Kurt Helin

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Pat Riley thinks NBA should have “franchise tag.” Of course he does.


The move of Kevin Durant from small market Oklahoma City to form a superteam in Golden State — right in the middle of ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement talks between the NBA and players’ union — has put an old favorite of owners and GMs back in the spotlight:

A franchise tag in the NBA.

If owners want to ensure a work stoppage in 2017 that causes games to be missed, insist on a franchise tag (or a hard cap). But of course, GMs and team executives love the franchise tag idea.  Including Pat Riley of the Miami Heat, via Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald.

The NFL has a franchise tag, although the NFL players’ union has historically not been nearly as strong as the NBA’s. Actually, that’s far too kind — the NFL union has been steamrolled more than once. There’s a lot of things in the NFL CBA that would never fly in the NBA.

The NFL version gives a tagged player a one-year contract for at least the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position. What Riley seems to be proposing is somewhat different — one tagged player where a team can void the max contract numbers to offer more to keep a player in a market. In theory, the Thunder could have tagged Durant and offered him $40 million a year in this scenario.

There is zero chance the players’ union goes for this — it restricts player movement. What they want for their players isn’t only money, it’s options. If Durant spends nine years in OKC and fulfills his end of the contract, he should have the option of changing work locations just like you or I can. This is important to the union and a line in the sand it would not cross. It would lead to a lengthy lockout.

A better idea — why not just do away with max salaries all together while keeping the cap? No way Stephen Curry and Durant end up on the same team when both could make $45 million a season and there is even a soft cap. The biggest opponents of that are the NBA’s well-paid role players (of which there are far more than star/max players) — the cap on max salaries leaves more money for them. If Durant makes $20 million more, the role players on that team make less.

(One interesting tangent: What if teams could tag a player, but said player could still leave? For example, if the Thunder could tag Durant, ignore max salary restrictions and offer $40 million a season, but he could still choose to leave for less with Golden State. Is that acceptable to the players? I doubt it would be to the owners, but it’s an interesting hypothetical topic.)

I heard mixed things in Las Vegas about the possibility of a 2017 lockout. The Durant move seemed to galvanize hard-line owners — mostly from small and middle-sized markets — who want hard caps or franchise tags. Of course, what a lot of those owners want is another few percentage points of “basketball related income” (the money the league takes in from national television deals, ticket sales, jersey sales and much more) — the players used to get 57 percent, now it is 49-51 percent (depending on a number of factors each year), but greedy owners want more. It’s all about the money. There is zero chance the players union under Michelle Roberts goes for that after feeling they gave up too much last time. But there will be some push to restrict player movement.

On the other side , there is a lot of optimism a lockout (at least one that costs games) can be avoided, in part because there is simply so much money in the system with the new television deal there is faith cooler heads will prevail. The two sides are already talking, the dynamic is different with Adam Silver and Roberts, and they can find enough common ground to make this work. NBA owners are seeing profits, NBA players are making more than ever before, who wants to kill the golden goose?

My experience with the rich (players) and ridiculously wealthy (owners) is that they never think they are making enough money. Never underestimate human greed. I just hope I’m wrong in this case.

Nets sign veteran guard Randy Foye

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NEW YORK (AP) The Brooklyn Nets have signed veteran guard Randy Foye.

Foye split last season between Denver and Oklahoma City, averaging 5.9 points. Foye is a career 37 percent shooter from 3-point range and ranked among the top 10 in 3-pointers made in three straight seasons from 2011-14.

Terms of the deal were not announced Friday.

Foye has averaged 10.8 points in 10 NBA seasons.

Pat Riley unsure if Chris Bosh will play next season, could return with travel/workload restrictions

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Chris Bosh wants to play basketball again.

The Miami Heat need to be convinced by doctors that the potentially life-threatening blood clot issue that has sidelined him part of the past two seasons is under control. If he does return, will he be with the team full-time or be limited by restrictions?

Nobody is sure how this is going to play out.

That includes Heat decision maker Pat Riley, who spoke to the media Saturday. Here are his quotes on Bosh, via Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

“It’s always fluid and it always has been. It’s a positive environment right now with Chris and his doctors. I know he wants to play and we would be open to that. Let’s allow this process to move down the road and we’ll go from there.”

