Dan Feldman

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Leslie Alexander selling Rockets

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After signing the largest contract extension in NBA history – projected to be worth $169 million over four years – James Harden said, “Everything is going to happen in Houston, and that’s the reason I’m here forever.”

But the man who agreed to pay Harden all that money won’t be around anywhere near that long.

Rockets owner Leslie Alexander is selling the franchise, team president Tad Brown announced today.

“Leslie Alexander is a true competitor who always searched for the right move to make his teams better,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Under his ownership, he created a culture of excellence with strong management that attracted Hall of Famers, All-Stars and coaching giants and brought two NBA championships and four WNBA titles to Houston.

“Well-respected around the league, he has been an active and influential owner whose vision helped to grow the game globally, especially in China. Moreover, his philanthropy speaks just as powerfully as his ownership, with local libraries, women’s centers and homeless shelters all benefitting from his generosity.”

Forbes valued the Rockets at $1.65 billion earlier this year. It has never been a better time to own an NBA team, with new national TV deals in effect and the league’s popularity soaring.

This is a pivotal time for Houston, even with Harden locked up. Chris Paul will be a free agent next summer, eligible for a max contract worth about $207 million over five years. The Rockets are trying to trade for Carmelo Anthony, another high-priced star.

Alexander has long empowered general manager Daryl Morey to take big swings. But with the franchise’s future in flux, will Morey get to keep spending? Will the next owner sign off on paying Paul the max through age 37?

It was already an exciting time in Houston with the Rockets’ sky-high ceiling. It’s still exciting, but far less certain, with the ceiling just as high but the floor suddenly much lower.

Report: LeBron James frustrated with Cavaliers’ offseason

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The Cavaliers have had a dud of an offseason.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert ousted general manager David Griffin just before the draft and didn’t offer enough money to lure Chauncey Billups as a replacement. Cleveland still hasn’t named a long-term front-office leader.

In the meantime, the Cavaliers have made a few low-key moves – signing Jose Calderon, Jeff Green and Cedi Osman and re-signing Kyle Korver. They reportedly won’t re-sign James Jones. They didn’t get Jamal Crawford or trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George.

LeBron James noticed.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

LeBron James, the NBA’s most powerful player and biggest star who brought the Cleveland Cavaliers their first NBA championship, is concerned about the Cavaliers’ offseason, a person close to the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

Expecting an aggressive offseason approach that would close the gap on the champion Golden State Warriors, James soon found his anticipation and optimism diminished after Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert dismantled the front office, declining days before the draft and free agency to bring back general manager David Griffin and vice president of basketball operations Trent Redden.

Gilbert’s decision left the Cavs without the franchise’s top two front-office execs at a critical time, and it left James frustrated and concerned about the team’s ability to put together a roster that can better compete with Golden State, the person with direct knowledge of James’ thinking told USA TODAY Sports.

So, Los Angeles, huh?

LeBron is not shy about pressuring Gilbert. The Cavs’ payroll is high, but the roster lags well behind the Warriors. Cleveland hasn’t used its full mid-level exception, and without someone authorized to take long-term control of the front office, nobody has the vision to go after the league’s available stars like Butler and George. With the Cavaliers’ championship window still open, this was a terrible time to stall.

And, of course, LeBron can be a free agent next summer. There’s still time to make amends and/or hope the Lakers look less appealing than they do on paper now, though others suitors will race out of the woodwork if LeBron shows any inclination of leaving.

It seems the Cavs are doing a decent job of alienating their superstar and giving other teams hope.

Report: Spurs never offered Jonathon Simmons contract above qualifying offer

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The Spurs extended Jonathon Simmons a $1,671,382 qualifying offer and were reportedly preparing a $9 million-per-year contract offer.

But San Antonio rescinded Simmons’ qualifying offer, and he signed a three-year contract with the Magic. That  Orlando contract is $20 million fully guaranteed according to Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News, $18 million total and $13.3 guaranteed according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Between, how close did the Spurs come to keeping Simmons?

