Dan Feldman

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Danilo Gallinari punches opponent in face, goes to hospital for possible hand injury (video)

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The Clippers are truly Blake Griffin‘s team now.

With Chris Paul‘s departure, the Clippers pushed Griffin as royalty. One of his teammates apparently got the message to follow Griffin’s lead.

Danilo Gallinari, playing for the Italian national team, punched Jito Kok in the face:

Adam Silver: No need to change NBA’s marijuana policy

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A fifth of NBA teams – Nuggets, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Celtics, Warriors, Kings and Celtics – play in a state with legalized recreational marijuana. Many more play in a state that allows medical marijuana. And it’s trending toward more teams playing in places that permit marijuana.

Yet, the NBA continues to prohibit its players from using marijuana.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, via C.J. McCollum of The Players Tribune:

I don’t see the need for any changes right now. I mean, it’s legal in certain states. But as you know, our players are constantly travelling, and it might be a bit of a trap to say we’re going to legalize it in these states, but no, it’s illegal in other states. And then players get in a position where they’re travelling with marijuana, and we’re obviously getting into trouble.

This is far too paternalistic for my taste.

There’s already a mechanism for regulating marijuana possession across state lines – the legal system. The NBA shouldn’t enact extra-judicial punishments for this. For the players who’d use marijuana responsibly and legally, let them. (They probably already do, anyway.)

The players’ union, which approved the Collective Bargaining Agreement that sets the league’s marijuana policy, had a hand in getting to this point. But whomever the culprits, the NBA is behind the rapidly changing attitude on this.

Report: Josh Richardson expected to consider contract extension with Heat

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The new Collective Bargaining Agreement loosens rules on veteran extensions. Three-year contracts can now be extended two years after being signed (one year shorter and sooner than previously), and non-designated-player extensions can add four years (one more than previously).

One element of the new rules that hasn’t received enough attention: The maximum starting salary of an extension is the greater of 120% the player’s previous salary or 120% the estimated average salary (previously it was based only on previous salary).

So, Heat guard Josh Richardson – who will earn $1,471,382 in the final season of a three-year contract he signed as a second-round pick in 2015 – is eligible for a potentially market-rate extension. Miami can offer him an extension with a starting salary up to $9,412,200 and a total value up to $42,166,656 over four years (starting Thursday).

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

The Heat is expected to discuss an extension with him, and my impression is that Richardson will at least consider it, though a strong case could be made for gambling on himself and waiting for restricted free agency next summer.

Tyler Johnson – who has held a similar role to Richardson in Miami – just signed a four-year, $50 million deal last summer. But the salary cap is stagnating, and the same money won’t be available next summer.

The largest extension the Heat can offer is in the ballpark of Richardson’s value. I wouldn’t be surprised if they offered a little less. I wouldn’t be surprised if he rejected even the highest-possible offer.

Richardson, who turns 24 before the season, shot 3-pointers well as a rookie then again late last season. He was injured a few times earlier last season, which could explain his downturn – or maybe, in a larger sample, he’s not quite as good of an outside shooter. He’s a solid defender and offers some playmaking ability (for himself and others), though giving him too large of an offensive role is asking for trouble.

The biggest question about his game is his 3-point shooting. Where it lands between pretty good and very good will determine much of his value. Miami might want him to prove himself more before paying him, and/or he might bet on his ability to do so.

Richardson can sign an extension anytime between Thursday and June 30. If he doesn’t, he’ll become a restricted free agent.

One possible advantage to waiting: His cap hold would be just $1,839,228, and because the Heat would have his Bird Rights, they could hold him at that number, conduct all their other business then re-sign him to any amount up to the max. However, they don’t project to have cap room next summer, anyway. So, though the flexibility wouldn’t hurt, unless they plan to clear space, that strategy holds less value.

It’s time for Richardson and the Heat to make hard choices about his worth and the value of security – financial for him, talent-retention for them. They could even take this into the season and assess as they go.

Is Stephen Curry mocking LeBron James as Kyrie Irving laughs along? (video)

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Remember when Draymond Green and LeBron James were going back and forth during the Warriors’ championship parade? Green mocked LeBron’s bald head in this video (merely amplifying LeBron, who posted the video and noted his lack of hair):

Bald head nut!! #IHearEmPrayingOnMyDownfall #CantStopWontStop #striveforgreatness🚀

A post shared by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Flash forward to this weekend. Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving were at Harrison Barnes‘ wedding when the same song LeBron danced along to – Tee Grizzley’s “First Day Out” – came on. Instagram user ryanonlyryan posted (then deleted) this video:

You will never convince anyone Curry wasn’t mimicking LeBron. It’s pretty fitting of the Cavaliers-Warriors rivalry.

And then there’s Irving laughing along. Maybe – maybe – he didn’t realize the context in the moment. But you’ll have a tough time convincing anyone of that, given Irving recently posted a video of himself singing Skylar Grey’s “Coming Home,” the song widely associated with LeBron’s 2014 return to Cleveland:

Irving’s trade request obviously spoke loudest. But it also looks like – emphasis on “looks like” – Irving is stepping out, openly sending hints about his feelings toward LeBron. No matter Irving’s intent, LeBron is left as the perceived butt of the joke.

Is LeBron sure he doesn’t want to fight Irving?

Report: Suns tell Devin Booker they won’t trade him

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The Suns reportedly proposed a trade for Kyrie Irving.

What did Phoenix offer the Cavaliers?

Eric Bledsoe makes sense in a deal as a replacement point guard, but he’s worse and older than Irving, so the Suns would have to add more. They reportedly told Josh Jackson they wouldn’t trade him – and apparently made the same pledge to Devin Booker.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

a source said the Suns told Devin Booker he would not be traded

Booker is one of the NBA’s most overrated players – a young, high-volume scorer with only moderate efficiency and undeveloped periphery skills. He’s also just 20 and on a low-paying rookie-scale contract for two more years. He’s incredibly valuable, and it’s unsurprising Phoenix views him as untradable, as teams typically overvalue their own players.

I wouldn’t refuse to trade him (or Jackson), and the Suns aren’t beholden to anything they told either player. But they probably evaluated which trades they’d be willing to make before assuring Booker and Jackson anything. So, both are probably off the table.

Without Booker or Jackson included, it’s tough to see a workable two-team trade for Irving.

Marquese Chriss and Dragan Bender are intriguing, but far too unpolished to help the Cavs win now. Phoenix also has all its own future first-rounders plus two from the Heat – one top-seven protected in 2018 and unprotected in 2019, the other unprotected in 2021. Those picks present the same problem: They don’t help the Cavaliers now. T.J. Warren and Tyler Ulis are more advanced, but carry too little upside to excite.

Perhaps, those other assets could be swung to a third team on a different timeline from the Cavaliers, but that gets complex.