Dallas Mavericks v Golden State Warriors

Mark Cuban didn’t like sleeved Christmas jerseys, but they didn’t really impact shooting


It was the first question about all the games on Christmas Day:

What did you think of the Christmas Day NBA sleeved jerseys?

Personally, not a huge fan. It’s not the sleeves, those don’t bother me (I know some people hate sleeves, I just see Patrick Ewing at Georgetown). However, the oversized logos and the color schemes didn’t work.

But I liked them a lot more than Mavericks owner Mark Cuban — he told ESPN he hated them.

“Hated them,” Cuban said before the Mavs hosted the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. “I just thought it made our guys look more like a high school wrestling team or a college wrestling team…

“I could have thought of better ways to sell [the short-sleeved jerseys] and a lot of different ways by having them in a casual-wear situation,” Cuban said. “We would have been better off, if we want people to wear them casually, to get the trainers and everybody else to wear them to show them in a realistic setting. So I would have done it a little differently, but we’ll see what happens.”

There were two arguments against these uniforms. I get Cuban’s argument that they didn’t look good and I’ll trust his judgment on marketing over mine.

The other was that they would impact shooters — LeBron James even had talked about players being concerned this would somehow change their shots.

That didn’t happen.

Jared Dubin broke down the numbers at BSports.com and found that the shooting numbers were pretty close to season averages, especially once you accounted for the 10 teams playing and the fact two were day games (in the NBA, day games tend to be sloppy). Two point shooting was down slightly but hook shook shots went in at a much higher rate.

First, only two-point jumper conversion rate went down; three-point field goal percentage was actually up by 0.1 percent yesterday when compared with the rest of the season. Second, the first three games of the Christmas slate featured teams playing without star players. The Chicago Bulls were – as they’ve been for the last few weeks and will be for the rest of the season – missing Derrick Rose. The Brooklyn were without Brook Lopez. The New York Knicks squared off against the Oklahoma City Thunder minus Carmelo Anthony. And the Los Angeles Lakers were once again down Kobe Bryant for their game against the Miami Heat. Having those players would obviously have affected field goal percentage on Christmas day….

Considering all these factors, it seems unlikely that the sleeved jerseys threw shooting performance off by very much, if at all, despite Beno Udrih’s assertions to the contrary. It’s far more likely that the absence of certain star players, along with the simple randomness associated with using such a small sample is behind the slightly lower shooting numbers on Christmas day.

So it wasn’t the shooting, it was just they were ugly.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.