NBA announces League Pass pricing for 2013-14 season

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There was a little bit of a rumbling (read: a mini-freakout) from a section of hardcore NBA fans on Tuesday, when a mass email was sent out from the league in error that announced a skyrocketing of the price to purchase League Pass for next season.

The service that allows access to watch all most regular season games either over the internet or through your local cable provider is essential to NBA junkies, and after the small amount of hysteria that went down in response to the emailed announcement, the league confirmed its pricing for the service for the 2013-14 season.

The Premium full season package that includes all teams will go for a $189 early bird price, and will be $199 after Nov. 5.

The 5-Team Choice Package (broadband only) is $129.99 early bird, and 139.99 after Nov.5 The mobile package to watch games live on your cell phone or tablet will be $49.99.

These prices are in line with what was charged last season, and it’s fair for the offering. There have been wide-ranging complaints about the quality of the service — games being “unavailable due to technical difficulties,” not every game being offered in HD 100 percent of the time, and shaky quality of broadcasts — but overall I found the service to be of more than serviceable quality the majority of the time.

My issues with League Pass are more about the games that you can’t watch via this service.

The limitations are extremely frustrating, and include the following:

Games televised on NBA TV are not included in League Pass broadband (i.e., NBA TV must be purchased through your cable operator in order to view these games): This doesn’t seem like a fair exclusion. If it’s NBA TV and I’m paying to watch NBA games, then those shown on this channel should be available through my League Pass broadband account.

Games televised on TNT, ESPN, or ABC are not included in the League Pass broadband package: This one doesn’t make sense, because if the games are offered technically for free over the air, I should be able to see them over the league’s broadband service as one of its paying customers.

League Pass broadband archives all games for later viewing, which is fantastic. However, the ones shown on the previously-mentioned networks aren’t included, and my local team’s games are both blacked out live and are not available via the archive service. As a journalist who attends my local team’s games in person (or is traveling to see games in other cities), if I forget to set the DVR for whatever channel the game where I live happens to be shown on, I’m unable to watch when I get home or the following day.

Of course, I understand why these restrictions are in place. The NBA is trying to get more people to watch its games on these networks that pay the league billions for broadcast rights, and isn’t trying to get fans to cut the cord with cable by offering its product by itself for a flat rate price.

(Full disclosure: I literally only turn on my television to watch live sports in real time. I would definitely drop my cable subscription if I could pay whatever to watch 100 percent of NBA games online.)

But if the NBA wanted to do right by its fans, it would find a way to distribute those dollars wherever they need to go behind the scenes, and provide the full compliment of its games to its customers for one flat rate, in one simple online solution.

Brad Stevens says Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward should be fully cleared by Aug. 1

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Everyone watching the Boston Celtics in the playoffs kept thinking the same thing: Add Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back into this lineup next summer and — bang — instant contender.

That leads to the question: Just where are Irving and Hayward on their recovery tracks? Glad you asked.

That’s a good sign for the Celtics. And for fans of good basketball.

One word of caution: Progression when adding stars into a system is not necessarily linear. Or, to put it more plainly, throwing superstars who need the ball in their hands into the mix comes with its own set of adjustments and challenges, things do not always go smoothly or as planned. There could be some fits and starts as the Celtics figure things out next season. (And that’s not even getting into the Kawhi Leonard rumors, which are legitimate but also a long way from reality as of today.)

If you were going to trust one coach to figure it out and get guys to buy in, Brad Stevens would be your guy. The Celtics are rightfully going to enter next season as the bar to clear in the East (free agency depending). Just don’t expect things to go smoothly from day one, because that’s just not how basketball or life work.

Michael Porter Jr. says his injury situation “got exaggerated a lot”

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If healthy, Michael Porter Jr. might be as talented as anyone in this draft. He’s a 6’11” wing or small ball four who can shoot from the NBA three-point line and has the athleticism to get up and down the floor then finish with authority.

