Oubre excited to prove himself and play with Wall


Oubre excited to prove himself and play with Wall

Wizards first round draft pick Kelly Oubre Jr. is motivated to prove himself and is looking forward to being John Wall's teammate.

Dwyane Wade's, Dirk Nowitzki's sacrifices show added value of winning in NBA


Dwyane Wade's, Dirk Nowitzki's sacrifices show added value of winning in NBA

A lot of teams will have money to spend this summer with the salary cap jumping from $70 million to somewhere around $93 million, and players negotiated deals in the last few years that give them options to become unrestricted. That’s going to mean a glut of max-sized contracts being handed out when 20-plus teams strike out in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.

There also will be some name free agents, such as Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks who said he will opt out of his deal, will be unrestricted though have little intention of leaving their current destination. The same could hold true for Jeremy Lin, who only made $2.1 million for the Charlotte Hornets but should earn a hefty raise should he exercise his player option.

It’s simply a business decision that gives Dallas the flexibility to rebuild its 42-win team around Nowitzki or give him a raise over the $8.7 million he earned this past season. Or he could end up taking less if more pieces can be put around him to contend. Nowitzki doesn’t have an agent. He’s never been interested in the wine-and-dine courtship of the free-agent process, preferring to deal straight forward with owner Mark Cuban which is what happened after he led them to a championship in 2011.

During exit interviews after the L.A. Clippers season came to a close, coach/GM Doc Rivers spoke about that kind of loyalty that a player has towards an organization that’s a product of winning. The San Antonio Spurs have contended for titles for most of two decades because they can get the likes of future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to make financial sacrifices to preserve the foundation and culture. Dwyane Wade, 34, took short money to stay with the Miami Heat after three titles and they’re back in the mix to make it out of the East.

Nowitzki just completed his 18th season, all with Dallas, and made short money though the 7-footer remains the team No. 1 option on offense. Wade is being compensated nicely at $20 million, but he opted out of a previous deal to give Miami a chance to chase LaMarcus Aldridge last summer. He made back some the money he sacrificed in his current one-year deal, and though he wanted more security it allows the Heat to be players in the free-agent market for Durant this summer. It's a give-and-take that occurs when a franchise has a history of winning, stability and trust between the front office and the locker room.

“They’ve gotten some of their key guys to take less and fit in because they’re a lot older,” Rivers said of the Spurs before pivoting to the bigger picture about his Clippers “That’s my goal. Us win one or two and Chris (Paul) and them are 35 and decide take less, which you think they would at that point to keep winning, but you’ve got to win it first. You don’t get that loyalty and then win it. You usually win it and then you get that type of sacrifice -- the Dirk Nowitzki sacrifice. He won it. Dwayne did it the one year. He had won it already it doesn’t usually happen before you win it.”

These situations are the exception in the NBA, not the rule. The Wizards, like the Clippers, are quite a few steps away from getting near that level. For that matter, so are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Hornets, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers.

Patrick Ewing in mix for Sacramento Kings coaching job


Patrick Ewing in mix for Sacramento Kings coaching job

Unlike the Washington Wizards' laser focused head coaching search, the Sacramento Kings are playing the field.

One of the NBA's most dysfunctional franchises is in the process of interviewing several candidates for the head coaching job now open since George Karl's departure.

Some of the names are familiar with regards to such openings. One of the names is the most famous of the bunch, but new-ish to such discussions.

That would be Patrick Ewing, currently an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets.

You may remember Ewing from his Hall of Fame playing career with Georgetown on the college level and primarily the New York Knicks in the pros. The "remember" part is obviously an attempt at humor because Ewing is one of the most inconic players of all-time. Yet despite his on-court prowess, despite paying his dues for years as an assistant -- four teams over 13 seasons - he hasn't landed a coveted head coaching job. 

Ewing spent the last three seasons as an associate head coach with the Hornets, who were knocked out the playoffs with a Game 7 loss at the Miami Heat. 

Who knows what Sacramento truly desires in a head coach these days.

What's clear is that any new hire must figure out a way to deal with talented, but frustrating center DeMarcus Cousins. An All-Star big man, Cousins has the skill set of an elite player, but the attitude of a perennial malcontent. 

