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Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Nov. 17-Nov. 23)

After another strong week on League Pass (especially Friday’s flurry of close finishes) 

Monday

Orlando Magic vs. Detroit Pistons: This one loses a little luster due to Aaron Gordon’s injury but I am still excited to watch Nikola Vucevic try to score on Andre Drummond. Plus, Elfrid Payton and Brandon Jennings could be strangely intriguing.

Houston Rockets vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Even after Houston’s unconscionably ugly game last night against Oklahoma City, this does feature the two best records in the entire NBA. Tony Allen’s rep as a perimeter stopper faces a major test in James Harden’s herky jerky game. Plus, Dwight Howard does battle with the Grizzlies bigs.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Two teams that have been fun to watch all year. Anthony Davis continues to impress while Jrue Holiday can add another Point Guard to his mantle if he can figure out a way to contain Damian Lillard. Also, Robin Lopez gets an under the radar revenge game against a team that basically dumped him for cap space. 

Tuesday

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz- With OKC’s stars still on the mend, this becomes a closer matchup. Gordon Hayward and the Jazz have produced some strong moments this season and I want to see the intensity when Steven Adams and Derrick Favors share the floor. 

Wednesday

Dallas Mavericks vs. Washington Wizards: Dallas continues to have exciting games under Rick Carlisle and that should continue in the nation’s capital against a potent Wizards team. John Wall’s speed could create problems for Dallas but I am not sure Washington has anyone to defend Dirk Nowitzki.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Toronto Raptors: Toronto has an amazing opportunity to raise their profile this week and it starts with hosting the Memphis Grizzlies. Marc and Z-Bo pose all sorts of problems for the Raptors but Dave Joeger will need Courtney Lee to counteract Toronto’s potent backcourt.

Friday

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors: As crazy as it may sound, I am more excited for this one than Grizzlies/Raptors. Milwaukee still has to figure out how their offense will work but they have such a fun combination of talent from Giannis and Jabari Parker to Larry Sanders rounding into caps-lock form. Jonas Valanciunas will have a nice chance to establish himself here.

Saturday

Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Game of the Week): A huge statement game for both teams just two days after each has a different major matchup. LeBron James and Kevin Love pose problems for Toronto while Kyle Lowry will make Kyrie Irving have nightmares about pick and rolls until Thanksgiving.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz: Two of my favorites makes this a mandatory inclusion. Keep an eye on Utah’s second unit- Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum could do well against New Orleans’ shaky backups.

Sunday

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Just a compelling game between two teams that do not like each other at all. I said years ago that every Blake Griffin vs. Zach Randolph game would make this list for the foreseeable future and nothing has changed that sentiment. Mike Conley continues to play an under appreciated part in Memphis’ success but can help make his star with a big performance against Chris Paul.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Boston Celtics: For some reason, this feels like it could end up being a fun one. Brad Stevens has done a fabulous job with a Celtics team that still needs some pieces to contend but they do not have anyone who can handle LaMarcus Aldridge. 

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: This would be substantially more fun if Westbrook and Durant were playing but could still be worth watching. Stephen Curry and the Warriors have come out strong so far and could be riding a notable winning streak heading into this game.

Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Because we could see some offensive records.

The NBA's CBA Battle Begins

While it has been fun seeing the NBPA and NBA begin their PR campaigns on more equal footing than the last time around in the leadup to the 2011 lockout, it already feels like at least the public stances so far have lacked the nuance (which I am fully confident both sides understand) necessary to have this discussion.

New Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts made a smart decision to redefine the baseline by trying to put elements like the age limit and maximum contracts up for debate. While guaranteed contracts are a major plus for the players, Roberts has a strong point that many of the other system issues hurt the players on an individual or group level. In fact, I would argue that there are ways to get more money to the top players that teams would support as well, including allowing teams to exempt a portion of a longtime player’s salary from the cap and individual max.

Unfortunately, Roberts went so broad outside of that core idea (“There. Would. Be. No. Money.” for example) that it takes the focus away from the NBPA’s moral high ground on certain issues.

