If the players are just posturing about this overseas thing, they’re putting their all into it

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If you’re not really going to Europe but you want it to seem like you are, this is the playbook. Release lots of media info, get one big guy to go, tell every reporter who asks that every member of your side is “considering it” and do as many exhibitions in other countries to generate revenue as you can. This is the perfect play to con people into thinking you’re serious about doing it.

It’s also the exact same playbook if you’re actually, you know, going to Europe. Or China. Or the Philippines, since apparently you’re a god there.

There will be no telling until players actually sign elsewhere, or don’t. But reports are coming out, like the latest from Sports Illustrated, that the players are serious about these offers, that there’s more to it than just individual players chasing salary money. It’s about hitting the owners where it hurts to move them off the hard line, it’s about leveraging the endorsement money, capitalizing on the tax-free status, and taking a cohesive approach. From SI: 

It’s the unofficial kind, of course, but sources on the players’ side confirmed the obvious in recent discussions: This isn’t merely about making money, but enjoying a slice of autonomy and sending a message to the owners that their league could be forever changed if they don’t start moving off their draconian collective bargaining mark.

According to one agent of a bona fide NBA star who said he is learning more about this new landscape every day, this is just the beginning. While so much of the public focus is on the individual players and where they might sign, there are private discussions about adding components that could make it even more appealing for the game’s stars to follow in Deron Williams’ path.

via NBA stars looking abroad in earnest – Sam Amick – SI.com.

We’re left to decipher whether this is rhetoric or actual movement, if we care. The reason we should care is that if this is rhetoric, and it is revealed as such, it’s yet another nail the owners will put in the players’ coffin. If it’s real movement, if it’s legitimate, it’s an actual strategy that might work. If it works, the owners might feel a shiver up their spines in those comfy, seat-warmed recliners of theirs. That can move the league off the front line and into the negotiations tent, which is where this thing should be kept anyway.

The big issues revolve around whether this is feasible. Most believe it’s not. It’s incomprehensible. How can a player risk his career like this? Well, considering they don’t have a career if the owners don’t get off the line, that’s not so much of a risk. The teams won’t actually pay the players, right? So they’re all going to fail to pay, all of them, all at once. Thats’ the idea?

This is becoming more possible every day, in theoretical terms. But skeptics won’t start to believe it until they see backs in jerseys in foreign languages. Only they’re not foreign there. Okay, you get what I mean.

Russell Westbrook’s triple-double hands Warriors fourth straight loss

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Russell Westbrook recorded his first triple-double of the season as Oklahoma City defeated the Golden State Warriors 123-95 Wednesday night in a game in which Thunder rookie Hamidou Diallo was carted off on a stretcher with 7:17 left with an apparent left leg injury.

Diallo’s left leg was stabilized as he was wheeled away to applause from the Oracle Arena crowd. The team it turns out not too serious.

Westbrook began 1 for 6, then hit stride, finishing with 11 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds. It was his second game back since missing five with a sprained left ankle, then another when he welcomed twin daughters Saturday night.

Paul George had 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists and Steven Adams contributed 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Thunder sent the two-time defending NBA champions to their first four-game skid in nearly six years.

Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson scored 27 points apiece with Durant grabbing a season-best 14 rebounds for the Warriors, who were again playing without All-Star starters Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, as well as key reserve Alfonzo McKinnie.

Clearly in pain, Diallo moved himself off the court and was under basket for several minutes.

In a loss Monday at Sacramento, Diallo became the first Thunder rookie ever to go at least 7 for 7 from the floor. He made both his 3-point tries on the way to 18 points.

Westbrook’s 3-pointer 4:17 before halftime put the Thunder ahead 50-37.

The Warriors, who held off the Thunder 108-100 in their season opener Oct. 16 and had won the last three matchups, trailed 60-46 at halftime with just 11 assists to 10 turnovers but opened the third with a 13-2 run to get within 62-59.

