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NBA AM: Is International The Better Option?

Is it smarter for a player to sign internationally if he can’t land in the NBA? Maybe, but international ball can be unkind.

Steve Kyler



The International Conundrum:  There was a time when big man Derrick Caracter was considered the next big thing. He was on the cover of magazines at 13 years old. He was labeled the next big thing by media outlets and pundits who do that sort of thing far too early.

If there was a wrong crowd to run with he ran with them. If there was a wrong guy to listen to he listened to him.

As Caracter prepared to play last night in Orlando, he had one single goal in mind: Log more than eight minutes. See, Caracter signed a short-term contract with Flamengo Basketball of the Novo Basquete Brasil. It’s not a terrible deal financially, but he signed the deal because Flamengo was playing three exhibition games against NBA teams.

However, as a lot of players learn about the international game, well thought out plans often fail. As much as Caracter wanted to use his time in Brazil to help his team win, he really wanted to showcase himself for NBA teams and maybe land a better opportunity.

Something similar is playing out in Turkey with Sixers draft pick Dario Saric. Concerned he might not be ready for life in the NBA and the demands of the game, Saric opted to sign a multi-year deal with Anadolu Efes of the Turkish Basketball League.

The problem for Saric is that he was supposed to use this time to further his game in advance of coming to the NBA in the next two years, possibly as early as next year.

Efes has played one regular season game and Saric logged no minutes. Not exactly what he was expecting, and according Saric’s father, not at all what he’s willing to do.

Efes opens Eurlogeaue play against Unics Kazan today, so there is a chance for a better story for Saric, however his camp is talking about a buyout now, after just one game. They’re trying to get Saric to the 76ers this season. Fortunately for Saric, the 76ers have the means to help if it comes down to it.

For Carcater it’s a very different story. He doesn’t have a team willing to bankroll a buyout. He doesn’t have a NBA team pinning their future on him. He’s like many guys that are not on NBA teams today, chasing the dream that he can play and help a NBA team.

He and his agent constructed his agreement with Flamengo so he’d have option after the exhibition tour through the US, and that short term agreement may have soured the coaching staff on the big man.

He played well last season in the NBA’s D-League, so that is appealing from a playing stand point. He could stay close to home and have a chance for NBA teams to see him on a daily basis and maybe shake some of the labels he’s collected over the last couple of years trying to break into the NBA.

There are offers from international teams. Those offers include substantially more money than Caracter can earn in the D-League, but it means being away from his family. Its means running the risk of not being paid what is agreed. Carcater is still chasing money owed to him from other International stops, so the security of the D-League is appealing.

The problem with Caracter’s situation is he can earn the most money going aboard However, as Saric’s situation shows just because a team signs you does not mean they will play you and that happens all too often; players that don’t play sometimes don’t get paid.

Caracter logged eight minutes in the Flamengo game against Phoenix. He logged eight more against the Magic last night. The Memphis Grizzlies play host to Flamengo on Friday, so Carcater may get one more chance to showcase himself. If it’s eight more minutes, he’ll have to weigh the choice a lot of guys getting cut from NBA rosters over the next few weeks will make: Stay in the D-League and hope to be noticed or roll the dice that an international team offering bigger dollars will pan out?

Watching Saric’s situation play out in Turkey is a cautionary tale. If he can’t find minutes after signing a multi-million Euro deal, where does that leave Caracter?

While both are in radically different situations as players, the problem is the same. International may offer more money, but if it only comes with eight minutes a game, is it really worth it?

That’s the conundrum.

Fewer Games Uhh?:  The NBA is going to test out an idea. The idea arrived from a meeting recently between the NBA coaches and the NBA in which it was suggested that maybe the NBA game would be better if it were ever so slightly shorter.

Shorter is better. No question. When you play 82 regular season games, every minute matters on a number of fronts. Television partners want games to fit inside two hours. Working fans would like to be home before midnight on game day. Teams pay a large number of employees an hourly wage, so shorter is cheaper. There are all kinds of reasons to make the game shorter.

So with that in mind the NBA is going to try out a 44-minute game. It will be one game, used as a test to look at how shortening the game impacts things. The two teams – Brooklyn and Boston – agreed to be the Guinea pigs and they’ll play the game this Sunday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Now before we get too far down the road on this, it’s a test. There are no plans to install this into the NBA and while the league could have looked at this in the D-League, doing so in the exhibition has garnered a lot of attention, which is something the league surely wanted to analyze.

