Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points.
• There’s a great post from Mike Prada at SBN that starts to explain why traditional big-spending teams — Lakers, Knicks, Celtics, Mavericks — are making moves now to lower payroll, because they are scared of the increased taxes that will kick in starting in 2014. He has a great paragraph explaining the implications:
As an exercise, consider the Los Angeles Lakers. Last year, they had a payroll of nearly $86 million. Under the old system, which was in effect, the Lakers owed just under $16 million in luxury-tax fees. Under the new system, though, they would have owed $7.5 million for the first $5 million over the tax, $8.75 million for the next five million, $12.5 million for the next five million and $3.25 million for the final $1 million. Right there, that’s a $32.25 million tax bill. In addition, since the Lakers were over the tax in four of the past five years, they would have owed an additional $5 million at each juncture. That leaves them with a tax bill of over $52 million for being $16 million over the threshold.
• Despite the future tax implications, James Harden expects to sign a new contact with Thunder this summer. Nobody doubts he will, but there is a big bill coming for the Thunder down the line and they will make changes.
• My take on those last two notes — the owners fought hard to have this heavy tax and flattening of payrolls in the NBA, thinking it would flatten out the salary levels (it will) and give more teams a chance. To force some parity. But what it will do — whether you built your team like the Heat or Thunder did — is force you to break it up sooner or have stars with no real talent around them. Is that good for the league? Especially a league that sells stars? I think it backfires.
• Tyler Zeller talks about going through the workout process leading up to the draft with Zach Lowe at SI. And they talk fashion.
• As expected, the Blazers extended a qualifying offer to Nicolas Batum. Other teams like him but the Blazers will not let him go.
• Tyreke Evans has told the Sacramento Kings he doesn’t want to play the small forward next year. The smart money is he doesn’t play for the Kings next year — his name comes up in all kinds of trade rumors.
• As was expected, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills has been named to the Australian Olympic basketball team.
• However, Bobcats big man Byron Mullens will not play for Great Britain in the Olympics due to a toe injury.
• LeBron is back being active on twitter and has more followers than you.
• Taj Gibson’s birthday cake was a picture of him dunking on Dwyane Wade. Nice.
• With Danny Ferry signing on to be GM of the Hawks, the 76ers are scaling back their search for the guy who will take over for Rod Thorn.
• Danny Ainge talks about how the Celtics overachieved this year. His word, not mine.
• By the way, Thorn said the 76ers would be drafting the best player available regardless of position. Every team should do this (or use a tier system). Drafting for need works in the NFL, but the NBA draft is a different animal.
• Here’s a breakdown of how the appeal of the arbiter’s ruling on the Jeremy Lin/waiver/Bird rights ruling will go down. Big implications for the Knicks offseason on the line.
• Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon is having some business troubles.
• RIP to Ted Luckenbill, the former University of Houston college star who played in Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game.