But health is a concern. There was the back injury which forced a microdiscectomy surgery that forced Porter to miss all but three games last season. Back injuries in big men are tricky things and can linger. Then last week there was an off-again-on-again workout and medical evaluation with the pause due to a hip issue. Was that soreness tied to the back issue?

In an interview on ESPN radio, Porter played down the injury concerns.

Former Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr., who had issues with his hip and back, said Monday that he’s “feeling great” and wouldn’t dismiss the idea of working out for teams this week ahead of Thursday’s NBA draft.

“It’s a possibility,” Porter said on The Will Cain Show on ESPN Radio. “I feel good. … I got evaluated. I let the doctors come in and do all their tests on me. I’m feeling good. I think the teams are comfortable, but I might get a couple workouts in.”

As for last week’s hip issue.

“It was just a little sore, so I told [my agent] my hip was kind of sore and he just wanted to shut it down for a couple of days,” Porter said. “And then people took that and kind of ran with it, saying, you know, my hip was injured, I couldn’t get out of bed. … None of that was really true. I was just sore and I wanted to take a couple of days off. So that’s all that was.”

Porter is the mystery man in this draft — and those guys always seem to rise and have someone fall in love with them. It’s hard to imagine Porter going lower than eighth, but he has been linked to teams as high as the Kings at No. 2.

Porter is the kind of player that some team lower in the draft may fall in love with and be willing to trade up to the top five to snag him. The health is the question. An NBA front office member who has seen Porter’s medical reports described them to NBC Sports as “fine.”

There are also concerns about Porter’s grit and toughness. He has the reputation of having been insulated and having been a bit of a diva, what happens when he gets to an NBA team where he is not the first (and, at first at least, maybe not the second) option. What happens when he has to play more of a role and have it not be about him and his touches? Teams are asking about that.

Despite the concerns, there will be a team taking him in the first half of the lottery. It could be a home run. Or… that’s what makes the draft interesting.

Report: As expected, Jamal Crawford declines $4.5 million player option with Minnesota

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Jamal Crawford wants a bigger payday, and after a solid season scoring 10.3 points per game for Minnesota last season, he might get it despite a tight market. That’s why what happened on Monday was expected.

Crawford opted out of the final year of his contract with the Timberwolves, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jamal Crawford has declined his $4.5 million player option for next season and will become a free agent, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, will become one of the top reserve scorers on the open market after facing Monday’s deadline to decide on his option.

The concern for teams is that Crawford is 38 and already showing some decline in his skills and game. Crawford can still be productive, but teams will be leery of offering more than two years guaranteed on his contract. And for a guy who comes off the bench — even a three-time Sixth Man of the Year — teams are not going to spend big.

Crawford may also just be looking for a new team chemistry and role, something at this stage in his career he should be able to get.

Enes Kanter’s father sentenced to 15 years in jail in ongoing political dispute

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The dictatorial Turkish government has issued an arrest warrant for Knicks big man Enes Kanter because he is an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter is not foolish enough to go home to be arrested (and likely tortured), he may never see his homeland again.

Kanter’s family had to disavow their son and his beliefs. That apparently was not enough. Kanter’s father, Mehmet Kanter, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Turkey for “membership in a terror group,” the country’s official news agency reported Monday.

Enes Kanter believes to be a politically motivated attempt to go at him. Kanter released this statement.

The Turkish government’s shots at Kanter are not new. Last summer the Turkish government revoked Kanter’s passport while he was abroad, forcing American diplomats (with some help from the NBA) to step in and prevent him from being sent back to his native country and arrested.

All of this is because Kanter is a follower of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkish president Erdogan — who is essentially a dictator now, and runs a country where human rights abuses are rampant — blames Gulen for masterminding a failed 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, and used that as an excuse for a crackdown and consolidation of power.

Using or dividing family members to try to gain political advantage or make a political statement is abhorrent, anywhere it happens. Unfortunately, Kanter is caught in the middle of it and there is little he can do.