Kurt Helin

PBT Extra: Horford/Dellavedova incident ups tension in Hawks/Cavaliers Game 4

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It feels like a playoff series.

Matthew Dellavedova plays hard. He also plays recklessly. He’s taken out Kyle Korver in the Eastern Conference Finals and then found himself in the knees of Al Horford in Game 3. Horford was bent and responded with The People’s Elbow.

Horford got ejected.

Whether you agree with the Flagrant 2 call or not (I don’t), you can be sure some of that tension carries over to Game 4 in Cleveland Tuesday night. I discuss that with Jenna Corrado in this latest PBT Extra.

Not that it will be enough to get the Hawks a win.

Report: Nets to shop Joe Johnson, Jarrett Jack in effort to get under luxury tax line

Golden State Warriors v Brooklyn Nets
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Everyone fears the repeater tax — even McHale Prokhorov.

Under the terms of the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams that pay the luxury tax four seasons in a row will fork over at a higher “repeater tax” rate for living above the line (something meant to punish teams like the Lakers and others that would ignore the tax line in the old CBA). That higher tax rate starts at $2.50 for each $1 teams are over the line (for non-repeaters the rate is $1.50 per $1). The rate goes up if teams are more than $5 million over the line.

No team has yet to pay it — but the Brooklyn Nets could be the first next season. Thanks to their ill-advised “buy me a winner so I can open Barclays Center” season, the Nets have been way over the tax line. Next season would be their fourth over the line (expected to be about $81 million), depending on what happens with keeping Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young (both are expected to opt out and be free agents, the Nets say it is a priority to re-sign both).

To get under the line, the Nets may try to trade some key pieces, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

It is widely assumed the Nets will explore the trade markets for both Joe Johnson (with his expiring $24.9 million deal) and Jarrett Jack (due $12.6 million over the next two seasons but only partially guaranteed in 2016-17) to try to get away from tax territory that way, instead of waiving and stretching Deron Williams.

In an ideal world, the Nets could rid themselves of the two-years, $43.3 million left on Deron Williams’ deal, but that will not be easy. Williams declining skill set and injury history make him hard to trade (the Nets don’t have sweeteners like draft picks they can afford to throw in a deal). If they use the stretch provision in Williams he’ll be on the books for almost $9 million a year for five years. Better to bite the bullet now.

Johnson, owed $24.9 million next season, also will not be easy to move at that price, expiring contract or not. Again, teams will want more as reasons to take on that salary.

Jack is owed a very reasonable $6.3 million next season and is only partially guaranteed at that same price for the following season. A lot of teams would be interested in Jack at that price as a backup point guard they can trust.

The Nets are in arguably the worst situation going forward in the league — they are old and expensive, without many draft picks thanks to their trades. Things are going to get worse before they get better in Brooklyn, especially if they start trading away salary to save money.

Zach LaVine alley-oop dunking a football. Because he can. (VIDEO)

Los Angeles Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves
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Minnesota’s Zach LaVine has spent the early part of his offseason working on increasing his vertical… wait, what?  This is the guy who won — and for a year revived — the All-Star Dunk Contest by leaping out of the building. How much more vertical leap does he need? Was the moon out of reach? But here you go:

And for fun, LeVine is dunking footballs off three-quarter court passes. Because he can.

Please do the dunk contest again next year Zach. Please.

(Hat tip to Lang at NBA.com’s All Ball).

 

Watch James Harden drop 45 on Warriors in Game 4

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets- Game Four
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Maybe he should go to a Drake concert before every game.

Some Rockets fans were oddly all over James Harden for going to the concert in the off night between Games 3 and 4. Which is just silly on a lot of levels — this guy carried the Rockets all season to this point, but he’s not serious or committed enough now?

Harden was plenty of committed. And aggressive. And on in Game 2.

Harden had 45 points as he attacked the paint, drew fouls, knocked down 7-of-11 threes and was the best player on the court. He got help from Elimination Game Josh Smith, but Harden was the guy at the heart of it all.

That’s three out of four games this series Harden has been fantastic. He’ll need three more like that if the Rockets have any hope of making history and coming from 3-0 down in an NBA playoff series.

If NBA upgrades’ Dwight Howard’s blow to Bogut to a Flagrant 2, Howard will be suspended for Game 5

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four
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Atlanta’s Al Horford was ejected from Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals for a blow to Matthew Dellavedova’s head. Agree with it or not with the call (and I don’t, I thought it should have been a Flagrant 1), the NBA backed it.

Based on that Al Horford precedent, Dwight Howard should have gotten a Flagrant 2 and ejected for that blow to Andrew Bogut’s head in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals Monday. He wasn’t, he got a Flagrant 1.

Here’s what should worry Rocket fans (and Kevin McHale):

The NBA will review that flagrant foul, as they do all of them, and they may upgrade it to a Flagrant 2 after the fact.

And if that happens, Howard would be suspended for Game 5 Wednesday in Oakland.

The NBA has a point system, and if a player picks up more than three points for flagrant fouls in the playoffs, he gets suspended for a game. Howard already has two points for two Flagrant Fouls earlier in the postseason, and a Flagrant 2 would be worth two points.

Go ahead and argue if you want Rockets fans. If you watched the Howard/Bogut video above and said “but Bogut fouled Howard first” you’re right. It also doesn’t matter, according to referee Kenny Mauer who made the call on Horford. He said Sunday the fact the blow was retaliation for a play where Dellavedova earned a technical was irrelevant. Mauer also said the blow to the head gave him no choice but to make the call to toss Horford.

If what Horford did merited a Flagrant II and an ejection, Howard should have gotten one as well. It will be interesting to see how the league handles this one.