Sunday night NBA grades: Jason Collins takes the court, Jamal Crawford owns his

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while getting sucked into the “Reality Bites” power rankings

source:   Jason Collins, Brooklyn Nets. He was brought in to Brooklyn because he has a skill set they need — he can defend the post, he can rebound, and he sets a mean pick (Collins said after the game his favorite part of the night was when Jordan Farmar complained he set an illegal pick). Collins is an NBA player. He also happens to be gay — and yes, that is a story. A good story. A story that a lot of people need to hear. Who he loves and who he is can inspire a lot of people, many young and confused, who need to see they can be true to who they are and still accomplish what they set out to do. It matters. Collins matters. Good to see him back.

source:   Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers. That is swagger. Kevin Durant dropped 42 on the Clippers including a three that put the Thunder up three with 2:40 left, but in the end it was Crawford with the dagger three to put the Clippers up four a minute later, then if that wasn’t the dagger he hit a floater/jumper with: 39 left that kept the Clippers up four. Crawford had 11 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. He took advantage of a soft Thunder defense (that was what cost OKC the game, not Russell Westbrook’s late shots) but if he plays like this while J.J. Redick is out the Clippers will be just fine.

source:  Isaiah Thomas/Rudy Gay/DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings. Miami has it’s big three, as they put it at SacTown Royalty Sacramento has its “only three” — Thomas/Gay/Cousins accounted for 92 of Sacramento’s 109 points on the night. That’s how it will be for this team, those three have to carry them to win, which they did on Sunday. What really matters is this trio shot 58.1 percent as a group, they were efficient. They also combined for 23 rebounds and 14 assists.

source:  Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Portland trailed by 18 in the first half to Minnesota, and the only reason it was that close was Lillard’s 13 points in the first quarter. He also had 10 points in third quarter when Portland’s comeback kicked into full gear. He battled foul trouble in the fourth (and his grade fell for it), when Wesley Mathews put up seven points. Still, good game for Lillard who finished with 32 points, and who is about to jump from Adidas (but that is another story).

Report: Lakers management still supporting Luke Walton as coach through rest of season

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Lakers president Magic Johnson said he wouldn’t fire Luke Walton during the season “unless something drastic happens, which it won’t.”

Does a 4-7 stretch (most of those games without LeBron James) qualify as drastic? Nope.

What about following that with a 2-2 stretching including an ugly loss to the Cavaliers? Apparently not.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

Lakers management continues to project support for Walton publicly and privately — at least through this season, multiple sources told ESPN.

Walton might not be coaching to keep his job the rest of the season. But he’s almost certainly coaching to retain it for next season.

Johnson inherited, rather than hired, Walton. The new boss apparently hasn’t been impressed with his coach. As long as Johnson’s support seems so tepid and the Lakers keep losing, it will be worth continuing to evaluate Walton’s status.

LeBron getting healthy will go a long way. He can cover for this otherwise-deficient roster and make Walton look better.

But, in the meantime, Walton must avoid catastrophe to keep his job. So far, so good.

Report: Warriors project at least $100 million revenue increase with new arena next season

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The Warriors’ player costs this season are in line to be about $195 million (about $145 million in salary, about $50 million in luxury tax).

If they re-sign Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to max salaries, keep everyone under contract, sign their own draft picks and fill the rest of their roster with minimum-salary free agents, the Warriors’ spending on players next season would project to hit about $355 million (about $173 million in salary, about $182 million in luxury tax).

But maybe Golden State can afford it.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Internally, the Warriors project a nine-figure increase in revenue when they move into the Chase Center next season, sources said.

The Warriors already make so much money on their home games. That’s a whopping increase – one that could alone increase the league-wide salary cap a couple million dollars.

But this figure doesn’t say how much more money will reach Golden State ownership. Revenue differs from profit. The Warriors could have greater expenses, including revenue-sharing obligations, in their new arena.

Still, it’s hard to imagine this won’t be a windfall for the Golden State, one that could go a long way not just in affording stars but also keeping complementary players like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

The salary cap promotes competitive balance. But big-spending teams still have an advantage.

2019 NBA All-Star jersey leaks

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
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NBA All-Stars wore black and white uniforms last season, and it appears this year’s All-Star game will feature a similar look.

Josman Suri:

I love All-Star jerseys integrating a player’s NBA team, which comes more naturally now that All-Star teams are selected by captains rather than East vs. West.

But these are pretty bad. They look cheap and generic.

Perhaps, the red-white-and-blue borders are a nod to All-Star jerseys from 1991, when the game was last held in Charlotte:

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(AP Photo/Susan Regan)

If so, I appreciate the attempt to connect historically. But the link is pretty weak.

The Hornets have iconic colors in teal and purple. I’d rather see those integrated into the All-Star uniforms.

And I fear the white versions could look even worse. A black-and-white version of the Lakers’ looks too plain in the above photo. That version of a team’s logo could look even blander against white.

Dennis Schroder on trade from Hawks to Thunder: ‘I wanted to be in a winning-mentality organization. You just can’t go out there and try to lose’

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Dennis Schroder expressed his dismay last offseason with the Hawks’ losing.

Safe to say, the point guard was happy to be traded to the Thunder.

Schroder, via Erik Horne of The Oklahoman:

“I wanted to be in a winning mentality organization,” Schroder said bluntly, not the first time he’s brought up the different direction he had from the new Hawks, who are 13-30 entering Tuesday’s game. “You just can’t go out there and try to lose.

“I’m a competitor and I try to give everything out there. I want the organization to feel the same way. Right now with our organization, all the players in the locker room, all of the coaches, they’ve got a winning mentality. That’s what makes it fun, when you go out there and go to war with your brothers. There’s nothing better than that.”

Atlanta beat Oklahoma City by 16 last night, turning Schroder’s comments on their head. But that was only one game. Obviously, the Thunder are far better than the Hawks.

Atlanta is doing right by itself by rebuilding. But aggravating veterans should be a consequence of tanking. It’s a natural check on the practice.

Though Hawks players aren’t trying to lose when on the court, management built a team less-equipped to win now with the clear intent of landing a higher draft pick. It’s a miserable situations for veterans who are capable of contributing to a winner – which tends to make those veterans lose interest, which makes the team lose even more, which furthers management’s goals.

Schroder escaped that in Atlanta, maybe in part by complaining about his situation. I don’t blame him for continuing to call attention to the stark differences in philosophy between the Hawks and Thunder right now.