Dan Feldman

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07: Kevin Durant speaks to the media during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Adam Silver: Perception of Warriors and Cavaliers as overwhelming favorites not good for the league

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The Warriors — featuring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson — are favored over the field to win the 2017 NBA title.

The Cavaliers — with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love — are favored over the field to win the Eastern Conference in 2017.

Is that a problem?

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, via ASAP Sports:

I’ll say, and I’ve read several stories suggesting that that’s something that the league wants, this notion of two super teams, that it’s a huge television attraction. I don’t think it’s good for the league, just to be really clear. I will say whoever is the prohibitive favorite, try telling that to the 430 other players who aren’t on those two teams. I mean, we have the greatest collection of basketball players in the world in our league, and so I’m not making any predictions, but there’s no question, when you aggregate a group of great players, they have a better chance of winning than many other teams. On the other hand, there are lots of things that have to happen.

We’ll see what happens in Golden State. You had a great, great chemistry among a group of players and you’re adding another superstar to the mix, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens. But just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that’s ideal from a league standpoint.

I mean, for me as I discussed earlier, part of it is designing a collective bargaining agreement that encourages the distribution of great players throughout the league.

On the other hand, I absolutely respect a player’s right to become a free agent, and in this case for Kevin Durant to make a decision that he feels is best for him, and I have no idea what is in his mind or heart in terms of how he went about making that decision. But we’ll see. As I said, in a way the good news is that we are in a collective bargaining cycle, so it gives everybody an opportunity, owners and the union, to sit down behind closed doors and take a fresh look at the system and see if there is a better way that we can do it.

My belief is we can make it better.

This is a great answer. Someone can respect Durant’s decision while still desiring a system that doesn’t produce similar decisions.

But what is that system?

It needs to be something both owners and players agree on, which obviously removes some draconian options.

Eliminating individual max salaries might be the best compromise.

The Warriors had max cap room for Durant. They could not have kept their other stars and cleared enough cap space to compete with a mega offer from, say, the Nets. Perhaps Durant still would’ve chosen Golden State’s talent and culture. He took less money to leave the Thunder. But if the difference in money were far more significant, it would’ve given him more to consider.

Now is the time to resolve this issue (if it is an issue). Either side can opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by December 15, which would cause it to expire after the season.

The more money the NBA is making, the less likely a lockout becomes — and the league is making unprecedented money.  Neither owners nor players will want to forgo that huge income for any amount of time.

But that’s not the only factor. If either side believes there’s more money to be made, it will push for it.

Silver’s answer suggests the owners believe increased parity is a better business model. Some players outside Golden State and Cleveland might agree, though, as Silver said, they’ll still play hard in the meantime to prove the oddsmakers wrong.

A third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals is not nearly as inevitable as it seems to many right now. A compelling season, despite initial reservations, could change the tenor of this conversation.

Report: Bulls signing Isaiah Canaan to two-year, $2.2 million contract

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 1: Isaiah Canaan #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts after a made basket in the game against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 1, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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. The 76ers defeated the Lakers 103-91. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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The Bulls traded Jose Calderon to sign Dwyane Wade, but the move also cleared up Chicago’s glut of point guards.

Now, the Bulls are bringing in another in Isaiah Canaan.

Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

Canaan has steadied himself as a good 3-point shooter… and that’s about it. He’s so limited as a distributor, Ish Smith looked like a savior replacing Canaan as the 76ers’ starter last year.

Maybe Canaan can play play some shooting guard. The Bulls could use depth behind Wade. But at 6-foot, that’s a tough sell.

Otherwise, Canaan will compete with Jerian Grant and Spencer Dinwiddie for minutes behind Rajon Rondo. Neither Grant nor Dinwiddie has a proven track record of success either, so Canaan could help. At this low cost and on a contract not guaranteed after this season, it’s worth finding out.

Al Horford denies report he left Hawks because they signed Dwight Howard

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 20:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets defends against Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks during their game at the Toyota Center on December 20, 2014 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
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Why did Al Horford leave the Hawks for the Celtics?

He cited money, the biggest factor in player movement.

But did Atlanta signing Dwight Howard play a part? A couple reports say so.

Ken Berger of CBSSports:

Factor No. 1, according to league sources: Horford was none too pleased with how reluctant the Hawks were to come forward with a full five-year max. Factor No. 2: Atlanta’s signing of Dwight Howard. Could there be a more contradicting force in the NBA to Horford than Howard, in terms of substance vs. style?

