Christian Petersen/Getty Images

John Calipari against adding third round to NBA draft: ‘You’re trying to ruin college basketball’

7 Comments

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said he could see the NBA adding a third round to its draft.

Kentucky coach John Calipari loathes that idea.

Calipari, via Alex Scarborough of ESPN:

“If anybody supports more rounds in the draft, those more rounds are to get kids to go to the G League, you do not care about college basketball or you’re trying to ruin college basketball,” Calipari said.

“After two years they don’t perform, what? The NBA is going to take care of them and hire them? No. It’s entertainment. You’re done,” Calipari said.

“If they’re not going to the NBA, if we’re really about young people, we should encourage them to go to college,” he said. “And the reason is their way out is through education. Their way to break through to the American dream is education.”

The most overlooked and most important aspect of this debate: The draft is an anti-labor mechanism.

Sure, players get dressed up and celebrate getting picked. They treat it as an honor.

But the draft serves to limit players and give power to teams.

Drafted players can negotiate a contract with only one NBA team. They can’t use other NBA teams for leverage. First-rounders must follow a strict salary scale, which caps wages well below market value.

I estimate about 90% of first-round picks would receive better contracts as undrafted free agents. The proof is in NBA teams’ repeated willingness to pay the rookie scale.

It’s a myth that first-round picks receive guaranteed salaries. If signed, they get two years of guaranteed salary. But the drafting team doesn’t have to offer a contract at all.

Yet, nearly every team is eager to pay a first-rounder what the scale dictates. In the rare times a team isn’t, it’s easy enough to find another team that is and trade the pick.

Only once has a team ever renounced a first-rounder rather than trying to sign him. The Bulls did with No. 29 pick Travis Knight in 1996.

If teams could pay more to secure to secure a first-round-caliber player, it stands to reason they often would. But they don’t have to bid against each other.

The anti-player effects of exclusive rights also extend the second round. It’s a cloudier picture there, because so many teams draft someone in the second round contingent on him agreeing to contract terms beforehand. So, second-round-grade players do get more power over the process. However, the threat always looms of getting drafted by an undesirable team and being forced to negotiate with only that team. That presses some second-round prospects into less-than-ideal, but not-worst-case-scenario, arrangements.

There’s always more flexibility with going undrafted. Beyond an anchoring effect of teams favoring players they drafted, there’s also more favorable contracts with going undrafted.

So, a third round would get treated as more opportunities. Players love getting drafted, and 30 more players would get drafted. But there aren’t more opportunities. NBA regular-season rosters are still limited to 15 standard contracts and two two-way contracts.

There’d just be more players facing the limitation of exclusive bargaining rights.

The players union shouldn’t agree to more draft rounds… without getting concessions in return.

As the NBA’s minor league expands to each team having its own affiliate, I envision NBA teams holding the NBA rights of its minor leaguers. Currently, players signed to minor-league contracts are NBA free agents. The only way to get players to agree to relinquish their freedom in that way is with higher minor-league salaries, which I believe are coming.

The best way to stock those minor-league affiliates might be through a longer NBA draft.

At that point, teams could decide how long to invest in those fringe players. Maybe it’ll be two years. Maybe it’ll be longer. I doubt there’d be a hard-and-fast rule.

College-basketball eligibility comes with a four-year limit.

We shouldn’t treat college basketball as sacrosanct. The NCAA is a cartel that caps players’ compensation. Maybe that will change. But until it does, major college sports are ruining themselves while coaches and administrators hoard money for themselves.

If the NBA develops a minor-league and longer-draft system that appeals to players, that’d be great. Elite prospects deserve better options.

The onus should be on college basketball to keep up – not complain about competition.

Mike Woodson reportedly has second coaching interview with Knicks

Knicks coach interview
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Let’s start with the reality of the situation: Every source where the Knicks are mentioned, every bit of reporting on this topic, says the New York coaching job is Tom Thibodeau’s to lose. He is the runaway favorite.

But if it’s not him, is it Mike Woodson deja vu?

The Knicks have done their due diligence in this search — they interviewed 11 people — and that now includes bringing back former New York coach Mike Woodson for a second interview, reports Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

Friday was Woodson’s second interview with the club. Woodson and all other candidates had initial interviews with the Knicks last month or in the first week of July. The Knicks’ second-round interviews are expected to conclude in the coming days. It is unclear if any candidates will be asked to interview a third time.

New York plans to make a decision its next head coach before July 31, when the NBA resumes its regular season in Orlando.

Woodson is the last Knicks coach to win a playoff series (2013, if you’re keeping track) and had a 109-79 record in the job. David Fizdale — the coach the Knicks fired this season — wanted Woodson on his staff, but management shot it down, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

It’s difficult to imagine Leon Rose‘s first big move as Knicks president would be to reach back in time and restart the Woodson era. That’s not moving the franchise forward.

But Woodson and the Knicks are talking.

