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Stan Van Gundy: You want NBA parity? Eliminate draft, max contracts

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There will never be parity in the NBA the way there is in, say, the NFL. It’s simply the nature of the sport — one transcendent player can dominate nearly every game. Imagine if the Dodgers could pitch Clayton Kershaw every night, or the Nationals the same with Stephen Strasburg. They would win a whole lot more games. That’s what it’s like having LeBron James or Kevin Durant on your team, and in that world parity will never truly exist.

But people will not stop trying.

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy says if the league wants something approximating parity, there needs to be radical changes. Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

“I’d get rid of it, just get rid of the draft altogether,” Van Gundy said when asked lottery reform. “We’d just deal with the salary cap. Make all (rookies) free agents coming in and if I want to go give a guy $50 million a year, good, but I got to do it under the cap.

“I think if you did that and you had no individual max on players, we’d start to get some parity in the league, but the league really doesn’t want parity. They want the super teams, and I get that. It’s worked well, business-wise.”

That kind of free-for-all system would benefit large markets — if those markets are well managed. Market size and draw hasn’t helped the Knicks for years, or the Lakers in recent years (when they couldn’t even get meetings with top free agents). Players and agents are too well informed to go somewhere just because of market size. Still, this would not be a level playing field.

Van Gundy is spot on with max contracts — if you want to do away with superteams, stop artificially deflating what the top players make. That sounds like a crazy thing to say when Russell Westbrook just signed a $205 million extension that will have his base salary starting north of $35 million a season in 2018-19. But what would Westbrook get on the open market, with no cap? At least $50 million a season, maybe much more — he doesn’t just help the team win games on the court, he is what fills the seats, sells the luxury boxes, and draws sponsors. He would be worth double that to any franchise in terms of income.

If Westbrook — or LeBron, or Durant, or name your superstar — takes up half your cap space, the days of super teams will be gone. The Thunder couldn’t have Westbrook and Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.  No way the Warriors could keep Stephen Curry, Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson together. Chris Paul and James Harden are not getting together in Houston. To get paid, the superstars would have to spread out.

Why this will never happen is it would kill the middle class in the NBA — and most of the players are in that middle class. If the Thunder had Westbrook at $50 million and one other very good player at $25 million, that leaves 13 roster spots and $25 million, meaning a less than $2 million average. The days of good players getting $8 million or a solid starter drawing $12 million would be over, with that extra money going to the biggest names. The NBA players union is not going to back that idea.

Plus, as Van Gundy says, superteams are good for business. Interest in the NBA is the highest it has been since the Jordan era, and power of LeBron’s superteams challenged by Golden State and others is at the heart of it.

Andre Iguodala out for Warriors again in Game 5; Klay Thompson available

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The Warriors missed Andre Iguodala in Game 4 against Houston. They don’t have a Death/Hamptons 5 lineup without him. Without his depth, the Warriors had to lean more on players such as Kevon Looney (who started), Nick Young, and others who are can be a liability at the high level of play in this series. Not having Iguodala to keep minutes down, play fierce defense, move the ball on offense, and be a stabilizing force was one of the issues that led to the Warriors fourth-quarter issues in Game 4.

Now they are without him for Game 5, too.

Having Klay Thompson on the court is huge for Golden State, although it will be worth monitoring to see how he moves.

The Warriors have gotten sucked into the switching/isolation game the Rockets want to play, if they are going to take Game 5 on the road they need to get back to “the beautiful game” they want to play. That would have been easier with Iguodala.

Two years after NBA retirement, Amar’e Stoudemire talking comeback

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NBA teams seemed to have moved on from Amar’e Stoudemire. After an impressive NBA career — five-time All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star — he wasn’t physically the explosive player that dazzled with the Suns. Teams were interested in getting younger and more athletic, and Stoudemire was doing neither. He retired from the NBA and played for a season in Israel where he won a league title. This summer he’s signed up to play with the Big3.

After that he’,d like another crack at the NBA. When asked about an NBA comeback, here’s what Stoudemire told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter on ‘Reiter’s Block’:

“I am. I am. I’m definitely planning on (coming back). I’ve been training like you wouldn’t believe, my body feels great. I had an amazing year last year playing overseas and so I’m gonna definitely continue to work my way back to top shape and see if there’s a team that needs my talents.”

I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand. Maybe a team does an old friend a favor and brings him in for some workouts. However, his knees and body struggled with the physical grind of the NBA the final few seasons of his career, and it’s unlikely with age that got better. No doubt he’s worked on his conditioning and strength, but Father Time always wins the race and it already felt like this chase was over.

That said, good on Stoudemire for not giving up on the dream. His agent should be making calls, maybe he can become the second player to make the Big3 to NBA leap.

 

 

Kristaps Porzingis after conversation with David Fizdale: ‘Man im excited!’

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David Fizdale learned a lot of lessons in his first go around as a head coach, spending 101 games with the Memphis Grizzlies. At the top of the list: Build a strong bond with your star player. Or else.

Fizdale is trying to do that, saying he would fly to Latvia this summer to spend time with Kristaps Porzingis. But first came a phone call, and that seemed to go very well.

It’s not just Porzingis. Fizdale was bonding with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Damyean Dotson on Wednesday night in Boston. A little “this is where we want to be” motivation.

Good on Fizdale for all of this.

The Knicks got the best coach for them on the board in Fizdale, and so far the new front office — general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills — are making smart decisions. Knicks fans should be optimistic. Knicks ownership just needs to be patient (not James Dolan’s strong suit), because with no Porzingis for a large portion if not all of next season the team will struggle. Wins will be hard to come by. Fizdale needs a season to develop players and lay the foundation for what he wants to build, while the new front office needs time to clean up the salary cap mess that is New York right now.

With some patience, the Knicks could have something special in a few years. And Fizdale may have found the right home for his talents because he’s already got players buying in.

Report: Police officers involved in Sterling Brown’s arrest suspended 15, 10 and two days

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Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased and arrested in January despite not being violent or overly combative while being questioned about a parking violation.

Gina Barton, Mary Spicuzza and Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee police officer who first confronted Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown outside a Walgreens in January was suspended for two days, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

Two supervisors who later arrived, escalating the situation, were suspended for 10 and 15 days, sources said. Several other officers were reprimanded.

I don’t know whether these suspensions are the appropriate punishment.

But police too often trampling on the rights of people, especially minorities, is a far greater problem than these three officers and this incident.