Author: Dan Feldman

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18:  U.S. President Barack Obama waves after his year end press conference in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House December 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Later today President Obama will travel to San Bernardino, California, to meet with families of the 14 victims of the recent mass shooting, before heading to Hawaii for Christmas vacation and return on January 3, 2016.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
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Barack Obama says he’s ‘proud’ of NBA’s stance against gun violence

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The NBA wanted to spread its influence by having players – Stephen Curry, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Joakim Noahappear in a PSA about ending gun violence.

It reached the highest office in the land.

President Barack Obama:

Speaking up is a good first step, and kudos to the NBA and those players for getting involved.

Now, it’s on politicians like Obama to actually do something.

Carmelo Anthony out for Knicks-Cavaliers

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 13:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks tries to get around LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden on November 13, 2015 in New York City.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 Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the New York Knicks 90-84.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James have been linked their entire NBA careers – as top picks in the 2003 NBA draft, star small forwards and friends.

But they’re splitting paths for tonight’s Knicks-Cavaliers game.

Melo is obviously the big loss, but New York will also miss Kyle O'Quinn, a solid backup.

The Knicks (14-15) are probably overmatched against the Cavaliers (18-7) either way. But with a high effort level, New York at least has a chance, even without its star.

Rick Carlisle calls Mavericks’ play ’embarrassing,’ threatens roster shakeup

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 12:  Head coach Rick Carlisle of the Dallas Mavericks reacts to a call as the Mavericks take on the Washington Wizards in the first half at American Airlines Center on December 12, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. 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 Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Mavericks president Donnie Nelson said Rick Carlisle could coach the team as long as Carlisle wanted, and Dallas backed that up with a five-year, $35 million contract extension.

Now – after the Maverick fell behind the Raptors by 18 in the first quarter en route to a 103-99 loss yesterday – Carlisle is wielding that power.

Carlisle, via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

“We got our ass kicked at the beginning of the game,” Carlisle said. “We knew they were going to come out hard. They’re very aggressive by nature. We talked a lot about it. And frankly, it was embarrassing.

“Look, it was a 24-minute take-you-to-the-beach, kick-your-butt, kick-sand-in-your-face type deal. And we come in at halftime and we’re finally pissed. I get on their case and we decide to bust our ass in the third quarter. If it’s going to be like that, these guys aren’t going to be Mavericks very long. I can promise you that.”

The Mavericks are a surprising 15-13 and fifth in the Western Conference, but they’re 6-9 in the last month. There’s clearly urgency to accomplish something in Dirk Nowitzki‘s final season. Hence, Carlisle’s loud – and public – message.

I’m sure this isn’t the first time this season Carlisle has sharply criticized his team’s effort. But that he’s now doing it publicly shows just how frustrated he has become.

The Mavericks better listen if they want to stay in Dallas, because unlike most coach-player disputes, Carlisle might actually have the authority to break up the roster.

Kevin Durant’s message to hacked players: ‘Work on your f—ing free throws’

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 07:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot against DeAndre Jordan #6 of the Los Angeles Clippers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 7, 2014 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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After much discussion, the NBA didn’t change its Hack-a-Shaq rules last offseason.

Kevin Durant doesn’t seem to mind.

Royce Young of ESPN:

I don’t think anyone wants to change the Hack-a-Shaq rules because they’re sympathetic toward the free-throw shooters.

It’s just boring basketball.

I was once intrigued by the strategy, when and how teams used it – and how the hacked team countered. To some degree, I still am.

But the amount of times teams hack away from the ball has jumped the shark. As ESPN’s Kevin Pelton counted, hacks are way up this season, both by number of players hacked and how often they’re hacked.

The strategy is no longer a novelty. It just means a lot of time watching players shoot free throws. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said viewers kept watching during Hack-a-Shaq last season. I’m curious whether that’s still the case this season as the tactic has become so prevalent.

Like Durant, I’m not concerned with DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond being put into uncomfortable positions. I just don’t want to watch games become stagnated and lengthened by a seemingly never-ending march to the free-throw line.

To paraphrase the Thunder star, a message to the NBA: If you don’t want to viewership to dip, then work on your f—ing free-throw rules.

Bulls’ plan for three-day break: Practice, practice, practice

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 16: Head coach Fred Hoiberg of the Chicago Bulls watches as his team takes on the Memphis Grizzlies at the United Center on December 16, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Grizzlies 98-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Jimmy Butler wanted Fred Hoiberg to be harder on the Bulls.

The Chicago coach is appeasing his star player.

Hoiberg has sent a tough message to the Bulls through words and now action.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

https://twitter.com/KCJHoop/status/679388843368448000

After losing to the Nets yesterday, Chicago doesn’t play until visiting the Thunder on Christmas (Friday). This is the Bulls’ first three-day break in nearly a month and their last three-day break of the season aside from the All-Star break. Banged up already, it seems they could use rest.

Instead, Hoiberg is enacting a plan reminiscent to Tom Thibodeau, who’d get absolutely killed for this.

How did Hoiberg, who emphasized the importance of rest when hired, reach this point? This feels like a college coach trying to seize control rather than a seasoned pro coach recognizing how exhausting a long NBA season is.

To be fair, not all practices are created equal. Hoiberg could work the players less than Thibodeau did in his practices. But to have everyone come in three days is still taxing. Of course, Hoiberg hasn’t held the practices yet. He could always cancel one or two. This could be his way of setting harsh expectations only to pleasantly surprise his team.

In the meantime, it sure looks like Butler deserves some credit/blame for having these practices called. I wonder how his teammates, some of whom reportedly already have issues with him, feel about his contributions to this week’s schedule.