Kevin Durant to Golden State could change tone of 2017 CBA negotiations

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The NBA lockout of 2011 was fueled by LeBron James teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami — small and medium market owners hated this (even though Miami is a mid-sized market itself, just better managed than others). They didn’t want talent clustering on one team, they wanted to see it spread out throughout the league in a misguided effort at parity.

On top of the winning a larger percentage of basketball revenue in the 2011 CBA, the owners also put a harsh, punitive luxury tax on top of the salary cap. Combine that with a draft, very favorable rookie-scale contracts, and Bird rights and smaller market teams were supposed to be able to keep their talent, and that talent would be more evenly distributed around the league. Commissioner Adam Silver has even said in recent years it seemed to be working.

Then Kevin Durant bolted from a small market to join Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in Golden State. Another “superteam” was formed.

How do owners and team executives feel about this? From Howard Beck of Bleacher Report.

“The system is f–ked up,” said a longtime team executive from a large market…

“The small markets can’t survive in this new [environment],” said another team executive in a top-five market.

Owners will almost certainly be clamoring for a harder cap, or a franchise tag, or perhaps the creation of a supermax contract to deter future superteams from being built.

By this December, either the players or owners can opt out of the CBA and force a renegotiation — both sides probably will, and both parties are already negotiating changes. Credit to them, the league and players’ union have done a good job of keeping a lid on those talks and not negotiating through the media (a positive sign for progress). There is a sense around the league that everyone is making so much money with the new television deal — not just players, remember half that money goes straight to the owners’ bottom lines, and their non-player salary costs are more fixed — that nobody wants to see games lost. Don’t risk killing the golden goose.

The Durant move could change the tone of those talks.

Some owners pushed for an NFL-style hard cap in 2011, but if you are looking for something where the players will draw a line in the sand and not cross it, the hard cap is it. It’s not about money — each year 50 percent (give or take) of league “basketball related income” goes to the players regardless — as much as freedom of player movement. The players want the ability to change teams — if Durant wants out of Oklahoma City and he’s honored his contract, why shouldn’t he be free to move on from his employer just like you or I could?

The same idea can be applied to the franchise tag — it restricts player movement. Again, if Durant has played nine seasons in one market and wants to move on, the players don’t want a system that tells him he can’t because he got tagged by a team that doesn’t want to lose him. It’s not about money, it’s about options. And they’re right. (Yes the NFL has franchise tags, but the NFL’s player’s union may not be the model to follow for doing right by its membership in negotiations.)

The one idea that could find agreement: Supermax contracts. Or, just do away with the concept of a max contract all together while keeping the same cap/tax system in place. How much is Durant worth on the open market? Not just on the court with points and wins, but to a franchise in terms of ticket sales, sponsorship money, local television ratings, money from streaming games, jersey sales, and the rest? Durant would likely pull down $45 million or more.

If a superstar takes up half the cap space a team has, there is no way to put four stars on the floor. Nobody could afford two at that price and round out the roster. By capping max salaries at 25-35 percent of the salary cap (how much depends on years of service), it makes it possible for these super teams to form.

It took a lot of other fluke things to happen to clear the path for Durant to bolt Oklahoma City, from the $24 million spike in the salary cap this season, to the Thunder blowing a 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. There was a lot more in between. The circumstances that brought KD to Golden State are not going to be repeated anytime soon.

But that doesn’t mean the move isn’t going to make the 2017 negotiations more contentious.

 

NBA world reacts to Anthony Davis’ game-winner for Lakers

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Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
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It might go down as the shot of the playoffs. The Denver Nuggets had battled back from 16 points down to take the lead behind a brilliant performance from Nikola Jokic, who had the team’s final 11 points. Throw in a Jamal Murray block and the Nuggets were up one with 2.1 seconds left.

Then Anthony Davis happened.

