TIME Basketball

Kobe Bryant Expected to Be Out 9 Months After Shoulder Surgery

at the Smoothie King Center on January 21, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
Kobe Bryant grabs his shoulder during a game at the Smoothie King Center on Jan. 21, 2015 in New Orleans. Stacy Revere—Getty Images

Bryant injured himself during the third quarter of the Lakers' game last Wednesday

Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant underwent successful surgery on his injured shoulder and will be out for nine months, the team announced on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Bryant would have surgery on his torn right rotator cuff and that he was likely done for the season. Bryant injured himself during the third quarter of the Lakers’ game last Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans.

“I expect Kobe to make a full recovery and if all goes as expected, he should be ready for the start of the season,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Bryant’s surgery.

MANNIX: Kobe will be back next season, but will it be with the Lakers?

In 35 games this season, Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Not including the 2013-14 season, in which he was limited to just six games, Bryant’s 22.3 points per game is his lowest total for a season since 1998-99.

Bryant, 36, signed a two-year contract extension with the Lakers in November 2013.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

High School Basketball Coach Suspended After 161-2 Win

"I didn't expect them to be that bad. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody."

A California high school basketball coach has been accused of poor sportsmanship after his team beat another 161 to … 2.

Arroyo Valley High girls’ coach Michael Anderson was suspended for two games following the rout against Bloomington High last week and now faces criticism for running up the score, CBS Los Angeles reports.

“The game just got away from me,” Anderson told the San Bernardino Sun on Friday.

“I didn’t play any starters in the second half,” he added. “I didn’t expect them to be that bad. I’m not trying to embarrass anybody.”

This isn’t the first time Arroyo Valley has so thoroughly dominated a matchup. The girls’ team has won its previous four games by 70 points or more. As for Bloomington? They had already lost a game by 91 points.

Still, Bloomington coach Dale Chung says Anderson crossed a line.

“People shouldn’t feel sorry for my team,” Chung told the Sun. “They should feel sorry for his team, which isn’t learning the game the right way.”

But Arroyo Valley parents disagree.

“I feel it’s very wrong. I felt like, what are you teaching these kids? To lose and not be rewarded,” parent Martha Vodinez told CBS Los Angeles. “Are you teaching them to be a loser?”

Adds another unidentified parent: “I feel like, if you lose, you just need to get out there and learn from that. Get better. Don’t down talk the next team.”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

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TIME Basketball

Austin Rivers Reportedly Being Sent to Clippers in 3-Team Trade

Houston Rockets v New Orleans Pelicans
Austin Rivers of the New Orleans Pelicans handles the ball against the Houston Rockets on Jan, 2, 2015 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Layne Murdoch Jr.—NBAE/Getty Images

Trade involves the Clippers, Celtics and Suns

The Clippers, Celtics and Suns are nearing a three-team trade that will send guard Austin Rivers to Los Angeles, forward Reggie Bullock to Phoenix and forward Shavlik Randolph to Boston, according to a report from NBA.com’s David Aldridge.

If the trade — which was first reported by Shams Charania of Real GM — is completed, it would mean that Rivers will play under his father, Doc, the coach of the Clippers.

Separate reports said that the trade also includes guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and possibly a second-round pick going to the Celtics and that the Clippers plan to either trade or waive guard Jordan Farmar. Douglas-Roberts is reportedly set to be waived by Boston.

Rivers was selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2012 draft by New Orleans but has struggled in two-plus seasons with the team. Over 35 games in 2014-15, the 6-foot-4 guard has averaged 6.8 points on 38.7 percent shooting and 2.5 assists.

This will likely be the first time in NBA history that a player has seen action in a game for a team coached by his father, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

In Los Angeles, Rivers, 22, would join a backcourt rotation that includes Chris Paul, who is considered one of the top point guards in the league, as well as two-time Sixth Man of the Year winner Jamal Crawford.

Bullock is in his second season since being selected in the fist round of the 2013 draft. In 25 games for the Clippers this season, the 23-year-old has averaged 2.6 points on 42.6 percent shooting with 1.6 rebounds and 0.2 assists.

