Dan Feldman

Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce
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Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce believes ‘without a doubt’ Tiger King star Carole Baskin killed her husband

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Did Carole kill her husband?

That’s the central question in episode three of Netflix’s Tiger King. There are plenty of accusations toward Carole Baskin about the disappearance of Don Lewis, including the sensational claim that she fed him to a tiger. Though the underlying issue is quite serious, it’s much more fun just to gossip.

Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce is eager to participate.

Chris Kirchner of The Athletic:

Pierce knows something about internal conflict.

But someone with even more expertise has also weighed in. O.J. Simpson:

WNBA postpones season

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban backed off his belief that the NBA could resume in May.

It’s just already clear, amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’ll be unsafe to hold professional basketball games that soon.

WNBA release:

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert released the following statement:

“As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15.  While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees.

Many top female players – including Los Angeles Sparks guard Sydney Wiese, who tested positive for coronavirus – play overseas during the WNBA offseason. That frequency of travel makes it even riskier for WNBA teams to gather any time soon.

The WNBA will still hold its draft April 17, conducting proceedings virtually. That could provide lessons to the NBA as it determines how to handle its draft.

Joel Embiid, 76ers owners pledging $1.3M for fighting coronavirus

76ers owner Josh Harris and Joel Embiid
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Joel Embiid just showed up 76ers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer by pledging to pay team employees who were set to have their pay cut. Amid widespread backlash, the 76ers backtracked on their salary-reduction plan.

Now – with a portion of Embiid’s coronavirus-related donation unallocated and Harris and Blitzer looking to change the narrative around them – those three are working together.

Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

Joel Embiid, Sixers managing partner Josh Harris and co-managing partner David Blitzer are contributing a combined $1.3 million to Penn Medicine, establishing a funding campaign for COVID-19 antibody testing of frontline healthcare workers.

According to a Penn Medicine press release, “The pledge from Embiid, Harris and Blitzer will provide a much-needed boost for efforts to quickly identify health care workers who may have immunity to the new virus.”

This is great.

Report: NBA owners, players haggling over salary reductions

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The NBA is losing major revenue due its coronavirus-forced stoppage.

Owners and players will share the losses.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement calls for each side to split Basketball Related Income approximately 50-50 (each side receiving between 49 percent and 51 percent). In normal times, the NBA keeps 10 percent of player salaries in escrow. Once BRI is calculated after the season, the league releases the necessary amount to players for the split to hit the appropriate level.

Considering coronavirus and China, even keeping all10 percent of player salaries might not get owners their “guaranteed” 49 percent of BRI. That would trigger a lower salary cap next season, and it’d force owners and players to negotiate a solution.

The National Basketball Players Association is apparently willing to make concessions.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

This effectively means players’ salaries will get reduced. Of course, owners want that. If even the union’s counterproposal includes salary reductions, salary reductions are happening. The key questions for haggling: How much and when?

It’s also unclear whether these paycheck reductions will go into an escrow account as an attempt to minimize collecting money from players who’ve already gotten paid more than what their final 2019-20 salary will be or whether this money will definitely just stay with ownership.

The force majeure clause of the CBA allows owners to reduce salaries if games are canceled, not just postponed. So far, everything could be rescheduled. But it seems the regular season and playoffs could both be shortened – if not outright canceled. Presumably, owners and players are discussing those scenarios.

Right now, owners are feeling more coronavirus-caused economic pain. Players will get their turn soon enough – whether through a lower salary cap, force majeure or both.

Paycheck reductions – in a week or a couple months – will spread the effects.

Report: Julius Randle frustrated multiple Knicks, including R.J. Barrett, with ball dominance

Knicks players R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle
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The Knicks have just two players with guaranteed salaries above $7 million next season – Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett.

At quick glance, it’s a fine tandem. The 25-year-old Randle is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. The No. 3 pick in the most recent NBA draft, Barrett is averaging 14 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.

But neither has met hopes individually this season.

Collectively, the issues could be even worse.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Nevertheless, some Knicks, including rookie RJ Barrett, were frustrated by Randle’s penchant for not distributing the ball quickly enough and overdribbling, according to two sources familiar with the situation.

“A lot of players felt like that with the exception of Elfrid Payton,’’ one NBA source told The Post.

Of course, Barrett was frustrated by an inefficient shooter who dominates the ball and commits too many turnovers. It’s exponentially more difficult to have two players than one like that, and Barrett was already filling that role. Imagine how teammates who must play with both feel.

Apparently except Elfrid Payton? He played with Randle on the Pelicans last season. Randle shot 34% on 3-pointers with New Orleans (27% the rest of his career, including 28% this year), which went a long way toward making Randle more suitable within a team offense. So, Payton has that experience.

Randle has talent, and that’s why he puts up numbers. His shot creation helps him raise a team’s floor. But – also considering his defensive shortcomings – it’s tough to see him fitting as a starter on a winning team.

Barrett is just a rookie, so there’s more hope he develops a style that fits better with other good players. Of course, even if he does, for it to matter, the Knicks would have to get better players.

For now, they’ve got an expensive Randle.