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JJ Redick explains why he was upset at coverage of Markelle Fultz last year

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JJ Redick famously lashed out at reporters last season for covering seemingly every moment of 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz’s workout routine last season. The Philadelphia 76ers guard chided reporters for zeroing in on a player who was just 19 years old at the time, and who was clearly going through some sort of odd mental block with his shooting form.

During Zach Lowe’s podcast on Thursday, Redick elaborated on his emotions at that time, saying that he felt it was out of line for media to continually publish updates on Fultz during practices.

Redick’s response comes at around 35:00 during Lowe’s podcast:

You have a responsibility to cover the story, I get it … There’s a tension to it. I think whatt made me angry that day, and it had been festering, was the way in which people were physically covering him with the cell phones.

That was like our third practice leading up to the trade deadline, and I think the trade deadline had just passed, so we had three practices in the span of that weak. Every time we’d finish practice, or finish shootaround, and the doors would open for the media … you’d see this mad rush to get prime footage location. Everyone would get their cellphones out and they’d start recording him … doing who the fuck knows. Dribbling a basketball, shooting a free throw … mundane things. We, by that point, had seen months of him shooting.

On that particular day, Bryan Colangelo had a press conference … and they all came in with body language like they were vultures preying over a dying, decaying body. The kid was 19, he’s clearly going through something. I got angry … basically cussed them out.

He was my rookie so I guess I was protective but also empathetic. Whatever he was going through, physically or mentally, as an athlete we’ve all been there. There’s varying degrees of extremes to that but we’ve been there.

Lowe: There were also people in your organization who were saying, ‘Why is he out there when the media is coming in?’

Redick: That was his choice. Markelle is an adult, he wanted to be out there.

As an athlete, Redick’s disposition is understandable. He is going to be loyal to his teammates, and have more empathy for the athlete’s side of things. But the line of morality for journalists doesn’t necessitate shielding legal adults who are struggling to perform on a basketball court. That was the duty of the 76ers, if anything. Readers seemed to eventually tire of hearing about Fultz and his issues, although local editors in Philadelphia probably saw less of that.

Redick doesn’t have the experience or training to decide what is newsworthy and when. That is up to editors and journalists covering teams. The real burden lay with the Sixers when it came to Fultz last season. Teams close practices to the media all the time, and the reality is it isn’t natural for media to attend one-on-one workouts for individual players. Media access for those types of things are decided by front office.

The 76ers decided not to (or could not) dissuade Fultz from being in front of the media during the time they were allowed into the practice facility. That’s on Fultz, and the Sixers. Fultz made an adult decision to allow the media to cover him during a vulnerable time. That’s probably not what Redick wanted — and my personal opinion is to concur — but that’s what happened.

The Sixers could have just as easily kept him away, and had private sessions with Fultz until he returned to some kind of form becoming of an NBA player. Videoing the No. 1 overall pick from a $1 billion sports franchise was not just within the realm of journalistic morality, it was necessary from a duty of coverage standpoint, particularly for local outlets in Philly.

Redick can feel the way he feels. He has that right. Journalists cover what they do, with years of training to dictate how to do it. They don’t have to agree. For Sixers fans, the hope is that trainer Drew Hanlen really has fixed Fultz’s jumper, so we can put this story to bed.

I’ll agree with Redick on one point: the whole story is quite tired.

Jimmy Butler’s camp reportedly says concerns about salary “manufactured” by Wolves brass

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There are more spin doctors at work around the Jimmy Butler trade request than there are working congressional campaigns right now.

Among the flood of reports that came out was one that Butler’s primary issue was his salary — he wanted Minnesota to clear cap space so he could renegotiate his current deal to near a max contract, then extend him off of that deal. That the issue was less personal with Towns and more about the money.

Not true, reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

To add to the Butler drama there have been multiple reports in the Minneapolis area to come out this week that money was the main sticking point for Butler to demand his departure, but a source in his camp told the Sun-Times on Friday that it was “manufactured’’ by “ownership mouthpieces’’ to make Butler look bad….

According to the source, this is about a philosophy in making an impact in the Western Conference, and in Butler’s mind you can’t run down a dynasty like Golden State when two of the so-called dogs in the pack are in fact kittens.

Two thoughts here. First, this report makes more sense — to give the Butler the kind of raise talked about would have required gutting the Timberwolves roster. Meaning the would have had to dump guys that have value such as Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, or they would have had to find a sucker to take on the contracts of Andrew Wiggins or Gorgui Dieng, and to do that would have required sending out quality talent or picks as sweeteners. Butler is smart and understands the NBA business, he would know this was never going to happen, he realizes his money was going to come as a free agent next summer. The idea he demanded this always smelled fishy.

Second, Butler and a lot of people want to lump Towns and Wiggins together as players who don’t work hard, don’t have much of a motor, and don’t seem to love the game. Nobody who has watched Wiggins play — especially last season — is going to put up much of an argument about that in his case. Wiggins looks like an anchor contract, unless he suddenly sees the light.

Towns, however, is different. His game has improved year-to-year, he does have a good motor on the court (at least on offense), and he does put in work in the off-season. Maybe he is young and doesn’t wear it on his sleeve like Butler, and certainly Towns was taught some tough lessons in the playoffs by Clint Capela last season, but Towns is not Wiggins. Towns was an All-NBA player last season for a reason. Lumping him and Wiggins together is a mistake.