Short offseason, uncertain financial outlook may mean fewer coaches fired

76ers coach Brett Brown
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Already this season, Kenny Atkinson was out in Brooklyn, the New York Knicks fired coach David Fizdale, and John Beilein was shown the door in Cleveland (with J.B. Bickerstaff hired to replace him). That was just the tip of the iceberg in expected NBA coaching changes this offseason, the buzz around the league was between four and up to 10 more coaches would be fired.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Now those same teams are looking at a shortened offseason, while at the same time the owners have taken a financial hit and aren’t thrilled about the idea of paying two coaches at once, and suddenly it looks like a lot more coaches are safe. Brian Windhorst and Tim Bontemps touched on that in their story about next season at ESPN.

After much chatter before the stoppage of changes in the coaching ranks, several league executives told ESPN that teams might be more likely to hang on to coaching staffs longer than planned to avoid paying out millions to coaches fired in current market conditions.

A lot front office sources around the NBA are speculating about the same thing.

Expect a few changes. Mike D’Antoni’s contract is up in Houston and few around the league expect him to return next season. Jim Boylen is considered the walking dead in Chicago where there is a new front-office regime. New York and Brooklyn still have to hire their guys.

However, other guys considered almost certainly gone — Brett Brown in Philadelphia or Scott Brooks in Washington, for example — may keep their gig another year because of the uncertain waters of the NBA right now. Maybe not, there could be firings, but don’t expect the tidal wave of coaching changes to wash over the NBA that everyone expected back in February.

Teams forced into difficult choices to trim traveling parties for restart

Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

ASSOCIATED PRESS — The 22 teams participating in the NBA restart were all at the Disney campus together for the first time Friday.

None of them, however, made it to the Orlando, Florida, area with their usual travel party.

Leaving families behind for several weeks — or maybe even three months, depending on how deep a team goes in the playoffs — during a pandemic isn’t the only hardship that teams are dealing with during this restart. Space limitations within the quasi-bubble at Disney also meant that teams had to cut their official traveling parties down to 37, including players, so many people who usually travel with a club aren’t on this trip.

“We’re not able to take everybody — and that stinks, because of the amount of work that they all put in every single day,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said. “We’ve tried to identify how to be the most efficient we can be with people that can be excellent remotely as well. I think that that’s one of the things that we’ve had to identify. In some cases, their excellence remotely probably hurt their chances of going initially.”

It’s expected that as the bubble population shrinks after six teams are eliminated from playoff contention and then eight more are ousted in the first postseason round, teams will be allowed to bring in more staff.

But until then, while teams are playing games on-site at Disney, there will be plenty of work done back in home markets and home arenas as well. Some teams left player development coaches behind, some even left assistant coaches, and all teams traveled with only one media relations staffer and one equipment manager. In normal circumstances, some teams travel with as many as three people to handle media requirements and two for equipment.

“You know, it’s tough,” Orlando President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman said. “We kind of shied away from some of the language that was being thrown around — the whole idea of essential (staff) and non-essential (staff). It’s not about that. This is a very narrowly defined circumstance, and it requires certain skill sets to address this circumstance.”

Players counted against the list of 37, and most teams brought the full complement of 17 players. That left 20 spots for coaches, assistant coaches, player development, video, security, strength and conditioning, athletic training, media relations and content creators.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said the process of figuring out who goes and who doesn’t was brutal.

“We already have had a model of everybody sharing responsibilities,” Spoelstra said. “We already had a meeting about this where there’s an absolute understanding that this is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation. And that means bags, laundry, cleanup, everything … that’s not just for equipment managers, that’s everybody — coaches, trainers, weight room staff, head coach, coaches, we’re all going to be involved in every aspect of it.”

Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan also expressed disappointment that tough decisions had to be made on the staffing end.

He completely understands the NBA perspective. Keeping the number of people in the bubble manageable is a key part of the NBA’s plan for being able to finish the season; the more people in the bubble, the more risk there is of something going wrong.

“Everybody deserves the opportunity, but for the safety of the league and the players we can’t do that,” Donovan said. “So, what we’ve got to do is understand, whether it’s myself or assistant coaches, we may have to be setting up video equipment, we may have to have one of our coaches filming practice in Orlando. There’s things that we’re going to have to do that are going to be outside the box that will normally been taken care of.”

Chris Paul playing cornhole. Luka Doncic trick shots. Welcome to life in the NBA bubble.

Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Teams have emerged from quarantine in the Walt Disney World campus in Orlando, getting some run in on the court, and are starting to explore life in the NBA bubble.

Then they are documenting it on social media.

For example, Chris Paul and Darius Bazley played some cornhole.

Dallas’ Luka Doncic was hitting trick shots on the court.

Then Doncic and Boban Marjanovic were doing Disney Channel ads.

Complaints about the food by players have died down, in part because they are out of quarantine and get a choice of restaurants, in part because they saw the backlash and realized the complaints looked elitist. Or maybe it’s just the Mickey pancakes.

Everyone is out and exploring the campus and having fun…

Well, except for Robin Lopez, who sees no reason to leave his room.