Dan Feldman

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Report: NBA considering limiting pick swaps

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Former Cavaliers owner Ted Stepien traded away so many future draft picks, the NBA had to award Cleveland compensatory picks just to facilitate a sale of the team in 1983. In order to prevent that crisis from repeating, the league implemented what has been dubbed the Stepien Rule: Teams are prohibited from trades that could leave them without first-round picks in consecutive future drafts.

But teams – most notably the Nets – found a way around that restriction with pick swaps.

Teams must have the guarantee of a first-round pick in at least every other future draft. But the first-rounder needn’t be the team’s own.

So, in trading for Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Brooklyn dealt its 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round picks – clearly allowed by the Stepien Rule. The Nets also granted the Hawks the right to swap picks in 2015 and the Celtics the right to swap picks in 2017, resulting in Brooklyn dropping from No. 15 to No. 29 in 2015 and from No. 1 to No. 27 this year.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The league has since discussed banning pick swaps between drafts in which a team already owes its pick to other teams; the tweak has been on the competition committee agenda, but has not been debated yet at length, sources say.

As long as the NBA deems it appropriate to protect teams from themselves with the Stepien Rule – wise considering revenue sharing – pick swaps should also be restricted. The current setup allows the Stepien Rule to be effectively circumvented.

The Nets are in shambles and probably will be for years to come. That’s a disaster for the league, especially in a large market.

For a while, Brooklyn will serve as a cautionary tale. Teams rarely offer unprotected first-round picks and swaps anymore.

But the Cavs once scared teams off that strategy, and people forgot. It’s only a matter of time until another team gets stuck in the same predicament – unless the NBA preemptively prevents it.

Patrick Beverley: I requested trade from Rockets

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Kyrie Irving requested a trade away from one of the NBA’s best teams and biggest stars (LeBron James).

What type of uncompetitive player does that?

Patrick Beverley – who was traded from the Rockets (who, led by James Harden, won even more games than the Cavaliers last season) to the Clippers – on The Woj Pod:

I asked for it. I asked for a bigger opportunity, a bigger chance to display my skills on a high level. And I was fortunate that the Rockets did really good with me and put me in a situation where I can thrive and be successful. They could have really dumped me anywhere, but they did right, and I respect them a lot for it.

It came a time in James’ career, when he went from sixth man to eventually being MVP,* that he wanted more. I’m not going to compare that to this. But it comes to a point in time, where I don’t want to live and regret saying what I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve done if I had the opportunity to at this age.

Nobody would ever accuse of Beverley being uncompetitive. In fact, he’s known as one of the league’s fiercest competitors.

It’s OK for him – and Irving – to balance that with their personal ambitions.

That can be tricky, as Irving might learn the hard way if Cleveland doesn’t find an acceptable trade offer before the season begins. Beverley was fortunate that Chris Paul wanted to go to Houston, was willing to opt in to facilitate a trade and left a hole at point guard in L.A.

Beverley always played off the ball-dominant Harden in Houston – to great effect. Is Beverley capable of more? It’s a small thing, but him winning the skills challenge in 2015 opened my eyes to the possibility. More power to him for wanting to find out.

*Harden, as Houstonians keep whining about, has never won MVP. He was honored by players as the top player in 2015, for whatever that is worth.

NBA approves Pistons move to downtown Detroit

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The Pistons haven’t played played regularly in Detroit since 1978.

After spending decades in the suburbs – The Palace of Auburn Hills and, before that, the Pontiac Silverdome – they’re moving back downtown.

NBA release:

The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the Pistons’ relocation from The Palace of Auburn Hills to Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit. The team will begin playing this upcoming season at Little Caesars Arena.

Of course, the NBA approved. The league loves local governments funneling millions of dollars in taxpayer money to billionaire team owners.

It probably won’t be so good for Detroit, which should invest more in schools, police and other services that serve more than just basketball fans. But this is the same type of bad deal local governments strike all the time as they eye tax revenue that almost never comes. This has sadly just become par for the course.

But it’ll at least be good for fans who can afford to attend games at the new arena, which was originally being built (again, with large amounts of taxpayer money) for the NHL’s Red Wings. There’s a lot more to do in downtown Detroit than around the arena in Auburn Hills.

DeMarcus Cousins on playing in Sacramento: ‘I just got a lot to get off my chest. I can’t wait’

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I love how DeMarcus Cousins always wears his emotions on his sleeve.

It doesn’t always serve him well. But as an outside observer, it’s fun to watch someone so openly express his feelings.

And Cousins has made no secret of how he feels about the Kings, who traded him after saying they wouldn’t then acted sanctimonious about it.

That’s why he’s looking forward to the Pelicans’ first game in Sacramento.

Cousins, via Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

“I can’t wait. Oh, my God. I can’t wait. I’m praying it’s the first game. I just got a lot to get off my chest. I can’t wait,” Cousins said at the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa camp on Wednesday.

“I miss the community. I miss the people. I miss the fans. That’s it,” Cousins said.

That’s an obvious omission of owner Vivek Ranadive and general manager Vlade Divac.

But I’m sure Cousins misses the people of Sacramento. I know because he was so outwardly emotional about leaving them when traded to New Orleans.

Rumor: Nuggets won’t trade Jamal Murray and Gary Harris for Kyrie Irving

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The Cavaliers and Nuggets seemingly share a mutual belief, accurate or not, that the Pacers backed out of a three-way trade that would have included Paul George and Kevin Love.

Could Cleveland (which is still bitter about the missed opportunity) and Denver (which should be thrilled it signed Paul Millsap outright rather than trading assets for Love) connect on a trade that actually happens?

The Nuggets are a logical destination for Kyrie Irving, who has requested a trade.

Denver’s primary playmaker is a center, Nikola Jokic. Irving, oft-criticized for lacking full point-guard skills, could fit well with him  offensively.

Plus, the Nuggets have plenty of other intriguing assets worthy of Irving. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris stand out. Wilson Chandler and Will Barton could help make salaries match and upgrade the Cavs’ wing depth. Denver also has all its first-round picks.

Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:

I hear Denver will not give up Murray and Harris in a deal.

Are the Nuggets refusing to trade Murray and Harris in a package – or is neither player available, even separately? Again, this is the type of detail that gets clouded as trade negotiations get leaked.

Both Murray and Harris would be a high price to pay for Irving, but Irving is more valuable than each individually. Even though Irving is unwilling to provide assurances beyond his current contract, which he can opt out of in two years, Denver is good enough to capitalize on his talent right now. The Nuggets can assess how much they value the present vs. the future, but with Millsap and Jokic, this is a team ready to make noise.

If Denver isn’t willing to trade Murray and Harris for Irving, OK. But if the Nuggets aren’t willing to trade Murray or Harris – and Jokic looks even more untouchable – for Irving, I don’t see how a deal gets done.