The strange tax levied against players in Grizzlies games

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Lots of states have “jock taxes,” taxes levied on professional athletes – both home and visiting – for making an income while playing in that state. It’s a way to grab money from high-paid athletes who don’t generate much public sympathy and most of whom aren’t registered voters in that jurisdiction.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

But the Tennessee tax is strange, according to Ron Klempner, the interim head of the NBA players’ union, and several other tax experts who have addressed the issue. Any NBA player who is on a team’s roster during any game in Memphis has to pay a flat tax bill of $2,500 for that game. (The same goes for NHL players who pop into Nashville to face the Predators.) The tax applies to a maximum of three games, so that no player pays more than $7,500 per calendar year, Klempner says. The flat rates apply to each player, regardless of his individual income level, and they also apply to Memphis players

I’m no tax expert, but at face value, $2,500 per game seems excessive, and the flat fee seems unfair. A minimum-salaried rookie will make $2,883 per day next season, so a game in Memphis costs that player more than 86 percent of his salary for that day.

I’m not totally against local governments – which, in nearly every case, provide public funding to arenas – recouping some of that invested money via taxes (though the governments could just simplify the process by no longer providing public welfare to billionaires). I’d prefer those taxes were levied on the owners who make the profits, but if the government took the money from owners, player salary would drop, and the effect would be similar.

Lowe:

Except the money doesn’t go to the state — another of Tennessee’s jock tax quirks. It goes to the operators of the Grizzlies’ arena, who happen to also own the franchise, Klempner says. The state doesn’t see a dime, at least not directly. The theory is that arena operators will use the extra cash to spruce things up, draw more celebrated acts, and spend in other ways that will ultimately bring more visitors and money to the Memphis area.

“The state is collecting this money on behalf of a private entity,” Klempner says.

Oh. Well, that doesn’t seem reasonable at all.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”