Adam Silver: Donald Sterling and Shelly Sterling might still own Clippers when season begins

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Closing arguments in the court case between Shelly Sterling and Donald Sterling are set for July 28, and the verdict will likely come at a later date. An appeal could follow.

The case is dragging as the NBA season is approaching, and Adam Silver sees the writing on the wall.

Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com:

The Sterlings owning the Clippers when the season begins would be a black eye for the NBA. Not a huge one, but a blemish nonetheless.

The the league could have had the Sterlings gone by now, but it chose to cancel the scheduled vote to remove Donald – and Shelly with him – as owner. The other owners didn’t want to vote out one of their own if it could be avoided, and they loved the $2 billion offer Steve Ballmer presented. They wanted to let Shelly sell the team on her own and watch the value of everyone’s franchises rise all while they avoided the precedent-setting dirty work.

That still might happen – and Donald is out regardless. If need be, the NBA will reschedule its vote to remove his ownership. The timeline just might extend into the season.

National Basketball Players Association vice president Roger Mason Jr. said LeBron James would boycott if Sterling still owned the Clippers when the 2014-15 season began, but Mason later backtracked from that assertion. Though the specifics got twisted, I don’t think the underlying fact was wrong: The players want Sterling out before the season. If that doesn’t happen, it will be interesting how they react.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.