Morning shootaround — Feb. 27


VIDEO: Top 10 Plays from Friday night

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Johnson heading to Miami | They the North | Rivers wants replay challenge system | Cuban suggests deeper 3-point line

No. 1: Johnson heading to Miami The Miami Heat are in the mix to finish in the top half of the Eastern Conference’s playoff teams, but for the most part sat out the trade deadline, not making any major moves. Instead, it appears they managed to pick up a seven-time All-Star yesterday without having to move any assets: After accepting a buyout from the Brooklyn Nets, Joe Johnson will be signing with the Miami Heat, according to multiple reports. As Ethan Skolnick writes in the Miami Herald, Johnson’s relationships with Miami’s players probably had a lot to do with his decision

Dwyane Wade made it clear. If his contemporary and friend Joe Johnson accepted a buyout from the Brooklyn Nets, Wade would be “blowing up his phone” to recruit him to Miami.

Johnson, after initial resistance, did take that buyout.

It appears that Wade got his man.

According to several league sources, Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, has chosen to join the Heat after he is expected to clears waivers Saturday night. Johnson was pursued by nearly all of the NBA’s top contenders, including LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, with James even saying “he knows we want him” while speaking to reporters at Friday’s Cavaliers shootaround in Toronto.

But, according to sources, Cleveland, with its crowded backcourt and wing rotation, wasn’t one of the finalists. Johnson narrowed his choices to Miami, Oklahoma City and Atlanta due to the possibility of greater playing time, and the chance to prove worthy of another contract this season, even after earning nearly $200 million in his career.

Also helping Miami? His relationships with many of the Heat players. That started with Wade, with whom he became close when they were U.S. teammates in the 2008 Olympics.

While Johnson isn’t quite what he was — and got off to a terrible start with the broken Nets in the 2015 portion of the 2015-16 schedule — he has played extremely well since New Year’s, averaging 13.4 points and 4.4 assists and shooting 46 percent from three-point range. Miami is last in the league, shooting 32.1 percent from three-point range, and its two most reliable three-point shooters, Chris Bosh and Tyler Johnson, might both be out for the season, Bosh with a blood clot and Johnson with a surgically-repaired shoulder.

Joe Johnson has had an odd career arc, going from underrated to overpaid to somewhat underrated again. He was the player the Heat most feared in the 2014 Eastern Conference semifinals, because of his ability to post up, catch-and-shoot, play isolation and made critical plays down the stretch.

The question wasn’t whether the Heat would be interested. It was whether Miami could make it work, while also meeting another aim — staying under the luxury tax, to avoid being classified as a “repeater” team, and dealing with the punitive tax multipliers.

To stay under the tax, when it was roughly $218,000 from the line, Miami would have needed Johnson to wait to start a new Heat contract for at least another 10 days. But, with the Johnson commitment, the team began exploring options that would allow him to come sooner, and still stay under the tax. That could include waiving a current player, such as injured point guard Beno Udrih, but it would only help if another team claimed him. Miami has also explored adding outside shooter Marcus Thornton, whom it nearly signed this summer, signing Gerald Green instead; Thornton was recently traded from Houston to Detroit but, after that trade was negated by the league, was waived by the Rockets.

There was no official update on Bosh on Friday, and he didn’t speak to the media at the team’s annual gala Thursday night. But teammates are proceeding as if he won’t return this season. But now, if he doesn’t, Miami appears to have an opportunity to remain highly competitive in the Eastern Conference, with a lineup of either Amar’e Stoudemire or Hassan Whiteside at center, Luol Deng (coming off four straight double-doubles) at power forward, and either Johnson or Justise Winslow at small forward, with Wade and Goran Dragic in the backcourt. Johnson, who is 6-foot-7, could also play some power forward in smaller lineups, or some shooting guard, occasionally pairing with Wade in the backcourt.

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No. 2: They the North The Toronto Raptors entered this season with high expectations, fueled by last season’s 49-win team and the addition of free agent DeMarre Carroll. Yet even with Carroll missing most of the season with injuries, the Raptors have met those expectations, and entered last night’s game against the Eastern Conference champ Cleveland Cavaliers looking to make a statement. They didn’t disappoint, as Kyle Lowry was up to the challenge, scoring a career-high 43 and leading the Raptors to a come-from-behind 99-97 win. As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst writes, it was a much-needed win for the Raptors, who still have plenty to prove

Trying to play it cool in the wake of one of the greatest moments of his career, Kyle Lowry went straight Bill Belichick.

