Jason Terry on player rest: “You had all summer to rest”

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There is no refuting the science: The 82-game NBA schedule wears players down physically, and when they are worn down they both do not play as well and are more susceptible to injury. This applies especially to back-to-backs and four games in five nights.

But we live in an age where proof doesn’t matter if you don’t want to believe it.

Enter Jason Terry. The old-school NBA veteran and current Milwaukee Buck was on his weekly SiriusXM Radio show, “The Runway” with co-host Justin Termine, and he railed against players getting rested this early in the season.

“Rest?  Who wants to rest?  Who wants to sit out of games?  Practice, maybe yes, ok I get it.  But the games?  No, no, no, no.  What did A.I. say?  Not the game, not the game I love.  No, we’re not going to rest.  I can see maybe in April, it’s the last week, last two weeks, you already clinched your playoff positioning, there’s nothing really to play for, yeah, we may rest a little bit. … This is the second month of the season, there’s no reason to rest.  You had all summer to rest….

And guys rest in practice anyway.  If you’re a high minute volume guy, you’re playing 35-plus a night, you’re not really doing much practicing.  Not if you’re on a winning team, so to speak.  So I don’t get it, and I really don’t think this is coming from the players.  This is more of management, coaching staff, training staff.  I mean, they’ve got all this new technology, I mean, we’re wearing pagers in our tank tops and we’re out there running around and then after practice they take your meter out and we look at your load.  I don’t know, maybe that has something to do with it.  But, hey, if you’re any kind of competitive and your competitive juices are flowing, this is the second month of the season, of course the dog days are ahead of you, but this is what it’s about.  This is what the grind is about.  Can you play at your best when your body or your mind is not really feeling up to it?  That’s what all the greats did.  That’s why we watched Michael Jordan.  That’s why we watched Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, all the greats.  These guys never rested.  They never took a day off.  And so, for me, it’s just a new era that we play in and, yeah, it may give some guys longevity but you said it earlier, I played in both eras and I never rested, I never needed it.”

Terry shoots his own argument in the foot — the best players already barely practice. There are walk throughs, shootarounds, and some time in the weight room, but few “practices” like we picture in an NBA season. This isn’t high school ball. Still, players are fatigued and get injured because of the grind. They always have, it just wasn’t tracked before. Would Larry Bird’s back have allowed him to play longer if he got more rest?

Would LeBron James have willingly taken the court in Memphis this week — or Kevin Love, or Kyrie Irving — and played, and played well? Yes. Without a doubt. If you doubt the competitive fire of today’s top NBA players, you’re deluded.

But there also is no doubting the facts that all those “pagers” and science shows — fatigued players are far more likely to get injured. If you’re Tyronn Lue, you know you’re going to be the top seed in the East and probably on to the Finals (sorry Toronto). What matters to you more than a December game in Memphis is the health of your players. Keeping them rested and fresh. Keeping them on the court. So you make the big picture decisions even if that hurts the team for a night in the short term.

Even if that rest looks bad for the league. And no doubt it does.

The NBA is taking a step with the new CBA to start the season a week or so early to allow more space in the schedule, thereby reducing the number of back-to-backs. That will help. But as the only real solution is cutting the season back by 20 or so games, and we know that is happening, rest is going to be part of the NBA going forward.

What’s Kyrie Irving’s problem with LeBron James?

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Kyrie Irving reportedly requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he no longer wants to play with LeBron James.

But what does that actually mean?

Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Much of Irving’s disenchantment with James was rooted in game play, sources said. James, as a once-in-a-lifetime talent, controlled the ball more than any other forward perhaps in league history.

But there were ancillary issues that bothered Irving, too, such as how James’ good friend Randy Mims had a position on the Cavs’ staff and traveled on the team plane while none of Irving’s close friends were afforded the same opportunity.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

In registering his preference for a trade, league sources said, Irving divulged to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert that he’s become increasingly uneasy about a future that includes a roster constructed to complement LeBron James — a roster that could be devoid of James come free agency in 2018.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Irving wants to take his show away from James so he can grow his career (his on-court acclaim and notoriety, his brand, his voice) outside of James’ shadow.