Other candidates mentioned above and some others not like for Kings forward Carliss Williamson, are interesting. If the goal is to find someone who can literally look the 6-foot-10 Cousins in the eye while providing true guidance, the line should start and likely end with the imposing Ewing. 

Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 and yet the current vintage might be the most LOL part of the last decade.

From ownership on down, nobody can seemingly get the franchise out of the ditch. This job won't be easy for coach, especially one without any previous head coaching experience. Yet the circumstances are interesting for a coach with Ewing's resume.

If he truly wants, here's hoping he at least gets a long look. 

Blowing the whistle: NBA refs remain inconsistent with late-game calls


Blowing the whistle: NBA refs remain inconsistent with late-game calls

LeBron James is right. So is Dwyane Wade. The last two-minute reports by the NBA, while a good faith effort at more transparency by under Commissioner Adam Silver, don't make a lot of sense. They only serve to heighten the bad taste of blown calls and unless they produce radical change in how games are officiated late, so what?

Today, the league concluded that in Game 7 of Indiana Pacers vs. the Toronto Raptors, DeMar DeRozan got away with a shove in the lower back of Ian Mahinmi who was lobbed a pass in the final 16.6 seconds by Paul George. Instead of a basket or two free throws to trim the deficit to one point, DeRozan collected the ball and was awarded two foul shots himself. The Pacers could've trimmed the deficit to 87-86.

What makes the no-call even harder to fathom was they were the only two people under the basket. It wasn't a crowded house that made the infraction difficult to see. And consider with 3:51 left, George was correctly called for extending his arm to clear out DeRozan on a drive for a layup on a fast break.   

NBA officials don’t do themselves any favors when they opt to “swallow the whistle” in the last few minutes of the games to supposedly let the players decide the outcome. And it begs the question, "What about the prior 46 minutes?" Those calls matter and impact outcomes, too, such as on a fifth foul that sends the hot hand to the bench.

How can the DeRozan's foul be overlooked when the Wizards lost 100-99 to the Pacers when George was said to be fouled with three seconds left -- the NBA determined in it's final two-minute report that it was a correct call -- on contact that was minimal by comparison? George made both foul shots to end that March 5 game for the victory that proved to be a turning point in the Wizards' season as they failed to get over .500. Wade was struck on his final shot attempt in Game 5 of the Miami Heat's playoff loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The NBA's report concluded it was a correct no-call.

What's the difference? Both were 50-50 calls. In one, the officals opted to blow the whistle in favor of a superstar player (George). In the other, the officals opted to not blow the whistle in favor of a superstar player (Wade). The "superstar" call narrative doesn't apply and is generally overblown because late in games, superstars -- not role players -- will have the ball therefore they will get more calls. 

The issue is the inconsisent application of the rules late in games as if it's a special circumstance such as no blood therefore no foul.

The officiating reports on games in which the margin is five points or less at exactly the 2:00 mark are made public. That includes the entire five minutes of any overtime periods, too. That Silver's administration is open to sharing that is commendable.

The attitudes of Wade and James, however, are pretty consistent among players and coaches around the league. They all want to know, as then-Wizards coach Randy Wittman said when asked about 14 missed/incorrect calls at the end of a double OT loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, “What are you going to do about it?”

That "you" is a challenge to the NBA. If the league wants to inspire confidence in the officiating it should release the entire game reports and give explanations that incorporate logic. For instance, if touch fouls are being called all game based on that particular crew assigned to it, those same fouls have to be called late. Otherwise, how can players adjust to the officials? 

All officials aren't made the same and aren't going to call every situation the same. But what they can do is pick a side of the fence and stay there. The old-school attitude to “let players decide the game” late is asking for trouble in today's media landscape where everything is easy to dissect and reveal the contradictions.

Just call the game the same for 48 minutes. Maybe Mahinmi misses both foul shots and no one is talking about this the morning after. Make the entire reports official or not at all. And as Wittman correctly pointed out, explain what is being done to correct those problem areas to make the quality of the game better.

If the latter doesn't happen, then James is right. It's all "pointless."