Ateve Alford, Tony Snell

Tony Snell’s mom sounds awesome

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Kobe Bryant covered this already, the college-basketball system isn’t great for players. Run as a cartel, the NCAA often forces players into tough and unfair situations.

Tony Snell found himself in one of those situations last year.

Having played three years at New Mexico, Snell was ready to turn pro. His coach, Steve Alford, was not ready for that.

In a wonderful story about Snell’s tight-knit relationship with his mother, Sherika Brown, Daniel Libit of ChicagoSide captures one instance that bond showed:

According to Brown, when Alford heard Snell was leaning to the NBA, he angrily called a meeting with player and mother.

“Alford, of course, is a control freak and he is mad as hell and he wants a meeting with me to know what I am doing with Tony,” Brown says.

“We were having a screaming match, him literally telling me he is not going anywhere, saying ‘What if he doesn’t make it?’ First of all, I have a positive attitude. I am a woman of God. I believe in prayer. I have had (Snell’s) back since day one.… I don’t care if he goes first or second round, or if he goes overseas, we are going to take that chance.”

Brown inferred selfish motives in Alford’s efforts . Alford was the brand-name player, the white All-American with the charmed high school and college careers. He played his senior year at Indiana and ended up getting drafted in the second round.

“I called him a [m***f*****] at the time,” says Brown.

“My attitude was: I know it’s a gamble, a big gamble, and sometimes you might not make it,” says Brown. “But we were adamant that we were fine with going in the second round or [playing] overseas.”

Did Alford have Snell’s best interests in mind? Or did the coach just want to keep his best player in order to win more and secure a larger contract? Snell knows as much as can be known, and that’s the problem:

“I have no idea,” says Snell. “That is the question that is going to be unanswered, but he made his move and I wish him the best.”

Snell, of course, did go pro and was the No. 20 pick by the Chicago Bulls. He’s now playing in a league where coaches don’t last unless they treat their players with respect.

As for Alford, he jumped from New Mexico to UCLA just after agreeing to a 10-year contract, a move that followed Alford leaving Iowa for New Mexico under a could of controversy.

In college, it seems only the coaches are allowed upward mobility.

In the NBA, everyone has a great control of their own future.

If Snell’s coach, Tom Thibodeau, wants to coach the Knicks, Thibodeau can make that happen in due time.

In a couple years, Snell will be a free agent, and he’ll have greater power of his future, too. And – if you read all of Libit’s article, as you should – you also know Snell will have his mother at his side during that process, too.

NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul

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The video above is an intentional foul — Chris Paul jumped on the back of Dwight Howard. The same thing has happened to Andre Drummond.

Is it a flagrant foul?

The Boston Celtics tweeted this out on Sunday.

The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.

The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)

Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.

Consider this part of the coming changes on the intentional fouling rules period. But this one tweak could come much faster.

NBA: Foul on Cavaliers that sparked Celtics’ comeback called in error

Cleveland Cavaliers' J.R. Smith makes a move on Boston Celtics' Evan Turner (11) during the third quarter of a NBA basketball game in Boston Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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The Cavaliers were in great shape against the Celtics on Friday, leading by four points with seven seconds left.

Then, it all went so wrong for Cleveland.

J.R. Smith was called for fouling Evan Turner on a made layup, cutting the margin to two points. Turner missed the free throw, but the ball went out of bounds off the Cavs. Then, Avery Bradley made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Boston the win.

Rewind, though, and an incorrect call drove the sequence, according to the NBA.

Smith shouldn’t have been called for fouling Turner, per the Last Two Minute Report:

Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.

If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.

Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.

Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”

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Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.

But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.

The buzz around the league is Golden State is at the front of the line if Durant decides to leave OKC, and he has done some research, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.

His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.

I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.

But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.

Byron Scott expected to start D’Angelo Russell after All-Star break, but hasn’t talked to him about it

Byron Scott D'Angelo Russell
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Communication.

When we talk about Lakers’ coach Byron Scott’s questioned player development skills with young players Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and particularly D'Angelo Russell, it is his old-school lack of communication that comes into question. It’s what is different from what Gregg Popovich or Quin Snyder or other guys developing strong young players have done. From the outside (we’re not in practices/film sessions), we see Scott was not letting Russell play through mistakes — feeling that was rewarding bad behavior — but then not doing a good job communicating what the player is doing wrong.

This comment from Scott, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, sums it up perfectly.

Scott plans to start Russell after NBA All-Star weekend (Feb. 12-14). But Scott said the two have not talked about that issue.

“He’s not old enough for me to have a meeting and discuss, ‘What do you think?’” Scott said.

I would say you should have that meeting — it’s called a teachable moment. “What do you think? Well here is what I see that is different.”

Part of what is going on with Scott and Russell is the concern from some in the Lakers’ camp that Russell is a little too full of himself, that his ego is too big, and it could become a problem. So they are trying to take him down a peg. I would say that for a smart player — and Russell is that — the game is humbling and will take care of the ego issue. But you’ve got to give him run to develop him.

Play him, and then communicate with him. It’s a system that does worth with modern players.