Dan Feldman

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 02:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers attempts a layup in front of Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic at Staples Center on December 2, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Report: Small-market teams believe new CBA doesn’t help them enough

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The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement introduced a harsher luxury tax to constrain high-spending teams.

The 2017 CBA added a veteran-designated-player rule to further help teams retain their biggest stars, a particular benefit to the small-market teams that tend to lose those free agents to bigger markets.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Yet, privately, there are still small-market executives who will tell you that the NBA and players association didn’t go far enough in this agreement. Some smaller-market executives still believe they’ll struggle to keep stars, think the league should go as far as skewing salaries for players on teams in higher-tax-bracket states, eliminating the edge that places like Texas and Florida have with no state income tax.

This isn’t really a small-market, big-market dispute. The NBA’s two largest-market teams, Knicks and Lakers, play in states (New York and California) with high income-tax rates. The small-market Spurs play in a state (Texas) with no state income tax.

But it is an issue of fairness and competitive balance, and a tax-based spending adjustment is a reasonable idea in theory. After all, the CBA attempts to put the Raptors on equal footing with the difference between Canadian and American taxes.

However, going state by state could get complex in a hurry. How would jock taxes, paid by players in certain away markets, factor? What about other types of taxes (sales, property, etc.), which can be higher in states without an income tax to compensate? Does the league re-configure each team’s rules whenever the local tax code changes?

I’m not sure this is a big enough deal to warrant all the aggravation. But if teams executives in states with high income-tax rates are so upset, they can always lobby local politicians to change the tax law.

Report: NBA players will soon have hotline to call in officiating critiques

PORTLAND, OR - MAY 9: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors confronts referee Ed Malloy #14  during the first quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center on May 9, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Update: Lawrence has clarified the hotline will be run by the union. Presumably, the union will relay concerns to the league.

 

Former NBA commissioner David Stern ruled with an iron fist. Any public criticism of officiating – by players, coaches, executives or owners – resulted in a swift fine.

Those fines still exist, but Adam Silver has ushered in an era of accountability for referees. The league seemingly has better hiring practices, and Last Two Minute Reports publicly assesses officiating late in close games.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, players will get a larger voice on refereeing.

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

Players will be able to critique the work of game referees, as never before. In the past, they were allowed to submit one report annually — but never were allowed to mention the offending refs by name. That was the way Stern wanted it handled, and it wasn’t subject to collective bargaining; the players had to accept the commissioner’s edict, and they never felt like they had any clout in this area. Starting with the new CBA, however, the reports will be submitted with the names of the refs and with greater frequency, coming once a month.

Additionally, the players for the first time will have a hotline to call in to critique the work of refs in their games. They’ll be able to report not just on where they think the official botched a call, but also if they found a ref to be out of line, verbally, with how they handled blow-ups. Basically, they can complain like never before. The hotline is a response to the league allowing the new monthly reviews so that players can report something they thought was handled incorrectly while it’s still fresh in their minds.

This seems like a good step.

Referees too often have tendencies for specific players, and players should have an outlet to express concern. So should coaches.

Then, the league can review with a specific concern in mind. When appropriate, that can be communicated to referees, who will ideally improve based on the feedback.

Officials have immense power. Left unchecked, that leads to missed calls and a bad product. This is a small, reasonable check.

Jim Buss: Lakers’ progress, Luke Walton’s approval would make firing me a ‘big mistake’

EL SEGUNDO, CA - AUGUST 10:  Jim Buss and his sister Jeanie Buss of the Los Angeles lakers attend a news conference where Dwight Howard was introduced as the newest member of the team at the Toyota Sports Center on August 10, 2012 in El Segundo, California. The Lakers acquired Howard from Orlando Magic in a four-team trade. In addition Lakers wil receive Chris Duhon and Earl Clark from the Magic.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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After the 2013-14 season, Jim Buss made a bold proclamation: He’d  resign as Lakers executive vice president of basketball operations if they weren’t “contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship … in three to four years.”

But instead of providing clarity about his job status, Buss’ pledge has only spurred questions.

How long is 3-4 years? Lakers governor and Jim’s sister, Jeannie Buss, said he has until the end of this season. Jim said he has until the end of next season.

What does “contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship” mean? She’s said at least second round. He’s being far more elusive.

Bill Oram of The Orange County Register:

It’s a pledge that might prove to be Jim Buss’ undoing. Reached by the Southern California News Group last week, he said he “wasn’t referring to a certain playoff position” and that the deadline “really wasn’t as clear as people say it is.”

“This was quotes from three or four years ago,” he said. “Those were what the path was supposed to be.”

Jim Buss said injuries and the Kobe Bryant farewell tour derailed what her were otherwise reasonable expectations. He now believes in a different measuring stick.

“If I feel that the strides have been made,” Jim Buss said, “and the team is going in a very positive – not just a positive direction – a very positive direction, I don’t see a switch happening.”

The two most prominent Buss siblings agree that the season needs to play out before any decisions can be reached.

