Michele Roberts

Mavs Were Told Porzingis Incident Involved Extortion

The Mavericks were told that the Kristaps Porzingis situation was a case of extortion rather than a rape allegation before they acquired him from the Knicks, sources told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports.

A woman who lived in the same New York City apartment complex as Porzingis made the accusation to police last week. The alleged incident occurred in February 2018.

Knicks officials made Dallas executives aware of the pending allegation during a conference call to finalize the trade. However, the incident was not described that way. “The word that was used was ‘extortion,'” according to one of Townsend’s sources.

Knicks officials also told the Mavericks they felt Porzingis was truthful in his denials. The Mavericks were further informed that the FBI was investigating, Townsend adds.

A report from Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic also asserts the Mavericks were notified of the FBI investigation of the extortion claim before the trade but didn’t know about a sexual assault allegation.

NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts issued a statement supporting Porzingis: “We have been aware of these allegations for some time, have evaluated the accuser’s claims and, based on what is presently before us, stand with Kristaps.”

The woman contacted the Knicks‘ legal department approximately eight months after the alleged incident in an effort to “mediate in private” a payment of $68K. The accuser claimed that Porzingis agreed to co-sign a statement with her that promised her a payment toward her brother’s education. However, Porzingis’ attorney told ESPN that he believes the document is “a forgery.”

An investigation conducted by the same lawyer was sent to the Knicks, the NBA, the Players Association, and later the Mavericks, as well as the FBI, according to Vorkunov.

Riopelle claimed all of those parties agreed the analysis showed Porzingis was the target of an extortion attempt. However, a source told Vorkunov that the NBA has not come to that conclusion but instead decided to let the federal investigation proceed without coming to any judgment.

Porzingis opted to remain with the Mavericks and support them from the bench when they played the Sixers on Monday night. Coach Rick Carlisle said it was “business as usual from a basketball perspective” regarding Porzingis’ status with the club, Michael Lee of The Athletic tweets.

Some of his former Knicks teammates expressed empathy for Porzingis, as Marc Berman of the New York Post details.

NBA Submits Proposal To Lower Draft Age

The NBA has submitted an official proposal to the National Basketball Players Association that would lower the draft-eligible age from 19 to 18, according to a report from Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.

The NBPA and executive director Michele Roberts planned to review the proposal on Monday at a post-All-Star break meeting, Zillgitt adds.

Both the NBA and the NBPA have held extensive discussions on lowering the age throughout the season, but two significant hurdles remain in the way: Commissioner Adam Silver wanting player-agents to provide medical information on prospects for NBA teams, and the league wanting to mandate that players attend and give some form of participation during the pre-draft combine, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. To this point, the NBPA has pushed back against both of these ideas.

In the present day, players must attend college for one season – or at least be one year removed from high school – before they can declare for the NBA Draft. Prospects such as Duke’s Zion Williamson have raised questions about the legitimacy of this rule, with Williamson widely regarded as being NBA-ready before his collegiate season began.

Should the NBA and NBPA mutually agree on a proposal to lower the draft age, the league wants to give teams significant time before putting the rule into effect, according to Zillgitt. The earliest draft with an altered minimum-age would likely be the 2022 NBA Draft, or three years from June.

And-Ones: Roberts, NBPA, Stuckey, 2019 Free Agency

Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has repeatedly dismissed the idea that the NBPA should have accepted the league’s cap-smoothing proposal prior to the 2016 offseason, and she doubled down on that stance in a recent conversation with Kevin Draper of The New York Times. Roberts zeroed in on the theory that the lack of cap smoothing has helped create a perceived competitive imbalance, led by the defending-champion Warriors.

“I have been amused by the chatter suggesting that smoothing — or more accurately the failure to smooth — has now become some folks’ boogeyman de jure,” Roberts wrote in an email. “While we haven’t yet blamed it for the assassination of MLK, some are now suggesting that it is responsible for all that is presumably wrong with today’s NBA. Needless to say, I beg to differ.”

Roberts also refuted the notion that the cap spike in 2016 (when the cap rose from $70MM to $94MM) and the slower growth since then resulted in an unusually poor market for free agents in 2018: “We opened free agency with nine teams that had significant cap room, in excess of $10MM each. Frankly, before the spike, that’s about as healthy of a start as we’ve ever had.”

