Ramon Sessions, acquired to add speed to the Los Angeles Lakers’ backcourt, hardly did that, and now he is forcing the Lakers to commit to him as their point guard of the future.Sessions chose against exercising the final year of his contract to stay with the Lakers next season and will explore the free-agency market, his agent said Tuesday.“Ramon has carefully considered this decision,” said Sessions’ agent, Jared Karnes, in a statement. “He had to make a career decision and ultimately decided to do what was best in providing stability and longevity for him in the NBA, and this could only be achieved through a multi-year contract.”Sessions, 26, was acquired by the Lakers at the trade deadline from Cleveland to replace 37-year-old Derek Fisher, who was moved to Houston.The 6-foot-3, 190-pound point Sessions averaged 12.7 points, 6.2 assists and 3.8 rebounds on 47.9 percent shooting from the field and 48.6 percent shooting on 3-pointers in 23 regular season games with the Lakers. Sessions’ numbers plummeted in the playoffs, however, as he averaged just 6.8 points and 3.0 assists while shooting 35.3 percent in the Western Conference semifinals against Oklahoma City.It was his first trip to the postseason in his five-year career after starting off with cellar-dwelling teams in Milwaukee, Minnesota and Cleveland.Sessions would have made $4.55 million next season had he opted in to the final year remaining on his contract. Free agency begins on July 1st. Steve Blake, who has two years remaining on his deal, paying him $4 million annually, is the only Lakers point guard under contract.
LeBron James might remain the best player in the NBA. He might remain the most valuable. He might even remain a player around whom a team can build a perennial Finals contender. But the question right now is, “Can LeBron remain this good for the rest of the season?” Because this LeBron is very close to as good as we’ve ever seen, in ways we’ve never seen before.Just so everyone’s clear at the top: James is not the sun-eater he was in 2012-13, with the third and greatest of his Miami Heat teams. He may not be quite as incontestable as he was at the end of his first tenure in Cleveland, when he won back-to-back MVPs and dragged meager rosters on long and doomed and occasionally brilliant playoff runs.But James is posting career highs in true shooting percentage (66.4), 3-point percentage (41.6), assist percentage (42.9) and block percentage (2.6). His free throw percentage (77.3) is the second-highest of his career. He’s shooting 80.7 percent within 3 feet of the basket and going to the rim about as often as he ever has. He has created more shots for teammates than anyone but Russell Westbrook, according to data from Second Spectrum, and he’s done it while playing 37 minutes per night — a heavy load for a player in his 15th season (who has also logged more than 200 playoff games).The easy answer to the obvious question — How? — is that his jumper is falling. According to data from Second Spectrum, James is shooting an effective field goal percentage of 58.8 on step-back shots and 63 on pull-up jumpers — his two most common shot types after brute-force drives. Those dwarf his normal rate of makes on those shots over the last three seasons.The large and sensible parts of the brain say this is unsustainable. That it’s fun to watch James play-act past glories while understanding that the underlying foundations have shifted, moved on — that James’s MVP-level start is a mirage of risky habits and clustered luck. The smaller, more rascally regions wonder: What if this is how LeBron goes late-Jordan?James is one of the most amorphous stars I’ve ever watched from season to season. In various offseasons over the past decade, he’s picked up a post game, lost and recovered his 3-point stroke, added sneaky perimeter dribble feints and pivots, and refined the drive-and-kick game to its most basic and brutally effective elements. Who’s to say he hasn’t