DA's Morning Tip

Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on Paul George, LeBron James, Al Horford and more

David Aldridge

You first. No, after you. From Ryan Marquez:

Free agency is looming and I always hear about the Los Angeles Lakers aiming to go after LeBron James and Paul George. There were also trade rumors last season about George joining the Cavs. What I have noticed, though — and it is something that no one talks about — is that they play the same small forward position.

I know LeBron can play all positions, but he really can’t be your starting power forward, and we all know George didn’t like the idea playing that spot, either, when he was in Indiana. I know we are in the position-less era of basketball (Thank you Warriors — my favorite team) but can anyone talk about how they’d even fit in together? Your thoughts please.

Great players figure it out, Ryan. If LeBron and PG-13 wound up on the same team, you could say one plays “flurn” and the other plays “small flurn.” It wouldn’t matter. They’d find a way. As you mentioned, in this era, there are no positions. With so many teams going small a guy like LeBron is likely going to be bigger than any four he plays, anyway

Al’s sister would like a word. From Chris Larkin:

Curious to get your thoughts on Al Horford. He gets love from all over the place, and while I’m sure he’s a well-respected teammate/veteran, in my view he’s an extremely overpriced aging player who’s going to continue to decline in value. His line of 12.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game is respectable … but not for a max player (owed $60 million over the next two years) that has proven that he can’t carry a team with Kyrie Irving out.

A guy like Julius Randle — who plays the same position, and won’t sniff a max contract as he enters free agency this summer — is averaging similar numbers (16.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.5 apg). He got limited playing time to start the season and is carrying the Lakers during their current stretch. The Celtics would be better off being able to put that salary somewhere else, but I’d have to believe they’d need to attach some significant Draft compensation to move him. Thoughts?

We will disagree, strenuously, on Horford’s impact on the Celtics. He is a huge reason for their outstanding team defense, just as he was with the Atlanta Hawks. His ability to defend in space and not be a liability if he has to switch on pick and rolls is incredibly important for Boston, as is his communication as the quarterback of the unit. I don’t think fans understand how important talking is on defense.

Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder has said often that among his biggest improvements as a defender is being able to better process not only what he sees, but what he knows the opposing offense is going to do next, and communicate that to his teammates in real time without hesitation. Horford doesn’t hesitate. And, he’s a timely shot blocker, in the tradition of guys like Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning, who knew that it’s not how many shots you block and/or intimidate, it’s when you do them.

Offensively, Horford’s significant improvement behind the arc (career-high 42.9 percent on 3-pointers this season) keeps the floor spaced, which allows Irving (and, next season, Gordon Hayward) room to attack the paint. Horford’s a great screen and roller as well, using both the 3-pointer and midrange pick-and-pop to great effect. He’s a smart, tough, unsassuming teammate who is well worth the money he’s getting. It is not a criticism of Randle to opine that he’s not anywhere close to as good an all-around player as Horford.

Scott and I continue chatting. From Scott Allen:

I am well aware that poor (and dangerous) arguments have been made in the defense of the Second Amendment; this does not, however, change the reality of its purpose. The Bill of Rights, in its entirety, is designed to limit the tools by which a government would oppress its own citizens. Ensuring the protection of (not the granting of) the freedom to speak, think, worship, assemble, defend oneself, own property, etc. is the heart of the American system of governance. The reduction of any one of these same protections is cause for concern.

I appreciate your comparison of the Second and the First Amendments in that there are limits on each. Just as speech that is well outside of public discourse is not protected, so too are arms that are well outside the public use (only the most absurd arguments would suggest that the possession of tanks and missiles should be permitted to the public). The discussion as to whether or not the AR-15 belongs in this category is the one that we as a country should be having, and your position has been made clear.

I would expand upon one of your proposed solutions, namely, to slow the gun-owning process and require a demonstration of fitness. You likened this to the operation of a car and the Global Entry program. The difference would be that neither of those things are Rights that are protected by the Constitution. A better analogy would be to the freedom of the press. Would you, as a journalist, suggest that an outside entity require a demonstration of fitness to determine if you would be allowed to express yourself in print? Some speech is dangerous, as you have said; perhaps there should be oversight as to how it is used? Maybe you should be licensed before you are allowed to write an article? Should some topics be classified as outside the realm of public discourse?

The pen, after all, is mightier than the sword. Perhaps it should be regulated thusly.

Appreciate you continuing our discussion in a civilized manner, Scott. You are correct that driving a car and/or getting Global Entry status are not rights enumerated in the Constitution. My analogy was not literal, of course, but you’re correct on that. As for an outside entity to regulate fitness to write/practice journalism, I’d disagree. The First Amendment is about what is prohibited, not what is allowed: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So, the government, by definition, can’t establish oversight over speech or determine “fitness” to express oneself. Whereas, the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Note the words “well regulated.” The inference there being that the government does have standing to regulate the militia, such as it is. But it doesn’t explicitly state the scope and/or limits of that regulation. I would argue that keeping weapons of war such as the AR-15 out of the hands of civilians would fall under reasonable regulation. (But don’t listen to me; maybe you’ll listen to these veterans who state unequivocally that the AR-15 is, in no way, any different from the M-4s and M-16s they carried on battlefields, and shouldn’t be in the hands of civilians.)

