NBA

What if LeBron heads West?

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NBCS NW

What if LeBron heads West?

The odds are out on where LeBron James will play next season, and his decision could have a huge impact on the Western Conference. James could still exercise his $35.6 million player-option and return to Cleveland, but the more likely scenario is to decline the option and hit the open market. 

According to the odds, the Lakers, Rockets, and Spurs are the three most likely teams in the Western Conference to land him. Here is how they can do it, and how it would impact the conference in 2018-19.

Lakers: +200

The Lakers currently hold the best odds of any team in the NBA to land LeBron James and will be heading into free agency with more cap space than any other team in the league. The Lakers will have enough free money that they can add James as well as another star, most likely Paul George.  Then the question is, do you keep Lonzo Ball or do you strike while the iron is hot, sell high, and trade him to bring in vets to complete the roster? Either way, a Lakers team built around James and George would all but assure the Lakers would end their playoff drought.

How it affects the West - Last season just two games separated the three seed Blazers from the eight seed Timberwolves, with the Nuggets dropping to ninth in the final game of the season.  A revamped Lakers squad would instantly be in the playoff mix, meaning any team that made playoffs last season (not named the Warriors or Rockets) would most likely end 2019 on the outside looking in.  

Rockets: +275

Houston is also a favorite to add James, but the Rockets would have to shake up the roster for it to happen. Chris Paul is heading to free agency and could be looking to make more than the $24.6 million he made last season. Star center Clint Capela is also hitting the open market. Capela made just $2.3 million last season and has a giant raise coming his way. That doesn’t leave a lot of money to sign James.

The Rockets may have to find ways to free up Ryan Anderson ($19.6mil), Eric Gordon ($12.9mil) and P.J. Tucker ($7.6mil) to make it all happen. Houston would have one heck of a starting five, but not much of a bench. Either way, they would still be a favorite to win the title in 2019.

How it affects the West - James to Houston wouldn’t impact the standings as much as James to the Lakers would, but it would most certainly make it a two horse race to the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets were penciled into the Western Conference Finals this season, and with James added to the roster you might as well use a permanent marker. The real impact would be in how teams adjust. If the Western Conference turns into Golden State, Houston, and everybody else (which you could argue it is already), you could really see some playoff caliber teams enter rebuild mode in an attempt to be ready for the post-Warriors/Rockets era. 

Spurs: +1000

The Spurs would be an intriguing landing spot simply to see what happens when the best player in the game gets paired up with the best coach in the game. However, like the Rockets, San Antonio is in a tough financial situation.

Tony Parker is hitting free agency, freeing up $15.5 million, while Rudy Gay and Danny Green could free up another $18.8 million combined if they both choose not to exercise their player options. If Gay and Green exercise their options, then you will most likely see the Spurs push hard to trade Patty Mills ($10mil) and Pau Gasol ($16mil) to free up space.

How it affects the West - A core of James, Kawhi Leonard, and LaMarcus Aldridge would instantly make the Spurs a top three team in the Western Conference. The Spurs finished seventh last season, and vaulting to three would mean a team like the Blazers could end up missing the playoffs when it’s all said and done.

The Spurs would also make it a lot tougher for the Warriors and Rockets to make a repeat trip to the conference finals.

 

Making sense of the alleged Bryan Colangelo Twitter mess

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USATI

Making sense of the alleged Bryan Colangelo Twitter mess

The twisted tale of Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations and general manager Bryan Colangelo and a handful of seemingly linked Twitter accounts — used to both praise BC and at times, rip some of his Sixers players — seems almost too bonkers to be true.

There’s no way a person in such a prominent and powerful position would use Twitter in such a shady and unprofessional way, right?

But then you go look at the Twitter account of the president of the United States and think again. Just because you’re in a powerful position doesn’t make you a Rhodes Scholar with unshakeable ethics.

As Kevin Garnett used to say, anything is possible.

That’s where this story seems to stand roughly 12 hours after it first broke.

[READ MORE AT NBC SPORTS PHILLY]

Report: Former Ducks star Tyler Dorsey arrested for DUII in Eugene

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USA Today

Report: Former Ducks star Tyler Dorsey arrested for DUII in Eugene

Tyler Dorsey is back in the news for the things he is doing in Eugene, but unfortunately, it’s for all the wrong reasons.

