Dan Feldman

Toronto Raptors' president and general manager Masai Ujiri speaks at a season-ending news conference in Toronto on Tuesday, April 28, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

Rumor: Masai Ujiri could succeed Phil Jackson in running Knicks


How much longer will Phil Jackson remain the Knicks’ president?

He could bolt for the Lakers. A silly idea like hiring Kurt Rambis as permanent coach could cause a chasm between Jackson and owner James Dolan, who holds the power in the relationship. At minimum, it seems Jackson would prefer not to stay beyond his current cotnract.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

To Dolan’s credit, he is giving himself a safety net for when Jackson’s contract expires in two seasons or if Jackson decides to step away or is fired before his deal runs out.

Among the list of potential successors is believed to be Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, the highly regarded Africa-born executive who has an interesting history with Dolan.

It’s also worth noting that Ujiri was originally brought to Toronto by Tim Leiweke, former CEO of Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE). Leiweke has since left Toronto and has started a business with Azoff. There’s that man again.

Ujiri is under contract for two more years so even if he wanted to leave Toronto there is no guarantee the Raptors would let him out of his deal.

Azoff, manager of the Eagles and friend to the music-loving Dolan, helped connect Dolan and Jackson. Could Azoff do the same with Ujiri?

Ujiri left the Nuggets for a raise with the Raptors, and the Knicks could offer an even higher salary. If Dolan wants to spend big on a general manager, a proven success like Ujiri makes more sense than Jackson, who had no front-office experience.

Dolan knows Ujiri’s résumé well. Ujiri got such great return trading Carmelo Anthony on an expiring contract (from Denver) and Andrea Bargnani on a massive contract (from Toronto) to New York, Dolan reportedly blocked a trade for Kyle Lowry fearing Ujiri would fleece him again. Of course, the Lowry trade would’ve worked in the Knicks’ favor.

Dolan’s big spending should give New York a significant advantage – the ability to attract the best people. Lately, that has meant Jackson and Derek Fisher, who also had no experience in his job. It’d make a lot more sense if it meant the impressive Ujiri.

But logical and the Knicks don’t often cross paths.

Ujiri might not want to leave Toronto. The Raptors might not let him, depending on the timing. Dolan might change course.

This is a nice idea for Knicks fans to enjoy for a moment, but there are so many roadblocks to it actually happening.

Report: Clippers’ Branden Dawson won’t be prosecuted for domestic violence

FILE - In this July 7, 2015 file photo, Los Angeles Clippers' Branden Dawson goes in for an uncontested dunk against the Oklahoma City Thunder during an NBA summer league basketball game in Orlando, Fla. The Los Angeles Police Department reported that Dawson has been arrested on suspicion of spousal abuse and taken into custody at his home in the Playa Vista area of Los Angeles around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016. He was released on $50,000 bail about six hours later. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
AP Photo/John Raoux
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Clippers forward Branden Dawson was arrested last month for felony domestic violence.


L.A. Clippers player Branden Dawson will NOT be prosecuted for domestic violence … with the city attorney’s office citing insufficient evidence.

This does not mean Dawson was cleared. Our judicial system – wisely – requires a high standard of proof to convict someone of a crime. As Blackstone’s formulation states, “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

I don’t know whether Dawson broke any laws that night. If he didn’t, his reputation has been unfairly tarnished. If he did, he’s lucky there wasn’t enough evidence.

Without criminal charges, Dawson likely won’t face NBA punishment, either.

Potential first-round pick Grayson Allen to stay at Duke another season

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) reacts following a basket against North Carolina State during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016. Duke won 88-78. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome

We’ve seen plenty of potential first-round picks declare for the NBA draft this year. Thanks to a new rule, declaring no longer ends a player’s collegiate eligibility. There’s practically no downside to entering the draft, participating in the combine and then evaluating options.

So, Grayson Allen is bucking a pretty strong trend.

Duke release:

Sophomore All-American Grayson Allen will return to Duke University for his junior season in 2016-17, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski announced Wednesday.

