Dan Feldman

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Report: Carmelo Anthony trade ‘at the two-yard line’

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The Knicks and Rockets are discussing a four-team trade that would send Carmelo Anthony to Houston.

Could it actually happen?

Stefan Bondy and Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

A deal that would end the Carmelo Anthony era in New York and reunite the All Star forward with Mike D’Antoni in Houston “is at the two yard line” a person familiar with the trade negotiations told the Daily News.

New York is motivated to move Anthony. Houston is motivated to acquire him. Anthony is motivated to join the Rockets.

So, a trade could definitely happen.

But making the salaries match will always be a significant hurdle. Again, it’s possible the Knicks and Rockets find a mysterious third – or fourth – team to take Ryan Anderson. But teams in New York’s and Houston’s positions often get caught up in wishful thinking about moving undesirable players, believing another team is more willing to accept burdensome salary than reality dictates.

Is that the case here, or Anthony truly just two yards from joining the Rockets? We’ll see soon enough.

Report: Jazz signing Thabo Sefolosha to two-year $10.5 million contract

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The Jazz lost their biggest star in Gordon Hayward, but they’re not slipping quietly into irrelevancy.

To help remain competitive for the playoffs, Utah filling its small forward hole with Thabo Sefolosha.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This would fit into the taxpayer mid-level exception. The Jazz could also waive Boris Diaw or Raul Neto to fit Sefolosha into cap space and use the room exception on someone else. Utah appears far enough below the apron to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, but this leaves more options open (signing someone else with the remaining portion of the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, acquiring a player in a sign-and-trade, eventually exceeding the apron).

Likewise, the Jazz will have plenty of options on the court at wing. Rodney Hood and Alec Burks should be healthier. Rookie Donovan Mitchell has impressed in summer league. Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson will receive playing time at both forward positions.

The 33-year-old Sefolosha is past his peak, but he remains a helpful 3-and-D contributor. He’ll fit well in Utah with his high basketball intelligence.

Atlanta already moved the younger Taurean Prince ahead of him. This is another opportunity to remember the Hawks probably should have traded Sefolosha (and Paul Millsap) last year and gotten something for them. But even without a head start in accumulating assets, Atlanta is still moving further into rebuilding now.

NBA moves up trade deadline, reduces timeouts

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Remember when DeMarcus Cousins (maybe) found out he was traded while doing an interview after the All-Star game?

You won’t see something like that again.

The NBA moved up its trade deadline and enacted a few measures – including reducing the number of timeouts – accelerate gameplay.

NBA release:

Effective with the 2017-18 season, the maximum number of timeouts per game will decrease from 18 to 14.  In addition, during the last three minutes of a game, teams will be limited to two team timeouts each instead of the previous rule that allowed three per team in the last two minutes.

“These changes will help us fulfill our goal of improving game flow and pace of play,” said Byron Spruell, NBA President, League Operations.  “Fewer stoppages and less time without action, especially at the end of a game, will further enhance the viewing experience for our fans.”

The rule modifications for timeouts are below:

  • Each team will have seven timeouts per game, with no restrictions per half.
  • All team timeouts will be 75 seconds.  In the previous format, “full” timeouts were 90 seconds and “20-second” timeouts were 60 seconds.  Both “full” and “20-second” timeouts have been replaced by team timeouts.
  • All four periods will have two mandatory timeouts, which will take place after the first stoppage under the seven- and three-minute marks.
  • The under-nine-minute mandatory timeouts in the second and fourth periods will be eliminated.
  • Each team can enter the fourth period with up to four team timeouts.
  • Each team will be limited to two team timeouts after the later of (i) the three-minute mark of the fourth period or (ii) the resumption of play after the second mandatory timeout of the fourth period.
  • Each team will have two team timeouts per overtime period; previously teams had three.

The NBA also made the following changes regarding game flow:

  • Referees will assess a delay-of-game violation if a free throw shooter ventures beyond the three-point line between attempts.
  • Halftime will last 15 minutes for all games, beginning immediately upon expiration of the second period.  A delay-of-game penalty will be issued if a team is not ready to start play at the expiration of the halftime clock.