Commissioner Adam Silver’s response had to toe a difficult line because while unions are a part of many work environments, wage caps for individuals and segments of a company are not, especially with a goal of competition and skill at the highest level. While he made the fair point about unions in the American workforce, failing to acknowledge the major differences between professional sports leagues and the rest of the working world fails to elevate the discussion.

One of the biggest misconceptions that I see far too frequently is that higher player salaries lead to more expensive tickets for fans. If a team does their job properly, they will price tickets at the maximum amount that buyers are willing to pay. That is basic economics. While having a more expensive team may lead to better results and thus a fan base more accepting of paying those high prices, maximizing revenue must be a separate calculus.

Of course, the more significant problem here stems from the fact that the moral high ground does not matter. No one beyond the players and owners gets a vote on the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, including fans of a particular team, people who like the sport more broadly or the American public at large. The NBPA should learn a lesson from the NFL’s current situation since a public relations nightmare based on various legitimate issues has not made much of a dent on the viewership or profit of America’s biggest league. Sports fans are a tough audience for player leverage because they keep coming back as long as the quality and price are right.

In addition, the format of the season works against players. As I understand it, the playoffs are by far the most profitable time for teams because they actually pay the players less (and it gets tied to how far they go) and can charge more for tickets for a presumably more full house. That means shifting the balance from what the league has presently to what they had in the lockout year actually helps owners in most circumstances.

At the same time, the hope now has to be that the pie can become big enough that even a split that players are unhappy with can yield an agreement. It certainly appears to be a legitimate possibility with the massive new national TV deal and hopefully some successful local television contracts in the future.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Nov.10-Nov.16)

This has been an engaging season already including a great slate of finishes over the weekend. Look for that to continue with a nice burst of star power on the non-national docket.

Monday

New Orleans Pelicans @ Cleveland Cavaliers (Game of the Week): At this point, I could justifiably include every game either of these teams play on the list. New Orleans has been incredibly fun with Anthony Davis taking the lead and each Cleveland game brings its own intrigue.

Detroit Pistons @ Chicago Bulls: Detroit has a formidable big man trio but I am intrigued by how they will react to Chicago’s stacked front line.

Tuesday

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Milwaukee Bucks: This would be Durant vs. Giannis but alas. Still worth keeping an eye on because the talent is a closer match now and Jabari Parker may get some chances against a less formidable swingman group even though he should be playing mostly Power Forward.

Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks: Sacramento has been the biggest positive surprise of the season and will look to keep it going against a competitive Dallas team. Tyson Chandler’s combination of size and smarts makes him a great test for DeMarcus Cousins.

Charlotte Hornets @ Portland Trail Blazers: I want to fast forward to a potential big shot competition between Damian Lillard and Kemba Walker at the end of the game

Wednesday

Detroit Pistons @ Washington Wizards: I just have a feeling this game will be interesting. Plus, John Wall and company deserve an appearance on this list once a week.

Brooklyn Nets @ Phoenix Suns: Brother against brother! Plus, this game should give us a solid indicator of where the Nets fit in after an inconsistent beginning to the season. 

Thursday

Sacramento Kings @ Memphis Grizzlies: Boogie battling Z-Bo and Marc. Grab the popcorn and root for no foul trouble.

Friday

Milwaukee Bucks @ Orlando Magic: Two of the more entertaining young tams (along with Utah) could yield a fun game as they have fairly balanced rosters at this point. Aaron Gordon made a statement in Orlando’s OT win over Minnesota and should continue to make strides here.

Miami Heat @ Atlanta Hawks: The whole Miami squad deserves a ton of credit for how well they have played this season. Chris Bosh in particular has shown how great he still is and a game in Atlanta could be a good test for both teams.

Utah Jazz @ New York Knicks: This Utah team has been sneaky fun to watch so far and the playing the Knicks at MSG could bring something out of them. We also should see Gordon Hayward defend Carmelo Anthony which is strangely compelling.

Saturday

Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers: Two of the best all-around stretch fours go at it here even though each team has a bigger star than Paul Millsap and Kevin Love. Look for Dion Waiters to play a pivotal role here whether he starter or comes off the bench.

