DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on free agency, Carmelo Anthony and more

David Aldridge

When the Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the One. From Nate Klaiber:

I enjoyed your article. I can’t help but think how it’s comparing two very different things: a sport based solely on the individual vs. a team sport. I understand the sentiment is to win at all costs. I see this in runners and cyclists as well. They dig deep to win when it’s only them vs. the rest. Then there are times where they join a team and compete as well.

I’m more let down by basketball more than anything else. We get it, you’ve assembled an All-Star team. No, you didn’t dig deep to win anything. Shocker, you won again. Of course. It’s … boring. I like seeing people compete. Even those who are in conversation as “the greatest” in the game. I have much more respect for them to win by working for it by earning it. Kevin Durant walked onto a 70-win team. Should we all be surprised that he won a ring? DeMarcus Cousins will now do the same.

Basketball is a team sport, so it’s tough to compare it to an individual sport. Someone like LeBron James has taken some of the lowest quality teams and put them into the NBA Finals. Is there anyone on the Warriors who could do that? Durant lost and joined the winners. Cousins lost and joined the winners. LeBron lost, and joined another team to compete with the winners. I didn’t like that LeBron left to get a ring either.

As a competitor, I can’t help but think how cheap a ring feels when you bought it. There’s no other way around this. There was no digging deep. There were no obstacles. The road was paved for you. All you had to do was show up.

I understand your point that there has never been competitive balance, but mine is more on the nature of the competitors — buying it instead of earning it. That’s what makes it so boring.

Well, Games 6 and 7 of the Western Conference finals weren’t boring, Nate. If Chris Paul doesn’t pull his hamstring in the last minute of Game 5, and the Houston Rockets don’t have an historically bad night shooting the ball in Game 7, I’m pretty sure we would have been in Houston for Game 1 of The Finals.

Even without Paul, it took an historically bad shooting night by the Rockets on their home floor for the Golden State Warriors to come back from 17 down in the first quarter (I can tell you firsthand Steve Kerr did not share your view of Golden State hegemony after 12 minutes.) And we will just have to disagree on your distinction of “buying” instead of “earning.” The Warriors earned their second and third titles during this run with Durant just as they did the first one without him.

En Garde. From Jose Pereira:

As an Orlando Magic fan (hurts to admit sometimes), I must say I am a bit disappointed in what appears to be a lackadaisical effort to figure out the point guard situation. We gave Elfrid Payton a chance for a few years, and now all we have left is DJ Augustin as the starter. No disrespect to him, but I am having difficulty believing he is the answer. Jerian Grant also seems like a solid young player, but come on now.

Basically, I am just wondering if you have heard ANYTHING regarding their approach for a starting PG. I know they passed up on Isaiah Thomas, which I can’t really blame them for, but seeing him sign with Denver for the vets minimum kind of puts a sour taste in my mouth.

I thought Thomas would ultimately wind up there, Jose. Now that he’s in Denver, the Magic does need a long-term solution at the point. You’d have to think Orlando will look at Dennis Schroeder. The Atlanta Hawks’ incumbent point guard has been on the block for a while, and the Hawks added Jeremy Lin to Trae Young at the point last week. But Schroeder’s legal situation in Atlanta likely makes him radioactive around the league until it’s adjudicated for good.

He is not ‘Melo about Anthony’s D. From Jerry White:

Have the Rockets lost their minds? Why would the Rockets want Carmelo? He is a ball stopper and not very good at catch-and-shoot. And he’s a defensive liability. How can you let Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute get away and then spend the money on ‘Melo? His track record on winning is atrocious.

Well, Carmelo is no defensive whiz, to be sure. Losing Ariza and Mbah a Moute is a definite downgrade to Houston’s perimeter defensive abilities — though the Rockets did get a sneaky good pickup along those lines by signing James Ennis from Detroit last week. He’ll help some.

But if Anthony insists on being a starter in Houston, the Rockets will have to help him defensively (I am assuming Clint Capela ultimately comes to terms with the Rockets and signs for next season). Coach Mike D’Antoni could move P.J. Tucker into the starting lineup permanently at small forward, for example, to guard the opposition’s bigger offensive threat at the three or four. But ‘Melo can still put the ball in the basket, and as we all saw in Game 7 of the Western finals, even the Rockets can go through an extended and calamitous scoring drought at the worst possible time.

