Kurt Helin

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 11:  Jaylen Brown #0 of the California Golden Bears brings the ball up the court against the Utah Utes during a semifinal game of the Pac-12 Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 11, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah won 82-78 in overtime.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Report: Expected Top 10 pick Jaylen Brown not hiring agent, using union to negotiate rookie deal

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When a lottery-level (or any first round pick) player signs with an agent, it needs to be a decision based on comfort level, and potentially ability to help bring in shoe and sponsorship dollars down the line. It’s not about negotiating the first contract, there is a set rookie scale, and while a team can offer (and most do ) up to 120 percent of that scale, the number is the number. It’s not until the second (and sometimes third) contract where a skilled negotiator helps.

Seeing that, Cal’s Jaylen Brown is going without an agent. Except for shoe deals. Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports have the details:

California freshman Jaylen Brown – No. 4 in The Vertical’s 2016 NBA mock draft – will pass on hiring an agent and consult with the National Basketball Players Association on his rookie contract, league sources told The Vertical…

There’s little, if any, room for negotiation in rookie contracts, and Brown wants to take time to learn the industry before eventually committing to an agent, sources said. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement has slotted salaries for first-round draft picks, although many agents don’t take commissions on those first deals for high-level players.

But some agents do, and Brown could save between $300,000 as the No. 3 overall pick to $150,000 at No. 8 on commission fees over the four years of the contract.

Brown is an athletic but raw 6’7″ wing player — he has all the tools to be a quality rotation player on an NBA team, but it’s going to take time to get there. Right now he relies on that athleticism and strong build to get to the rim, but he’s going to need to develop more skill to thrive at the NBA level. He can get there, but it will not be immediate.

Brown also is an outside-the-box thinker (clearly), and if he’s comfortable with this it seems a wise move. That should attract teams, not make them shy away, but in a risk-averse NBA, who knows.

Karl-Anthony Towns, Kristaps Porzingis lead NBA All-Rookie Team

Minnesota Timberwolvesï' Karl-Anthony Towns, left, looks to make his way around New York Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis, of Latvia, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Often when picking the NBA Rookie teams (we at PBT showed what our ballots would look like), you’re scrambling to find guys who fill out the second team and weren’t terrible. The picking can be slim, the dregs if you will.

Not this year — it ended up being a deep rookie class. Obviously, stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis were in, but this year the second team could turn out to have some future  All-Stars.

Here are the teams (with their vote totals in parenthesis, 260 is the max), as voted on by 130 selected media members:

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota (260)
Kristaps Porzingis, New York (260)
Devin Booker, Phoenix (231)
Nikola Jokic, Denver (186)
Jahlil Okafor, Philadelphia (186)

Justise Winslow, Miami (151)
D’Angelo Russell, L.A. Lakers (142)
Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver (140)
Myles Turner, Indiana (139)
Willie Cauley-Stein, Sacramento (50)

Other players receiving votes:
Frank Kaminsky, Charlotte, 47; Josh Richardson, Miami, 47; Stanley Johnson, Detroit, 42; Trey Lyles, Utah, 26; Bobby Portis, Chicago, 13; T.J. McConnell, Philadelphia 7; Mario Hezonja, Orlando, 4; Larry Nance Jr., Los Angeles Lakers, 3; Norman Powell, Toronto, 3; Justin Anderson, Dallas, 2; Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Brooklyn, 2; Boban Marjanovic, San Antonio, 2; Jonathon Simmons, San Antonio, 2; Jerian Grant, New York, 1; Marcelo Huertas, Los Angeles Lakers, 1; Raul Neto, Utah, 1; Cameron Payne, Oklahoma City, 1; Joe Young, Indiana, 1.

Yes, Marcelo Huertas got a vote as a 32-year-old rookie (from Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report).

Report: Phil Jackson wants to hire Hornacek because he likes the way he thinks the game

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek calls a play for his team as they played the Indiana Pacers during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Associated Press

A month ago, Phil Jackson was set on hiring someone from his coaching tree and someone who would use the triangle offense.

Now, Jackson is negotiating with former Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek to take over the coaching duties. Hornacek and Jackson have no in-depth previous relationship, and Hornacek is not going to run the triangle.

Trying to read Jackson’s mind or guess his motivations can be a fool’s errand — he prides himself on his unpredictability. But Howard Beck of Bleacher Report has an interesting explanation in a brilliant piece on the likely hire.

What Jackson values most—in both players and coaches—is an intellectual heft, an ability to think the game, and in Hornacek he saw an analytical mind whose basketball values are in line with his.

“Intellectual capacity matters,” said one person with insight into Jackson’s decision—and now, more than ever, in an NBA shaped by advanced statistics, player tracking technology and sports science….

(Jackson) wants all five players involved—not one star isolating on the wing, and four standing idly by. He considers the pick-and-roll a healthy option, not the basis for an entire offense. He favors a system that provides structure, but allows freedom of expression within that structure—rather than relying on a coach dictating every set.

The triangle does all that, but so do other systems, most obviously the up-tempo motion offense the Warriors use (as the Spurs did when they won a title a few years back). If Jackson gives Hornacek the freedom to work his offense as he wants, this partnership can work.

Of course, it all comes back to talent. The Knicks need a lot of it — starting at the point guard spot in the offense that will run through that spot much more. The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis at the top of the food chain, and some solid role players like Robin Lopez under contract. But the Knicks need a lot more talent — young, athletic talent. Gathering it falls to Jackson.