“We’re moving on to Detroit,” Lowry said with a straight face, in reference to the Raptors’ next game, after his Toronto Raptors upended the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-97 after a furious fourth-quarter comeback Friday night. “It’s just a win.”

The Raptors do not have a storied history or much of an inventory of unforgettable moments outside the Vince Carter early years file. As such, it was not much of a stretch to say Lowry’s 43 points, a career high, against the Cavs rank as one of the greatest shows in team history.

Lowry’s stepback jumper over Matthew Dellavedova with 3.8 seconds left, the winning points, was unequivocally one of the best moments of Lowry’s career. It was his first game winner since he tipped one in at the buzzer when he was at Villanova. It was a moment to celebrate under any circumstances. If Lowry did so, though, it was in private.

“I will maybe enjoy it for a few minutes,” Lowry said.

Here is why.

There isn’t a day or so that goes by in which the Raptors don’t remind themselves of the past two seasons. Their first-round playoff exits, despite home-court advantage, hang over them like a cloud, amplified by the two Atlantic Division banners hanging above their bench that can feel like a needless, pointless taunt.

As masterful as Lowry was Friday — his relentless attacking and aggression wore the Cavs’ defenders out — it only briefly covered up the sting of his wilting a year ago. He refuses to let the way his body betrayed him with back and leg injuries be driven from his mind. Lowry was almost helpless in his team’s four-game sweep by the Washington Wizards last year. Injuries or no, it is a black stain on his record that doesn’t easily come off.

That’s what inspired him to report to this season in tremendous shape, and it is what won’t allow him to accept February success as anything but that.

“I know this sounds boring, and you’re going to get tired of hearing it,” Lowry said. “But we have to just focus on the process. We’ve been here before.”

Lowry has twice taken down the Cavs this season. Back in November, he scored six points and had two assists in the final five minutes of a quality win. In this one, with DeMar DeRozan and Cory Joseph battling illness and DeMarre Carroll recovering from knee surgery, the Raptors appeared to be toast without Lowry. They were almost toast anyway; the Cavs held the lead for most of the first 44 minutes.

For the Cavs, it was infuriating to watch, with Lowry getting to the line 15 times and thoroughly outplaying Kyrie Irving, who had just 10 points and one assist.

“We’ve got to get somebody who can guard him,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.

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No. 3: Rivers wants replay challenge system The Los Angeles Clippers have developed a reputation as a team unafraid to let referees know when the disagree with a call. But Clips coach Doc Rivers has an idea that might simplify the appeals process. As Marc Spears writes for Yahoo, Rivers is in favor of an NFL-style replay challenge system

While the NBA has instant replay, it currently doesn’t allow coaches to challenge a ruling on a play. Rivers said the NBA has discussed the subject of a coach’s challenge during competition committee meetings in recent years, but it has not come close to being approved. NFL coaches are allowed two challenges per game before the snap of the ball at any time before the two-minute warning of each half or overtime period.

“I would throw it out [a challenge flag] with both hands like a shot. That’s why I couldn’t shoot,” Rivers said Friday morning during the Clippers’ shootaround for the Sacramento Kings game. “It’s a tough one to me. It’s not like officials are trying to make mistakes, but they do at the end of the games.”

A controversial call during the Clippers’ 87-81 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday sparked Rivers’ call for a challenge system.

With 30.4 seconds left and the Clippers down 85-81, Los Angeles forward Jeff Green was called for an offensive foul on a made basket after driving into defender Danilo Gallinari. The NBA admitted on its “NBA Officiating Last Two Minute Report” on Thursday that the referee made a mistake on the offensive foul call on Green. Green potentially could have had a made basket with a free throw. Rivers described it as a “horrible call, which the league acknowledged.”

“I’ve been pushing for a [challenge] flag for a year now,” Rivers said. “We should have a challenge flag. That is the third time this year [against the Clippers] that [the NBA] has come back and said it was a bad call. It doesn’t do anything for us.”

One of the games Rivers noted was a 100-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 21 that he said included three missed calls late in the contest. The Clippers (37-20) are in fourth place in the Western Conference standings and 3 ½ games behind the third-place Thunder (41-17).

“The league has done a great job of transparency and that has been phenomenal,” Rivers told Yahoo Sports. “But the problem with it is you don’t get anything from it if you’re the [losing] team. … The one thing I keep saying and make the point of is the refs are trying to make it right, too. It’s not like we’re mad at refs. We just want to get it right.”

