Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Clippers

Baseline to Baseline recaps: Portland, Dallas end in a shootout

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Welcome to PBT’s roundup of yesterday’s NBA games. Or, what you missed while spending way too much time on the Stacy King soundboard….

Lakers 111, Hornets 106: The renaissance of the Lakers offense continues — Kobe Bryant had 11 assists, Dwight Howard rolled to the rim for 24 and the Lakers played beautiful basketball. But then they blew an 18 point fourth quarter lead as the Hornets, who missed a lot of shots early, started to hit them. We broke it all down in another post.

Trail Blazers 106, Mavericks 104: Simply one of the best endings of the season. Dallas was running away with this, up 21 in the third quarter, but you knew a Portland run was coming — there always is one at the Rose Garden. It came in the later stages of the third quarter and by the end of the third the lead was down to 6.

Dallas led through the fourth until a late 7-0 Portland run capped off by a Nicolas Batum contested three tied the game at 101-101.

Next Dallas possession Shawn Marion gets pass from Vince Carter as he cut to the basket, fumbles it, gathers it and makes an ugly rainbow pass to Dirk Nowitzki who hits contested three with 11.4 left.

Portland answers when their play seems to break down a little, the ball comes to LaMarcus Aldridge and he calmly steps back and hits his first three of the season to tie the game at 104-104.

On the Dallas possession O.J. Mayo is called for charging although it was pretty clear the defender slid under him. Bang-bang play.

Then with just 1.4 seconds left, the Blazers are able to inbound the ball to Aldridge in the mid-block and he hit the turnaround as time expired to win it. What a great win for Portland.

Warriors 108, Cavaliers 95: No Stephen Curry (ankle), no Andrew Bogut (not playing back-to-backs), no Harrison Barnes (calf) and yet the Warriors raced out to an early 13-4 lead playing free and easy. But almost instantly Kyrie Irving started doing Kyrie Irving things and it was a close game.

With all the regular scorers out Golden State became the Klay Thompson show — 32 points on 13-for-24 shooting and he hit his first six threes. He was in the zone and Cleveland had no answer. Jarrett Jack added 26 points and 12 assists.

But a lot of credit has to go to the Warriors bench — them and David Lee sparked a 21-7 second quarter run when the Warriors pulled away and they held separation the rest of the way. Lee finished with 20 points and 13 boards.

Irving just did not have it, finishing 5-of-17 shooting. Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson led Cleveland with 18.

Bucks 117, Pistons 90: The start of this game would give you no idea about the ending — Detroit raced out to 15 point lead. Milwaukee came back in the second quarter to retake the lead then just ran away with this thing in the third when Brandon Jennings got hot and went on a personal 16-0 run. Jennings finished with 30. ‘

Everyone was pitching in for the Bucks: Mike Dunleavy had 17 points, Monta Ellis 14, even Samuel Dalembert had 12 and 10 boards.

Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 18 points and 18 rebounds off the bench. Which once again leads to the question: What is Lawrence Frank’s fascination with Jason Maxiell?

Russell Westbrook laughs off Kevin Durant question (video)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, right, gestures after scoring as forward Kevin Durant stands by during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Thunder won 117-113. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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How does Russell Westbrook feel about Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors?

Westbrook has been silent on the signing, leaving Durant and anonymous sources to speak on his behalf — and the NBA world hungry for his response.

The first glimpse:

Feel free to read way too much into that laugh.

(hat tip: reddit user esoh)

Phil Jackson: ‘Today’s players simply lack the skills to play the triangle’

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference in Greenburgh, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Derek Fisher was fired as New York Knicks coach Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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See whether you can follow this timeline:

1. Knicks president Phil Jackson stated his commitment to the triangle offense entering the 2015-16 season.

2. Jackson in a December interview published today, via Charley Rosen of Today’s Fastbreak:

Today’s players simply lack the skills to play the triangle. They know how to play one-on-one, catch-and-shoot, and they’ve mastered crossover dribbles, spins, playing off of screens and step-back shots. They don’t know how to execute things like inside-reverse pivots and other basic footwork. They have no sense of timing or organization. They don’t really know how to play five-on-five basketball. It’s strictly generational.

That’s why Fish {Derek Fisher} wants to uptempo the offense. And why he spends a half-hour before practice doing lots of skills work.

3. Jackson fires coach Derek Fisher, who — according to interim coach Kurt Rambis — resisted the triangle.

4. Jackson said the Knicks would continue to run the triangle and even ran a triangle camp for New York players.

5. Jackson hired Jeff Hornacek, who has little triangle experience, and said the new coach wouldn’t have to run the triangle.

