Dan Feldman

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 27:  Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls drives to the basket against Amir Johnson #90 of the Boston Celtics during the second half of a game at the United Center on October 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. 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 Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Report: Rival executives believe Bulls and Celtics will renew Jimmy Butler trade talks

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The Celtics reportedly tried to trade for the Bulls’ Jimmy Butler before last year’s trade deadline and again around the draft.

Considering the chaos in Chicago and Boston’s treasure trove of assets, why wouldn’t the Celtics try again?

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

There are rival executives who believe the Bulls and Celtics will rekindle trade talks centered on Jimmy Butler before the Feb. 23 deadline. The teams held serious talks in June, and the Celtics own the same assets — Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart, the Nets’ first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 — the teams discussed then.

Do these rival executives have inside information? Or are they just supposing? It doesn’t take much to figure these trade talks could resume.

A report earlier this month suggested Chicago wouldn’t trade Butler. But that was before Butler publicly admonished his teammates’ effort, drew a rebuke and apparent fine from Bulls general manager Gar Forman and then said he didn’t regret his comments.

Still, it’s hard to see Chicago parting with Butler.

Butler has become one of the NBA’s very best players, a true two-way star. He’s just 27 and locked up for two more years. It’s extremely difficult to acquire players so valuable. There should be no rush to move him, and few teams could offer commensurate return.

Boston could be one, though. Armed with those Brooklyn first-rounders, the Celtics could assemble a package that intrigues Chicago.

But the new veteran-designated-player rule offers an additional hurdle.

Because the Bulls drafted Butler and kept him through his rookie-scale contract, only they can exercise designated-player privileges on Butler. Those wouldn’t transfer in a trade to Boston.

Butler is on track to become a free agent in 2019. If he makes an All-NBA team next season, he can sign a designated-player extension during the 2018 offseason. If he makes an All-NBA team in 2018-19 or in both this season and next, he can re-sign as a designated player in 2019.

A max designated-player deal projects to pay Butler about $221 million over five years (about $44 million annually). That’s far more than another team projects to be able to offer — about  $141 million over four years (about $35 million annually).

If Butler gets traded to the Celtics, his projected max for re-signing projects to be about $190 million over five years (about $38 million annually). That’s still more than other teams could offer, but Boston wouldn’t have nearly the same incumbent advantage Chicago would if Butler qualifies as a designated player.

The Celtics would have to factor the chance Butler leaves as an unrestricted free agent in 2019 into any trade offer. Likewise, the Bulls would have to consider the odds Butler leaves them via free agency if they don’t trade him.

But the likelihood of Butler leaving Boston is higher than the likelihood of him leaving Chicago due to the financial realities of the designated-player rule. So, both teams are operating from vastly different points on this aspect. That’s a large chasm to overcome.

Simply, the designated-player rule makes Butler more valuable to the Bulls than any other team. The Celtics would have to hold Butler in much higher regard than Chicago does in other facets for a trade to be plausible.

LeBron James also bemoans Phil Jackson snub

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks during their game at Madison Square Garden on March 26, 2016 in New York City.  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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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As he got rolling on Charles Barkley, LeBron James took a moment to address Knicks president Phil Jackson. Jackson, of course, tweaked LeBron earlier in the season by referring to LeBron’s business associates and friends as LeBron’s “posse.”

LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“I went to see Melo at the Garden two years ago when we were in New York,” James said. “They played Portland. I went up to a suite at halftime and Phil Jackson didn’t say one word to me.”

“I’m here to win ball games and take care of my teammates and take care of my, what’s that word, oh, my ‘posse,’ ” James said, animatedly.

LeBron’s complaints about Jackson’s word choice were fair. “Posse” is a code word used disproportionately to describe the people around black athletes and entertainers. The word, consciously and subconsciously, divides us by race. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging and reacting to that.

But this alleged snub is a different matter.

LeBron would be a free agent the following summer and, as usual, there were rumors about him signing in New York. Jackson talking to him would have opened the door for tampering charges.