Dwight Howard on his “disinterest” this season in Houston: “I felt like my role was being reduced”

HOUSTON, TX - MAY 17:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets celebrates with General Manager Daryl Morey after they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 113 to 100 during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, 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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Dwight Howard wants to be liked. We all want to be liked, but for professional athletes (and others in the spotlight) there needs to be a confidence in what you are doing/want to do and a lack of concern for the people who tell you how bad you are at it.

Dwight Howard also still wants to be a key focal point of an NBA offense, although his play and numbers post back surgery suggest he’s not that guy anymore.

All of that seemed to come together in a rough season for Howard in Houston, where he averaged 13.7 points a game (but got just 8.5 shot attempts per game, the fewest since his rookie season) and added 11.8 rebounds a night. He played stretches of good defense, but this was James Hardens’ team and Howard felt like a high-quality role player. Like the second or third best player on a good team, not the Alpha. That led to nights where he clearly was disinterested.

He opened up to Jackie MacMullan in a Q&A on ESPN about why he was so disinterested — and talks about going to GM Daryl Morey about his concerns.

“I felt like my role was being reduced. I went to [Rockets general manager] Daryl [Morey] and said, ‘I want to be more involved.’ Daryl said, ‘No, we don’t want you to be.’ My response was, ‘Why not? Why am I here?’ It was shocking to me that it came from him instead of our coach. So I said to him, ‘No disrespect to what you do, but you’ve never played the game. I’ve been in this game a long time. I know what it takes to be effective….’

“My friends kept telling me, ‘Even if you aren’t getting shots, there are so many other things you can control while you are on the floor.’ And they were right. I allowed not getting the ball to affect me. That’s on me. As a big, someone who has been the focal point of the team, who is still young, who still has some great years in front of me, you run the floor, you sprint as hard as you can, you duck in, and still, you don’t get the ball. It brings you down. It sucks the energy out of you. I had long conversations with people close to me who said, ‘Dwight, this is going to make you look bad. Don’t keep doing this.’ So I listened to them.”

Howard’s role was being reduced. He may not like it, but a lot of teams see him more in that role now. For the record, Morey did not comment on this story when contacted by MacMullan.

Howard opens up in this brilliant Q&A about his time with the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, as well his exit from Orlando and his relationship with Stan Van Gundy (which is still strong, actually).

Howard refused to confirm whether or not he would opt out of the final year of his contract with the Rockets, although it would be a shock to most around the league if he didn’t choose to become a free agent. Then it will be interesting to see what the market will offer Howard, a guy who still has value on the court but not as much as he envisions. He reportedly will seek a max contract at around $30 million a season, although what concerns more some teams more than the money is the years — he has a history of back and other ailments, and is now on the wrong side of 30. Is any GM going to lock him in for four years? Can he get three with a team option? I imagine a lot of first offers to him will have just two guaranteed seasons. Dallas is known to be interested in Howard’s services, but there will be others.

Whatever new team he lands on, is Howard willing to work within the offensive system, or is he going to be disinterested if more of the offense doesn’t run through him? There are a lot of questions still to answer for Howard.


Toronto vs. Cleveland Game 2 preview: Is there any hope for Raptors?

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 17: Kyrie Irving #2 and LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrate after a play in the third quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 17, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals lacked any drama, unless you think Sonny Corleone’s “talk” with his brother-in-law Carlo in “The Godfather” was a fair and exciting fight. Will Game 2 be any different? Here are three things to watch.

1) How can Toronto defend the Cavaliers better? The problem for Dwane Casey and the Raptors coaching staff is they can make changes around the margins, but there are no good answers with their personnel on how to defend these Cavaliers. After watching Cleveland shoot 42 percent from three through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Raptors extended their defense to take that away — the result was a lay-up line at the rim for Cleveland. The Cavaliers had 56 points in the paint, all but one of LeBron James‘ shots came in the restricted area. Cleveland shot just 7-of-20 from three though, so the defense did work on one level. I guess.

What can Toronto do? Well, Bismack Biyombo must play a whole lot better, and the Raptors need to find a way to keep him closer to the rim. DeMarre Carroll must play a lot better, too. However, that’s not going to be enough. The Raptors can start switching, but that’s going to lead to open three point shooters (and the Cavs are hitting those). Or they could start to trap/double key ball handlers, but again the Cavaliers are moving the ball so well it will end with a Tristan Thompson alley-oop dunk or a J.R. Smith corner three. Toronto doesn’t have any good options, but they certainly can play the options they have with better energy and execution.

2) Will All-Star Kyle Lowry show up for Game 2? In Game 1 Lowry didn’t get one shot in the restricted area, and outside the paint he shot 1-of-10 total. That’s not good enough. After a rough start to the playoffs the All-Star level Lowry showed up in the Miami series (although Hassan Whiteside being out injured likely had a lot to do with that). That Lowry was nowhere to be found in Game 1 — he had Kevin Love switched on to him a few times and couldn’t convert. Lowry needs to attack, go right at the Cavaliers length and shot blocking, he needs to be a force and create shots. He can’t settle — and if he’s shooting threes he has to hit them.

3) Will Cleveland get complacent? We’re reaching here. While it’s possible after nine straight wins in the playoffs the Cavaliers will take their foot off the gas thinking “we got this” and let Toronto back in the series, I don’t think LeBron lets that happen. He’s on a mission. ESPN Zach Lowe summed this series up best on Twitter: