Tag:Matt Moore
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:53 pm

Friday 5 with KB: Lockout blues

By Matt Moore

In this week's edition of the Friday 5, we take a look at what the odds are of losing the season, check in on how the Joe Dumars reclamation project is going, and ponder if there's anything to move the negotiations on the new CBA forward. 

 1. Well, it's been a downright depressing week on the labor front. Billy Hunter says he'd "bet" on losing the whole season. You've been more optimistic like me that the season will be salvaged, but I'm losing hope. What's a percentage you'd put on missing the whole year at this point?

KB: The whole season? I'd say -- and I'm just pulling this number out of thin air based on a gut reaction -- 25 percent. When I laid out my timeline for the lockout, I predicted this would be settled by Oct. 15 -- just in time to avoid the cancellation of any regular season games. Now, I'm almost certain that prediction will be wrong and that some games will be lost.

2. Whatever happened to "we both want to keep this out of the courts?" If both sides have known the other's position for months, why the increasingly antagonistic tactics from both sides? Is there any way to defuse this situation?

KB: Well, even with the lockout well into its second month and with lawsuits and labor charges flying back and forth, the two sides can continue to negotiate. And both sides know, despite the litigation, that the only way this is going to be solved is at the bargaining table. They can do that now, next month, in October, in January, or next July -- but that's where it's going to be solved. The legal tactics are efforts by each side to gain leverage and pressure the other side to move off its bargaining position. So the only way to get closer to a deal was to escalate the legal battle and see if one side or the other can win a small battle that will bring everyone closer to a deal.

3. Let's say before the lockout is one round, the first 30 days after are another, and the last week is a third. Score the rounds for the union and the NBA.

KB: OK, pre-lockout goes to the owners, 10-8. They got their lockout, which is what they wanted all along. The month of July was a draw; nothing happened, nobody won or lost anything, and Deron Williams' foray into Turkey did not open the floodgates for other stars to leave. This past week was a decisive victory for the owners, who beat the players to the legal punch, got a Republican-appointed judge in district court, and chose a venue with an appeals circuit where the law is heavily favorable to them. Also, they exposed a rift within the players' association -- the influential agents who are clamoring for decertification vs. union officials are want to wait for this to play out with the NLRB.

4. Joe Dumars called Lawrence Frank his "mulligan" this week. Do you think the hire will wind up getting the second crack Joe's looking for at success, or is the roster too far gone?

KB: There's actually a lot to like about the Pistons' roster. I like Monroe and Jerebko, love Stuckey and Gordon, and really love the Brandon Knight pick. But as has been the case for some time, it's a matter of fit. Whenever the free-agent floodgates open, Dumars will have to move Tayshaun, Rip or preferably both. L-Frank is a solid coach, and his defensive principles will get the Pistons back to their roots. But he's wired, high-strung and emotional -- all traits that will play better with the younger core than with the old guard. So nothing's changed in that respect; the old guard has to go for the Pistons to truly turn the page and move on.

5. Tell me why the endorsement money, not the salary, but endorsement money in China and overseas isn't enough to tempt players with the lure of being a "global brand."

KB: Well, several top stars already have significant endorsement deals in China. Signing there and playing there for a while certainly could enhance that. But this isn't really the question to be asking. Every move by the players should be viewed through the prism of the lockout, and what helps their bargaining position. I disagree with the NBPA over how much an overseas exodus of stars would help the union's bargaining position. I don't think a handful of stars "getting theirs" in China or anywhere else helps the union at the bargaining table. Even if 20 stars sign there -- and that would be a lot -- where does that leave the other 400 players? True, you can't have an NBA without the stars, but you can't have a powerful bargaining unit without them, either. And since they'll all have out clauses to come back when the lockout ends, what are they really accomplishing there, anyway? One last point: If the best the NBA's top players can do is $1 million a month to play overseas, what does that really tell the owners who were paying them many multiples of that under the previous CBA? As one front office executive told me recently, "I think Dr. Buss would kill to pay Kobe $1.5 million a month." Look at it another way: If a $17 million player like Deron Williams goes to Turkey and the best he can do is get $5 million, the owners respond, "Why don't you just stay here for $10 million?" That's the clearest explanation I've heard for why this overseas stuff doesn't make sense for the players.
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:40 pm

Magic says '92 Dream Team would crush '08

By Matt Moore

Here's a fun one. Let's take the greatest collection of NBA talent ever assembled, based on production, historical legacy, the convenient exaggeration provided by time, and "Oh My God" factor of ability and then throw them up against the 2008 version of that team, hampered by a lack of said historical perspective, the absence of the greatest player of all time, coming just months after arguably the three greatest players eligible to play for said team were eliminated in embarassing fashion. How does that work out? 