gone out and added the step-back midrange game that Michael made art and Kobe made genre fiction?I mean, just look at this:I’ve been watching LeBron for a lot of years, and I don’t remember him looking so fluid on those shots, so smooth through the hips and shoulders. That shot has always been available to him, it’s just always looked more calculated than natural — a computer making an arcane chess move more than a master moving in on the hunt. Now, it looks more graceful, a little tighter in the footwork. They aren’t suddenly perfect shots — there’s still the occasional (and occasionally more than occasional) wild launch from 35 feet or with a foot on or just inside the line, but they look better in aggregate. Maybe it’s easier to see it like that because it’s going in; that’s one danger of applying the eye test.But it also makes sense given how well James has shot both from distance and point-blank. There’s simply more room to maneuver in the midrange if defenses must treat him as a 40-percent 3-point shooter and an 80-percent finisher at the rim — while also playing the lanes because he’s passing more than ever. That’s going to remain true for as long as James is canning 3s like this and remains unstoppable at the rim. The jumper can come and go, but it has been relatively steady since it went missing in 2015-16. The drives are more reliable.The Cavs score 125 points per 100 possessions when James drives and finishes himself, passes to a teammate for a shot or is fouled (or he makes a turnover), and 118 points per 100 possessions on scoring chances that come from multiple passes after a James drive, according to Second Spectrum. Both rank first among players with at least 100 drives this season, and both are unlikely to change as long as James remains unstoppable, crashing into defenders and creating space where the defender had previously been standing.One caveat: This isn’t the indomitable James. The onslaught is not exactly unrelenting. The pitch is not fevered. James is finding more success driving to the rim, but he’s also drawing fouls at a career-worst rate — his .294 rate of free throws per field goal attempt is down considerably from his career average .418 — and his turnovers are a hair under his career worst (from last season). These may be clues that James’s underlying skills have tailed off and his results will soon follow. Or they may be evidence that LeBron isn’t actually trying yet.His defensive numbers confirm that he hasn’t returned to his peak. The Cleveland defense has been nearly 11 points better per 100 possessions when he sits, and ESPN’s defensive Real Plus-Minus has him in the negatives, below James Harden and Kyle Lowry. RPM is famously skewed toward defensive-minded big men, but James has historically performed much better in the stat. So, no, James isn’t the clamp-down bear trap he was in his Heat years. But he’s in the top 40 for shots defended (a good sign he’s not getting blown out of plays) and opponents are shooting just a 46.6 effective field goal percentage against him (a very good number). While he’s giving up “good” shots (expected value 52.8 eFG percentage, adjusting for who’s shooting, which is one of the worst figures in the league), he’s depressing value on those shots by 6.2 eFG percentage points, sandwiching him between standout defenders like Kevin Durant and Paul Millsap once he’s actually engaged in the play.We expect more from James because we’ve seen more from him. We’ve seen him slip from the best player in history to merely the best at this moment, and so his deficiencies call out in a way other players’ do not. Maybe he’s playing catch-up defense these days, or not drawing fouls the way he used to, or not willing Jae Crowder into making his wide-damn-open 3s. But 15 seasons into his career, he’s still getting better, and so far this season, the pieces he’s added have more than made up for the ones that have fallen away.Check out our latest NBA predictions.
