Dan Feldman

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Hornets unveil Jordan Brand uniforms (photos)

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As the rest of the NBA moves to Nike uniforms, the Michael Jordan-owned Hornets are making a slightly different change.

Charlotte will wear Jordan Brand uniforms, as shown today:

These are pretty similar to the Hornets’ previous uniforms, but the iconic Jumpman logo makes them much cooler.

Daryl Morey after James Harden’s runner-up finishes: Maybe we shouldn’t award MVP at all

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has agitated for James Harden to win MVP before.

Morey has never sounded this whiny about it, though.

In 2015, Harden (whose Rockets went 56-26) finished runner-up to Stephen Curry (whose Warriors went 67-15). Last season, Harden (whose Rockets went 55-27) finished runner-up to Russell Westbrook (whose Thunder went 47-35).

That’s apparently too much for Morey to handle.

Morey, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:

“I don’t know if this is a good process,” Morey told The Crossover. “The ones that are decided by players or executives or media, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly don’t think there’s a good process. You could argue for eliminating the awards altogether. I don’t really see a good way to do it that doesn’t have major issues. I like clean answers. If there’s not going to be a set criteria and there’s going to be issues with how it’s structured, for me it might be better to not have it.”

“I didn’t like how a different MVP criteria was used this year, compared to the last 55 years, to fit more of a marketing slogan. People thought a different criteria for selecting the MVP this year was the way to go.”

“Given that the criteria seems to be shifting away from winning, I would guess that [adding Paul] probably doesn’t help anyone’s chances on our team,” Morey acknowledged. “That said, I don’t think anybody really cares [going forward]. James definitely cared and I think we all cared [about the 2017 MVP]. But we’ve moved on since the award isn’t focused on winning any more. Let’s just win and not worry about it.”

Do some voters get caught up in arbitrary achievements like triple-doubles? Yes. Do voters too often lazily reward the best player on the best team? Yes.

But I also think voters picked the right MVP in 2015 and 2017.

My MVP criterion is simple: Which player contributed most to winning? That’s obviously difficult to assess, but the question is straightforward. I believe Curry contributed most to winning in 2015 and Westbrook contributed most to winning in 2017. That Curry’s team won 11 more games than Harden’s in 2015 and Westbrook’s won eight fewer than Harden’s in 2017 had more to do with their teammates than anything else, and MVP is an individual award.

I think Morey is capable of separating individual performance from team performance and doesn’t believe everything he says. He’s a pretty smart guy. It’s possible he’s just this convinced Harden was robbed, but it seems more likely this is strategic. Morey is building loyalty with a useful ally in team-building and trying to halt 2018 MVP talk before it begins – important as Harden and Chris Paul learn to play together, a process that will likely include a few bumps in the road.

But we also only know what Morey said, not what he truly thinks. And on that basis, he just sounds like a crybaby upset he didn’t get his way.

Report: Knicks never offered Derrick Rose even a minimum contract

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Derrick Rose‘s agent, B.J. Armstrong, on the Knicks entering free agency:

“Derrick loves New York and wants to be there,” Rose’s agent, B.J. Armstrong, told Bleacher Report recently. “We’ve expressed that to them and been very consistent about it. Whether it happens is on them; all we can do is be clear.”

Free agency went another way for Rose, who signed with the Cavaliers, and now Armstrong is singing a different tune.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

The Knicks, who kept in contact with Rose until the end, never offered him the veteran’s minimum, according to an NBA source.

“Did we miss something?,” Rose’s agent B.J. Armstrong asked The Post. “Is there something going [on] in New York we didn’t see? We all would agree they are on a different timeline than Derrick — a young team with great young talent there and trying to build something for the future. They’re not on the same timeline as players who are a little older and experienced.

“Derrick chose what he said he’d choose from the beginning. He didn’t deviate,” Armstrong said. “He said he just wanted to win. People didn’t believe it. He’s made a lot of money in his career. Now he just wants to win. The guy averaged 18 points a game in the triangle and we know how the game is played right now.”

“You’re a mentor when you no longer can play,” Armstrong said. “This league you get paid to perform. You don’t get paid to be a mentor.

The Knicks weren’t alone in not offering Rose a contract. Many teams didn’t.

And good for New York. The priority should be No. 8 pick Frank Ntilikina. The idea of veteran mentorship is always overstated – players training other players to take their jobs? – but it would have been an especially bad idea with Rose, who’s struggling to fulfill his personal aspirations.

To be fair to Rose, he also said before free agency that winning was more important than money.

But that was in the midst of a 31-51 season full of Carmelo Anthony trade rumors and Kristaps Porzingis promising play. Rose and Armstrong couldn’t predict the Knicks would pivot into rebuilding? Even Phil Jackson, who was in charge when Armstrong professed Rose’s love for New York, talked about emphasizing the future. (The Knicks’ interesting in re-signing Rose probably left with Jackson.)

It’d be far easier to buy the idea that Rose’s only concern was winning if he didn’t end his free agency deliberating between the Cavs and Lakers.

Report: NBA investigated whether LeBron James owns share of Klutch Sports agency

Erika Goldring/Getty Images for Remy Martin
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LeBron James is training with Eric Bledsoe, which sparked rumors about the Suns guard being included in a trade for Kyrie Irving.

But LeBron and Bledsoe have worked out together in previous years, and obviously Phoenix never traded Bledsoe to the Cavaliers.

LeBron and Bledsoe share an agent, Rich Paul. Paul – in addition to bigger names like John Wall and Ben Simmons – also represents Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith, who’ve both signed lucrative contracts with Cleveland.

LeBron and Paul are longtime friends, and the superstar has described Paul’s Klutch Sports Group and its clients as family. No player is as connected to an agency as LeBron. Hence, people connecting the dots to Bledsoe being included in an Irving trade.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits players from owning interest in an agency, though. Has LeBron’s arrangement with Klutch crossed any lines?

Brian Windhorst of ESPN on The Basket Analogy:

LeBron doesn’t have any ownership in Klutch Sports.

The NBA investigated it and said LeBron doesn’t have ownership.

The NBA should check things like this. But of course LeBron doesn’t own a stake in the agency.

LeBron has empowered his friends – most notably Paul, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims – professionally. This isn’t about money from agent fees. It’s about influence.

Paul can sell it when recruiting players. The Cavs probably felt it while negotiating with Thompson and Smith. LeBron’s ego might feel it at times, too.

And that’s fine. LeBron has earned influence. I don’t mind him exercising it.

If he gets equity in the deal, that’s a problem. But it’s clear the power is sufficient.

NBA teams can apparently add jersey ads mid-season

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The Trail Blazers released new uniforms, which are pretty similar to their old uniforms. My only thought on the changes: The “ripcity” logo on the waistband looks out of place.

But Portland’s write-up included an interesting detail.

Casey Holdahl of blazers.com:

The goal is to have a jersey sponsor in place before the start of the 2017-18 season, though it is also possible a logo will be added mid-season, or not at all in the event that a suitable partner takes longer to find.

Just because your favorite team begins the season without a jersey ad doesn’t mean you’ll be spared seeing one. Nike can apparently accommodate mid-season additions.

This could have an interesting effect on the salary cap, which is determined by revenue. Just 10 teams have jersey ads, leaving 20 that could go either way. Some will likely be up in the air throughout the season. Though teams could always sell additional advertising at any point, this is a new opportunity for prominent placement. It’s tougher to gauge how much revenue jersey ads will draw, and uncertainty throughout the season will only create less clarity in salary-cap projections.