San Antonio Spurs @ Sacramento Kings: DeMarcus Cousins’ elite big man tour continues with Tim Duncan and the Spurs. Since this game is not on national TV, I expect Pop to play at least most of his starters.

Charlotte Hornets @ Golden State Warriors: Fun duels all over the floor from Al Jefferson vs. Andrew Bogut to Klay Thompson vs. Lance Stephenson. While the Warriors have been dominant so far, Charlotte has the talent to make this a very tough game for Golden State.

Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Clippers: Another tough game for a Clippers team still working to find themselves. Phoenix will need to team defend Blake Griffin without a natural fit on roster but the Clippers should have trouble with the consistent two-PG lineups the Suns will put out there.

Sunday

Denver Nuggets @ New York Knicks: A nice alternative to the first group of football games if you are into that sort of thing.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Nov. 3-Nov. 9)

Klay Thompson and the Warriors join the Suns, Pelicans, Pistons, Jazz and Blazers with multiple League Pass games worth watching.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Oct. 28-Nov. 2)

Anthony Davis and the Pelicans have the first League Pass recommended game, which is a familiar refrain this week and throughout the season. The Hornets, Suns, Bucks, Rockets and 76ers also make multiple appearances.

The Torture Chamber

The Warriors possess a compelling combination of pieces that can be mixed and matched to create problems for their opponents and the Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut five should be the crown jewel sooner rather than later.

Top-5 Non-National Teams For 14-15

The top teams to watch on League Pass have to have entertainment value on a game to game basis and fascinating pieces in the form of young talent or new additions. Each of these squads fits that bill and there were a few tough omissions as well.

On Paul George, Non-NBA Basketball And Player Safety

Paul George suffering a freak injury during a televised scrimmage does not change the likelihood of something like that happening in a similar event or in some other basketball activity. It just raises awareness of that possibility and potentially could actually lead to some positive changes in terms of on-court player safety.

Ben Gordon And Non-Guaranteed Contracts

One of the currently in vogue CBA tricks that has become more prominent this league year, non-guaranteed contracts carry a few fun benefits teams can use to their advantage.

On Warriors' Big 3 Possibility In 2016

With Stephen Curry on a below-market contract, the Warriors could comfortably sign a second max contract player in 2016, or even a third if they deal for Kevin Love.

The Human Element

The best players in the sport have transitioned from supermen to businessmen to being a business, man, at the same time the league as a whole transitioned from family owned teams to major enterprises. Like it or not, this NBA should be around for a long, long time.

The Law Of Small Numbers

While taking a quick glance at the market for Kevin Love around draft day could have led to confidence for the Warriors, any concept that letting the string play out would be to their advantage would be deeply misguided.

Why Sign-And-Trades Sometimes Aren't Possible For The Incumbent Team

Teams on the giving end of potential sign-and-trades rarely are unable to participate, but the Nets were unable to with Shaun Livingston's deal with the Warriors.

The Depth Of The 2014 NBA Draft

We could see as many as 15 solid starters from the 2014 NBA Draft with an impressive number of solid rotation players behind them.

The Third Way

While a drastic path like stripping enough cap space to sign two max contract players to join Stephen Curry would be possible, it also carries gigantic downside risk since the Warriors are already a good team.

The Updated Stepien List

While daunting at first, the Stepien Rule boils down to one thing: an NBA team cannot be without a first round pick for two consecutive years looking forward and completed drafts do not matter.

Previewing The Warriors' Offseason Cap Situation

Now that the Warriors’ season is over, we can start to figure out what the offseason could hold in terms of on-court personnel. Having a clear understanding of the starting point for the summer makes a huge difference, especially given the NBA’s soft salary cap system.

On Mark Jackson's Future With The Warriors

Even if Mark Jackson stands as the greatest limiting factor on this Golden State team, Warriors' front office should understand and appreciate both how lucky that makes them and how insanely difficult that can be to improve.

Final Non-National NBA Games Of The Week & NNGW Season Awards

The final jockeying for playoff seeds and the NNGW awards are handed out.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Apr. 7-Apr. 13)

Despite the huge stakes of the final full week of the regular season, the non-national slate looks pretty weak at the outset though Warriors/Blazers on Sunday will have the 5th seed on the line.

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