San Antonio Spurs v Miami Heat - Game 6

Rick Barry says Ray Allen travelled on key Game 6 three

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Talk with a group of basketball fans – it doesn’t have to be too large – and discuss that play, Michael Jordan’s final shot with the Bulls, the basket that won the 1998 NBA Finals over the Jazz.

Someone will claim Jordan pushed off Bryon Russell.*

Unlike nearly every other all-time great shot in NBA history, Jordan’s step-back jumper comes with a controversy. Some view it as tainted because of the non-call, especially because of the wide perception Jordan got superstar calls.

*Personally, I thought Russell was off balance and when Jordan touched him to an allowable degree, Russell fell. So, no foul should have been called. But it was close.

But nearly every one of the NBA’s most iconic shots are completely untainted. Jordan over Ehlo, Jerry West’s heave, Gar Heard’s Shot Hear Round The World, Ray Allen’s Allen’s 3-pointer that tied Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals

Hold it right there, says Rick Barry.

The Hall of Famer in a Q&A with Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops:

What are your general thoughts on the Miami Heat championship and the 2013 NBA Finals?

They were very fortunate to win the championship. They had a great season, had that incredible run with all those consecutive victories which I don’t care where you’re playing or who you’re playing against, that’s still a great accomplishment. They were fortunate enough to be able to repeat as champions which is a very difficult thing to do. They got a little help from San Antonio and from an official who swallowed his whistle on Ray Allen’s travel on the 3-point shot that tied the game in Game 6. Otherwise the Spurs would have been the champions and nobody talks much about that. But that’s a part of what happens in the game and you have to credit them for responding as they did and being able to come away with a victory.

You just mentioned that you think Ray Allen travelled on that corner 3 at the end of Game 6…

There’s no question about it, just watch the replay that they showed from the overhead camera. He catches the ball with one foot down, steps back, brings the foot that he had down back to shoot the ball. That’s traveling, you can’t move your pivot foot without dribbling.

Do you think the ref saw that and chose not to interfere with such an important moment of a championship game or did it happen so quickly Allen’s shuffle to that spot looked legit?

It happened so quickly that the official just saw Ray doing it and he was looking down probably just to see if he got behind the three-point arc. It was a great shot, but they didn’t call it so it doesn’t matter. They got away with it, so lucky them.

Here’s the video:

I just don’t see the travel.

In the replay that begins at 28 seconds, it appears Allen’s left foot it is planted behind the arc when he catches the ball. Then, leaving his left foot planted, he brings his right foot back, elevates and shoots. However, the referee is partially blocking that view, so it’s difficult to say conclusively he didn’t travel.

The angle the Barry seems to be referring to begins at 38 seconds. Because it’s an overhead view, it’s difficult to tell when Allen’s feet are on the court or just off it. Best I can tell, though, Allen catches the ball with his right foot on the floor inside the arc and left foot in the air. He plants his left foot behind the arc and then brings his right foot back behind the arc, too.

The applicable NBA rule:

A player who receives the ball while moving is allowed a two count rhythm but must release the ball prior to the third step touching the floor.

Moving his left back was count one, and moving his right foot back was beat two. Then, he shoots. I think he’s OK.

I don’t precisely see the play the same way on each angle, which obviously speaks to how imperfect our view is. But no matter how I’ve looked at it, I don’t see a travel, either.

Mike Conley does not crush Knicks free agent dreams, says everything on table

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) gestures after making a 3-point basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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When you talk about the most underrated players in the NBA, especially with the casual fan, Mike Conley is at the top of the list. The Grizzlies’ point guard has played at an All-Star level for a few seasons now but hasn’t gotten the recognition, in part because it’s Memphis and in part because the West is stacked with quality point guards.

The New York Knicks desperately need an upgrade at the point.

Which has led to the latest fantasy of seemingly every Knick fan (and talking head in the city) — the free agent Conley coming to New York this summer. When asked about it Friday before the Grizzlies and Knicks squared off, Conley didn’t kill the rumors (which in New York is like throwing gasoline on them). Here are his quotes, via Ian Begley of ESPN.

