Dan Feldman

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Report: Gordon Hayward interested in Heat in free agency

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The Jazz reportedly fear the Heat just as much as the Celtics – a known suitor – for Gordon Hayward.

Is Utah right about Miami?

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

But a source connected with Hayward said this morning that Hayward now has interest in the Heat, as well as other teams. (The Heat should by no means be called the favorite – Utah warrants that position – but Miami is positioned to at least be in the mix.)

The Heat can offer warm weather and a state with no income tax – things neither the Jazz nor Celtics can match. Why wouldn’t Hayward at least be interested, especially considering Miami also presents a strong basketball culture and a good fit between Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic?

But Utah and Boston would probably be better with Hayward than the Heat would, and the Jazz can offer more money. It’s not as if the Jazz and Celtics are lacking for basketball culture, either.

Hayward could wind up in Miami. It just seems unlikely.

Technical-foul count through the roof in NBA Finals

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Did the style of Game 4 of the NBA Finals – emotional, physical, intense – benefit the Cavaliers over the Warriors?

“It benefited them tonight, for sure,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.

Kerr was admitting a defeat, not perpetual defeat, in this area. But the Warriors will have to rise to the challenge, because Cleveland sounds committed to maintaining it.

“The first two games, we were being too nice,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “The first three games, helping guys up off the floor, smiling, talking to guys and – yeah, I didn’t like that. So I’ll take Game 4 over anything else. Talking trash, being physical – whatever you got to do to try to get that edge to win, you’ve got to do it.”

The Cavaliers, with the help of the referees, brought a chaotic feistiness to Game 4 – and thrived in it. This Finals, the first matchup of teams that met the previous two years, already featured plenty of testiness. Game 4 just upped the hostility.

The first three games of the series saw three technical fouls. There hadn’t been an entire NBA Finals with more than that in six years. Game 4 added seven (!) technical fouls.

Here’s how many technical fouls each team and each Finals had called since 2009 (as far back as the NBA’s available records went back):

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The 2017 Finals are only four games in. Per game, the technical-foul rate blows the other Finals on record out of the water:

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Obviously, not all these technical fouls speak to resentment between the teams. Officiating so bad, the referees acknowledged their errors, led to a lot of frustration. But just two Game Four techs – one on Steve Kerr (or Draymond Green for the conspiracy theorists) and one definitely on Green – came for arguing with the referees. The others stemmed from player-player disputes:

The Cavs want this tumultuousness. That and making 3-pointers is their best chance for a comeback. Draymond Green, arguably Golden State’s emotional leader, is happy to oblige in this spirit of play.

So, bring on the technical fouls – baited, earned and in between.

James Dolan says he’s not meddling at all with Knicks

AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Knicks owner James Dolan said he’d give Phil Jackson space to run the Knicks. After some initial hiccups, Dolan pledged he was really done meddling into basketball operations.

And maybe Dolan is holding up his end of the bargain.

The only headlines he has made in a while are for things like feuding with Charles Oakley, calling a fan an a—hole and telling Carmelo Anthony to apologize to a heckler.

Dolan, via Ian Begley of ESPN:

“No, no,” Dolan said when asked during an appearance on Fox 5 if he’s engaged in basketball decisions surrounding the Knicks. “It’s all Phil (Jackson, Knicks team president). It’s all Steve (Mills, Knicks general manager)…. I’m working on my music, they’re working on the basketball team,” Dolan, who in the past has been hands-on in Knicks basketball decisions, said on Fox 5 that people ask him all the time about the Knicks. His response? “Ask Phil.”

Knicks fans had been hoping for years that Dolan would stop meddling. They just didn’t realize it’d mean turning over power to Jackson, who has overseen a comedy of errors.

Dolan might not be actively involved, but he implemented this poor organizational structure. There’s no escaping him.

Report: Lonzo Ball out of shape for Lakers workout

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Lonzo Ball reportedly didn’t blow away the Lakers in his workout.

What did he leave to be desired?

Mark Medina of The Orange County Register:

Many qualities have made the Lakers impressed with Ball, including his leadership potential, passing and scoring. They are not impressed, however, with his level of conditioning.

Some observers of Ball’s workout last Wednesday thought he came in out of shape. Ball acknowledged that the “drills get you tired, so you got to stay focused.”

Was Ball out of shape at UCLA? If so, that’d actually be encouraging. He played so well anyway. Better conditioning would be a clear path to improvement.

If he fell out of shape after the college season, that’d be more concerning. If he got back in shape by October, it’d be fine. Perhaps, he’s just not good with this once-in-a-lifetime limbo period between college and the NBA. But why he slipped would still raise questions, as well as his ability to respond.

It’s also worth asking: Is Ball actually out of shape? The Lakers appear to be trying hard to sell the idea they’re not set on drafting him. Not everyone is buying it, but this specific rumor could add plausibility.

Kevin Durant claims he hasn’t watched last few NBA Finals despite proof to contrary

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Kevin Durant created a small controversy when he said it was “100 percent falseDraymond Green called him after the Warriors lost Game 7 to the Cavaliers in last year’s NBA Finals – a claim made by Green himself. As Kurt Helin laid out, maybe one of them just misremembers the details of a single phone call a year ago. After all, Green, as he tells it, called Durant “a million times.”

But just before creating that discrepancy, Durant made a more clearly untrue claim in an exchange with Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

  • McMenamin: “Last year in the Finals, as a viewer, do you recall when the series went 3-1? What was going through your mind? Did you feel like Cleveland was still in the series? And what was your impression as the comeback unfolded?”
  • Durant: “I didn’t watch it.”
  • McMenamin: “You didn’t watch any of the Finals? Do you normally do that, not watch the Finals?”
  • Durant: “Yup. If I’m not in them, I don’t watch them.”
  • McMenamin: “So you’ve only watched 2012 and this year?”
  • Durant: “Well, I mean, before then, I was on teams that, we weren’t contenders. So, it’s a little different when you’re a contender, I guess. But I didn’t watch. But you kind of know the pulse of the game, a team being up 3-1. Obviously, if you’re up 3-1 in a series, as a fan – and you’re coming home – you feel as though that the away team got to have a spectacular game in order for you to win. So, last year, I didn’t put it past Cleveland to have a rest of a spectacular series. And that’s what they did.”

Here’s Durant explaining in October why he signed with Golden State, via Anthony Slater of The Mercury News (emphasis mine):

“I was telling one of my friends, Rich (Kleiman, his agent), who’s here, we were watching Game 7. Well, as it started to unfold, it was, ‘No question, no way could you go to this team.’ And I was just like a kid, like, in a candy shop. I’d get wide open 3s, I could just run up and down the court, get wide open layups. I was basically begging him. I was like, yo, this would be nice. So as I was thinking about my decision and who I was gonna play for, this team came to mind. You know, as they lost, it became more and more real every day. You start to think about it even more. To see if I would fit. Then once I sat down with these guys, everything that I wanted to know about them they kinda showed me. But we don’t have to talk about it though because they didn’t get the job done and they came after me and who knows what would’ve happened. But I guess you could say I’m glad that they lost.”

Here’s video – from Durant own documentary, starting at 11:10 mark – showing him watching the Spurs-Heat Finals in 2014, when his Thunder lost in the Western Conference finals (hat tip: reddit user xgobez):

I don’t know why Durant would claim he didn’t watch the last few NBA Finals when that is so clearly untrue. A guess: He didn’t want to discuss the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead, and – being so locked in – he came up with a tactic to end the discussion without realizing how poorly it’d reflect on him.