Kyrie Irving

Ridiculous rumors: No, Kyrie’s not going to New York in two years; Kevin Martin not mad at OKC


One of the first words of advice I got from a boss when we started ProBasketballTalk was to write about what people are talking about. Even if they are talking about something stupid.

Which brings us to two stories working their way around the Web Monday: The idea that Kyrie Irving could bolt for New York in a couple years, and that Kevin Martin took a shot at Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Both are just steaming piles of uncastrated male cow manure.

Let’s start with Irving, because that is the worse of the two. The Cavaliers are off to a 2-2 start, now this shows up from Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News (via Eye On Basketball):

Is Cleveland, which is building around Irving with a young team and perhaps Andrew Bynum — if his knees manage to hold up — headed for another round of heartbreak? There’s long been talk that Irving, a West Orange, N.J., product, wants to come home and play for the Knicks.

The earliest he can leave Cleveland is July 2016, after playing this season and the next two seasons for the Cavs. It’s down the road, but it’s not very difficult to imagine a scenario with Irving ending up in the Garden.

No. Not going to happen. Not in 2016 anyway. That’s not a pipe dream, that’s a Twin Peaks run-it-in-reverse dream.

Kyrie Irving is on his rookie deal and next summer he will get a max contract extension offer from the Cavaliers — and he will sign it. If you’ve followed the NBA over the years you know that the first chance a rookie gets at a max contract extension he takes it because that is “set your family up for generations” money and you don’t risk walking away from that. Before you compare Irving to LeBron James remember LeBron signed an extension after his rookie deal (with an out after three years, which he used).

But let’s play the game of New York exceptionalism and say Irving does care about being a Knick. Well, he would have to play the next two seasons at his rookie salary rate — leaving a lot of money on the table — to get out. That would be two seasons of potential injury (and he has some history there) without the guarantee of a huge payday at the end of it. If it sounds rare, it’s more than that — no elite NBA guy on a rookie deal has ever done it. None. Zero.

Not going to happen.

Now lets move on to Kevin Martin, who made an innocuous comment.

Some have construed that as some kind of shot at Oklahoma City.

No. First off Martin plays with the guy leading the NBA in scoring (at least going into Monday night) in Kevin Love. Second, ever since he left OKC he has nothing but positive things to say about the team and experience. He’s been the model of the diplomatic former teammate.

Martin played on other teams as well; he knows what it’s like to be on a team that’s not fun, now he’s having fun. That’s it. No dig at Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook (the latter being the guy that holds the ball).

Nothing to see here, just move along.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.