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Rudy Gobert reportedly gets $1 million bonus if he makes All-Star Game

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Rudy Gobert is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection, and last season made the All-NBA Team.

But he has never made the All-Star game.

If he did this season, it would be worth a cool $1 million.

In a story about contract incentives, Andy Larson of the Salt Lake Tribune wrote this:

Ten players on the Jazz have incentives written into their contracts that give them financial bonuses for reaching off-court or on-court benchmarks, far more than any other team in the NBA. For some players, those total in the millions of dollars…

 If Gobert is named to the NBA’s first All-Defense team, he’s given an extra $500K. If the Jazz allow fewer than 100 points per 100 possessions while he’s on the floor, Gobert gets another $250K. If he gets enough rebounds per 36 minutes, he gets another $250K.

And if he is named an All-Star starter or reserve, he gets a cool $1 million bonus.

Sorry, but it’s a longshot Gobert makes it this year.

So far in the fan voting, Gobert isn’t even in the top-10 of Western Conference frontcourt players (there is no center designation in the All-Star Game, just three “frontcourt” players). Which is a little unfair, how is he behind DeMarcus Cousins, who has yet to set foot on a court this season?  The fan vote is 50 percent of choosing the five starters from the conference, with the media (25 percent) and players (25 percent) making up the rest. However, the press and players are not going to vote Gobert in over Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Nikola Jokic, Paul George and others as starters.

That would leave Gobert’s $1 million in the hands of the coaches, who pick the seven reserves. Usually, three or four of that seven are frontcourt players, but again the West is so deep it’s hard to say Gobert is in. Hypothetically, if LeBron, Durant, and George start the All-Star Game, then Gobert needs one of the remaining spots and Davis and Jokic are two virtual locks in this scenario. That leaves one or two from among Luka Doncic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gobert, and other guys on the fringe trying to get their hat in the ring such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Tobias Harris, Kyle Kuzma, and Danilo Gallinari. You can make a case for Gobert ahead of a lot of those guys, but with the Jazz off to a disappointing first half of the season it’s a longshot he gets the call.

By the way, the slow start has the Jazz allowing 102.4 points per 100 possessions when Gobert is on the court this season (but the Jazz defense has been much improved of late). All-Defensive voting is an end-of-the-season thing but Gobert will be in the mix.

All this means Gobert will have to get by on his $22.7 million base salary. Don’t shed too many tears for him.

On Basketball: International stars leaving mark on NBA

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Go back to the 1999-2000 NBA season, and there were only two foreign-born players in the NBA who averaged 15 points per game: Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan.

This season, there are 24 names on that list – by far the most in league history.

The NBA international imprint just keeps getting bigger, providing the sort of transformative impact the likes of which the league probably hasn’t seen since the ABA merger.

One of the MVP front-runners at this point is Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has led Milwaukee to the NBA’s best record entering Wednesday. Dallas’ Luka Doncic looks like an overwhelming favorite to become the first Slovenian rookie of the year. Cameroon’s Joel Embiid might be the dominant big man in the league, and keeps getting better for Philadelphia.

These aren’t just some guys taking up roster spots, either.

These are franchise players. At least one-third of the league’s teams have a foreign-born player who would classify as its best, or at least its most important.

“It’s been fun to watch over the last two decades, where the game started internationally and where it is now,” said Dirk Nowitzki, the German who became the biggest star in Dallas Mavericks’ history. “I think the game has grown globally, China, Australia, Africa, Europe, South America. I think we’ve got 150 international players in the league or more. It’s been fun to watch.”

Just take a peek at Tuesday’s boxscores to see the impact.

– There were six guys with 12 or more rebounds, five of them born outside the U.S.

– There were six guys with seven or more assists, all of them born outside the U.S.

– There were four guys with three or more blocks, all of them born outside the U.S.

Nikola Jokic had 19 points, 14 rebounds and 15 assists for Denver, and it might not have even been his best game of the season. Jokic is Serbian – and represents how the game is played today. He’s a 7-footer. Big, fast and skilled. He’s going to be a problem for teams for a long time, and is the biggest reason why the Nuggets entered Wednesday atop the Western Conference.

The NBA has utilized a `USA vs. The World’ format in what used to be called the rookie game at All-Star weekend since 2014, and maybe it’s time to think about doing something like that in the varsity matchup as well.

