Associated Press

Three Things to Know: Rule knowledge, plus Devin Booker, gets Suns dramatic win

Leave a comment

Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Devin Booker is back, but coach Jay Triano’s rulebook knowledge gets Suns dramatic win. There is no goaltending on an inbounds pass. Offensive or defensive. How can there be, it’s not a shot — you can’t score on it (even if it goes through the basket). So if the ball is over the cylinder of the basket on an inbounds pass, you can grab it.

Did you know that? Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff clearly didn’t (watch his reaction to the play below). However, Suns coach Jay Triano did, so with 0.6 seconds left he drew up a play that called for a lob and veteran Tyson Chandler finished the alley-oop as the ball was over the rim, giving the Suns a 99-97 win over Memphis.

That was a great pass by Dragan Bender to make that alley-oop possible. Memphis put Marc Gasol on Bender at the inbounds, which left the not-as-strong Brandan Wright to try to defend Chandler around the basket, and while Wright is more athletic than Gasol he did not have the strength to move Chandler out of the one position he needed to be in to finish the play and the game.

That play is not why the Grizzlies lost. Memphis missed its last 11 shots from the field and went almost six minutes without a bucket in the fourth quarter, that is what cost them the game.

That and Devin Booker. The Suns’ guard was back after missing nine games due to a left adductor strain and he didn’t miss a beat, scoring 20 points in the first half and 32 for the game (he had fouled out before that final play, or maybe it is run for him, you can do a catch-and-shoot in .6 seconds by the NBA rulebook). The Suns are a lot more fun to watch with Booker on the court.

2) Worst in the West beats best in the East? Dallas upsets Toronto. For a day, the Toronto Raptors were on top of the East. Toronto had won six straight and 12-of-13, while the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers both lost on Christmas Day. That left Toronto as the team on top of the East with a .742 winning percentage.

Then they traveled to 9-25 Dallas.

Maybe the Raptors were looking ahead to a showdown with the Thunder Wednesday night, but they were flat and ran into a Mavericks team that isn’t winning a lot but has been feisty and in games lately. The Mavs don’t get blown out. Dallas hung around this one despite Kyle Lowry looking like he would just take over for a stretch (but he missed crucial shots down the stretch). When DeMar DeRozan tried to take over late, he just looked flat (like Toronto did all night).

Dallas got 20 points out of J.J. Barea off the bench, and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 because that’s what he does, to lead the Mavericks. Dallas is going to end up with a high draft pick, but they are not tanking and just throwing in the towel on the season, they are playing gritty basketball.

3) Ejection night: Nikola Jokic gets tossed, as do Kris Dunn and Khris Middleton. Welcome to the night of the “why did he do that?” ejections.

First up is Denver’s Nikola Jokic. He was running down the court when Utah’s Jonas Jerebko bumped him. That happens just about every play. However, Jokic decides to respond with an NFL-style swim move to get around Jerebko, and in the process elbows the Jazz big man in the face.

For a couple of seasons now NBA officials have cracked down on any blows to the head. Intentional or not, they are not allowed and lead to an instant ejection. Jokic earned this one.

However, that was not the most idiotic move leading to an ejection of the night.

There were 22 seconds left in the game and the Bulls were up by 9 and about to upset the Bucks. Milwaukee would take a last shot, Chicago would then dribble it out. But as the Bucks came down Khris Middleton elbows Kris Dunn a little trying to seal him and get position, Dunn then grabbed Middleton’s jersey, so Middleton threw another elbow at Dunn, then Dunn tackled him. Did we mention there were now 16.9 seconds left in a decided game?

Maybe they were arguing over the proper way to spell their first name, in which case Chris Paul should have gotten into it and ejected too, even though he wasn’t even playing in this game or on either of these teams. There will be fines for this, which is going to sting when it’s time to write the check because this was the definition of unnecessary.

