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Henry Liao

  1. HOOPSTER 1236 October 19, 2017 Thursday release

    It was the fourth time that I have witnessed on television a gruesome player injury on a basketball floor, the most recent of which was what happened to All-Star forward Gordon Hayward yesterday during his Boston debut (following seven seasons with the Utah Jazz) and in the opening game of the National Basketball Association?s 2017-18 season between the Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Quicken Loans Arena.

    Before the game, the narrative was how Cleveland fans would react to ex-Cavs guard Kyrie Irving?s first appearance in a Celtics uniform (he was booed early) and LeBron James? questionable status due to a left ankle sprain he suffered in training camp before the 32-year-old The King eventually suited up for Cleveland and thus extended his streak for most consecutive opening-game appearances without a miss at 15 seasons.
    In the end, though, the major story was not even about the Cavs? 102-99 victory over the Celtics but prayers being offered by Hayward?s NBA peers and hoop fans worldwide for his speedy recovery from a horrific left ankle fracture he suffered with 6:45 left in the first quarter.

    This was a real ankle-breaker as the 27-year-old Hayward was going up for an alley-oop pass but fell awkwardly on his leg going down.

    Visually, Hayward?s ankle-turning injury was so horrifying, comparable to those previous serious injuries sustained by Fil-foreigner Eugene Tejada (fractured his spine causing paralysis) in the local professional league a decade or so ago, University of Louisville guard Kevin Douglas Ware Jr. in a U.S. NCAA tournament game in 2013 and, a year later, by then-Indiana Pacer Paul George in an all-NBA intra-squad scrimmage among Team USA prospects for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.

    Ware, a 6-2 guard, was a 20-year-old sophomore at Louisville at the time. He suffered an open fracture of the tibia to his right leg during the first half of the Cardinals? third-round (Elite Eight) match against the Duke Blue Devils in the 2013 NCAA tournament.

    Ware landed awkwardly after attempting to block a three-point shot by Duke guard Tyler Thornton and suffered an open fracture to his right leg that protruded several inches out of his shin.

    When the Cardinals won the NCAA tournament that year, Ware was asked by teammates to cut the championship nets.

    Ware eventually appeared in nine games with Louisville during the 2013-14 season before being granted ?redshirt? status for him to fully recover from his injury.

    Ware was to transfer to Georgia State University in April 2014 and spent two seasons with the Panthers where he was the Sun Belt Conference? Most Valuable Player in 2015.

    While Ware was not taken in the 2016 NBA draft, the 24-year-old New York native has found roundball employment in the Greek league since the time.

    George, an NBA player since 2010-11, was an Indiana Pacer when he tried out for the Team USA to the FIBA World Cup in the summer of 2014. During a nationally-televised intra-squad scrimmage at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas on August 1, 2014, the 6-8 wingman went down with a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg after he landed awkwardly at the base of a basket stanchion while fouling James Harden.

    George eventually returned to the Pacers in the final six games of the 2014-15 NBA campaign, earned a spot on the gold medal-winning U.S. team to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and, in July this year, he was shipped to the Oklahoma City Thunder with a year remaining on his contract after spending his first seven seasons in the pro league at Indiana.

    Tejada, Ware, George and Hayward: Their injuries were so gruesome and graphically disturbing that you can?t seem to forget about them.
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  2. Is the Triangle Still Relevant Today?

    Is the triangle offense still relevant in today?s basketball scene?

    Modern-day basketball, at least in the sport?s flagship league National Basketball Association, is slowly devaluing the importance of the big men in the middle - the traditional dinosaurs that were the alpha dogs of their teams during the halcyon days of George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O?Neal and even David Robinson ? and turning to a small-ball realignment that has been magnified by the success the Golden State Warriors, who romped away with the NBA crown for a second time in three years during the 2017 playoffs.

    In recent times, much emphasis has been placed on ball movement and teams have relied on the motion offense to ignite their shooting strategies.

    In the NBA, the triangle offense appears to be on the way out as its success is becoming a myth without a team with the right player personnel to implement.

