Kurt Helin

Damian Lillard rejects Kyle Lowry on the drive (VIDEO)

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See, Damian Lillard does play defense sometimes.

Most of the night Kyle Lowry got what he wanted, finishing with 30 points on 19 shots, leading Toronto to a win on the road in Portland. But on this one drive, Lillard tracked him down and sent Lowry’s shot flying.

DeMar DeRozan had 29 in the Raptors win.

Adam Silver on hack-a-player: “That’s something… we need to address quickly”

Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan shoots a free throw after being fouled intentionally against the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015, in Los Angeles. The Clippers won 102-87. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
Associated Press

Last season, there were 164 hack-a-player free throws taken in the NBA season. While the strategy drew attention in the playoffs when the Clippers and Rockets took turns hacking DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver blew off the idea of rule changes because only a couple of players were involved in nearly every case.

This season the league is nearing 300 hack-a-player free throws and likely passes that number before the All-Star Game. It’s not just a couple of players or a couple of games involved anymore.

That seems to be sparking some league action. Slowly. Eventually. Silver talked about the change in his mind on the A to Z Podcast from Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgett of the USA Today, and they wrote about the highlights.

“I’m increasingly of the view that we will be looking to make some sort of change in that rule this summer….

“Even for those who had not wanted to make the change, we’re being forced to that position just based on these sophisticated coaches understandably using every tactic available to them,” Silver said. “It’s just not the way we want to see the game played….

“Clearly that’s not a natural basketball move,” he said. “That’s something that, in my view, we need to address quickly because ultimately there’s nothing more important than the health and safety of our players. Again, I think that’s an accident waiting to happen with guys jumping on each other’s shoulders just trying to attract officials’ attention to call a foul.”

That gets to the heart of it for me. You can say “just make your free throws” but I would counter “just play basketball” — and intentionally fouling a guy 50 feet from the play is not basketball. Free throws exist as a chance for a player fouled trying to score to get his points, or as a punishment for teams that foul too much, it is not a basketball litmus test.

Still, don’t expect an outright ban.

Another person familiar with the process said he doesn’t think there is enough support to ban Hack-A-Player outright. He said initial change will be incremental, eliminating loopholes to the rule such as one player jumping on a player’s back during a free throw attempt.

There are easy fixes here, at least in my mind. I would say the fouled team should have the choice of free throws or the ball out-of-bounds — if you foul J.J. Redick off the ball the Clippers should be able to punish the other team with points, but if they foul DeAndre Jordan they just inbound the ball and the game goes on — like a real basketball game.

Other options suggested were to allow teams a limited number of off-the-ball fouls (which is a logical inconsistency to me, how is it allowed then not allowed?) or, after a certain number of intentional fouls, the aggrieved player gets one more free throw (so, slow the game down even more).

One way or another, it sounds like a rule change is finally coming. However incrementally.

PBT Podcast: Raptors talk, should they make a bold trade, with Ryan Wolstat of Toronto Sun

Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan (10) and Kyle Lowry celebrate during the second half NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets in Toronto, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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The Toronto Raptors are clear and away second best team in the East, a roster with one of the NBA’s best backcourts featuring All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.

But if they are on the doorstep, is now the time for the Raptors to make a bold trade and swing for the fences? Maybe trade for Ryan Anderson? Or, better yet, Al Horford or some other game-changing name? Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun joins Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk to discuss that, Terrence Ross, the Raptors gaping hole at the power forward spot, and how the All-Star Game has Toronto buzzing.

Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun joins Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk to discuss that, plus the status of Terrence Ross, the Raptors gaping hole at the power forward spot, and how the All-Star Game has Toronto buzzing.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Rumor: Brooklyn Nets talking with Pistons about Brandon Jennings trade

Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (7) shoots over New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in New Orleans. The Pelicans won 115-99. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
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With Jarrett Jack out for the season following knee surgery, the Brooklyn Nets are starting Donald Sloan at the point and bringing Shane Larkin off the bench behind him. They could use some help at the point?

How about Detroit’s Brandon Jennings?

One day after Pistons coach/GM/Big Kahuna Stan Van Gundy said they were not seriously considering any deals, Chris Sheridan of Sheridanhoops.com posted just that rumor.

Brandon Jennings could very well end up in Brooklyn two weeks from now in a trade that would send Thaddeus Young to the Detroit Pistons, sources tell SheridanHoops.com.

There are several teams looking to acquire Jennings, who has been a starter most of his career but is currently stuck behind Reggie Jackson on Detroit’s depth chart. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

There is an internal logic to this: Brooklyn needs help at the point, while the Pistons would like to upgrade from Ersan Ilyasova at the four next to Andre Drummond. Plus Jennings is a free agent this summer so there has long been a buzz around the league that Detroit would want to move him and get something for him before he walks.

But there are a few problems here, starting with Brooklyn does not currently have a GM. This is the kind of move that is made because the rebuild is starting and the new GM/front office has picked a direction. That has not yet happened in Brooklyn.

Plus, that price seems steep, especially considering Brooklyn would have to throw in another player (Shane Larkin?) just to make the salaries balance. Jennings is coming off a ruptured Achilles and is not near back all the way — 6.6 points per game on 35 percent shooting this season — so any team with him is betting on his long-term recovery.

Finally, this only works for Brooklyn if it has assurances it can re-sign the free agent Jennings this summer — as a free agent in a thin market he will have multiple offers and likely get overpaid. Does Brooklyn want to do that and pair him with Brook Lopez long term?

All of which is to say, don’t bet on it.

Quote of the Day: Chandler Parsons wishes he was “one-trick pony” like Nowitzki

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41), of Germany, shoots over Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradly (0) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Sharon Ellman)
Associated Press

“Carried franchise for almost 20 years, Finals MVP, regular season MVP, 6th all-time? Wish I was a 1-trick pony.”

—Dallas forward Chandler Parsons, coming to the defense of Dirk Nowitzki.

In case you missed it, NBA Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called Nowitzki a “one-trick pony” and questioned his dominance. Here is the full quote.

Dirk Nowitzki’s shot is very hard to block, but I don’t think that he was able to have a dominant career because he couldn’t do other things. If he could have shot like that and rebounded and played defense and blocked shots, then he would have been all-around, and he would have gotten more credit. He was like a one-trick pony. You want guys that can shoot like that on your team. I’m not saying that he lacked value, but he would have been considered at a higher level if he had done more on the court other than just shoot the ball.

I appreciate Abdul-Jabbar as one of the games all-time greats. I love that he has become more vocal recently on social issues. But I think he misses the mark on this one.

This is a more than the usual “my era plays such better basketball than today” crap that so many veterans trying to hang onto their glory spout. It just sells Nowitzki short. First off, this was not just Ray Allen spacing the floor at the end of his career, Nowitzki’s value came in his ahead-of-his-time ability to get that space at the elbow out to the arc, then help teammates take advantage of it. He isn’t just a shooter, he’s the best shooting big man ever. Also, Nowitzki was a better rebounder, a better passer, a defender than he gets credit for — and for stretches he was a dominant player.

Does he have Kareem’s resume? No. Nobody does. On paper KAJ has a better resume than Jordan. But we should not sell Dirk’s dominance short.