Dan Feldman

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Report: 76ers owner Josh Harris discussed White House job with Jared Kushner, then Harris’ firm loaned Kushner’s money


In the NBA world, 76ers owner Josh Harris is best known for condoning Sam Hinkie’s process, having second thoughts amid the planned losing then turning the team over to the Colangelos.

Now, Harris is drawing attention for his dealings with President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Jesse Drucker, Kate Kelly and Ben Protess of The New York Times:

Joshua Harris, a founder of Apollo Global Management, was advising Trump administration officials on infrastructure policy. During that period, he met on multiple occasions with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, said three people familiar with the meetings. Among other things, the two men discussed a possible White House job for Mr. Harris.

The job never materialized, but in November, Apollo lent $184 million to Mr. Kushner’s family real estate firm, Kushner Companies. The loan was to refinance the mortgage on a Chicago skyscraper.

Even by the standards of Apollo, one of the world’s largest private equity firms, the previously unreported transaction with the Kushners was a big deal: It was triple the size of the average property loan made by Apollo’s real estate lending arm, securities filings show.

Apollo has sought ways to benefit from the White House’s possible infrastructure plan. And its executives, including Mr. Harris, had tens of millions of dollars personally at stake in the tax overhaul that was making its way through Washington last year.

An Apollo spokesman, Charles V. Zehren, said Mr. Harris was not involved in the decision to loan money to Kushner Companies. He said the loan “went through the firm’s standard approval process.”

My first question: Is triple the average loan size within Apollo’s normal range? It might be. By definition, some loans will be above the average size.

Either way, there’s probably enough plausible deniability to avoid any findings of wrongdoing.

James Harden on crossover of Wesley Johnson ‘I was trying to figure out what he was doing, what he was going to say’


The light chuckles throughout James Harden‘s answers were almost as savage as the play itself. Almost.

Harden explained his incredible crossover and stare-down of Wesley Johnson, which included gathering the ball for a moment before making a 3-pointer:


I was looking at him, and he was looking at me. I was trying to figure out what he was doing, what he was going to say. Then, I just shot it.

I was going to shoot it, but I was waiting to see, figure out what was going on. I was confused.

Harden made such a great play, he had time to show up his vanquished opponent and still get the shot off cleanly. He earned the taunting opportunity and maximized it.

But his answers are just a long way of him acknowledging it wouldn’t go over well if he explained the play so directly.

NBA teams keep pushing the pace

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LOS ANGELES – Mike D’Antoni terrorized the NBA in his first full season coaching Phoenix.

He unleashed Steve Nash at point guard and took advantage of Shawn Marion’s and Amar’e Stoudemire’s athleticism as bigs. The 2004-05 Suns averaged 95.9 possessions per 48 minutes – the NBA’s fastest pace in half a decade.

With that personnel, running was an obvious choice, though credit D’Antoni for maximizing the style. As they’d come to be known, the seven-seconds-or-less Suns won 62 games and led the league in points per possessions.

But did D’Antoni suspect all teams could take advantage of playing faster?

“I was hoping they wouldn’t,” D’Antoni, who now coaches the Rockets, said with a smirk. “When we started, it was easy pickings for a while. Then, everybody kind of got on the same page. So, it’s hard now.”

League-wide pace is at its highest mark in 27 years:


And it’s not just outlier teams driving the pace up. The league’s slowest team this season – Grizzlies (94.3 pace) – would have led the NBA in pace the year prior to D’Antoni’s first full season in Phoenix. That Suns team would rank just 23rd now.

Here’s every team pace (orange dots) with the 25th-50th percentile for each season (purple bars):


Pace is hardly a perfect measure.

Good offensive-rebounding teams will have longer possessions, even if they shoot quickly initially. Teams that take a while to shoot can increase their pace with turnovers early in the shot clock.

No matter how a team plays offensively, sound defenses that force opponents to delay shooting will reduce pace. Likewise, bad defenses that give up quick shots will increase pace.

