Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Dikembe Mutombo was in Brussels airport at time of attacks, is safe

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You’re not going to find an NBA legend who has done more internationally to help people in need (and spread the game of basketball) than Dikembe Mutombo. He is the definition of a world traveler, having recently been back in his native Congo on behalf of his charitable foundation.

Tuesday morning he was in Brussels’ Zaventem International Airport when the ISIS terrorist attack that killed 31 and injured more than 200 more took place.

Fortunately, the Hall of Fame player was unhurt. He posted these on Facebook.

The Dikembe Mutombo Foundation posted this note also on Facebook.

Today we bow our heads in remembrance for those who lost their lives in Brussels. And we give thanks for all of the first responders offering support, strength, and solidarity to everyone impacted by these horrible tragedies. To those who are asking for an update – Dikembe was at the Brussels airport when the bombing happened this morning, and was thankfully unharmed. Local authorities are working to move everyone to safe locations while the City navigates through this act of terror. Please join us in keeping Brussels in your thoughts and prayers.

We are happy that Mutombo is safe. Our thoughts are with the families of those who were not so lucky.

Report: Providence’s Kris Dunn to declare for NBA Draft, likely top 7 pick

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If Providence’s Kris Dunn had declared for the NBA Draft a year ago, he likely would have been taken in the lottery. He didn’t. He went back to school for one more season, where he was Big East Play of the Year (for a second straight year) and led Providence back to the NCAA Tournament (where his team fell to North Carolina).

He’s not doing that again. Dunn is going pro.

That according to Jon Rothstein at CBS Sports.

Providence’s Kris Dunn will declare for the 2016 NBA Draft, sources told CBS Sports….

The 6-foot-4 Dunn averaged 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.3 rebounds this past season.

Dunn is projected as a Top 5-7 pick (DraftExpress has him at No. 5 currently). He’s going to go high in the lottery regardless.

Ed Isaacson, PBT’s NBA Draft guru, Rotoworld writer,  as well as the man behind NBADraftBlog.com, gave us this scouting report recently on Dunn.

“There were two main areas people wanted to see Dunn address this year, shooting and decision-making, but neither changed very much. He is still a very good ballhandler with excellent vision, and he can be a spectacular passer, but his decisions can still be mindboggling.

“He thrives when Providence pushes the tempo, doing a great job getting the ball up the floor quickly and finding open teammates for easy scores. He did show improvement in the half court, and he can be very tough to keep out of the lane. Getting to the rim and scoring is a different issue; Dunn can have a lot of problems finishing around length at the basket, but if he has just a little space, he can finish in a spectacular way. Dunn’s perimeter shooting issues are still there.

“On defense, Dunn is much better as a help defender or off the ball, rather than an on-ball defender, but in certain match-ups, he can be a problem on the ball. His steal numbers are still high, and he is very good at jumping passing lanes, but he seems to have a green light from his coach to wander around looking to make plays on defense, where he won’t have that luxury in the NBA.”

Report: Michael Jordan playing prominent role for owners in CBA negotiations

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Michael Jordan’s most famous for this line to then Wizards’ owner Abe Pollin during the 1998 Collective Bargaining Agreement talks: “If you can’t make a profit, you should sell your team.”

Now Jordan is on the other side of the table, representing the owners and trying to increase their profit — and becoming quite a vocal leader in doing so, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

In multiple meetings with union officials and players in New York, Jordan is a serious voice in these ongoing discussions, league sources told The Vertical. Jordan’s appointment onto that powerful ownership committee has been secret until now, but his sudden standing strengthens what’s been a sometimes jagged journey into the ownership community….

After six years as a majority owner, Jordan has never been so relevant on that job. Beyond labor talks, the countdown to Charlotte hosting the 2017 NBA All-Star Game has started. Most of all: The Hornets are winning. The hiring of coach Steve Clifford has changed everything for the franchise, delivering the groundwork for a sustainable program and culture….

As a business model, Charlotte has grown, too. Privately, there are still agents and players who believe that Charlotte needlessly cuts expenses in ways that are below NBA norms, although most admit that the organization has gotten better in that regard. Charlotte has invested in purchasing its own NBA Development League affiliate in Greensboro, N.C., another way that Jordan has shown a willingness to spend money on the long-term growth of his franchise.