According to reports, Dorsey was pulled over near Broadway and Agate for driving with his lights off early Saturday morning.

Police say Dorsey was showing signs of impairment and that there was an open container of alcohol on the passenger side floorboard.

Dorsey was arrested and charged with DUII, Open Container, and Driving without Lights.

Tyler Dorsey has a well know name in Eugene. He earned the moniker “Mr.March” as he helped lead the Ducks to the Final Four in 2017. Dorsey parlayed his success at Oregon in a career in the NBA, where he just wrapped up his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks.

Stay tuned to NBC Sports Northwest on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.

I'm getting very tired of the NBA's "Cult of personality"

I'm getting very tired of the NBA's "Cult of personality"

Well, here we go again. Cleveland vs. Golden State. And if you're not fired up about this matchup, well... join the club. It's likely to be a very short series and more of what we've been watching for the past several weeks in the playoffs, including:

  • The thing that's bothered me about the league for several years now: The total glorification of its star players unlike any other major sport. It's what's called a "Cult of personality." Webster's Dictionary defines that as "a situation in which a public figure (such as a political leader) is deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved." For example, LeBron James -- whom the ESPN announcers just can't seem to find enough adjectives to describe. They are fawning all over him. He couldn't be more celebrated if he cured cancer. Yeah, OK, I've got LeBron Fatigue -- I admit it. But this has been going on for years in a league that has for decades celebrated individuals over teams.
  • Scott Foster. This referee is seemingly in hot pursuit of the impossible -- making the fans of every team in the league believe he's out to get their team. And it looks sometimes as if they might be correct.
  • Speaking of referees, there is no way in the world they should be paid in full for working playoff games. They simply don't do their job. They overlook fouls to the degree that when they call one, the reaction is always, "Wait a minute, you just let worse than that go at the other end!"
  • If I never see James Harden take another dive after a three-point field goal attempt I will be a happy man. And I would love not to watch him travel on his step=back move. And it's not fun to see him dribble endlessly between his legs without using it to go anywhere. Actually, overall, I have Harden Fatigue, too.
  • I fully understand the value of three-point field goals and why teams are hoisting them by the dozen. And really, it's only going to get worse. But what I don't get is why a team with a double-digit halftime lead doesn't try first to get easy two-point shots. When you have a solid lead, it's going to take a lot of three-point makes to overcome your two-point makes. And I'm talking about YOU, Houston. And by the way, if you just stood back and let Harden take it to the basket, he'd have been at the foul line all night and you wouldn't have lost.
  • I heard the jokesters on the TNT panel talking about Kevin Love missing a Game 7 because of a concussion and they, of course, bragged about how they would have played no matter what. You know, take a couple of Advil and go get 'em. And for all the things they make TV guys apologize for these days, this should have been one of them. My goodness -- concussion protocol is there for a very good reason and it's to protect players from their own stupidity. But here we are again with the macho garbage about playing with an injury that could lead to some serious brain damage.
  • That said, I cannot understand why ESPN can't come up with a halftime/pregame panel even remotely as good as the one on TNT.
  • Oh well, there's still the Finals to come. Let's all sit back and watch Lebron and Scott Foster do their thing. Enjoy!

Get ready for Oregon to get back in the bookie business

Get ready for Oregon to get back in the bookie business

First, a brief history lesson:

After years of opposing such things, all of our major sports leagues have come out in favor of legalized sports betting within the last few years. Rather than worry about potential problems with game-fixing or point shaving, the leagues finally gave in to the lure of the pot of gold at the end of the gambling rainbow. There are huge sums of money to be made off our vices, as if you didn't already know.

Today's Supreme Court ruling has likely put a whole lot of institutions in the gambling business.

Make no mistake, you're going to see a stampede now, as leagues, states, casinos and web apps dive into sports betting. Very soon, in fact, we could see the state of Oregon become a very big and succesful bookmaker. Of course, the NBA wouid like to do the same thing. All our leagues -- including the NFL and MLB -- are tired of seeing the bookies and Nevada casinos making all the money on the wagering on their games.

Betting windows in Moda Center? Don't be surprised at some point if you can make a halftime bet on somebody's second-half point total.

