Kurt Helin

Report: Clippers near new local television deal where team retains streaming rights

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Online streaming of games is the future. It’s a fast-growing part of the NBA’s Broadband League Pass platform, where fans can buy just one game or an entire package (or the season) of games. Plus, nearly all local team broadcast stations stream the game online to fans that subscribe in that market to their service. (For an example here at NBC/Comcast, subscribers to Comcast SportsNet in the Bay Area can stream Warriors games online for free (there are links on this site in season). The same is true of the Celtics in Boston, the Wizards in Washington D.C., and so on.) The local broadcast partners have streaming rights.

But that may be about to change, starting with the Clippers and Steve Ballmer. He is near a new deal where the team will retain the streaming rights, reports the New York Post.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is weighing a deal with cable channel Prime Ticket that would allow the team to retain streaming rights, The Post has learned.

If the Clippers and Prime Ticket ink the TV rights deal, it would be the first among the four major sports leagues where the team kept streaming rights, sources familiar with the prospective deal said….

Under terms, the Clippers would only be able to offer a streaming service to Prime Ticket customers. The NBA retains out-of-market streaming rights.

For a tech guy like Ballmer (the former Microsoft CEO), this seems like a first step. Right now the Clippers would only be able to offer streaming to Prime Ticket customers, but you can be sure that the long-term goal here is to separate the two and expand that streaming market.

Streaming is growing as younger generations grow up using tablets and mobile devices to consume media more than traditional televisions. Those fans want their NBA games on those devices. This is both a fast growing segment of the eyeballs on any particular game, and it’s a lucrative one — whoever has the streaming rights can sell ads into the commercial spaces, as well as before the game starts to stream, plus have ads that pop up in the margins of the screen.

Currently the NBA itself controls the out-of-market streaming while the local broadcast partners have the in-market streaming. But as that streaming market grows, you can bet there will be a tug of war over who gets to control — and profit from — those streams. This is merely the first salvo in a long battle.

As a side note, this new Prime Ticket deal likely means more money for the Clippers, but not Lakers-level money. Despite the fact the Clippers have been a top NBA team and the Lakers have struggled, the Lakers still have had much better local ratings the past couple of seasons.

Duke to have pro days, close practices to NBA scouts, executives

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For a few years now, the talent factory that is Kentucky basketball under John Calipari, has closed practices to NBA scouts looking for scraps of information about players. Instead, they host a two-day “pro days” where the players are put through workouts attended by nearly every team. Then the doors close, like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

This year, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke are following suit, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports (and confirmed by NBC’s CollegeBasketballTalk). NBA teams can come to two pro days in October, and still scout games, of course, but they will not be in practices.

Calipari started doing this in 2014 — the year of Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles — officially as a way to limit distractions. College coaches like their control. This year Duke has Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, and Grayson Allen, who are all projected as potential first-round picks. While Coach K has yet to address why for the new policy, you can bet on the distractions point being at the forefront.

NBA teams are not going to like this, they want as much information as possible on players that they are about to make multi-million dollar investments in, but it likely won’t alter those players place on draft boards. If Giles and Tatum perform as expected on the court, they are still top five players next June. Whether scouts get into practice or not. Talent still wins out.

Stephen Curry on NBA national anthem: “I will most likely stand”

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The NBA — and its fan base — are the most politically progressive of all the major American sports, as Seerat Sohi laid out so well. When the NBA pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, the move played well with most of the league’s core fans.

As an extension of that, when NBA preseason games start up in a few weeks you can expect multiple NBA players to kneel during the national anthem, continuing the protest that the 49ers Collin Kaepernick started.

Stephen Curry, arguably the NBA’s biggest star, likely will not be part of that, he said at a tech event Tuesday, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News.

“I’ll most likely stand,” Curry said. “Colin, if you follow the way he talks, the message he’s trying to send with his act, he’s not, from his mouth, disrespecting the veterans or the military. That’s not his intention. He’s obviously continued the act to create the conversation for more social justice and things of that nature. I’ve been a part of certain conversations off the grid, finding different ways to make our community better, especially for African-Americans. That’s not the way I’ll do it. But I support him in his attempt to start the conversation or continue the conversation.”

This echoes what Curry had said recently, that Kaepernick had the right to protest and that he thought his message was important. But that is different from kneeling during the anthem and joining in.

I’d be surprised if any of the NBA’s biggest individual brands — Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, etc. — kneeled for the anthem. But there will be guys who do.

You can be sure the suits in the league office — all the way up to Commissioner Adam Silver — and team executives have already had conversations about what to do when this happens in the NBA. And the answer will be to stay out of it. This is going to play out very differently than the David Stern response to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf — and that’s a sign that the league itself is growing up. And understands its core audience.

Good news for Thunder, Cameron Payne reportedly out of walking boot

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Cameron Payne is in line for a bump in minutes and responsibilities as a backup two guard this season. He showed promise last season then had an impressive Summer League in Orlando where he averaged 18.8 points per game.

Then in July Payne had surgery to repair a Jones fracture in his right foot. While the official timetable for return on those is 6-8 weeks, it is an area of the foot (the bone that runs from the base of the little toe up near the ankle) that doesn’t get great blood flow and can be slow to heal.

Which is why this report from Erik Horne of The Oklahoman is good news.

That’s much better than the other news Thunder fans got Tuesday.

Hopefully, Payne will be good to go by the start o the season. However, the Thunder can and should be cautious here, they don’t want to rush things and have this lead to further damage that keeps Payne out longer. The Thunder have been down that road before with this surgery (although the Durant situation had differences).

Report: Cavaliers sign Eric Moreland to training camp deal

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Last season, Eric Moreland started the season on the Sacramento Kings roster as a reserve forward and he got in eight games before breaking his foot in early December. That was it for the season.

This season he’s going to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ training camp. That according to David Pick.

The Cavaliers have 12 guaranteed contracts on the books, and at some point, the stalemate will end and J.R. Smith will make 13.

The Cavaliers have Kevin Love and Channing Frye to play the four, plus LeBron James gets some run there in small ball lineups. It’s hard to imagine Moreland breaking through there and making the roster. But he’s getting some money and his foot in the door, which is a start.