Morning shootaround — Feb. 14


VIDEO: Highlights of Friday’s Rising Stars Challenge and Celebrity All-Star Game

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Durant: Players should vote for awards | Rising Star MVP Wiggins craves Olympics | Union fires shot across NBA bow | Mason’s condition shows some progress

No. 1: Durant: Players should vote for awards — It’s Valentine’s Day, so you might want to send some extra flowers or candy to your nearest sports media person after Kevin Durant hurt their feelings on Friday. The Oklahoma City star took the occasion of the NBA’s All-Star Media Availability at a New York hotel ballroom to question the media folks’ credibility as voters for the league’s annual awards, such as Most Valuable Player, Sixth Man, Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com was among those to capture Durant’s critical comments:

“I think (the) media gets too much power to vote on stuff like that. Quite frankly I don’t think you really know a lot about as much we know about it,” Durant said when asked if MVP winners should be allowed to vote on the MVP like former Heisman Trophy winners are allowed to do with the annual award for the best college football player. “So we play against these guys every single night, we battle against these guys, we know what they say on the court, we know how they handle their teammates, we know how they approach the game, and our votes should count.

“Our opinions should count. I don’t think you guys know as much we do, and I don’t see why you have more power than we do.”

Durant won his first MVP for the 2013-14 season, totaling 1,232 points in voting, including 119 first-place votes. The award is decided by a 124-member panel consisting of sports writers and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. There’s also an NBA.com MVP fan vote that counts as one vote, making for a total of 125 ballots overall. The same panel of U.S. and Canadian sports writers and broadcasters also casts votes for the other awards, but the MVP award is the only one for which fans can vote.

Players are awarded 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five for each third-place vote, three for each fourth-place vote and one for each fifth-place vote.

“We really know these guys inside and out,” Durant said of why players should vote for the awards. “There are a lot of guys that deserve Defensive Player of the Year or Sixth Man of the Year but you guys (decide sometimes because) they are not the sexier names. A lot of people will see the names of these players and don’t look at the other guys that contribute to our game as well.

“You guys aren’t in the scouting reports, you’re not in the team meetings and the film sessions to really break down each player’s games. I don’t see why you have more power in voting than we do. We are out there on the court playing with them. We appreciate how you guys blow the game up and bring attention to the game but at the same time, to keep it pure, the players should have more say in that stuff.”

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No. 2: Rising Star MVP Wiggins craves Olympics — For a lot of fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn or viewing elsewhere, it probably took a moment to sink in that Andrew Wiggins, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ rookie participating in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday was on the right team. Wiggins played for the World squad, against the USA group of rookies and second-year players, because he was born and raised in Canada. He was feeling some maple-leaf pride after his swell performance, as chronicled by our man Scott Howard-Cooper:

Already at the forefront of Canada’s planned ascent on the global basketball stage — well under way with the recent influx of players in the NBA the last few seasons — Wiggins added to that with 22 points on eight-for-11 shooting to win the MVP award as the World beat the U.S. 121-112 on Friday nigh

Asked if he is looking forward to playing Team USA — the real one — in international competition, Wiggins said, “Definitely. That’s a game I dream of. And hopefully we can play in the Olympics.”

Pressed if he would play for his homeland this summer, in the tournament to qualify for the 2016 Olympics (as the reigning World Cup champion, the U.S. is exempt) Wiggins said, “Right now I’m taking it day by day. But it’s something I would love to do.” Coming attractions, indeed.

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No. 3: Union fires shot across NBA bow — This is relative peacetime in the NBA, more than three years removed from the league’s last costly lockout, with a labor deal in place at least until July 2017. But businessmen and unions do what they do, so the National Basketball Players Association’s annual All-Star player rep meeting offered a glimpse into some jargon and rhetoric with which fans soon might become all too familiar. Our own Steve Aschburner explained a money issue that already has surfaced:

They’re here now, with the union’s rejection of two “smoothing” proposals from the NBA to manage the flood of new money from dramatically increased TV rights fees beginning with the 2016-17 season. Michele Roberts, the NBPA’s new executive director, said the team reps voted unanimously to reject both proposals during a meeting that included about 50 players.

What that could mean, if left unaddressed, would be an abrupt hike in the league’s salary cap from an estimated $68 million in 2015-16 to, say, $90 million for 2016-17. That’s when the new nine-year, $24 billion TV deal kicks in at nearly triple the current broadcast fees. Boosting the cap number that suddenly could make virtually every team in the NBA a bidder for the lucky free agents of 2016. Rosters could be entirely rebuilt, or completely destroyed, all in a few weeks time.