Finally, Roberts insisted that players shouldn’t be blamed for contracts from 2016 that are now viewed as overpays: “I get that there are folks who believe that some of the contracts executed post the smoothing rejection were too large. I vehemently disagree as I am sure do the players that negotiated those contracts. However, if that’s the beef folks have, take it up with the GMs that negotiated them. The argument that we gave teams too much money to play with is preposterous.”

While it’s hard to argue that a lack of cap-smoothing in 2016 had a major impact on several franchises – including the Warriors, who suddenly had the cap room necessary to afford Kevin Durant – Roberts is right that certain GMs deserve the blame for how they reacted to the sudden cap spike. If some of those teams had preserved their cap room instead of using it to sign mediocre players to oversized contracts, the NBA landscape could look much different today.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • Speaking of Roberts, she was unanimously elected to another four-year term as the executive director of the players’ union, Chris Paul confirmed this week (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post).
  • Earlier today, we noted that Rodney Stuckey was holding a private workout in Las Vegas as he seeks a new NBA home. According to international basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link), the Warriors, Nets, Grizzlies, Spurs, and Pacers had representatives at that session.
  • With several teams around the NBA looking to create cap room for 2019, and many of this year’s free agents signing one-year deals to hit the market again in a year, next summer’s NBA offseason could be a wild one. ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) previews 2019’s free agent period, identifying the top free-agents-to-be and the teams that will have the most flexibility.
  • In an interesting piece for HoopsHype, Alex Kennedy talks to a number of current and former NBA players about their experiences in free agency, relaying some horror stories about agents and team executives alike.

And-Ones: Davis, Roberts, Maker, Referees, Travel

NBA veteran Glen Davis was arrested in a Maryland hotel room last month on drug possession charges, reports Brian Kuegler of ABC 2 WMAR in Baltimore. The former NBA champion reportedly gave signed consent for his room to be searched after the hotel owner called police complaining of a strong scent of marijuana coming from Davis’ room.

“They recovered 126 grams of marijuana,” Aberdeen Police Lieutenant William Reiber said. “In addition to that, there was a briefcase that contained 92,164 dollars of U.S. currency along with a ledger that contained language which is consistent with someone involved in the sale and distribution of narcotics.”

The 32-year-old last played in the NBA during the 2014/15 season, averaging 4.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 74 games for the Clippers. He had signed on to participate in the BIG3 this season.

Davis’ attorney said that his client is innocent of the charges and looks forward to his day in court. Davis is due back in court next month.

Check out more news around the basketball world:

  • The executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, Michele Roberts, plans to seek a new deal when her current contract expires in September, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Roberts, 62, assumed her post in 2014 and seemed to be interested in leaving the job when her deal expired, but she has reportedly changed her mind, Wojnarowski writes.
  • Thon Maker‘s younger brother, Matur Maker, will be eligible for the NBA Draft in June and the Bucks’ young center feels his brother can be a first-round pick, Gery Woelfel of Woefel’s Press Box writes. “He does a lot of things well at both ends of the floor,’’ Thon said. “Offensively, he handles the ball well; he’s a playmaker. When I say playmaker, I don’t mean like he just passes first or passes only. He makes the right play every single time. He’s very unselfish.”
  • There may be an issue brewing between the NBA and its referees. After the official Twitter account for the NBA’s referees criticized the Last 2 Minute report and its effectiveness, an official NBA Twitter account fired back, calling the referees’ take “inaccurate.”
  • It’s possible that the NBA changes its playoff format in the near future but going to a 1-16 format seems unlikely, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops writes. Commissioner Adam Silver indicates that the league is not ready to make a change and that geographically, it would be a difficult proposition.“We’re serious about looking at it. We’re far from a place where there’s a solution,” Silver said. “Of course it makes sense to seed teams 1-16 in the league but we have two conferences that are geographically apart.

League, Union Formally Discuss One-And-Done Rule

Draft eligibility rules have been a topic of conversation between the NBA and the Players Association, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes, and earlier today league commissioner Adam Silver and union executive director Michele Roberts went so far as to formally speak with the government’s Commission on College Basketball in Washington, D.C.

