Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks

Report: Mavericks shake up Rockets’ free-agent plans, agree to offer sheet with Chandler Parsons

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The Houston Rockets made a calculated risk when they declined Chandler Parsons’ team option and made him a restricted free agent this offseason rather than letting him becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Had Houston simply picked up Parsons’ option, he would have counted safely at just $964,750 against the cap this offseason. Instead, he counts at $2,875,130 until his new contract goes into effect. When it does, his 2014-15 salary will become his cap number, and that will be much higher.

Essentially the Rockets were betting Parsons would patiently wait an offer. Houston would sign an outside free agent first and then exceed the cap to re-sign Parsons.

That plan might have backfired.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

On a three-year contract, Parsons’ max is $46,164,000, so this is a max contract or close to it. Parsons’ max starting salary is $ 14,725,359 – a heck of a lot more than $2,875,130.

The easy path for the Rockets is signing a top free agent during the 72-hour period they have to match, and then they can go over the cap to keep Parsons.

But that’s predicated on other free agents deciding so quickly. Houston might not get everything to line up so conveniently.

If the Rockets match, they’ll be out of the race for any elite free agents and likely anyone who commands more than the mid-level exception. Carmelo Anthony reportedly plans to re-sign with the Knicks, so there’s likely no dilemma there.

But what happens if LeBron James – and therefore Chris Bosh – is still in flux? Would the Rockets match Parsons’ offer? Or would they let him leave on the chance they can get Bosh?

Daryl Morey backed himself into a corner.

The Mavericks might be hamstringing themselves, too. That’s a lot of money to pay Parsons if Houston doesn’t match – though, if Gordon Hayward deserves a max contract, Parsons probably does, too. Those two have similar value.

For the most part, I like the deal for Dallas, even if it hinders long-term flexibility. The Mavericks are trying to maximize Dirk Nowitzki’s final years. Trading for Tyson Chandler was a good step, and this would be another. Parsons is a solid all-around player who immediately makes the team better.

Plus, if the Rockets match and miss out on a premier free agent, Mark Cuban can take pride in making life difficult for a rival.

Three Hawks lose uncontested rebound out of bounds (video)

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How did Mike Scott, Mike Dunleavy and Malcolm Delaney fail to secure this rebound?

No wonder the Hawks lost to a Clippers team playing without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

James Harden makes impressive chase-down block. Really. (video)

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If we’re going to post all of James Harden‘s defensive lowlights, it’s only fair to acknowledge this impressive block.

Please overlook the fact that Jason Terry is 39 years old.

Steven Adams posterizes Rudy Gobert AND Derrick Favors with one thunderous dunk (video)

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Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors form an impressive defensive tandem that usually walls off the paint.

If there were any walls here, Steven Adams jumped right over them.

Video Breakdown: How Kyle Lowry dismantles NBA defenses from 3-point range

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Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry is arguably the team’s best player thanks in large part to his increase in 3-point shooting ability this season. He’s just above 43 percent from deep this year, much better than his career average of 36 percent. Lowry has increased his 3-point percentage six points over last season, and he’s a big part of why the Raptors are so good on offense, and why they’re a contender in the Eastern Conference.

So how does he do it?

Watch the full video breakdown on Lowry’s 3-point shooting above, or read the text version of the article below.

Early Offense

I looked at a lot of tape of Lowry over the last 3 years and he hasn’t changed much on his shot mechanics. There’s no big change in his sweep or sway toward the basket when he shoots, and he still brings the ball up from his left side.

Part of his leap is be how quickly he’s getting his shots off and how many of his early offense field goal attempts come in the form of 3-pointers.

Lowry has bumped up how many 3-pointers he’s taken in the early offense, recorded here as between 24 and 15 seconds on the shot clock. Year-over-year he’s taken nearly eight percent more of his field goals as three pointers in this range.

This takes form on the court in a couple of ways, both in transition on the fast break and on quick 1 or 2 dribble pull ups off the pick-and-roll.

Transition

With the ball in secondary transition here, Lowry gets a quick screen from DeMarre Carroll to open him up for a 3-point bucket against the Hornets. And that’s still with 18 seconds left on the shot clock!

Pull-up and off-the-bounce jumpers

The other way Lowry scores quickly is off the dribble, with quick pick and rolls. Toronto is great at screen assists — picks leading to an immediate field goal — and have three players in the Top 50 and two in the Top 10 in setting them.

Here, the Celtics defender cuts off Lowry’s attack to the middle of the floor. The screener sets up to Lowry’s right, but then quickly flips it to his left. One dribble, and it’s an easy 3-pointer.

Here against Portland, the Raptors run a two screen setup with one wing and one post. The Blazers make the switch and try to blitz Lowry, but he stays resilient and sinks the bucket with what little space they allow him anyway.

Working with DeMar DeRozan

The other thing that’s been talked about a lot is the gravity of DeMar DeRozan, who himself is having a career year for the Raptors. While Lowry is making a ton of unassisted 3-pointers this year, the Raptors point guard does benefit from DeMar.

Part of that is how good they are in transition together.

Here you can see DeMar bringing the ball up the court with Lowry in front of him. He sets the screen, then fades to the arc. Three Utah Jazz are trying to stop DeRozan, and Lowry is left all alone.

When he’s not the primary ball handler on the break, Lowry will immediately get out to the wing. DeRozan has a way of finding him to get up quick Js.

Of course, in good old set plays the Raptors see this gravity effect as well.

Here Toronto is running another double screen with a guard and a post, but Lowry is one of the screeners. At this point, all three Heat players are guarding against DeRozan’s midrange jumper, leaving just enough daylight for Lowry.

Toronto is also third in the NBA in “hockey” or secondary assists, which means two or more passes leading to a made field goal.

On this baseline out of bounds play, again it’s DeRozan’s gravity that frees up Lowry. As the ball is inbounded, DeRozan sucks three warriors defenders with him, including Lowry’s. Meanwhile, Kyle is running down the baseline to get a bucket off a pass on the opposite side of the floor. All the raps have to do is rotate the ball.

So that’s a little bit on why Kyle Lowry has been so good. It’s been about shot selection, decisiveness, and some practice in addition to the effectiveness of his teammates.