Nets push Teletović to take mini mid-level so Howard, other doors open up


The Nets like to make things hard on themselves. But they apparently have just cleared one more hurdle to making the very difficult trade to bring Dwight Howard to Brooklyn a little more possible.

They may have reached a deal to get Mirza Teletović to take a smaller offer than they verbally agreed to, which will keep the hard salary cap they nearly imposed on themselves away, according to ESPN’s Larry Coon and’s Ken Berger. Removing that cap makes the finances of a Dwight Howard trade possible.

This gets complex, so stick with me.

Tuesday it was announced the Nets had agreed to terms with European stretch four Mirza Teletović for the $5 million mid-level exception for three years. Something they could offer.

However, because with salary and “cap holds” (slots reserved for their free agents to re-sign) the Nets were over the salary cap ($58 million) and below the luxury tax line ($70 million), so on July 11 when they signed Teletovic to that deal they would activate the “apron” or hard salary cap in the new CBA, which is at $74.3 million. This provision was put in the CBA at the insistence of smaller market owners who didn’t like to see the high-spending teams (Lakers, Celtics, Knicks etc..) keep adding players via the mid-level exception every season with impunity.

If the Nets had that hard cap there was really no way to pull off a Howard trade — Howard will make $19 million, Joe Johnson makes $19 million, Deron Williams $17 million, Gerald Wallace $10 million and throw in the rookies and you have a Nets roster at about $70 million and still needing to add at least seven players. Even at minimum deals you can’t really pulls that off in the NBA, not with any kind of quality.

However, the Nets are close to getting Teletović to take the mini mid-level of $3 million. If they do that, there is no hard cap triggered and the Nets can take on more salary back in a Dwight Howard trade. Or really make any other large move.

Now, that’s just the math of it. The Nets still need to convince the Magic that the package they have been rejecting for nearly a year — Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and some picks — is now good enough for them. And to make it work, they need at least a third team to take on Humphries and what likely is an oversized new deal.

So good luck with that. But at least the math could be there now.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry
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The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.

Is Stephen Curry the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Lionel Messi

Stephen Curry has reached the transcendent point in his career. We’re now talking about if he has passed LeBron James as the best player on the planet (he has), and we’re starting to think about his legacy as the perfect point guard for a modern NBA small-ball, space-and-pace offense. Plus he’s just a joy to watch play.

Does that make him the Lionel Messi of the NBA?

Curry was asked to compare himself to the Barcelona/Argentinian player who (arguably) is the greatest soccer player in the world, certainly as elite a finisher as that sport has ever seen. Here is his answer, via the Sydney Morning Herald of Australia. Is Curry the bigger international star now?

“I don’t know – it’s a chicken and egg kind of conversation,” Curry said while laughing.

“We both have a creative style, a feel when you are out on the pitch or the court. I’m trying to do some fancy things out there with both hands, making crossover moves and having a certain flair to my game and that’s definitely the style Messi has when he is out there in his matches.”

I love Curry, but Messi is the bigger international star.

But I love the comparison in terms of the must-watch nature of the two stars, the flair in their games, the sense that you have to keep an eye on them at all times because the spectacular could happen any time they touch the ball. When the ball comes to them, everybody leads forward in their chairs. That is the sign of a real superstar.