Cavaliers, NBA blew handling of Kevin Love’s potential concussion

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Kevin Love got elbowed in the head. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love immediately grabbed his head in pain. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love fell to the floor and lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Love, according to Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout. The Cavaliers say that didn’t cause them to suspect he suffered a concussion.

Take it in aggregate: Love got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout.

No suspicion.

It’s unbelievably negligent or plain unbelievable.

Maybe Love was concussed. Maybe he wasn’t. That determination needn’t be made immediately after Harrison Barnes‘ elbow floored the Cleveland forward in the second quarter of Game 2 last night.

The first step is determining whether a player is suspected of having a concussion or shows any signs or symptoms of having one. Per the NBA’s concussion protocol:

If a player is suspected of having a concussion, or exhibits the signs or symptoms of concussion, he will be removed from participation and undergo evaluation by the medical staff in a quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.

Love remained in the court area, on the floor and on the bench, during the timeout followed his injury. That is not a “quiet, distraction-free environment conducive to conducting a neurological evaluation.”

Of course, the Cavs are incentivized not to suspect Love suffered a concussion. Even the suspicion would pull him from a crucial game for at least a few minutes.

This is a problem with sports culture and the NBA’s guidelines can’t magically fix it.

In fact, I don’t believe the guidelines go far enough to protect players. Anyone who requires testing for a concussion shouldn’t be permitted to return to play that day. Delayed symptoms are just too common. (The current rule bans only players diagnosed with a concussion from returning that day or the next.)

Unfortunately, that’d only further incentivize teams to ignore potential concussions. Players who should be at least tested could be ignored so as not to automatically end their game.

Yet, as lenient as the rules are now, Cleveland didn’t even follow them.

Lue said Love showed no symptoms at halftime – as if that’s highly meaningful. Love experiencing delayed symptoms is quite normal for a concussed person. That’s why continued monitoring is necessary after dangerous-looking hits to the head.

And Lue did continue to monitor.

Love started the second half, playing 1:55 until a timeout brought him back to Cleveland’s bench.

“I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy,” Lue said.

Lue left Love in the game, and Love played 11 more seconds before exiting for good. Thankfully, 11 seconds are a short window, and nothing catastrophic happened. But if he thought Love looked woozy, Lue should have immediately pulled Love from the game.

Why does all this matter? Dr. Ben Wedro of the DocTalk blog on MDDirect.org, addressed it last year when discussing a similar situation involving Klay Thompson:

“The concern is something called second-impact syndrome,” Wedro said. “And that says that, if you have a brain that is concussed and has not healed, it may not be able to protect itself against a second injury as well, and you can get swelling of the brain that spins out of control and people die. This is a rare situation. Some people believe it does not exist. Other people do. But that’s the concern – that if you stack concussions, that disaster can happen.”

There is no perfect method for preventing players from playing through concussions. Players can suffer concussions without getting hit in the head. If that happens, and he shows no immediate symptoms, how can you suspect to pull him from the game?

But removing someone who got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout? That’s the bare minimum.

Love’s dizziness in the early third quarter sent him to the locker room, where he was finally given a proper assessment for a concussion. The Cavs then put him in the concussion protocol.

The Cavaliers say they handled this correctly. The NBA concurs.

I’m just curious what a player must do to arouse suspicion of a concussion if someone who got elbowed in the head, immediately grabbed his head in pain, fell to the floor, lay there for an extended period while still clutching his head and then, according to his own coach, “looked kind of woozy” in a later timeout doesn’t qualify.

Could NBA playoffs have 1-16 seeding?

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver likes the idea of 1-16 playoff seeding.

Could it finally happen this season?

Brian Windhorst on ESPN:

The more people I talk to, the more people in the league think that it’s going to end up being a playoffs-only scenario. And to spice it up, this is something I think Adam Silver is going to bring to the table.

There have two major impediments to this plan in normal years:

  • Travel
  • Eastern Conference owners

It seems likely the season will resume at only Disney World. A single site eliminates the travel concerns.

At least five Eastern Conference owners would have to vote for this format change. They typically want to protect their playoff slots and easier path to the NBA Finals rather than mixing with often-better Western Conference teams.

But if only some teams resume, owners of the finished teams would would be incentivized to support whatever draws the most revenue. If only playoff teams return, that would increase the pool of owners who wouldn’t be voting by self interest.