In case you didn't know it, there are billions at stake here. Oregon recognized this a long time ago when it instituted "Sports Action," a state-sponsored parlay method of betting on NFL games. Later, NBA games were added to the mix but the league filed a suit that stopped its inclusion. Sports Action was banned in 2007 because the NCAA promised not to hold any March Madness tournament rounds in the state as long as the game existed.

Oregon would need to have the legislature legalize betting again to make sports wagering possible here. It would also need to create a method for regulating it. But with upwards of $10 billion up for grabs, the race will soon be on to grab a piece of that very big pie.

And sports, as we know them, will likely be forever changed.

Dillon Brooks breaks down his rookie experience

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USA Today

Dillon Brooks breaks down his rookie experience

The Starters on NBA TV had a very special guest on Friday, former Oregon Basketball star Dillon Brooks.

Brooks recently wrapped up his rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies, and boy did he have a year. Drafted 45th overall in the 2nd round of the NBA Draft, few expected much from Brooks. All he did was silence all his naysayers and put together a great rookie campaign.

Brooks played in all 82 games for Memphis, starting 74 of them, while averaging 11.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. Not bad for a guy drafted in the second round.

While on The Starters, Brooks talked about Memphis, the challenges of being a rookie in the NBA, who he thinks is the toughest player to guard, and much more.

Check out the video below to hear from the former Duck.  

Blazers drop fourth in a row, cling to hopes of home court

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USA Today

Blazers drop fourth in a row, cling to hopes of home court

Things out west are no clearer now than they were at the start of the night. The Blazers could have clinched home court and eliminated the Nuggets from the playoffs with a victory. Instead the Blazers now need a win in the final game of the season to guarantee home court, and the Nuggets need a win in their final game to guarantee the eight seed.

Portland led after three quarters, but their offense ground to a halt in the fourth. The Nuggets held Portland to just 13 points in the quarter to eke out the 88-82 victory.

Damian Lillard led the way with 25 points, and Nurkic had a monstrous 20 points and 19 rebounds. However, the Blazers shot just 33% on the night, including going 7 for 33 from deep.

The Blazers now look to Wednesday’s matchup against the Utah Jazz. Win, and the Blazers have home court.

Final Score: Denver 88 – Blazers 82

Podcast:

 

 

Are you for or against tanking in the NBA?

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NBCS Northwest

Are you for or against tanking in the NBA?

Dwight Jaynes and Aaron Fentress take a deep dive into the world of NBA tanking. Do you support teams tanking to better the organization in the long run? This is a big topic of conversation on today’s podcast.

Plus, it’s time to talk baseball! Seattle Mariners beat writer for the Seattle Times Ryan Divish joins the guys and first question for Ryan is--

Will the Mariners contend this year? Oh, let the season predictions begin!!!

That’s all right here on The Dwight and Aaron Podcast...

Unsolved Mysteries – The Seattle SuperSonics

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OSN

Unsolved Mysteries – The Seattle SuperSonics

BY: CASEY MABBOTT, OR Sports News

For nearly a decade, the Seattle SuperSonics have been relegated to the past tense. Once a staple in the NBA, they are now the league’s lone cold case, with few willing to relive the events that became the demise of the once proud franchise. 

The Sonics played their final home game on April 13th, 2008, a win over the Dallas Mavericks. They finished their season three days later on the road facing Golden State, a game in which rookie of the year Kevin Durant scored 42 points. 

Two months later in the 2008 NBA Draft, Seattle selected point guard Russell Westbrook and forward Serge Ibaka, who would become franchise building blocks in the years to come. 

Except, there were not any years to come, because that was the last time Seattle did anything in the NBA. 

In 1996, the Sonics were one of the best teams in the league, returning to the Finals for the first time since 1978, losing in 6 games to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Their stellar lineup of Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Sam Perkins, and aging vets Nate McMillian and Detlef Schrempf appeared ready to take a title in the next 2-3 years, and everything was perfect in Seattle.

Except that there was trouble, and the family didn’t seem to want to stay together. 

