Getty Images

New Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says he’ll pay luxury tax to reach Finals, not otherwise

2 Comments

Before selling the Rockets, Leslie Alexander set up the team to spend big. He signed off on a super-max extension for James Harden and a trade for Chris Paul, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Houston already has nearly $76 million committed in 2018-19 and more than $85 million in 2019-20 committed to just five players (Harden, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Nene). That doesn’t even account for three starters headed toward free agency next summer (Paul, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela, who’s eligible for an extension through Monday). Re-signing that trio would vault the Rockets well into the luxury tax.

New Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, in a Q&A with Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

ESPN: On that note, this looks like a team that can be a legitimate contender for several years, but the price will rise significantly next summer if the core is kept together. What’s your tolerance level for paying the luxury tax?

Fertitta: This is what was told to me by my experts that work here: If it’s going to take you to the Finals, then you should pay the luxury tax. And I totally agree. If you have to lose money to get to the Finals or win a championship, I think you do what you have to do because it’s going to come back to you.

Remember, I don’t look at things year to year. I don’t operate any of my businesses year to year. I look at everything long-term, so if it costs me money to win a few championships, I’m fine with that. But you don’t want to be in the luxury tax and not be getting to the Finals, so if you don’t have a team that can get to the Finals, you shouldn’t be paying the luxury tax.

The luxury tax is applied to team salary on the final day of the regular season, and the last opportunity to significantly affect payroll is the trade deadline. Obviously, the Finals matchup isn’t determined until months later. So, Fertitta must project Houston’s fate when determining his willingness to spend.

The Rockets aren’t in line to pay the luxury tax this season, but how they fare will affect Fertitta’s perception this summer. Will Houston reach the Finals anytime soon? The Warriors exist.

Maybe the walls are closing in on the Rockets’ window even more quickly than anticipated.

Vanessa Bryant powerfully and gracefully eulogizes Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant (video)

Leave a comment

The world lost a basketball superstar in Kobe Bryant.

Vanessa Bryant lost her husband and daughter.

I can barely even imagine what Vanessa is going through. Kobe and Gianna seemingly had long lives ahead of them. Then, both were gone in an instant. Vanessa has to manage her own grief, be there for her daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri and be receptive to an outside world that wants to pay tribute to Kobe.

The weight of everything Vanessa is carrying showed at the beginning of the eulogy she delivered at today’s memorial: “I’ll start with my baby girl first.”

Vanessa’s strength and composure are just incredible. And we’re luckier for it, getting a more intimate understanding of Kobe and Gianna.

Watch Kobe Bryant memorial live stream (video)

Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) Thousands of mourners will gather in Staples Center on Monday to say farewell to Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

The basketball superstar and his 13-year-old daughter will be honored in a public memorial at the arena where Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant died along with seven others on Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash.

The Celebration of Life will feature speakers reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s impact on his sport and the world, along with music and retrospectives on Bryant’s on-court achievements. Bryant became active in film, television and writing after he retired from basketball in 2016.

Bryant’s family, dozens of sports greats and many major figures in Bryant’s public life are expected to attend.

Staples Center is sold out for the memorial. The money made from ticket sales will be given to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, which supports youth sports programs in underserved communities and teaches sports to girls and women.

Bryant played his entire 20-year NBA career with the Lakers, including the final 17 seasons at Staples Center, which opened in 1999. The five-time NBA champion’s two retired jersey numbers – 8 and 24 – hang high above the arena where he became the third-leading scorer in league history until Lakers star LeBron James passed him on the night before Bryant’s death.

Bryant’s death caused an outpouring of grief across Los Angeles, where he remained the city’s most popular athlete into retirement. Dozens of public memorials and murals have been installed around the sprawling metropolis, and thousands of fans gathered daily outside Staples Center to commiserate after the crash.

Symbolic meanings will run throughout the ceremony, which will be held on a 24-foot-by-24-foot stage. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, chose Feb. 24 as the date in honor of the uniform numbers of Kobe and Gianna, who wore No. 2 on her youth basketball teams.

A private funeral was held for Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Orange County on Feb. 7.

Lakers’ Rajon Rondo throws dead ball into air, hits Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in head

Leave a comment

What an unfortunate encapsulation of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s time with the Lakers.

At least Rajon Rondo, beyond this gaffe, did plenty to help the Lakers beat the Celtics.

Bucks’ minor-league coach goes on epic rant, calls ref ‘f—ing clown’ (video)

Bucks' minor-league affiliate Wisconsin Herd vs. Pistons minor-league affiliate Grand Rapids Drive
Mike E. Roemer/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

After coaching the Wisconsin Herd (Bucks’ minor-league affiliate) to a loss to the Grand Rapids Drive (Pistons’ minor-league affiliate), Chase Buford – son of Spurs CEO R.C. Buford – had a normal one.

Ryan Rodig of WFRV-TV:

Buford:

The officiating definitely went right for Grand Rapids. That was as unprofessional as an officiating performance. I hope you tweet this out and tag the league, because that was embarrassing. Matt Rafferty is a f—ing clown. That being said, we have to be so much better at the end of games. We can’t blow a 21-point lead with 12 minutes to go. However bad and biased and unfair and illegal and cheating the referees are, we have to be better at closing games. And so that’s the way I feel.

Herd:

The words are amazing: “f—ing clown,” “illegal,” “cheating.”

But the hair really completes the whole unhinged motif.