Numerous people who’ve talked to Irving over the past month have said to cleveland.com that he told them he wanted to leave to grow his career, and it was the message Irving sent to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert when he asked to be traded last week.

These can all simultaneously be true. There needn’t be one singular reason Irving wants a trade.

It can also be true that former general manager David Griffin might have soothed Irving’s discontent. It can also be true that the Warriors’ dominance influenced Irving, as he might have been more willing to remain in a secondary role if it were more likely to result in a championship.

But so much of this comes back to LeBron, a massive presence around whom everything in Cleveland revolves.

Being the top player on a team means so many things – dictating on-court action, having the supporting cast built around you, influencing team staff, building a larger sponsorship presence. Irving can’t get any of that while playing with LeBron.

Irving led the Cavs in shots and usage percentage last season, but that happened only because LeBron allowed it. LeBron obviously retook control in the playoffs. There’s no question whose team this is.

There is also no indication Irving is fighting that. He’s not trying to usurp LeBron’s power, and Irving has molded his game the last few years to fit with LeBron.

But now Irving his exercising his own power so he can get even more the only place possible – somewhere away from LeBron.

Did Cavaliers dropping David Griffin lead to Kyrie Irving’s trade request?

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he had the NBA’s hardest coaching job. Following that thinking, former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin might have had the most difficult front-office job.

Not only did he face the same championship-or-bust pressure and oversee the same players (and their egos) as Lue, Griffin also reported directly to Dan Gilbert, the Cavs’ sometimes-difficult owner. The Gilbert aspect is often discussed, as is working with great/brilliant/passive-aggressive LeBron James. But it has probably been undersold how high-maintenance Kyrie Irving – who requested a trade – also was for Griffin before the general manager was ousted last month.

Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Over the previous few months, the Cavs had been worried about Irving’s mindset. They knew at times he’d grown unhappy with playing a secondary role on the team. Griffin had several conversations with Irving throughout the year, sources said, trying to find ways to work on the situation.

After the season, there was a desire to arrange a meeting to clear the air from all sides, sources said, but it didn’t take place. Unlike most teams, the Cavs did not have postseason exit meetings with their players.

What followed was a whirlwind, with the Cavs putting forth a series of trade packages looking to acquire either Butler or George. Some of these talks included Irving, which upset him even more when he found out about it, sources said. Previously, Griffin had worked to keep lines of communication with Irving open, but now Irving was in the dark.

Irving’s trade request had been building for years. The reported timing is vague, but Irving might have even requested a trade while Griffin was still in charge.

Either way, there’s no guarantee the Cavs keeping Griffin would have placated Irving. But it seems an experienced voice running the front office could have only helped.

Now, the task of trading Irving or mending fences falls to new general manager Koby Altman – who must solve this issue in a spotlight he never wanted.

If only Cleveland had Phil Jackson to insist on exit meetings. Maybe this would have been smoothed over a month ago.

LaVar Ball gets technical foul, pulls his AAU team off the court, forfeits game it was winning (video)

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Magic Johnson said he’s convinced LaVar Ball’s outlandishness is just marketing and that the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball is truly committed to developing younger players.

This didn’t look like someone who put youth player development over his own image.

With LaVar Ball’s AAU team leading by nine, he got a technical foul then pulled his team off the court:

He (kind of) explained why after the game (warning: profanity):

He also touched on his reasons in a video that, of course, quickly turns to promoting his brand:

This doesn’t mean Johnson is completely wrong, but the Lakers president seemingly misdiagnosed Ball’s priorities. What if Johnson is also wrong about Ball staying clear of the Lakers? That could create problems – if it hasn’t already.

I was never convinced, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver predicted, LaVar would settle down after Lonzo was drafted. I still believe Lonzo’s talent justifies managing LaVar, but that appears increasingly likely to be a burden the Lakers must actually handle rather than just brush off.

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.