Kurt Helin

Report: New CBA will have shorter preseason, new domestic violence policy

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Another day, another report that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the players’ union and the owners is nearly complete. This time it comes from Kevin O’Connor at The Ringer, which confirms what everyone around the NBA is hearing — the two sides are treating each other with respect (a vast change from the David Stern/Billy Hunter era), and since they figured out the money quickly it’s been smooth sailing.

This new report adds a couple of new details to what we know — or really, think we know, everything is subject to change — about what is coming in the new CBA. First, there will be a shorter preseason, something coaches and players have wanted.

The sources indicated that the NBA preseason schedule will be shortened under the new CBA. Stretches of four games in five nights and back-to-backs were reduced to all-time lows in recent seasons, but steps are being taken to further decrease those instances.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has talked about this before. The idea is to shorten the preseason by a week with fewer games, start the NBA season a week earlier, and that allows more space in the schedule to reduce back-to-backs. It makes sense. If you’re about to say “why don’t they just shorten the too-long schedule by 15 games?” you clearly forgot we live in a capitalistic society where making money is worshiped like a god.

Also, look for changes to the NBA’s domestic violence policy.

The new CBA will likely clarify the disciplinary procedures in dealing with domestic-violence policy violations, according to a source. The terms haven’t been finalized, but the measures will go well beyond a fine and a suspension. “I think as we’ve all seen in those situations that it needs to be more than discipline,” a source told The Ringer. “It needs to be about counseling, support services, intervention, outreach, and providing resources behind the scenes to help.”

Consistency of discipline has never been an NBA strong suit, so this would be welcome. The NBA needs to get out in front of this issue and be a leader in a society where domestic violence is far too prevalent and easily swept under the rug.

Here are some other things we believe to be coming in the new CBA

• The roughly 50/50 split of revenue will remain (it ranges between 49-51 percent depending on if the league meets revenue goals). This is always the real issue in negotiations, and everything else is secondary. The fact the two sides agreed on this split quickly — in part because the rising tide of the new national television contract has floated all boats — made the rest of this relatively straightforward.

• The college one-and-done rule will remain. Nobody likes it much but the players want the age limit gone, the owners want it bumped up to 20, and neither side apparently was willing to give up enough on other issues to move the needle.

• The NBA will create a fund to help with medical expenses and more for retired players who need it, particularly older ones that have been out of the league for some time.

• The scaled salaries for rookies will increase.

• There will be some changes to cap holds that will make it harder to do what Kawhi Leonard and Andre Drummond did with their rookie deals, delaying signing an obvious max extension to allow the team to use that cap space to put a better team around them. The cap hold increases also could make it difficult for the Warriors to keep Andre Iguodala and other role players around Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant.

• The salaries for D-League players — which currently have a max of $26,000 — will jump to $50,000 to $75,000. This brings the D-League in the ballpark of what undrafted players would make in their first season in Europe, making it more likely some of them stay here and chase their NBA dream and grow their game rather than get a paycheck. Eventually, some (many?) of those players will head overseas, but they will stay here longer and that’s good for the D-League.

Report: Michael Jordan, NBA shopping 10-hour Jordan documentary

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Would you watch a 10-hour, authorized, full-access Michael Jordan documentary? Stupid question, of course you would. We all would.

Which leads to the next question: How much would a network — ESPN, HBO, Fox, etc. — be willing to pay for such a documentary? Does $20 million sound about right?

The idea is well beyond the formative stages and is being shopped around, reports Richard Johnson at the New York Post (hat tip Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don’t Lie).

The NBA and CAA (Creative Artists Agency) are shopping a 10-hour authorized documentary about Jordan. Production has not yet started, but the film will mostly be about His Airness’ comeback in the late ’90s (after his stint playing baseball), when he won three of his six championship rings.