“I think everything will be on the table when that time comes,” Conley said Friday morning after the Grizzlies’ shootaround at Madison Square Garden. “I haven’t committed to anything…

“They’ve got talent, obviously,” he said. “I think [Kristaps] Porzingis surprised a lot of people. He’s going to be very, very good in this league. He already is pretty good. But he’s going to grow each year, and they already have one of the best small forward in Melo [Carmelo Anthony]. They’ve got a young team, so they’ve got a lot of room to improve.”

The smart money is on Conley staying in Memphis, the only NBA team he has ever played for. Conley was very active last summer in recruiting Marc Gasol to remain in Memphis, and has said it would be very difficult to leave him. Plus the Grizzlies can offer more money — one more guaranteed year plus larger raises.

The Knicks will need to lose some salary before July 1 just to offer Conley a max, which likely starts around $24 million (depends on the final salary cap number). What the Knicks can offer is a larger stage for his brand and the chance to bring that brand out of the shade of Gasol and Zach Randolph.

Conley — who is averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 assists per game, is shooting 35 percent from three, is good on the pick-and-roll, plus is one of the best defensive point guards in the game — will have plenty of other suitors as well. He’s one of the best players on the free agent market this summer.

NBA GM: Warriors ‘leaders in the clubhouse’ for Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder Kevin Durant, left, drives the ball against Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green (23) and Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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Kevin Durant to the Warriors is having a moment, but even the most recent and most credible report linking the Thunder star to Golden State contained an important caveat:

Make no mistake: Durant isn’t close to gone in Oklahoma City – no decision, no leaning, sources said

Nobody has credibly reported Durant is leaning toward leaving the Thunder. The issue at hand is where Durant would go IF he leaves Oklahoma City.

Except one NBA general manager has gone a step further.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

General managers know a lot of things we don’t, but like anyone, they can also be prone to repeating gossip and hearsay. Does this general manager have inside info, or is he just participating the echo chamber? Impossible to say, but the possibility of the former raises the level of intrigue.

Of course, the Warriors can’t be the leaders in the clubhouse, because they’re not in the clubhouse. Free agency doesn’t begin until July. Nobody has made their final pitch, not even the Thunder.

It’s fun to make bold predictions now, and this general manager has a chance of looking genius. But sometimes the desire for that designation causes people to get ahead of themselves.

Report: Clippers quickly rebuffed interest after Nuggets called about Blake Griffin

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) gets tied up near the basket by Denver Nuggets forward J.J. Hickson (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 13, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 110-103. (Michael Goulding/The Orange County Register via AP)   MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT
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Here was my gut feel on a report that the Clippers had talked to the Nuggets about trading Blake Griffin to Denver:

1. Nuggets calling Clippers about Griffin

2. Clippers saying they’re not interested

3. Nuggets leaking the fact that Griffin trade talks happened with the Clippers – technically true! – to excite their fan base and potential free agents considering whether or not to take Denver seriously

Dan Woike of The Orange County Register:

https://twitter.com/DanWoikeSports/status/695691007053070336

Woike is the more reliable source of information here. I believe that’s all this was.

The Clippers probably shouldn’t sell low on Griffin now. But if the Nuggets made a truly reasonable offer based on Griffin’s peak value – and I doubt they did – it also wouldn’t hurt to consider it.

LeBron James wants to leave Hack-a-Shaq rules as they are

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives on Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he increasingly believes the league should change its Hack-a-Shaq rules this offseason.

LeBron James – who has the commissioner’s ear on a number of issues – disagreed.

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“I don’t really see a problem with it,” James said at shootaround Friday in preparation for the Celtics. “At the end of the day, it’s a strategy of the game and whatever it takes to win. If that’s a part of the game, and you have a guy that is a bad free-throw shooter and you put him on the line, that’s a part of strategy.”

“That’s no different from a guy that can’t shoot well from the outside and you try to make him shoot bad from outside, or if a guy is turnover-prone and you put pressure on him. It’s all part of strategy. It’s no different,” he said.

There is a difference – a big one.

Hacking someone takes no basketball skill.

I could intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond. I could not keep a bad NBA outside shooter from getting into the paint. I could not force a turnover-prone NBA player into coughing up the ball.

There’s nothing wrong with exploiting an opponent’s weakness, but with the exception of hacking, that takes ability of your own.

Hacking is an outlier strategy, and as a result, it deserves special treatment in the rulebook.