NBA approves three rule changes, including reset of shot clock to 14 after offensive board

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The three rule changes approved by the NBA owners on Friday are not going to have a dramatic impact on this NBA season…

Until in a close playoff game in May it’s a little harder for a team getting offensive rebounds to just kill the clock. Or in that same playoff game, when clear path foul is called because an offensive player outraced a defender down the court.

As had been expected, the NBA’s Board of Governors — the owners — approved three rule changes for the coming NBA season. They are:

• The shot clock will reset to 14 seconds after an offensive rebound rather than 24 seconds. This has been experimented with in the G-League, the WNBA, and Summer League this year with some success. The goal is to speed up the pace of play, not letting a team get an offensive rebound then back it out and pound the ball for 20 seconds to kill time. Thing is, that was not much of a problem last season, as was noted at Nylon Calculus.

 

<em>Over 30 percent of offensive rebounds result in putbacks (the 0 Duration value on the graph) and 75 percent of offensive rebounds result in a possession that is five seconds or less. Only 6 percent of all offensive rebounds resulted in possessions that are 14 seconds or greater last year. Given that the league average for offensive rebounds was the lowest ever this past season at 9.7 per game, this rule would apply to roughly half a rebound per team per game last year.</em>

When fans will notice it, when it will have the intended impact is end-of-game situations — rather than a team grabbing offensive rebounds then killing the clock for 20 seconds, they will have to get up a shot, which will lead to the other team getting an opportunity.

• The league “simplified of the clear-path rule. The NBA’s old clear path rule was overly complicated and it led to things that looked like clear path fouls not being, and things that clearly were not being fouls. Here is the NBA’s explanation of the new rule, with some video help below.

A clear path foul is now defined as a personal foul against any offensive player during his team’s transition scoring opportunity in the following circumstances: the ball is ahead of the tip of the circle in the backcourt; no defender is ahead of the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity; the player with the transition scoring opportunity is in control of the ball (or a pass has been thrown to him); and if the foul deprives his team of an opportunity to score.

As part of the clear path foul rule simplification, referees will no longer need to make judgment calls as to whether or not a defender was between (or had the opportunity to be between) the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity and the basket.  In addition, referees will no longer have to determine whether or not the defender was at any time ahead of the offensive player prior to committing the foul, nor will it be relevant whether or not a defender beat the offensive player with the transition scoring opportunity into the frontcourt.  Further, plays of this nature will no longer have to originate in the backcourt (since transition scoring opportunities can originate in the frontcourt).

• The NBA expanded what is defined as a “hostile act” so that replay can be triggered more easily. Currently, to be a hostile act according to the NBA rulebook it has to be an altercation between players that is “not part of a normal basketball play” or where a player “intentionally or recklessly harms or attempts to harm another player.” Broadening the scope of this will give referees more chances to review off-ball or other altercations, and these are the kinds of serious situations the league should review.

Dirk Nowitzki likely to come off bench this season, coach Rick Carlisle says

Associated Press
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Dirk Nowitzki said something this summer rarely seen from future Hall of Famers who are the best player in their franchise’s history, he was willing to come off the bench.

It looks like Dallas coach Rick Carlisle is going to take Nowitzki up on that offer, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

That might have been happening at the start of the season anyway, as Nowitzki’s injured ankle is not 100 percent and you can be sure the Mavericks are not going to push him.

Nowitzki off the bench just makes more sense for the Mavericks. DeAndre Jordan is the starting center, Harrison Barnes is really a four (56 percent of his minutes were at that spot last season), rookie Luka Doncic is a ball-handling three, Wesley Mathews is finally healthy and should be the two guard, and Dennis Smith Jr. is at the point.

Then the bench is a throwback to Mavericks favorites with Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, plus Yogi Ferrell, Dwight Powell, and Devin Harris.

Nowitzki is going to get the grand farewell tour this season, as he deserves. He’ll start a few games, particularly his final one at home. But for the team this season, which has dreams of a playoff spot (as long a shot as that may be in the West), this is the best move.

 

 

Magic Johnson: I told Luke Walton not to worry if Lakers start slow with LeBron James

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The Heat started 9-8 in their first season with LeBron James. There were calls for Miami to fire coach Erik Spoelstra, maybe even from LeBron himself.

The Cavaliers started 19-20 in their first season with LeBron back. Coach David Blatt didn’t get off the hot seat until Cleveland fired him the next year.

How will Lakers coach Luke Walton fare coaching LeBron early this season?

Lakers president Magic Johnson, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN:

“As I was talking to Luke [with GM Rob Pelinka], we said don’t worry about if we get out to a bad start,” Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said Thursday as the team’s brass met with the media. “We have seen that with LeBron [James] going to Miami, and we have seen that when he came back to Cleveland. He is going to struggle because there are so many new moving parts. But eventually we are going to get it, and we are going to be really a good team.”

If the Lakers are committed to Walton, they did well to get ahead of the story. Last year, after LaVar Ball said Walton lost control of the team, the Lakers let the story get away from them.

These comments should also anchor Johnson. It’s one thing to soberly assess the situation, as Johnson can do now, and back Walton. It’s another to support the coach while dealing daily with the emotions of losing. Johnson can always look back to these comments as a reminder of his views if necessary.

And it could be necessary. The Lakers have some, um, interesting ideas about how they want to play. There could be significant growing pains.

But the Lakers seem ready to ride them out with Walton.