In short order, the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Dream Team" was better than the 2008 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team, AKA "The Redeem Team."

Shocking, I know.

But that's the story today, straight from the point guard's mouth, as Magic Johnson spoke about the team and how it compares to the most recent squad. Video courtesy of the L.A. Times, along with the subsequent quote from the Magic Man:

"When you think about the Olympics and the Dream Team, I have to throw it to you," Johnson said. "Kobe [Bryant] and them won by 22 points. Ehh, 22 points? We won by an average of 44 points. So when they want to step up to that, you tell them we'll be waiting on them."
via Magic Johnson discusses Dream Team's superiority to Redeem Team - latimes.com.

Well, then, Earvin. Way to go out on a limb.

Johnson's right, of course. But using margin of victory? That's a pretty thin construct. Jack McCallum used a much better system for establishing Dream Team I's dominance.  There's any number of ways to prove it. But margin of victory? The international basketball community is quite a bit better now than it was back in '92 and if you want proof of that take a look at the Gasol brothers and the Finals MVP. But beyond that? The ability to run it up should never be used to determine the gap between two clubs. It's an insignificant detail and Magic, who came from an era that focused on wins and losses more than statistical production far more than the balance does now should be aware that the scoreboard doesn't always tell the story. 

At the same time... come on. Jordan. Magic. Bird. And whether it's a lack of perspective due to recency, the glorified impact of legacy for those players as undisupted Hall of Famers while Kobe Bryant is still writing his story, let alone the younger crew on Redeem Team '08, the fact remains. Primacy. The first to come will always make the greatest impact. There will be those who will always say Russell or Wilt was better than Shaq or Hakeem (and they probably were, based on all the evidence they have) simply based on their appearance coming sooner in the collective history of the sports. And so every Dream Team will live in the first's shadow, just as every talented perimeter player will live in Jordan's.

It's a no-win proposition, but hey. It makes for a fun story to think about on a slow day.

And no matter how you feel about it, Bird checking James and vice versa sounds like a fun watch.  
Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:35 am

There are ways around China rule to block players

By Matt Moore

In the ever-escalating battle between those who do and do not think that players heading to China to play is a viable option, we have some new developments. 

First there was a report last weekendthat the Chinese government and CBA (that's Chinese Basketball, not Collective Bargaining) officials were working on a rule change to prohibit opt-out clauses from being included in any contract for an NBA player during the lockout.  Many skeptics of the "China plan" ho-ho-ho'd the development, laughing off the absurdity squashed beneath the ruling of such a powerful entity. On Wednesday, noted Chinese basketball site NIUBBall.com reported that teams are examining ways to circumvent the ruling, essentially because they don't really care what that powerful entity says. The quick answer? Why not just make an agreement with the player to release them instead of instituting a formal contract provision? From NIUBBall.com:
The answer is unclear, which is why teams are growing more and more convinced that they can negotiate an under-the-table agreement with players that would guarantee a return to America after a set period of time or after the lockout ends. To remain in line with CBA policy, the team would then sign an official one-year deal consistent with the CBA’s rules prohibiting an out-clause, which would be turned in to and approved by the league office. After the player left, the team could point to the official contract and state a variety of reasons for why the player left — breach of contract, injury, inability to adapt to China, etc. — and claim no responsibility for the player’s departure. With a league approved contract on file in league headquarters, there wouldn’t be any way for the league to prove foul-play.