Could Jackson have said hello without drawing scrutiny? Probably. Heck, the arbitrary way the NBA enforces tampering rules, Jackson might have been able to pitch LeBron on the Knicks without punishment.

But Jackson had already been fined for tampering once since taking over the Knicks. I’m not rushing to blame him for avoiding another violation.

On the other hand, Jackson got fined again later that season for talking about then-Ohio State freshman D'Angelo Russell. Perhaps, Jackson just didn’t know about that rule, which differs slightly from the rule about tampering with players signed to other NBA teams.

Or maybe there’s a real iciness between Jackson and LeBron that manifested with a cold shoulder in the suite.

NBA: Mavericks got away with defensive three-second violation during key stop against Spurs

San Antonio Spurs forwards Kawhi Leonard, second from right, and LaMarcus Aldridge, left, tangle with Dallas Mavericks forwards Dorian Finney-Smith, right, and Dwight Powell during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in San Antonio. Dallas won 105-101. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
AP Photo/Darren Abate
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After Dallas lost 12 straight in San Antonio, these Mavericks beat these Spurs on Sunday, prompting a widespread response:

How?

Dallas played well in its 105-101 win, but favorable late-game officiating didn’t hurt, either.

Mavericks guard Devin Harris got away with a defensive three-second violation with 1:13 left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Harris (DAL) is in the paint without actively guarding an opponent for longer than three seconds.

Harris floated close enough to LaMarcus Aldridge, who was posting up Dirk Nowitzki on the left block, to dissuade Aldridge from pulling his trademark move, turning over his right shoulder for a shot. But Harris wasn’t close enough (arm’s length) to avoid a violation by legally double-teaming Aldridge.

Aldridge kicked the ball out. San Antonio missed, and Dallas grabbed the defensive rebound.

A correct call would’ve given the Spurs a single free throw from their choice of player on the floor — likely Kawhi Leonard, who’s shooting 91% from the line this season and 85% for his career. San Antonio also would’ve gotten the ball with a fresh shot clock.

The Spurs trailed by just two when they had to intentionally foul.

Correction: This article has been updated to properly reflect the consequences of a correct call.

Did late-game officiating cost Knicks a win against Hawks?

New York Knicks guard Courtney Lee (5) reacts while Atlanta Hawks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) lies on the floor after Lee failed to score on the last shot of the third overtime of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
AP Photo/Todd Kirkland
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After the Hawks’ 142-139 quadruple overtime win over the Knicks on Sunday, Paul Millsap said:

“That was fun,” Millsap said. “I don’t want to do that again ever, but it was fun.”

But the NBA’s Last Two Minute report — which acknowledged 12 missed calls, seven favoring Atlanta and five favoring New York over the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and each overtime period — requires recreating portions of the game to determine whether late officiating errors rob the Knicks of a win?

By quantity, New York came out behind on missed calls. But not all missed calls are created equally. So, I dug deeper into the missed calls I found consequential. Generally, I ignore times the offensive team gets away with a violation and doesn’t score anyway and times the defensive team gets away with a violation and gets scored on anyway.

We know the fourth quarter and each of the first three overtime periods ended tied. So, any missed calls that would’ve given a team a lead when the clock read zeroes could stop this exercise. So, I break down my analysis by period.

Fourth quarter

With 1:11 left, Joakim Noah should have been called for offensively fouling Dennis Schroder:

Noah (NYK) sets the screen on Schroder (ATL) and does not give him room to avoid the contact.

A correct call would’ve ended the Knicks’ possession. Instead, they hit a 3-pointer.

With 30.2 seconds left, Dennis Schroder helped Atlanta secure a defensive rebound by grabbing Joakim Noah, contact that should have induced a loose-ball foul:

Schroder (ATL) clamps the arm of Noah (NYK) and affects his ability to retrieve the rebound.

