Nazr Mohammed was doing so well, too

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For starters, it should be noted that at least the players are willing to talk about these things. They’re brave enough to go on Twitter, to talk to reporters, to have conversations about the state of the lockout and the potential end of the season. Their position is obviously as biased as it can be, but while they’re taking to social media and media outlets, the owners are hiding behind limousine windows. The response to that is “They’ll get fined!” but that belies what we’ve seen and heard, which is that David Stern is beholden to the owners. So which is it? He’s helpless against their insatiable desires or he rules them with the iron fist?

But I digress.

Nazr Mohammed was discussing the owners’ latest offer on Twitter and doing a pretty decent job. He won’t speak to specifics but continues to rail against the owners and explaining why the players will likely opt for decertification over a vote on Monday. But then, well, he went too far.

 

If this deal is accepted…I advise guys to stay in school and get ur degree, Master’s if possible. U might be able to make more $ that…Sat Nov 12 18:53:57 via Twitter for iPhone

…way than playing in the NBA in ur 1st five years. Being the 1st pick of the draft would mean nothing. #NBALockoutSat Nov 12 18:55:51 via Twitter for iPhone

 

That… was NOT what you wanted to say.

OK, so here’s what he’s talking about.

Everyone freaked out yesterday about a single 140-character tweet from Ric Bucher yesterday about a proposal element that would give teams the right to send a player to the D-League for the first five years of their career and pro-rate them at $75,000 while they’re down there. Now, I can tell you having covered the D-League for the past four years, the goal of the league is not to serve as some sort of Siberian prison camp for players to punish them. If that proposal did make it in, it would be used only for players who clearly weren’t ready. When they were, they would come up. If you draft a top draft pick, you’re not sending him to the D-League for five years to keep costs down. You want him up. The guys this would impact would likely not be part of the union long-term anyway. And we don’t know any of the surrounding details of the proposal. Oh, and what’s that? One more thing? Oh, yeah.

It’s not in the proposal anymore. It’s gone. It’s dead. It’s over. But players are still reacting to it.

NBPA COMMUNICATION = FAIL.

But just for kicks, let’s say that Mohammed’s right. That this could happen.

Via Wikipedia, the average salary for a graduate of a Master’s program several years ago, prior to the recession, was $63,000. Now subtract student loans. Now consider that most MA’s aren’t going to be in fields that yield significantly higher than that. Now consider how many MA’s you know who are working in service-industry jobs right now because of the economy. Now consider the per-hour rate of most MA’s vs. NBA players (who work very, very hard, make no mistake).

Yeah, that was not the best thing.

What’s worse is that this is the kind of thing the players don’t need right now. Even though winning the PR war will do nothing for negotiations, the players just don’t need something similar to Patrick Ewing’s famous “We spend a lot, too” comment. The players don’t necessarily have to have a high awareness of the job market outside the NBA. In a lot of ways many NBA members have a greater awareness of the poverty conditions in this country than most. But they don’t need to be talking about any NBA player being put in a bad situation. They’ll be put in a worse situation than they were under in the last CBA. But their lives overall will still be pretty great.

 

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.

How corrosive is tension between James Harden and Chris Paul in Houston?

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Golden State is not going to be contending for a title next season. Sorry Stephen, but you’re just not.

That throws open the doors to the West crown and, eventually, the NBA title, and teams will be lining up to take their shots. The Lakers just added Anthony Davis to go with LeBron James. Denver should improve and is looking for wing help. Utah feels just one playmaker away. The Clippers are big game hunting, and if they land one they become a threat.

Houston, however, should be at the front of that line… if they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. Contract extension talks with coach Mike D’Antoni are stalled, and at ESPN Tim MacMahon put together a fascinating inside look at the tension between at his isolation-heavy and at his peak James Harden and the intense but declining Chris Paul.

But Paul noticeably lost a step last season, as evidenced by analytics and the eye test. Paul pushed for more plays and sets in the Houston offense, more screening and deception, despite Harden being in the process of putting together a historically dominant individual offensive season.

“Chris wants to coach James,” says a source familiar with the stars’ dynamic. “James looks at him like, ‘You can’t even beat your man. Just shut up and watch me.'”…

It has reached a point, team sources say, where Paul cherishes the chance to play without Harden on the floor. On several occasions, according to team sources, Paul barked at D’Antoni to keep Harden on the bench while he was running the second unit. Harden simultaneously would lobby — or demand — to check back into the game.

There’s tension there, but is it corrosive to the point of the team unraveling? Or, as GM Daryl Morey and everyone else with the Rockets says, is this just blown out of proportion? Time will tell.

Two things to point out.

First, tension between two stars and alpha personalities is far from new in the NBA (or any other professional sport), and it does not mean a team is in trouble. These things can be worked out, they just flared up more in the wake of the round two loss to the Warriors.

Second, these guys are stuck with each other. Obviously, the Rockets aren’t trading Harden. They would be open to trading CP3, but at age 34 and owed $124 million over three more seasons, there are no takers (unless the Rockets want to throw in a sweetener, which they don’t). The players around them may change, the coach could change, but Harden and Paul have years left together.

This team is so close to a title, it’s hard to envision them really coming apart at the seams next season. These guys are too professional for that… although in wild NBA crazier things have happened.