Facebook NETWORK ERRORCannot Contact ServerRELOAD YOUR SCREEN OR TRY SELECTING A DIFFERENT VIDEO Oct 16, 2018 – 11:41 am Donna Missal Covers “Iris”: GRAMMY ReImagined News In Mendes’ case, he spent his early teenage years covering everyone from Adele and Rhianna to Leonard Cohen and Lynyrd Skynyrd on his way to pop stardom. Cara covered the likes of Amy Winehouse, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, and more. For these two budding pop stars, covers were the ticket to success. But cover songs are all around us (consider the popularity of modern singing competition shows). And as an emerging artist, covers can be a tool to get your talents in front of a new audience. So what makes a cover work and what doesn’t? Perhaps a revisit of Mike Masse’s 2010 viral cover of Toto’s “Africa” can shed some light.It’s tempting to look at the video’s 11+ million views and point to the success of the source material – after all, you read it right here that “Africa” is allegedly considered by science as the “best” song ever (a case we would bet is far from closed). But as SonicBids’ blog points out, the crux of why this YouTube cover took off like a rocket is talent. Masse’s voice not only evokes visions of Toto singer-at-the-time Joseph Williams, he sings the song with a combination of skillful accuracy and authentic passion listeners are looking–or rather listening–for today.What about the look? Masse’s video is a single shot of he and a bandmate playing at a pizza parlor. In fact, many viral YouTube cover videos rely on their low visual production quality to highlight the musical performance. [However, for the best of both worlds, check out the cover versions of GRAMMY ReImagined]. NETWORK ERRORCannot Contact ServerRELOAD YOUR SCREEN OR TRY SELECTING A DIFFERENT VIDEO Sep 28, 2018 – 2:18 pm Shawn Mendes On Connecting With His Fans & More Email A closer look at how viral videos reveal key takeaways for artists looking to mix their taste and talent with YouTube to find a new audienceGRAMMYs Oct 26, 2018 – 3:17 pm Posting a cover on YouTube is a well-worn path for independent artists seeking to traverse the internet jungle and land the attention of an audience. From Shawn Mendes to Alessia Cara, many artists of many genres have taken this tack to success, but many, many more have tried and missed the mark. Twitter Anatomy Of A Viral Hit Acoustic Cover Song How Acoustic Covers Can Become Viral Hits anatomy-viral-hit-acoustic-cover-song In the case of many viral hits, choosing the right cover is where the magic happens. A familiar tune can bridge the gap between the eager fan and an unfamiliar artist, but a quick search of any of today’s biggest songs can also turn up a sea of competition. But popularity doesn’t necessarily mean a song should be avoided. A request for Weezer to cover “Africa” recently caught enough web attention to convince the band to tackle the classic, so clearly all of the song’s fans worldwide still hadn’t–or couldn’t–get enough.SonicBids’ analysis goes on to note that Masse’s consistency in posting new material on YouTube contributed to the success of their “Africa” cover, but also reiterates the importance of the talent of the collaborators you choose, calling out spot-on harmony vocals from bassist Jeff Hall as the viral video’s x-factor. “Don’t work with musicians unless they meet your standards,” the blog advises, wisely.Despite the strategy, for many artists, there is a joy of covering songs that is a reward in itself. Sometimes it’s easier for songwriters to get lost in a composition they didn’t create, the same way it’s easier to get lost in a house you didn’t build. The trick is knowing what will take off next and, more importantly, having the talent and consistency to capitalize on the opportunity. Happy covering!GRAMMY ReImagined Is Back With More Covers Read more
UP IN THE AIR: A farmer winnows his paddy crop at a field in Agartala. REUTERS/Jayanta DeyPoliticians, policy apparatchiks and technocrats who went red in the face cheering the benefits of demonetisation could take a lesson from the ongoing competition between the states to announce loan waivers for farmers who have piled on crop loan burdens. The lesson is one of differentiating between politics and fact – the latter, a department where government flops repeatedly, cheered along by the bureaucracy and party rank and file.Farm loan waivers, starting from the first one announced by the Janata Dal government of VP Singh in 1990 to the one stewarded by the UPA government in 2008, have been exercises in futility. In southern and central India, farmer stress has been guided by failing monsoons when it comes to the rabi and kharif crops; unseasonal rains, diseases and storms play their part in destroying contentious crops like cotton, which in recent years, has led to largescale farmer suicides.Loan waivers always play out their counter-productive effects on the economy, inflating non-performing assets (NPAs) and battering the bottomlines of India’s public sector banks, which held Rs 6.4 lakh crore in bad assets as of March 2017. Besides adding to taxpayer outgo and widening the fiscal deficit, out-of-turn loan waivers