kenny mauer
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D-League experimenting with larger referee crews

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – while calling for Ken Mauer to be suspended or demoted for missing a Bojan Bogdanovic travel/double-dribble – made a wise point about officiating:

Referees miss calls because there’s too much happening simultaneously.

The NBA wants to try giving each ref a little less to watch, starting with a D-League experiment.

NBA release:

The NBA Development League will experiment with four- and five-person officiating crews for nine games this season, it was announced today.  The nine-game trial, which is being conducted by NBA and NBA D-League Referee Operations, will begin on Dec. 26 when the Westchester Knicks face the Long Island Nets at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.  The initiative will allow the NBA to gather live-game data on the larger officiating crews, continuing its use of the NBA D-league for research and development.

 

“We are committed to finding ways to better serve our game and provide the highest levels of training for our officials,” said Bob Delaney, NBA Vice President, Referee Operations & Director of Officials.  “We are confident in how our three-person system works and are constantly thinking of ways to improve our game.  The four- and five-referee initiative is a prime example of that focus and will help the NBA with research and development.  The NBA D-League provides the perfect opportunity to conduct this test.”

The four-person experiments will be run in two configurations.  The first will feature two officials in the lead position and two split between the slot and the trail.  The second is highlighted by two officials in the slot position with the additional two as a trail and a lead, respectively.  In the five-person tests, the existing three-person system will rotate typically with the two additional officials taking lead stationary positions on each end of the court.  The testing comes on the heels of similar experimental four-person crews tested during the 2016 Utah Jazz Summer League.

The full slate of games in the trial will take place at Barclays Center and will feature the Long Island Nets and nine different NBA D-League Eastern Conference opponents between Dec. 26 and March 19.  The first five scheduled experimental games will be officiated by four referees, while the remaining four contests will feature five-person crews.

The initiative is the latest test conducted for the NBA by the NBA D-League, which has experimented with rules changes, technological advancements and equipment research.  Among the experimental rules being utilized in the NBA D-League this season are the Coach’s Challenge, the Reset Timeout and a three-minute overtime period.

This is a step in the right direction. The less referees have to watch and run, the easier time they’ll have getting calls right.

But while adding human eyes helps, the league should think bigger. The NBA should focus on leveraging technology to improve officiating.

For example, the league can track the location of players and the ball on the court. Automate three-second violations. If referees didn’t have to watch for that, they could focus on more subjective calls like fouls and ideally get those correct more often.

Damian Lillard talks about his “no pressure” pitch to Carmelo Anthony, selling Portland

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Self-made, over-achieving players in the NBA tend not to be the recruiters. They worked hard and made it to where they are more on their own, and their world-view follows that path. Think Derrick Rose in Chicago.

Damian Lillard was one of those guys, but he has done a little recruiting of late — he reached out to Carmelo Anthony last week. Lillard told Chris Mannix of NBC Radio (who is filling in for Dan Patrick for the day on his national radio show) that it wasn’t really the John Calipari hard-sell.

“It wasn’t really a pitch, I just reached out to him and let him know the interest just wasn’t from our front office, if there was a possibility there was definitely interest from the players as well, and I didn’t want that to be confused,” Lillard said on the radio show. “I didn’t put no pressure on him or ask him a bunch of questions, I just said what it was from our end.”

That is nice, but Anthony reportedly has focused in on Houston, and might settle for Cleveland (if there was a deal to be had). Would ‘Melo waive his no-trade clause to head to Portland?

“I didn’t get a sense that he wouldn’t,” Lillard said in a tepid response. “What we have here is a good situation for him and that’s just kind of where it went. I let him know what I thought he could do for our team and what our team could do with his presence. And that was it. We didn’t go over no details or talk about a no trade clause or nothing like that. He’s gonna make his own decision to do that or not, I just want to make sure we had some kind of a conversation.”

It’s a start. It’s likely not enough. Anthony wants to go somewhere and chase a ring, and despite what C.J. McCollum thinks, Portland with ‘Melo isn’t a contender. Even with Anthony, I would have them sixth in the West, maybe fifth at best (Warriors, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, and probably Minnesota are better still). And this is assuming Portland can find a team to take on Myers Leonard’s contract to make a deal work.

What Lillard wanted to get across was that Portland is a great place to be an NBA player.

“I think people talk about what it would be like in Portland or to play in Portland, but actually having lived here, I live here year-round, so I know it’s a great place to live,” Lillard said. “Some of the best food in the United States. You talk about loving the game of basketball, our team and the soccer team are all the city has, so we get a lot of support and our fans really back our team and are really passionate about our team. That type of environment, and that type of love and support around the city, what NBA player wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

Jimmer Fredette re-signing in China

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Jimmer Fredette played well in China last year, and buzz even emerged about him re-joining the NBA after the Chinese season ended in March. Never happened.

Even in the offseason, when every NBA team had open roster spots, nobody stateside has signed Fredette.

So, he’s returning to the Shanghai Sharks.

Fredette:

Fredette retains a cult following in America, but not the talent of an NBA player. He can score plenty in a lesser league, but his game doesn’t fit with better players on the floor.

Perhaps, he could’ve gotten a training-camp invite, maybe even with a small guarantee. But would’ve faced an uphill battle sticking into the regular season. Better for him to lock into a bigger salary in China now.

Rumor: Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder ‘officially circling each other’

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Carmelo Anthony prefers to be traded to the Rockets. He might soon be traded to the Rockets.

Are the Thunder trying to interject themselves before it’s too late?

Bill Simmons of The Ringer:

Thunder assistant general manager Troy Weaver was an assistant coach at Syracuse when Anthony played there. Weaver is also well-connected in the Washington area (D.C./Maryland/Virginia). I’m not sure how much that means to Anthony, who grew up in Baltimore – in many ways, a different world from the DMV (which includes only parts of Maryland and Virginia closer to D.C.). Still, Weaver and Anthony at least share their Syracuse connection.

The problem: An Oklahoma City trade for Anthony would almost have to include Steven Adams (way more valuable than Anthony) and/or Enes Kanter (way less valuable than Anthony). There’s no easy way to bridge either gap, especially considering how much the Thunder need Adams’ interior presence.

Here’s my best stab at a workable framework for a trade, via ESPN’s trade machine:

screenshot-www.espn.com-2017-07-24-12-26-16

The Clippers would get a more-skilled backup center while just shuffling bad contracts (at least that’s how it seems they view Wesley Johnson‘s deal). The Thunder would still need to send the Knicks more assets (Terrance Ferguson, Jerami Grant and/or draft picks). The Knicks would get a veteran point guard in Austin Rivers while Frank Ntilikina develops and, more importantly, additional young assets. It’s just a matter of determining whether there’s an overlap in the picks Oklahoma City would trade and New York would receive. That window might be tight – or not exist.

Adding Paul George and Anthony to a team led by Russell Westbrook would be exciting. I’m just not sure it’s realistic.

Rumor: Knicks likely to trade Carmelo Anthony to Rockets this week

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After numerous starts and stops and starts and stops, maybe the Knicks will actually trade Carmelo Anthony to the Rockets soon?

Tarek Fattal of the Los Angeles Daily News:

So, they found a third team to take Ryan Anderson or a fourth team to take Meyers Leonard?

If true, that’d please at least Anthony.

There’s room for a trade to work. New York is clearly ready to move on from Anthony, and Houston wants him to join James Harden and Chris Paul. The Rockets can add sweeteners to convince another team – or maybe even the Knicks – to take a bad contract in the trade.

But this has dragged on so long, I need more evidence the deal is actually close before I believe it.