The commission – which includes executives, retired players and political figures – was formed in the wake of recent FBI investigations regarding corruption.

The meeting between the three parties is said to have been strictly informational in nature and, ultimately, what the NBA decides to do with regard to incoming players is up to the league and the player’s union.

As Wojnarowski writes, there’s a growing belief that Silver seeks to end the one-and-done rule implemented by his predecessor in 2005. In order for such a change to happen though, the union would potentially need to accept a mandate declaring that players who do choose to enter college would be obligated to stay for two years prior to declaring for the draft.

Silver has previously said publicly that the current one-and-done rule isn’t working for the college game.

NBPA Investigating If NBA Is Involved In NCAA Scandal

Several schools within the NCAA are under federal investigation for fraud and corruption in recruiting and the National Basketball Players Association is currently reviewing the case to determine whether or not there is a link between those named in the filing and NBA players, Chris Mannix of The Vertical reports.

“We are going to be rigorous in making sure that anybody who is engaged in this misconduct is out, at least in terms of being certified by this [players association] to continue to work with our players,” NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts tells Mannix.

Andy Miller, who is one of the league’s top agents, had his laptop at ASM Sports seized as part of the FBI raid earlier this week. Miller represents Kyle Lowry, Kristaps Porzingis, and Myles Turner among many other NBA players.

Roberts anticipates the scandal will impact the league and its players.

“This is the kind of criminal prosecution that generally results in people, in my words, flipping,” Roberts said. “There are too many close associations between some of the named defendants and people that I know are actively engaged with [NBA] players to think that it won’t have any impact. It will. But it’s almost good news. If people are engaged in this kind of conduct and potentially harming our players, thank you U.S. Attorney’s office, I’ll get right on it and get rid of them.

“This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night. Our players are literally stalked because of their income by people, most with good intentions, but far too many without. It’s disturbing. I feel badly at the college level because to [an] extent it works. Frankly because these kids are not compensated in ways that would make them able to say no to overtures of that kind of cash. It needs to be addressed in the first instance at the college level, but to the extent it impacts our players, we will figure it out and take care of it.”

NBPA Head: Jackson Trying To ‘Shame’ Carmelo Out Of New York

Shortly after Knicks president Phil Jackson suggested in his season-ending press conference that Carmelo Anthony would be “better off somewhere else,” National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts issued a statement objecting to Jackson’s comments, calling them “inappropriate” and voicing her concern to the NBA. With no sign that the league is planning to discipline Jackson for his comments, Roberts explained further to Harvey Araton of The Vertical why she’s unhappy with the situation.

“I think Phil was deliberately trying to shame ‘Melo out of the city,” Roberts said, adding that after she first heard Jackson’s comments, she would have “bet [her] pay check” on the Knicks president being sanctioned by the NBA. Now, she has all but given up on waiting for that to happen.

As Araton explains, Roberts pointed to a September 2015 incident for which Markieff Morris was fined $10K by the league after he tweeted, “My future is not in Phoenix.” The NBA called that tweet a “public statement detrimental to the NBA,” and Roberts feels that label should be applied to Jackson’s comments as well, particularly since they could send a dangerous precedent.

As Roberts puts it, there’s concern that it could become a larger issue down the road if “another GM gets it in his head that it’s OK to treat a player this way because Phil got away with it.”

“The comments do damage to the game because they devalue the player and makes the fans who buy tickets question the value of the investment,” Roberts said. “Our players understand that they can privately complain about how a team is managed but they cannot do it publicly without being subject to sanction. But it has to work both ways. If Phil tells ‘Melo in private that being in New York is not a good fit for him, that’s his right. But these comments were made in public, and it’s very disturbing because Phil gave him the no-trade clause and he has to respect it. He’s got to allow a player to make a decision for any reason – to win a ring, for money, home life, whatever.”

Although Roberts hasn’t spoken to Anthony directly about the issue, she tells Araton that there are NBA players who are “unhappy” that the NBA hasn’t responded to the situation. As for Carmelo, Roberts says she’ll give him space to handle the issue however he decides.