In addition, the Board of Governors approved moving the trade deadline from the Thursday after the NBA All-Star Game to the Thursday 10 days before the All-Star Game.  With the new placement of the trade deadline, teams will be able to settle their rosters before the All-Star break and avoid the disruptions that result from players joining new teams just as practices and games are beginning to resume following the All-Star break.

The NBA’s Competition Committee unanimously recommended the rules changes before the Board of Governors’ vote.

The trade deadline will now come in the middle of regular-season play. The league would rather disrupt that than practices during the All-Star break?

Traded players missing games while they travel to their new cities is silly considering how close the deadline is to the All-Star break, and the NBA just made it more common. The deadline was previously on the day regular-season games resumed after the All-Star break, meaning there were at least no games in the days leading up. Now, there are games on deadline day and the days before and after.

The league also created a dead period in the few days between the All-Star game and the resumption of the regular season. No games, no trade rumors. There could be post-deadline buyout intrigue, but that will generate only minimal interest. The NBA is surrendering days of attention.

The right time for the trade deadline would have been the Tuesday or Wednesday after the All-Star game. All-Stars would have to deal with trade rumors during the mid-winter event, but they’ve always handled that fine. Traded players would have time to join their new teams without missing games, and the NBA would remain prominent without a few-day gap.

At least the timeout changes are a step in the right direction. Grumble at millennials and their attention spans, but the game is more entertaining without as many stoppages. That could pay off in the long run with larger and more engaged audiences. In the short term, fewer timeouts mean fewer opportunities to sell commercials. But the league can compensate by implementing ads more seamlessly, like jersey ads. That’s an exchange I’d make every time as a viewer.

I’m more intrigued by the other two game-flow changes.

Free-throw shooters high-fiving everyone and pacing around between attempts quietly adds up – and I think it’s generally bad for the shooter. I’d rather remain squared up with the basket rather than lose muscle memory. But NBA players obviously handle that differently, so good for the league stepping in. If anything, the NBA didn’t go far enough. Why limit free-throw shooters to the entire area inside the arc rather than just the lane and free-throw circle?

I’m very curious whether the referees enforce a hard limit on halftime length. Halftimes generally creep longer only during special events – number retirements and such. Will teams cut off rambling speeches when former greats are honored? Will refs actually penalize the home teams that don’t?

Clippers signed Patrick Beverley’s hotel alias

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Patrick Beverley took the long road to the NBA, playing for Olympiacos before joining the Rockets. Beverley now plays for the Clippers, who just signed European star Milos Teodosic – whom Beverley backed up in Greece and played against in Russia.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Beverley suddenly needs a new hotel alias on the road.

“I used Milos Teodosic” he confessed to ESPN on Thursday.

In the aftermath of Chris Paul, the Clippers have assembled several interchangeable guards: Beverley, Teodosic, Lou Williams and Austin Rivers. It will be fun to watch Doc Rivers experiment with different combinations.

But that nugget has made this my favorite subplot of the offseason.

Report: Final season of George Hill’s Kings contract just $1 million guaranteed

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I wasn’t a big fan of the Kings giving George Hill – a 31-year-old with a history of nagging injuries – a three-year, $57 million contract.

But the deal won’t necessarily be as costly as it initially sounded.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders:

The Kings still had to outbid the market for George. Nobody is rushing to Sacramento for less than top dollar.

But this contract is far more manageable than one that would have guaranteed Hill $20 million at age 33. He’s far more tradable, or – if his production declines in the next couple years – waivable.

I still question the wisdom of the Kings, who also signed Zach Randolph and Vince Carter, pushing in this year. They owe their unprotected 2019 first-round pick to the 76ers or Celtics. So, this season was Sacramento’s last chance to tank before their young players developed too much for that to be a viable strategy.

Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Malachi Richardson, Georgios Papagiannis, De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, Harry Giles and Bogdan Bogdanovic form a nice young core. It’s not one strong enough to bank on, and I think a higher lottery pick this year would go further than Hill’s veteran mentorship.

Maybe Hill plays well enough to be traded for value. Maybe he leads a surprising upstart into the playoffs sooner than expected.

Those are narrow targets to hit, but at least the Kings are trying with Hill’s contract being less of a long-term burden.