Kurt Helin

Shabazz Muhammad
Associated Press

Report: Teams inquire about Shabazz Muhammad, Minnesota holds fast

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Shabazz Muhammad showed some real potential last season — he shot 39 percent from three and showed off skills working in the post. It was hoped he would make strides in this, his third season with the Timberwolves, but with Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Martin, Zach LaVine, and Tayshaun Prince ahead of him in the rotation he’s seen his minutes squeezed this season.

Other teams have gone fishing in Minnesota thinking they might get a steal with Muhammad, but so far the Timberwolves are not biting, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That this got leaked suggests someone in the Muhammad camp would love to see him moved to a place he can get more run than 17.6 minutes a game (his average this season). Muhammad has struggled some this year, including shooting just 25.8 percent from three.

There’s no reason for Minnesota to make a move right now. They can field offers, try to play teams off each other, and keep Muhammad around for injury insurance. Then as we get closer to the trade deadline in February, they can move him if there is a deal they like.

Or, they can hold on to him. Muhammad shows promise and teams should be hesitant to give up solid young players that could be part of a future rotation. The Timberwolves have options.

Warriors race out to early lead, coast in to beat Pacers, go 23-0

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Last season’s Golden State Warriors won 67 games and the NBA title.

This season’s Golden State Warriors are better.

If you take one thing away from Tuesday night’s comfortable Golden State win over Indiana — or their 23-0 start to the season — it should be that. After a close first six minutes Tuesday, the Warriors went on a 20-0 run, led by 30 at one point, took their foot off the gas a little too early but still coasted in for a 131-123 win over the Pacers.

Golden State extended their record winning streak to start the season to 23 games. They were led by Klay Thompson with 39 points, but he sprained his ankle late, and while X-rays were negative he could miss a couple of games.

Not that it matters to these Warriors. They are without their coach. They are without Harrison Barnes. None of it matters. The fact that Bankers Life Fieldhouse was going nuts because the Pacers got within seven points with less than a minute to go — a nearly impossible deficit to overcome — tells you how this game went. And how desperately their fans wanted it to be a game.

The Pacers were not bad on this night. Paul George had 33 points (on 27 shots), C.J. Miles added 24, the Pacers had 60 first half points. The Pacers’ defense was not great — they struggled to handle switches or to get around picks between guards/forward — and they let the Warriors get too many three pointers early. Still, it wasn’t as bad as giving up 79 points in the first half would suggest.

It’s just that right now, if the Warriors are focused (and they were for this nationally televised, hyped showdown) there is nobody in their class. It doesn’t matter that Stephen Curry bordered on human, with 29 points but only shot 3-of-11 from beyond the arc. Nor is it relevant Draymond Green had eight points on 13 shots. The Warriors find ways, such as centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli combining for 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting.

Look at it this way, here is the Warriors shot chart for the first half.

Warriors/Pacers shot chart

The game only got interesting because the usually reliable Warriors bench couldn’t hold a 28 point lead entering the fourth quarter. The Warriors’ starters had to come back in and secure the win, but it was never really in doubt.

The Warriors have two games left on this road trip, Boston on Friday night followed by the Bucks on Saturday. They need just five more wins to get to their Christmas Day Finals rematch with the Cavaliers undefeated. And that seems like a reasonable thing.

For the Pacers, they now see where the bar is set. They were not ready to clear it Tuesday night; they are not ready to clear it this season. But this is still an improved team and one of the best stories in the NBA.

But the Warriors remain THE story in the NBA.

Thomas Robinson throws down huge dunk over Clint Capela

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That was just nasty.

Brooklyn Nets sixth man Thomas Robinson took the feed from Shane Larkin and attacked the rim. Credit the Rockets’ Clint Capela for trying to make the play, but this ends poorly for the Houston big man.

Brooklyn was up 57-46 at the half, the game got closer in the third quarter and was up in the air heading into the fourth. This was Robinson’s only bucket in that time, but it was a beauty.

NBA, union hold preliminary collective bargaining meeting

Adam Silver
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NEW YORK (AP) — Representatives of the NBA and NBA Players Association have met to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement, about a year before either side could signal its desire to opt out of it.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, and representatives of their staffs took part in Tuesday’s meeting, according to a joint release. The sides said it was a preliminary meeting that included “constructive dialogue” and they agreed to continue their discussions.

Here is the full released statements by both sides:

“Earlier today the NBA and NBPA met to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”).  Meeting participants included NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and representatives of the NBA Labor Relations Committee and NBPA Executive Committee as well as league and union staff.  It was a preliminary meeting that included constructive dialogue, and we agreed to continue our discussions.”  

The CBA runs through June 30, 2021, but either side could opt out on June 30, 2017. To do so, it would have to notify the other side of its intent by Dec. 15, 2016.

With salaries skyrocketing and loads of money coming into the system next season with the new national TV deals, there has been hope that a work stoppage could be avoided. The current CBA was ratified after a lockout that limited the 2011-12 season to 66 games.

Report: Evan Fournier wanted $10 million a year in extension

Evan Fournier
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If you read that headline and said “no $*#*!@ing way” then two things are clear: You have forgotten how much the salary cap is about to spike, and you haven’t watched Evan Fournier play this season.

The fourth-year Magic shooting guard out of France is averaging 16.3 points per game, shooting 39.1 percent from three, and has pushed Victor Oladipo to the bench in Orlando because Fournier has flat-out been better. When paired with Channing Frye at the four the Magic’s new starters are outscoring opponents by 14.4 points per 100 possessions, he’s a better defender than Oladipo, and Scott Skiles trusts him.

People around the league have noticed Fournier, realize he is a restricted free agent, and the man is about to get PAID. From the brilliant Zach Lowe of ESPN.

Fournier’s agents asked for big money in extension talks — well north of $10 million per season, sources say — but the Magic may end up regretting their decision to let him go into restricted free agency.

 

A solid starter in the new world order of the television money that will flood the NBA market this summer is expected to be closer to $11-$12 million a year. Fournier is a solid starter — and some team with cap space (meaning anyone) may offer to pay him more.

On the latest PBT Podcast Dan Feldman and I had a short discussion of how crazy this summer will be — I think it will be a little crazier than he does. But the kind of guys who are going to benefit from that cash in the system are players such as Fournier.