    Phil Jackson, who while employing the triangle won a league-leading 11 championships in the 1990s and 2000s as the top bench tactician of the Chicago Bulls (six) and Los Angeles Lakers (five), imposed the offensive strategy on the woebegone New York Knicks team during his three-year stint as (2014-17) as the club?s president with disastrous results as the Gotham City outfit posted a combined 80-166 record (17-65/32-50/31-51) under Derek Fisher (1.5 seasons), Kurt Rambis (.5) and current head mentor Jeff Hornacek (2016-17).

    What exactly is the triangle offense? Known also as the triple post or sideline triangle, the triangle offense is an offensive strategy in basketball.
    Its basic concepts actually were formulated more than seven decades ago by former college coach Sam Barry at the University of Southern California.

    Barry introduced the triangle offense where players stand in triangular positions on either side of the basketball court to create good spacing between players and allow each one to pass to four teammates.

    Barry?s initial setup employed the simple triangulation setup of the center, who stands at the low post; a forward, who is at the wing; and a guard, who is at the corner, on one side of the court.

    At the other side of this five-player system are the off guard, who stands up at the top of the key, and the ?weaker? forward, who is on the weak-side high post.

    Barry, who was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978, ran his version of the triangle with a stocky guard named Morice Fredrick (Tex) Winter.

    When Winter became the head coach at Kansas State University in 1953, he brought Barry?s TO and even made it more complicated with different strategies involving various advantageous moves.

    Winter subsequently immortalized the triangle offense by writing the book ?Triple-Post Offense? in 1962 while at KSU.

    Winter hooked up with the Houston Rockets in the NBA in 1971-72 as their head coach. But after only one and a half seasons at the Rockets helm, he returned to the collegiate coaching ranks.

    Winter did not go back into the NBA until 1985 when he served as an assistant to head coaches Stan Albeck and Doug Collins while with the Chicago Bulls. Through the following years, Winter continued to make refinements on the triangle offense. When Phil Jackson took over the Bulls? head mentoring reins in 1989, he not only installed the offensive strategy full time but also gave it much prominence.

    Jackson hired Winter as one of his assistant coaches during his nine-year stay (1989-9 in Windy City and when the Zen Master joined the Los Angeles Lakers organization in 1999, he also brought along Winter as an assistant. In the next five seasons, the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals on four occasions and earned three titles along the way behind Shaq and Kobe Bryant.

    Following a one-year sabbatical (2004-05), Jackson returned to the Lakers in 2005-06 and he again sought the services of Winter. The Lakers returned to prominence with back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010 behind Bryant and big man Pau Gasol.

    Jackson?s offensive philosophy undoubtedly was greatly influenced by his long association with Winter.

    The 95-year-old Winter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 under the ?contributor? category.
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  3. LVSL: How's Chinese frontliner Zhou Qi with the Rockets?

    Las Vegas Summer League (seeds 9-24)

    Philadelphia (1-2) vs. LA Lakers (1-2)

    July 13, 10:30 a.m. today Manila time at Thomas and Mack Center.

    No Markelle Fultz (left ankle sprain) for the 76ers but Lonzo Ball could be back for Lakers after missing previous game vs. Sacramento due to a sore groin.

    Earlier result: Denver 87- Houston 81

    Chinese frontliner Zhou Qi, the Rockets' second-round draft pick a year ago, had 4 points and 3 rebounds in 23 minutes as a starter.

    Overall, the 7-2, 21-year-old Qi, who inked a multi-year rookie pact with the Rockets last month, has averaged 6.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in four games in the LVSL, including a 17-point. 6-rebound effort in 25 minutes in a 102-99 win over Denver in his Rockets debut.
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  4. Harden Agrees to Richest Contract in NBA History

    Move over, Wardell Stephen Curry II, a two-time National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player (2015 and 2016) who on June 30 agreed to a new five-year, $201-million deal with the reigning league titlist Golden State Warriors.