While Golden State dropped 10 of its final 17 games last season, the Warriors hadn’t endured a four-game losing streak during the regular season since dropping four in a row from Feb. 26-March 2, 2013. They also lost six straight just before that in February `13.

OKC’s Terrance Ferguson returned from a two-game absence as he welcomed a baby, then went down at the 5:41 mark of the first with a sprained left ankle and didn’t return.

 

LeBron James, Lakers prevail in Cleveland after controversial late call

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LeBron James got a warm welcome before the game. He got another standing ovation during the game. And he got favorable officiating late.

Just like old times in Cleveland.

LeBron returned with the Lakers and escaped with a 109-105 win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday. With 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, he did all he could to top his old team. But an odd call also benefited Los Angeles.

With the Lakers up two late, LeBron missed a jumper, and the rebound went out of bounds. Officials ruled it Los Angeles ball with 22.9 seconds left. Per the NBA’s new offensive-rebound shot-clock rule, the shot clock goes to 14 seconds “after the offensive team gets possession of the ball after it goes out of bounds immediately following a missed field goal or free throw that hit the rim.” That seemed to apply here. Yet, the Lakers inbounded with the shot clock off, so the Cavs were forced to foul.

Ultimately, I’m not convinced it mattered, because LeBron split from the line. Is there a huge difference in win expectancy between the Cavaliers getting the ball down three with 19.6 seconds left (what actually happened) and defending down two with 22.9 seconds left and 14 seconds on the shot clock (what probably should have happened)? It seems not.

Besides, this game was more about sentimentality than result, anyway. Sure, a win over LeBron would have been satisfying during a lost season. But Cavaliers fans settled for a nice ovation to LeBron during intros and another with his tribute video:

This game was far closer than 2010, when LeBron returned to Cleveland with the Heat and routed the Cavs. This game was also far, far, far tamer.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, it seems everyone is happier to walk away with limited drama.

Kyrie Irving: ‘F— Thanksgiving’

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There’s a theory Kyrie Irving resented the way LeBron James‘ political opinions always drew attention and Irving’s didn’t. The biggest folly of the situation? Irving’s flat-earth takes were the only non-basketball thing he said that resonated.

But Irving seemingly hit on more meaningful discourse tonight.

After the Celtics’ loss to the Knicks, Irving addressed tomorrow’s holiday.

Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston:

Irving has Native American roots and a strong connection Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. I suspect that informs his opinion on Thanksgiving.

The history of Thanksgiving is more complex than the fairytale many of us were taught in school. Agree or disagree with Irving’s point of view, his remark presents a great opportunity to learn more about different perspectives.

Anthony Davis gets 5×5, but misses game-tying free throw

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When going to the line for multiple free throws, NBA players typically shoot better on each successive attempt.

Anthony Davis bucked that trend at the worst possible time.

With the Pelicans down three and 2.5 seconds left, Davis drew a foul on a 3-pointer. He sunk the first two free throws then missed the third, allowing the 76ers to escape with a 121-120 win.

Davis deserves credit for getting New Orleans so close. Before Davis drew the foul, Jrue Holiday missed a wayward quick-two attempt. Davis stole Ben Simmons‘ attempt to keep the ball in bounds and got up the 3-pointer the Pelicans should have been attempting all along.

After swishing the first two free throws what went wrong for Davis? Maybe it was the curse of Jahlil Okafor. The former 76er subbed in for New Orleans before the third free throw, working the loud Philadelphia crowd into even more of a frenzy.

I’m not sure Davis’ final steal should count, as Simmons might not have had possession. But if it holds up, Davis will have a rare 5×5 – at least five points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks.

For now, it’s the first 5×5 since Draymond Green‘s in 2015 and first 5×5 in a loss since Andrei Kirilenko’s in 2003.

Here’s every 5×5 since 1983-84 (as far back as Basketball-Reference records go):

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