The producing team is led by Mike Tollin, who spearheaded ESPN’s acclaimed “30 for 30” series and is partners with Peter Guber in Mandalay Sports Media. The project has been pitched to ESPN, Showtime, HBO and Fox Sports, and Jordan’s reps are looking for a deal somewhere north of $20 million.

Michael Jordan remains a captivating story and draw — his name still sells shoes, books, underwear, pretty much anything it’s attached to. He is now the primary owner of the Charlotte Hornets, but his business interests run far and wide.

And as we can tell you from the buzz around his 50th birthday recently, there is still plenty of people who want to read, watch, and know all things Jordan. The team putting this together is a good one, the kind of team that is not going to let this become a PR puff piece — there are difficult questions around Jordan that need to be part of a documentary, that need to be addressed. They can’t gloss over the gambling allegations, the punching of teammates and more.

As a side note, if you want to know Michael Jordan’s story well, read Roland Lazenby’s fantastic biography “Michael Jordan: The Life.”

Jrue Holiday set to return to court for Pelicans Friday

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After a rough 0-8 start to the season, the New Orleans Pelicans have won two of their last three and are starting to get on the track. Whether they can get back on the track they wanted — a playoff track — is another question.

This news will help: Jrue Holiday should be back on Friday.

We knew this was coming, and New Orleans GM Dell Demps confirmed it to John Reid of the Times-Picayune on Tuesday.

New Orleans Pelicans general manager Dell Demps announced on Tuesday that point guard Jrue Holiday will return to the team on Thursday and is expected to play Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Holiday has missed the entire season to be with his wife, Lauren, who underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor last month. In September, Lauren gave birth to a healthy six-pound, 4-ounce baby girl.

The good news that Holiday is returning is most importantly good news for his family — they are in a good enough position he can return to the time-consuming grind of his job.

Holiday will be on a minutes limit to start as he plays himself back into game shape. He reportedly has been working out through his time away, but nothing can prepare you for what it takes to play in a game.

Holiday brings the Pelicans a much-needed second shot creator and scoring option besides Anthony Davis. While Davis is averaging 30.7 points and 11.1 rebounds a game, one man can only do so much and he has had less help than other stars like Russell Westbrook or James Harden. Holiday brings assistance, and he allows Tim Frazier — who has started to come into his own as a point guard — to the bench to add depth.

The Pelicans also have Tyreke Evans, who is getting closer to returning.

Swingman Tyreke Evans could be returning to action soon after missing the first 11 games to recover from undergoing three surgeries on his right knee since last May. The Pelicans announced that Evans started on-court work on Tuesday, but there remains no set timetable when he may return.

Russell Westbrook got a technical for kicking Caldwell-Pope in family jewels

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This wasn’t a Draymond-Green style flail. It doesn’t look intentional.

But on the elbow jumper you can see above, Russell Westbrook kicked Kentavious Caldwell-Pope right in the… family jewels. Westbrook got a technical for that. And he didn’t like it.

Westbrook pulled his leg up behind him for balance on the leaner, but that leg caught Caldwell-Pope just right. And if the NBA is going to crack down on body control plays by the shooter — as they should — then this needed to be called and Westbrook given a technical. Nothing more, this isn’t a finable offense, but the call is legit.

Westbrook put up a line of 33/15/8, but his heroics were not enough to save the Thunder from a fourth straight loss.

Three things we learned Monday: Knicks look much better with Porzingis at center

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Associated Press
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Honestly, Monday night was not a thrilling, well-executed, “this is how the game should be played” night of basketball. It was more of a “this is why there should only be 60 games in a season” night of basketball. Still, there are things we learned.

1) Knicks look much better when they move Kristaps Porzingis to center, Carmelo Anthony to four. Last summer, Joakim Noah was one of Phil Jackson’s big off-season moves, signing the former Defensive Player of the Year to a four-year, $72 million deal. Noah’s passing and high IQ seemed like a great fit for the triangle offense Jackson insists New York run.

