• At the draft lottery three weeks ago, NBA commissioner David Stern mentioned the possibility of this summer’s Olympics being the last to feature NBA players — or at least U.S.-born NBA players — over the age of 23. Stern also mentioned the re-branding of the FIBA world championships, last held in 2010, as basketball’s “World Cup,” an event in which all of the best NBA players might potentially participate. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reports the preference among NBA owners for a “World Cup” event, and why: The NBA hopes to form a partnership with FIBA that would send a significant chunk of event revenue to NBA coffers.
• The league’s new competition committee addressed several rule tweaks during its meeting Monday in Miami, including a system of retroactive crackdowns on flopping. Steve Perrin, writing at SB Nation, dissected the complexities of stopping the flop. I hope to have more on this and other discussed rule changes shortly.
• Is a local group really ready with an offer to buy the Grizzlies should Robert Pera’s bid fall through? Warning: We’ve heard this story before.
Heading into Game 4, James is averaging 30.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in the playoffs. Here’s the list of players who have averaged at least 30.7 points and 9.7 boards in a postseason during the modern era:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Shaquille O’Neal. Hakeem Olajuwon.
That’s it. That’s the list. Three of the all-time great centers.
As hard as it is to believe, those are James’ peers now, statistically. James entered the league as a point guard, and nine years later he’s putting up numbers of Hall of Fame centers. Throw in the fact that James also has averaged five assists per game and the list of players who have averaged 30-10-5 during the playoffs in modern times shrinks to one. Just James.
• Fans were shocked on Monday night when news broke that the Bobcats were set to hire Mike Dunlap, a current St. John’s assistant (and former Denver Nuggets assistant) who was not among the publicly announced group of three finalists for the job. But as Andy Katz notes at ESPN.com, Dunlap is very well-known and well-respected in the coaching community as a teacher and innovator — especially on defense. The Xs-and-Os junkies can learn a bit more about Dunlap’s defensive coaching here, and this 2009 profile in The New York Times fleshes out his background a bit.
Yes, Michael Jordan drafted Adam Morrison and Kwame Brown. Yes, he traded a first-round pick for Tyrus Thomas. Yes, the Bobcats were unmistakably awful last year. None of this makes Dunlap a de facto poor hire, even if he’s not as glittery a name as Brian Shaw and if he didn’t command as large a contract as someone like Golden State assistant Mike Malone. Dunlap has a record as good player development coach, and he may well succeed in Charlotte. Fans bemoan the hiring of recycled head coaches, but when a team like Charlotte ventures out of the box, the mockery comes pouring in. Let’s wait and see how he does on the job.
• Patty Mills has an $885,000 player option with the Spurs next season, but he may decline it and test free agency.
• The Wall Street Journal digs into the numbers to ask if coaches are worse at drawing up last-second plays — or less willing to draw them up for non-stars — than they were 20 or 30 years ago:
A review of dozens of potential game-tying or game–winning shots in the waning seconds of NBA games through the years shows that there are typically fewer touches and less passing today—and the shots tend to come off a bit closer to the buzzer. But the most glaring difference is that there’s very little mystery about who’s going to shoot the ball.
Perhaps LeBron James might have fit better in the pre-Jordan years, at least in terms of the way that NBA fans perceive his late-game decision making.
• Think officials are determining the course of entire playoff series? Don’t bring that noise to SB Nation’s Tom Ziller.
• Did Gregg Popovich already tell Stephen Jackson that the Spurs aren’t going to offer him a contract extension? (Of course, no team should be offering Jackson an extension at this point in his career. That didn’t stop him from demanding one in both Charlotte and Milwaukee.)
• Flip Saunders reflects on his post-season consulting gig for the Celtics — and predicts Kevin Garnett re-signs with Boston for at least one season. A good read.
• Ettore Messina, the legendary European coach who served as an assistant for the Lakers under Mike Brown last season, is going back to Europe via a head-coaching gig.
• Kevin Calabro, the well-liked former Sonics’ play-by-play announcer, explains why he didn’t move to Oklahoma City, even though the owners of the Sonics/Thunder offered him a chance to continue his job there.
• Nick Collison on the Thunder’s pack-the-paint defensive adjustments, and why what can appear to be a “zone” defense isn’t really a full-on zone:
“It’s not like we’re gonna play zone and call it a zone, but there’s ways that we can defend where we can keep it tight in the paint,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “We can start in and get out to shooters. You can see in our tape that when we’re spread out, bad things happen. When we’re in tight, we’re starting in, and we’re tagging them and guys are cutting off us, so that it doesn’t look open to those guys, that’s when we’re at our best.
“It’s not going to be called a zone. We’re not going to change to something totally entirely different than we’ve done ever, but the principles are similar. It’s just our man-to-man defense, but its the way that we do it. If we’re engaged and in tune, that’s how we play. If we’re not, we find ourselves creeping out and guarding guys too far away from the basket away from the ball. Our mindset always has to be ‘What’s going on in the play? Where is the problem? When we’re good, we’re tied to the problem and when we’re not so good, we’re spread out.”