NBA Commissioner David Stern Announces Retirement

2017 preview? Adam Silver says he wanted NBA hard salary cap

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During the lockout and Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations, NBA Commissioner-in-waiting Adam Silver was the league’s attack dog. He was the bad cop to David Stern’s good cop in their routines for the press.

What came out of those negotiations was a much more punitive luxury tax system that was supposed to tamp down spending by the bigger market, richer NBA teams. The new taxes — which kick in for this season — were going to be so onerous as to force owners to rein in spending.

Then came the Brooklyn Nets. They have put together a payroll in excess of $100 million that will lead to about $87 million in additional taxes. And owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t care.

Speaking with the New York Post, Silver talked about the owners wanting a hard (or at least harder) cap in what sounded a lot like a 2017 preview.

“I would say it’s no secret that we went into collective bargaining seeking a hard cap,” NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver… told The Post Wednesday after speaking at the league’s Rookie Transition Program in Florham Park. “So, for the long-term health of the league, we would rather do more to level the playing field among our teams, so the teams that have disparate resources are all competing with roughly the same number of chips so to speak.”

“What I’ll add is that what we’ve seen with the Nets, ultimately there’s no prohibition if you’re willing to pay a very substantial tax — there’s no prohibition on signing the players they did, but the new rules also dramatically limit those players that are available to sign, especially once you move into the tax. So we’ll see [what happens].”

Both sides have the choice to opt out of the current CBA in 2017, and one if not both will do so. And we will again be headed for a lockout and very possibly games missed. And you can bet some owners will again push for a hard cap.

I don’t think a hard cap is the answer in the NBA because the league both hasn’t and really can’t sell NFL-style parity. You can try to flatten out the talent pool but the NBA will never have the level playing field of football just because of the nature of the sport.

The reality of the NBA is that there are about 10 players (we can argue if it’s nine or 12, but in the 10 range) who are just on another level and if you have one of them you will win a lot more than you lose. Because a LeBron James or Kevin Durant can touch the ball much more in the NBA than Tom Brady can in the NFL — and because elite players can impact both ends of the floor in basketball — the NBA will always have teams with stars as the ones left on the biggest stages. Look at the last NBA finals — LeBron and Dwyane Wade vs. Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Yes it was the Heat vs. Spurs, but they were there because of those star players.

In reality, the NBA gets its best ratings from star teams — the Bird/Magic showdowns in the 1980s, Michael Jordan in the 1990s, Kobe/Shaq and now LeBron/Wade. Having stars pair up is good for business.

The NBA has to provide the opportunity for any well run small market team to win (see Oklahoma City or San Antonio) but they need to be careful about flattening out the talent pool to the point the average fan tunes out.

Watch all 25 threes from Cleveland in Game 2 win

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Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.

Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.

In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.

Cavaliers threes shotchart

Report: Rockets to interview Mike D’Antoni, Frank Vogel for coaching vacancy

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the game against the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center on February 28, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 126-122.   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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.

The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.

Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.

Cavs set single-game three-point record in blowout win over Hawks

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On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.

Nope.

The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.

The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.

18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:

That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.

LeBron James whips one-handed pass, leads to open Kevin Love three (VIDEO)

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 2: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers fights for a loose ball against Al Horford #15 and Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals at Quicken Loans Arena on May 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 104-93. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:

The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.