Dan Feldman

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: My Dirk Nowitzki ‘one-trick pony’ comments were misconstrued


Last year, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said of Dirk Nowitzki:

Dirk Nowitzki’s shot is very hard to block, but I don’t think that he was able to have a dominant career because he couldn’t do other things. If he could have shot like that and rebounded and played defense and blocked shots, then he would have been all-around, and he would have gotten more credit. He was like a one-trick pony. You want guys that can shoot like that on your team. I’m not saying that he lacked value, but he would have been considered at a higher level if he had done more on the court other than just shoot the ball.

Abdul Jabbar this week on ESPN, as transcribed by Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“I want to make a shout-out to Dirk,” Abdul-Jabbar told Nichols. “Some of the statements I made about him were misconstrued to make it seem like I was trying to knock him and knock his career.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth.’’

Of Nowitzki, Abdul-Jabbar went on to say: “He helped the game evolve by stretching the court with his accurate 3-point shooting. Anybody that can lead the league multiple times as the leading scorer is awesome.

“And anything that I said that made anybody think differently, they got it wrong. And I wanted him to hear that from me.”

Nowitzki was an underrated rebounder, defender and passer in his prime. That’s why he led the Mavericks to the 2011 title.

If he had done those things better, would he have been better? Um, sure. That’s not really a point.

And Nowitzki used his primary skill – shooting – to great effect all over the floor in a variety of actions. It’s an oversimplification to call it a single trick.

I don’t know what Abdul-Jabbar originally meant, but it sure sounded as if he was selling Nowitzki short. I don’t blame anyone for walking away believing that was his intent.

But good for Abdul-Jabbar for praising Nowitzki now – even if he’s changing his tune rather more than setting the record straight, though this is probably some of both.

James Blackmon Jr. leaving Indiana early for NBA draft

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OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant are leaving Indiana early for the NBA draft.

Now, the Hoosiers’ leading scorer is following suit.

James Blackmon Jr.:

Anunoby (health permitting) will be a first-round pick. Bryant is more likely to land in the second round.

Blackmon might go undrafted, though someone could take a flier on him in the second round. He’s an excellent outside shooter, and teams would like to find a place for players with that skill.

It won’t be easy with Blackmon. He’s 6-foot-3 without much athleticism or playmaking ability. Can he shoot well enough to be a poor-defending, one-dimensional shooting guard? That’s a tall order. So is him developing complementary skills without better physical tools.

LaVar Ball: ‘I don’t need no advice from Kobe Bryant’

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Kobe Bryant has mentored several players in retirement. Kobe has also talked about advising the Lakers specifically.

Lonzo Ball prefers the Lakers draft him, and they’re reportedly interested.

Could Ball become Kobe’s protégé?

Lonzo’s father, LaVar Ball, via ESPN:

“I don’t need no advice from Kobe Bryant,” LaVar Ball said Thursday on Keyshawn, Jorge and LZ on ESPN Radio 710 LA. “I don’t need advice from Kobe Bryant. ‘Zo’s got to play his game.

OK then.

Report: Heat have repaired relationship with Chris Bosh, will still waive him

AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Pat Riley didn’t call Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh didn’t call back Riley.

But the Heat have apparently eased tension with its former and soon-to-be-former stars.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

The organization has mended its relationship with Bosh in recent weeks, with direct contact between Bosh and the top of the organization, in advance of his impending release and removal of his salary from Miami’s cap.

What’s more, Wade has never bashed the Heat publicly and is open to considering a return at some point in his career, according to an associate.

Bosh’s repeated blood clots are commonly thought to be career-ending. I understand his frustration with the Heat for sitting him, but he shouldn’t have blamed them for following the overwhelming medical consensus. They are trying to protect him.

If Bosh can play, he’ll get that opportunity with another team. Miami is on track to waive him, removing his salary from its cap while still paying him, and make him a free agent. I doubt other teams will sign him, but he can try.

As for Wade, “open to considering” is hardly conclusive. He might leave the Bulls, but I wouldn’t bank on Miami as his destination. Not closing the door entirely on the possibility is something, but it’s not much. Then again, LeBron James‘ return to the Cavaliers started with little hints like this to break the ice.

Report: J.J. Redick expected to leave Clippers in free agency

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Plenty of attention has, deservedly, been paid to whether the Clippers will re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

But J.J. Redickan underrated part of L.A.’s success – will also become an unrestricted free agent.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times spoke to “several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter because of the sensitively of contract talks” and found:

J.J. Redick, who is an unrestricted free agent, is looking to earn $18-20 million per season, according to the officials. The Clippers probably won’t pay that much, the officials said, but the team won’t rule out re-signing Redick for the right price.

Re-signing just Paul and Griffin would push the Clippers into the luxury tax. Also keeping Redick would vault them into historic spending, especially considering they’d be subject to the repeater tax rate.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer will reportedly pay whatever it takes to keep Paul and Griffin. That doesn’t necessarily apply to Redick.

Letting Redick walk rather than meet that price tag makes some sense. He’ll turn 33 before free agency, and he declined this year.

He didn’t create as much separation with his off-ball cutting. His drives against closeouts weren’t as emphatic. He had a tougher time keeping up defensively.

Redick was still effective, but not quite as much, and everything looked like a battle, especially in the playoffs. That doesn’t project to improve as he ages. Re-signing Redick wouldn’t give the Clippers the same player they’ve had the last few years.

But they’d be limited to the taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,192,000 starting salary) to replace him. Even if Redick is overpaid on his next contract, he’ll probably still be better than whomever L.A. signs with the taxpayer MLE.

If the Clippers re-sign Paul and Griffin to go with DeAndre Jordan, the goal is a championship. The odds might be slim, but that’s at least a core with a fringe title chance at. Repeated playoff flameouts create an appetite for a shakeup, but the Clippers need better breaks more than a massive overhaul.

Losing Redick wouldn’t shake the Clippers into being better. It’d just mean they’re losing a good player.

Perhaps that’s a financial necessity, but that’s what it’d primarily be.