Dan Feldman

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban yells at an official during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 112-83. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
AP Photo/Darren Abate

Mark Cuban: Dispute with ESPN rooted in automated content

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says his decision to revoke the credentials of two ESPN writers who cover his team was driven partly by concern that automated game reports could eventually replace human-generated content.

Cuban said Monday that he banned Marc Stein and Tim MacMahon from Mavericks home games to bring attention to the issue of companies using automation in sports coverage.

The Associated Press, in a partnership with Automated Insights, produces automated stories on minor league baseball but does not use the technology for most of its sports coverage. The AP has at least one reporter at all games in the four major professional sports and most major college football and basketball games.

“Maybe I will be wrong but I see a direct path from the trends in coverage of games we are seeing over the last couple years to the automation of reporting on games and the curation of related content,” Cuban wrote in an email to the AP. “This isn’t a knock on wire services or their reporters. They are valued and valuable in sports coverage.”

The billionaire who made his fortune through internet technology told The Dallas Morning News that ESPN had informed the club that it wouldn’t have a reporter at every game and would rely on wire services. Barry Bedlan, AP’s sports product manager, said ESPN “has relied on us for years.”

“Nothing has changed from our perspective and there are no plans to change that,” Bedlan said.

Cuban said he was responding to what he considers a disturbing trend of reporters being replaced by machines.

“While it may seem counterintuitive to ban someone from covering us as a way of stopping automation, it really was my only option,” Cuban said. “As is evident by the AP partnership with Automated Insights, it’s not if but when.”

MacMahon has covered the Mavericks primarily for several years but has spent more time in other cities this season. Stein joined ESPN as a national NBA writer in 2000 after previously covering the Mavericks for the Dallas newspaper. Both reporters are based in Dallas.

Report: Knicks put Kurt Rambis in charge of NBA-worst defense

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05:  Head coach Phil Jackson (R) of the Los Angeles Lakers and assistant Kurt Rambis sit on the bench during the game with the Los Angeles Clippers on November 5, 2008 at Staples Center 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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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When a report emerged Phil Jackson and Knicks players were unhappy with the triangle offense – Jackson wants more of it, and players seemingly want less – I suggested they focus on defense. After all, New York is allowing an NBA-worst 110.9 points per 100 possessions.

I guess they agreed.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Remember, Jackson pushed for Rambis to remain the Knicks’ head coach last season. But Jackson also sought a coach he knows and who would run the triangle then hired Jeff Hornacek, who fits neither qualification. So, who knows what’s really going on in New York?

We know what Rambis did before arriving there. In his two years as the Timberwolves’ head coach, they finished 28th and 27th in points allowed per possession. The Knicks fared a little better last season with Rambis as interim coach, posting a defensive rating that would’ve ranked 19th over a full season – but they were even more stout with Derek Fisher in charge earlier in the season.

I’m unconvinced Rambis can implement a sound defense. I’m unconvinced Jackson is seeking defensive help from the right places. And I’m unconvinced Joakim Noah can anchor a quality defense at his age.

But at least the Knicks are tying something – which is more than I can say about everything else they’ve done defensively so far this year.

Report: Chris Bosh hires Rob Pelinka as agent

WESTWOOD, CA - JULY 14:  NBA player Chris Bosh attends the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards 2016 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion on July 14, 2016 in Westwood, California.  (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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Chris Bosh has little control over his basketball future.

The Heat sound done with him due to blood-clot issues, but it’s also imprudent for them to waive him before March. So, despite his desire to play again, he’s just biding his time.

One thing Bosh can still control: his agent. He fired Henry Thomas of CAA. Now, he’s hiring Rob Pelinka of Landmark.

Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal:

Assuming Bosh doesn’t play before Feb. 9 – a virtual certainty since Miami controls that – the Heat can then ask a  doctor jointly selected by the league and union to rule that Bosh “has an injury or illness that… substantially impairs his ability to play skilled professional basketball at an NBA level and is of such severity that continuing to play professional basketball at an NBA level would subject the player to medically unacceptable risk of suffering a life-threatening or permanently disabling injury or illness.”

