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Stan Van Gundy: You want NBA parity? Eliminate draft, max contracts

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There will never be parity in the NBA the way there is in, say, the NFL. It’s simply the nature of the sport — one transcendent player can dominate nearly every game. Imagine if the Dodgers could pitch Clayton Kershaw every night, or the Nationals the same with Stephen Strasburg. They would win a whole lot more games. That’s what it’s like having LeBron James or Kevin Durant on your team, and in that world parity will never truly exist.

But people will not stop trying.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy says if the league wants something approximating parity, there needs to be radical changes. Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’d get rid of it, just get rid of the draft altogether,” Van Gundy said when asked lottery reform. “We’d just deal with the salary cap. Make all (rookies) free agents coming in and if I want to go give a guy $50 million a year, good, but I got to do it under the cap.

“I think if you did that and you had no individual max on players, we’d start to get some parity in the league, but the league really doesn’t want parity. They want the super teams, and I get that. It’s worked well, business-wise.”

That kind of free-for-all system would benefit large markets — if those markets are well managed. Market size and draw hasn’t helped the Knicks for years, or the Lakers in recent years (when they couldn’t even get meetings with top free agents). Players and agents are too well informed to go somewhere just because of market size. Still, this would not be a level playing field.

Van Gundy is spot on with max contracts — if you want to do away with superteams, stop artificially deflating what the top players make. That sounds like a crazy thing to say when Russell Westbrook just signed a $205 million extension that will have his base salary starting north of $35 million a season in 2018-19. But what would Westbrook get on the open market, with no cap? At least $50 million a season, maybe much more — he doesn’t just help the team win games on the court, he is what fills the seats, sells the luxury boxes, and draws sponsors. He would be worth double that to any franchise in terms of income.

If Westbrook — or LeBron, or Durant, or name your superstar — takes up half your cap space, the days of super teams will be gone. The Thunder couldn’t have Westbrook and Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.  No way the Warriors could keep Stephen Curry, Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson together. Chris Paul and James Harden are not getting together in Houston. To get paid, the superstars would have to spread out.

Why this will never happen is it would kill the middle class in the NBA — and most of the players are in that middle class. If the Thunder had Westbrook at $50 million and one other very good player at $25 million, that leaves 13 roster spots and $25 million, meaning a less than $2 million average. The days of good players getting $8 million or a solid starter drawing $12 million would be over, with that extra money going to the biggest names. The NBA players union is not going to back that idea.

Plus, as Van Gundy says, superteams are good for business. Interest in the NBA is the highest it has been since the Jordan era, and power of LeBron’s superteams challenged by Golden State and others is at the heart of it.

Andrew Wiggins answers Carmelo with game-winning 3-pointer (VIDEO)

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Sunday’s matchup between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves was perhaps a preview of a Western Conference playoff series. We should certainly hope so given the late-game heroics we saw this weekend courtesy of Karl-Anthony Towns, Carmelo Anthony, and Andrew Wiggins.

The two teams played a razor thin matchup in the fourth quarter, with Towns hitting a floating shot with just nine seconds left to take the lead. OKC took the torch just seconds later when Carmelo hit a 3-pointer with less than five seconds to play from the left wing.

That left the Timberwolves down by one point with no timeouts to spare.

After Minnesota inbounded to the ball, Wiggins drove down the left sideline and toward the middle of the floor. With the clock running out, Wiggins pulled up from nearly 30 feet out and drained 3-pointer off the backboard as time expired.

Here’s what the two threes looked like back to back.

Via Twitter:

Today was absolutely mental in the NBA. Between the drama that’s happening with the Phoenix Suns and this Western Conference shootout, the regular season just keeps amping it up each and every day.

Clippers say Milos Teodosic out indefinitely with plantar fascia injury

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The LA Clippers needed everything to go right for them injury-wise to be able to survive losing Chris Paul the same year many teams in the Western Conference got much stronger. Sunday’s news that rookie Milos Teodosic is out indefinitely with a left plantar fascia injury won’t help the confidence of fans in southern California.

