David Stern to step down as NBA Commissioner Feb. 1, 2014

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Last year at the NBA finals David Stern said he only was going to be on the job for a couple more years. He wasn’t kidding.

David Stern, 70, is stepping down as commissioner of the NBA on Feb. 1, 2014, Timberwolves owner and Chairman of Board of Governors Glen Taylor confirmed on Wednesday.

That will be 30 years to the day of David Stern having led the NBA, and taking a sport that not long before he took over had its finals games shown on tape delay after midnight to dizzying new heights of popularity both nationally and internationally (and steering it to two lockouts on along the way). Stern was not perfect, but he knew how to market a sport as well or better than any pro sports commissioner in history.

“I thought one year for each of the 30 teams in the NBA was about all I could say…” Stern joked about why retiring now. “Things are in great shape, and there’s an orgainization in place, that will ultimately be led by Adam (Silver) that is totally prepared to take it to the next level. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving prior to (negotiating the new) Collective Bargaining Agreement… and this seemed to be a great time….

“Life is a journey and it’s been a spectacular journey. And each step along the way there are things that you have to do, things you wish you hadn’t done, but I don’t keep that list. I’m totally pleased.”

Stern said he plans to stay on, basically as a consultant, to work on special projects. That likely will involve working to grow the game overseas, a passion of his.

Current deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA’s lead negotiator during the lockout, was unanimously selected by the owners to take his place and negotiations will take place with him Taylor confirmed (the formal approval will come in April). Silver has worked in the league offices for 20 years.

“I told the owners yesterday in executive session, I told them that it’s been a great run, it will continue for another 15 months, that the league is in,” I think, terrific condition…” Stern said. “I like to think I did an adequate job but one of the things I did best was to provide a successor that would be able to take the kind of things we now look at as huge growth opportunities — international, digital, television rights — and have somebody place.”

Stern promised a “smooth transition.” Sterm will stay on past his retirement date as a consultant to work with teams and on international projects.

“Adam’s title will be ‘commissioner elect’ but for the next 15 months they are still going to have me to kick around, working with Adam to assure that the transition, the passing of the baton so to speak, on Feb. 1, 2014 is complete,” Stern said.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.