Jerry West denies, but Ellison may come after him

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There needs to be a culture change with the Golden State Warriors.

Everyone not named Chris Cohan has recognized this for years. That is a mess of an organization. In fact organization is a poor choice of words, let’s go with franchise. Whoever ends up buying Golden State, the changes need to run deeper than just a new coach — they need to run to the very core of the model. A culture of winning needs to be built from the ground up. If it is Oracle CEO Larry Ellison who buys the Warriors, he needs to go out and get the very best.

He needs Jerry West.

Except Jerry West says he wants no part of this, that he has had no talks with Ellison. He made that statement yesterday in a radio interview on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles, he made a similar one a couple days before to Sports Illustrated (before the sale announcement went public).

“That is completely false. I haven’t talked to Larry for a number of years,” West told SI.com a few days before the Warriors made their announcement.

“There is one owner of that team: Chris Cohan,” West said. “Everyone says this team is for sale. I always hear rumors. I have no clue. People just throw things out there. I am not in the loop in the NBA. For the most part, I sit back and watch the game from a distance. I watch the teams who are sliding. I look at places where there are opportunities to make enormous headway.”

There have been no talks between West and Ellison, so far. Ellison does not own the team yet, that bidding process is just getting started.

But there have been multiple reports — including ESPN’s Marc Stein — that if Ellison buys the team he will approach West. And do so with a big offer that will be hard to turn down, including a piece of team ownership

That would have to be tempting. West was underpaid compared to the market for all those years he was general manager of the Lakers. It wasn’t until Memphis he got paid close to what you’d expect. While West has been out of the game, it would be tough to turn down part ownership, something that would truly set his family up for generations.

But none of that has happened. Yet.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.