Teodosic suffered the injury during a game against the Phoenix Suns earlier in the week. Teodosic could be seen pulling up lame toward the near corner on a seemingly innocuous play, which you can watch above.

Here is the release from the team on Teodosic’s injury..

Via Twitter:

Teodosic was expected to be a boost for the Clippers’ offense, who lost Paul over the offseason to the Houston Rockets. Teodosic is a 30-year-old rookie whose passing acumen was sure to be a highlight reel staple over the course of the season.

Plantar fascia injuries can be tough for players to come back from, although the severity of the injury can vary greatly. In the past, players like Damian Lillard and Al Jefferson have made relatively speedy recoveries or have been able to play through the injury itself.

However, a plantar fascia issue can be a tough one and is often difficult to get to recover given the inherent stress level of the area and because soft tissue injuries can be pesky. Obviously, a word like “indefinitely” is pretty dang scary.

Meanwhile, the Suns had a few issues of their own on Sunday. They fired head coach Earl Watson and point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted out that he no longer wanted to be “here”. The former Clippers point guard has already had lobbyists from LA come calling. Big man DeAndre Jordan already tweeted that he wanted Bledsoe to “come back home”.

Someone has to trade for Bledsoe. Might as well be the Clippers.

Report: Suns fire Earl Watson within an hour of Eric Bledsoe’s tweet

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Things are just getting weirder in Arizona.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Phoenix Suns have fired head coach Earl Watson. This comes in less than an hour after Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted out that he no longer wanted to be “here”. The assumption is that the “here” meant with the Suns organization, although Bledsoe nor the team have clarified.

Phoenix was always slated to be a bad team but they have been an absolute mess to start the season. Just three games in and they have yet to win a contest. They have lost by a combined 92 points in those games during some hilariously bad efforts. While Watson’s firing is sudden, it’s not entirely surprising.

Via ESPN:

Meanwhile, it’s not clear what the Suns will do from here both with Bledsoe and in filling the head coach spot on the bench.

Teams like the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers have struggled when players have requested a trade publicly. Much of their leverage is lost and it could be harder to find a usable return for Bledsoe. A friend of LeBron James, Bledsoe has been rumored in trades from Phoenix to places like Cleveland for years. Now, it will be curious to see if the Suns will need to move him and what they can get for Bledsoe once a deal is done. Any assets will be a vital to their rebuilding process.

In terms of coaching, Phoenix has both Ty Corbin and Jay Triano on the bench, both of which who have been head coaches in the NBA before. It appears Triano will be stepping into the interim role, but that still leaves the question of what Phoenix should do from here on out. A directionless team in the middle of a rebuild with less-than-stellar ownership is a recipe for continued failure.

Phoenix has been a poorly-run organization for some time, particularly when it comes to expenses. Phoenix owner Robert Sarver is notoriously cheap, even going so far as selling draft picks outright. Phoenix exchanged players like Marcin Gortat, Rudy Fernandez, and Rajon Rondo for pennies on the dollar.

They are already the worst team in the NBA, one of their star players wants out, and now they no longer have a head coach. If you are a basketball fan in Phoenix, things have to be tough for you right now.

Suns PG Eric Bledsoe tweets “I don’t want to be here”

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The Phoenix Suns were always going to be a bad team, but I think we were all surprised when they started off the season with a historical loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, it seems things are getting worse.

On Sunday, Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe sent out a message on Twitter that seemed to insinuate that he no longer wanted to be a part of the organization in Phoenix.

That tweet set the NBA sphere on fire during a relatively sleepy afternoon. Ramifications of players being open with their requests to move teams has not always played out well for the organizations. Think about the decreased leverage for the Knicks and Pacers when it came to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Via Twitter:

It would be a major bummer for fans in Arizona if Bledsoe does indeed want out of Phoenix. The team has played all of three games, and after years of trade speculation around Bledsoe so it would be a huge blow to give him up to suitors for pennies on the dollar.

As of publication on Sunday afternoon we have yet to confirm that this is the intent of Bledsoe’s tweet, but no doubt we will hear more about it as the day goes on.