Kemp was unhappy with his contract, and wanted to renegotiate. Due to the CBA at the time, the team could not alter his deal until 1997, instead spending a small fortune to bring in Jim McIlvaine, a seldom used shot blocking specialist whose career numbers make La’Var Ball’s college stats look stellar. Imagine seeing Damian Lillard take Portland to the Finals, demand a new deal, and see the team instead choose to highly over pay Meyers Leonard. There may not have been a way for the team to compensate their superstar, but you can see the problem. 

An extremely seasoned Craig Ehlo was brought on board in 1996-97, and the team made it to the 2nd round, losing to eventual champion Houston in seven games. Ehlo retired following the season and in a startling move, the team traded the extremely popular Kemp to Cleveland, signaling the end to what many consider the golden era in Seattle. In 1997-98, the Sonics added Vin Baker, Jerome Kersey, and Dale Ellis. They again advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to the Lakers in five games. 

In the 1998 offseason, the team continued its descent. Head coach George Karl, who led the team to Space Needle heights in the 1990’s, was out the door thanks to a disagreement with the front office on the direction of the team. He was not fired, he was just not invited back after his contract expired either. 

Nate McMillian, affectionately known by the fans as “Mr. Sonic”, retired, Sam Perkins and Jerome Kersey signed with new teams, and extremely unpopular center Jim McIlvaine was traded to New Jersey. They missed the playoffs in a strike shortened season in 1999, and by the start of the 2000 season, superstar point guard Gary Payton was the only player remaining from the 1996 Finals team. 

Barry Ackerley had owned the team since 1983 (after purchasing the Sonics from previous owner Sam Schulman who founded the team in 1967), and in 2001 sold the franchise to the Basketball Club of Seattle, led by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz 

The Coffee King of Seattle helped lure future Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing to the northwest after spending his collegiate and professional career on the east coast, but Ewing was well past his primed and the team struggled and missed the playoffs. Ewing left after just one year, returning to his beloved east coast. The team elevated Nate McMillian to head coach after firing Paul Wesphal. The Sonics made the playoffs in 2002, losing in the first round, and trading Vin Baker to the Celtics. 

In 2003, Gary Payton was traded to Milwaukee, officially ending the dreams of any Sonics fan to see Payton or Kemp win a title in Seattle. In return, the team was sent star shooting guard Ray Allen, known as supporting character Jesus Shuttlesworth in “He Got Game”. Allen definitely had game, as he led the team back to the playoffs in 2005, beating the Kings in the first round and losing to the eventual champion Spurs in the second round. Nate McMillian left for Portland and was replaced by Bob Weiss, who was replaced by Bob Hill in 2007. 

In 2006, following financial struggles related to poor performance and attendance as well as a lack of public funding for a new stadium, the Sonics were sold to the Professional Basketball Club LLC, led by Clay Bennett, who will be referred to here as puke face mcgee, of course in all lower case. As the group was from Oklahoma City and did not have professional or personal ties to the area, Schultz foolishly bought their intentions to represent OKC AND keep the team in Seattle, so he sold them the team, but also made certain that part of the sale included an agreement by the new ownership to make a “good faith effort” to keep the team in Seattle. Good faith, in OKC terms, means to hear millions of voices cry out, only to be suddenly silenced. With this agreement in place and the team still on a lease to play in Key Arena through the 2010 season, a move would not only be unlikely, but financially unrealistic. In other words, it meant that Clayface was about to pull one sickening joke over on the Seattle faithful. 

In 2007, Ray Allen was traded to Boston on draft day in exchange for Boston’s first round pick Jeff Green, who would be paired on the court with the Sonics’ first round pick Kevin Durant. The 19 year old Durant finished his rookie season with 20 points per game, joining LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony as the only teenage players to average 20 points over an entire season. In his only season with the Sonics, Durant outplayed #1 overall selection Greg Oden by 82 games. 

During the 2007 season, as the Sonics struggled on the court, their ownership struggled (whether their hearts were in it or not – we’ve all seen the emails, they weren’t interested in Seattle) to secure public funding for a new stadium. The city passed a new measure that would make securing funding for stadiums very unlikely, and with pressure from the league to build a stadium that met current standards and capacity (Key Arena was the smallest venue in the league), Bennett and his extremely wealthy partners decided not to fund their own stadium, and instead began working on a newer, and darker plan. After watching too many Star Wars movies (and an excellent fan made documentary SonicsGate), I have reason to believe that this was their intention all along. 