Would fans care if the game were four minutes shorter? In the social media world, it’s easy to find out.

Would four less minutes make the product less fluid, watchable and exciting? These are all things we’ll find out on Sunday.

Now the by-product of this experiment is that every player in the league and almost all of the coaches have been asked by media to comment about shortening NBA games.

The overwhelming response wasn’t so much about the length of games, as much as it was about the number of games being played.

Stars like Cleveland’s LeBron James said he’d rather see a 66-game schedule like the league played after the lockout in 2011. Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki said much of the same. Fewer games would be good.

Fewer games sounds good. Fewer games would mean less back-to-backs, travel and wear and tear. Those all sound like good things, things players would care about as their careers are short. We talk about the mileage players accumulate over the span of a multi-year career all the time.

LeBron has logged 39,993 minutes between the regular season and the postseason in his 11 seasons. Nowitzki has logged 48,1847 minutes in his 16 NBA seasons; so, clearly less games matter when you accumulate those kinds of minutes.

The problem that both are overlooking as some of the highest earners monetarily in the game is that less games played equals less money.

The NBA just inked a new $24.4 billion broadcasting deal. That deal didn’t include less games for broadcast, it included more.

While players are not paid on a per-game basis, when you break down their salaries that way players like LeBron who will earn $20.644 million this season, make about $251,000 per game.

NBA’s Highest Paid Players Per Game

Name  Per Game
Kobe Bryant  $286,585.37
Amar’e Stoudemire  $285,499.85
Joe Johnson  $282,692.56
Carmelo Anthony  $273,882.94
Dwight Howard  $261,417.94
LeBron James  $251,760.98
Chris Bosh  $251,760.98
Chris Paul  $244,738.57
Deron Williams  $240,908.11
Rudy Gay  $235,577.15
Kevin Durant  $231,653.95
Derrick Rose  $230,035.07
Blake Griffin  $215,544.06
Zach Randolph  $201,219.51

You can find the top 50 Highest Paid NBA Players here.

It’s easy to say let’s cut off 16 games from the season, but is LeBron prepared to sacrifice $4 million from his salary for rest? I am pretty sure his support for the second idea would be radically lower than his support for the first.

It’s easy to say less games. The problem is less games means less tickets sold. Less events staged, so less advertising. Less games to be sold to television and radio, so there would be less there too.

Shorter on the other hand is not less. At least not in the sense of selling tickets, selling games to television and radio and as events to brand marketers and sponsors.

The average preseason NBA game played yesterday took two hours and 14 minutes, that’s a ratio of 2.79 minutes per 1 minute of game play. Reducing a game by four game minutes on average would reduce the actual time of a game from 2:14 minutes on average to two hours and roughly 2 minutes, a 12-minute per game savings. Doesn’t sound like a lot until you factor in all the games played in a season and then it becomes a big number.

So, if shortening the game doesn’t impact the number of games, how games are monetized and the flow of the game is unchanged, is this a bad thing? That’s what the NBA is going to look at on Sunday.

Shorter isn’t less games. It’s just shorter. If players want fewer that’s a pipedream the owners are likely unwilling to consider simply because it means less money and we all know no one is signing up for less money.

More Twitter:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton , @JCameratoNBA and @YannisNBA.

Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.


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A Breakout Season for Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Harris talks to Basketball Insiders about his second chance with the Nets.

David Yapkowitz



The NBA is all about second chances. Sometimes players need a change of scenery, or a coach who believes in them, or just something different to reach their full potential. They may be cast aside by several teams, but eventually, they often find that right situation that allows them to flourish.

Such was the case for Joe Harris. Originally drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 33rd overall pick in the 2014 draft, Harris rarely saw the court during his time in Cleveland. He averaged about 6.4 minutes per game over the course of about one and a half seasons with the Cavaliers.

During the 2015-16 season, his second in Cleveland, he underwent season-ending foot surgery. Almost immediately after, the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic in an attempt to cut payroll due to luxury tax penalties. He would never suit up for the Magic as they cut him as soon as they traded for him.

After using the rest of that season to recover from surgery, he would sign with the Brooklyn Nets in the summer of 2016. He had a very strong first season in Brooklyn, but this season he’s truly broken out.