The NBA apparently had pitched two versions of a proposal to “smooth” that infusion of money into the system to avoid artificially bidding up salaries of the players who happened to hit the market that summer, at the expense of the majority who would remain under contract. By “smoothing” the increase — with the cap rising by lesser amounts, with the difference from the players’ CBA-guaranteed share of the league’s revenues divvied up proportionally among them all — those locked into contracts would benefit from the added cash.

But the NBPA’s economic consultants determined that a typical player would make less money overall by signing contracts into an artificially constrained salary cap (for example, $80 million vs. $90 million) while receiving “shortfall” checks, than he would signing a new deal without the smoothing constraints on the cap.

The NBPA also voted LeBron James onto its executive committee as first vice-president, teaming the Cleveland star with union president Chris Paul of the L.A. Clippers to add heft to the hierarchy. Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com had more on that:

With Paul, James and new, aggressive executive director Michele Roberts, the union has loaded up with high-profile faces for a fight for a bigger portion of what could be a $7 billion revenue pie two years from now.

Just how big a role James eventually will play, though, is yet to be seen. He did not attend the meeting because he was committed to a sponsor’s event across town. He talked to various members of the executive committee over the phone and plans to meet with Roberts this weekend.

The union believes having James and Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers’ All-Star point guard, on the front line will increase the pressure, both publicly and privately, on owners.

“I cannot tell you how delighted I am; the union is supported by players across the spectrum,” Roberts said after leading a meeting of approximately 50 players, including All-Stars Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving.

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No. 4: Mason’s condition shows some progress — In a perfect world, Anthony Mason, longtime NBA forward who had helped the Knicks reach the Finals in 1994, would have been a visible presence this week during All-Star festivities. Instead, he continues to fight for his life in a hospital bed after suffering what his former agent Don Cronson called “congestive heart failure.” But Mason’s condition had improved slightly by Friday, as reported by ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Begley:

[Mason] has made “small, but real” progress the last two nights after being “near death” Wednesday, his former agent said.

“He isn’t out of the woods, but he’s had two good nights,” Don Cronson, Mason’s agent during his playing days, said by phone Friday night.

Cronson said he’s received updates from Mason’s family.

“It seems like he’s day-to-day now. Before it was hour-to-hour,” Cronson said. “Thankfully, the last two days have been better.”

The New York Daily News had more details of the events leading up to Mason’s incident Wednesday:

Before he was hospitalized, Mason, 48, was scheduled to attend a press event Wednesday at the Times Square Knickerbocker Hotel, where Mason’s former teammate, John Starks, announced his business partnership with the Zipway company. Cronson said he is sure Mason was preparing to be a visible presence during the NBA All-Star Game week in the Big Apple.

“This originally happened a week ago today,” Cronson said Friday. “(Mason) was in the hospital. I think he was having some discomfort, some kind of chest pain. One of his guys said, ‘You have to have yourself looked at.’ He goes into the hospital and the whole event took place there. I spoke to family members, and had he been in the (hospital) lobby as opposed to the third floor, where he was, he would have died. Fortunately, he was close enough to the emergency facilities that were brought to bear and saved his life.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Pacers and Paul George let it be known last week that the All-Star wing player, out since Aug. 1 after suffering leg fractures in a Team USA scrimmage, planned to be practicing March 1. Now he’s targeting March 14 for a possible return to game action. … Washington’s John Wall has his eye on the All-Star MVP trophy and Magic Johnson’s single-game record of 22 assists. … Knicks boss James Dolan doesn’t quite apologize for tangling with an unhappy fan via email, but he knows he shouldn’t have done it. … If Jeff Van Gundy can air out the Bulls for alleged friction with coach Tom Thibodeau, it only follows that Stan Van Gundy can do the same with the Kings in their handling of Tyrone Corbin. … Anthony Davis isn’t participating, but he talked the other day about ways he hopes to improve and about NBA life in general. … Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousin concurs – George Karl is a good coach. … How Portland’s Wesley Matthews transformed himself from undrafted offensive liability to a serious scorer. … Atlanta interested in Gary Neal? The Budenholzer connection. … How could the NBA spruce up All-Star Weekend? Consider these suggestions.

 

19 Comments

  1. Leeddie says:

    Gobert was monster when it mattered down the end, but Wiggins is more of a media baby so that is who ins.

