Dan Feldman

Steve Clifford
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Hornets coach Steve Clifford suggests allowing teams to advance ball in final two minutes without timeout

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The final minutes of a close NBA game rank among the best moments in sports – which is pretty remarkable, considering frequent stoppages interrupt and impede enjoyment of the game.

Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout. Clutch play. Timeout.

Coaches should probably call fewer timeouts, because drawing up a play also allows the defense to set. But timeouts give the offense the option of advancing the inbound spot into the frontcourt, a key advantage. So, teams will keep calling timeouts.

Unless…

Steve Aschburner of NBA.com:

For Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, the ability in the final two minutes of a game to advance the ball without requiring a timeout to be called could speed up the action. That has been used on a trial basis in the D League and in Summer League, and several coaches felt it worked well.

“The game is at an all-time high in popularity, but a lot of people complain about the last two minutes,” Clifford said. “I think it would add a different dimension but it would also be a good thing in addressing our biggest issue.”

Not that the coaches would be willing to lose any of their timeouts, though. They just wouldn’t save them specifically for that purpose.

I’m here for that.

I’m unsurprised control-seeking coaches want to keep all their timeouts, and reducing those seems unlikely, anyway. The NBA pays its bills through commercial breaks.

Would moving those advertising opportunities earlier in the game pay off? Audiences are probably larger in crunch time, but an action-packed closing stretch could hook fans and grow overall audiences. It’s always a difficult decision to forgo maximizing immediate revenue in pursuit of more later.

But I’m fairly certain fans would appreciate the change, which is at least a starting point in considering it.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor: Nikola Pekovic out for season, might be bought out

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Kevin Garnett isn’t the only big man the Timberwolves are losing.

Minnesota doesn’t expect Nikola Pekovic to be ready for the preseason – or apparently the regular season.

News Radio 830:

Pekovic is due $23.7 million over the next two seasons. I’m not sure why he’d give any of that up in a buyout. It seems unlikely the 30-year-old center who has missed 205 games – including 70 last season – in his six-year NBA could recoup it elsewhere. His body appears to just be breaking down due to injury.

At least the Timberwolves didn’t leave the summer counting on Garnett or Pekovic. Minnesota has multiple capable big men in Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng, Cole Aldrich and Jordan Hill. It’s even possible Nemanja Bjelica or Adreian Payne develop into helpful pieces.

Dwyane Wade encourages Chris Bosh to put family first

Miami Heat Media Day
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Dwyane Wade said he was praying for Chris Bosh to play again.

In light of the Heat not clearing Bosh due to a medical complication, Wade has another message for his former teammate.

Wade, via Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:

It’s admirable Bosh wants to keep playing. Anyone who questioned his toughness during Miami’s contending years should feel silly (and should’ve felt silly then, honestly).

But there are more important things than basketball. It might be difficult for Bosh to consider that as he’s entangled in this struggle to play again, but reminders from friends like Wade can only help to give Bosh perspective.

Bosh continuing to play basketball just might not be safe. The Heat seem to project that, and it’s fair to question whether they honestly believe it or are influenced by wanting Bosh’s salary off their books. But Bosh must also honestly ask himself how far he’ll go for basketball.

Report: Kevin Garnett to retire

Kevin Garnett
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The Timberwolves were working toward a buyout with Kevin Garnett with the expectation he’d retire.

It appears both will happen.

Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune:

Garnett and the Timberwolves came to an agreement Friday and a retirement announcement from Garnett is expected shortly, according to league source.

Other sources have now confirmed this.

Garnett had a fantastic 21-year career. He jumped to the NBA straight from high school, became an MVP and carried the Timberwolves as far as he could. He allowed a trade to Boston, where he wont a title with the Celtics. After an uneventful stop with the Nets, Garnett returned to Minnesota to finish his career as a franchise icon. He’ll be remembered for his snarling intensity and defensive excellence.

Few players have matched Garnett’s peak and longevity, and he’s a sure Hall of Famer in a class that will also include Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant.

Pelicans GM: Quincy Pondexter could be out until January

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game Two
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The Pelicans are 18-10 with Quincy Pondexter starting, 9-8 with him coming off the bench and 48-71 with him not playing for them in the last two seasons.

An oversimplification? Yes.

But it’s also evidence the sweet-shooting forward deserves a bigger role. Unfortunately, New Orleans won’t get to experiment with Pondexter – who missed all of last season following knee surgeries in May 2015 and January 2016 – a while longer.

Guerry Smith:

I’m not sure what the Pelicans do with Pondexter now. They have 15 players, the regular-season roster limit, with guaranteed salaries and multiple intriguing players on unguaranteed deals, including Lance Stephenson, Chris Copeland and Robert Sacre. Would New Orleans waive Pondexter to clear a spot? He also has a guaranteed salary for 2017-18, so that would complicate the cap picture for future seasons.

But with general manager Dell Demps probably still operating on the hot seat, the present might matter to him more than the future.

If the Pelicans believe Pondexter will come back healthy and productive, even in January, they’ll probably keep him. But if they’re concerned this lengthy injury has derailed his play and Stephenson or Copeland impresses in the preseason…