The Sonics’ regular season ended on April 13th, and on April 18th, the league owners voted to allow Seattle to move to Oklahoma City. I know their season was bad, but I didn’t think it was a “good lord let’s get this riffraff the hell out of there” level of awful. Of the 30 owners, only Paul Allen and Mark Cuban voted against the move. After leaders in Seattle brought on a lawsuit and a failed attempt by a new group of investors to purchase the team back, on August 29th, new team owner Clay Bennett held a press conference to introduce his new team to the world, in a new city, with new fans.

And just like that, the Sonics, after being in the league for 41 years, disappeared without a trace, with many wondering if they will ever see them again. They had two owners from 1967-2001, and in one stretch of 8 years under bad ownership, everything fell apart. 

In 2013, a new investment group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer attempted to revive the Sonics. Their group intended to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to Seattle. The Kings agreed to the deal in principle, so long as the league approved the sale. But then hated rival point guard Kevin Johnson (formerly of the Phoenix Suns) who was somehow mayor of Sacramento at such a crucial time, stuck his foot in the door and countered with a lower offer. Golden State Warriors minority owner Vivek Randadive joined the Kings new investment group and it seemed that the Western Conference still had it in for the Sonics.  

Despite the King’s current owners publicly stating their intent to sell to Hansen’s investment group and not the locals, the league voted against allowing the Kings to relocate, which in turn forced Hansen to withdraw his offer. Because who wants to own a team in that place (Modern Family is cool though). 

As the league and the new local investors worked together, the Kings stayed in Sacramento and have a new stadium that opened in 2016, that is located on David J Stern Walk. And if that doesn’t make you want to puke, well, what will?

UPDATE: In 2017, the city of Seattle approved funding to renovate Key Arena to moder standards in order to attract potential NHL and NBA teams. The NHL is currently considering Seattle as the site of an expansion team. Currently, there are not any NBA teams considering relocating, and the league has no plans to expand. One can only hope that one day, the Sonics will be resurrected, and in their rightful place in Seattle. 

If you have any information on this case, write to us at Unsolved Mysteries… You need not give your name.

Rockets, you want to fight? Do it out there where we can watch

Rockets, you want to fight? Do it out there where we can watch

I love it when NBA teams actually show animosity between each other during a game. There's too much hugging and chatting between opponents for me these days.

So when the Clippers and Rockets showed some genuine hate toward each other yesterday during their game, I enjoyed it. But when I heard that Chris Paul led a trio of teammates into the threshold of the Los Angeles locker room after the game, I was astounded. Paul, after all, is the president of the NBA players' union. And he's pulling this thuggery on Martin Luther King Day?

It's been no secret that Paul and the Clippers' Blake Griffin did not get along during Paul's tenure in Los Angeles. And I've always heard that Paul is often not the best of teammates. And on the other side, Los Angeles' Austin Rivers has been seen as a player who is only there because his father, Doc, is the coach of the team. The perception is that the son takes advantage of the situation by being critical of his teammates under the protection of his father. Not in uniform for the game, the younger Rivers was apparently yapping from the bench throughout the contest.

This from Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

The incident was a reminder of something about Paul that bothered all of his teammates. Paul was never so much a team leader as a team instigator. He was tough to play with, and tougher to play with when you didn’t play his way. He was Kobe Bryant without the ability to finish. For all his greatness, he was the guy who would lose the game, then look for a back door to pick a fight.

I would expect the NBA to hit the Rockets with a very big fine. An excursion into the opponents' locker room after a game could be a very dangerous move -- although I would still say the number of NBA players ready to get into an actual fight is very small.

The whole thing reminds me of a time when my long-departed friend, local wrestling promoter Don Owen, was telling me about a couple of his workers squaring off in the locker room after a match. After all the scripted entertainment, these guys were ready to go at it for real.

Owen was ready, too. "I told them it would be fine to settle it that way but to hold on for a couple of minutes. Let me go out and announce a rematch and we'll put it in the ring where it belongs."

I feel the same way about these guys. If somebody really wants a piece of another player, do it out there on the big stage where everyone can see it.