“Since word of the new rule got out, the common thinking to get around this has been to write up two contracts, the real one [that has been negotiated with the player] and the one that is officially filed with the CBA,” said another general manager speaking anonymously. “We feel we can absolutely get a deal done with a player privately. Once the lockout ends, we’ll just release him. Then, after he’s gone, we’ll pull up the one-year contract that is on file with the league.”
via NiuBBall.com » Teams searching for ways to get NBA superstars to China

So now the question becomes whether players can trust their Chinese teams to uphold terms of the under-the-table agreement, and what response the CBA would have to breach of contract if the team did not wish to pursue any action against the player. Oddly enough, the CBA should learn something the NBA is already very familiar with: the teams make the rules. It doesn't really matter what the organizing body says if the teams that comprise the league choose to ignore it. 

People are still very doubtful that there's enough money in China to make the trip worth it to players, but again I'll ask about the sponsorship money. Salary money to NBA stars is often the lowest total they get in a year, at least in a per-hour manner. And the financial ramifications of building a base in China go far beyond this season. Developing that by playing there for a year will cement income for years to come. It's tapping a wide-open market that they can only barely scratch in the offseasons, and yet they try to anyway, like Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul's Chinese tour a few weeks ago. Imagine that potential augmented by actually playing for a local team.

One thing that has been confirmed by NIUBBall.com is that the contract offer for Dwyane Wade from one of the clubs, reported by a local newspaper earlier this week, was denied by the team's general manager. Wade's the kind of player you can't believe will go overseas, based solely on his injury history. Kobe Bryant is older, and has had knee, finger, and ankle injuries in the past two years and is still in better shape than Wade physically. Bryant's also much more likely to ignore sound medical advice and go off of what he "feels."

But still, no one's signed in China. The cupboard is full (or bare, depending on how you look at it). So clearly the rush is not on. There will continue to be questions about how this whole thing will work out, and the only thing that's truly certain is that no one really knows. We're in uncharted territory, feeling our way through just like the players, the NBA, the CBA, and its teams.  
Posted on: August 5, 2011 9:44 am

Your annual Deron-Korver dodgeball video

By Matt Moore

Every year, Deron Williams and Kyle Korver host a celebrity dodge ball tournament. And every year, it's really funny. It's on the 27th of August this year, and they've released a video promo for it. So this is your annual Deron Williams, Kyle Korver dodgeball video. Don't hate the player, hate the game. 


It's kind of bizarre to note that Deron Williams' athleticism is more aptly displayed by dodgeball than basketball. Check out 00:34 through 00:37 in the clip. Kyle Korver's defense, however, is exactly mimicked on the dodgeball floor when he's ducking shots. 

Sorry, Kyle. Had to get that one in.  
Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:22 pm

NBA D-League: Business as usual

By Matt Moore

There will be professional basketball next year, regardless of what happens with the NBA lockout. It'll just be minor league. Or, development league, if you want to get technical.

The NBA Development League season will not be affected by the lockout, and will begin its season regardles of whether the NBA and NBPA come to an agreement on a new CBA. The D-League enters its fifth year under president Dan Reed. Under Reed's leadership, the former "NBDL," now just called the "D-League" has seen tremendous growth and success, even if it has yet to reach its goal of becoming a "true" minor league to the NBA.

The D-League has seen callups reach all-time highs, as more and more players on NBA rosters have experience in the D-League on their résumés. Assignment players are becoming more common as teams begin to understand the value of seasoning raw prospects in the rough and tumble Development League while they make time and roster room to commit to them on the big stage. And in the past six months, the number of D-League teams enjoying a one-to-one relationship with its parent club either through outright ownership or the D-League's "hybrid model" has swelled to include Golden State, New York, New Jersey and Cleveland in its parent ranks. All told, the D-League now has nine of its 16 teams in exclusive relationships with a parent club.

So what does this signal about the growth of the league and its standing with the big boys?

"We think it's part of a clear trend that's been building over the past several years of NBA teams getting involved in the D-League," Reed said. "It's a statement of success as a development tool, as a basketball tool, and we believe it portends a very successful future for us."

But with all this growth, there are consequences. The rest of the NBA's 21 teams will be forced to share the remaining seven clubs next season (whenever that is). Obviously with the number of teams growing and the timeline accelerating for a full-force investment from the league in the D-League teams, there has to be talk of a tipping point where teams are forced to commit the small amount of resources it takes to build a team. That has perhaps been the most confusing thing about the growth of the D-League. Approximately the same amount of money that Joey Graham pulled in from the Cleveland Cavaliers last season can operate a D-League team. It's a money-making venture that with ticket sales and sponsorships can help cover at least some of its costs, and the long-term value of developing a player and not having his draft pick and contract go to waste would more than make up for it. But Reed doesn't see a clear tipping point in concrete at this stage. He does see the recent pattern as suggesting the time is coming soon when every team has an affiliate, even if there will never be a mandate for such a move from the league office.

"I'm not sure there's any one tipping point," Reed said, "nor that I could predict it. I think what we'll see is what we've seen so far, a slow but gradual and now accelerating build. We had one single-affiliate in 2007 when I came on board, then we quickly had two. Now we have nine, it more than doubled in the last two years. I think there will be more teams that will get involved in the future. But how fast that will be, I can't really predict. If it goes according to the last couple of years we'll be there pretty soon."

Acceleration seems to be a theme in the D-League these days. In prior years, when an expansion team was announced, the league would mark its entrance for the year after. This year, the Golden State Warriors have taken control of the Dakota Warriors for the upcoming season, and the new Canton franchise, which will be the Cavaliers' affiliate, will begin play this fall. Reed says that so many teams are in conversations about what the D-League can offer them at this point that things can move very quickly once a decision is made to commit.

So when the teams make these calls, what are they asking about as they start to explore the potential of owning or operating an NBA D-League team?

Every team is different, Reed says.

"Some teams have questions about rules in respect to players and what's allowed and not allowed. Others are focused on geography and travel. Others are concerened with amenities. Some teams are focused on who would be a good partner, who would be compatible for working with them. It ranges. All the issues you'd expect are the ones you get. If it's a hybrid model, they ask about how that works."

Ah, the hybrid model. Introduced two seasons ago to huge success with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Houston Rockets, the hybrid model makes the most sense to NBA teams. In the hybrid model, the D-League team runs the day-to-day business operations, including sales, sponsorships, marketing and logistics. The NBA team owns and operates the basketball operations. It takes the most expensive element out of the D-League's costs and allows the NBA team total control for a lower price. Reed estimates that having an NBA team handle basketball operations can save a D-League team 15 to 25 percent of cost. That's the kind of difference that can help a team remain stable, which helps the overall franchise as it builds a fan base in the community.

"It's pretty substantial savings for the NBA D-League team," Reed says. "More imporantly it's a strategic partnership. You're bringing in world class experts in dealing with basketball operations. You have an NBA team. It goes well beyond fundamental economic cost saving.
But as always, the lockout is a complicating factor. There are questions about the available talent if there is no NBA season for players to be called up to. Reed obviously declined to speak on any matter pertaining to the lockout as part of his responsibilities to the league.  But Reed did say that the league's operating status right now is "business as usual."

Part of that business will be helping the Warriors, who recently purchased the Dakota Wizards, take control of their franchise. There has been a lot of talk about the potential for the Wizards to move to the Bay Area to be closer to the Warriors next year, which would create a vacancy in a market that has supported minor-league basketball for 16 years. While the league won't comment on any plans to relocate the team (as the Warriors have said they haven't reached that decision this early in the process), Reed did state how much the Dakota market has meant to the D-League.

"It's certainly one of the longest-standing franchises in any league. They've been big supporters of ours and our predecessors. We like having a team in Dakota."

So has the labor situation made things difficult in the D-League offices?

"Business as usual," Reed says. "The D-League draft, scheduling of games, etc. We're starting to have conversations with players and agents. It's very normal."

That speaks to the difference of the D-League now vs. five years ago. Things finally have a normal place in the every day of the NBA, even in a very unusual year.

Posted on: August 4, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: August 4, 2011 10:46 am

Marc Gasol says he won't play for Barcelona

By Matt Moore

FC Barcelona is such a popular (and thereby successful) team in Spain that if anyone was going to make big strides during the lockout luring NBA players back to play, you'd think it would be them. The NBA players who have played for them, and there have been quite a few, have always spoken highly of the situation, with Juan Carlos Navarro actually preferring to stay with the club rather than remain in the NBA (and the horrible-at-the-time Grizzlies). But for whatever reason, it's unlikely you'll be seeing too many NBA guys playing for FC Barcelona in Euroleague next year. 