“I feel for ‘Melo, this is a tough time for him and I can only imagine how he’s feeling,” Roberts said. “I know he has been talking to some other people so I’ll let him sort it all out.”

NBPA Objects To Phil Jackson’s Statement

Players union head Michele Roberts has issued a statement calling Phil Jackson’s comments about Carmelo Anthony in Friday’s press conference “inappropriate,” tweets Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated.

The union objected to Jackson saying that Anthony would be “better off somewhere else” next season. Anthony remains under contract with the Knicks for two more years, although he has an early termination option for 2018/19.

“We voiced with the Commissioner today our view on the inappropriate comments by Knicks President Phil Jackson,” Roberts’ statement read. “If players cannot, under threat of league discipline, speak openly about their desire to be employed elsewhere, we expect management to adhere to the same standards. The door swings both ways when it comes to demonstrating loyalty and respect.”

And-Ones: Blue, BIG3, NBPA, Draft, Expansion

NBA D-League veteran Vander Blue has appeared in more than 150 NBADL games since making his debut in 2013, and once again ranks among the league’s scoring leaders this season. In 35 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Blue has averaged 25.2 PPG and has shot 37.2% on three-point attempts.

Despite his success in the D-League, the former Marquette standout has only appeared in five NBA regular-season games. Nonetheless, at age 24, he continues to believe he’s deserving a longer look in the NBA, telling Alberto de Roa of HoopsHype that he knows it’s eventually going to happen. In fact, as he focuses on producing for the D-Fenders and earning another shot in the NBA, he says he’s not considering more lucrative offers overseas.

“I told my agent I don’t really wanna hear about overseas right now,” Blue said. “I feel like if I start thinking about that I’m gonna lose focus about what I need to do here. And I want my mind, my soul, my body all to be in one spot so I can really be the best I can be.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the NBA:

  • The BIG3 has confirmed another new team, announcing in a press release that Chauncey Billups, Stephen Jackson, and three other players will team up on a club called the Killer 3s. Previously, we heard that Rashard Lewis and Jason Williams would co-captain a team called the 3 Headed Monsters.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge spoke to NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, engaging in an interesting Q&A on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and her role as an advocate for the league’s players.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link) has updated his latest 2017 mock draft in the wake of this week’s trades, which saw two first-round picks change hands. The Trail Blazers and Magic acquired first-rounders from Denver and Toronto, respectively, so Ford has incorporated new picks for those teams.
  • There’s no indication that the NBA is seriously considering expansion at the moment, but that didn’t stop Tom Ziller of SBNation.com from identifying his top 13 candidates for a new NBA franchise, from an obvious choice (Seattle) at No. 1 to a surprise choice at No. 13.

Latest On Collective Bargaining Agreement Talks

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association should finalize the terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement within the next few weeks, reports Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. A source familiar with the CBA negotiations tells O’Connor that a new agreement could be reached “just after Thanksgiving” or in “early December.”

According to O’Connor, negotiations between the league and the players’ union have gone smoothly so far, since there has been a good working relationship between commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, and both sides are in agreement on keeping the players’ share of basketball-related income at about the same rate it’s at under the current CBA.

O’Connor’s piece also features several more new details about the upcoming CBA, so let’s round those up…

  • According to O’Connor, the preseason schedule is expected to be cut down a little, perhaps to accommodate an earlier start to the regular season. That would allow schedule-makers to include fewer back-to-backs for teams during the season, and would make it easier to avoid any four-games-in-five-days stretches.
  • The NBA is expected to make changes to its domestic violence policy and its drug testing procedure. There has been a lack of consistency when it comes to suspensions and other penalties for domestic violence, so the new CBA figures to feature a more detailed and thorough policy.
  • While the players are still expected to get about 49-51% of the NBA’s basketball-related income, there will likely be an expanded definition of what constitutes BRI, per O’Connor.
  • Meanwhile, ESPN’s Marc Stein also has another update on the new CBA, writing that D-League salaries are set to increase significantly. Currently, D-League player salaries range from $19-26K, but the new CBA will increase those rates to something in the neighborhood of $50-75K, according to Stein. Two-way contracts are also expected to be a part of the new CBA, increasing NBA roster size from 15 players to 18.