NBA’s 44-minute game clocks in at under 2 hours, players barely notice (VIDEO)

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NEW YORK — The Celtics came from 17 points down to beat the Nets 95-90 in preseason action on Sunday, but those weren’t the numbers everyone was looking at.

Instead, it was those on the clock.

The game lasted just one hour and 58 minutes, thanks to the NBA experimenting with a 44-minute format that saw the teams play 11-minute quarters, with one mandatory timeout that normally takes place in both the second and fourth quarters eliminated in an effort to tighten things up.

Not that anyone really noticed.

“No, not really,” said Nets head coach Lionel Hollins, when asked if the game felt shorter. “When you’re coaching and I look up there and when we’re already to the first [mandatory] time out, that was kind of surprising. That was the only time it seemed like it was quick. Other than that, I didn’t really notice it.”

“You noticed it a little bit when you are subbing at the start of quarters, but I thought the flow with the one less time out was actually a little bit better in the second and fourth,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said.  “I didn’t notice it a whole lot, and I don’t know how much impact it had on the game.”

To a man, players on both sides echoed those sentiments.

What did impact things, at least on the Nets side, was fatigue stemming from the team’s recent preseason trip to China; Hollins, Andrei Kirilenko and Mason Plumlee were among those who said as much. The Nets led by as many as 17 points in the second quarter, before the Celtics stormed back to take the lead in the third, during a period where Brooklyn was unusually sloppy and committed seven turnovers.

The gimmick didn’t have anything to do with the outcome, which is likely a good thing if the league is going to expand plans to tinker with the format in the future. Statistically, a few guys were still able to log above average performances — Jared Sullinger finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds, Jarrett Jack had 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench, and Jerome Jordan continued his strong bid to make Brooklyn’s roster by finishing with 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting, to go along with six rebounds.

But while shorter games would fit better into television time slots — which is no doubt an important consideration, especially in light of how much money the league’s broadcast partners agreed to shell out in the latest rights deal — that appears to be the only positive that would be accomplished.

Hollins is among the head coaches who believe that shorter games wouldn’t lessen the wear and tear on the league’s star players, or even those simply penciled in to be in the starting lineup. Most teams would continue to ride their best players, and the result would be four fewer minutes available for the reserve players to earn. That could create an issue for the players union, since playing fewer minutes would mean reserves would have less of an impact, and that could ultimately translate to a similarly decreased value of their future contracts.

But that’s all speculation for now, and is likely to remain so for quite some time.

One preseason contest doesn’t provide nearly enough information to consider making such a drastic decision. While the overall impact of a shorter game seemed fairly minimal today, there are unforeseen issues that could arise when a larger data set is available to be studied.

Harrison Barnes declining $25,102,512 player option with Kings

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Harrison Barnes‘ salary was so high, he became a talking point in the debate about WNBA salaries.

But he’s so confident he’ll get a better deal, he’s leaving $25,102,512 on the table with the Kings.

James Ham of NBC Sports California:

If they renounce all their free agents, the Kings project to have about $60 million in cap space – likely more than they know what do with.

They could re-sign Barnes. By trading for him last year, they indicated they value him more than the rest of the league does.

Even if he settles for a lower salary next season than his player option called for, this could be the 27-year-old Barnes’ opportunity to secure a long-term deal. He’s a solid outside shooter and, even if he’s better at power forward, capable of playing small forward in a league thirsty for wings.

Sacramento could definitely use a player like him.

Can the Kings lure someone better, either this summer or – if they keep their books clean – a future year? Unless way overpaid, free agents have tended to avoid Sacramento. But the rapidly improving De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield are leading a turnaround.

Barnes’ free agency could be a good litmus test for the Kings’ reputation now. Can they convince him to continue his role on a rising team? Will they have to pay a premium to keep him? Or does he just want to leave?

Report: Anthony Davis intends to receive full trade bonus

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The Lakers are reportedly on track to trade for Anthony Davis on July 6 – the date an important distinction in determining the Lakers’ cap space.

The other key question: Will Davis take his full $4,063,953 trade bonus?

The Pelicans will pay the bonus. It will count against the Lakers’ cap.

Especially considering Davis requested a trade, New Orleans could have pressed him to waive the trade bonus in order to accommodate him. Likewise, the Lakers – his desired team – could have made the deal contingent on Davis waiving the trade bonus.

