Why Linsanity may have been worth more to Houston than New York

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When the New York Knicks told Jeremy Lin “don’t let Raymond Felton hit you in the backside on the way out,” the talk was a cacophony of shock. Whether you agreed with the move or not, it was a huge surprise that the Knicks wouldn’t match the offer sheet for Lin. If you thought Lin was worth it, you were shocked the Knicks would let a star like Lin walk after everything he did for the franchise last year. If you thought he wasn’t worth it, you were surprised Dolan actually made a decision with consideration for the money.

More than anything, people on both sides were shocked that Dolan let Lin’s marketing potential head to the Lonestar State. Lin was a huge center of attention, which meant money, last season, and merchandise for Lin sold out everywhere. How could the Knicks let something with that kind of marketing potential go? ESPN, in a five-part series this week, noted that that element was considered by the Knicks and it sheds some light on how the league’s financial structure affects these things.

Furthermore, the Knicks calculated that Linsanity might not be worth as much as assumed. While the value of the Lin phenonemon has been much discussed, the Knicks saw it differently from most observers. Their season-ticket sales were strong and their sponsorships were stronger. Any money from the sale of Lin jerseys or Knicks’ merchandise around the world goes into a leaguewide pool, with the Knicks getting the same portion as any other team, according to revenue-sharing rules. Likewise, their share of the league’s TV contracts would not change whether Lin was on the team or not, no matter how many people in New York or Asia were watching.

via NBA — Jeremy Lin Six Degrees Of Separation, New York Knicks – ESPN.

Essentially, Lin wasn’t going to help MSG sell tickets. The Knicks already sell out. It’s the gift and curse of Knicks fans. They’re great, in that they show up no matter how bad the team is and go bonkers when the team is any good and/or has any stars. But it also means the Knicks don’t have to make moves with consideration to selling tickets, because they don’t have to worry about it. But a lot of teams make bad moves trying to sell tickets. The Brooklyn Nets just spent $300 million on a team that isn’t a title contender in order to push ticket sales. And that’s the right move for them, but MSG isn’t in the same bucket.

Likewise, not being able to make any money off the revenue stream of merchandise, and in fact subsidizing the other teams has to have very little appeal to the Knicks. Yes, there are other revenue streams involved with Lin’s popularity that don’t get put into the league pool. But again, the Knicks have already maximized those streams. That’s the real problem. It’s like trying to get someone who’s loaded a gift for their birthday. What do you get the team that has everything (except a title, an offense, and a star willing to relinquish control)?

Houston, on the other hand, can use Lin’s star power. His fame will help them sell sponsorships and put butts in seats. The only person that really loses money in this configuration is Lin, who won’t make as much in Houston off his fame and that trademarked “Linsanity” term as he would in New York. But he got a great deal, and that marketing money will dry up eventually.

So maybe this deal, while not all about the money at all, as ESPN’s feature illustrates, wasn’t so bad on the financial end for anyone. But it’s interesting to see the dynamics in play.

Veteran NBA official Monty McCutchen to be head of referee development, training

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After 25 seasons running up and down the NBA hardwood and refereeing more than 1,400 games, NBA official Monty McCutchen got a promotion.

He officiated his last game Thursday night in Minnesota and will move to a desk at the league office where his new title is Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training.

“Monty has earned the respect of players, coaches and his peers during an exemplary career as an NBA official,” said Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle D. Johnson (who started on the job in October).  “He understands as well as anyone what it takes to be an outstanding referee and how the league can best support its officials.  With his wealth of insight and experience, Monty is uniquely suited for a leadership role in our officiating program.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to channel my passion for the officiating profession in a new way,” McCutchen said.  “While I’ll miss officiating games, I’m grateful to continue working with our incredibly talented referee staff as part of an organization so dedicated to excellence and innovation.”

Despite what some fans like to blast on Twitter (especially during the playoffs), NBA officials are the best trained and flat-out best basketball referees in the world (if you don’t think so, watch the college/scab referees from the last lockout of the refs, it was painful). Could they improve? Sure. Hopefully, McCutchen can help do that in his new position.

Kristaps Porzingis officially day-to-day, questionable vs. OKC

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Knicks fans can exhale now.

There was understandable concern after face of the franchise Kritaps Porzingis had to leave the game in Brooklyn Thursday night following a non-contact injury.

Turns out there is nothing to worry about. After the game, Porzingis spoke to the media and was standing on the leg, a good sign. By Friday, after a day of treatment, he was doing well. Officially Porzingis is day-to-day and may sit out Carmelo Anthony‘s return to Madison Square Garden Saturday, but the injury is nothing serious. Ian Begley of ESPN has the details.

