Kurt Helin

Phil Jackson admits three-point shot has changed spacing of triangle offense


The days of the equilateral are gone. Maybe now things need to be obtuse.

Phil Jackson is understandably still a believer in the triangle offense — it did win him 11 rings as a coach. However, there have been a lot of questions about how Tex Winter’s offense (particularly as Phil Jackson likes to run it) would fit in a modern NBA, with three point shooters spacing the floor. Tuesday night in New York at an “American Express Teamed Up” with Shaquille O’Neal, Jackson admitted things needed to change (via Ian Begley of ESPN).

“The 3-point line has become our affection, because it means more when we make a 3-point shot. So the spacing has changed dramatically. So the triangle can still be a part of that, but it has to adapt.”

Jackson didn’t get into how, specificially, things need to change. Nor did he discuss how Jeff Hornacek plans to fit triangle principles into his up-tempo offense for the Knicks next season.

But Jackson not being dogmatic about the triangle is a good thing, especially in New York.

It’s official: As expected Bismack Biyombo opts out of Raptors deal

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Bismack Biyombo has said would like to stay with the Toronto Raptors next season.

What he wants more than that is to get paid.

Which is why, as was long expected, he opted out of his $3 million deal with the Raptors — because he will make more than five times that on the open market next season. Via the well connected Eric Pincus:

Biyombo is a free agent and the going rate could be $17 million a year. Biyombo had a breakout playoffs — in a league where rim protecting bigs are at a premium — but said he would even consider a hometown discount to stay with the Raptors. The Raptors want to bring him back, but the salary cap makes it difficult. The Raptors do not have Biyombo’s Bird rights, so they need to use their salary cap space to re-sign him. Toronto’s top priority is bringing back DeMar DeRozan (who will be a max or near max player.

Expect some teams to try and poach Biyombo. The questions become what do they offer, and how much of a discount would Biyombo take to stay in Toronto?

Viewership down slightly after rout in Game 2 of NBA Finals


NEW YORK (AP) With Game 2 of the NBA Finals turning into a rout, viewership is down from last year’s overtime contest.

The Golden State Warriors’ 110-77 victory Sunday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers to take a 2-0 series lead averaged nearly 17.4 million viewers on ABC. That’s down about 8 percent from the almost 18.8 million viewers for Game 2 between the same teams in 2015, when the Cavaliers won in OT to even the series at 1-1.

ESPN said Monday that the audience was still the second largest for a Game 2 since the NBA Finals moved to ABC in 2003, behind only last season’s matchup.

Evan Turner: “The future is in the mid-range”

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In a vacuum, basketball analytic’s wet dream is a team that gets all its shots at the rim or from three. Why? Because those are the two most statistically efficient shots in the game. What teams should do is limit midrange jumpers.

Except, basketball isn’t played in a vacuum — in the real world a team that believes in analytics and builds a team that way will turn to the midrange jumper some nights. For a prime example, see Shaun Livingston racking up 20 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. What matters is that he was efficient doing it.

Enter Evan Turner. The Celtics’ forward is an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he does not shoot the three particularly well (he took just one three a game and hit 24 percent of them last season). He took 31 percent of his shot attempts this season between 10-16 feet and hit 42.1 percent of them. Turner has real value as a glue guy leading Boston’s second unit — he could score a little, distribute some, defend, and make the unit go. But he’s not seen as a shooter.

Turner is an avid defender of the midrange shot, as he told Maurice Peebles of Complex.com (hat tip Ball Don’t Lie).

“People say, ‘You can’t shoot the three.’ But I can defend, I can pass, rebound, score. You got guys that all they can do is shoot and nothing else. Like, how a– backwards is that? Only in America can you be a lacrosse player and judge basketball. Or you’ve never played basketball and say, ‘Yeah, I was working on the stock market—[stuff] wasn’t working so now I’m in the NBA judging talent.’ [The media] can write stuff on something they have no clue about.