Tuesday, Ricky Rubio said he would only return if the entire season were lost for the NBA. And on Wednesday, Marc Gasol told Marc Mundet of RAC1 in Catalonia that he doesn't think it would be fair to return to FC Barcelona since he would want to go back to the NBA when the lockout is over.  Gasol termed that idea as "selfish" and said that's just not the way he is. 

Gasol is a restricted free agent when the lockout ends and is due for his biggest payday, what will likely be a max contract (whatever that is for a player of his situation in the new CBA). It was his play that provided the backbone for the Grizzlies' playoff run, and he's considered one of, if not the best young overall center in the league outside of Dwight Howard. He played for two seasons with FC Barcelona after graduating high school in Memphis. 

So it would appear there will not be a reformation of the 2008 Spanish national team for FC Barcelona, but the team should do fine. It routinely wins its league and is considered one of the top European clubs even without Gasol. And if the entire season is lost, who knows?

(HT: HoopsHype)
Posted on: August 3, 2011 10:47 am

Rubio's not going back unless season is lost

By Matt Moore

With the NBA locked out for the foreseeable future and players flocking overseas (okay, not really, they're just all saying they're flocking overseas), surely Ricky Rubio will be the first one to abandon his newly embraced Wolves for the sweet bosom of his former team, FC Barcelona, right? Not so fast, mi compadre. From MundoDeportivo.com (via a loose Google Translation):
Mundo Deportivo:If confirmed, the lockout, do you consider the option of playing at the Regal Barcelona?

Rubio: Well, if it confirms the 'lockout', yes. I think to waste a year would be counterproductive, not if they were only a few months. I think we should appreciate everything I thought and still think that the 'lockout' will be short, or that it will not stop the season starts, so I made my decision, but if I return to Europe, my first choice is the club.
via Ricky: "If there lockouts Barca is my first choice".

This is all good news for Wolves fans. Not only is Rubio not heading over unless the entire season is lost, but he's confident and committed to sticking with Minnesota now that he's come over. It's good to hear that he's not waffling or running back into FC Barcelona's arms immediately. At the same time, it's better if he stays in shape with the Spanish club if the whole season is lost rathern that just working out on his own. It's the best of both worlds, really. 

Rubio will be playing in EuroBasket this year for the national team as expected for yet another stacked Spanish team. And if the season is lost, expect FC Barcelona to be stacked with NBA players like Marc Gasol and even possibly his older All-Star brother. 

Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:54 pm

Rick Adelman says no plans to return to coaching

By Matt Moore

Rick Adelman is still at the top of most coaching lists. With his experience, history of success, and familiarity with both the players and the league, he's a prime candidate for anyone needing a coach. Adelman has hinted in the past he'd like to enter the GM side of things, to enjoy the perks of not being on the coaching grind. But with his being linked to talks with the Timberwolves, surely he's back open to coaching, right?

Maybe not.

From an interview with his hometown Statesman Journal:
"Its a hard grind in the NBA, and Ive been doing it for 20-plus years," he said. "Im just looking forward to getting away from it."Adelman said he tries not to pay attention to media reports, waiting to hear from the teams themselves."

They had me interviewing a couple of places that I never even went to," he said. "Its all part of it now. If you dont have a job and youve coached in the league, the first thing that happens if a job opens up, they throw the same names out there."

Sometimes you know things are happening, but until you hear from teams, I dont believe a lot of things I read."
via Ex-NBA coach Adelman back for Chemeketa event | Statesman Journal | statesmanjournal.com.

Now, that's pretty standard talk from a coach on the interview circuit, downplaying the media and talking about how he's going to just enjoy life. There continues to be talk that a phone interview was conducted between Adelman and the Wolves last week and that the interest is mutual. The only real question is if Adelman wants the player control he wouldn't be afforded with Minnesota. 

It's hard to say Adelman's off the market, despite his claims otherwise. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com