The Lakers won the game (going up 2-0 in the series) and the NBA world took to Twitter to react — including a lot of NBA players.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Dates, times, matchups for all games

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And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites at this point.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL, and to let the West catch up. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101
Game 3: Celtics 117, Heat 106 (Miami leads series 2-1)
Game 4: Sept. 23, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Lakers 126, Nuggets 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103 (Lakers lead series 2-0)
Game 3: Sept. 22, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)*
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

Anthony Davis drains game-winner at buzzer to put Lakers up 2-0

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It looked like Nikola Jokic, the All-NBA Second Team center, was going to be the star of the game — he scored Denver’s last 11 points and had them up with 2.7 seconds to go.

Then Anthony Davis — the All-NBA First Team center — drained this game-winner, a three over Jokic at the buzzer to win the game.

This is why the Lakers got Anthony Davis (and gave up a lot to get him).

That shot gave the Lakers the 105-103 win to put them up 2-0 in the series. Game 3 is Tuesday night.

Davis carried the Lakers at the end of the game, hitting a couple of clutch threes, and finished with 31 points and nine rebounds. He has been the best Laker in this series, with 68 points and 19 rebounds through two games.

For the Lakers, it was a dramatic win in a game where they were sloppy with 23 turnovers, and where their defense came apart for stretches of the game. Good teams win ugly games, that’s how the Lakers have to view it.

Denver supporters may want to spin this as “look how much better we played” — and they did, slowing the pace down (97 possessions, via NBA.com) and getting inside more, taking advantage of switches — but the reality is the Lakers are only going to have bad outings once or twice a series and the Nuggets needed to take advantage. They didn’t, and this loss stings.

“This is the Western Conference Finals. No moral victories, no silver linings,” Nuggets coach Mike Malone said postgame.

Davis’ good look to win the game came on the kind of defensive breakdown Denver has at times that other teams have not exploited these playoffs. Mason Plumlee was inserted for his size and defense, and he was on Davis, who simply runs across the top of the arc. Plumlee doesn’t stick with him, instead running over by LeBron James, who is just hanging out at the elbow (but Denver fears), and acts like there should be a switch. Torrey Craig can’t switch, if he does that LeBron has a free lane to the rim and an easy two. If it was an X-out style switch then Plumlee needed to trail Davis all the way to Jokic, he didn’t, leaving Jokic a ridiculously long closeout. Jokic read the play and got there to contest, but Davis had gotten a clean look.

Jokic had 30 points and nine rebounds for Denver, taking over the game when it mattered most and looking like an elite playoff performer. Jamal Murray had 25 points on 8-of-19 shooting and (as The Athletic’s John Hollinger noted on Twitter) was +16 in 44:14 minutes, meaning Denver was -18 in the 3:46 he was on the bench getting some rest. Denver got 15 points from Michael Porter Jr. and good minutes out of P.J. Dozier (although his five missed free throws in six attempts came back to bite the team).

Los Angeles got 26 points and 11 boards from LeBron and 11 points each from Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

The Lakers came out flat in this game except for LeBron, who had the team’s first 12 points. It looked like a close game until the Lakers went on an 18-3 run in the second quarter, with 8-0 of that coming with LeBron on the bench. The highlight of that was an Alex Caruso dunk that had the Lakers bench up and yelling.

Los Angeles stretched the lead out to as many as 16, but the Nuggets never quit.

Anthony Davis had to shut the door on them.

Watch Alex Caruso monster dunk, LeBron and Laker bench reaction

Alex Caruso dunk
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Alex Caruso has sneaky hops. Fans relate to him because he doesn’t look like an NBA player — he doesn’t really give off the vibe of one when you see him hanging out in the Lakers’ locker room either — but watch him on the court and he is more athletic than people realize. Alex Caruso can sky and throw down a dunk.

Just ask the Denver Nuggets.

The best part of this? The reaction of LeBron James and the Lakers bench.

The Alex Caruso dunk was part of an 8-0 Laker run right as LeBron went to get some rest. Denver had done a good job early being right with the Lakers by controlling the pace and limiting the Lakers in transition. That fell apart in the second quarter, fueled by Denver’s seven second-quarter turnovers (13 for the half), which allowed the Lakers to get out and run.

And Caruso to dunk, firing up the team.