Tag: Ray Allen

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five

ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: San Antonio Spurs


Last season: Going to be hard to top that.

Coming into camp with a fire lit under them following an hard-to-swallow loss to Miami in the Finals (remember the Ray Allen three?) they played with a real passion all season. Tim Duncan continued his renaissance (not that his game really ever dipped much). What’s more, their offense really blossomed into something beautiful — they moved the ball, moved off the ball, read defenses and carved them up like a surgeon nightly. San Antonio’s offense was a thing of beauty. It didn’t even matter when the starters were out — remember Tony Parker was injured for the closeout game against the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals and the Spurs won without him. In the Finals it looked like LeBron James would lift the Heat to a Game 1 win, but as the temperatures rose inside the AT&T Center and LeBron cramped up the Spurs took the opener. By Game 3 San Antonio had adjusted to the Miami pressure and took complete control of the series. They got their revenge and a fifth title in the Gregg Popovich/Tim Duncan era.

Signature highlight from last season: So many to choose from, but when you think about top highlights of the Finals rejuvenated Manu Ginobili throwing down on Chris Bosh has to be near the top of the list.

Key player changes: There were none. Nada. The Spurs just won an NBA title (and have been to two-straight Finals) playing some of the prettiest and best team basketball we have seen in decades, why would you tinker with that? Duncan opted in then everyone else got in line, including Boris Diaw and Tony Parker signing extensions (as did Popovich). The only change of note is the addition of Kyle Anderson, the rookie drafted out of UCLA (who will be brought along slowly). There are questions looming about the future, but for this season getting the band back together was always the smart plan.

Actually, the biggest off-season change may have been bringing in Becky Hammon, the first full-time female assistant coach in NBA history.

Keys to the Spurs season:

Can Tim Duncan, Spurs core continue to outrun father time? This has been an annual question for at least six years and the last few the Spurs have had no problem keeping their distance. Part of that is the much-discussed minute management — last season the Spurs had no player that averaged over 30 minutes a game. Everybody gets nights off. But the other key is the Spurs have injected youth and athleticism around the Duncan/Parker/Ginobili core — Kawhi Leonard is on the verge of superstardom, there is Danny Green and Patty Mills along with others to provide that spark.

Will the Spurs be fat and happy after winning a title? This is Popovich’s big concern. Last season, after the sting of a very painful Finals loss, the Spurs were motivated all season. They would put in the extra effort in pracitce, the film room, wherever. Will they still do that after winning a title? I would bet yes, this is a veteran team not a young one. But, as Popovich said, human nature is to let up a little.

How big a contract year will Kawhi Leonard have? Coming off a Finals MVP, Leonard is going to get paid one way or another next year (either he gets a contract extension before Halloween or he becomes a restricted free agent next summer). Nobody thinks the Spurs are letting Leonard go, the only question is money (a lot of Spurs players take a discount to stay, but will Leonard on his first big deal after his rookie contract). Popovich leans on Leonard to cover any position one through four — he drew the LeBron James assignment in the Finals and did as well as one could. Plus, he had three straight 20-point games in the Finals. He is athletic and can finish at the rim and is deadly with the corner three the Spurs thrive on. He is only getting better and this could be a monster season for him as Popovich entrusts him with more and more responsibility.

Why you should watch the Spurs: Forget that they are elite title contenders, you should watch them because they play a selfless, pure, beautiful brand of basketball and they they aren’t going to be around forever doing that.

Prediction: 59-23, they could win more but Popovich will be willing to sacrifice a couple wins to keep guys rested. That will be enough to be one of the top two seeds in the West (likely the top seed) and they will set the bar to win a title. The Spurs are not coming back to the pack, if another team is going to take the title away from them that team is going to have to improve enough to outright beat them. Not sure any team can do that if the Spurs are at their peak.

67RIEFNS No. 21: Kyrie Irving’s bonkers All-Star voting

NBA All-Star Game 2014

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Will you vote for Kyrie Irving as an All-Star starter?

Are you a big Cavaliers fan? Do you hate the Cavaliers?

Think about those last two questions before deciding on the first.

Irving signed a contract extension with the “Derrick Rose rule” trigger. The Rose rule allows players with four or five years of experience to earn more money if they achieve one of the following within their first four seasons:

  • Named to the All-NBA first, second or third team twice
  • Voted an All-Star starter twice
  • Won MVP

Irving, entering his fourth season, has never made an All-NBA team, so that mode of qualifying is out. MVP seems far-fetched.

But the Cleveland point guard started last year’s All-Star game, so doing so again is – by far – his best shot at qualifying.

Last year, Irving finished a comfortable second in Eastern conference guard voting:

1. Dwyane Wade (929,542)

2. Kyrie Irving (860,221)

3. John Wall (393,129)

4. Derrick Rose (359,546)

5. Ray Allen (250,909)

6. Rajon Rondo (174,654)

With LeBron James and Kevin Love joining him in Cleveland, there will be more attention than ever on Irving. That he won the vote so easily last year on a dreadful team is encouraging for him.

But if Rose and Rondo are healthy, they’re threats to overtake Irving. Rondo started with Wade in 2013, and Rose did in 2011 and 2012. Even Wall, who advanced further in the playoffs last season than Rose and Rondo, could push for votes.

