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Ten NBA Games to stream — classic and from this season — during hiatus

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Even binge-watching can get old.

While sheltering in place you started to rewatch Breaking Bad, which led into Better Call Saul. Next, you rewatched the best episodes of The Office. You sat with your loved one and worked through the highlights of the Marvel Comics Universe films again so your significant other would finally fully understand Endgame. You even tried Peaky Blinders.

Now it’s time to bring basketball back into your life.

The NBA may be on hiatus but it has opened up League Pass to everyone for streaming during the break. Our own Dan Feldman has found the best way to access all the content is to go to this schedule, click the box score of your desired game, then “NBA LEAGUE PASS” to the right of the quarterly scores. Then click “Watch” in the upper middle of the next page. The league also has posted sixty-five classic games that you can watch here.

What games should you watch? Here are my 10 suggestions:


Chicago at Cleveland
May 7, 1989, a 101-100 Bulls win

Michael Jordan, at his peak, hits “the shot” over Craig Elho in one of the iconic MJ moments. Jordan had 44 points and dominated the game, although Elho had 24 off the bench and the Cavs would not have been in the game without his play. (The Bulls would go on to lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Bad Boy Pistons, that happened for a few years in a row.)

Toronto at LA Lakers
Jan. 22, 2006, a 122-104 Lakers win

Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game. What people tend to forget about this game is Kobe had to go off to give these Lakers — who started Smush Parker, Kwame Brown, and Chris Mihm — a chance some nights. The Lakers were sluggish and down 14 at the half, but Kobe took over and won the Lakers the game with one of his iconic performances.

Cleveland at Golden State
June 19, 2016, a 93-89 Cavaliers win

This was the culmination of the 3-1 Cleveland comeback in these NBA Finals, the game where Kyrie Irving hit the game-winning three, Kevin Love played good defense when it mattered, and LeBron James secured his legacy. A lot of the great Warriors Finals games are available to stream, too, but the emotion and epic plays in this game make it an all-time classic.

Oklahoma City at Portland
April 23, 2019, a 118-115 Trail Blazers win

Damian Lillard sparks a 15-point Trail Blazer comeback in the final eight minutes (CJ McCollum had a lot to do with that, too) then ends the Russell Westbrook era in OKC with a shot from the logo as time expires. Then he waves goodbye. It was Lillard’s iconic moment and an intense game worth watching again.


LA Lakers vs. LA Clippers:
Christmas Day, a 111-106 Clippers win
March 8, a 112-103 Lakers win

These are two of the three best teams in the NBA (Milwaukee has its hat in the ring, too), and their meetings have been some of the best games this season. On Christmas Day Kawhi Leonard looked every bit the Finals MVP, getting to his spots and dropping 35, then the Clippers held on late with a defensive stand where Patrick Beverley knocked the ball out of LeBron James’ hands. Then on March 8, LeBron made his MVP case with a masterful game and Anthony Davis stepped up with a huge night. Whatever format the NBA playoffs ultimately take this season, we need these to teams facing off.

LA Clippers at Boston
Feb. 13, 2020, a 141-133 2OT Celtics win

A double-overtime thriller that was maybe the most entertaining game of this season, this was Jayson Tatum‘s breakout game. Tatum went mano a mano with Kawhi Leonard and was the better player that day, scoring 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting.

Philadelphia at Miami
Dec. 28, 2019, a 117-116 OT Heat win

Jimmy Butler — wearing those awesome Miami Vice throwbacks — taking on his former team in the 76ers was one of the season’s classics. Joel Embiid was the best player on the court, scoring 35 and pulling down 11 boards, but a balanced Miami attack with seven players in double figures played too much. Butler himself hit the dagger free throws in OT.

Brooklyn at Memphis
Oct. 27, 2019, a 134-133 Grizzlies win

Ja Morant is going to win Rookie of the Year (Zion didn’t play in enough games, sorry, availability is still the best ability), and this was his breakout game. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and then blocked Kyrie Irving’s attempt at a game winner. Morant has been special this season and deserves the ROY trophy.

Portland at New Orleans
Feb. 11, 2020, a 138-117 Pelicans win

Zion Williamson came into the NBA with unreasonable expectations — then exceeded them. He instantly became must-watch television. Check out arguably his best game, a 31 point, nine rebound, five assist performance (in fewer than 28 minutes), as he sparks a dominant third quarter and comeback win for the Pelicans.

2020 PBT Awards: Defensive Player of the Year

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers star Anthony Davis
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The NBA regular season might be finished. Heck, the entire NBA season might be finished. Even if play resumes with regular-season games, there’d likely be an abridged finish before the playoffs (which will also likely be shortened).

So, we’re making our 2019-20 award picks now. If the regular season somehow lasts long enough to reconsider our choices, we’ll do that. But here are our selections on the assumption the regular season is over.

Kurt Helin

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2. Anthony Davis, Lakers

3. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

I think Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to pull off something only done by Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon — win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. Much like the Milwaukee offense, the Bucks defense is built around the Greek Freak’s unique skill set where he can contest a three and then fly in and get the defensive rebound. His length and athleticism essentially make him an NFL-style lock-down corner taking away his half of the floor, forcing bad passes and then turning them into transition buckets. Anthony Davis is a very close second, he was phenomenal for the Lakers this season, he would be a deserving winner. It was very difficult to leave off Brook Lopez and Marcus Smart, both of whom are fully deserving of being in the top three.