Think about this possibility: Antetokounmpo, Doncic, Embiid, Jokic and Ben Simmons starting. Select Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela and Nikola Vucevic as the backup big men. Ricky Rubio, Danilo Gallinari, Buddy Hield and Bojan Bogdanovic as backup guards and wings. Jamal Murray, Jonas Valanciunas and Boban Marjanovic would be snubbed on this 12-man mythical roster.

And that scenario even has Australian-born Kyrie Irving playing for the U.S. side in this made-up game.

The U.S. team led by LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis would probably still win. But it might be worth the NBA taking a look at this sort of format before too long.

“You’ve got guys coming from everywhere and anybody now in the world, you know if you work hard you can come play in the NBA,” said Charlotte’s Tony Parker, who was born in Belgium.

There’s a myriad of theories on why this is happening.

The one that makes the most sense is that the game is basically beamed in real time right now to every phone in the world. Young players like Doncic can see fellow Europeans succeed in the NBA while oohing and aahing over their basketball heroes – and for the Mavericks rookie, it was LeBron. Embiid went slightly more old school, saying his favorite all-timer is former MVP Hakeem Olajuwon. Antetokounmpo modeled some of his game after Scottie Pippen.

The seeds have been planted over these last 20 years.

It was only a matter of time before they bore this sort of fruit.

“We just know what this game is about,” Doncic said of the young foreign cluster of stars. “I don’t know if people think international players aren’t that good, but I think we showed up.”

Clippers’ Montrezl Harrell to Lakers fans: “At the end of the day, y’all gonna have to recognize us”

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The Lakers were underdogs last night against the Clippers for good reasons: The Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back having traveled in from Sacramento (and a close game, so guys played deep into the fourth), and they were without LeBron James.

Plus, the Clippers are good. Their net rating this season (+1.6) is basically even with the Lakers (+1.8).

Some Lakers fans couldn’t get their head around all of that and booed their team after Friday night’s 118-107 loss to their Staples Center roommates (the Lakers did give up an ugly 22-0 run in the second half).

Clippers big man Montrezl Harrell — he of the awesome Kamakazi-style tied off headband who had a dozen points off the bench and remains near the front of the Sixth Man of the Year conversation — was waiving his arms encouraging the boos after the game. Then he went on a rant demanding some respect after the game, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“I love it,” Harrell said of hearing the boos. “Because they already don’t recognize us as a so-called L.A. team, but we don’t really care about that. But we want y’all to know that we’re the LA Clippers. That means Los Angeles Clippers, man. So there’s two teams in L.A.

“Y’all try to overlook us, just because of everybody in that purple and gold and the history of it. Yeah, I respect that. But that don’t mean s— to me. Excuse my French — that don’t mean nothing to me. I come out here and play for the guys that I am on the floor with. At the end of the day, y’all gonna have to recognize us, man. We are going to make you understand who we are.”

The Clippers deserve respect. A team with a lot of question marks coming into the season — mostly about health, but also the roster fit — has answered them for coach Doc Rivers (who is in the Coach of the Year conversation). Tobias Harris has quietly had an impressive season averaging 21.1 points per game with the kind of true shooting percentage (61.1) usually reserved for guys who just shoot in the paint. Danilo Gallinari has had a bounce-back season and is averaging 19.5 a night. Lou Williams is in the Sixth Man conversation (again) with Harrell, averaging 18.5 a game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been impressive as a rookie.

We could go on and on, but you get the point — the Clippers are legit. They are in the playoff mix in the crowded West (currently the four seed). They deserve respect.

But in Los Angeles, with the Lakers, they will always be “the other team.” That’s just the reality. The Lakers are Los Angeles and have too long and too deep a history in the community. Even when the Clippers are better, it will be about the Lakers in L.A.

Three Things to Know: Chris Paul goes down with hamstring injury, then Rockets fall down

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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) Tell me if this sounds familiar: Chris Paul goes down with hamstring injury, then Rockets go down with a loss. Last season Chris Paul missed 24 regular season games due to injury, however, more importantly, he missed Games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors with a strained hamstring, two games the Rockets led at the half but could not close out. That transitioned into a whole lot of “if only” cries in Houston.

Which is why there was an uncomfortable sense of deja vu when Paul went back to the locker room during the second quarter Thursday night’s game in Miami with what was later determined to be a hamstring injury. One that could sideline him for “a while.”

The Rockets are 0-5 in games Paul has sat this season.

It’s 0-6 if you count this one. With CP3 out of the picture, Miami took the lead when they opened the third quarter on a 17-4 run. James Harden — nine of his 35 came in the fourth quarter — led a comeback that had the Rockets briefly take the lead, but Miami answered with a 6-0 run of its own and some key buckets from Tyler Johnson down the stretch. When an Eric Gordon attempt from three missed in the final seconds, Miami got the 101-99 win.

It wasn’t a pretty game — the Heat were the better shooting team on the night and still made just 38.7 percent overall and hit 9-of-39 from three. But that kind of grinding game seems to work for the Heat. Miami now 4-4 in games they shot less than 40 percent this season. Which is just weird.

For Houston, which had climbed back into the playoffs in the West going into this game, the real test is coming up the next few weeks (including against the Thunder on Christmas).

2) Luka Doncic is as advertised, but the Clippers got Lou Williams back and that got them a win. Before tipoff, Doc Rivers said of Luka Doncic, “I haven’t ever wanted to watch a rookie play more than him.”

After the game, where Doncic dropped 32 on the Clippers, Rivers said “I’m sick of him” with a laugh.

Doc Rivers, however, had something that made him feel a lot better — the return of Lou Williams. In the first half Dallas trapped Williams and Tobias Harris, but Rivers said they had seen that in the previous meeting and set up release valves — Danilo Gallinari for one, and he finished with 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting. The other was Montrezl Harrell and the other bigs on the roll after setting picks, and Harrell finished with 18. Harrell feasted on Dirk Nowitzki in the big German’s limited minutes (he’s still not moving like he wants).

Then in the fourth quarter, Williams wasn’t facilitating he was scoring — 13 of his 26 points came in the final frame. He was the steadying influence late the Clippers had lacked in recent losses to Oklahoma City and Portland. Having him back made the Clippers a more dangerous team.

None of those were the highlight of the game, though. This was:

“When I went down the first thing I thought was ‘oh my god, I just tore my ACL for the second time, and this time I’m coaching.’ I’m not even sure how you do that. The doctor said I didn’t, my body said I did, so we’ll find out tomorrow.”

“I thought he would be out 2-4 weeks,” DeAndre Jordan said with a smile.

3) Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry and Anthony Davis himself try to put out “Where will AD play next?” fire. Good luck with that.

Friday night Davis heads to Staples Center to play LeBron James and the Lakers and the Pelicans’ Mr. Everything will be asked about playing for the Lakers/with LeBron/leaving New Orleans roughly 4,237 times in varying ways. Before that happened, the Pelicans tried to throw water on that fire. First, there was New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry being as clear as he could be.

Then there is what Davis himself said to Zach Lowe of ESPN, on LeBron saying it would be “incredible” to play with AD.

“I don’t really care,” Davis told ESPN of James’ comments Wednesday night after the Pelicans’ 123-115 loss to the Bucks. “Obviously, it’s cool to hear any high-caliber player say they want to play with me. But my job is to turn this team around. If we’re 15-17, that means I’m not doing my job.”

Gentry is right, the Pelicans are not going to trade Davis… yet.

New Orleans does not want to trade Davis, the goal is to keep him and that’s why they are active on the trade market right now, as buyers. On July 1, 2019, New Orleans will put a designated veteran $235 million guaranteed contract in front of Davis, $40 million more than anyone else can offer. If Davis rejects that contract, then the Pelicans should listen to trade proposals (and teams around the league expect them to). But not until then.

Until then, the Pelicans are holding out hope.

Down goes Doc — Clippers’ coach falls on court trying to protest non-call

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LOS ANGELES — Luka Doncic impressed once again scoring 32 and leading the Mavericks. DeAndre Jordan got a video tribute and a standing ovation in his return to Staples Center. The Clippers snapped a four-game losing streak thanks to the return of Lou Williams and his play down the stretch, plus Danilo Gallinari‘s 32 points.

None of that was the highlight of the game, this was:

“I’m hurting,” Doc Rivers said after the game, only half joking. “When I went down the first thing I thought was ‘oh my god, I just tore my ACL for the second time, and this time I’m coaching.’ I’m not even sure how you do that. The doctor said I didn’t, my body said I did, so we’ll find out tomorrow.”

“I thought he would be out 2-4 weeks,” Jordan said with a smile.

With the Clippers snapping a four-game losing streak, his knee is going to hurt a little less tonight.