Send your questions, comments and, unfortunately, further confirmations that jaguars gonna jag to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!

BY THE NUMBERS

$110,000,000 — Reported max extension offer turned down by the Timberwolves’ Jimmy Butler, according to the team’s owner, Glen Taylor. While the talks were amicable, Butler had been hoping Minnesota would clear more cap room this summer to be able to offer him an even bigger max extension. He can opt out of his deal next summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

19 — Female referees that were at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, according to the NBA. After having two female refs among its regular-season staff for several years, the league only has one woman referee on its staff — Lauren Holtkamp, a fact that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during his press conference last week was “a bit embarrassing.”

72 — Teams in this year’s field for The Basketball Tournament, now in its fifth year, with a $2 million, winner take all prize for the team that wins it all. Among the many former NBA players listed as playing this year in TBT are Jimmer Fredette, the former Kings’ Lottery pick, who’s on Team Fredette; Matt Barnes (Sons of Westwood), former Sonics Lottery pick Robert Swift (West Coast Ronin), former Bulls Lottery pick Eddy Curry (Charlotte Chess Center), Lou Amundson (Eberlein Drive), Jared Sullinger (Scarlet & Gray), Ronnie Brewer (Team Arkansas), Hakim Warrick (Boeheim’s Army), Patrick O’Bryant (Always A Brave), Eric Maynor (Ram Nation), Jamario Moon (Atlanta Dirty South), Jeremy Pargo (Overseas Elite) and Jeff Ayers (Team Challenge ALS). Pacers guard Darren Collison is listed as the head coach of Team Challenge ALS and Portland’s Evan Turner is the head coach of Scarlet & Gray. Newly signed Laker Rajon Rondo is listed as coach of Team Rondo. Longtime NBA assistant Jim Cleamons is the coach of Team Detroit, former Bulls lottery pick Marcus Fizer is coaching the Hilton Magic Legends, and longtime NBA vet Jeff McInnis is an assistant coach for Primetime Players.

I’M FEELIN’ …

1) For all those who continue whining about the Warriors and how competitive balance is impossible in today’s NBA, I give you: Denver.

The Nuggets have, quietly, done the work of rebuilding a franchise that bottomed out three years ago at 30-52 with the tried and true quad of good management: hiring the right coach and staff, led by Michael Malone; drafting the right people, adding the right people through trades and free agency and then paying the right people the most money. Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris came through the Draft (Harris having technically come via Draft night trade from Chicago). Will Barton and Mason Plumlee came via trade. Paul Millsap came in free agency. They also reportedly took a flier on Isaiah Thomas last week.

And the Nuggets shifted payroll that was slotted to the likes of Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and others next season to Jokic and Barton by trading Chandler, Faried and Darrell Arthur in the last two weeks in order to give Jokic a max deal and re-sign Barton for four years and $54 million without going into luxury tax hell. The Nuggets haven’t been perfect in their endeavors; no one is. But they’ve fixed those mistakes quickly, and now have a young and deep team ready to make a run in the West. Kudos to President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly, General Manager Arturas Karnisovas and president Josh Kroenke for showing it can be done.

2) No problem with Chicago putting money that would otherwise burn a hole in its pocket into looking at Jabari Parker for a year. I’m not sure Parker can play the three, but let’s be honest: the Bulls aren’t interested in stopping anyone next year — they’re invested in putting up more points. That could be a win-win for Parker, too.

Guys who can put the ball in the basket tend to have more suitors, so he could be primed for a bigger payday down the road. At the least, a productive season by Parker could make him a trade asset for the Bulls next summer (just as Nikola Mirotic became) at the least. Chicago’s future is in Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. and Kris Dunn. If Parker or Zach LaVine fire and become a vital part of the rotation … well, it will be a good problem for the Bulls to have.

