Dan Feldman

LeBron James has fun imitating teammate’s travel (video)

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As the Cavaliers cruised to a win over the Thunder yesterday, Cleveland guard DeAndre Liggins travelled just before launching a halfcourt heave. LeBron notice and recreated Liggins’ multiple steps.

Was LeBron just having fun the way good teams do about their occasional blemishes, or was he calling attention to Liggins’ substandard play as part of an inadequate supporting cast?

You decide!

Dennis Schroder slams ball into stands, doesn’t get technical foul (video)

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The Hawks beat the Knicks in quadruple overtime yesterday, so the game obviously featured an abundance of critical moments.

One of them came in the third overtime, when Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder bounced the ball into the stands in frustration — and didn’t draw a technical foul.

The NBA rulebook states:

Any player who throws or kicks the ball directly into the stands with force, regardless of the reason or where it lands, will be assessed a technical foul and ejected.

The first row of seats is considered the beginning of the stands.

Maybe this wasn’t direct because Schroder bounced it off the court? That seems to twist the intent of the rule, but officials somehow arrived at a decision not to call a technical foul. The ball clearly went into the stands, with a fan in the front row catching it.

NBA: Trail Blazers twice fouled Mike Conley while forcing key turnover against Grizzlies

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C.J. McCollum figuratively knocked around Chandler Parsons after the Trail Blazers beat the Grizzlies on Friday.

Late in that game, Portland literally knocked around Mike Conley.

With the score 112-109 – what would become the final score – the Trail Blazers got away with two fouls on Conley, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report. As a result, Conley lost the ball out of bounds, turning it over.

First, Mason Plumlee should’ve been called for a foul for disrupting Conley’s speed/quickness/balance/rhythm with 56.7 left, per the league:

Plumlee (POR) makes contact with Conley (MEM) that affects his SQBR.

Failing a correct call there, Evan Turner should’ve been whistled for fouling Conley with 54.5 seconds left:

Turner (POR) make contact with Conley (MEM) that affects his SQBR.

Because Portland was in the penalty, a correct call on either missed foul would’ve given Conley – who’s shooting 86% from the line this season and 81% for his career – two free throws.

Instead, Conley lost the ball out of bounds.

Officials reviewed the play and correctly determined Conley touched the ball last. But, by rule, the fouls couldn’t be reviewed, so there was no choice but to award Memphis the ball. Prior to the NBA implementing replay, the ruling likely would’ve been a compromise call: Not calling a foul but giving the Grizzlies the ball (which was the initial ruling Friday). Obviously, the league believes it can accurately review fouls. Hence, two-minute reports, including this after-the-fact determination. Why not review for fouls during games, when correcting officiating errors on the floor can still have an effect?

We’ll never know how the game would’ve played out with either correct call, but Memphis’ final two possessions could have gone much differently if the margin were just one or two, not three. Plumlee fouled Tony Allen on the Grizzlies’ penultimate possession. (It’s unclear whether Plumlee was just trying to prevent a layup or whether he was employing the tactic of willingly fouling when up three.) On Memphis’ final possession, Conley had to force a 3-pointer that missed.

NBA: Incorrectly uncalled Carmelo Anthony foul prompted Knicks’ fastbreak 3-pointer in win over Hornets

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Carmelo Anthony is playing through trade rumors that he admits are mentally exhausting.

If he needed a break, referees provided it late in the Knicks’ win over the Hornets on Friday.

Anthony should’ve been called for a foul for disrupting Marvin Williams‘ speed/quickness/balance/rhythm with 1:26 left as they chased a loose ball, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Anthony (NYK) makes body to body contact with Williams (CHA) that affects his SQBR

As Anthony crashed into him, Williams sent an errant pass grabbed by Knicks guard Courtney Lee. Lee passed ahead to Brandon Jennings, who quickly converted the miscue into a 3-pointer.

A correct call would’ve stopped New York’s fastbreak before it ever began and given Charlotte a fresh shot clock.

The Knicks won, 110-107.

Pau Gasol says he plans to opt into final season of Spurs contract

San Antonio Spurs Pau Gasol has a picture taken with a young fan prior a regualr-season NBA basketball game against Phoenix, at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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For years, Pau Gasol considered signing with the Spurs.

Now that he’s in San Antonio – on a contract that contains a $16,197,500 player option for next season – he’s in no rush to leave.

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Asked if he intended to opt-in Year 2 of his contract, Gasol agreed it’s a safe bet.

“My intention is to continue here, and to be here as long as I can,” said Gasol, who will turn 37 before the start of the 2017-18 season.

“It was a great decision,” Gasol told the Express-News. “I came here to have a chance to win a title and we’re second in the league right now, second best record, so that puts you in a position to win a title. That was a priority, and it still is.”

With his shooting touch, passing acumen and basketball intelligence, Gasol slid seamlessly into the Spurs’ offensive system. They also adequately cover for his defensive deficiencies.

But that could be a different story in the playoffs, when Gasol’s lack of defensive mobility is more likely to be exposed.

Gasol is the NBA’s best 36-year-old. He’s also 36. At that age, production can fall off at any moment.

San Antonio accepted the risk in giving him this contract, but just because he has lived up to it so far doesn’t mean he’ll provide value next season. There’s always risk in paying someone so old so much, even if Gasol’s finger injury has no lasting effects.

Gasol opting in, barring another move, would effectively eliminate the Spurs’ cap room. They’d be left with just the mid-level exception, give or take, to spend. Of course, if they want to pursue major free agents, the Spurs can always try convincing Gasol to opt out and re-sign for less.