Dan Feldman

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Bulls and Heat score 20 first-quarter points – combined

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NBA teams have singlehandedly scored more than 20 points in more than 82% of their quarters this season.

The Bulls and Heat couldn’t do it together in their first quarter yesterday.

Chicago led Miami 13-7 after their first period of the Heat’s 100-93 win. It’s tied for the ninth-lowest-scoring quarter in the shot-clock era:

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The Bulls were dreadful, shooting 4-for-24 (17%), but Miami was even worse. The Heat had more turnovers (five) than made shots (two on 19 attempts, 11%).

This is what happens when two lousy offenses tip off a 2:40 p.m. on a Sunday.

Former Cavaliers GM David Griffin: Kyrie Irving trade won’t be judged historically as good trade for Cleveland

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Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has previously complimented his successor, Koby Altman, on the return acquired for Kyrie Irving – the Nets’ unprotected 2018 first-round pick, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic.

Griffin, via Sirius XM NBA Radio:

Will it be judged historically as a good trade? No. I mean, it won’t be, because Kyrie’s going to be a special individual player. And the way this works from a social-media standpoint and a media-coverage standpoint, all they’re going to talk about is how good he is. But given the cards Koby Altman was playing at the time, given the circumstances they found themselves in, if you were dealing with the situation where LeBron refused to tell you unequivocally he’s staying in the organization, you don’t know what his long-term future is, you’re trying to win championships while he’s there and simultaneously set yourself up for a future run, I think the deal they put together was really well constructed. And I think it was a very good deal given the cards they were playing at the time. But do I think he’s going to be hailed as having made a great trade deep into the future? Probably not. But if he wins a championship, I know Koby doesn’t care. So, he had a subset of things he had to achieve, and I think if you know what those things are, he probably achieved them.

I understand the distinction Griffin is trying to make – that it could be a good trade for Cleveland, but not judged as one. But I think that shortchanges the judging masses.

Yes, Irving – off to a great start in Boston – will probably be considered the best player in the trade, and that matters a lot. That’s why the Celtics gave up so much for him.

But if Thomas and Crowder help LeBron James and the Cavaliers win another title, that’d cinch the trade as being known as good for Cleveland. Heck, even if Thomas and Crowder help make the Cavs more competitive in the Finals than the team was last year, that will sway opinion in Cleveland’s favor

And then there’s Brooklyn’s pick, which alone could yield a player more valuable than Irving. That’s unlikely, but a high pick in a draft expected to be strong near the top – it’s certainly possible.

Even coming close on both those paths could combine to influence perception of the trade as good for the Cavaliers.

The early returns for Cleveland have been even worse than anticipated. Thomas injury is more serious than most expected at the time the deal was struck, and Crowder needed time to adjust to a new system. The Nets’ pick is out of sight, out of mind for many. Meanwhile, Irving just led Boston on a lengthy winning streak.

But, in time, there are plenty of avenues for the Cavs to have this trade seen as a victory for them.

Tim Hardaway Jr. on $71 million Knicks contract: ‘It’s not my fault. They came to me’

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Tim Hardaway Jr. is having the best season of his career, and it’s still unclear he’s worth the four-year, $71 million contract that shocked everyone – including Hardaway.

Maybe he’ll continue his ascension and justify the Knicks faith in him over the next three-plus seasons. Or maybe he’ll regress to his career norms and become a burden on New York’s salary cap.

Hardaway has certainly heard plenty about the latter possibility.

Hardaway, via Peter Walsh of Slam:

“I have to use [criticism] as motivation,” he says. “I take it as those are your fans and they’re coming at you with that. It hurts. But at the same time, you can’t harp on that. You have to go out there and show that you deserve what the Knicks offered. At the end of the day, it’s not my fault. They came to me. I knew that if it was something big, I would have to deliver. I’ve been delivering since last season in Atlanta. I feel like I’m confident and capable of getting what I got money-wise and going out there and playing for the team and playing for the franchise and playing for the city.”

Hardaway is right. He didn’t force the Knicks to offer him so much money. Of course, he should have taken it.

But fans will – unfairly – blame the overpaid player. Hardaway will have to deal with that.

All Hardaway can do is play well enough to avoid the discussion altogether, which he’s mostly doing so far.

Joel Embiid: ‘I think I’m the best defensive player in the league’

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Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Manute Bol, Akeem Olajuwon and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only rookies ever to make an All-Defensive team. It usually takes young players a while to learn the nuances of NBA defense.

But I nearly picked rookie Joel Embiid for my All-Defensive second team last year. The biggest hang-up: Embiid didn’t play enough to affect as many defensive possessions as his competitors. He was darned good while on the court, though – an imposing rim protector and mobile switcher on the perimeter.

Now, Embiid is healthier and touting his defense.

Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Philadelphia:

“Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said.

When Embiid said, “not to be cocky,” he meant “to be cocky.” That’s just what he does.

I’ll still take Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert over Embiid. But Embiid belongs in that next tier at worst.

To be so advanced defensively for his age suggests he could become the very best defender. I just don’t think he’s there quite yet.

Report: Carmelo Anthony would’ve allowed Knicks to trade him to Trail Blazers if no deal with select three teams

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Carmelo Anthony spent most of the offseason saying he’d waive his no-trade clause for only the Rockets.

But as training camp neared and Anthony faced returning to the Knicks, he expanded his list to include the Thunder and Cavaliers.

Just how badly did Anthony want to leave the Knicks?

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Sources say Anthony would have allowed the Knicks to deal him to Portland if the Knicks struck out with the other three.

Apparently, the Trail Blazers’ recruitment almost worked. Of course, the Knicks traded Anthony to Oklahoma City. But this report raises a couple questions:

How many teams would have Anthony approved in a trade? He obviously preferred to leave the Knicks, but he also had reasons to stay in New York. We now know Anthony preferred at least four teams to the Knicks, but how long is that list? Twenty-nine teams?

Did the Knicks err by sending Anthony to Oklahoma City? Maybe the Trail Blazers would’ve never beaten the Thunder’s offer (the Bulls’ 2018 second-round pick, Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott). But if New York had played hardball, it could have at least brought Portland into a bidding war.