3) The career track so far for Jahlil Okafor, the third pick in the Draft overall just three flipping years ago, continues to astound. He is an unrestricted free agent after having been an afterthought in Brooklyn, which won exactly 28 games last season. Okafor is working this summer with player development yoda Idan Ravin, trying to show prospective teams he’s aware he must show improvement on the perimeter. Ravin has been reconstructing Okafor’s jump shot and improving his ability to score on face-ups and off the dribble. No one’s saying Okafor hasn’t been a disappointment so far as a pro. But in a league where there are so many bad teams, it’s astonishing no one has yet to give the still just 22-year-old Okafor a real look.

4) Notwithstanding my issues with tennis below, two things. One, props to Angelique Kerber for her first Wimbledon title Saturday, convincingly beating Serena Williams in the final, and for being incredibly gracious and warm afterward. Two, I do love how tennis has seamlessly incorporated the best instant replay system in sports, the Hawk-Eye system, into its game over the last decade-plus. It takes seconds, from a player’s challenge to seeing whether a ball is in or out, with the Hawk-Eye. There’s no ambiguity, no whining about missed calls. And because of, matches keep flowing, their rhythms undisrupted. To be fair: there is no way of knowing exactly how many calls Hawk-Eye may actually get wrong — it is a machine, but that doesn’t make it infallible. But it’s the best replay system by far that I’ve seen.

NOT FEELIN’ …

1) Condolences to the family of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban on the loss of Norton Cuban, father to Mark, Brian and Jeff.

2) Tennis majors need to stop with this “fifth set until someone wins” format. As compelling as Kevin Anderson’s semifinal win over John Isner at Wimbledon was on Friday, it’s insane that it took six hours and 36 minutes to complete because there was no fifth-set tiebreaker. Which meant Anderson and Isner went on … and on … and on … taking more than two hours just to finish the final set. The powers that be in tennis have to institute some kind of tiebreaker in a fifth set for majors. It doesn’t have to be at 6-all; it can be at 10-all or 12-all if they want. But at some point you have to finish the damn match.

3) Farewell, 5,000 or so bots who were purged from my Twitter account last week, leaving me with a healthy 670K of actual human type followers. And I thank all of you for sticking with me over the years as I chronicle NBA moves, D.C. sports teams and the occasional political discussion. I do not want, nor expect, everyone to agree with me about everything (and wouldn’t that be a boring place to be?). But 99 percent of you who do disagree on occasion do it civilly and with respect. Which is the only way we’re going to get through these days together.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

— Jazz guard and former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell), Friday, 11:22 a.m., after his school announced it was removing the former sponsor Papa John’s from the name of its football stadium.

The school also dismissed former Papa John’s chair John Schnatter from its Board of Trustees and took his name off the Center for Free Enterprise at the school’s College of Business. This all happened after Schnatter was disclosed to have used the N-word while in discussion on a conference call on how to deal with racial issues. Schantter resigned as Papa John’s chair last Wednesday. The Greatest, of course, was a native son of Louisville.

THEY SAID IT

“Stu, that’s why I’m not in the NBA right now.”

— Hall of Famer Karl Malone, during an in-game interview with NBA TV’s Stu Jackson and Kristen Ledlow, after Jackson opined that a Karl Malone entering the league today would be told to move behind the three-point line to shoot — something Malone, currently second on the NBA’s all-time list in points scored (36,928), did successfully exactly 85 times in 18 NBA seasons. (Just by way of comparison: this year’s league MVP James Harden made 265 3-pointers this past season alone.)

“I just felt like at this point, I owed it to myself to be a part of something bigger than next year’s draft.”

Kyle O’Quinn, the newly signed Pacers’ big man, on why he chose to go to Indiana rather than stay with the New York Knicks, where he’d played the previous three seasons. That was harsh.

“I feel just so excited to see him play NBA basketball and show why he was the first player chosen in the NBA draft. And I have tremendous optimism and confidence that he’s going to have a hell of a year next year.”

— 76ers Coach Brett Brown, to local reporters, updating on the improvements made by Markelle Fultz after spending the last several weeks working with skills development trainer Drew Hanlen in Los Angeles.

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Longtime NBA reporter, columnist and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer David Aldridge is an analyst for TNT. You can e-mail him here, find his archive hereand follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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