“I think a lot of it has to do with just the right situation in terms of circumstances. It’s a young team where you don’t really have anybody on the team that’s going out and getting 20 a night,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a collective effort most nights and it can be any given person depending on the situation. It’s one of those things where we’re real unselfish with the ball. A lot of guys get a lot of good looks, so your production is bound to go up just because of the system now that we’re playing.”

Known primarily as a sharpshooter in college at the University of Virginia as well as his first stop in Cleveland, Harris has started developing more of an all-around game. He’s improved his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays as well as crashing the glass and playing strong defense.

In a relatively forgettable season record-wise for the Nets, Harris has been one of their bright spots. He’s putting up 10.1 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field while playing 25.4 minutes per game. He’s up to 40.3 percent from the three-point line and he’s pulling down 3.3 rebounds. All of those numbers are career-highs.

“My role, I think, is very similar to the way I would be anywhere that I was playing. I’m a shooter, I help space the floor for guys to facilitate,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “I’m opportunistic offensively with drives and such. I’m out there to try and space the floor, knock down shots, and then play tough defensively and make sure I’m doing my part in getting defensive rebounds and that sort of stuff.”

Although Harris didn’t play much in Cleveland, he did show glimpses and flashes of the player he has blossomed into in Brooklyn. He saw action in 51 games his rookie year while knocking down 36.9 percent of his three-point attempts.

He also saw action in six playoff games during the Cavaliers’ run to the 2015 Finals. But more importantly, it was the off the court things that Harris kept with him after leaving Cleveland. The valuable guidance passed down to him from the Cavaliers veteran guys. It’s all helped mold him into the indispensable contributor he’s become for the Nets.

“Even though I wasn’t necessarily playing as much, the experience was invaluable just in terms of learning how to be a professional,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “The approach, the preparation, that sort of stuff. That’s why I learned a lot while I was there. All those good players that have had great, great, and long careers and just being able to kind of individually pick their brains and learn from them.”

When Harris came to Brooklyn two years ago, he initially signed a two-year deal with a team option after the first year. When he turned in a promising 2016-17 season, it was a no-brainer for the Nets to pick up his option. Set to make about $1.5 million this season, Harris’ contract is a steal.

However, he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this upcoming summer. Although he dealt with being a free agent before when he first signed with the Nets, it’s a different situation now. He’s likely going to be one of the most coveted wings on the market. While there’s still a bit more of the regular season left, and free agency still several months away, it’s something Harris has already thought about. If all goes well, Brooklyn is a place he can see himself staying long-term.

“Yeah, it’s one of those things that I’ll worry about that sort of decision when the time comes. But I have really enjoyed my time in Brooklyn,” Harris told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a great organization with a lot of good people, and they try and do stuff the right way. I enjoy being a part of that and trying to kind of rebuild and set a good foundation for where the future of the Brooklyn Nets is.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA Daily: 2018 NBA Mock Draft – 3/20/18

With most of the major NBA draft prospects eliminated from March Madness, things in the mock draft world are starting to get interesting.

Steve Kyler



A Lot of Mock Movement

With the race to the bottom in full swing in the NBA and the field of 64 in college basketball whittled down to a very sweet sixteen, there has been considerable talk in NBA circles about the impending 2018 NBA Draft class. There seems to be a more consistent view of the top 15 to 20 prospects, but there still seems to be a lack of a firm pecking order. Arizona’s Deandre Ayton seems like to the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall, but its far from a lock.

It’s important to note that these weekly Mock Draft will start to take on more of a “team driven” shape as we get closer to the mid-May NBA Combine in Chicago and more importantly once the draft order gets set. Until then, we’ll continue to drop our views of the draft class each Tuesday, until we reach May when we’ll drop the weekly Consensus Mock drafts, giving you four different views of the draft all the way to the final decisions in late June.

Here is this week’s Mock Draft:

Here are some of the pick swaps and how they landed where they are currently projected:

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this past summer. The Brooklyn Nets traded several unprotected picks to Boston as part of the Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce trades in 2015.

The Philadelphia 76ers are owed the LA Lakers’ 2018 Draft pick, unprotected, as a result of the 2012 Steve Nash trade with the Suns. The Suns traded that pick to the 76ers as part of the Michael Carter-Williams three-team trade with the Milwaukee in 2015. The 76ers traded that pick to the Boston Celtics as part of the draft pick trade that became Markelle Fultz before the draft; it has 2 through 5 protections and based on the standings today would convey to Philadelphia.

