Dan Feldman

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Report: Hawks center Miles Plumlee charged with marijuana possession

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Miles Plumlee spent his offseason recovering from knee surgery, getting traded to the Hawks and apparently getting arrested for marijuana.

Sam Amico of Amico Hoops:

Atlanta Hawks center Miles Plumlee was arrested for possession of marijuana on Long Island in late August, Vecsey wrote (subscription required). According to Vecsey’s post, Plumlee was charged with possession and released on $100 bail.

If convicted, Plumlee will have violated the NBA’s marijuana program. Neither first (warning) nor second ($25,000 fine) violations are typically announced, so it’s unclear where Plumlee is on the progression. A third violation triggers a five-game suspension.

The bigger issue: Why is the NBA penalizing players for something that ranges from a petty offense to completely legal?

James Harden pledges to never leave Houston

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Rockets star James Harden donated $1 million to Harvey relief and then got personally involved.

That prompted this Twitter exchange:

Obviously, this is non-binding. If Harden ever leaves, he doesn’t even have to answer for this statement. He could also always spin it as, no matter where he’s playing, he’ll always have love for Houston and the Rockets.

A new owner creates uncertainty. Will Tilman Fertitta stick with general manager Daryl Morey, who has enlisted Harden as a partner in team-building? Will Fertitta spend as much as Leslie Alexander did to build good teams around Harden?

But Harden and the Rockets have shown major commitment to each other. Among players so young, perhaps only Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) is more likely to spend the rest of his career with the same franchise.

Paul George trade just the start of a pathetic Pacers offseason

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The Pacers would have been better next season if they just kept Paul George.

They also might have been better in 2019-20.

Indiana got a head start on 2018-19 and little else this offseason.

George said he planned to leave in 2018 free agency, so dealing him was certainly reasonable. But for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis? That paltry return sent shockwaves beyond just scorned Cleveland.

It’ll be tough for Oladipo to provide surplus value as he makes $84 million over the next four years. Sabonis is as pedestrian as a second-year lottery pick can get.

The Pacers also lost Jeff Teague and C.J. Miles in free agency and waived – and stretched! (more on that later) – Monta Ellis, three players who started in the playoffs last season. Their replacements: Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison and Cory Joseph.

Bogdanovic ($1.5 million of $10.5 million) and Collison ($2 million of $10 million) have small guarantees for 2018-19. So does returning center Al Jefferson ($4 million of $10 million). Essentially, Indiana will keep those players if they have value at those salaries or clear cap space otherwise.

Though Miles, essentially acquired for free in a trade with the Raptors, has a $7,945,000 player option for 2018-19, the Pacers will have his Bird Rights.

This is shaping up to be a 30-something-win team, where the “something” will determine whether Indiana sneaks into the playoffs in a down Eastern Conference or picks in the low lottery. Though not stuck in that position with several long-term contracts, it’s still a lousy place to be even for a season or two.

The Pacers might have felt George’s declared plan to depart sent them down this path, but it didn’t have to.

If they kept George, one of two things would have happened:

  • He’d re-sign. Despite his insistence that he was leaving, he could have always reversed course. If he made an All-NBA team this season, he would have been eligible for a super-max contract. Indiana could have dared him to turn that down.
  • He’d leave. The Pacers probably still would have been in better long-term shape than they are now. Though I’m high on Myles Turner, they probably could have tanked around him in his fourth year and launched a proper rebuild.

Either way, Indiana would have been better in the interim. The Pacers wouldn’t have been postseason locks with George this season, but they would have been more likely than this rag-tag bunch. They also could have cut bait on George and dealt him before the trade deadline – likely for more than they got this summer.

Indiana just doesn’t want to slip too far, though. That’ll pay off next summer, when the Pacers have Oladipo and Sabonis locked up, team control over Bogdanovic and Collison in unguaranteed salaries and Bird Rights for Joseph if he opts out.

Starting after the lopsided George trade, this wasn’t bad execution of the plan. It’s just a bad plan.

Striving for mediocrity with established veterans just inhibits meaningful growth. That’s especially evident with stretching Ellis, who will count $2,245,400 against the cap through 2022.

The Pacers cleared nearly $9 million in cap space with the move, but their guaranteed salaries still land about $7.5 million below the salary cap, and the $4,328,000 room exception remains unused. Though the cap space and room exception can’t be combined, the space created by stretching Ellis didn’t go to great use. If Indiana offered Bogdanovic and/or Collison just $1 million or so less, they wouldn’t have signed? It would have been better to play hardball with those free agents and lose one than to stretch Ellis.

Indiana isn’t going anywhere significant this season, anyway. The right move was paying Ellis his entire $11,227,000 this season and getting it over with.

The Pacers aren’t completely bereft of young talent. Turner, a stretch center with impressive defensive potential, is now their franchise player. Oladipo is just 25. Draft picks T.J. Leaf (No. 18), Ike Anigbogu (No. 47) and Edmond Sumner (No. 52) are all fine.

But Indiana lost George, its most valuable asset, without getting a single draft pick or high-end young player. Now, the Pacers are just headed toward a couple uninspiring years before inevitably undergoing the rebuild they could have gotten a head start on this summer or next.

Offseason grade: F

Report: Bucks, with Jabari Parker, came up as third team in Carmelo Anthony trade

AP Photo/Aaron Gash
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Carmelo Anthony trade talks between the Rockets and Knicks are still going nowhere.

But with Anthony’s welcome worn out in New York, the teams keep searching for a third to facilitate a deal – like the Bucks, who have Jabari Parker.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

The Knicks have told people around the league recently that Houston simply doesn’t have anything that appeals to them.

The Milwaukee Bucks emerged as a potential third team at one point, per league sources, but there was no traction toward a deal.

One name that came up in those (very) preliminary talks? Bucks forward Jabari Parker, per league sources.

Maybe, after two ACL injuries, Parker’s value has fallen enough that he could be included in an Anthony trade. But Parker is just entering the fourth year of his rookie-scale contract, and he’s in line to become a restricted free agent next summer. Milwaukee can be patient with him.

Houston probably must trade Ryan Anderson to send out enough salary to get Anthony, and nobody wants Anderson. Some vague ideas of Parker might interest New York, but what gets the Bucks on board?

Anthony will likely begin the season with the Knicks, and it seems he’s preparing himself accordingly.

Ohio mom apparently confuses Isaiah Thomas for kid

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Jeremy Lin and DeMar DeRozan have crossed security guards who didn’t believe they were NBA players.

But presumably, those security guards at least recognized that Lin and DeRozan were adults.

This could be fake, but I want it to be real, so I’m choosing to treat it as such: