Expect changes to NBA moratorium rule in wake of DeAndre Jordan decision

37 Comments

You might want to avoid Mark Cuban today. Nobody can really blame him for being in a bad mood — DeAndre Jordan, one of the best centers in the game, verbally agreed to come to Dallas, and then at the last minute backed out and re-signed with the Clippers. Jordan started what became one of the wildest days in free agency memory by calling up Doc Rivers directly, blocking out his agent and refusing to take a call from (let alone meet) Cuban face-to-face. It blew up the Maverick’s summer plans to try and be one of the elite teams in the West (they were probably still on the second tier, but if Jordan hadn’t given them a verbal Cuban likely would have gone in a very different direction this summer).

Cuban isn’t the only team executive ticked off.

There are a lot of other front offices around the league that thought this looked bad for business — players hiding out at a home, avoiding responsibility while playing cards and video games. It was certainly dramatic. It was also unprofessional. There are a lot of people — scouts, assistant coaches, and so many others that work for teams on the business side — whose livelihoods depend on the $5 billion NBA business, and this made it look like a toy.

What Jordan did was within his rights, I don’t have a problem with a player deciding to go where he wants. I don’t blame the Clippers — they got a direct call from Jordan saying he was having second thoughts, and their title hopes hinged on him changing his mind.

But there will be fallout from how this is done.

Other teams also saw how this shook out and feared the repercussions. For one it could mean even when a free agent decides to move on — and it doesn’t happen that often, major targets stay put about two-thirds of the time — the recruiting of them might not stop. Up to now, there had been an unwritten rule that once a player verbally committed everyone backed off. What’s more, teams note that Jordan’s decision to go to Dallas led to a number of other dominoes to fall in free agency. Teams chased other players, and those players made decisions based on Dallas not having cap space. Dallas likely doesn’t sign Wesley Matthews to a $57 million deal if Jordan says no the first time. Now all of that could open up again.

As a result, there is one thing you can bet on this summer — there will be a push to change the NBA’s moratorium period.

The challenge is that the moratorium is collectively bargained, so that changing it requires the union to buy in and tweak the CBA. That is a combative relationship as the two sides posture for the 2017 lockout, getting that done may not be easy. Plus don’t forget the Clippers’ Chris Paul is the union president, and that long break worked out pretty well for him this year.

There are couple reasons for the moratorium, which is usually seven to nine days (although next year it is scheduled to be until July 12.). One is to allow the league to crunch the numbers from the previous season, then use the final financial figures to set the new salary cap and tax line for next season. This year, that number jumped from the anticipated $67 million up to $70 million. That also impacts how much a max salary is and more.

The other (and league officials will tell you the main reason) is to give other teams the chance to meet with free agents and pitch them fairly. If there is no moratorium, it encourages teams to tamper and talk to players before free agency starts (which happens anyway through back channels, this would just make it more imperative and a larger operation).

Team officials would like one of two things to happen: The moratorium gets killed all together, or it gets shrunk down to three or four days.

The league wants free agents get the chance to meet with multiple teams and make a more patient, less pressured decision. That had some advantages for teams, but now some teams would like to do away with it all together. From Zach Lowe at Grantland.

That brings us to a simpler solution popular among team executives: Finish the damn audit on June 30, set the cap, and start real free agency — signings and everything — on July 1. Kill the moratorium. There would still be some back-channeling ahead of July 1, but since all players are technically under contract through June 30, such pre-free-agency chitchat would fall much more clearly under the league’s tampering rules. If some free agent were to switch teams at 12:01 a.m. July 1 without taking a single meeting, it would raise huge red flags.

If the union goes along with this — and that is no guarantee — my guess is next season will see a three-day moratorium. Maybe five tops. That way, the next time a player changes his mind, other teams and other decisions are not so far down the road. And the entire thing looks more professional.

Royce O’Neal on Durant, Irving trade rumors: ‘That was the summer’

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

The Brooklyn Nets are trying to move on from a turbulent, awkward summer where their two best players tried to get tradedone throwing down a “me or the coach and GM” ultimatum — and they are tired of talking about it.

It sounds like they have moved on from the Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving drama in the locker room, at least based on what Royce O’Neal told Michael Scotto of Hoopshype.

“That was the summer. Nobody cares about it now. We’re all here, and we’re going to make it work. We have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to go. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

No doubt that is the mantra in the locker room, and it’s easy to do during the carefree, optimistic days of training camp or even the first preseason games. The players believe they have moved on.

The real question about these Nets is what happens when adversity hits? And it will hit, it does every team. How will Ben Simmons handle the stress? Irving? Can coach Steve Nash keep the Nets all on task, or will the finger-pointing start, and will the locker room get split?

Those questions are why everyone is finding it hard to predict these Nets — they could win a ring, they could have Durant demanding a trade again by Christmas. Most likely they land in the middle somewhere, but every possibility is on the table.

Speaking of teams being broken up, Scotto also asked about O’Neal’s former team, the Utah Jazz, and Danny Ainge’s decision to trade Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this summer. Ainge said “this team didn’t believe in each other,” but that’s not how O’Neal saw it. He was surprised the team was blown up.

“I was definitely shocked. I had been there for five years. The team we had for a couple of years fell short. I thought we were going to build on it. Things happened, so keep it moving.”

The question is will the Nets keep moving when things get hard?

Collin Sexton expects to start for Jazz once he gets back to full speed

2022 NBA All-Star - NBA x HBCU Classic Presented by AT&T
Getty Photo
0 Comments

After the blockbuster trade that was centered around Donovan Mitchell sent Collin Sexton to Utah, the immediate expectation was that he would start for the Jazz and have the ultimate green light.

However, that wasn’t the case in their first preseason matchup with Toronto on Sunday. In 18 minutes off the bench, Sexton finished with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting (3-for-4 on 3-pointers) to go along with one rebound, two assists, two steals, and two turnovers.

It came as a bit of a surprise to most viewers that Sexton didn’t get the starting nod, but he told Sarah Todd of Deseret News that he expected to come off the bench for this game. He acknowledged that it was because he hasn’t played much since his meniscus surgery, but he expects to start once he gets back to full speed.

Utah hit the reset button by dealing away four of their five starters from last season. They’ve ushered in a new era that is centered around Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Jarred Vanderbilt, and a ton of first round picks. Sexton has talked about wanting to improve on his assists numbers this season, which we should definitely see him get the opportunity to do.

The Jazz have cemented their place in the center of the Victor Wembanyama race, so they’ll have no problem letting their young guys learn through trial and error. Sexton averaged 4.4 assists per game for Cleveland just two years ago. However, he won’t be playing alongside another young guard like Darius Garland, so Sexton should have the ball in his hands more than he ever has in the NBA.

Ben Simmons looks fine in return, is ‘grateful just to be able to step on that floor’

0 Comments

Ben Simmons played in an actual, live basketball game on Monday night.

It’s preseason, sure, but the Nets rolled out their likely starting five — Simmons, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, and Nic Claxton — and had Simmons initiating a lot of the offense early.

The results were not bad. Fine. Good in flashes. Simmons ran the floor well and finished with six points on 3-of-6 shooting, five assists and four rebounds. He missed both free throws he took and all three of his makes were at the rim, his three missed shots were all in the paint and included an ugly skyhook-like thing and a turnaround that missed. There was clear rust.

The Nets got him a lot of touches, having him initiate the offense early. Whether that is something that carries over into the season remains to be seen, the offense moved better with the crisp passing and decisions of Kyrie Irving.

Simmons sounded comfortable after the game, quotes via Nick Friedell of ESPN.

“I’m grateful just to be able to step on that floor,” Simmons said. “Step on an NBA floor again. I had a lot of fun out there.”

“That’s the one thing, I thought I was going to be nervous,” Simmons said. “But I wasn’t nervous. I was excited.”

Simmons pushed for a trade off these 76ers a year ago, then sat out all last season due to mental health concerns. Having him back on the court for 19 minutes over a couple of shifts was enough for the Nets.

The 76ers sat Joel Embiid and James Harden for the night, but Tyrese Maxey was the best player on the floor with 20 points in 14 minutes and showing a confident 3-point stroke.

Furkan Korkmaz, another player coming off an injury, added 15 His play will add depth to the Sixers roster.

Claxton ran the floor hard and finished with 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting (all at the rim), while Durant led the way with 13 points.

Annual GM survey predicts Bucks vs. Warriors Finals, Doncic MVP

0 Comments

The NBA’s annual GM survey is more of a snapshot of the conventional wisdom around the league than a good predictive tool — last season the GMs overwhelmingly picked the Brooklyn Nets to beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals and Kevin Durant as MVP. Didn’t exactly work out that way.

Still, it’s an interesting view into where things stand — and where it stands is a Bucks vs. Warriors NBA Finals. When asked who would win the NBA title, 43% predicted the Bucks, 25% the Warriors, 21% the Clippers and 11% the Celtics (a number that unquestionably fell since the news of Ime Udoka’s suspension came out).

Here’s how the GMs see the top six in each conference, courtesy of Jon Schuhmann and NBA.com who did the survey:

EAST
1. Bucks
2. Celtics
3. 76ers
4. Nets
5. Heat
6. Cavaliers

WEST
1. Clippers
2. Warriors
3. Suns
4. Nuggets
5. Grizzlies
6-T: Mavericks and Timberwolves

Here are some other highlights from the survey:

• Luka Doncic is the betting favorite to win MVP and the choice of the GMs, with 48% of them picking the Dallas star to win the award. Second was Giannis Antetokounmpo (34%) followed by Joel Embiid (14%).

• But ask GMs if they were starting a franchise today and could sign anyone, and they take Antetokounmpo (55%) over Doncic (45%). Those are the only two names on the list.

• Asked the player most likely to have a breakout season and the Cavaliers Evan Mobley led the way with 21% of the vote, followed by Cade Cunningham and Anthony Edwards tied for second (17%).

• The most athletic player in the league? The GMs voted for Ja Morant (38%) over Antetokounmpo (31%) and Anthony Edwards (24%).

• When asked which team had the best offseason, 41% of the GMs picked the Cavaliers, with Donovan Mitchell being named the player changing teams who would have the biggest impact this season.

• The most underrated offseason pickup: Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics, according to the GMs (28%).

• Most surprising move of the offseason for the GMs was Rudy Gobert to Cleveland (47% of the vote), but Mitchell to the Cavaliers was a close second (43%).

Paolo Banchero is the runaway pick for Rookie of the Year (79%).

• Antetokounmpo was voted the best defensive player in the NBA (45%), with Draymond Green a distant second (24%).

• Gobert, however, was the runaway winner of the best interior defender (83%).

• Best coach in the NBA? Erik Spoelstra led the way with 52% of the vote, followed by Steve Kerr at 22%. The Clippers’ Tyronne Lue, however, won the vote for best in-game adjustments by a coach.

• The Toronto Raptors were voted the team with the best home court advantage (21%), with Boston and Denver tied for second (17%).