A correct call would’ve put the Hawks into the penalty and meant two free throws for Noah, who’s shooting just 43% from the line this season — including this infamous miss — and 70% for his career

Paul Millsap got away with a shooting foul for disrupting Carmelo Anthony‘s speed/quickness/balance//rhythm with 3.5 seconds left:

Millsap (ATL) makes contact to the body of Anthony (NYK) that affects his SQBR on the driving shot attempt.

He made the shot anyway, but a correct call would’ve give Anthony — who’s shooting 83% from the line this season and 81% for his career — an additional free throw.

In sum, missed calls in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter allowed the Knicks to score three extra points and cost New York three free throws, two by Noah one by Anthony. At best for the Knicks, that’s a wash that leads to overtime, anyway. Considering Noah’s horrendous free-throw shooting, the result probably would’ve just been New York losing in regulation.

But considering he never got the clutch attempts for us to find out, we’ll continue.

First overtime

If you’re willing to suppose they would’ve made all three free throws missed calls deprived them of late in the fourth quarter, the Knicks can point to this call as the one that really burned them.

Dwight Howard got away with a defensive three-second violation with 1:14 left:

Howard (ATL) is in the paint without actively guarding an opponent for longer than three seconds.

Stifled by Howard’s presence, the Knicks settled for an Anthony 3-pointer, which missed and was defensively rebounded.
A correct call would’ve given any Knick on the floor — likely Courtney Lee, who’s shooting 89% from the line this season and 85% for his career — a single free throw. New York also would’ve gotten the ball back with a fresh shot clock.

Second overtime

Anthony was incorrectly called for a shooting foul on Schroder, who scored anyway and missed the free throw. Of greater consequence: Anthony fouled out. However, he also got away with a foul in the fourth quarter (on a possession where Atlanta scored anyway).

Third overtime

Schroder bouncing ball into the stands and not drawing a technical foul occurred with 2:21 left, so the two-minute report doesn’t address it.

But an acknowledged missed call would’ve given Schroder a free throw when Justin Holiday got away with a shooting foul with 4.4 seconds left:

Holiday (NYK) makes contact with Schroder’s (ATL) body that affects his drive to the basket and shot attempt.

He still scored to tie it, but Schroder — who’s shooting 82% from the line this season and 80% for his career — was deprived a chance at a go-ahead free throw that could’ve ended the game here.

Obviously, Atlanta won any way, but this missed call detracts from the significance of any missed calls favoring the Hawks in the fourth overtime.

Fourth overtime

Malcolm Delaney got away with committing a shooting foul on Brandon Jennings with 1:26 left:

Delaney (ATL) makes contact with Jennings’ (NYK) body that affects his drive to the basket and shot attempt.

A correct call would’ve meant two free throws for Jennings, who’s shooting 76% from the line this season and 80% for his career.

Instead, New York came up empty on this possession.

Down two later in the period, the Knicks began intentionally fouling.

We obviously don’t know how changing any of these missed calls would’ve affected the rest of the game. But the final two calls, uncalled loose-ball fouls as players fought for rebounds, especially clearly happened in situations that never would’ve occurred if New York didn’t have to intentionally foul.

Did officiating errors cost the Knicks the game? There is a case to be made, but it must include Noah sinking 2-of-2 free throws late in the fourth quarter.

Who had better windmill dunk, Marquese Chriss or Karl-Anthony Towns?

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 15:  Marquese Chriss #0 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game against the San Antonio Spurs at Talking Stick Resort Arena on December 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  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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Neither Karl-Anthony Towns nor Marquese Chriss are the best dunker’s on their team.

Towns plays with reigning dunk-contest champion Zach LaVine on the Timberwolves. Chriss’ Suns teammate Derrick Jones Jr. was reportedly invited to this year’s dunk contest.

But both Towns and Chriss had a chance to show their slamming skills last night.

Who impressed more in the open court?

Towns:

Or Chriss:

Towns’ dunk appeared to have more force, but Chriss had the bigger windmill. I’d give the Phoenix forward the edge.