Author: Kurt Helin

Jeff Taylor mug

Hornets’ Jeff Taylor pleads guilty to domestic violence charge

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There will be no trial. But soon it will fall on the team and the league to act.

Third-year Hornets player Jeff Taylor pled guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charge and a charge of malicious destruction of property in relation to his arrest in Michigan in September. WILX television in Lansing, MI, where the incident occurred has the details.

Taylor faces a potential 93 days in jail and $500 fine. The prosecutor told Judge Andrea Larkin they would not object to her allowing Jeff Taylor to participate in a probation diversion program, which could lead to the domestic assault charge being removed from his legal record.

In court the 25-year-old Taylor said that he pushed his girlfriend into the wall at the Marriott Hotel in East Lansing, and the hotel room wall was damaged. Police were called to the hotel at about 1 o’clock in the morning on September 25th and arrested Taylor.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

The day after the incident the Hornets banned him from all team activities until the legal case was resolved. He did not participate in any of training camp or the team’s preseason games. The Hornets open the season Wednesday night

Which means the league and the team soon will need to deal with the next step. which likely will involve a suspension. The league could wait for the sentencing or make its decision sooner. However, in the wake of the Ray Rice case in the NFL expect the league to take some kind of action.

Lakers’ rookie Julius Randle has surgery to repair fractured tibia, out for season

Julius Randle
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What everyone both feared and expected is now official.

It’s a punch to the gut of Lakers fans. This was already going to be a rough season — as evidenced by how easily the Rockets handled them opening night — but the growth and maturation of Randle was one of the hopes for the future. Watching him was going to be a bright spot this season. Now he is out for the year on what was a fairly innocent-looking play at the time.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $200,000 Fantasy Basketball league for October 29th’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 7pm ET on October 29th. Here’s the FanDuellink.

Randle is the second Laker to be out for the season, veteran point guard Steve Nash already had been sidelined due to his ongoing nerve/back issues.

For we basketball fans, this injury just sucks to see. Hope his recovery goes well and he is back on the court next fall.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert says his relationship with LeBron James is “great”

Dan Gilbert
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It’s all good now.

Among the reasons people were not convinced LeBron James would head back to Cleveland was “the letter” — Dan Gilbert’s comic sans emotional diatribe after LeBron left for Miami, calling it a “cowardly betrayal.”

LeBron and Gilbert sat down and hashed it all out. Now they are all good, something Gilbert emphasized at his press conference Wednesday prior to the Cavaliers tipping off the season Wednesday night, as reported by the Associated Press.

“I just saw LeBron,” Gilbert said Wednesday in his first news conference since February. “He looked at me and said, `Looks like you grew an inch.’ I said I could use it….

“Obviously there are a lot of fireworks at that time and a lot of emotions flying all over the place,” he said. “So you sort of get back to business. You don’t really think too much about what’s going on. It’s been four years. As far as it goes right now, it’s great.”

LeBron concurred.

“I think it’s really good,” James said. “We had one bad moment, and it just overshadowed all the great times we had together, and now we’re back together. We both have something in common: to bring a championship back to this city, and that’s what it comes down to.”

Not new ground, but worth noting that right now all is good in Cleveland. Of course, the real stress tests for the relationship are ahead and start with the opening of the regular season tonight.

But Gilbert said one more thing that shows he learned not only from his mistakes but those of others as well — specifically Heat owner Micky Arison. Among the things that started to sour LeBron’s relationship with the Heat was when the team amnestied Mike Miller to save money when he was a valuable piece for them on the court (well, when he had been healthy he was).

Gilbert said he would spend into the luxury tax, as reported by The Big Lead.

“I almost think it’s kinda silly when you invest in so much into a franchise and have such high costs already,” Gilbert said (of not going into the tax). “[I’m] always a little surprised when owners of franchises stop right there…to me it’s like you’re getting to the 2 yard line and you’re done…it’s not smart business/smart financially.”

That’s exactly what LeBron wants to hear, because to keep him and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving together with any kind of talent around them is going to cost.

Adam Silver talks about a mid-season tournament coming to the NBA… eventually

SAN ANTONIO SPURS V DALLAS MAVERICKS
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If you follow the Barclays Premiere League you know that the ultimate prize is the league championship. But there are other team trophies to win as well: the domestic FA cup, as well as European competitions such as the Champions League or UEFA Europa League. (As a Newcastle fan I’m not sure I ever expect to see any of those so long as our ownership stays the same.)

In the NBA, there is the Larry O’Brien trophy. And that’s it.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is thinking about changing that by adding an NBA mid-season tournament. He floated the idea back in August and it garnered a little buzz — our Brett Pollakoff broke down how it might be put together — but that’s not just sizzle to the league.

Silver talked about it in more detail with Howard Beck of Bleacher Report in a video interview (it’s worth watching all of it, they cover some other interesting topics).

“I and others at the league office have spent a lot of time studying the Champions League for European soccer and other types of cups and mid-season tournaments,” Silver said in the interview. “Now there there’s a long tradition, but maybe there’s the opportunity to create a new tradition. And to create more competitions. Right now everything is about the Larry O’Brien trophy but soccer operates a little differently, they have different cups, which may not be as important as the championship but in their own right are highly significant.

