Mike James not at Flip Saunders fan

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Why didn’t it work out for Mike James in Washington this year? Why did the quintessential journeyman — nine teams in eight NBA seasons — only get on the court for four games with the lowly Wizards?

Maybe it was the fact he shot just 30 percent from the field this season. No, that’s not it. That he shot just 38 percent last season when he started 50 games? No. That he shot just 33 percent from three this season? No. That he was averaging almost two turnovers for each assists, a long-time problem in his career? No. That his PER of 5.7 screams “off the bench in the D-League?” No.

It was coach Flip Saunders, he told Hoopshype.

Coach just didn’t get along with me. I don’t know whatever the reason was. I don’t believe it has anything to do with basketball because if it had something to do with basketball… I trained hard every day, I practiced well, I did everything I was supposed to do… I didn’t have any answers on why I was in the situation I was put in. I just knew I was in it.

So you think it was personal?

MJ: I don’t know. All I know is it wasn’t basketball. I’m a great locker room guy, I’m a veteran. I’ve been in this league for over nine years and I’m a double-figure scorer for my NBA career. I hadn’t gained any weight. And if you liked me in the past, you would have to like me now. The only difference is I may not be able to do a windmill dunk like I used to in the past. But I can still dunk. It’s tough that I can’t play the game.

He also goes on to blame Saunders for the Wizards poor record.

What I’ve seen of Flip Saunders this season is a coach who would have tried anything to right the ship in DC. He kept shifting lineups because nothing seemed to work. He would have given James plenty of burn if he could have helped, but the fact that a desperate coach kept him on the bench does not speak well of his game.

James says there are other NBA teams reaching out to him right now to add some depth for the final 20 plus games of the regular season (and maybe the playoffs). Although, those coaches may find out James can not help as much as they hoped. Just like Saunders did.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.

Report: Hawks co-owner made more money by exposing Danny Ferry’s Luol Deng comments

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson
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A terribly kept secret: Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wanted to get rid of general manager Danny Ferry.

Many believe that’s why Gearon made such a big deal about Ferry’s pejorative “African” comment about Luol Deng – that Gearon was more concerned about ousting Ferry than showing real concern over racism.

Gearon had another, no less sinister, reason to raise concern over Ferry’s remarks.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

While Gearon felt that Ferry, as he wrote in the June 2014 email to Levenson, “put the entire franchise in jeopardy,” Gearon also figured to benefit financially from a Sterling-esque fallout.

In the spring of 2014, Gearon was in the process of selling more of his interest in the team to Levenson and the partners he had sold to in September. The agreed-upon price for roughly a third of Gearon’s remaining shares valued the Hawks at approximately $450 million, according to reports from sources.

“We accept your offer to buy the remaining 31 million,” Gearon wrote in an email to Levenson on April 17, 2014. “Let me know next steps so we can keep this simple as you suggested without a bunch of lawyers and bankers.”

Approximately five weeks later — just a little more than a week before the fateful conference call — Steve Ballmer agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers, a record-smashing price that completely changed the assessed value of NBA franchises. Gearon firmly maintains he was acting out of the sincerity of his convictions to safeguard the franchise from the Sterling stench, but such a spectacle also allowed him to wiggle out of selling his shares at far below market value.

Gearon and his legal team later challenged the notion that the sell-down was bound by any sort of contractual obligation and that any papers were signed. Once the organization became involved in the investigation, the sale of the shares was postponed.

Arnovitz and Windhorst did an incredible amount of reporting here. I suggest you read the full piece, which includes much more background on the Gearon-Ferry rift.

Considering the Hawks sold for $850 million, Gearon definitely made more money than if he’d sold his shares at a $450 million valuation.

Did that motivate him? Probably, though it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Most likely, his actions were derived from at least three desires – making more money, ousting Ferry and combating racism. Parsing how much each contributed is much more difficult.

What Ferry said was racist, whether or not he was looking at more racism on the sheet of paper in front of him. His comments deserved punishment.

But if Gearon didn’t have incentive to use them for his own benefit, would we even know about them? How many other teams, with more functional front offices, would have kept similar remarks under wraps or just ignored them?