Phil Jackson is also for contraction, small-market man that he is

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Phil Jackson decided to back up his girlfriend, which is a smart thing to do as she’s also the daughter of his boss and, you know, his girlfriend. Even less surprising is that he’s backing up his girlfriend by burying small markets, in which he’s never had to achieve success.

“I think that’s what the commissioner said so I think she’s probably parroting what the commissioner said,” Jackson said.

When asked for his thoughts about contraction, Jackson said, “I will parrot what both of them said” before expanding on the thought.

“I think [the league has] some parameters that they want to meet in some of the markets,” Jackson said. “I think they’ll set up some goals that way and I think that will be a helpful thing for the league. Taking New Orleans for example, they had to meet a certain number of ticket holders for them to come in the league, so there are some parameters that are important.”

“You like to have six in the division and 24 is really a great number [of teams] at one time,” Jackson said. “You could play five in your division and four in your conference and you could really set up division rivalries with such a thing like that. The expansion to 30 which we have sets up an odd number of games that we have [against certain conference opponents].”

via Los Angeles Lakers’ Phil Jackson offers thoughts on NBA contraction – ESPN Los Angeles.

Jackson, who played for New York for ten years before going to New Jersey, then coached Chicago and Los Angeles, obviously is in tune with smaller markets and the struggle to compete in the NBA’s system which heavily favors the biggest markets in competitive advantage. He’s in touch with what losing these franchises would mean to good fans in hard-working American cities and the thousands of kids who would suffer through losing their favorite franchise. He’s also got a good perspective on the limited potential  of the league in abandoning an expansive set of teams which provides interest in more than just those areas.

With Phil Jackson, who coaches a team that has appeared in 32 of the last 63 Finals, giving great perspective on how competitive balance is well in tune in the NBA, that should be the final straw. After all, when the coach of a team that’s had to endure things like having to trade Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol thinks that the system could use some shortening to allow more star players on big market teams, you know we’re overloaded.

In other news, Mark Cuban supports an initiative for loudmouth owners to get luxury tax breaks, Mike D’Antoni supports a three-point starting handicap in favor of teams whose coaches have mustaches, and I support a tax break for people named Matt.

 

Spencer Dinwiddie signs three-year, $34 million extension to stay with Nets

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There were a lot of general managers eyeing Spencer Dinwiddie as a quality point guard they could grab on the free agent market this summer at a fair price. The hardworking point guard out of the University of Colorado has averaged 16.9 points and 4.8 assists for the Nets this season, is shooting 36.8 percent from three, knows how to be a good floor general, and while a lot of fans may not know his name smart front offices around the league saw an above-average point guard that would fit their system.

Which is why the Nets decided to lock him up and not let him leave Brooklyn. The team announced the deal, Dinwiddie himself confirmed it, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the details.

That’s an above the league average but low starter money, and it’s a good deal for Dinwiddie, who is making $1.6 million this year and that’s the largest payday of his career.

If you don’t know what Dinwiddie can do on the court, go ask the Sixers — he dropped 39 on them last night.

The Nets are trying to build a culture and have a core of smart, solid players to put stars around, and Dinwiddie fits right into this model. They could have tried to lowball him and save some money, but that came with the risk of losing him this summer. The Nets decided to take care of their own instead, a good sign for the franchise.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas undergoes surgery on dislocated thumb, out a month

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It was clear it was bad when it happened. Not because of the violence of the play by Draymond Green — no foul was called, and the hand is part of the ball by rule in these cases — but because of Jonas Valanciunas‘ reaction. The man was in a lot of pain.

With 8 minutes to go in the second quarter of the Raptors win Wednesday night, Valanciunas got the ball with Green on him and decided to back down the smaller player, Green reached in and swiped down knocking the ball away but getting Valanciunas’ hand in the process.

Thursday the Raptors announced that Valanciunas had surgery on his dislocated left thumb and will be out at least a month.

This is a blow to the Raptors’ frontline depth, although they still have plenty of talent up front. Serge Ibaka starts most nights at center, and at times the Raptors go small and put breakout player Pascal Siakam at the five. However, Valanciunas is their matchup for other bigger, more traditional centers, or sometimes coach Nick Nurse tries him to force a mismatch. Valanciunas is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a night playing nearly 19 minutes a night, the Raptors defense is 3 points per 100 possessions better, and the Raptors outscore opponents by 5.4 per 100 when he is on the court. It will not be easy to fill his minutes.

The Raptors are 23-7 and the team in first place in the East having just knocked off the Clippers and Warriors in back-to-back nights on the road. They look like contenders, but they could use Valanciunas to help them get through the regular season (he’s harder to play in the postseason, but we’re not there yet).

 

Hornets owner Michael Jordan: Smacking Malik Monk was ‘tap of endearment’

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Hornets owner Michael Jordan smacked guard Malik Monk on the back head of the head, because Monk prematurely ran on the court to celebrate Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons last night. Charlotte received a technical foul for having too many men on the court, but held on for the victory.

Zach Aldridge of WCCB:

Some people took affront to Jordan putting his hands on Monk – to the point Jordan explained himself.

Associated Press:

Hornets owner Michael Jordan says lightly smacking the back of second-year guard Malik Monk’s head in closing seconds of Wednesday night’s win against the Pistons was a “tap of endearment.”

The Hornets owner, says “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!”

I doubt any other NBA owner could have gotten away with that.

But Jordan isn’t any other NBA owner.

He’s a former player, widely respected as the greatest of all-time. He’s black. He’s just 55, younger than most of his owner peers.

Jordan and Monk can relate in a way other owners and players can’t.

The power dynamic still isn’t balanced. Jordan is Monk’s boss. When initially watching the exchange, I worried Jordan crossed a line.

But both Jordan and Monk laughed it off. I believe this truly was acceptable in the context of their relationship.

LeBron James on consideration given to signing with Rockets: ‘Not much’

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For a while, it seemed LeBron Jamesfinalists in free agency last summer were the Lakers, Cavaliers, 76ers and Rockets.

LeBron obviously signed with the Lakers. Cleveland remains special to him. His agent met with Philadelphia.

And then there’s Houston.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

The Rockets – led by Chris Paul – reportedly recruited LeBron hard.

But LeBron reportedly previously said he didn’t like Houston as a city, and at this point, it’s impossible escape lifestyle as a key consideration for the superstar. He clearly enjoys Los Angeles.

I doubt LeBron regrets dropping the Rockets from consideration early. The main appeal would have been their direction path to championship contention, but they’ve been the NBA’s most disappointing team this season.

Which makes it even easier for LeBron to dismiss his Houston consideration.