“Those are not the kinds of changes that are going to happen in a year, or maybe even in two or three years, but they are the kinds of development for the league that needs to be studied over time.”

The idea of a mid-season tournament raises a lot of interesting questions. Assuming it’s a single-elimination, NCAA style tournament with all 30 NBA teams, do you just do it over 10 days in the middle of the season (maybe with the “final four” at the All-Star Game week/weekend)? Then do you need to shorten the 82-game regular season to accommodate that? How would some teams feel about losing home game dates to make room for this?

Silver said that right now things are exploratory.

“Conceivably what a mid-season tournament could look like is you have some number of teams — it could begin with all the teams and have a single-elimination type tournament — and this is a case where by floating the idea I got some good suggestions back over the transom, so to speak. It may be a chance to bring in some international clubs,” Silver said.

That’s an interesting idea, for a single-elimination tournament you would need 32 teams, so why not try to bring over Barcelona and Maccabi Tel Aviv (or whoever)?

Of course, the real question is money. And incentive for the franchises.

The team that wins the FA cup in England will get 1.8 million pounds, (nearly $3 million). Winner of the Champions League gets the equivalent of $13.4 million. Teams get money for each round they win as they move up the ladder in that tournament.

If you want the best of the NBA to showcase in this tournament, you’re going to have to provide an incentive for players — meaning some healthy cash — and you’re going to have to provide a quality incentive for the best teams not to just tank it and get their stars some extra rest. That could come in the form of confirmed playoff seedings (automatic home court in the first round) or maybe an improved draft standing in some way. You need a reason that even Gregg Popovich would be willing to play guys in this kind of tournament and try to win it.

Adam Silver is thinking out of the box in a way David Stern did not. It’s refreshing. But if these kinds of things were easy or did not have tradeoffs they’d already be done. It’s going to take some give to get.

If this happen — and it’s certainly still an if — it is years away.

But it is not out of the question.

Dwight Howard says he wants to move on from Kobe, Lakers. Actions show feud going strong.

Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant
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LOS ANGELES — For a little more than three quarters, the Dwight Howard vs. Kobe Bryant storyline was shoved aside in their opening night showdown to make room for the “damn, James Harden is insanely good” storyline. Or maybe the “we knew the Lakers were bad but not THIS bad” storyline.

Then this happened.

“They just don’t like each other, simple as that,” said Lakers coach Byron Scott post-game, putting a voice to what we all saw. Howard and Kobe wouldn’t even shake hands pre-game and the animosity (and Kobe’s frustration with losing) eventually bubbled over.

Both men tried to sell the “it’s just basketball” line after the game, but you tell the way they went at each other — the way Kobe calls Howard “soft” and all the finger pointing — that there is more than just smoke to the feud talk. Neither has moved on. (Remember when people tried to sell us Howard not returning to the Lakers had nothing to do with Kobe? That was a funny. Louis CK funny.)

When asked about the incident Howard went to the “I’m just happy we won the game” card over and over. He did his best to avoid the topic, but the questions about Kobe and Howard’s exit from Los Angeles — which brought lusty boos from the Lakers faithful at Staples Center opening night — just kept on coming.

“What do you all want me to say, because I’m not fitting to give you nothing. It’s stupid. We won the game. It’s over with,” Howard eventually said. “I mean, there’s no need to go into it. We won the game. It’s about basketball. I mean it’s over with. It’s nothing. I’m not even focused on it.

“I mean people are always going to talk (about him leaving the Lakers). I had a good time in L.A. It didn’t end how everybody wanted it to. Life happens. Things happen, and I’ve moved forward from it….. I think it’s over with. I made a decision for myself.”

Kobe seemed to have a sarcastic tone in his voice when asked about Howard and the incident.

“You can’t help but like him, He’s a teddy bear. He’s a really nice kid, and I really mean that,” Kobe said. “When you compete and you have a goal in mind, I know one way to get there. He elbowed me in the face and I’m going to let him know that I don’t like that. It’s that simple.”

That was as much as anyone would say, especially on a night when the terrible Julius Randle injury cast a somber mood over both locker rooms.

Still one other thing was clear Tuesday night besides the fact the Kobe/Howard rivalry is alive:

Howard clearly made the best basketball choice for himself moving on to Houston.

A lot of us said that at the time, but it was crystal clear Tuesday. Howard and Harden make a far more formidable force than Howard could have with the aging and inefficient Kobe we saw Tuesday in Los Angeles. Make no mistake, Kobe was as good as anyone should have expected, but right now Harden is simply better. It doesn’t hurt that Howard’s back is clearly the healthiest it has been in a couple years.

Plus, with Kobe’s still largest in the NBA contract, it would have been hard for the Lakers to build much around the pair. The Rockets are struggling with that, too, but still right now they have role players like Terrence Jones and Trevor Ariza that are better fits in their system than anyone the Lakers role out. Plus the Rockets as a team buy into an up-tempo offensive system that works for them. The Lakers have another coach and are on another quest to find their identity.

None of that changes the bottom line — it’s not just smoke, there’s real fire in the Kobe Bryant/Dwight Howard feud. Their words may play it down, but their actions tell the real story.