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Henry Liao

  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. NBA Awards Night: Westbrook, Rockets and Bucks are Big Winners

    Oklahoma City?s do-everything guard Russell Westbrook was the biggest winner in the first ever National Basketball Association Awards Night held last June 26 at the Basketball City in Pier 36, New York.

    Westbrook, who became the first player in 55 years to post a triple-double season average with an NBA-leading 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and league third-best 10.4 assists in 81 games, romped away with the Maurice Podoloff Trophy that goes to the NBA?s Most Valuable Player in a landslide balloting by a 101-member media panel.

    The 6-3 Westbrook, who has spent his entire nine-year pro career with the OKC Thunder, received 69 first-place votes, far outdistancing Houston?s James Harden (who had 22), San Antonio?s Kawhi Leonard (nine) and Cleveland?s LeBron James (one).

    I have no idea yet what the final points total were for the four men in the MVP race. A voter needed to select five players according to ranking with points assigned for first to fifth choices on a 10-7-5-3-1 basis and the MVP winner is determined by the total points he accumulates. There is no criterion in the selection of the MVP, not even a player?s statistics.)

    Westbrook, who captured his second NBA scoring title (the first came in 2014-15), broke a pair of 55-year-old triple-double NBA records previously held by ?The Big O? Oscar Robertson. The 28-year-old UCLA product racked up 42 T-D games ? one more than the 6-5 Robertson?s output with the Cincinnati Royals (the predecessors of the Sacramento Kings) in 1961-62 ? and joined him as the only players to register a triple-double season average. That year, Robertson normed 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 11.4 apg in 79 appearances as a second-year pro out of the University of Cincinnati.

    Be that as it may, my personal choice for MVP was ?The Beard? Harden. The 6-5 left-handed playmaker, who was Westbrook?s Thunder mate for three seasons (2009-12) before being jettisoned to the Rockets in late October 2012, finished second in the NBA in scoring behind Westbrook and first in assists. He is the first player ever to both score and assist on at least 2,000 points in a single season and accounted for the most points in league history with 4,554, surpassing Nate (Tiny) Archibald's 4,539 total in 80 games (2,719 points and 910 assists) with the Kansas City-Omaha Kings (now Sacramento Kings) in 1972-73 when the left-handed court general became the first and only player in NBA annals to pace the league in both scoring and assists in the same campaign. (Note that the three-point shot was not introduced until the 1979-80 season.)

    In his long, emotional NBA MVP acceptance speech wherein he thank just about everybody from the Thunder organization to his brother, wife and family (Pambansang Pabati, in short), I would have thought that Westbrook would graciously also acknowledge the great season turned in by his MVP rivals Harden and Leonard. That would have been great from a public-relations (PR) standpoint.

    In the Rookie of the Year derby, a long shot (at least to some non-media voters), Milwaukee?s little-known Malcolm Brogdon defeated a pair of Philadelphia freshmen in Joel Embiid and Dario Saric.

    A 6-5 backcourter, Brogdon averaged 10.2 points in 75 games (28 of them starts) and topped all rookies in assists (4.2 apg) and steals (1.1 spg) while also grabbing 2.8 rebounds in 26.4 minutes every time out. The 24-year-old Brogdon, a lowly second-round pick (36th overall) in the entire 2016 NBA draft after spending five years (including one sitout) at the University of Virginia, joined Lew Alcindor (now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) as the only players in Bucks history to earn the ROY honor. He is also the first player not drafted in the first round to win the award since 1966 when the modern-day draft system was instituted (and the ?territorial first-round selection? rule abolished).

    Brogdon was one of only two unanimous choices by a media panel on the NBA All-Rookie First Team, along with the 23-year-old Saric, a 6-10 power forward who posted averages of 12.8 points, 6.3 boards and 2.2 assists in 81 games (including 36 starts) with the 76ers and led all rookies with five 20-point, 10-rebound performances. Saric, the 12th overall selection by Orlando in the 2014 draft whose rights were shipped to Philly in return for co-first-rounder guard Elfrid Payton on draft day, is a member of the Croatian national team.

    Embiid would have been a runaway ROY winner if he had stayed healthy throughout the season. The 7-foot center from Cameroon, who was sidelined for two seasons due to a pair of surgeries on his right foot, was limited to 31 appearances due to a torn meniscus in his left knee (an injury that was sustained in mid-February and sidelined him for the remainder of the regulars) and averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in just 25.4 minutes a game. The 23-year-old ...
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