2013 NBA Finals - Practice and Media Availability

Spurs’ R.C. Buford wins Executive of the Year


How has Gregg Popovich won only one Coach of the Year award? How has R.C. Buford never won Executive of the Year?

Consider those perceived Spurs-related slights fixed and fixed.

After Popovich earned his second Coach of the Year in the last three seasons (bringing his total to three), longtime Spurs general manager Buford won the 2013-14 Executive of the Year.

Consider this a lifetime achievement award. Buford’s key moves in the last year – signing Marco Belinelli, re-signing Manu Ginobili, re-signing Tiago Splitter, drafting Livio Jean-Charles – are pedestrian relative to Buford’s years of team-building.

Seventeen general managers – most of the league – received votes, and 11 received first-place votes. That parity created an opening for Buford to win in a season his biggest accomplishment was keeping in tact everything he’d assembled previously.

I feel bad for the Suns’ Ryan McDonough, who was my choice for the honor and finished second. In his first year on the job, he made the Suns better in the short term and set them up beautifully for the long term by acquiring multiple first-round picks. I believe he did the best job this year, which is what the award is literally supposed to honor. It’s just bad luck to do so in a year voters – the NBA’s 30 top executives themselves – decide to honor someone’s entire career.

But in that sense, the whole award is a little silly. Being a good general manger requires long-term strategizing, and good moves often don’t reveal themselves in the year they occur. Maybe they should hand out this award each year based on the previous five seasons. That would at least more accurately reflect the job these executives are doing.

Buford is one of the NBA’s best – maybe even the best – general manager, and he deserves some type of recognition for that. The 2013-14 Executive of the Year probably isn’t the most appropriate choice, but it’s all there is to give, and in that sense, it’s well-earned.

Full voting (first-, second-, third-place votes, total points)

1. R.C. Buford, San Antonio (9-3-4-58)

2. Ryan McDonough, Phoenix (5-6-4-47)

3. Neil Olshey, Portland (5-2-3-34)

4. Masai Ujiri, Toronto (3-3-4-28)

5. Pat Riley, Miami (1-3-1-15)

5. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City (1-3-1-15)

7. Danny Ainge, Boston (1-2-2-13)

8. Billy King, Brooklyn (2 -0-1-11)

9. Daryl Morey, Houston (0-3-1-10)

9. Ernie Grunfeld, Washington (1-1-2-10)

11. Rod Higgins, Charlotte (1-0-1-6)

11. Larry Bird, Indiana (0-2-0-6)

11. Doc Rivers, L.A. Clippers (0-1-3-6)

14. Bob Myers, Golden State (1-0-0-5)

15. Danny Ferry, Atlanta (0-1-0-3)

16. Gar Forman, Chicago (0-0-2-2)

17. Donnie Nelson, Dallas (0-0-1-1)

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

LeBron James
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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.

Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run

Joakim Noah
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Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.

And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.

Three thoughts here.

1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.

2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.

3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.