salary levels (it will) and give more teams a chance. To force some parity. But what it will do — whether you built your team like the Heat or Thunder did — is force you to break it up sooner or have stars with no real talent around them. Is that good for the league? Especially a league that sells stars? I think it backfires.

• Tyler Zeller talks about going through the workout process leading up to the draft with Zach Lowe at SI. And they talk fashion.

• As expected, the Blazers extended a qualifying offer to Nicolas Batum. Other teams like him but the Blazers will not let him go.

• Tyreke Evans has told the Sacramento Kings he doesn’t want to play the small forward next year. The smart money is he doesn’t play for the Kings next year — his name comes up in all kinds of trade rumors.

• As was expected, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills has been named to the Australian Olympic basketball team.

• However, Bobcats big man Byron Mullens will not play for Great Britain in the Olympics due to a toe injury.

• LeBron is back being active on twitter and has more followers than you.

• Taj Gibson’s birthday cake was a picture of him dunking on Dwyane Wade. Nice.

• With Danny Ferry signing on to be GM of the Hawks, the 76ers are scaling back their search for the guy who will take over for Rod Thorn.

• Danny Ainge talks about how the Celtics overachieved this year. His word, not mine.

• A Q&A with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

• By the way, Thorn said the 76ers would be drafting the best player available regardless of position. Every team should do this (or use a tier system). Drafting for need works in the NFL, but the NBA draft is a different animal.

Here’s a breakdown of how the appeal of the arbiter’s ruling on the Jeremy Lin/waiver/Bird rights ruling will go down. Big implications for the Knicks offseason on the line.

• Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon is having some business troubles.

RIP to Ted Luckenbill, the former University of Houston college star who played in Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game.

Draymond Green tells Kyrie Irving: ‘I know your moves’ (video)

1 Comment

Only Draymond Green can endearingly brag about his defensive intelligence while admitting getting fooled on a play.

In the Warriors’ blowout win over the Cavaliers last night, Green guarded Kyrie Irving and anticipated the Cleveland guard would go one way. After Irving went the other way to score, the two shared a moment during a stoppage.

“I know your  moves,” Green said.

“I know,” replied Irving, whose vast offensive repertoire allowed him to find an unexpected counter.

Thaddeus Young shakes backboard with dunk on Terrence Jones (video)

Leave a comment

Terrence Jones isn’t much of a rim protector.

Thaddeus Young took advantage.

This ferocious jam helped the Pacers beat the Pelicans, 98-85.

Rudy Gobert block secures Utah’s win over Phoenix (VIDEO)

Leave a comment

At the season’s midway point, Rudy Gobert is probably the leader frontrunner in the Defensive Player of the Year race. Kawhi Leonard will have a say, and there is a lot of basketball yet to play, but Gobert anchors the NBA’s best defense and he is a force in the paint.

Just ask the Phoenix Suns.

Down three with 13 seconds left Monday night, the Suns wanted a three to tie, but when that was not easily open Eric Bledsoe decided to drive for two (then the Suns would foul and extend the game), he was cut off so Bledsoe dished to rookie Marquese Chriss, who went in for the layup — and found the long arms of Gobert. Blocked shot and game over.

Utah is for real, folks.

Three Things We Learned, Cavaliers/Warriors edition: What can we take away from Monday to NBA Finals?

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 16:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds his face after being fouled by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 16, 2017 in Oakland, 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA goes big on Martin Luther King Jr. day — as they should — but if you missed the action because you were busy counting to 100,000 for no reason, we’ve got you covered with the key takeaways from the biggest game on the schedule.

And we’re doubling our usual three things we learned to six for a day.

Six things from Warriors’ thrashing of Cavaliers that could play out in NBA Finals.
 Nothing that happens in the regular season guarantees anything come the NBA playoffs, let alone the Finals. Last season’s 73-win Warriors were just the latest in a long line of teams to prove that. Which means we need to be careful reading much into Golden State’s thrashing of Cleveland on Martin Luther King Jr. day. The Finals are a little less than six months away — both of these teams will be different by then (the Cavaliers hope to have a healthy J.R. Smith and Kevin Love by then, for example).  Remember, in January one year ago the Warriors thrashed the Cavaliers on national television, and how did the following Finals turn out?

However, when these teams meet some strategies are tested, little things in the game that we could see — or teams will need to at least account for — come the Finals meeting we all expect. Here are six things from Monday’s game that could well play out in June in the NBA Finals.

1) In the four straight wins the Cavaliers had in this series prior to Monday, they were very aggressive in defending Stephen Curry — they trapped him off picks, were physical, tried to pressure him into decisions to give up the ball, then when Curry tried to make the playground passes that worked against other teams the Cavaliers help defenders made steals and were off in transition the other way. All of that made Curry passive — remember the guy floating on the perimeter taking just 11 shots on Christmas Day?

On Monday night Curry took that pressure in stride, attacked Kyrie Irving from the opening tip (remember Curry’s first possession he blew right by him), used his handles to create space, used his gravity to draw defenders to him, then he whipped smart passes around the floor. In the first half, Curry had 10 assists and zero turnovers. For the game Curry had 20 shots. If he can match that, or even come close, in the Finals, the Cavs are going to struggle to slow this offense down. Like every mortal team has.

2) In January 2016 the Warriors thrashed the Cavaliers on national television, and that was a critical step in the Cavaliers deciding they needed to let David Blatt go, hire Tyronn Lue, and make changes that put them on Golden State’s level. With Monday’s loss, one thing that was evident was the depth of playmaking options the Warriors have and how that can be difficult to guard. Cleveland has two playmakers right now, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Cavs’ GM David Griffin has talked about wanting to add playmakers, LeBron has called for a backup point guard, but it’s clear whatever position they could use to add another playmaker or two heading into the trade deadline.

3) Can Kevin Durant guard LeBron? Chris Haynes of ESPN with an interesting stat:

The Cavaliers were on the last night of a six-game, 12-day road trip — they were not at their best. LeBron clearly wasn’t. However, if KD can even do a reasonable job on LeBron — or can switch on to him without getting torched — the Warriors will be a lot more comfortable and have more options on defense.

4) How did Warriors handle Kyle Korver? They went right at him and made him play defense, which has never been a strong suit (to put it kindly). The Warriors have enough playmakers that whoever Korver was guarding just went at him, and it worked — particularly during the stretch that saw the Warriors first push their lead north of 20. Korver didn’t have a great shooting night, by June he likely is far more comfortable, but if the Warriors can expose him on the other end it will be hard to keep Korver on the court for extended periods.

5) When JaVale McGee checked in for the Warriors, Tyronn Lue countered with Channing Frye. JaVale is not a strong defender, doesn’t step out away from the basket if he can help it, and the Cavs saw an advantage. JaVale’s offense covered that in this game scoring inside, but it’s something to watch.

6) DeAndre Liggins is a good defender, but he’s more focused on-ball than off, and in the fourth quarter Klay Thompson torched him a few times making Liggins chase him off screens away from the ball. You can be sure Steve Kerr noticed and filed that away.