Michael Jordan the owner’s career arc has mimicked that of Michael Jordan the player — it took him a while to learn how to do things right and to win, but he is figuring it out. Certainly he came in as a better player than he did an owner, but it took Jordan years (and getting thumped in the playoffs by the Bad Boy Pistons three years in a row) to figure out how to become the guy now mythologized into some kind of unassailable legend as a player. As an owner he certainly had a rough start, but he’s learned and improved year after year.

As Wojnarowski notes, it’s no accident Commissioner Adam Silver and the other owners want him in the middle of the negotiations. The players’ union has loaded up on star power at the top — Chris Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony — and so the owners countered with their own, bigger star. Plus, Jordan gives the small and middle market owners a more prominent seat at the table.

The deadline for either the players or owners to declare they will opt out in the summer of 2017 is this December. The fact that they are meeting now — and have broken out into smaller committees to deal with specific issues — is a good sign for those of us hoping to avoid the 2017 lockout. Another good sign is that there are few leaks coming out of those talks. Nobody has decided they need to try to take their case to the public. Yet.

I would be pleasantly surprised if an extension is reached and there is no drama about one side opting out come December, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Someone will opt out (likely the players). But that just starts a clock; the two sides would still have more than six months to hammer out a deal to avoid any kind of lockout — and longer to avoid losing regular season games. Count me in the optimistic

Count me in the optimistic camp that we don’t have a lockout that costs us games in 2017. However, I hate to underestimate the undermining impacts of human greed.

Ty Lawson sentenced to supervised probation for Colorado DUI

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DENVER (AP) — Indiana Pacers point guard Ty Lawson was sentenced to a year of supervised probation on drunken driving charges in Colorado.

The former Denver Nuggets player was ordered not to drink or use marijuana during his probation. He had faced up to 180 days in jail after pleading guilty to driving while ability impaired and to a traffic violation. The district attorney had requested at least a month in jail.

The Pacers signed the point guard earlier this year despite his troubled past.

In January, when Lawson was with the Houston Rockets, he was suspended for three games without pay for a drunken-driving case in California.

Tyronn Lue takes blame for Cavaliers defensive slippage, making changes

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Before the All-Star break, mostly under the direction of David Blatt, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense allowed 101.1 points per 100 possessions, seventh best in the NBA (via NBA.com).

Since the All-Star Break, the Cavaliers have given up 104.7 points per 100 possessions, 11th in the NBA. In the last 10 games things have been much worse, allowing 108.4 points per 100, 18th in the NBA. It’s the main reason the Cavaliers have not looked like a title team.

It’s the main reason the Cavaliers have not looked like a title team of late.

Coach Tyronn Lue took the blame for it, speaking to Joe Vardon at Cleveland.com:

“I take full blame for that,” Lue said. “We’re trying to do some different things and now we just got to get back to the basics and get back to our foundation.”

Lue said there is time to reconstruct the defense because what they’re returning to they “did it all last year.”

“We did it the first half of this season and it’s just getting back to the basics and doing what we’re accustomed to doing,” Lue said.

What Lue did on defense was directly connected to what he wanted to do on offense — play smaller and faster. Part of that was pressure on defense and forcing turnovers, so he had his guards try to be more aggressive and fight over the top of pick-and-rolls more (or, at least, come out higher if they went under on a non-shooter). The problem is that requires someone anchoring the middle to take away drives when the offensive player gets by those more aggressive guards, and it requires quick help recognition to help the helper in the paint (to stop back cuts and lobs). None of that help in the middle was happening consistently, leading to too many easy looks for opponents.

Both All-Star weekend and within the last month, I have asked Lue about how it is going trying to install what he wants for the Cavaliers on both ends, and both times the answers were that he just did not have the time to put things in properly. He said he needed a training camp. NBA teams don’t practice that much, and it’s hard to install significant changes midseason. Lue may be able to put this stuff in next fall, but for this season he’s decided it’s a lost cause.

Which will likely be good for the Cavaliers short term.