Porzingis’ knee was “worked on” on Friday and the discomfort in his knee decreased, league sources told ESPN. It is unclear if Porzingis underwent an MRI or had X-rays to further determine the extent of the injury but sources say he did not undergo significant testing because it wasn’t warranted based on the state of the injury.

Good. We don’t need another star down with a major injury this season.

Especially Porzingis, who has led the Knicks to a 15-13 record (sixth in the East, in the playoffs) while putting up All-Star numbers: 25.5 points per game, shooting 39.5 percent from three, plus grabbing 6.6 rebounds a game. Maybe more impressive is how he has anchored a solid Knicks defense this season with his rim protection. Stay healthy and he should make his first All-Star team this season.

Report: Cavaliers not willing to put Nets pick in potential trade packages

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When the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Kyrie Irving to Boston last summer — at Irving’s request — they got something Danny Ainge had held onto for years: The Brooklyn Nets 2018 unprotected first round pick.

From the first moment the Cavaliers got the pick there was speculation they might flip it to get LeBron James more help to chase a title this season (and then, ideally, get him to re-sign with the team next summer). Yet, every utterance from the Cavaliers front office on and off the record was that the pick was untouchable. Consider it LeBron insurance should he leave, and if he stays they can add some good young depth.

Now approaching a third of the way into the NBA season, with the Cavaliers looking good but a clear step behind Golden State or Houston (and with Brooklyn playing better than anyone expected), has their position on the pick changed? No, reports Sean Deveney at The Sporting News.

Nearly two months into the season, circumstances have changed for the Cavaliers, but according to league executives, one thing that has not changed has been Cleveland’s unwillingness to part with that Nets’ pick, even as Brooklyn has exceeded expectations, thus dinging the value of the pick.

“They would be open to a deal by all indications,” one general manager told Sporting News. “But they’re not talking about that pick. That’s the Plan B for the LeBron stuff and from what I know, they don’t want to budge on it.”

It’s an interesting team building philosophical debate for the Cavaliers: When you have a reasonable shot at a title is it better to go all in for the big prize, or do they need to think about what is next, especially with LeBron’s future unsure? (Cleveland is not a title favorite, however, they are still the favorite to come out of the East in the playoffs, and if the Cavs reach the Finals they have a puncher’s chance at least.)

The Cavaliers seem to be leaning toward keeping the pick and thinking a little about the future. The Cavaliers do have their own first round pick — which will land in the mid- to late 20s — to potentially thrown in a trade. It’s a first-round pick, if not a terribly valuable one.

On top of this, just how good the Nets have been must factor into the Cavaliers’ decision. If the season ended today, the Nets pick would be 10th heading into the lottery (which has a 1.1 percent chance of jumping up to the top pick, a 4 percent chance of jumping up to the top three picks, and an 87 percent chance of staying 10th). On our recent podcast looking ahead at the draft, NBC’s Rob Dauster said what a lot of scouts have said: After about player 8, there is a drop off. If the scrappy Nets keep playing this well as the trade deadline approaches, do the Cavaliers change their calculus?

The Cavaliers have reportedly reached out to teams about big men — the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan (available), the Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol (the team says not available) — but it’s hard to imagine the Cavs getting an impact player that can help them get closer to another title without throwing in the Brooklyn pick. The Clippers aren’t going to take Tristan Thompson and the Cavs pick for Jordan, they will need more.

This is going to be an interesting trade deadline, and Cavaliers are going to be in the middle of it all.

Adam Silver is honest: NFL more likely to expand to Europe than NBA

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Basketball is a much bigger sport in Europe than American football (not to be confused with the futball that rules European sports).

However, in reality, the NFL is far more likely to put a team in London than the NBA. Logistics is why, and why the NBA is much more strongly considering a team in Mexico City (there will be a D-League in the Mexican capital within a season or two).

Adam Silver addressed the NFL’s scheduling advantages for a London team, speaking to Marc Stein of the New York Times.

For the NBA teams closest to London — Northeast teams such as the Knicks or Celtics — the flight time from their cities to London or Mexico City are about the same (a little over six hours). However, for a team such as Miami it is just a little over 3:30 to Mexico City and nearly five hours more than that to London. And as you move West and get to teams from Los Angeles or Denver — not to mention the three teams in Texas — the trip to Mexico City is less than a cross-country flight to play those East Coast teams.

I could see the NBA putting an All-Star Game in London someday, but even that would require a longer break around the showcase game than exists now.

I’m not about to speculate how an NFL team would draw in London, if they could sell out the required luxury boxes and expensive seats, or if they could help broaden the league’s shrinking television audience. But it makes a lot more sense for that league to explore the idea than it does the NBA.