It helps that the top eight teams in each conference have the league’s 16 best records. So no teams would gain or lose a playoff berth unless more regular-season games are played (or a play-in tournament is held).

This might be the year for a 1-16 format. Just don’t expect it to continue into normal years.

If it happens without any more regular-season games, here’s how the bracket would look:

Rumor: Mike Budenholzer was close to taking Knicks job in 2018

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It’s the lure of the New York market, that a coach would consider passing on coaching Giannis Antetokounmpo and a team on the rise in Milwaukee to take the job.

In the summer of 2018, Mike Budenholzer was out in Atlanta and the best established name on the coaching market. At the time, it was known Coach Bud was the top choice of the Knicks, but he was reportedly close to taking the job, according to Ian Begley at SNY.TV.

Discussions between the Knicks and Budenholzer in the 2018 offseason advanced to a point where some people who would have come with Budenholzer to New York were talking about places to live in the city because they felt Budenholzer was close to taking the job, per SNY sources…

One official from an opposing team involved in searches at the time confirmed that coaching the Knicks intrigued Budenholzer. “Bud was definitely interested,” the team official said recently.

Budenholzer, however, chose Milwaukee, which had Antetokounmpo and a roster that was talented but needed a more modern offensive style and more focus. Budenholzer brought that and the team won 60 games last season, and is a title contender this season (if and when the NBA season restarts).

The Knicks hired David Fizdale, who lasted less than a season and a half before being let go. New team president Leon Rose now has to hire a new coach, and that will say a lot about the direction he wants to take the team.

He’d be lucky to find someone as good as Budenholzer.

Watch Tom Brady tell Charles Barkley to ‘take a suck of that’ after he holes fairway shot

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It was the highlight of an entertaining — if not always pretty — afternoon of live golf, raising money for charity.

Tampa Bay Bay Buccanneers quarterback Tom Brady (it’s so weird to type that) was on his fourth shot on the par-5 7th hole at the Medalist Golf Club. Brady had a rough front nine to that point, and commentator Charles Barkley decided to up the trash talk (as if Barkley should talk about someone else’s golf game).

“How many shots do you want? Come on, I’m going to give you some shots man, I want some of you,” Barkley said.

“Don’t worry, it ain’t over yet,” Brady countered as he walked up to his fourth shot, 130 yards from the pin. “I think you just made him mad, Chuck,” host Brian Anderson said. “No, he can take a joke,” Barkley replied. Then this happened.

Brady earned that trash talk.

It wasn’t the only great exchange between the two; they had some fun on an earlier on a par 3 when Barkley bet Brady couldn’t get it on the green.

Increasing buzz teams well out of playoffs will not come to Orlando for games

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The Golden State Warriors have been public about it, they expect their season to be over. Golden State is far from alone, multiple teams well out of the playoff picture have questioned the expense and risk-to-reward ratio of coming back to play a handful of regular season games without fans in Orlando.

More and more, the buzz has been the NBA league office sees things the same way. I am not the only reporter hearing this: Steve Popper of Newsday wrote a column saying there was no reason to invite all 30 teams to the bubble city and the USA Today’s well-connected Jeff Zillgett added this:

This is where we throw in the caveat: There are no hard-and-fast plans from the NBA yet and every option is still being considered. One lesson Adam Silver took from David Stern was not to make a decision until you have to, and Silver is going to absorb more information in the coming weeks — such as from the recent GM survey — before making his call.

That said, the league seems to be coalescing around a general plan, which includes camps starting in mid-June and games in mid-July in Orlando.

For the bottom three to five teams in each conference, there is little motivation to head to Orlando for the bubble. It’s an expense to the owner with no gate revenue coming in, teams want to protect their NBA Draft Lottery status, and the Warriors don’t want to risk injury to Stephen Curry — or the Timberwolves to Karl-Anthony Towns, or the Hawks to Trae Young — for a handful of meaningless games.

The league is considering a play-in tournament for the final seed or seeds in each conference (there are a few format options on the table, it was part of the GM survey). That would bring the top 10 or 12 seeds from each conference to the bubble, depending upon the format, and they would play a handful of games to determine which teams are in the playoffs (and face the top seeds).

Either way, that would leave the three or five teams with the worst records in each conference home. Which is the smart thing to do, there’s no reason to add risk to the bubble for a handful of meaningless games.