NBA report says officials handled clock situation correctly at end of Raptors/Kings

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The question wasn’t “did the officials correctly interpret the clock rules at the end of the Raptors/Kings game Sunday?” They did. Well except for almost a second that is missing from the clock late. Rather, the real question is “why is that the rule in the first place?”

Monday the NBA’s official “two-minute report” looking at the calls in the final two minutes of close games backed the official’s handling of the play.

To recap, in case you haven’t see this (the video is above): The Kings led 102-97 late when Sacramento’s Darren Collison fouled Kyle Lowry on a three-pointer with :27.4 left. Lowry hit two of the three free throws, at which point the Kings got the rebound and the clock said 26.4, although in the arena there was more according to some angles. The Kings tried to run out the clock they didn’t hit the rim on a shot, leading to a :24-second violation, and the Kings got the ball back with 2.4 seconds on the clock. On the ensuing inbound pass at halfcourt, DeMarcus Cousins tips the pass, but the clock didn’t start immediately. Toronto’s Terrence Ross picked up the ball, took two dribbles and nailed the three to force overtime. Except, upon review, the referees said that the clock should have started when Cousins touched the ball and that meant the shot did not get off on time. The officials waived off the shot. Game over.

Here are the two key sticking points. This is straight from the report:

The report says at :27.4 left Collison did foul Lowry on his three, and they consulted with the instant replay center and confirmed the call. All of that is right and proper. Did it take a second for Cousins to get the rebound on the missed shot and time out to be called? Some shots in the arena saying there were 27.2 seconds on the clock, Patrick Patterson pointed that out as well, there is a discrepancy about how much time is on the clock. That extra time would have mattered.

As for the final play, here is what the report said:

The on-court referees noticed a clock malfunction on the inbounds play and correctly triggered an instant replay. After communicating with the Replay Center, it was determined that the clock should have started when Cousins (SAC) tips the ball and run to 0:00.00 before Ross’ (TOR) shot was released.

Again, the question isn’t did the referees get it right, as much as is that a fair rule? For the guy taking the shot, he has to go by the clock on the court that he is looking at, and Ross did that. Could Ross have gotten off that shot more quickly if the clock started on time? Maybe not, but now we are getting into speculation about what would or would not have been different, that was not the reality at the time.

The fact is that the referee/clock operator messed up and the Raptors paid the price. That’s not good optics for the NBA.

The fair thing here would be to allow a replay of the final 2.4 (or more accurate 3.4) seconds of the game. That’s not the rule right now, but it should be.

Is FIBA’s decision to move World Cup to year before Olympics reason for USA drop outs?

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FIBA made a mess of World Cup qualifying moving the games from the summer to during the season for the NBA and all the major European leagues. The USA qualified thanks to a team of G-League players coached by Jeff Van Gundy, but the process was not pretty. For anyone.

Now it could be another FIBA decision that has led to the rash of stars — James Harden, Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard, and others — deciding not to play for Team USA this summer.

Traditionally, the FIBA World Cup took place every four years, on the even-numbered year between Summer Olympic cycles. For example, the last World Cup was 2014, the Rio Olympics were 2016 with the Tokyo games in 2020. However, FIBA pushed this World Cup back a year to 2019 (instead of 2018) and that has changed the calculus for players, something Michael Lee of The Athletic speculated about.

For American players, the Olympics are the bigger draw, when more people watch. We grew up with the Dream Team at the Olympics, not the World Championships. That means if players have to choose, despite the allure of the Chinese market, they will choose the Olympics next year.

The other factor: The NBA feels wide open, with as many as eight teams heading into the season believing they can win the title. A lot of those contending teams have new players, which is leading players to prioritize club over country this time around.

This is different from 2004, when the NBA’s top players stayed home from the Athens Olympics because of a combination of terrorist concerns and players not liking coach Larry Brown. Today’s players love Gregg Popovich, but other concerns are weighing on them more.

It has left team USA without the biggest stars of the game — Kemba Walker is the only All-NBA player on the roster — but USA Basketball has such a depth of talent that they are still the World Cup favorites. The margin for error just got a lot smaller, however.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was working on jump shot with Kyle Korver (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s jumper is getting better. Last season after the All-Star break he shot 31.5 percent from three (up from 22.3 before the ASG) and in the playoffs that jumped to 32.7 percent. He struggled on catch-and-shoot threes in those final 19 games after the ASG, shooting just 16.7 percent, but off the bounce he shot 33.8 percent after the break. Also, all of last season he didn’t take many long twos, but when he did he shot 41 percent on them.

What would make his jumper better? Working on his shot with the newest Buck, Kyle Korver.

Which is happening.

Be afraid NBA. Be very afraid.

Antetokounmpo recently said he is only at about 60 percent of his potential. If he can start to consistently hit threes off the bounce when defenses sag back off the pick-and-roll (trying to take away his drives), he might become unstoppable. Or, more unstoppable. If that’s a thing.

Zion Williamson signs shoe deal with Nike’s Jordan Brand

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Russell Westbrook. Jimmy Butler. Blake Griffin. Chris Paul.

And now Zion Williamson has joined them as a Jordan Brand athlete. Williamson announced that he had signed with Jordan on his Instagram.

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Let’s Dance #JUMPMAN

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Williamson was probably the biggest shoe free agent on the market this summer. While still a rookie, he already is a huge marketing presence — Summer League in Las Vegas sold out to see him the first two nights (people ended up disappointed) — and it was estimated he would make north of $10 million a year on his rookie shoe deal.

While we have not heard official numbers yet, the rumors are he did get that money.

If true, this is the second-largest rookie shoe deal in history. LeBron James got seven-years, $87 million, however, Williamson is second and bumps Kevin Durant to third (seven years, $60 million).

There are rumors Puma had offered even a larger contact, but Williamson wanted to be a Jordan brand guy.

“I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of the Jordan Brand family,” Williamson said in a statement. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of making it to the league & having the type of impact on the game Michael Jordan had & continues to have today. He was one of those special athletes I looked up to.”

“Zion’s incredible determination, character and play are inspiring,” Michael Jordan said in a statement. “He’s an essential part of the new talent that will help lead the brand into the future. He told us he would ‘shock the world,’ and asked us to believe him. We do.”

Nike continues to dominate the NBA and basketball shoe market, with more than two-thirds of NBA players wearing Nikes. Even still, landing Williamson — who will play for the New Orleans Pelicans — was such a big score that Nike stock jumped up one percent on the news. He has the potential to be the next LeBron or Durant for Nike, if he can live up to the hype and weight of being the most discussed No. 1 pick in a decade.

He’s the kind of player who could sell a lot of shoes, and Jordan is betting on just that.

Al Horford calls Celtics’ reported tampering allegations ‘ridiculous’

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The Celtics have reportedly complained about the 76ers tampering with Al Horford.

Horford opted out, and it seemed he could return to Boston. But more than a week before free agency officially began, a report emerged he’d leave the Celtics while expecting a four-year, $100 million contract elsewhere. He committed to the 76ers on the first day of free agency, getting $97 million guaranteed and up to $109 million over four years.

What did Horford make of tampering allegations coming from Boston, where Danny Ainge runs the front office?

Horford on The Dan Patrick Show:

It’s pretty ridiculous. But it is what it is. Danny – I love Danny. Danny was always really good to me. I know that he’s definitely frustrated with things didn’t work out with us.

Notice the lack of a denial.

But Horford is right: It’s ridiculous. Because the Celtics are hypocrites who locked up Kemba Walker before free agency officially began.

Though Boston’s specific complaints don’t hold water, there are legitimate issues with the wider landscape.