Vlade Divac in favor of NBA’s anti-flopping rules

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TREVISO, Italy — Vlade Divac was the guest speaker for day two of adidas Eurocamp, and spent some time with the international players trying to impart some of his vast knowledge of the game gleaned from a successful 16-year career in the NBA.

Divac is known as one of the great passing big men of all time, but he’s also known for bringing flopping into the NBA — if not initiating it, then certainly making it more prominent and acceptable as a way for players to gain an advantage.

The league has implemented a largely toothless anti-flopping policy in recent years, but it’s at least a start in trying to shame players into cutting down on the blatant attempts to fool the referees into making a questionable call in their team’s favor. It hasn’t had much of an effect, as we’re still seeing it go on at this late stage of the postseason.

Divac was better than anyone during his era at successfully pulling off these kinds of acting jobs, but he’s not necessarily proud of it. He’s in favor of the league trying to eliminate it from the game, but said his resorting to that strategy was simply done out of necessity.

“Whenever you overdo something, it’s time to stop it,” Divac told NBCSports.com. “So I think it’s a great decision by the NBA. But everyone is saying that’s my rule; that’s not my rule. That’s Shaq’s rule.”

Wait, you think Shaq started it?

“No, I started it because of Shaq, because they didn’t want to call fouls,” Divac said. “So that’s not my rule, that’s Shaq’s rule.”

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Our interview also covered a variety of topics.

On players forcing their way out of current teams in advance of free agency (i.e., Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, and now potentially Kevin Love):

“I’m not supporting it,” Divac said. “But you can’t do anything about it. I think loyalty from all sides should have more impact — from the teams and the players. You just can’t go to [random] places. I remember when I made the decision to go to Sacramento, all my friends, even my agent, advised me not to go because they were the worst team. But I chose to take the challenge, make sure that I do something to change it. And I did.

“For me, being a champion is the way you act and the things that you do on the way to being a champion. That’s more important. Today, I can be a champion — just go and sign with the Miami Heat, and I’ll be a champion, right?”

On the ways the game has changed since he played:

“Every year it’s become more fast and physical,” Divac said. “I don’t see big men playing with their back to the basket anymore. That’s a big minus for basketball. To have an inside-outside game, it’s very important to have big men playing with their backs to the basket.”

On being traded from the Lakers to Charlotte:

“I was devastated,” Divac said. “That first week, I just didn’t know what was happening. But you know, things happen in life that you don’t have answers until later on. I think that trade actually helped me and extended my career. It was good for me, but back then I didn’t know.”

“I talked to Jerry West or Mitch Kupchak later on, I told them now, thinking about it, I would do the same thing. Because you move Vlade, you make the salary cap to get Shaq and you get Kobe. So you got Shaq and Kobe for Vlade. It’s a no-brainer.”

Was it an honor to be part of a deal involving two Hall of Famers?

“I’m not honored,” he said with a laugh. “But I would have done the same thing.”

Dan Patrick Show: Flopping too big an issue in today’s NBA

Jazz center Rudy Gobert hits super-max criteria for extension projected to be worth $250 million over five years

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Anthony Davis signed a max rookie-scale contract extension in 2015, between his third and fourth seasons. Based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement at the time, the extension called for him to earn a higher salary if he was twice voted an All-Star starter or made two All-NBA teams during his first four seasons. Davis was voted an All-Star starter and made the All-NBA first team in his third season.

Unfortunately for Davis, he missed both honors his fourth year. The All-NBA and All-Star-starter tracks ran independently. Davis couldn’t qualify for a higher max salary by earning one of each.

That cost him $19,683,908 over the four pre-player-option seasons of his extension, which will end next year.

The current CBA’s more significant adjustments to super-max eligibility – changing the years for qualification, using Defensive Player of the Year instead of All-Star starter – obscured a minor tweak. The tracks now run together. A player can qualify with one Defensive Player of the Year and one All-NBA selection. He needn’t achieve two of one category.

So, Jazz center Rudy Gobert – who won won Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and made All-NBA this year – quietly became eligible to sign a super-max extension in the 2020 offseason. The extension’s highest-allowable value projects to be $250 million over five years. The first four years would follow the structure of the super-max Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers are set to sign.

Newsflash: Gobert isn’t Lillard.

Gobert is elite defensively and underrated offensively. But paying him $50 million per year from ages 30-34 in a league overflowing with good centers? That’s a recipe for disaster for Utah.