Randolph, a 6-foot-10 big man, had stints with the Philadelphia 76ers and Portland Trail Blazers, among other teams, before playing with the Suns last season and this season. Over 16 games, he has averaged 1.1 points and 1.6 rebounds.

The Clippers and Suns entered Thursday in sixth and eighth place, respectively, in the Western Conference, while the Celtics are two games out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Over the past month, Boston has traded star point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks and big man Brandan Wright to the Suns.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

NBA Player LeBron James Pushes Coach David Blatt During a Game

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on Jan. 13, 2015.
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers at the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on Jan. 13, 2015. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Blatt explains that the NBA star was trying to prevent him from a foul

Cavaliers star LeBron James appeared to push coach David Blatt during Tuesday night’s 107-100 loss to the Suns in Phoenix.

The incident recalls James bumping Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on his way to the sideline during a Nov. 2010 game against the Mavericks. That season ended with Miami reaching its first of four consecutive Finals.

The push on Tuesday night comes after a media report surfaced in late December regarding Cleveland’s concern about Blatt’s ability to “to reach the team.”

Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has come out in support of the first-year coach, saying earlier this month that the “narrative of our coaching situation is truly ridiculous.”

After the game, Blatt and James downplayed the exchange, with Blatt explaining that James was trying to prevent him from receiving a technical foul. James shrugged off the incident as well, according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin.

Prior to Tuesday night’s loss, James had not played since Dec. 28 due to a strained back and knee.

He scored a team-high 33 points on 11-for-18 shooting, recorded seven rebounds and dished out five assists in 37 minutes. Forward Markieff Morris led the Suns with a career-high 35 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

The loss dropped the Cavaliers, which were viewed as a championship contender in the preseason but have dropped six straight and nine of their last 10 games, to 19-20. The Suns improved to 23-18.

Cleveland now sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference while Phoenix is three games ahead of the Thunder and Pelicans for eighth place in the West.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

TIME Sports

New York Knicks Haven’t Learned That Money Can’t Buy Them Wins

at Madison Square Garden on January 8, 2015 in New York City.The Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks 120-96. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks 120-96 at Madison Square Garden on January 8, 2015 in New York City. Elsa—2015 Getty Images

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University.

Quit trying to buy a championship

The New York Knicks are awful. The team has won only five games the entire season, and since November 16, the team has won only once.

After such a dreadful start, the Knicks on Monday apparently surrendered. Gone in trade are Iman Shumpert (the team’s starting shooting guard) and J.R. Smith (a key reserve). In addition, Samuel Dalembert – a player who started 21 times at center — has been waived. In return, the Knicks have acquired three players on non-guaranteed contracts. Perhaps more importantly, the team has acquired even more salary cap space. Such space will be used next summer in yet another rebuilding effort.

For Knicks fans, the rebuilding scenario isn’t new. Since 1973 — the last time the Knicks won an NBA title — this team has been trying to build another champion. And all these efforts remind us of this standard history lesson: Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

What can’t the franchise seem to learn from its own history? When the Knicks spend large sums of money on players, they tend to lose.

Prior to the aforementioned trade, the Knicks ranked third in the NBA in payroll. Since 1987-88 (we have payroll data for every season from 1987-88 to 2013-14) the Knicks have ranked in the top three in spending 17 times. What did all that spending achieve? Mostly losing. In 12 of these 17 years, the Knicks won fewer than half their games. And only once during those 17 years did this team win more than 60% of their contests. On average — across these 17 seasons of spending — the Knicks had a winning percentage of only 0.449.

What about the nine seasons where the Knicks did not rank in the top three in team payroll? In these seasons, the Knicks finished with a winning record every single time. And seven of those times, the Knicks won more than 60% of their games.

So the lesson from history is simple: quit trying to buy a championship.

Of course, one has to ask: Why doesn’t spending more money lead to more wins for the Knicks? If we look at the entire NBA, we actually see a weak positive correlation between spending and wins. Specifically, about 11% of the variation in winning percentage is explained by team spending. Or, to put it another way, about 89% of the variation in winning percentage in the NBA is NOT explained by team spending. So contrary to what we see with the Knicks, more spending doesn’t necessarily hurt. But it also doesn’t help much.