Taking these types of weapons off the streets does not limit anyone’s right to bear arms; it limits people’s rights to those types of arms. There’s a reason you can’t go into a store and buy a bomb; the government does not allow you to. You have to get permits to buy explosives, and state exactly what they are to be used for, and tell the government how you plan to store the explosives to ensure the safety of not only yourself, but the people that live and work near you. Federal law generally requires anyone “who imports, manufactures, deals, transports, ships, or receives explosives” to obtain a federal explosives license or permit from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The person seeking the license or permit cannot have a criminal record, or have been institutionalized prior to making the application, or have received a dishonorable discharge from the military. (It took a while — too long, to me — but there also are now at least some limits on buying things like ammonium nitrate, which was used by Timothy McVeigh to build the explosives that took down the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.)

All I’m asking for, Scott, is some common sense. Keep people who are on the no-fly list from being able to buy guns. Keep non-spouses who have have been convicted of domestic violence and/or stalking their exes from being able to buy guns. Change the rules that allow private party dealers to sell weapons to anyone at gun shows without having to submit them to background checks, as dealers at federally licensed gun stores have to do. Create a board comprised of law enforcement members, the military, private gun owners and physicians to determine an agreed-upon definition of what a military grade weapon is, and ban the future manufacture/current sale of same.

No, this would not eliminate all mass killings. No, this would not stop all crime. No, this would not keep criminals from getting their hands on guns. But what would the harm be in trying something comprehensive, that isn’t watered down by the National Rifle Association, to try and reduce the number of mass shootings, to take just some of the hundreds of millions of guns out of commission? Is “all guns, all the time” making any of us feel safer? Has it actually made any of us safer?

Send your questions, comments and plans for when Louis also get spare keys made while out on lunch break to daldridgetnt@gmail.com. If your e-mail is funny, thought-provoking or snarky, we just might publish it!

MVP WATCH

(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)

James Harden (27 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 8.8 apg, .405 FG, .775 FT): Fourth straight season with at least 2,000 points scored. Dude gets buckets.

LeBron James (34.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 11 apg, .627 FG, .784 FT): Well played, Akron. Well played.

Kevin Durant (DNP: fractured rib)

Anthony Davis (28.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.3 bpg, .597 FG, .844 FT): Diversity of his offensive game continues to grow. There’s nowhere on the floor where he can’t score now.

Kyrie Irving (DNP: knee surgery)

BY THE NUMBERS

342 — Number of shots Philly’s J.J. Redick has to make — exactly — during his Sunday workout, just one of the many quirks the veteran guard has in his practice/fitness regimen that has him playing some of the best basketball of his career this season for the Sixers, at age 33.

18 — Consecutive wins for the San Antonio Spurs over the Wizards in San Antonio, a streak dating back to Dec. 11, 1999, when Washington won 99-89 behind 31 points from Mitch Richmond. Since then, the Spurs have beaten the Wizards by an average of 14.6 points during the streak; Washington has stayed within single digits of San Antonio just four times in those 18 games.

2,145 — Career 3-pointers for Minnesota’s Jamal Crawford, who passed Paul Pierce for fifth place on the NBA’s all-time 3-pointers list. Crawford now trails only Ray Allen (2,973), Reggie Miller (2,560), Jason Terry (2,274) and Kyle Korver (2,209).

I’M FEELIN’ …

1) B.b.b.b.b..ut…three is more than two!!!!

2) This is probably the best compromise between one-and-done and MLB’s rule requiring at least three years of college for players who don’t apply for baseball’s draft out of high school.

3) Kudos to Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, for speaking from the heart after protestors surrounded the entrances to Golden 1 Center last week, demonstrating after a 22-year-old African-American man was shot 20 times and killed by police in Sacramento March 18. The police were looking for a suspect breaking and entering nearby homes. The man, Stephon Clark, didn’t have a weapon; he was holding a cell phone in his hand when police confronted him. The demonstrations kept fans who didn’t arrive to the arena early from being able to get in the building. The Kings, in consultation with local authorities, decided it would be too dangerous to try and force the demonstration to move, and told fans who hadn’t yet entered the arena to go home. Full refunds have been promised to those fans affected. But Ranadive spoke of community and using the team as a means to try and promote healing in the city, offering condolences to Clark’s family. It was the move of someone seeking solutions rather than headlines.

3A) And bigger kudos to the Kings and Celtics players, who joined up to turn around a public service announcement in time for Sunday’s game at Golden1 in which players on both teams made sure to say Stephon Clark’s name, in keeping with the “Say His Name”/”Say Her Name” movement, where the victims are not forgotten.

4) This is exactly right. There is a market and audience for well-written/edited/shot, knowledgeable stories about women’s basketball. If you don’t know anything about the history of the women’s game or the people in the women’s game or the players in the women’s game, why would your stories about the women’s game be of any use to anyone? But that is completely different from saying ‘no one cares about the women’s game.’ Lots of people do. Many of them are talented journalists. Hire them. And let them work. In the digital age, there’s no excuse for not allocating more resources to a sport that has a dedicated following.

5) Here is a great example of being able to get a lot of information and color out of someone who’s done a million interviews with just a few, smart, thoughtful questions.

NOT FEELIN’ …

1) It is hard to quantify how shocking it is that the Spurs’ laundry is out there, flapping in the breeze, like everyone else’s unmentionables. This is an organization that, for 20 years, has been very comfortable with the Omerta concept. I have said it so many times I’m tired of hearing myself say it: San Antonio has the same issues — money, shots, playing time — that everyone else has. It’s just that, until now, you’ve never heard them out in the open. That the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard are at an impasse is beyond obvious now; what the two sides wind up doing about it is the only thing that matters.

2) The best to Kyle Korver and his family, who are dealing with the tragic death of his younger brother Kirk, who passed away last week at 27.

3) Let us all hope that the first round of the playoffs is only lightly impacted by all the injuries to key players – Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, Marcus Smart — who are up in the air at present for the postseason, now less than three weeks away.

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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 here andfollow 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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