“The future is in the mid-range. The mid-range is where the money’s at, man. I think the three-point shot opens up the court and everything like that, but MJ and all those great players made all of their money out of the mid-range. So I’m not sorry for that at all. Evan M. Turner. For sure, ‘M’ stands for mid-range. Anywhere within 15 feet is cash. I’ll try to get better at threes, but that’s my game.”

Time for some clarification on analytics and the midrange.

We’ll go to baseball for a good analogy. Some talking heads will say that “Moneyball” killed the stolen base, but all the analytics said is that if you’re not successful about 75 percent of the time you attempt a steal, the cost of the potential out is not worth the extra base. Game situations can dictate a lot (such as, how good an arm does the catcher have; or does the pitcher have a slow delivery) but in general if you’re not really good at stealing bases you shouldn’t do it.

If you’re not really good at midrange shots, you shouldn’t take so many.

Did Michael Jordan make a living in the midrange? Sure. Different era of basketball aside, he was also efficient with that shot. If you shoot the midrange like Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Paul, it’s a valuable weapon — they’re efficient. If Player X is taking a lot of long twos and hitting them at near the same rate he does threes, he should take a step back. That’s all that is being said.

NBA offenses are evolving toward more threes, but eventually the defenses will start to catch up. The pendulum always swings. And players who can efficiently hit midrange jumpers may see their value go up someday — but the quest for efficiency is not going away in the league.

Turner is going to get paid well this summer to play basketball (the Knicks are rumored to be very interested), he brings real value to a team. I appreciate his love of the midrange. But it would help if he hit a few more of them.

Thunder GM confident Kevin Durant will stay with team

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder general manager Sam Presti sounds confident that Kevin Durant will remain with the team.

Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion and the 2014 MVP, will become a free agent on July 1, and he has not made it clear whether he will stay. Presti said he’s looking forward to Durant’s decision.

“We have the opportunity to sit down with him and talk about what looks like an incredibly bright future together,” Presti said Monday. “I think you have to embrace that. You have to really lean into that in an excited way without knowing what the outcome might be. But I don’t see any reason to shy away from that.”

Players such as Boston’s Isaiah Thomas and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid have tweeted their desire for Durant to join them. Presti won’t be among those making a sales pitch – he figures all the necessary advertising on his end has occurred during Durant’s impressive run with the franchise. The team has reached the Western Conference finals four of the past six years, including this season, and reached the NBA Finals in 2012.

“When those conversations occur, it’s really just a continuation of a dialogue that’s been going on for eight or nine years,” Presti said. “It’s a chance to reflect and recognize that relationship and continue the conversations that we’ve had on going.”

Social media has been going crazy over the possibilities, but the cerebral Presti is calm, as usual.

“We can’t make that decision come faster or slow it down, so we may as well enjoy the season we just had and allow him to do the same,” Presti said. “And then when it’s time, we’ll sit down and have that conversation with him, and at that point we’ll know where we stand.”

Presti said ideally, Durant would decide quickly because it helps with other roster decisions, but the superstar has earned the right to be patient.

“I think it really is important for him to take his time, get away from things,” Presti said. “Look, Kevin is a highly, highly intelligent person. He’s a mature person. He’s a rational person, and he’s going to work through the decision in a way that will help him do what he feels is best for him. We’ll react accordingly once we have that information, and we’ll try to be as prepared as possible.”

Durant recovered from a broken bone in his right foot that cost him much of last season to post one of the best years of his career. He averaged 28.2 points per game – more than when he was scoring champion in 2010-11 and 2011-12. He grabbed a career-high 8.2 rebounds per game, and added 5.0 assists per contest, the second-best total of his nine-year career.

“I thought the season he had was just remarkable,” Presti said. “I’m just really happy for him because I thought he had a lot of fun during the year, and I watched him this time last year in a pool. I remember when he started to just start walking – like it was celebratory – to go from that to having maybe his most efficient year.”

Presti said Durant helped the Thunder by focusing on this season rather than the next.

“I also think Kevin deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the way he’s handled his affairs, because what it really did was it allowed our team to focus on the season and really made the season we had possible,” Presti said.

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP