Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

2019 PBT Awards: All-NBA

2 Comments

Kurt Helin

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Paul George, Thunder

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Third team

G: Russell Westbrook, Thunder

G: Kemba Walker, Hornets

F: LeBron James, Lakers

F: Blake Griffin, Pistons

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

At center, it was tough to leave Karl-Anthony Towns off the list, but his early-season struggles — even if Jimmy Butler deserves blame for that — set him just behind Gobert. The final guard spot on the third team was the other hard choice, leaving Bradley Beal and Klay Thompson off was difficult, all three were deserving, but to me Kemba had to carry the heaviest burden for his team the longest last season.

Dan Feldman

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Paul George, Thunder

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Second team

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Third team

G: Bradley Beal, Wizards

G: Jrue Holiday, Pelicans

F: LeBron James, Lakers

F: Blake Griffin, Pistons

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

After filling out my MVP ballot, the first team and most of the second team came together easily. Considering his big advantage in minutes, Nikola Jokic landed solidly ahead of Joel Embiid for first-team center. Pascal Siakam drew consideration for third-team forward, but Blake Griffin and LeBron James got the nod for carrying far bigger loads.

The real drama came with third-team guards and center.

The two guard spots came down to Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker and Mike Conley. Beal took everything on his plate for Washington after John Wall got hurt and did so well in that lone-star role. Holiday was by far the best defender of the group, and he was also darn good running New Orleans’ offense. As many all-around contributions as Westbrook made, I just couldn’t overlook his terrible shooting.

At center, I valued Rudy Gobert helping to make this season meaningful for the Jazz over Karl-Anthony Towns failing to set a tone then later dazzling offensively. I also gave real consideration to Anthony Davis. His trade request torpedoed the Pelicans’ season, and that should count against him. But he was also absolutely awesome before that, and he continued to show up to play afterward. New Orleans’ response to the trade request wasn’t all on him.

Dane Delgado

First team

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

G: James Harden, Rockets

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Paul George, Thunder

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Third team

G: Ben Simmons, 76ers

G: Bradley Beal, Wizards

F: Pascal Siakam, Raptors

F: Blake Griffin, Pistons

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

It feels like the only squabble on All-NBA is with the center position of the first team. Whether you want to go with Embiid or Jokic is your personal preference — longevity vs. a more well-rounded game. The only real issue I have is with putting Kyrie Irving on second team. His actions this year have been pretty off-putting, but I’m not sure that the All-NBA teams require the same kind of narrative that the MVP award does. I won’t be alone in leaving LeBron James off of the third team, and instead substituting more valuable players who deserve their spots accordingly. It seems like we’ve all argued about who goes on these All-NBA teams, but they’re pretty well-sorted already this year.

Wizards reportedly to finally remove interim tag from GM Tommy Sheppard

Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tommy Sheppard has been doing the work as the Wizards GM since April when Wizards owner Ted Leonsis finally ended Ernie Grunfeld’s run as team GM.

Sheppard was the GM through the draft. Through free agency. All the time with the “interim” tag on his job title. In Las Vegas for Summer League, plenty of other executives wondered why that tag was still on Sheppard’s title.

It’s finally coming off, reports Candace Buckner of the Washington Post.

The Washington Wizards removed the interim tag from Tommy Sheppard’s title Friday, promoting him to be the 12th general manager in franchise history, according to a person with knowledge of the situation…

The promotion of Sheppard, who will be entering his 17th season with the Wizards, mirrors the internal hiring decision Leonsis made with his hockey team. In 2014, Leonsis elevated Brian MacLellan as the Washington Capitals senior vice president and general manager after firing George McPhee. Before the promotion, MacLellan had spent the previous seven years under McPhee as an assistant general manager.

This likely will be made official in the next 48-72 hours.

Part of the delay may have been that a couple of prominent names were linked to the Wizards job at different times. There were reportedly talks with Tim Conley, who built Denver into a real threat, but he decided to stay in the Rockies. There were rumors of Masai Ujiri coming to the District, but he has chosen to stay in Toronto after winning a title.

Making Sheppard the full-time GM provides some stability just as the Wizards reach their most important moment of the summer.

On July 26 the Wizards can offer star two guard Bradley Beal a three-year, $111 million extension. The Wizards have been talking to Beal’s people and the offer will be made.

What Beal decides will decide the Wizards future for years. If Beal doesn’t sign that offer, the Wizards have to look at trading him. If he signs it, they need to build more around him.

Beal has spoken numerous times in the past about wanting to stay with the Wizards. However, there was plenty of informed speculation at Summer League that he is frustrated with the franchise and could choose to not sign it and essentially force his way out.

Either way, Beal’s decision will define the next steps for Sheppard for years.

 

Child tries to call out James Harden for step-back travels, he says it’s no travel

Harry How/Getty Images
3 Comments

If you tried this move in a high-school game 10 years ago, you would have been called for traveling.

In today’s NBA, as the rules are interpreted, James Harden‘s step back is not a travel.

At an event on Friday, a young fan tried to call Harden out on the travel and he defended himself. Via Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Harden’s stepback is not a travel (when he executes it properly). Even if it looks like it is.

Here is the play in question.

The official response — meaning from officials:

I know when you played Junior High basketball in 2002 that was a travel, but the NBA hasn’t called it that way in years.

The NBA rule here (Rule 10, Section XIII) simplified is a “gather and two steps.” Meaning one step while Harden is gathering the ball, plus two more. Nobody pushes the boundary of the gather step like Harden, he has mastered the grey area. But when he executes it properly — and he doesn’t every time — it’s not a travel.

No matter what that young boy’s father tells him.

Justin Holiday reportedly reaches deal with Pacers, will join forces with brother

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Pacers just added the wing depth and some defense at the position they have been looking for.

It’s through someone they have long had their eye on, Justin Holiday, the six-year NBA veteran who split time last season between Chicago and Memphis. He has reached an agreement to join the Pacers — and his brother, Aaron Holiday — for a season in Indiana. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news.

The Pacers have been in touch with Holiday for a while, reports J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Holiday averaged 10.5 points a game last season, shot 34.7 percent from three, and played solid wing defense.

Victor Oladipo is the team’s best wing player, once he returns from injury (the Pacers are hoping around Christmas or a little after). Beyond him there is Jeremy Lamb, C.J. Wilcox, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and Brian Bowen. Holiday can find minutes in that group.

This also sparks the dream of an all T.J./Holiday lineup. The Pacers have two Holidays, Justin and Aaron, as well as three un-related players named T.J. — T.J. McConnell, T.J. Warren, and T.J. Leaf. We need to see those five on the court together next season, if only for a few minutes.

Rumor: Clippers offered Marcus Morris three-years, $41 million at start of free agency

Associated Press
5 Comments

Marcus Morris thought it was his time. Coming off a 13.9 point, 6.1 rebounds a game season where he shot 37.5 percent from three and was one of only a couple of guys who seemed to bring it nightly in Boston, he thought he was going to get PAID this summer. As in the $20 million a year range.

The market for Morris was not quite that hot, and there is a lot of buzz around the league about how that frustrated him. His agent, Rich Paul, ultimately set up a two-year, $20 million contract with the Spurs, which Morris agreed to then backed out of to take a one-year, $15 million contract with the Knicks. That move pissed off the Spurs and led to Morris changing agents.

Rumor is Morris could have gone to the Clippers for three years at an average of $13.7 million at the beginning of free agency but turned it down, according to Frank Isola of The Athletic.

Morris, however, lost out on a much more lucrative contract with the LA Clippers, who were prepared to pay him $41 million over three seasons. A Clippers source said the three-year deal included a provision for Morris to receive 50 percent of his salary on Oct. 1.

Morris was hoping to earn $40 million over two years but the Clippers couldn’t offer that deal if they wanted to sign Kawhi Leonard to a max contract. Once Morris took that stance, the Clippers moved on and acquired Portland’s Maurice Harkless in a four-team trade that included Jimmy Butler signing with the Miami Heat.

One of the biggest challenges for agents is to get the player to understand market realities. For players, their salary is a measuring stick of their worth (even though we know that is flawed reasoning), kind of a capitalistic “you are what the market says you are” approach. Players have egos and often people around them who continuously pump them up. Players often expect the market to be more robust for them than it will end up being, and the agent has to be the voice of reality.

Morris is a good player, but one caught somewhat by circumstance. The market moved very fast this summer — more than 50 deals reached in the first 12 hours — and players who hesitated got lost. The Lakers and Clippers were hung up holding space open for Leonard. This July saw more “you have an hour to take this offer or we have to move on” conversations than in years past. Morris understandably thought he would get a higher payday, but by the time he pivoted the market got thin.

For the Clippers, everything worked out just fine, thank you very much.

For Morris, what kind of season he has and what kind of market there will be for him next July will be something to watch.