To understand why more money doesn’t lead to many more wins, we need to understand how players are evaluated in the NBA. As I noted last October, published studies have shown that scoring totals are the primary performance statistic determining free agent salaries, post-season awards, and the allocation of minutes. Scoring totals, though, can be manipulated. The more a player shoots, the more a player will score. And that is true, even if the player is not truly amazing with respect to shooting efficiency.

Hence the problem. Shooting efficiency — along with factors like rebounds and turnovers — are the primary determinants of wins in the NBA. So if a team hires a collection of scorers who do not shoot efficiently — and can’t do much else to help the team win — then that team will not win very often.

Two teams in New York history highlight the role scorers — and the lack of scorers — play in the fortunes of a team. The 1992-93 edition was the last team to win 60 games in New York. This team did employ Patrick Ewing, an All-Star who could score. But it was led in the production of wins by Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. And the team also received substantial contributions from Doc Rivers and Greg Anthony. Although these four players produced wins, they didn’t score much. And this team led by non-scorers ranked 22nd in league payroll.

The 1992-93 team is essentially the opposite of the 2005-06 edition. This team ranked first in payroll. In fact, the Knicks spent more than $125 million on players that season. This remains the most any team has ever spent directly on player salaries (this does not count luxury tax payments). But all that spending led to only 23 wins.

The 2005-06 Knicks had a host of players who were above average scorers. The list included Stephon Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Eddy Curry, Channing Frye, Jalen Rose, and Nate Robinson (among others). But all these scorers didn’t produce many wins.

The architect of the 2005-06 fiasco was Isiah Thomas. After the 2008 season, Thomas departed the Knicks and once again the team was rebuilt. By 2012-13, the Knicks appeared to be competitive. That season, the Knicks won 54 games. And just as we saw 20 years earlier, the 2012-13 Knicks were led in the production of wins by two non-scorers. Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler — two players not known for scoring many points — combined to produce nearly 24 wins with this team.

But after the 2012-13 season, Kidd retired. And Chandler missed 27 games the next season, before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014. For the Knicks to keep winning, the production of Kidd and Chandler had to be replaced. But the moves the Knicks made were not consistent with that objective.

The primary player the Knicks added after the 2012-13 season was Andrea Bargnani. In 2006, Bargnani was the number one pick in the NBA draft. In 2010-11, Bargnani avaraged 21.4 points per game. And for his career he has average 15.0 points per contest.

All this scoring has resulted in career earnings that will exceed $70 million after this season. But because Bargnani can’t shoot efficiently or rebound, he can’t produce wins. For his career, his production of wins have always been in the negative range. In other words, the team is generally better off if he doesn’t play.

Despite this production, Bargnani ranks among the top three in salary on the current Knicks. The other two members of this trio are Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. Both Stoudemire and Anthony have been elite scoreres in the NBA. But neither player has produced many wins for the Knicks.

If we look at Stoudemire’s career numbers, we see a player in the past who was an above average scorer and above average on the boards. Consequently, his production of wins was well above average before he came to New York. But with the Knicks, Stoudemire’s rebounding has declined. Plus he has often been hurt. Consquently, despite his paycheck, he has produced less than 12 wins in his entire career with the Knicks.

Unlike Stoudemire, Anthony has generally been healthy. But as I detailed last May, Anthony is very much overrated. Yes, he scores many points. This, though, is because he takes many shots. His career shooting efficiency isn’t much different from average. And since he doesn’t do much else to help a team, Anthony’s production of wins in his career tends to also be close to average.

Again, the Knicks needed to replace the production of two non-scorers from the 2012-13 season. But just as they have done in the past, they chose to return to the top ranks in NBA payroll by investing in scorers. And just as we have seen in the past, this strategy did not pay off.

But after this season, the team can once again rebuild. The team has cap space in abundance, so a new collection of players will be brought to New York. If this cap space is devoted to a new set of scorers, we probably can expect history to repeat for the Knicks. But perhaps the Knicks will spend just a bit less and be focused a bit more on players who produce wins. If that happens, maybe competitive basketball can again return to New York.

David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University. He is the lead author of The Wages of Wins and Stumbling on Wins and continues to serve on the editorial board of bothJournal of Sports Economics and theInternational Journal of Sport Finance.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Basketball

Daughter of Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak Dies at 15

Mitch Kupchak
Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak talks to reporters at the team's practice facility in El Segundo, Calif., June 23, 2010. Reed Saxon—AP

"After a lengthy illness"

Alina Kupchak, the 15-year-old daughter of Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, died on Monday after a lengthy illness.

The Lakers issued the following statement:

Alina Claire Kupchak, daughter of Lakers General Manager Mitch and his wife Claire, passed away this morning at the age of 15 after a lengthy illness. The family asks for and appreciates their privacy at this difficult time, and would like to express their gratitude for everyone’s love, support, thoughts and prayers.

Kupchak has been the Lakers’ GM since the 1994-95 season. Over that span, the Lakers have won five NBA championships and made 18 playoff appearances.

Kupchak played nine season in the NBA, including four with the Lakers from 1981-86 (he sat out 82-83 with a knee injury), winning the 1985 title after Los Angeles defeated the Boston Celtics.

This article originally appeared on SportsIllustrated.com

TIME Basketball

LeBron James to Miss 2 Weeks With Knee, Back Strains

LeBron James
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a call by the referees during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 30, 2014. Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images

Cleveland's star has missed Cleveland's last two games

LeBron James will begin 2015 on the shelf.

The Cavaliers announced on Thursday that James will miss two weeks after he was diagnosed with a left knee strain and a lower back strain.

James, who turned 30 earlier this week, had missed Cleveland’s last two games, losses to Atlanta on Tuesday and Milwaukee on Wednesday. He also sat out a Dec. 11 loss to the Thunder.

If James returns in exactly two weeks, he will miss the Cavaliers’ next seven games. Four of those games come against teams currently in the playoff picture: Dallas, Houston, Golden State and Phoenix.

Throughout his 12-year career, James has been known for his remarkable durability. In fact, James has never missed more than seven games in a season since entering the NBA as the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft. In other words, this injury absence will likely prove to be the longest of James’ professional career.

The Cavaliers (18-14) possess the East’s fifth-best record, but they are on a three-game losing streak and rumors are beginning to swirl around first-year coach David Blatt. It goes without saying that the Cavaliers will struggle to replace James’ production during his absence, as their bench is generating just 25.5 points per game, the fourth-lowest mark in the league. Blatt will likely turn to veteran wingsMike Miller, Shawn Marion and James Jones to fill the minutes and reserve guardDion Waiters will likely see his offensive role increase. Marion has also missed Cleveland’s last two games with an ankle injury. Cleveland is also without starting center Anderson Varejao, who was lost to a season-ending Achilles injury in December.

The four-time MVP’s celebrated return to Cleveland from Miami has gotten off to a bumpy start this season, in part because his individual production has dipped slightly. James is averaging 25.2 points, 7.6 assists and 5.3 rebounds in 37.5 minutes per game this season. His scoring average is his lowest since his rookie year, his 48.8 shooting percentage is his lowest mark since 2007-08, and his Player Efficiency Rating of 25 is his lowest since 2006-07.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

TIME NBA

LeBron James Says Cleveland Cavaliers Are ‘Not a Very Good Team’

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James again gave an assessment of where his team stands, saying that they are “not a very good team” after they were blown out by the Pistons on Sunday, Cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor reports.

During the 103-80 rout by Detroit, the Cavaliers actually led by 15 points early before the Pistons used an 18-0 run to put the game out of reach. Detroit made 17 three-pointers and turned 18 Cleveland turnovers into 21 points.

“As far as on the court, we’re still trying to find our way as well,” James said after the game, according to Cleveland.com. “But right now, we’re just not very good in every aspect of the game that we need to be to compete every night.”

James basically repeated what he said after the Cavaliers lost to the Miami Heat on Christmas Day. After a win the next night over the Orlando Magic, James said that his team was playing “nowhere near championship ball.”

The Cavaliers have been blown out in their past three home games and with the loss to Detroit fell to 18-12, three games behind the Chicago Bulls in the Central Division.