“We’re like every other team that we will play a season and we will assess that season when it’s over,” Jeanie Buss said. “No reason to speculate on any possible changes. It’s a waste of time to speculate.”

He said he and his sister will sit down at the end of the season, like any other year, and evaluate.

“It’s hard to comment on something that hasn’t even happened yet,” he said. “We’re assuming that the Lakers will not be in a position for me to stay confident about me staying in that position. You’re trying to predict where we’re going to be. If we end up being the worst bottom three teams, I can say you’re right. But I don’t think we are.”

If the Lakers show progress, Buss said, and “the coach is happy with everything the front office is doing,” he does not expect he will be going anywhere. With those caveats, Buss reinforced his earlier point: “I think it would be a big mistake on the Lakers’ part to make any switches.”

Is Jim really suggesting that the bar should be not finishing in the NBA’s bottom three? In that case, the Lakers – “just” the league’s seventh-worst team – are in good shape.

And that is progress. At 11-22, they’re on pace for their best record four years.

They’re also 11-22.

No matter how much new coach Luke Walton has refreshed the environment and connected with management, no matter how bright the young core is, the Lakers are still bad right now. That’s difficult to overlook considering how much Jim’s talk and numerous transactions indicated a a quick turnaround attempt. Unless his private plan differed, that doesn’t bode well for Jim’s ability to lead this franchise forward. I wouldn’t entrust an executive who backed into a quality solution only because his primary plan flopped so badly.

D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Brandon Ingram are excellent young building blocks. The Lakers are in a much better place than they were a few years ago, and Jim deserves some credit for drafting well once the team stumbled on the court.

But the stated goal wasn’t improving the franchise’s position. It was a quick turnaround to conference-title contention – and, at that, Jim failed miserably.

So, now he’s trying to move the goalposts. Ultimately, Jeanie must decide whether she’ll let him.

How many Kings want to be traded?

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 26:  DeMarcus Cousins #15 (R) of the Sacramento Kings high fives Rudy Gay #8 after scoring against the Phoenix Suns during the second half of the NBA game at Talking Stick Resort Arena on October 26, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Kings defeated the Suns 113-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Kings guard Arron Afflalo reportedly refused to enter a game, which isn’t ideal (though he denied it).

But put it into context – and it’s even worse.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Speaking of the Kings, there is a growing rift brewing between Arron Afflalo and the coaching staff. He is also growing unhappy with his role in Sacramento, and there is a belief he has joined a few other Kings players in asking for a trade. Afflalo became trade eligible on December 15, so it’s a situation to watch.

Joined a few other Kings players in asking for a trade? That’d mean at least four players, including Afflalo, requesting a trade. Yikes. Also, plausible.

Rudy Gay has openly stated his desire to move on.

Though he denied making a trade request, Omri Casspi certainly sounds unhappy. The line between requesting and desiring a trade can be razor fin.

Ben McLemore‘s career has barely gotten off the ground in four seasons with the Kings. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d welcome a change of scenery before entering free agency.

Willie Cauley-Stein was perturbed with George Karl’s rationale for limiting the rookie’s minutes last season. Now in his second year, Cauley-Stein is playing even less under Dave Joerger.

With so many players plausibly wanting out – especially if they all actually want out – this is a tough environment to win in. Sacramento is 13-17, and continued losing could make even more players unhappy. These things can snowball. On the other hand, the Kings have won three straight to move into playoff position. Continued winning can also snowball and improve morale.

At least franchise player DeMarcus Cousins keeps saying he’s happy in Sacramento (not that this would be a good time to trade him, anyway). Plus, the new veteran-designated player rule could get Cousins a huge new contract – only if the Kings don’t trade him. There’s incentive to stick it out.

Sacramento just has to find some teammates who want to play and can win with Cousins.

NBA: Mavericks got key stop against Clippers after missed foul call

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Harrison Barnes was the clear hero for the Mavericks yesterday, hitting the game-winner in in their 90-88 win over the Clippers.

Dallas’ subtle benefactor? Late-game officiating.

Seth Curry got away with fouling DeAndre Jordan by disrupting his freedom of movement with 1:11 left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report

Curry (DAL) makes contact with Jordan (LAC) that affects his FOM on the cut to the basket

I know, I know. Jordan is an awful free-throw shooter. But the Mavericks weren’t in the penalty, so a correct call wouldn’t have sent Jordan to the line. It would have given the Clippers a fresh shot clock and a chance to burn the clock as they tried to preserve their three-point lead.

Instead, with the shot clock near expiration, the Clippers turned the ball over – key in Dallas’ final-possession win.

For what it’s worth, the other officiating error acknowledged in the two-minute report said Jordan have been called for a lane violation with 33 seconds left:

Jordan (LAC) enters the paint area prior to the free throw being released.

However, the two-minute report doesn’t note whether it occurred on Wesley Matthews‘ first or second free throw.

A lane violation on the first free throw, which Matthews missed, would require “disconcertion.” That’s a tough sell, though Deron Williams and Matthews both appeared upset, possibly about that.

Matthews made his second free throw, anyway.