    That?s because one week and a day later, the record for the richest contract in NBA history no longer belongs to him.

    Last July 8, Houston Rockets guard James Edward Harden Jr., accepted a four-year, ?super-maximum? contract extension that is projected to be worth $170 million or more and will guarantee him at least $228 million through the 2022-23 season. This will be the largest ever NBA contract extension.

    Adding the two years and $58.72 million remaining on his current pact with the Texas squad (which came about as a result of Harden?s inking a four-year, $118.1 million contract extension on July 9, 2016 with an early-termination option in the final year), the 6-5 guard will be earning $228 million (or more) over the next six seasons for the richest player contract in league history, surpassing Curry?s new deal that makes the 6-3 long-range bomber the first NBAer ever to reach the $200-million plateau.

    Harden, who turns 28 in August, will earn $28.299399 in 2017-18 and $30.421854 million in 2018-19.
    Depending on how the NBA salary cap escalates each year, Harden's annual stipend under the extension will vary although he is expected to bankroll $37.8 million in 2019-20.

    The salary upgrade will go up to $40.8 million in 2020-21, $43.8 million in 2021-22 and $46.8 million in 2022-23.

    Harden is taking advantage of a provision in the new labor contract (collective bargaining agreement), which takes effect starting the 2017-18 season, that allows contract extensions for top-tier players such as Harden.

    ?The Beard? became eligible to add four years to his current contract after securing a berth on one of the three All-NBA teams this past campaign.

    During the 2016-17 wars, the California-born Harden played point guard for the Rockets for the first time in his pro career under NBA Coach of the year Mike D?Antoni, pacing the NBA in assists (11.2 apg) and ranking second in scoring (29.1 ppg) while norming 8.1 rebounds in 81 appearances ? an eight-year career high in all three categories.

    Harden also placed second in the MVP polls for the second time in three years and was the lone unanimous selection on the All-NBA First Team in media balloting ? the third time in four years that the Arizona State product was a first-team pick following selections in 2014 and 2015.

    With the arrival of playmaker de luxe Chris Paul in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers in late June, Harden is likely to revert to his old role of 2-guard with the Rockets, who produced the third-best regular record (55-27) in the NBA last season.

    + + +

    Avery Antonio Bradley Jr., the final link to the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett-Ray Allen Big 3 era in Beantown, became the scapegoat ? a salary cap casualty ? in the Boston Celtics? pursuit of Utah free agent Gordon Hayward.

    But there?s more work to do by the Celtics to help Hayward secure a maximum contract.

    Already Danny Ainge, the Celtics? president of basketball operations, has also pulled its qualifying offer to Kelly Olynyk (making the Canadian frontliner an unrestricted free agent and who has since inked a four-year, $50 million-plus deal with the Miami Heat). The club must likewise renounce veteran free agents Jonas Jerebko, James Young and Gerald Green, trade Terry Rozier, and then waive the non-guaranteed contract of Jordan Mickey. Additionally, it has another partially non-guaranteed pact in second-year point guard Demetrius Jackson, who could be waived or traded.

    Even then, the Celtics will still be about $300,000 shy of rewarding Hayward a maximum contract with a first-year salary of $29.444533.

    Could small forward Jae Crowder, who has three years and $21.9 million left in his contract, also be on the way out?

    The Celtics need to prepare for the impending free agency of All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, who led the all East players in scoring last season with an NBA third-best 28.9-point average, in the summer of 2018 .Thomas, who has a year left on his contract, will attract huge offers from other teams if the 5-9 guard opts to try his luck in the open market. A contract extension may now be in the offing.

    The Celtics peddled seven-year veteran guard Avery Bradley Jr. (along with a 2019 second-round draft pick) to the Detroit Pistons (for Marcus Morris) to clear salary-cap space in preparation for the entry of Hayward and his proposed four-year, $128-million maximum deal, possibly through a sign-and-trade agreement with the Jazz.