This will receive an inordinate amount of praise from fans who value keeping kids broke, who find virtue in Mike Krzyzewski chastising an opponent for celebrating a made shot late in a win (and lying about doing so), who see Allen’s cheap trips as a sign of his toughness. Miss me with all that. If Allen is happy at Duke and wants to spend another year at Duke, good for him. I hope he made the best decision for him. That doesn’t mean there’s something noble about it – or, by extension, dishonorable about other players declaring early.

Allen projected as a late first-round pick, though he wasn’t a lock to go in the top round. He’s an impressive shooter with deep range.

But his problem is that he’s a 6-foot-4 shooting guard. While that’s not too small, he’s shorter than ideal. Another year at Duke won’t make him any taller. Maybe he can develop the passing and ball-handling skills to become a point guard, where his size would be an asset, but that seems like a longshot.

More likely, Duke’s point guards play better (both through development and recruiting) and ease the burden on Allen. That could allow him space to score even better. More time in college also allows Allen a chance to develop his other skills.

Report: Domantas Sabonis declaring for NBA draft, likely hiring agent

Gonzaga forward Domantas Sabonis (11) celebrates as his team leads Gonzaga in the final seconds of a West Coast Conference tournament NCAA college basketball game Monday, March 7, 2016, in Las Vegas. Gonzaga won 88-84. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher
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Arvydas Sabonis spent his best seasons playing overseas, not joining the Trail Blazers until he turned 30. What Sabonis could have done in the NBA in his prime is a huge “what if?” that we’ll never know.

But the NBA is getting a Sabonis bonus.

Arvydas’ son, Domantas Sabonis, is declaring for the draft.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

The younger Sabonis projects as a mid-first-round pick.

The 6-foot-10 big man uses his strength and skill well in the post, for both scoring and passing. His strength and effort also show in his elite rebounding. Add mobility that helps him finish on pick-and-rolls and defend the perimeter, and there’s plenty to like.

But there are major questions about Sabonis’ ability to protect the rim. He’s an unspectacular leaper. That’s a major drawback for a player of Sabonis’ size, especially if he can’t space the floor on the other end. Sabonis has an emerging mid-range game, though his jumper is far from reliable.

His style – not ability – reminds me of Marc Gasol. Sabonis’ athletic limits mean he’ll have to play smartly to thrive at the next level, but there are signs he can do that.

Draymond Green: ‘Bored’ Warriors ready for regular season to end

Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green celebrates after scoring against the Minnesota Timberwolves during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Just a couple weeks ago, Draymond Green was talking up how much he embraced the pressure of chasing 73 wins.

Now – after the Timberwolves dropped the Warriors to 69-9, forcing Golden State to win out to top the 72-10 Bulls – Green is singing a different tune.

Green, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

“Right now, we’re just at a point where, it’s human nature, where it’s like, we’re kind of ready for the regular season to end,” Draymond Green summarized. “You’re talking 82 games. You get bored with that after a while. That’s no excuse. I’m going to always give it to y’all real, and that’s about as real as I can be. It’s at a point now where we’re ready for the regular season to be over.

This is what makes Chicago’s record so incredible. It’s mentally exhausting to compete every game over an 82-game season.

Teams often give less than full effort – on the back end of a road trip, after a long night out, when they fall behind early. At this point in the season, several teams are sitting their top players, either to tank or rest in advance of the playoffs.

Golden State can’t afford to do that and win 73.

The Warriors didn’t look bored to me during their loss to Minnesota. They look taxed by a long season of meaningful games.

Players spoke openly about their desire to win 73, and that means taking every game seriously. Though the late regular season can often bore dominant teams, there’s nothing boring about games highly important to achieving the stated goal. The Warriors, at their own discretion, created a circumstance where an April game against the lowly Timberwolves was a big deal. Then, they blew it.

So, I don’t buy that they were bored. To me, this just sounds like Green coping with the fact that Golden State is now unlikely to win 73 games.

The Warriors could still get there by winning out, and I wouldn’t rule it out. This team is talented enough to win four straight while coasting. They could even buckle down.

But it doesn’t sound like Golden State has the mental commitment to see this out.