Ramona Shelburne on ESPN:

My understanding is he doesn’t intend to waive that. He’s due the four million dollars, and he’s going to keep it. But again, as you just noted in that monologue, things can change.

If he takes the full bonus, Davis’ salary next season will increase from $27,093,018 to $31,156,971. And good for him. He earned the trade kicker in his contract.

This also supports agent Rich Paul’s contention that he puts Davis’ interests first while representing Davis, not catering to fellow client LeBron James. Because while the extra money is nice for Davis, this hurts LeBron’s Lakers.

The Lakers now project to have just $24 million in cap room. They can still get a helpful player or two, but $28 million would have gone further.

I wonder whether the Pelicans prefer to pay Davis’ bonus. Though a $4,063,953 check is nothing to sneeze at, tying up the Lakers’ cap space has value with New Orleans getting so many future draft picks from Los Angeles. Maybe the Pelicans have already made Davis getting his full bonus an essential aspect of this trade.

If not, the Lakers have a week before the Davis trade can become official to pitch free agents. Perhaps, if they line up certain free agents and show him the spending power of that extra money, Davis would waive all or some of his trade bonus.

But I wouldn’t blame him if he wants his money and puts the onus on the Lakers to build a strong team, anyway. That’d sounds a lot like another Paul client.

Kawhi Leonard leaving NBA-champion Raptors would be unlike anything we’ve ever seen

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Many Raptors fans hoped Kawhi Leonard would use yesterday’s championship parade to declare his plan to re-sign with Toronto.

They got a laugh and not much else.

But they can be heartened – or maybe eventually heartbroken –a by this: Stars almost never switched teams immediately following a title.

Before this year, there have been…

  • 49 Finals MVPs who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 147 All-Stars who won a championship. None switched teams that offseason.
  • 124 All-NBA players who won a championship. Only one switched teams that offseason.

In 1998, Scottie Pippen got signed-and-traded from the Bulls to the Rockets. He was neither an All-Star nor Finals MVP that year, but he made the All-NBA third team. After leaving Chicago, he never achieved any of those accolades.

Leonard checked all three boxes this season – Finals MVP, All-NBA, All-Star. He looks poised to take over as the NBA’s best player for the next few several years.

It’d be unprecedented for someone like him to bolt.

The most productive player to leave a championship team immediately after winning a title? It might be Tyson Chandler, who posted 9.4 win shares for the 2011 Mavericks then got signed-and-traded to the Knicks.

Even while missing 22 games amid load management and minor injury, Leonard posted 9.5 win shares last season.

Here’s how Leonard compares to the players with the most win shares in a title-winning season who began play elsewhere the following year:

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Of course, Leonard isn’t bound by history. He’ll make his own decision. If he wants to leave the Raptors for the Clippers, Knicks or anyone else, he can.

But players just usually stick with a champion. LeBron James said he might have re-signed with the Heat if they won the 2014 title. Kyrie Irving was unhappy after the Cavaliers’ 2016 championship but didn’t request a trade until they lost in the 2017 NBA Finals. Shaq and Kobe coexisted peacefully enough until the Lakers stopped winning titles.

It’s just hard to leave a team that has proven its ability to win a championship, and Leonard would have that in Toronto.

Report: Al Horford opting out with Celtics

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Celtics president Danny Ainge called restructuring Al Horford‘s contract status – which would involve the center declining his $30,123,015 player option then re-signing for a lower starting salary but more total compensation in a multi-year deal – a priority.

This is either a step toward that or a step toward Boston, with Kyrie Irving seemingly exiting, losing multiple stars this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

If they renounce all their free agents, the Celtics would project to have about $32 million in cap space. That’d be about enough for a max player with fewer than 10 years experience, and Boston would get the room exception (projected to be about $5 million)

Or the Celtics could use Bird Rights to re-sign Horford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. That route would come with a mid-level exception, either the non-taxpayer (projected to be about $9 million) or taxpayer (projected to be about $6 million).

Horford could determine Boston’s path. If the 33-year-old wants to re-sign, that’d probably consume most of the Celtics’ cap space. If he sees Irving leaving and wants to chase a title elsewhere, Boston could reset around Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and three first-round picks in Thursday’s draft.

The Celtics could bring back Rozier, who’ll be a restricted free agent, in either scenario. But if Horford departs, that’d at least open the door to pursue an outside point guard – like D'Angelo Russell or Malcolm Brogdon – to replace Irving.