Milwaukee Bucks v Atlanta Hawks, Game 7

Three Stars of the Night: Sunday Scorers

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On a night where scoreboards were getting lit up like Christmas trees, it’s probably prudent to celebrate some of the league’s best scorers. Of course, any talk of scoring has to include league leaders Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant, who both put up some gaudy totals (34 for Kobe, 27 for Durant) despite off shooting nights. That just illustrates how good those guys really are, but they still weren’t good enough for the Three Stars of the Night. Who was? Ignore your open co-worker and read on:

Third Star: Mo Williams – (22 points, 8 assists, 8-for-11 shooting)

Ah, a nod to efficiency. The Jazz dropped 117 points on the hapless Lakers defense, and Williams was the one orchestrating it all. Williams rarely gets enough credit for his ability to run an offense, which seems silly, especially when you consider Utah’s main sources of scoring are so dependent on him providing the ball in good spots. Williams was nearly flawless in that regard tonight, dishing out 9 assists to just one turnover in a relatively mistake-free game. Although he didn’t really get to show it after the Lakers oddly decided not to foul until there were four seconds left on the shot clock down 5 points, Williams provided a calming influence for a Jazz team that hasn’t produced quality road wins all year long.

Second Star: Carmelo Anthony – (34 points, 6 rebounds)

Sweet, sweet revenge. George Karl didn’t exactly bite his tongue after Anthony headed out to New York, so it’s not a surprise that Melo came back healthy right in time for this juicy revenge game. Anthony didn’t disappoint, as he bullied his way to the rim all night and drew contact whenever humanly possible (16 free throw attempts). Anthony’s performance seemed to reinforce two themes: he’s a matchup nightmare at the power forward when surrounded by shooters, and that the Nuggets have an issue when it comes to crunch time scoring. Although Danilo Gallinari (the main piece in the Melo trade) played very well for the Nuggets, Anthony outscored him 11-3 in the game’s final period to help keep the Knicks undefeated at home this season.

First Star: Brandon Jennings – (26 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals)

Ever since draft night, Jennings has had an infatuation with stealing the show in New York. Unfortunately for the Nets, that also extends to them now as well. Jennings put up a killer line, out-dueling Deron Williams with the aid of the PUJIT (pull up jumper in transition) that would make fellow lefty jump shooter and teammate Beno Udrih pretty proud. The East is a jumbled mess between seeds 4-8, and Milwaukee is included in that, but the Bucks have an identity that seems pretty bankable. They share the ball much more than you’d think, they block a ton of shots at the rim, and they seem to enjoy playing with each other. The future for Jennings in Milwaukee is still undecided, but it might be time for the Bucks to go for broke and acquire a smart frontcourt player who can really score in the post, share the ball, and add another element to their offense. Hmmm. Know of anyone who fits the description?

Kings GM Vlade Divac on Rudy Gay’s communication complaints: ‘He has my number’

Vlade Divac
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Rudy Gay complained about how the Kings are handling the trade rumors swirling around him.

Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, via James Ham of CSN California:

“He has my number,” Divac told CSN California. “If I do something, I will call him. Obviously, if I didn’t call him, we didn’t do anything.”

“Look, I was a player, 16-17 years in the league, nobody called me everyday and tell me what management is doing,” Divac said. “Management was doing their job. If something big happened, they called and told me. Obviously, nothing big happened (so) I’m not going to call anybody.”

I suppose Divac can take that tack. He’s obviously not obligated to provide Gay regular updates.

But the Kings already have a reputation for putting their players in bleak positions. This doesn’t help.

Even if Divac feels calling Gay is going out of his way, so what? The alternative — Gay either coming to training camp unhappy or spreading word of Sacramento’s mistreatment of players to his new teammates after a trade — is far worse.

It’s not enough for Divac to just wait for Gay to call him — especially because Divac might not be as reliable with the phone as he thinks.

Union to fund health insurance for retired NBA players

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 23:  Professional basketball player Chris Paul commentates during the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational Charity Bowling Tournament presented by GoBowling.com at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live on February 23, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association)
Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Professional Bowlers Association
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The National Basketball Players Association has talked for more than a year about covering medical expenses for retired players.

Today, the union announced a formal plan.

NBPA release:

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) announced today that its player representatives have voted unanimously to fund health insurance for all retired NBA players with at least three years of service in the league. This program is the first of its kind among North American professional sports. It also exemplifies the NBPA’s focus on the health and welfare of its current, retired and future members.

“The game has never before been more popular, and all the players in our league today recognize that we’re only in this position because of the hard work and dedication of the men who came before us,” said Chris Paul, NBPA President and nine-time All-Star. “It’s important that we take care of our entire extended NBA family, and I’m proud of my fellow players for taking this unprecedented step to ensure the health and well-being of our predecessors.”

The unanimous vote – which took place during the NBPA Summer Meeting in New York on June 26 – established a multi-faceted health insurance program through UnitedHealthcare, the country’s leading health benefits provider. The current proposal includes:

  • Retired players with between three and six years of NBA service time but who are not yet eligible for Medicare would be offered a plan that includes medical, hospital and prescription drug coverage with modest out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and co-pays;

  • Those with between seven and nine years of service would be offered the same coverage with even lower out-of-pocket costs;

  • Retired players with at least 10 years of service would be offered the same coverage as the seven-to-nine year players, and would include coverage for their entire family;

  • Retired players with three-nine years of service who are eligible for Medicare would be offered a $0 deductible and $0 co-pay plan along with a low-cost prescription drug plan; those with 10+ years of service to receive this coverage for themselves and their spouse.

  • The open enrollment period for retired players would begin this fall, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2017.

This is a good thing.

It also could become a bargaining point in Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations. Should current players face the entire burden of insuring retired players, or should owners split the cost? (The fact that the question is even being posed paints players in a positive light.)

But back to the bigger point: This is a good thing. It’ll help retired players who need it, retired players who helped position the current generation to afford this. Kudos to the union for stepping up.

Report: Bulls’ Cristiano Felicio ‘strong favorite’ to replace Anderson Varejao on Brazilian Olympic team

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 19: Cristiano Felicio #6 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Toronto Raptors at the United Center on February 19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Raptors 116-106. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
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Warriors center Anderson Varejao will miss the Rio Olympics due to a back injury.

Where will Team Brazil turn now?

Likely to Bulls center Cristiano Felicio.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Felicio came on strong late last season. He puts his 6-foot-10, 275-pound frame to good use protecting the paint and rebounding. He showed potential as passer and mid-range shooter, too.

At age 24, he’s a candidate to break out in the Olympics.

If he’s not ready, Brazil can turn to a steady veteran at center, Nene.

Report: Equipment staffer punched by Blake Griffin no longer works for Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin stands on the court as equipment manager Matias Testi, left, stands behind the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Los Angeles. Griffin broke his hand last month when he punched Testi in the face. The Clippers won 105-86. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Blake Griffin broke his hand punching Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi in January.

Make that former Clippers equipment manager Matias Testi.

TMZ:

The L.A. Clippers equipment staffer who was punched in the face by Blake Griffin during a fight in Toronto earlier this year is off the team — and will NOT be back for the ’16/’17 season … TMZ Sports has learned.

We spoke with a rep for the Clippers who confirmed Matias Testi “no longer works for the team.”

#Family