Pelinka’s first major responsibility will be lobbying for a doctor whose views align with Bosh’s.

If the doctor rules that it is safe for Bosh to play – he contends it is – Miami would have no salary-cap incentive to waive him. He’d likely resume his career with the Heat, though they obviously find that highly unlikely.

If the doctor rules it’s unsafe for Bosh to play, Miami would likely waive Bosh in March. The Heat would have to continue paying him, but his salary would no longer count toward the cap.

This is where Pelinka would have his work cut out for him. Bosh says it’s not about the money. He just wants to play. But would teams really sign and play him after a jointly selected doctor rules against him? Good luck convincing them, Rob.

Rumor: Bucks owner Marc Lasry could join Hillary Clinton administration if she beats Donald Trump

Newly named Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, left, smiles with Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, right, after a press conference Wednesday, July 2, 2014, in Milwaukee (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

LeBron James has been Hillary Clinton’s most prominent supporter in the NBA.

But the person in the league with the strongest ties to Clinton? That might be Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry.

And Hillary Clinton defeating Donald Trump in today’s presidential election could have major consequences in Milwaukee.

Gery Woelfel of RacineSportsZone.com:

In recent weeks, there have been increasing whispers that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, one of the Bucks’ three majority owners — Marc Lasry — may relinquish some, if not all, of his duties with the professional basketball team.

This isn’t the first time Lasry’s name has surfaced for a potential government position. In 2013, he was under consideration to be the United States’ ambassador to France. He withdrew his name, reportedly because of business considerations.

What would this mean for the Bucks? Other owners, Wes Edens and Jamie Dinan, would seemingly move into larger roles.

Jason Kidd would lose his biggest backer, but Edens has also voiced support for the coach(/general manager?). Kidd has the Bucks on an upswing from last season, so his job might not be in jeopardy anyway.

But it would create a little more instability in Milwaukee if Lasry takes a backseat to work for Clinton.

Tyronn Lue: LeBron James could average triple-double if he wanted to

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 10:  Head coach Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers talks to LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 10, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Oscar Robertson is the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double. He also holds the next three and four of the five next-closest seasons, with Magic Johnson sneaking in the other.

But LeBron James doesn’t loom too far behind this season.

Here’s each each year with points-rebounds-assists:

  • 1961-62 Oscar Robertson: 30.8-12.5-11.4
  • 1963-64 Oscar Robertson: 31.4-9.9-11.0
  • 1960-61 Oscar Robertson: 30.5-10.1-9.7
  • 1962-63 Oscar Robertson: 28.3-10.4-9.5
  • 1981-82 Magic Johnson: 18.6-9.6-9.5
  • 1964-65 Oscar Robertson: 30.4-9.0-11.5
  • 2016-17 LeBron James: 22.8-8.8-10.7

Could LeBron average a triple-double this season?

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue and LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“I think he could if he wanted to,” Lue added.

“I can do whatever I put my mind to,” James concluded. “It’s just my mind ain’t on it.”

This is generally correct. If LeBron’s primary goal were averaging a triple-double, he could – though he’s not unique in that regard, and of course that would never be his primary goal.

The Cavs care more about winning now and especially in the playoffs, not LeBron averaging a triple-double. Otherwise, he’d play every minute. Every shot would come by LeBron or off one of his passes. Teammates would stay clear of the glass to leave rebounds for LeBron.

It’d be a disaster, and it’s obviously unrealistic.

LeBron probably can’t average a triple-double in the course of regular play, which is far more relevant. I expect him to regress to the mean and fall further short this season than he stands now. His minutes per game, 36.3, will likely fall. And the league just plays too slowly (relative to Robertson’s and Johnson’s times) and shoots too well (relative to Robertson’s time) to provide sufficient rebound and assist opportunities.

But that LeBron is coming so close in this environment is special. We don’t need to dress it up more than that.