    Bradley, who had ...
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  5. NBA Free Agency: Hayward Goes Celtics Green

    While National Basketball Association teams have been negotiating with veteran free agents and reaching trade agreements since the free-agency derby began last July 1, no contract signing can be consummated until noon of July 6 (or July 7, 12:00 a.m., Manila time) when the league-imposed moratorium ends and the league?s team salary cap for the 2017-18 season has been determined to be $99,093 million (up by nearly $5 million from the $94.143 million cap in 2016-17 when the NBA?s nine-year, $24-billion television contract started to take effect and around $30 million higher than the $70 million cap in 2015-16).

    By the wee hours of July 7 (Manila time), expect a lot of fireworks as the signings and trades can be made official.

    This early, the reigning NBA titlist Golden State Warriors, who last month shellacked the then-champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-1, in the Finals to corral their second title in three years, have already committed $328.3 million to re-sign five of their own free agents, namely, two-time league Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry ($201 million over five years), 2017 Finals MVP Kevin Durant ($53 million over two years), 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala ($48 million over three years), Shaun Livingston ($24 million over three years), and David West ($2.3 million for one season).

    The 6-3 Curry, an eight-year veteran guard, agreed to a super-maximum contract worth $201 million over five seasons to remain with the Warriors, the only team he has played for since breaking into the majors in 2009-10 out of the University of Davidson The 29-year-old long-range bomber has led the league in three-pointers made in each of the past five seasons (including an all-time NBA single-season record of 402 triples in 2015-16).

    Curry, who only got a bargain-basement four-year, $44-million deal in his previous contract, a pittance by today?s standards but more of a huge gamble by Golden State in the summer of 2013 due to issues regarding his brittle ankles that, in fact, limited the son of former NBA three-point marksman Dell Curry to just 26 games in 2011-12, will soon own the richest contract in U.S. pro team sports history, surpassing along the way the erstwhile NBA record held by Memphis guard Mike Conley, who inked a five-year, $153-million maximum pact to remain with the Grizzlies in July 2016.

    The first NBA player ever to reach the $200-million plateau, Curry is in line to become also the first player ever to bankroll $40 million in a single season, easily obliterating the current record of $33 million that His Airness Michael Jordan (now the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets) salaried with the Chicago Bulls during their second ?three-peating? title finish in 1997-98.

    The sudden skyrocketing of player salaries can directly be attributed to the NBA?s humongous TV revenues.

    Curry is eligible for the super-max contract, or the Designated Player Veteran Contract, from his incumbent team under a provision in the new seven-year collective bargaining agreement (with an early-termination option after six years) between the league and the players? union that takes effect starting with the forthcoming 2017-18 wars.

    A player qualifies for the Designated Player Veteran Contract if he has been the NBA MVP, Defensive Player of the Year or made one of the three All-NBA teams the previous season, or been All-NBA/DPOY in two of the previous three seasons, or league MVP once in the previous season.

    Such a player can receive a super-max deal only from a team that drafted him or traded for him during his first four seasons.

    The maximum amount allowable for a DPVC also depends on the player?s years of service in the NBA. Each team can have a pair of DPVC players and their contracts can amount to as much as 35 percent of a team's salary cap.

    Curry has qualified for the DPVC list because over a three-year period, he has been an NBA MVP twice (2015 and 2016, when he was the first and only unanimous MVP in league annals and the first player ever to pace the league in scoring while shooting at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range and 90 percent from the free-throw line), and was an All-NBA First Team selection twice (2015 and 2016) and an All-NBA Second Team choice this past campaign.

    Oklahoma City wunderkind Russell Westbrook also has qualified for the DPVC, having been this year?s MVP, a second-team All-NBA selection in 2014-15 and a first-team All-NBA pick in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

    At $40.2 million a year on the average, Cleveland' LeBron James, the NBA union's lead vice president behind re-elected president Chris Paul (now of Houston), thinks Curry is underpaid and should be getting a contract worth $400 million or double his annual stipend.

    James, touted as the best player in the league, is ...
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