James had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven rebounds in Sunday’s loss to Detroit. He also turned the ball over seven times and shot 5 for 19 from the field in 32 minutes.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

TIME Basketball

Mavericks Close to Getting Rajon Rondo From Celtics

Boston Celtics Vs. Orlando Magic At TD Garden
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (#9) hits a short jumper over Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo (#5) in the second quarter on Dec. 17, 2014. Barry Chin—The Boston Globe/Getty Images

Rondo could change everything for the Mavericks

The NBA trade market isn’t typically fruitful in December, but the Celtics and Mavericks are reportedly finalizing a deal to send Rajon Rondo to Dallas. In return, Boston will receive Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a future first-round pick, and a future second-round pick. Incidentally, Celtics rookie Dwight Powell will also make his way to Dallas in the deal.

Thus concludes Rondo’s years-long run on the trade block. Now that the Celtics have finally agreed to send the 28-year-old pending free agent to Dallas after eight-plus seasons in Boston, Rondo will be plunged into a basketball setting dramatically different from anything he’s experienced before. Let’s parse this new reality.

• The Mavericks’ play for Rondo accepts implicit risk. Dallas came to the negotiating table with the best offense in the NBA by a fair margin, efficiency centered on a core of sharp decision-makers willing to give up the ball and move without it. Rondo fits the first criterion easily. In terms of spatial intelligence he may have no equal in today’s NBA. No one sees the court so clearly in its infinite possibilities, much less have the skill to act upon them.

Where he could prove a more awkward fit is in the way his playing rhythm might clash with that of the Mavericks. Rondo’s rise to stardom was predicated on his having control. This was (and is) the cleanest way to make use of his spectacular vision, and in some systems that tendency to probe and hold the ball might work out brilliantly. Dallas’ offense, which draws its power from seamlessly moving from one option to the next, may not be one of them. Flow can be a delicate thing. At the very least Rondo’s arrival would push the Mavericks to adapt. That much is doable, given coach Rick Carlisle’s savvy, but how much can Dallas conceivably improve an already elite offense? It stands to reason that Carlisle could produce an even more efficient attack with an upgrade over Jameer Nelson at point guard, and Rondo is certainly that. In vying for that prospect, however, the Mavericks have accepted the possibility that their outgoing assets and time spent working in Rondo might yield only comparable results.

Player integration isn’t simply a calculus of net talent. Rondo is far better than any of the Mavericks’ point guards and a superior overall player to Wright, whom Dallas reluctantly surrendered. But in considering what makes Dallas such an outstanding offense, this deal inspires a very reasonable doubt. Take the pick-and-roll, an entry-level component of the Mavericks’ attack. Dallas’ pick-and-roll game is vicious for how it overlays the skills of Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis. Nowitzki is one of the game’s most commanding spacers and Chandler, according to Synergy Sports, is a 72.5 percent finisher in such scenarios. Yet the impetus is Ellis, who is not only fast and skilled but also committed to creating shots. He attacks the basket in a way that forces opponents to respect the threat of his scoring, which in turn challenges their defensive choreography.

Rondo, by contrast, drives under a pretense. He has no intention or desire to shoot. He looks past layup opportunities and plays for the assist with a stubborn consistency. It’s a credit to Rondo’s playmaking ability that he turns up so many scoring opportunities for his teammates while projecting as a non-threat himself. That preference, though, upends the way Dallas operates out of the pick-and-roll (particularly Ellis, its chief practitioner), creating a gamble out of what is now a sure thing.

To make matters more complicated, this deal can’t be regarded as solely a tradeoff between a four-time All-Star and the Mavericks’ previous point guard crop. The real cost in the exchange is Wright, who has provided needed minutes off the bench as Chandler Light. Given how spectacular Wright has been (he’s made an outrageous 74.8 percent of his shots) and how spotty Chandler’s health can be, surrendering frontcourt depth to roll the dice on Rondo is a bold move.

Acquiring Rondo all but requires his complete buy-in. A fully invested and focused Rondo is a two-way weapon. Anything less and the payoff becomes fuzzier. While Rondo’s talent and ability are not in doubt, there are lingering questions about why the best passer in the league has guided substandard offenses in each of the past five seasons. His defense has waned over that same time frame, too, declining from All-NBA-caliber to fickle in effort. It’s been years since Rondo was a great defender and tricky to predict the nights when he decides to be even a good one. Rondo is difficult. He can be headstrong in the way he thinks the game should be played and apparently sour when he isn’t fully committed to a particular enterprise.