The LA Clippers are owed the Detroit Pistons first-round pick in 2018 as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. The pick is top four protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks’ first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Chicago Bulls are owed the New Orleans Pelicans first-round pick as a result of the Nikola Mirotic trade. The pick is top-five protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The LA Lakers are owed the Cleveland Cavaliers first-round pick as a result of Jordan Clarkson/Larry Nance Jr. trade. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Jazz/Wolves Ricky Rubio trade this past summer. The Jazz acquired the pick as part of the Thunder’s deal to obtain Enes Kanter in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors’ first-round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets’ first-round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out the Basketball Insiders’ Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects –

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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NBA Daily: Jonathan Isaac Proving to be Key Part of Orlando’s Future

Basketball Insiders spoke with Jonathan Isaac about his rookie season, injuries, areas to improve on, his faith and more.

James Blancarte



On January 13, the Orlando Magic were eliminated from playoff contention. This date served as a formality as the team has known for quite some time that any postseason hopes had long since sailed. The Magic started the year off on a winning note and held an 8-4 record in early November. However, the team lost their next nine games and never really recovered.

Many factors play a role in a young but talented team like the Magic having another season end like this. Injuries to franchise cornerstone Aaron Gordon as well as forward Evan Fournier and forward Jonathan Isaac magnified the team’s issues.

Isaac, a rookie selected sixth overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, started the season off reasonably well. On November 10, in 21 minutes of action, he registered an 11-point, six-rebound, one-assist, one-steal, two-block all-around effort against the Phoenix Suns to help the Magic get to that 8-4 record. Isaac then suffered an ankle injury midway through his next game and wouldn’t play again until December 17, by which time the team was already 11-20 with the season quickly going sideways. From November until March, Isaac would only play in three games until finally returning to consistent action in the month of March with the season all but decided.

Basketball Insiders spoke to Isaac recently to discuss how he has pushed through this season, staying healthy, his impressive skill set and more.

“I’ve had a lot of time off from being injured so, I think my body is holding up fine along with how much I’ve played. I haven’t played a full season,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders “I feel good. I feel good.”

Isaac talked about what part of his game he feels strongly about and has improved on.

“I think defensively,” Isaac said. “I didn’t expect myself to make strides defensively like I have. I’ve been able to just be able to just do different things and help this team defensively and I didn’t expect that coming in so, that would be the one thing.”

Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise of Isaac’s defense and also focused on the rookie’s great defensive potential.

“His defense is out of this world. I mean it’s really something else,” Vogel said. “Just watch him play and everybody’s getting a taste of it right now. They haven’t seen him a whole lot but he’s an elite defender right now at 20-years old and the sky’s the limit for what he can be on that end of the floor.

While Isaac hasn’t logged a huge number of minutes on the floor this season, he has impressed in his limited action. As Coach Vogel stated, anyone who has taken the time to watch Isaac play this season has noticed his ability to guard other big men and his overall defensive impact.

“I think I’ve been able to do a good job on most of the people that I’ve had to guard,” Isaac said.

Missing Isaac’s defense impact and overall contributions partially explains why the Magic cooled off after their hot start. However, with the playoffs no longer an option, younger players like Isaac now have the opportunity to play with less attention and pressure. While it can be argued that the Magic aren’t really playing for anything, the truth is these late-season games can be an opportunity to develop these younger players and determine what to work on during the offseason.

There is more to Isaac than just basketball, however. Isaac discussed other parts of his life that are important to him, including religion and his faith.

“[M]y faith in Jesus is something that I put a lot of emphasis on,” Isaac told Basketball Insiders. “It’s a part of me.”

Isaac did not hesitate to credit his faith when asked if it helped him push through his injuries.

“I would say definitely,” Isaac said. “Especially with getting injured so early in the season and being out for 40 games. That’s a lot on somebody’s mental capacity and then just staying positive, staying joyful in times where joy doesn’t seem like it’s the right emotion to have. And I definitely [attribute] that to my faith.”

Looking forward, both Vogel and Isaac discussed the future and what the young big man can improve on.

“Offensively, he’s grown in confidence, he’s gained so he’s going to give us a big lift and our future’s bright with him,” Vogel stated.

Isaac gave a hint of his offseason training plans when asked what he looks forward to working on.

“I would say consistency with my jump shot. Really working on my three-ball and I would say ball-handling,” Isaac stated.

When asked if there was anything more he wanted to add, Isaac simply smiled and said, “Oh no, I think I got to get to church right now,” as the team prepared to play later that evening.

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