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The meaty middle of the lottery just got more appealing, each step up on the ladder more meaningful. If you Authentic Ryan Getzlaf Youth Jersey are 10th in the pathetic Eastern Conference with a month to go, three or four games out of a playoff spot, the incentive to pack it in for better lottery odds will -- in some places -- outweigh the incentive to go all-out for the No. 8 seed. Perhaps that would change if the league returned to best-of-five series in the first round, increasing the chances of an upset. Again: Every branch of the tree is connected. Teams will not tank out of a playoff spot for a lottery ticket. That would alienate fans, and cost precious revenue from playoff home games. But teams might tank out of the back end of the playoff race, like a behind-the-pack runner pulling a hamstring, and teams in the Nos. 4-8 lottery spots will jockey for positioning. (This is to say nothing about other sorts of late-season tanking: Teams losing so they can keep protected first-round picks, and playoff teams tanking down to preferred first-round matchups. Again: Both are rational choices under current rules.) The Thunder voted no, just as they did last time, and there is a concern among small markets that flattening the odds imperils their best and only road map to acquiring superstars, according to several league sources. Trading for in-their-prime superstars is hard, and usually requires taking on a star with one or two years left on his contract -- a gamble. Bigger markets have an advantage in free agency. The league would argue that advantage is overrated. The Celtics had zero history of signing free agents -- until they lured Al Horford, and then Gordon Hayward. San Antonio coaxed LaMarcus Aldridge two summers ago. Those players are good, but they are not single-handedly changing your franchise for a decade. They are not top-10 or top-five players. Those guys, the super-duper stars, are the ones at issue in the lottery reform debate. More than http://www.authenticducksstore.com/ryan-kesler-jersey_c-423.html anything, those guys want to win in their prime. The Knicks and Lakers have signed precisely no such players away from other teams during their recent (or for the Kazoos, not so recent) downturns. Chris Paul chose the Rockets because James Harden was there. LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh chose the Heat together. One class down, Hayward chose the Celtics because of the talent already thereBeing good can put you in the star-catching game almost regardless of market size. But that path is a longer long shot, with more moving parts, than catching one of those stars at the top of the draft. And in the aggregate, the glamour markets do have a better chance at pulling it off. The Lakers have cleared cap space for a coup only they might be able to execute. The Bucks get meetings with Greg Monroe instead. Small- and mid-market teams can nudge their free-agency chances up by building good teams before dipping into the free-agency pool, but they cannot flip the equation on its head. The big-city teams will always have an edge in July, even if it's a small one. Today's reform is probably marginally bad for small markets. But it won't change the behavior of bad small-market teams much, and it shouldn't. The draft still represents the best way for any team to nab high-end talent. Rebuilding and tanking won't go away. The league reduced http://www.nflbengalsofficialshop.com/Nike-Anthony-Munoz-Jersey.html the value of blatant late-season losing by terrible teams. On balance, that is probably a good thing. But no one should be especially outraged or emboldened by what happened todayill Russell observed the protests of the NFL players unfolding on his television set with keen interest -- and a tinge of sadness. He is 83 years old and has been down this road before. Russell carved out a Hall of Fame NBA career by winning 11 championships in 13 seasons, but was also a vocal proponent of social justice for African-Americans in the '50s and '60s at a time when racial strife was rampant, particularly in Boston, the city where he suited up for the Celtics. It never deterred him from speaking up, but the price he paid was a complex and often tumultuous relationship with the very fans who cheered him on Boston's parquet. Vandals broke into his suburban home, smashed his trophies and defecated on his walls. More than 50 years later, Russell remains dismayed that some of the very issues he addressed are still festering. Following comments from President Donald Trump, who declared any players who knelt during the national anthem should be fired or suspended, NFL teams articulated their solidarity with one another in myriad ways: some by kneeling, some by locking arms, and some choosing to remain in their locker room. As Russell Boomer Esiason Authentic Jersey watched, and dissected some of the backlash directed at those players, he started thinking: What can I do

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