NBA playoffs
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Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

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The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told SI.com, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.

Report: DeMar DeRozan unhappy with Spurs

Spurs wing DeMar DeRozan
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Facing the Kawhi Leonard trade saga, the Spurs had a clear objective: Remain competitive. That’s why they traded Leonard to the Raptors for veteran star DeMar DeRozan rather than accepting a pick-heavy offer. That wasn’t optimal for the franchise’s long-term health, but it at least paid short-term dividends. San Antonio made the playoffs last year, qualifying for a record 22nd straight season.

Now, the bottom has fallen out.

The Spurs are just 27-36 and will almost certainly miss the playoffs. DeRozan has a $27,739,975 player option that he’ll reportedly decline if the Spurs don’t sign him to a contract extension.

Jabari Young of CNBC on ESPN San Antonio:

Listen, I don’t have to sugarcoat anything. DeMar DeRozan is not happy in San Antonio, OK? The offense is not running as smoothly as one should think with a guy like him in the lineup, and there are problems are there, right? And so you have to decide if you’re going to take that money of if you’re going to come back to a situation that’s just not suitable. I mean, it didn’t work. They got the deal done. It’s over. I mean, the experiment is not working.

This report came before the NBA’s coronavirus shutdown, which could significantly decrease next season’s salary cap. That makes DeRozan (and everyone else with a player option) more likely to opt in. Base on the prior report, DeRozan is willing to stay in San Antonio for the right price. It’s increasingly likely that option-year salary is the right price.

DeRozan is a good player whose scoring – and, at times, passing – can be central in building decent offense. But he has a tandem of deficiencies that make it difficult to fit him onto a good team:

1. He doesn’t shoot 3-pointers to space the floor.

2. He doesn’t defend adequately.

That means his team must surround him offensively with other outside shooters. That’s doable.

His team must also surround defensively with other sound defenders. Again, that’s doable.

But it’s difficult to do both. Players who both shoot 3s well enough to attract attention AND defend well are obviously scarce.

Though DeRozan definitely has fans around the league, it’s another thing for him to expect an offer next offseason that justifies declining his player option. He and the Spurs could be stuck in this imperfect arrangement another year.

This Date in NBA History: James Harden goes off for then career-high 51 vs. Kings (VIDEO)

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The 2014-15 season is one of several years where James Harden feels he should have been MVP but was robbed by voters. It’s become almost an annual tradition.

Stephen Curry won the award that year — he was bombing threes on his way to 23.8 points and 7.7 assists a game, leading the 67-win Warriors to an NBA title — but Harden put up raw numbers that were right there, 27.4 points and seven assists a game.

Harden made his case for the award on Feb. 1, 2015, with a 51-point outburst against Sacramento that was, at the time, his highest-scoring game ever. He shot 16-of-25 from the field overall, a ridiculous 8-of-9 from three, and he got to the line 13 times. Sacramento had no answer.

Harden has scored more points since — he’s had 60+ point games each of the last three seasons — but this was his first 50+ point game, and to this day remains one of his signature games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says James Harden is the toughest player to guard in the league

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There’s a feud between Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. It goes back more than a year and includes Harden’s frustration that Antetokounmpo won the MVP award over him last season (Harden told Rachel Nichols, “I wish I could just run and be seven feet and just dunk. Like that takes no skill at all”).

That doesn’t mean there isn’t respect. The Greek Freak was taking fan questions during an Instagram Live session and was asked who is the toughest player to guard in the league. He said Harden.

Harden has won the NBA scoring title two years in a row and it will be three whenever this season ends — Antetokounmpo isn’t the only defender who has trouble with The Beard. Harden’s combination of the best step-back three in the game, strength on the drive, hesitation moves, and ability to draw fouls makes him nearly an impossible cover. It’s why teams started sending doubles at him just over halfcourt this season, just to get the ball out of his hands and dare anyone else to beat them (Russell Westbrook gladly accepted that challenge).

Harden is the best pure scorer in the league.

And Antetokounmpo is going to win the MVP award again because of his overall play.

Report: Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera inquired last summer about moving franchise

Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera
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Grizzlies owner Robert Pera has been, at different times, both overbearing and distant in Memphis.

What’s clear: Pera owns the Memphis Grizzlies.

But for how much longer?

Ronald Tillery, who previously covered the Grizzlies for The Commercial Appeal:

It’s not totally clear whether this means moving as in selling or relocating – or both.

A league source quickly reached out to NBC Sports to deny there was any truth to the rumor. Tillery has outspokenly criticized Pera. That doesn’t mean Tillery can’t report accurately on Pera. It’s just worth considering there has been both friction and distance between the sides. This report will reflect poorly on Pera in Memphis.

Previous exploration of selling the team becomes particularly relevant now, as the NBA loses significant revenue due to its coronavirus-forced stoppage. Some owners could see this crisis as a time to get out while they’re so far ahead – especially those who need cash. (That’s less likely to apply to Pera, whose business is wireless communications.)

Memphis is one of the NBA’s smallest markets. So, there has been plenty of speculation about the Grizzlies moving to Seattle or elsewhere. But their arena lease creates complications (it runs through 2027). That said, leases can be broken – especially with nearly a year of negotiation.