And most publicly available pace numbers – including those used here, from Basketball-Reference – are estimated. How many free throws end a possession (shooting fouls on missed shots vs. and-ones), end-of-quarter possessions where the team doesn’t get off a shot and team rebounds can throw off the estimate.

But this is a decent approximation, and the league-wide numbers are more telling. While certain teams might have their pace thrown by their defense, the league-wide mark better shows how often teams get quick shots against defenses generally trying to prevent those.

Teams have just realized how beneficial it is to go against non-set defenses. An early good shot is far better than trying to get a great shot from a set play.

Stan Van Gundy’s teams have usually had below-averages paces, and his Pistons rank just 20th this season (96.3). But even that is faster than anyone in the NBA played his first season coaching the Heat.

“I think all of us have tried to play a little faster over the years,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t think I’m aware of anybody who’s trying to play slower.”

There was one exception when Van Gundy said that, though the Bucks since fired him.

“Guys are shooting with 19 or 20 seconds on the clock. I don’t understand why we’re so excited or intrigued with pace,” Former Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said while still on the job. “Are they good shots? Guys are taking bad shots. So, pace is going to be up.

“There are a lot of bad shots throughout the league at 19 or 20 seconds. So, we’re making a big deal about a stat that does not win championships.”

Kidd was right in one regard: Unlike many advanced statistics, a higher pace isn’t necessarily better. That’s sometimes confused by people who credit a team for its ranking in pace like they would for its ranking in offensive or defensive rating. Teams should play at a pace that best works for them. Its a measure of style, not quality.

D’Antoni’s Rockets rank just 11th in pace, and they lead the NBA in points per possession. Breakneck speeds worked well for Houston last year with James Harden at point guard. Now that Chris Paul is sharing the controls, a slightly slower attack is optimal.

But the general principles remain and have been embraced league-wide: Score in transition as much as possible. Attack defenses before they set. Take the first good shot rather than waiting for a great shot.

D’Antoni credited players for pace increasing. They are more athletic and shoot better than ever, allowing them to spread the floor and run. I’m not so sure how much player improvement has increased pace, as defenders are also more capable.

But offensive skill development has led to a decrease in turnovers. More players are comfortable dribbling the ball up court, and shooting has increased spacing, reducing congestion around the ball-handler. Turnover rates are way down from the 70s and 80s, when pace soared. Turnovers can end possessions quickly and create transition opportunities the other way – a double whammy for increasing pace.

That pace is rising despite fewer turnovers speaks to the significance of the trend.

Where will it end?

“Every generation has taken a step forward,” D’Antoni said. “Whether there’s a limit to that, we’ll see. But so far, we haven’t hit it.”

LeBron James denies visiting Philadelphia school

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LeBron James visited a Los Angeles-area private school last fall. He said it was just for a workout, but his wife was also there. It seemed plausible they were checking out the school for their children, which only fueled LeBron-Lakers rumors.

And maybe prompted a copycat rumor.

The new one says LeBron visited Philadelphia schools during the All-Star break, which could indicate he’s at least considering signing with the 76ers this summer.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Philadelphia:

LeBron visiting a Philadelphia school during the All-Star break seemed farfetched. He has a house in Los Angeles, where he starred in the All-Star game and attended numerous sponsor events and parties. Not that it was impossible to stop by Philadelphia on his way to Cleveland, but he seemed to have his hands full in Los Angeles for so much of the break.

When LeBron visited the Los Angeles-area school, he was photographed there. Unless more evidence emerges of a Philadelphia school visit, I don’t believe it happened.

Nick Young holds pose, tricks announcer into saying air-balled shot was good (video)

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Warriors guard Nick Young did everything he could to make this shot look pretty – except actually make it or even hit rim.

He succeeded in fooling the legendary Bob Fitzgerald, though.

NBC Sports Bay Area:

This would be the perfect Nick Young highlight if we didn’t already have one.