The stakes are reasonably high for Irving. Here’s what Irving would earn – based on the NBA’s projected 2015-16 salary cap – if he triggers the Rose rule (gold) and if he doesn’t (wine):


That’s a difference of $1,550,241 in year one and $8,913,889 over the five-year extension – all based on fan vote.

Three players have triggered the Rose rule, but unless he wins MVP, Irving could be the first to do so only through a popularity contest.

Rose won MVP. Paul George made two All-NBA third teams. Blake Griffin qualified by starting an All-Star Game in his fourth season, but later that year, he also made a second All-NBA team.

So, fans have a lot of power here – power that could greatly impact not only Irving, but the Cavaliers and the rest of the NBA.

With the salary cap set to skyrocket under the new national-TV contracts, there’s speculation Cleveland could have enough cap space to sign a fourth star outright in 2016. Every extra dollar Irving makes limits the Cavaliers’ ability to upgrade.

Considering Cleveland is the championship favorite and will likely hold that title for several years to come, the trickle-down effects could be immense. Beating LeBron, Love and Irving will be hard enough. Defeating that trio and a fourth star sounds downright impossible.

When the ballots come out, conflicts of interest will occur everywhere.

Would the Cavaliers campaign against their own player in All-Star voting? I’d be shocked.

Would they not campaign as hard for Irving as they would otherwise? I could see that. Some organizations don’t campaign on principle, which would give Cleveland some cover. Plus, this isn’t a franchise known for its respect of players.

How about Cavaliers fans? Do they vote for their own guy or do they try to preserve the team’s future cap flexibility?

And fans of other teams? Western Conference fans should stuff the ballot for Irving, doing their small part to open the championship window for franchises outside Cleveland. But fans of other Eastern Conference teams face a dilemma similar to Cavaliers fans: Their own guy or Irving?

There will be some unusual incentives in play. In the end, I expect Irving to start. There will just be too much attention on the Cavaliers, and he was already so popular.

But the potential for hijinks is definitely high.

Jason Kidd: Bucks, too, had interest in signing Ray Allen

2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability

Ray Allen is one of the game’s greatest shooters, so it’s no surprise that he drew interest from plenty of teams in free agency, even as he’s set to enter what would be his 19th NBA season.

The problem for all of them is that Allen has yet to decide if he’s going to play at all this year, or simply retire instead.

The Cavaliers, thanks to Allen’s prior relationship in Miami with LeBron James (along with the team’s status as title contenders) have to be considered in the lead for his services, should he indeed choose to return. But others like the Clippers, Spurs, Wizards and Bulls have reached out, as did another team that would appear to be a long shot.

From Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Bucks coach Jason Kidd said the team had sincere interest in bringing veteran Ray Allen back to the team during the past summer, but the former Bucks player was not inclined to return. …

“We did contact Ray,” Kidd said. “He’s weighing his options to see where he wants to go. But we did have interest.” …

“We thought he would be a good piece for us to try to get but he didn’t have any interest.”

Allen played the first six-plus seasons of his career with the Bucks before being traded to Seattle in the middle of his seventh, and was a key piece on the 2001 team that went to the Eastern Conference Finals.

But since he had similar runs with the Sonics and Celtics, Milwaukee doesn’t have the emotional pull necessary to lure Allen back — especially to play with a young team that isn’t expected to come anywhere close to sniffing the playoffs.

Danny Ainge thinks Ray Allen might wait until All-Star break to sign

Boston Celtics v Miami Heat

What will Ray Allen do?

Nobody really seems to know.

But Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team employed Allen for five years, might provide some insight.

Ainge on 98.5 the Sports Hub, as transcribed by A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Boston:

“He may wait until All-Star break or January,” Ainge said. “And just see what teams are playing well, which teams are the healthiest and which team that he thinks that he might fit in, just in the style of play. With new coaches at some different places, he may just want to see how it unfolds before he makes a decision.”

Allen famously keeps himself in great shape. If he has continued his training regimen while a free agent, he’ll have no trouble adjusting if he signs late.

Why put himself through the tediousness of training camp, preseason and early regular season games? Why lock in with a team that might not play as well as expected?

It makes sense for Allen to wait.

Because Allen was not waived, the Feb. 28 deadline does not apply to him. He can sign anytime and join a playoff roster.

Ray Allen’s agent says client has not signed with Cleveland, not even sure he will play this season

2014 NBA Finals - Practice Day And Media Availability

Rumors started flying out of Cleveland this morning — with apparently some local writer “confirming” it — that Ray Allen had signed with LeBron James and the Cavaliers and would soon join the team in training camp.


Not yet anyway.

My sources said there was nothing there as of this morning (hence no stories at PBT), something just a number of respected NBA writer also tweeted out. But internet rumors have more lives and improbably comebacks than Freddy Krueger. So now Allen’s agent Jim Tanner of Tandem Sports tweeted out this statement.

If Allen signs anywhere it will be with Cleveland, to chase a ring with LeBron.

But as far back as this summer I had heard Allen was undecided on whether he wanted to go through the grind again, and if he wanted to leave his Miami-based life and family to chase a third ring at age 39. He might, but it was far from a sure thing with a lot of factors he had to consider. Allen’s skills showed decline last season but he can still make the corner three like it’s a layup.

Don’t be shocked if Allen waits until mid-season, skipping the grind of training camp and games in 2014, jumping on board for the second half of the season and the playoffs. That option is certainly in front of him, he’s not coming back for the cash.