It may be moot, but Kawhi Leonard now eligible for super-max contract with Spurs

Getty Images
2 Comments

Early on in the Kawhi Leonard saga with the Spurs, there was a sense in some (even many) quarters of the NBA world that the two sides would work things out. Why? Because the Spurs can offer Leonard way more money than anybody else — $221 million. That’s thanks to the “Kevin Durant rule” added to the most recent CBA that allows the team that drafted a player who meets the criteria (twice All-NBA, MVP, etc.) to get 35 percent of the salary cap at a younger age.

Money did not solve this problem — Leonard and the Spurs are farther apart than ever.

That said, Leonard did just become eligible on Sunday for that massive payday. From Bobby Marks of ESPN.

Kawhi Leonard is now super max eligible (third year anniversary of the contract signed on July 16, 2015) to receive a five-year $221 million extension from the Spurs. If Leonard is traded, the most he could receive in an extension (six months after the trade) would be $108 million over four-years (starting in 2019-20). Leonard would be eligible to sign a five-year $190 million contract as a free agent with the team acquiring him or four-years $141 million with a team that has cap space. Leonard would not be super max eligible as a free agent with the new team acquiring him even if he earned All-NBA honors in 2018-19.

Leonard is still trying to force a trade, and that remains at a standstill.

Where do things stand? Everyone involved is waiting for someone else to blink

San Antonio is waiting for the L.A. Lakers or Philadelphia (or anyone else, such as Toronto) to make what they see as an acceptable offer. Those other teams are holding out their best trade pieces — the Lakers with both Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, the Sixers with Markelle Fultz, etc. — waiting for the Spurs to accept less, closer to what recent big name player trades (DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George) went for. Complicating it all is Leonard’s inexperienced management team, which does not have long-standing relationships with teams, has communicated different things at times, and teams just do not know if they can trust them.

There are conflicting reports and I’ve heard conflicting things from sources, down to the most fundamental issues: Does Leonard want to be a Laker, or does he not want to play with LeBron? Whatever the answer, every day this drags out the Spurs lose leverage.

Even so, this could drag out into training camp. Or longer.

Grizzlies sign second-round pick Jevon Carter to multiyear contract

Associated Press
1 Comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis Grizzlies have signed second-round pick Jevon Carter to a multiyear deal.

Terms of the contract announced Sunday were not disclosed, but Carter himself confirmed the deal.

Carter has impressed at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas and in Utah. His dogged, aggressive defense has slowed players — Trae Young had some of his worst games against Carter — and on offense his game has improved, including him dropping 26 points on the Jazz recently.

Carter was taken with the No. 32 pick after winning the Naismith defensive player of the year last season at West Virginia. The point guard was second in the nation with 3.03 steals per game and is the Mountaineers’ career leader in that category.

“Ray Allen from long distance” with chip shot to save par at American Century Classic

Leave a comment

“Ray Allen from long distance, how many times have we said that?”

Ray Allen had a good weekend at the American Century Championships, the former NBA sharpshooter and future Hall of Famer finished third in the celebrity golf event. One of the reasons he was there, this chip shot on 13 Sunday.

Former Cowboy’s quarterback Tony Romo won the event, with former MLB pitcher Mark Mulder was second.

LeBron James sits courtside for Lakers’ Summer League win

Getty Images
2 Comments

There are two, maybe three guys playing for the Lakers in Summer League likely to be sharing a locker room with LeBron James next season — Isaac Bonga and Josh Hart, with maybe Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and/or Alex Caruso. Only Hart could see the court much.

LeBron was still courtside on Sunday for a quarterfinal game at Summer League, showing his support and being a good teammate. He gave Hart a hug on the court. Brandon Ingram stopped by and talked with LeBron for a bit.

LeBron watched the Lakers continue their strong run through the Summer League, racking up a 101-78 win. LeBron was into it, when Mykhailiuk took a shot midway through the first quarter LeBron yelled, ‘cash only!”  The shot was nothing but net.

The Lakers are on to the Summer League semifinals. Los Angeles won the Vegas Summer League last year.