    As for Durant’s opine. I disagree. Players really do not know the other players aswell as the media. Media cover all aspects of the game. A player likely reads/watches scouting reports/video of the player he will guard or will guard him. As good a player as Durant is that talent simply doesn’t translate into the category of choosing MVP. However, I wouldn’t mind if they had some input (minimal) into the selection. Plus this season Durant does’t have a chance at MVP and, if he did win then they need to stop awarding the damned thing.

  2. tomcat says:

    I have no problems with the players voting for the end of year awards, to include all NBA teams, although I think coaches should be included. Sports writers? Stick to writing!

    The All Star Game is for the fans, the fans should be the only ones voting. How serious can you take it when the voting is not broken down by position? It is not a real game, it is just for fun, let the fans rule since they pay everyone involved anyway!

  3. harriethehawk says:

    It’s not right to say Kevin Durant is stupid, just say you disagree. He has a point and one that should be considered. Just Like I think it’s stupid to let fans vote for all-star. They picked losers who ended up not even being able to play like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade.

  4. damphoose says:

    Mr. Durant is incorrect. Players actually do not watch games. They have practice and they are busy scouting for the next opponent. I bet Durant could not tell me beyond cursory information about what kind of season the top players in the east are having. He’s only played the eastern teams once so far this season and will play them a total of twice by seasons end. He will play Portland 4 times this season. Can he really compare and contrast the season Damian Lillard is having versus Kyle Lowry? I bet he has never seen Lowry play outside of the 2 games per year they play Toronto. Or any player in the east. LeBron is the best player in the league and is on TV a lot. I bet Durant has never watched LeBron play outside of the scouting reports for the 2 games per year. Players do not have time to see all the players even the best players. Then there are the metrics. You think Durant is study the defensive on court points per 48 minutes of all the top defenders in the league. No. He simple does not have that kind of time.

  5. tony says:

    I don’t know when basketball players became crybaby’s. Back in the day you would never hear Jordan or Ewing or even magi complain about this. You are getting paid to do something most people dream of. Why don’t you stop your crying and play the game

  6. R P says:

    This keeps changing. Now it’s “past winners?”

  7. John says:

    Who cares what the players think. Especially Durant who is as dumb as a rock. The fans should decide because it is what they think is entertaining that counts. Durant is a pompous jerk.

  8. kenny says:

    I agree with Durant the players know who’s the best

  9. omar says:

    im with kevin durant on this one

  10. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Rudy Gobert was a beast, and should of won the MVP, How did he fall to 22 in the draft ?? wow.. Durant is right, in sports the media should not vote for nothing it should be the players voting for there peer’s. In all sports. Good to see the best player in the world VP along side Paul, it’s good for the game, Lebron can pull alot of weight for the players and the future of the game.

  11. Malique says:

    sooooo

  12. krespino says:

    Durant is 100% right. Media voting for the MVP and players not voting is ridiculous and stupid.
    To what degree would a media member know who would be the best players on the court as compared to players who play against those best players, fight them, try to stop or limit them in their performance… Players should be able to vote, only limitation could be they can not vote for their teammates.

  13. dustydreamnz says:

    1. I agree with Durant, the players should vote for MVP. They should also vote squads for the All Star game.

  14. LakersWillWin says:

    I feel like players should VOTE the players they want in, and then the fans choose from those players to vote in? I don’t know, but the system is seriously flawed.

  15. Eric Zap says:

    I’m sure you guys love KD too much to post my post, but I’ll write it anyways. Kevin Durant is favored by the NBA. He and several others will get calls their way on a nightly basis. Referees will be more tolerant and let guys like him cry extra because they are poster children. If he thinks it stinks when a player gets an award that will certainly make him wealthier than before, well. . Too bad. Why post his crybaby whining here for us to read anyways?

    • R P says:

      Is this the reason he usually leads the league in technicals…and this season doesn’t get preference on calls hardly ever? He’s my favorite player but I very rarely see anything about him from the NBA, ESPN, TNT, etc. He had to break all kinds of records to get the MVP last year. This “crybaby whining” is only on here because the media asked the question and then didn’t like the answer.

  16. R P says:

    Durant is 100% correct in that players should have a vote in NBA awards. Why wouldn’t they? The media doesn’t know who the toughest defender is or the hardest person to guard. These awards aren’t popularity contests and the media bases their opinion on stats and who has the highest public interest. Sounds like right now everyone has a say except the players.

  17. Since1993 says:

    Really, Rudy Gobert was yesterday’s night true MVP. Too bad its’ all about storytelling and not actual on court performance.

    • raiden says:

      Exactly! He totally won the game for the World team when it was in doubt. Wiggins really only made that one play down the stretch when Gobert made many plays when it mattered.