have another set of outcomes – fresh rounds of farm stress, and the inevitable cycles of agitation and violence, appeased through future loan waivers.Different parties, same tubThe political class may have realised that good politics is a house built on the foundation of bad fact and bad logic perpetrated with an eye on the rural votebanks. But the loan waivers will be far from ideal placebos for the folks at the farm. A substantial part of farm loans comprise non-crop loans like tractors, ploughing machines, and input costs largely untouched by the proposed waivers.Top guns of the ruling BJP dispensation who had wasted no time in criticising the evils of a humongous loan waiver announced by then Congress Finance Minister P Chidambaram nine summers ago, — saying that distressed banks would be weighed down by further pressures on their NPA positions, and that zero interest farmer loans were simply not the way ahead – have always thrown their weight behind incentivising farmer loan defaults. BJP leaders have been grandstanding on the benefits of loan waivers to farmers in a sector where genuine farmers are often not identified with a fair degree of accuracy or where temporary farm hands masquerade as farmers to avail of loans.Without forgetting the huge potential for impersonation thrown up by a corrupt rural banking system, it is well known that high amounts of loan pilferage have been frequently reported in the farm sector. A Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee has noted serious implementation glitches in the Rs 52,000-crore debt waiver scheme announced by P Chidambaram in 2008. The Committee conducted a sample of 90,576 beneficiaries/farmers spread across 25 states out of the intended 3.69 crore base. Discrepancies were found in 22 percent of the cases. Raghavendra NDefaults vs low lendingAn inverse parallel that can be drawn to irrecoverable loans is that India’s farm policy often does not support on-ground sales requirements of its farmers. Rural lending growth collapsed to 2.5 percent in the second half of 2016-17 and even shrank in several states, including Punjab and Maharashtra, even though banks are flush with funds ferried in through demonetisation. This also explains the higher provisioning by banks in the second half of the year, after banks realised their inability to efficiently close their NPA books in the face of growing defaults by the farm sector.Many a gaping hole in the loan recovery process are persistent painpoints. Take the case of public sector lender State Bank of India. As of April 1, 2015, the bank had Rs 56,725 crore of bad loans, or gross NPAs. During the course of the year, Rs 4,389 crore of bad loans was recovered. At the same time, the bank wrote off Rs 15,763 crore of bad loans, more than three times the loans it had recovered. By March 31, 2016, the total bad loans of the bank had segued to Rs 98,173 crore thanks to fresh bad loans tagged onto its rural portfolio.During every period of farming sector stress the cycle of agitation and loan waivers could be repeated. The root causes of agrarian distress have not been addressed by repeated refinancing of farmers whose ability to repay is always in doubt, leading to distorted credit histories and banks refusing to lend them loans in future. The money goes on the government’s books and would be recovered through the two most popular routes – higher indirect taxes through innovations like GST or add-on cesses in the Union Budgets or via higher public and overseas borrowing.Official policy and the machinery implementing it are now on the same page, where the symptoms are treated, but not the malaise. Farm loan waivers present a glaring example where the malaise is being glossed over at the expense of larger economic and social goals. Such a non-strategy would not really add positive chapters into India’s larger growth story. Rather, it would be an open invitation to disaster.
Share 00:00 /01:04 You may have started your day a bit earlier anticipating driving through some rain or flooded areas, but instead you were met with a damp driveway.Francisco Sanchez is with emergency operations for Harris County.He said only a portion of East Houston got several inches of rain.“We’ve seen three inches of rain overnight in portions of east of Harris County,” Sanchez says. “So we certainly have been spared the worst part of tropical storm Cindy.”We were spared this time, but Mayor Sylvester Turner says that may not always be the case.“I don’t care how many time you go through it,” Turner says. “I don’t care how many. Every weather storm situation is different. Each one has its own personality.”Judge Ed Emmett says the county is just as prepared as homeowners should be.“Prepare as if a hurricane is going to hit us,” Emmett says. “We have a full-time professional staff at our Office of Homeland security and Emergency Management. So if people ask if we’re prepared? Yes, we’re prepared.”The mayor advises having an evacuation route, keeping flashlights on hand, and paying attention to weather reports in case the next storm that comes through is the big one. Listen X To embed this piece of audio in your site, please use this code: