Posts Tagged ‘2018 NBA Season’

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Charles Barkley will forever be old school when it comes to the game of basketball.

He’s demonstrated this viewpoint in the past by claiming jump-shooting teams are incapable of becoming champions – something the Golden State Warriors have disproved on multiple occasions, mind you.

The latest target of his disdain is the league itself and its decision to extend the regular season to cut down on the amount of back-to-back games for its players.

“I want to commend the NBA. You know, these poor babies can’t play back-to-back games,” said Barkley, sarcastically, at an SMU athletic forum on Wednesday.

“Making $30-, $40-million a year. But we want to make it convenient for them. At $40 million a year, we can’t stress ’em out. The private jets and the four-star hotels is not enough, so I just want to commend the NBA for just making it so convenient for these poor babies,” Barkley said.

To reduce the stress level on players from travel, the NBA will begin the 2017-18 regular season on Oct. 17, therefore eliminating stretches of four games in five nights completely, as well as reducing the amount of back-to-back slates per team from 16.3 to 14.4.

Such changes will also aid in preventing teams from resting talent when they’re healthy, either on the road where opposing fans can only see them a handful of times (if that), or for nationally-televised contests. New guidelines on the matter have been submitted to the Board of Governors from the NBA’s Competition Committee, with a vote for approval coming on Sept. 28.

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Philadelphia 76ers

Rudy Gay hasn’t been part of a winning organization since he left the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013.

So when he had his pick of the litter in free agency this summer, Gay chose to join the San Antonio Spurs on a bargain two-year deal because he wanted to get back to winning following four miserable years in Sacramento.

“I think it was a do-or-die point in my career,” Gay told Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express News. “I wanted to be with an organization that was known for winning and can help me raise my game to the next level.”

Gay was rather candid in his introductory interview on Wednesday. The 31-year-old rediscovered his motivation for playing basketball while rehabbing his torn Achilles. Sharing conversations with Kobe Bryant – who suffered the same injury – helped Gay get back into the right mindset.

“I kind of lost that. This injury really made me train like that. I was mad. I trained mad. I trained like an animal,” Gay said.

His only goal is to help the Spurs win another championship. Gay says he’s even willing to change his game and come off the bench if that’s what Gregg Popovich asks of him, even though he’s started nearly every game of his career since his rookie season.

“Whatever it takes. If I’m a sixth man, I’m going to be the best sixth man in the league. If I’m a starter, I’m going to try and be one of the best small forwards in the league. That’s just the type of player I am.”

Gay averaged 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.8 assists last season connecting on 37.2 percent from deep while splitting time between small and power forward.

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Fourteen of the NBA’s 30 franchises lost money last season before receiving revenue-sharing cash from the league, and nine of those teams still ended up in the red after that, according to confidential financial records obtained by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe.

The report appears to confirm suspicions that despite record income from national television contracts, some teams are having trouble turning a profit – and not just in small markets.

The nine franchises to reportedly come out in the red, by the league’s accounting, after revenue sharing are: the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, and Washington Wizards.

The Spurs and Cavaliers may raise eyebrows given their combined runs of success, but it was already widely reported the Cavs lost $40 million during their 2015-16 championship season – due in part to a $54-million luxury tax bill.

At the end of the day, small cities such as Memphis and Milwaukee cannot compare to markets like Los Angeles. However, Brooklyn is part of New York City, and Washington and Atlanta rank as the nation’s seventh- and 10th-largest media markets, respectively.

At least one owner brought up the idea of expansion as a way to increase team income, the report states. An expansion fee – likely over $1 billion per team – would be divvied equally among NBA owners and not subject to the 50-50 basketball-related income split with players under the collective bargaining agreement.

Commissioner Adam Silver is on record as saying expansion is not a priority, although markets such as Seattle may be soon waiting in the wings for a new team. Relocating less profitable franchises is another option, something a handful of richer owners have suggested, according to Windhorst and Lowe.

The chasm between the NBA’s most profitable and weaker franchises will be discussed at the league’s next Board of Governors meeting at the end of September, sources told ESPN.

NBA: Playoffs-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

The new-look Houston Rockets have yet to take the floor together as a collective unit, yet James Harden is ready to board the hype train by comparing his current roster to perhaps the best one he’s ever been a part of.

Harden has just one NBA Finals appearance on his resume. It came back in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who fell in five games to the Heatles of South Beach. So are this year’s Rockets as good as that Thunder squad?

“Both teams are similar as far as talent and versatility, a mixture of vets and young guys. Both are very, very, very talented,” Harden told Vice Sports’ Michael Pina. “Now, obviously, the difference is we were younger back then, but both are good.”

Harden was in his third season in the Association when Oklahoma City advanced to the Finals, and hadn’t blossomed into the full-fledged megastar he is today. He was, however, honored as the Sixth Man of the Year for his contributions during the 66-game campaign, averaging 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists coming off the bench.

Equipped with a young Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, as well as established veterans Derek Fisher, Kendrick Perkins, and Nazr Mohammed, the Thunder had the pieces in place to be a mainstay in the Finals picture. Harden, though, was shipped off to Houston that summer after failing to agree to a contract extension.

Bringing in Chris Paul to run the point single-handedly reshaped the Rockets. Not only does it pair Harden with another All-Star in the backcourt, but it also took a bite out of a core that had just increased its season win total from 41 victories to 55, with Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell going to the Los Angeles Clippers.

CP3 is indisputably the best player Harden’s had on his team since his days in OKC, which helps explain why he’s so optimistic about the Rockets’ chances moving forward, and why he’s willing to make such comparisons. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon, sharpshooting forward Ryan Anderson, and big man Nene are at least still around, while Houston added depth at the wing positions by signing both P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Ultimately, the ’12 Thunder will have the edge until Harden’s Rockets compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy themselves.

OKC Thunder Paul George

New team, new jersey, new goals.

He’s been ranked among the top stars in the world for the better part of five seasons now, but Paul George has his sights set on taking his game to another level.

After the launch event for the Thunder‘s new Statement jersey, George was asked by NBA TV’s Dennis Scott whether the thought of winning the MVP Award this coming season had crossed his mind.

“Man, I’m going for it,” George told Scott. “Every summer I train to do it, and it just seems every summer I add something new and I learn something about myself. This summer I really wanted to attack the weight room and strengthen my body, strengthen my core. I can definitely say that was the next step, to be able to sustain the wear and tear throughout the whole season. So, I’m going for it; I’m going for that hardware.”

Of course, George will have some steep internal competition among his new Thunder teammates. Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook – fresh off a historic triple-double season in which he averaged a league-high 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game – is still expected to account for much of the Thunder’s scoring and ball handling.

If George is to seriously contend for the highest honor doled out for regular season performance, he’ll have to do so at both ends of the floor, helping Westbrook shoulder the load on offense while routinely locking down the opponents’ best scorers.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

For the first time in NBA history, a franchise will be raising two different numbers to the rafters for one player, with Kobe Bryant having his Nos. 8 and 24 immortalized by the Los Angeles Lakers.

“As a kid growing up in Italy, I always dreamed of my jersey hanging in the Lakers rafters, but I certainly never imagined two of them,” said Bryant in an official statement. “The Lakers have bestowed a huge honor on me and I’m grateful for the fans’ enthusiasm around this game.”

The Black Mamba becomes the 10th Lakers player to have his number(s) retired, joining Wilt Chamberlain (13), Elgin Baylor (22), Gail Goodrich (25), Magic Johnson (32), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (33), Shaquille O’Neal (34), James Worthy (42), Jerry West (44), and Jamaal Wilkes (52).

“This honor is very well deserved,” Lakers president of basketball operations Johnson said. “Kobe was one of the greatest Lakers and NBA players of all time and he’s definitely on my Mount Rushmore. I look forward to seeing both of his jerseys be retired and celebrating this special day with Kobe and his family.”

Bryant donned No. 8 until 2006 when he made the switch to No. 24, which was his original number competing at Lower Merion High School. He then wore No. 33 prior to entering the league, but since No. 33 had already been retired, and No. 24 was taken by a teammate, Bryant decided to wear No. 8.

During his legendary 20-year stint in purple and gold, Bryant won five championships with a pair of Finals MVPs, was an 18-time All-Star, and earned a spot on 11 All-NBA First Teams. He’s also the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points, which is the third-highest point total of any player ever.

Bryant’s numbers will be officially retired in a ceremony at halftime on Dec. 18 when the Lakers host the visiting Golden State Warriors.

 Vince Carter #15
 

With Hollywood power players descending on Toronto for the city’s annual film festival, one documentary of local interest has been “The Carter Effect”, chronicling Vince Carter‘s impact more than a decade ago on the Raptors franchise and basketball in Canada.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri attended the premiere Saturday, and during a Q&A alongside the film’s producers, offered a somewhat unclear statement. “Vince Carter will be home in Toronto,” Ujiri said, according to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.

Carter signed with the Sacramento Kings as a free agent in July. There’s been speculation for a few years now that the Raptors could have an interest in bringing the onetime face of the franchise back, but it hasn’t happened – even though Carter could have filled a Toronto roster need this summer.

Turning 41 in January, time is running out on the playing career of the man once known as “Air Canada”, who since carved out a niche as an effective role player after his superstar days ended.

It’s quite possible, however, that Ujiri was also hinting at the chances of the Raptors organization one day retiring Carter’s number. While some Toronto fans still hold the circumstances around his controversial 2004 trade against him, there’s little doubt about Carter’s impact on the NBA in Canada.

Though his peak playing performance with the Raptors only lasted from 1999 to 2001, the Floridian was also responsible for capturing the hearts and minds of a generation of young Canadian basketball enthusiasts. Toronto NBA products such as Tristan Thompson, Cory Joseph, and Andrew Wiggins have all pointed to Carter’s presence during their childhoods as some level of inspiration.

The Raptors have retired no player numbers in their 22-year history. Carter wore No. 15 with the team from 1998-2004.