Casey Keirnan of NBC San Antonio:

https://twitter.com/CaseyKeirnan/status/886329885320466432

The Spurs held tremendous leverage, because if Simmons accepted the low-paying qualifying offer, they could have made him a restricted free agent again next offseason. That route would have also allowed San Antonio maximize cap space next summer, which seems to be a priority.

The Spurs still have that flexibility for next summer – just without Simmons. They could have pressured him into signing the qualifying offer or an offer sheet from another team, which might not have come. Instead, they Spurs allowed Simmons, who turns 28 before next season and has spent both his NBA seasons on minimum salaries, to receive his first bigger payday.

Favor? Forceful insistence on maintaining culture by casting out Simmons? Something in between?

Whatever the reason, San Antonio seemingly didn’t try very hard to keep an athletic wing in a league that can’t get enough of them. It’s certainly the type of decision that would draw more scrutiny if not made by a franchise so successful.

Sportscaster Bob Wolff, who called Knicks’ championships, dies at 96

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NEW YORK (AP) — Bob Wolff, the only sportscaster to call play-by-play of championships in all four major North American professional team sports, has died. He was 96.

Son Rick Wolff said his father died peacefully Saturday night at his Nyack home.

Wolff broadcast the NFL’s championship game, World Series, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Finals. He interviewed Babe Ruth, was the voice of the Washington Senators, and for decades did play-by-play for the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.

“Bob Wolff’s iconic, Hall-of-Fame broadcasting career was matched by his class and character,” the Yankees said in a team statement. “Beyond his lifetime of professional accomplishments, he was a man of great grace and dignity, serving his country with honor, and proudly calling New York home. Bob was a dear friend of the Yankees organization and he will be deeply missed.”

Wolff was cited by the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest consecutive run as a broadcaster at 78 years, dating to 1939 on WDNC Radio when he was a student at Duke University. This year, he did sports commentary on News 12 Long Island and hosted the Con Edison Scholastic Sports Award program on WHUD Radio in Westchester.

Wolff called the only perfect game in World Series history when the Yankees’ Don Larsen accomplished the feat against Brooklyn in 1956, and was behind the mic for Baltimore Colts’ overtime victory over the New York Giants in the 1958 NFL title game. He did television play-by-play for the New York Knicks’ two championships.

“Bob Wolff was not only one of the seminal figures in American sportscasting, but he was a part of the very fabric of Madison Square Garden, the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers for more than six decades,” Madison Square Garden and MSG Networks said in a statement. “In addition to leaving behind an unmatched body of work, his spirit carries on in hundreds of broadcasters he mentored and the millions of fans he touched. His legacy will live forever.”

Wolff is enshrined in the broadcast wing of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the National Sportscasters-Sportswriters Hall of Fame, the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame, and in July 2008 was voted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame with the Curt Gowdy Award, joining Gowdy as the only two sportscasters to be in both the basketball and the baseball halls.

Wolff served in the U.S. Navy as a supply officer in the Pacific during World War II.

He is survived by Jane Wolff, his wife of 72 years, sons Dr. Robert Wolff and Rick Wolff, daughter Margy Clark, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Nets guarantee Quincy Acy’s contract on same day he gets married

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Quincy Acy‘s $1,709,538 salary for next season went from fully unguaranteed to fully guaranteed when the Nets didn’t waive him yesterday.

Oh, and he got married.

Congratulations to Acy on the wedding and the financial security, but his contract development was really a curse in disguise. If Brooklyn waived him to give his roster spot to a younger player, Acy would have earned on the open market at least the minimum salary he’s now slated to receive. But it’s not surprising the Nets wanted to keep the hustle player with a strong work ethic. He’s a great value, both for the example he sets and production he provides.

Acy vastly improved his already-decent 3-point shooting last year. If he maintains that stroke to complement his energetic play, Acy could get a far-more-lucrative contract at age 27 next summer, perhaps from a team ready to win now.