¯_(ツ)_/¯

Maybe Jackson, relying on his December thoughts, finally changed his mind about the triangle. Maybe he believes players can still be taught triangle skills and actually plans to have Hornacek use the system.

Or maybe the Knicks are just rudderless.

Adam Silver not a fan of LeBron James’, Kevin Durant’s 1+1 contracts

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - FEBRUARY 21 :  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder tries to keep the ball away from LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the third quarter of a NBA game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on February 21, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has signed a couple 1+1 contracts since rejoining the Cavaliers. Kevin Durant inked a 1+1 deal to join the Warriors.

The superstars are maximizing their compensation under the NBA’s salary-cap rules and extracting leverage over their teams in the process. Risky? Somewhat. If either player gets hurt, he has no long-term security. But LeBron and Durant are so good, teams would still line up to pay them max money after a major injury. There’s a reason even the next class of stars hasn’t duplicated this strategy.

But, as limited as 1+1 contracts are, NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t give them a ringing endorsement.

Silver, via Cleveland.com:

“One of the unintended consequences (of doing contracts like James) I feel on behalf of the players is the fact that they end up putting themselves in this position where they’re taking enormous financial risk,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told cleveland.com. “The system is designed for guys to enter into long term contracts, so, and you can only get so much insurance. So one of the unintended consequences is they take risk beyond what we would like to see them take.

“The other thing is, the system is designed and incentivizes players to stay with the same teams,” Silver said. “At the same time I respect free agency so if they make those decisions to leave, that’s fine too. But as I said, I’d like to talk to the union about maybe modifying the system so there’s a little bit more of an incentive to stay with your existing team.”

Silver sounds like he might be overreacting to a narrow problem — something that might not even be a problem at all.

Not long ago, the NBA had a real problem: Contracts were too long, and raises were too high. Players signed long-term deals, declined over the life of them and became deadweight by the end. Teams were too often strapped with expensive unproductive players, and because those players ate up significant cap room, there wasn’t money left to sign upgrades.

So, the league has pushed to save teams from themselves. Two Collective Bargaining Agreements ago, the max contract length was seven years and max raises were 12.5%. In the previous CBA, it was six years and 10.5%. Now, it’s five years and 7.5%.

Simply, teams aren’t allowed to offer LeBron or Durant enough long-term security where that would trump a one-year deal — especially with the salary cap rising rapidly.

Last year, the salary cap rose 11.0%. This year, it was 34.5%.

The max 7.5% raises — which LeBron and Durant can’t even yet, because without full Bird Rights, they’re limited to 4.5% — won’t cut it. Even if LeBron and Durant are totally committed to staying with their current teams, there’s more money in signing a new contract each year as the max skyrockets in line with the cap. However, that opens the door for a change of heart and leaving in free agency.

The max-salary tiers also encourage 1+1 deals. A player’s max depends on his experience, and it escalates among three tiers: 0-6 years, 7-9 years, 10+ years.

Imagine the typical max player. He was a first-round pick, so his rookie-scale deal covers his first four seasons. He might sign a five-year max contract extension or max deal as a restricted free agent — which gets him to unrestricted free agency with nine years of experience. If he locks into a long-term deal that summer, he’s stuck with the 7-9 max. Wait one more year, and he can get the 10+ rate.

With both factors — the skyrocketing salary cap and tier system — working together, players are more incentivized than ever to take 1+1 deals.

That won’t remain the case, though.

The salary cap will level off as the new national TV contracts become the norm. There will still be free agents with nine years of experience who could wait one more season to lock in long-term, but that had long been the case, and nobody took a 1+1. LeBron and Durant are as likely to be outliers as trendsetters.

But if other players follow their lead, that’s not so bad. If players sign a new contract annually or even biannually, they’re more likely to be paid in accordance with their production. That’s something owners want.

Owners also want to keep their top players, and 1+1 deals allow for greater player movement. So, I see the downside for teams.

The “solution” would be mandating unguaranteed contracts — players tied to their teams long-term while the team still has the ability to drop the player if he’s not living up to his salary. Of course, that’s almost certainly a non-starter for the union.

In a world of compromise, the current system isn’t as harmful as Silver insinuates.

 

Jeremy Lin stars in Space Jam 3 (video)

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LeBron James will reportedly star in Space Jam 2.

Space Jam 3? Jeremy Lin already claimed the top role in a very, um, strange video.