While San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich made it rather clear how unhappy he was with the play that forced Kawhi Leonard to miss much of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the NBA reportedly has a much different view of everything that went down on Sunday afternoon.
Good morning. We have that and more in Saturday’s NBA newsletter.
It would be impossible to capture all of the absurd things that happened in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, not the least of which was the fact that the Cavaliers won by blowing the doors off on offense. The Warriors' dream of a perfect 16-0 postseason is dead. Game 5 is set for Monday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.
The fact that they even felt the need to consider trading him shows how they’ve squandered his prime.
Paul George’s free agency begins in the summer of 2018, so it’s easy to see why there is so much urgency with the Pacers front office to create a winning team now. What doesn’t make sense is the Pacers spending the final hours of the 2017 trade deadline mulling trade offers for the All-Star.
Golden State, of course, said no.
The Indiana Pacers, while scouring the market this summer for Paul George trade suitors, offered Paul George to the Golden State Warriors for Klay Thompson, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski told his guest George on his latest podcast. The Warriors had no interest in the deal, but it’s sure fun to speculate about it.
Inconsistent defense and spotty contributions down New Orleans in Oklahoma City despite another strong performance by Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans went into Oklahoma City looking to steal a win on the road, where they have been terrible (2-7) this season. Well, let's make that record one game worse in the loss column as New Orleans fell to the Thunder, 101-92.
As in most of the other losses, defensives lapses dogged the Pels tonight. Time after time the team would try to mount a comeback only to be thwarted by a blown defensive assignment or failure to secure the defensive rebound.
ZILLER: Stan Van Gundy delivered. Through some smart roster moves and expected great coaching, he brought Detroit to the playoffs for the first time in a long while. The Pistons were actually quite good overall, finishing with 44 wins and going 17-11 after the All-Star break (a smoking .607 pace). Then they landed one of my favorite sleeper free agents, Boban Marjanovic!
Like clockwork, after Isaiah Thomas was traded by the Celtics to the Cavaliers, a national reporter tried to drag the player through the mud using anonymous sources. FS1's Chris Broussard cited anonymous league GMs who cited anonymous Celtics who said Isaiah wasn't beloved in the locker room.
Immediately and overwhelmingly, various Celtics teammates of Isaiah fought back. Also, common sense fought back. We had not once seen signs of strife within these Celtics, despite a Boston sports media built to identify and thrive on drama.
Kevin Durant is not a bad guy for exercising his collectively bargained right to work somewhere else.
As we embark on a championship series in which LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be the biggest names and their legacies will be the hottest topics, it’s worth remembering July, 2010.
No one could forget what LeBron did in those tumultuous days. King James ripped apart the fabric of the league by choosing the Miami Heat in free agency, spurning the Cleveland Cavaliers and building a true superteam in South Beach.
Game 4 sometimes became a sideshow because of its officiating.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals was great fun. The Cavaliers got off the mat and avoided a sweep at the hands of the juggernaut Warriors, and they scored 137 points in doing it in front of their home crowd. It was a really unique sports scene.
But the officiating crew of Mike Callahan, John Goble, and Marc Davis did not have a good night. They let the game get bogged down and slide off the rails at the same time, turning it into an occasional sideshow and not the pure basketball game it could’ve been.
The cap spike has major long-term ramifications.
Bad NBA contracts were everywhere in the 2000s. Some were at relatively low numbers (hello, Brian Cardinal and Jerome James). And others were at eye-popping numbers: Stephon Marbury, Larry Hughes, Erick Dampier, Steve Francis, Eddy Curry, and Raef LaFrentz were all good players who were paid like superstars.
The Spurs extend a unique deal to Kansas' Tyler Self.
Tyler Self is likely better known for his father, Bill Self – head coach of the University of Kansas basketball team – than his own basketball prowess. This past season, Tyler averaged just 0.8 points, 0.2 rebounds and 0.4 assists per game for the Jayhawks. Despite these stats, Self is headed to the NBA, where he will act as the Spurs’ Basketball Operations Quality Assurance Assistant for next season.
For the second game in a row, the Spurs came out strong after halftime, combining unselfish play and hot shooting from deep to take down the Clippers.
Following their 120-107 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers, a round of applause could be heard escaping from the Spurs locker room. It could’ve been celebrating the 33 assists (a season-high) they collected as the ball moved around with purpose, stretching their opponents’ ranks. Or maybe it was for their dominant third-quarter performance, in which they outscored LA, 40-21. Either way, it’s the kind of showing the team, now on a three-game winning streak, will be happy to build on in the coming weeks.
There will be a ceremony after the Sunday night game against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Per the official Spurs press release:
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they will retire Tim Duncan’s No. 21 jersey on Sunday, Dec. 18 when the Silver and Black host the New Orleans Pelicans at 6 p.m. CST. A special postgame ceremony honoring Duncan will take place on the AT&T Center floor and will be broadcast live on FOX Sports Southwest (also streamed live on FOX Sports GO).
The poignant opener of the ESPY Awards that featured Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade speaking about the recent turmoil in America began with an Instagram post.
The Suns’ kiddie core is unproven, but the organization has high hopes it can turn into a three-pronged foundation for long-term success.
LAS VEGAS — Ryan McDonough grew up in Hingham, Mass., just a half-hour outside of Boston. He went to Celtics games as a child and spent 10 years working in the franchise’s front office.
But McDonough can only count on one hand the number of times he’s heard the Boston crowd cheer an opposing player the way it did when Devin Booker scored 70 points in late March.
The new-look Thunder should be very good, and very expensive.
The Oklahoma City Thunder traded for Carmelo Anthony on Saturday. But this story starts five years ago.
Coming off of an appearance in the 2012 NBA Finals, the Thunder traded James Harden, drowning a potential superteam in its baptismal water. The Thunder, locked in a tiny NBA market by choice, couldn’t afford to pay the luxury tax for a decade, even if it meant competing for and even winning championships. GM Sam Presti was unable to convince Harden, a budding star, to take less than his value and make the numbers work. He flipped Harden for a cheaper option and picks.
Minnesota grabbed Butler from Chicago and now they’re set up to win now.
The argument for the Minnesota Timberwolves not making a trade for Jimmy Butler, or any other superstar, was simple: you’re young as hell. Don’t rush this.
But for this price? Why the hell not.
FLANNERY: Like everyone else, we undersold the Blazers last season. I don't feel bad about that because no one this side of Damian Lillard thought they were going to be a second-round playoff team last season. But now I get the sense that people are overrating the Rip City crew just a tad.
The Warriors and the Cavaliers are both looking at back-to-back sweeps. It’s the first time in history two teams have started 8-0 in the playoffs. Sure, the sweeps in the first round were to be expected, but both teams did it in the second round as well. And those sweeps may have been more dominant than you realized.
Good fortune is inextricable from success in the NBA. BOTH teams in the 2017 NBA Finals prove that.
The Warriors had several breaks in putting this remarkable collection of talent together. You know them well. Stephen Curry signed a discount extension after an injury-riddled 2012 season. Draymond Green took less than the max as a restricted free agent. An unprecedented spike in the salary cap aligned perfectly with the free agency of Kevin Durant, coming one year before Curry became an expensive free agent himself.
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