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No. 4: Cuban suggests deeper 3-point line Shooting a 3-pointer used to be something of a novel concept around the NBA, a high-risk, high-reward chance at a bonus point on a field goal attempt. But these days some teams (e.g. the Warriors) throw up threes like they’re layups, and as ESPN’s Tim McMahon writes, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wonders if perhaps moving back the 3-point line would open up the floor even more …

Mark Cuban has a suggestion to reintroduce the midrange shot to the NBA game: Move back the 3-point arc.

“It’s getting too close,” the Dallas Mavericks owner said Friday night of the 3-point arc, which is 23 feet, 9 inches at the crest and 22 feet in the corners, where there is no room to move it back. “Guys are shooting a foot behind it anyways. … That’s something we should look at. It’s worth looking at.

“I don’t think the number of shots would decline, but I think it would reward skill and open up the court some more. So guys would still take [3-point] shots if it’s seven inches back or whatever, but at the same time, it opens up the court for more drives, more midrange game.”

The midrange jumper has become an endangered species of sorts, while NBA players are firing 3-pointers at record rates. The single-season record for 3s is 55,137; according to ESPN Stats & Information, teams are on pace to hit 58,477 this season.

Cuban thinks moving back the 3-point arc is an idea the NBA should consider, not to discourage the deep ball, but to improve the spacing of the game.

“I think it’d open it up more so guys with different skill sets could play,” Cuban said. “It would open up play for more drives. Guys with midrange games would be rewarded and that would stay in the game. There would be more diversity of offensive action in the game.

“You’d see a little bit of decline in the 3. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing that we shoot so many 3s, but it’s worth it in the D-League to see what happens [with a deeper 3-point line].”

Cuban quickly dismissed a question about whether the NBA would benefit from adding a 4-point line, perhaps 30 feet from the basket.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Jerry Colangelo says it’s too soon to come to any conclusions about the 76ers … Is Gregg Popovich mellowing? … Dwight Howard has parted ways with his longtime agent Dan FeganTiago Splitter had successful hip surgery … Vince Carter’s eponymous restaurant is closing

19 Comments

  1. Michael says:

    I dub Mark Cuban’s proposed rule the “Steph Curry rule”

  2. Jays says:

    I understand Mr. Cuban is a true fan of the game, so as millions around the world.. but he is a team owner, thus while his views are worth respecting, he is subject to his own interest… In stead of adjusting the 3pt line, it should be worthwhile for the the NBA to put a 4pt line. This should help spread the floor, add reward to shooters and ultimately add excitement to the game. For the past 2 seasons, the Warriors have taken a bold move to play their brand of game.. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, many others must have sacrificed a lot of time and effort to take their shooting touch to a high level, it wouldn’t be fair to move back the 3pt line, just because they make it look easy on the court. Needless to say, It doesn’t guarantee any team the championship if they shoot more or less 3s than other teams, it can be advantageous though if players work hard to improve their skills and when coaches give them the green light to put it into play. Ultimately, to get the the Ring, teams must play the game to their best strength and advantage. Luck, down the stretch, is simply the result of determination. For example, today’s game between OKC and Warriors.. Right now, with teams like, the Warriors, Raptors, Spurs, (even the Cavs), it’s so fun to watch the NBA even more. #PhilippinesLovesNba

  3. Ben says:

    Next, Cuban will say, Free Throw line should deeper cuz everyone making 90% FT . come on. play the game, not trying find rules to stop certain players.

  4. zeph says:

    I agree with most said in comments. You can’t just change rules because of few individuals or teams. This can go on and on… There are some big men who are so tall that they don’t have to leave the floor to dunk, and yes, they are so rude, they use it to their advantage and are dunking all time. Should nba raise the rims? Players will learn to jump higher and feel rewarded when they dunk on 15 feet tall rim… C’mon…
    I just don’t see a valid reason to move the 3pt line. If we look only numbers, there’s only 20 players who currently shoot over 40% from deep, only 4 of them with 45% or higher, with Leonard leading the league at 48%. These numbers are nothing special, this is the part of the season when they’ll start dropping down and they should not affect a rule of that kind of magnitude. Okay, maybe the number of shots taken is causing this, but still… If you think about it, many things led to this, from 3sec rule, contact rules on players with or without the ball, defense in general, which has evolved in so many ways since everybody figured out what brings rings. All of that and many more made the game to relocate on perimeter, from where teams spread the D and attack on the weakest side. So many options, many plays to run and even if it seems that many of that plays end up in 3pt shots, well that’s just their ability. You got your pace, that possession obviously makes you more efficient and you’re setting the tempo on the game and pressure on the other team, because they have to do the same just to keep up. If moving the line maybe wouldn’t make a difference, since you can’t move it that far anyway, why do it? Last season and this one are a nice change for the game, since it has become faster, stronger, smarter and more balanced. We have a say in my country; Football (soccer in USA) is played with your legs, handball with your hands and basketball is played with your head. Leading teams in NBA are showing us just how great basketball is these days by adapting to situations and turning it to their use. Mr. Cuban, for most basketball fans and players, I believe, the 3pt shot is already a reward in so many ways. Most of them show the intelligence of the coach to come up with such a hard play, dedication of team to spend hours, days to practice those few seconds to perfection and a skill and coolness of a shooter to execute, It shows heart, it shows team spirit and it shows loyalty, virtues that many have lost, but luckily, not all of them. It’s nice to see that ball movement and involvement of all 5 players can break almost any defense and get you an open man basically anywhere you want. And why spurs and warriors, who have mastered this, don’t lose so many games? Why do teams have lowest field goal percentage when they are playing bulls? Defense. That is all you need. If your opponent is using all players in offense, then you must adapt and play team defense. It’s that simple. It’s funny how the most efficient way to play this game is playing like a team.🙂

  5. bodjee says:

    What about 4 points for half-court shots?

  6. nacato2005@hotmail.com says:

    What is equal for everybody, doesn’t give advantage to anyone

  7. toudi says:

    so first he wants to help the poor weak Eastern Conference by moving his team there🙂
    then demands to keep hack a Jordan because he’s pissed at the guy🙂 and now he wants to stop the warriors by taking the 3 point shot from them🙂

    • Buniek says:

      That’s describes him indeed. He just seeks easiest ways, and now his idea of how Mavs should look in a future was ruined. Bad investments hurts a lot… Sad, becouse I was enjoying their championship season few years ago and never expected such things from Cuban. I was thinking about him after they got what was the most wanted (title) as he grew up at last. But that was just a miracle… he’s still a rich baby who can afford anything or bend the rules if necessary…

  8. Rudy Rivers, Jr. says:

    Doc Rivers Cries & complains more then any other Coach I have seen! Paul Gasol is another crybaby! According to his expressions; he NEVER fouls!

  9. summonerswar says:

    Man, the ring nowadays can be dunked by almost all players with ease. Even the the players at guard position dunk. I think we need to make the ring adjust a little bit higher to push the players to their limits, and allow more time for players to do their acrobatics in the air before they dunk. Raising the ring a little bit higher will also complement for Mr. Cuban’s suggestion of extending the 3-point arc.

  10. Good luck with that Miami……

  11. Cyberkiosk says:

    And then after some time, the extended 3-point arc will be so easy for the players that another bitter person would come into play saying to extend the 3-point arc at half-court…..

  12. KB says:

    Moving the 3pt line back to add spacing as Cuban puts it won’t help his Mavs. besides how much father can you move the corner 3pt line without widening the entire court??

  13. Dennis says:

    Okay, so because DeAndre Jordan, Drummond, and Howard cannot make free throws, let’s change the foul regulations. Because Nowitzki is retiring and there are 3-point sharp shooting rising stars like Curry, Thompson, and less so in Lillard and other young guys, let’s pull the 3-point line back.. Then you realize that guys like Aldridge, Durant are owning the mid-range game, so let’s figure out a way to slow them down.. Number of efficient free throwers are on the rise, so let’s pull the free throw line deeper.. Oh wait, then DeAndre won’t be able to make even 25%.. No problem, so then we’ll just give 5 free throws, possession after free throws, and flagrant to the fouler if they target DeAndre and the like.. So on and so forth

  14. Refwhite says:

    Now that dirks on his way out.mark Cuban is a joke.he wouldn’t have considered this with dirk in his prime.

  15. Micah Munson says:

    Lol at Cuban, sounds like someone is a bit salty at Golden State

  16. deng says:

    lol. Cuban suggesting the three-point line to be moved back cause he knows it’s already to easy for some players to shoot thres. haha

  17. Mark says:

    Memo to Cuban – have a look at the team a little bit down the road from you. The Spurs have more midrange to their game than any other team – and they’re on track for the 3rd best record in history. Parker, Aldridge, Leonard, West – the majority of what they do is in that “midrange”. If you want more “midrange” Cubes, try watching a Spurs game…