Dan Feldman

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2. Rudy Gobert, Jazz

3. Anthony Davis, Lakers

The Bucks had an all-time great defense, and Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez (who’d rank No. 4 on my ballot) worked in tandem to lead it. Ultimately, I valued Antetokounmpo’s ground-covering harassments ahead of Lopez’s stout paint protection.

Though not quite up to his usual standard this season, Rudy Gobert is the NBA’s most consistently impactful regular-season defender. Anthony Davis gets credit for both his own excellent and versatile defense and raising the defensive level of his teammates – most notably getting LeBron James to give more effort.

Keith Smith

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

2. Anthony Davis, Lakers

3. Joel Embiid, 76ers

Get ready to start seeing Giannis Antetokounmpo a lot on the awards ballot. He’s had a great year as a defender on the best defensive team in basketball. Milwaukee’s defensive rating is more than three points better than second-place Toronto’s. That’s not all Antetokounmpo, but he’s the driving force. The raw counting stats might not jump out at you, until you get to the defensive rebounding. But Antetokounmpo has become great at dominating in help situations and he’s very hard to score on one-on-one. His defense is nearly as dominant as his offense, and that’s saying a lot.

Anthony Davis has been the backbone of the Lakers’ better-than-expected defense. He’s been a shot-blocking machine and his rim protection numbers are near the top of the league. His rebounding is down a bit, but that’s more a product of his teammates than his play. Joel Embiid has somewhat quietly been a monster defender when he’s played. He’s missed some games, but not enough to take him out of the mix. He narrowly edges Rudy Gobert for the third spot.

Duke’s Cassius Stanley declares for 2020 NBA Draft

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Two Duke players, point guard Tre Jones and big man Vernon Carey Jr., are expected to be in the 2020 NBA Draft and be taken in the late first-round or early second. We talked about them on the recent PBT Podcast breaking down some of this draft class.

Now a third Duke player, wing Cassius Stanley, has thrown his name in the mix.

“It was an absolute joy to coach Cassius this season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “I want to congratulate him and his great family on this decision. I’ve seen Cassius grow both as a player and person here at Duke, and I can’t wait to see how his career develops at the next level. Any NBA team will be very fortunate to get such a mature young man who is not only an incredibly-gifted athlete but a leader that wants nothing but the best for himself and his teammates.”

Stanley is projected as a second-round pick, but his incredible athleticism could get a team to use a late first-round pick on him.

Stanley is a 6’6″ wing and it’s his elite athleticism that will get him drafted as a potential 3&D wing. He averaged 12.6 points per game and shot 36 percent from three as a freshman (but on only three attempts a night). His athleticism gives him potential as a defender. The challenge is he relies on that athleticism, something that alone will not set him apart at the NBA level, he is not a shot creator for himself or others, and he struggles to shoot off the dribble. He can finish in transition, but at the next level nearly everyone can do that.

Stanley is a development project, but his athleticism makes him a good gamble for a team with a strong development program.

Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas reported early leader for Bulls’ top job

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What do the Bulls want in a new top executive? Near the top of the list: someone who can build an organization that drafts well and develops that talent. That’s why executives from Miami, Utah, and Toronto were high on the wish list.

Enter Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, who has done exactly those things in Denver. Karnisovas is the early frontrunner, reports Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

Multiple sources told Yahoo Sports that Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas is the leader in the clubhouse…

Sources said [team president Michael Reinsdorf] wants someone who has a presence publicly, especially given the reticent nature of Paxson and Forman the last several years. The Bulls have embraced analytics the last few seasons but having someone who can discern how to apply the numbers against other basketball factors is important to Reinsdorf…

“He wants someone who’ll surround himself with smart people, a great talent evaluator. There’s a need to get better in the player development department, too,” a source told Yahoo Sports.

Karnisovas has worked mostly in the background in Denver, with Tim Connelly being the face of the basketball operations. That would be a big change for Karnisovas, but one he may be ready for.

John Paxson is helping Reinsdorf with the search, but Paxson reportedly will take on whatever role is asked — or step aside completely — to make things smooth for whoever takes over the organization.

While NBA taking big financial hit, rumor is salary cap will not see huge drop

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No NBA games are being played, no fans paying for tickets or buying arena beers, no revenue is coming in. The NBA playoffs will not start on time. If games are ramped up at any point in the next couple of months, it will not be in front of fans, just television only.

Which is to say, the NBA is taking a big financial hit right now. How much is impossible to say, but a billion is not out of the question.

The NBA is set up for the players and owners to split revenue, basically 50-50 (it’s more complicated than that, but it stays close to that range). If Basketball Related Income (BRI) drops around the league, then the salary cap drops and players get less money.

The league’s income is going to suffer, but the salary cap may not that much the NBA players union told agents in a call today, according to Ian Begley of SNY.TV.

What this implies is salary cap smoothing — the league would keep the cap artificially high in the short term, but when revenue spikes back up in the following years that rise will be artificially slowed a little to even things out. The idea is to smooth out the cap number rather than have wild fluctuations.

This is likely part of the negotiations going on between the league and players union over the force majeure clause of the CBA, which allows owners to reduce salaries if games are canceled. If the players give up salary now they don’t want to see future income fall too because the cap cratered for a season or two.

Most likely, the owners and players can work out a cap-smoothing compromise that works for both sides (something they could not do when the new NBA TV deal kicked in and the cap spiked back in 2016). The league’s cap projections were already reduced some by the loss of revenue from China following the Daryl Morey Tweet controversy, the missed games obviously will reduce it further.

How much further appears to be under negotiation.