Riley admitted Bosh could return but with travel and other restrictions, as reported by Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post.

Furthermore, Bosh might not be suited for the rigors of the NBA schedule. There is a possibility that the Heat will leave him home on some road trips — long flights are problematic — and put restrictions on his overall workload.

“I think all those things will come into play and there’ll be a discussion,” Riley said. “There are many players in different sports that do play with that condition, and they’re on-and-off programs with blood thinners and stuff. But I think when it comes down to a final protocol, or a formula for how this has to be done, then that’s what we’ll deal with.”

On the court it’s not that complicated — Miami is a much better team if Bosh plays. The highly skilled big can play the four or the five, and he averaged 20 points and 7.2 rebounds a game when he has played the past two seasons

Off the court is where it gets sticky. Does Bosh need to remain on blood thinners full-time, or can there be an on/off regimen? Can he play while taking them? What are the risks of him playing? If different doctors view things differently, who does the team believe? What are the long-term health risks? Even if he says he’s willing to take on those risks, could the Heat be held legally liable?

There are not simple answers, or we’d have them.

Pat Riley: ‘What happened with Dwyane (Wade), floored me. … I have great regret’


Dwyane Wade — the most important player in Miami Heat history, the guy at the heart of bringing the franchise three titles — is a member of the Chicago Bulls. That came after a summer where Wade felt he was lowballed and not respected by the Heat for his years of service, which opened the door to him seriously considering a new basketball home.

Pat Riley regrets it.

Riley spoke with reporters Saturday, here is Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel’s quotes from Riley about Wade.

“What happened with Dwyane, floored me. I’m not trying to fall on the sword for anybody. I have great regret that I didn’t immerse myself in the middle of it.

“I’m gonna miss what I might have had planned for him and his future and how I saw the end going for him….

“Dwyane left and the buck really stops here.

“It’s not going to be the same without him.”

Wade had made financial sacrifices for years and years to help build the Heat into what they became, both with LeBron James and after, and Wade wanted to be made whole. Or at least he wanted to feel respected. Instead, the Heat’s reported first offer was for $10 million — which in the current market was an insult to a guy who averaged 19 points a game last season — and while that was eventually doubled, no guaranteed third year was added. Riley likely thought the long-standing relationship would be enough to keep the shooting guard. Wade made a little more money by leaving, but the bigger issue was feeling respected and wanted — Chicago bent over backwards to bring Wade to his hometown. Miami didn’t.

That lack of effort by the Heat does fall on Riley’s doorstep.

The question is just how sad is he that Wade left? The Heat retained Hassan Whiteside and have good young players such as Justise Winslow. If Chris Bosh plays — and that remains a big if that nobody knows the answer to — the Heat will be pretty good this season, and better poised for the future than Chicago. My guess is Riley was ultimately okay with either outcome with Wade, stay or go.

That doesn’t make the emotional loss of a franchise icon in Miami any easier.

Pelicans’ coach Gentry says Tyreke Evans will not be ready to start season

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Tyreke Evans‘ right knee issues — he’s had three “procedures” in nine months — limited him to 25 games last season, and in those games there were plenty of struggles as he tried to adjust to coach Alvin Gentry’s uptempo style of play. Meaning he was just like almost every other Pelican.

He’s loathed by the fanbase but also is one of the most talented players on the roster — when healthy. Which won’t be at the start of next season, Gentry told Zach Lowe on the Lowe Post podcast.

“He won’t be ready for the start of the season. He’s in a rehab situation. I think for us we just gotta move forward with our season. And then, if he comes back and he’s able to help us that’s just icing on the cake.”

The challenge when he does come back will be fit. Evans worked best as a point guard with the ball in his hands, and when he played he averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game last season. However, he’s not as efficient when paired with Anthony Davis as Jrue Holiday, who will start at the point. Could the Pelicans play Evans, Holiday and rookie Buddy Hield together and make it work? The Pelicans put up good offensive numbers with Evans at the three last season.

Evans is in a contract season, he will want to prove his knee issues are behind him and he can contribute. It’s going to be up to Gentry to try and fit all the pieces together.