But Gobert earned eligibility. That makes it harder for the Jazz to tell him they don’t deem him worthy. That tension is an unintended consequence of the super-max rules.

There is room for negotiation. In this case, Gobert’s designated-veteran-player extension must be for five seasons and have a starting salary between 30% and 35% of the 2021-22 salary cap. But his salary can increase or decrease annually by up to 8% of his first-year salary. The deal can be partially guaranteed.

Still, the lowest possible designated-veteran-player extension for Gobert projects to be $155 million over five years. If fully guaranteed, that’d be expensive for a player of his age. If not fully guaranteed, the Jazz would get savings only by waiving him, and that’d mean dropping the cheaper latter years.

Because he doesn’t have enough experience to qualify, Gobert can’t sign a super-max extension until the 2020 offseason. He met the award criteria, but a player must have seven or eight years of experience. Gobert just finished his sixth year. He’s also under contract for two more seasons – locked into salaries of $24,758,427 next season and $26,275,281 the following year.

So, there’s time to figure this out.

But this is the most uneasy super-max situation so far – unless Gobert just doesn’t insist on the money. Good luck with that.

Rumor: Wizards interested in Trail Blazers president Neil Olshey

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The Wizards struck out on luring Nuggets president Tim Connelly.

Washington’s next choice?

Ben Standig of NBC Washington:

As for the rumor mill, one name stands out: Neil Olshey.

Numerous sources told NBC Sports Washington of the Wizards’ interest in Blazers President of Basketball Operations

Olshey has done a good job in Portland. He drafted Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum then built a winner around those two after LaMarcus Aldridge left. Trading for and re-signing Jusuf Nurkic to a reasonable contract looks great. Olshey also overpaid Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe and Festus Ezeli, but many teams spent wildly in 2016. It was a weird summer.

The Wizards would do well to hire such a proven executive.

Would Olshey leave the Trail Blazers? Their ownership situation remains uncertain following the death of Paul Allen in October. Wizards owner Ted Leonsis has demonstrated extreme loyalty to his executives.

Portland will also reportedly sign Damian Lillard to a super-max extension – a move that practically must be made, but one that carries massive downside risk. However, if he goes to Washington, Olshey would be trading uncertainty in Damian Lillard’s value on the super-max for certain negative value with John Wall on his super-max extension.

A couple years ago, Olshey signed his own extension through 2021. Maybe he’s ready to move on.

Or maybe he’s ready to use the Wizards as leverage for a raise.

Rumor: Lakers hired Jason Kidd to lure Giannis Antetokounmpo

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New Lakers coach Frank Vogel said he wanted Jason Kidd because Kidd is a good coach.

Steve Popper of Newsday:

the person familiar with the Lakers process said something else: that Kidd was brought to Los Angeles to attract Giannis Antetokounmpo to the Lakers when he becomes a free agent in two years when the Bucks star could become an unrestricted free agent.

Things I believe:

1. This plan probably wouldn’t work. Not only does Antetokounmpo appear happy in Milwaukee, he has specifically said he could never see himself playing for Los Angeles. And though I believe Antetokounmpo respected Kidd while Kidd coached him, look at the Bucks now. They’re so much better under Mike Budenholzer. You think Antetokounmpo is itching to play for Kidd again after seeing the other side?

2. The Lakers might just try this wild plan anyway. Remember when they were waiting to hire a coach in 2014 so free agent LeBron James could pick? Aside from signing LeBron last year, who seemingly had his eye on Los Angeles for years and for reasons other than basketball, the Lakers have struck out on star free agents. The franchise is getting desperate.

3. People want to believe the Lakers would do something crazy like this, and that makes the rumor spread faster – whether or not it’s true. The Lakers, because of their stature, tactics and general manager have made many enemies around the league. Plenty of folks are enjoying piling on.

Drake says Raptors ‘are like a college sports team’ (VIDEO)

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The Toronto Raptors are just one win away from their first ever NBA Finals appearance. Kawhi Leonard helped Toronto beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 105-99, on Thursday night in game 5. That gave the Raptors a 3-2 Series lead over the Bucs as they head back to Canada on Saturday.

Meanwhile, rapper Drake and a bunch of fans watched the victory over Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Jurassic Park outside of Scotiabank Arena. Elated with the win, Drake of course made statements to local television and to the crowd itself, saying the Raptors were “like a college team”.

Via Twitter:

Game 6 is on Saturday in Ontario at 5:30 p.m. PST.