Dallas is banking on the notion that Rondo will welcome the move and consider committing to the franchise long term. It’s not a crazy thought. The Mavericks offer a promising landing spot for Rondo to pursue a second title. There will be obstacles to overcome and stylistic compromises to be made on all sides, but a happy medium between an all-world passer and a freewheeling offense could turn out to be the vision of unscoutable fluidity. Rondo also shown that he can generate turnovers and lock in on opposing ball handlers when willing and properly supported, which is more than can be said of Dallas’ alternatives. The Mavericks’ perimeter defense springs so many leaks that Chandler couldn’t possibly address them all. Even if Rondo never fulfills his defensive potential, he brings more length and better instincts to a team that ranks 20th in points allowed per possession.

Rondo should also help address Dallas’ weakness in completing defensive possessions. Only the Knicks allow more offensive rebounds than the Mavericks, which in effect forces a shaky defense to withstand multiple, consecutive scoring opportunities. It’s rare that a point guard could make a genuine difference in this area, but Rondo has collected boards this season as if he were a power forward. His defensive rebounding percentage essentially matches that of LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Jefferson, good for 8.5 rebounds per 36 minutes. So many of the positives of this deal from a Maverick perspective could manifest in just that kind of marginal advantage.

Dallas’ judgment undoubtedly shaped by landscape of Western Conference.The general formula for title contention calls for top-10 performance on both sides of the ball. Dallas will have a hard time meeting that requirement defensively. Even with slow, steady improvement, the path from No. 20 to championship viability is a hike. In evaluating this trade, then, the Mavericks’ brass also cast judgment on the team’s profile. A championship run as previously constituted would have defied decades of precedent, with Dallas propelled to the top by historic offensive performance amid so-so work in coverage. This transaction, complex though it might be in terms of Rondo’s particular fit, at least offers a chance to change the math.

It’s impossible to predict today just where the acquisition of such an unusual player might leave Dallas, particularly in an anything-can-happen conference. The West’s density of contenders is cited often for the challenge it presents, and rightly so (to even reach the Finals may require beating three excellent opponents). As a result, however, the West’s postseason bracket will also put the top-seeded teams in jeopardy early. The entire playoff picture could scramble quickly, leading to an unexpected matchup that could favor theMavericks. Sometimes that’s all that matters in deciding a seven-game series, and Dallas is good enough to take advantage of some zany postseason happenings.

The same was true for the Mavericks before completing this deal, but one can imagine that the prospect of running through a combination of the Warriors,Grizzlies, Spurs, Thunder and Rockets with Nelson leading the point guard rotation would prove terrifying. Even with Devin Harris stabilizing the backcourt from the bench, Dallas was clearly disconcerted to the point that it chased down a deal for a complicated free-agent-to-be at the cost of valuable pieces and all-important continuity. It may yet pay off, but for now the Mavericks know only one thing for sure: Rondo could change everything.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NBA

Reggie Miller: ‘No Question’ Michael Jordan Tougher to Guard Than Kobe

"Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day"

Kobe Bryant has surpassed Michael Jordan on the NBA’s career scoring list, but retired NBA guard Reggie Miller believes strongly that Jordan is the better player.

Miller was asked by Dan Patrick Tuesday whether Jordan or Bryant was tougher to guard. Miller said there is “no question” the answer is Jordan.

“Michael Jordan on his worst day is ten times better than Kobe Bryant on his best day,” Miller continued, “and that is not short-changing Kobe Bryant.”

Bryant surpassed Jordan’s career point total of 32,292 during Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves to move into third place on the NBA’s scoring list.

Bryant’s total currently sits at 32,331, but he has played 1,270 games, compared to Jordan’s 1,072. Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game over 15 seasons, while Bryant has averaged 25.5 points per game during his 18-year career.

Miller, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012, faced Bryant 15 times in the regular season and Jordan 49 times. During those games, Jordan averaged 29.5 points and Bryant averaged 22.2 points.

This article originally appeared on Si.com

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