“He didn’t want to play with Dwight,” a person familiar with the situation told CBS Sports.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

They came up short on the money, and acquired Howard — about whom Horford had major reservations, per sources close to the situation.

Horford denies that, though.

Horford, via Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

No, no, no. Not at all. I don’t have a problem with Dwight at all. I think that he is a great player and he has a lot of ability and a lot of potential. It has nothing to do with not wanting to play with Dwight. I don’t know if you remember but there was a time when I wanted to play power forward. With a guy like him, that would have been easier. It had nothing to do with Dwight. He’s a good guy.

Howard doesn’t seem like the best teammate, but neither I nor Horford have played with him. As a free agent, Horford had little recourse but to go by hearsay — positive or negative — about Howard. It’s not as if Horford could have a test run playing with Howard.

Leaving Atlanta in part because of Howard is a perfectly acceptable choice. But slamming Howard publicly on the way out the door would be viewed as totally unacceptable.

So, file this under: What else is he supposed to say?

Jason Kidd says he committed to Spurs in 2003, has nightmares about reneging to re-sign with Nets

SAN ANTONIO - JUNE 6:  Jason Kidd #5 of the New Jersey Nets and Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs walks during Game two of the 2003 NBA Finals at SBC Center on June 6, 2003 in San Antonio, Texas.  The Nets won 87-85.  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: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Signing LaMarcus Aldridge last year and Pau Gasol this year has been framed as the Spurs shifting course by foraying into high-priced free agency.

But it’s really nothing new.

San Antonio nearly signed Jason Kidd — who was in the midst of four straight top-10 finishes in MVP voting and had led the Nets to consecutive Finals, including a loss to the Spurs that year (alert: Kevin Durant parallel; stay tuned for the DeAndre Jordan parallel) — in 2003.

Kidd, now coaching the Bucks, used Tim Duncan‘s retirement as a chance to reflect on his 2003 free agency.

Kidd, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN

“I thought I was going to be a Spur,” Kidd, now the Milwaukee Buckscoach, said while watching his team during the Las Vegas Summer League on Monday. “I committed when I was down there on my visit [to San Antonio].

“On my flight home, I think I got cold feet,” Kidd continued. “And sometimes I have nightmares about that. Maybe I could have won a championship or two there. But I got really lucky with Dallas and won a championship.”

“It is something that I sometimes regret,” Kidd said. “I wanted to see if I could win a championship in San Antonio.”

Kidd signed a six-year, $103 million contract with the Nets, who subsequently rebuilt around their move to Brooklyn.  The Spurs won two more championships during Kidd’s career, and maybe he would’ve still been playing during their 2014 title if he were on their rest program.

It’s a great “what if?”

Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas on next contract: ‘They better bring out the Brinks truck’

Boston Celtics' Isaiah Thomas fires up fans after hitting a three pointer against the Atlanta Hawks during the third period in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in Boston on Sunday, April 24, 2016. Boston won, 104-95, in overtime. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
urtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP
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Isaiah Thomas is slated to earn $6,587,132 and $6,261,395 the next two seasons.

That’s less than Jerryd Bayless, D.J. Augustin and Garrett Temple.

So, the Celtics’ All-Star point guard is awaiting his turn.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England:

“They better bring out the Brinks truck,” quipped Thomas during the Celtics’ summer league game on Saturday against Chicago. “They’re paying everybody else. I gotta get something.”

Thomas is one of the best values in the league, because he signed before the new national TV contracts kicked in, raised NBA revenue and pushed the salary cap dramatically upward. Because players like Thomas are locked into relatively low-paying old-money contracts, that leaves even more new money for 2016 free agents.

By the time Thomas becomes a free agent in 2018, there won’t be as much left, because 2016 and 2017 free agents will already be on the books at new-money rates. Thomas will also be 29, and teams aren’t rushing to pay 5-foot-9 point guards exiting their primes.

This is a consequence of the union rejecting cap smoothing. Players who signed before this year, and to a degree before last year, aren’t as well-positioned to cash in. Thomas’ deal, inked in 2014, just came at the wrong time.

Thomas is still in line for a big raise, though. The higher cap will increase salaries for free agents in 2017 and beyond. But it won’t be quite the spending bonanza for good, not great, players like Thomas. Teams will have to be more judicious about which players get big contracts.

Maybe Thomas can convince the Celtics to renegotiate and extend his contract, getting a raise in exchange for forgoing free agency. But that’s a tough sell. They’d probably rather keep his salary low now and their options open if his quickness deteriorates later.

The influx of money into the system is good for players (and owners) overall, but less so for Thomas than most.