In the second half coach Jeff Hornacek benched Noah — and the Knicks looked dramatically improved.

The Knicks slid Kristaps Porzingis over to center, pushed Carmelo Anthony to the power forward slot (where he played better last season), and added Justin Holiday to the starting lineup. The results were almost instantaneous: Andrew Bogut had to chase Porzingis out to the perimeter, which he doesn’t do well, and it opened up driving lanes for Derrick Rose and allowed Carmelo Anthony to post up smaller players without Bogut stopping him. In the second half Knicks offense improved (they scored at a 90.7 points per 100 possessions pace in the first half, 115.9 in the second), their defense improved (they held Dallas to 35 percent shooting including 4-of-18 from three in the second half), they played much faster (an 81 possession for the game pace in the first half, 97 in the second), Anthony looked comfortable and had 17 points in the third quarter (he shot 1-of-6 in the first half), Holiday had 12 points in the second half, and the Knicks went on a 19-2 third-quarter run that blew the game open and led them to an easy 93-77 win.

The Knicks did most of their second-half damage from the midrange and going 5-of-9 on corner threes in the second half — it wasn’t perfect, but it certainly was better. Also, the Knicks did this against a struggling Dallas team without Dirk Nowitzki or Deron Williams. So we should be careful making big leaps after one half of good play.

Still, this is the lineup most people without the initials PJ wanted to see and it thrived, which begs the questions: Can Hornacek bench the guy Jackson just spent so much money on? Was the Noah signing for four years a mistake?

New York’s next game is Wednesday hosting Andre Drummond and the Pistons — no, Hornacek will not start “small” (Porzingis is 7’3”, he’s not small, it’s more a style thing) against a traditional, dominant center. Hornacek said the starting lineup likely would not change, that the lineup that worked so well will be used more situationally. Okay. But there are a lot of situations where that would be the better lineup. A lot. And the Knicks need to use it.

2) Russell Westbrook may not be able to save Thunder. Once again on Monday, Russell Willson was a force of nature — 33 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. That included a vicious dunk.

But the rest of the Thunder were bad. Oklahoma City players not named Westbrook shot 32.8 percent, the team’s defense has been atrocious the past 10 days, and there are serious depth issues. The result on Monday was the Thunder’s fourth straight loss (dropping them to 6-5 on the season).

This team has issues. Steven Adams is not yet a guy who can live up to a $100 million contract (he can grow into it) and they don’t have a floor spacing big who can defend well enough to deserve to start next to him. There are spacing issues and fit questions all over this roster. Which most nights is leaving Russell Westbrook against the world, and that’s a recipe for a .500 team. An entertaining one, but not a real threat. Westbrook signed on for more of this, he’s in, but Sam Presti has some work to do to get a better fitting roster around him.

3) Boston’s defense, late-game execution cost them again, this time in loss to Pelicans. We’ve gone over this before in three things, so we’re not going to beat the dead horse tonight, but Boston went up against one of the worst offenses in the NBA Monday night and allowed 102 points per 100 possessions, and that again cost them the win.

Well, that and some ugly late-game execution. Down one with :24 seconds left the Celtics out of time out play was Avery Bradley pounding the ball for five seconds then trying to hit a 27-footer over Anthony Davis (which he tipped). Fortunately for Boston, the ball went out off the Pelicans so the Celtics called another timeout with :14 seconds left to set up another inbounds play under the basket. The result: A Tim Frazier jumping in front of a Marcus Smart pass for an easy steal. And yet, thanks to a missed free throw, it was a two-point game that Isaiah Thomas layup tied it at 105-105. Just :07 left, no Pelicans’ timeouts, so Frazier pushes the ball up court, stops at the arc, pump-fakes — and Kelly Olynyk leaps into him for the obvious foul. Free throws and ball game Pelicans.

That’s a tough loss for Boston, which needs to get Al Horford and Jae Crowder back because these are the kinds of bad losses that sting.