Paul Allen issues statement, says nothing

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UPDATE 10:13 am: The Oregonian’s John Canzano tried to get more information out of Paul Allen last night. Didn’t go so well.

But I asked him at the end of the first half, as he headed into the room
he uses as an office, if he’d mind going stronger with the comments on
Pritchard. The Blazers owner waved me off and shook his head. I
asked him if there was anything more he wanted to say to Blazers fans.
He hurried off, waving his hands and shaking his head. He finally nudged
one of his private security guards and pointed at me before
disappearing into a room with a small group that included Vulcan
executive Bert Kolde, who was puffing his chest out at me.

1: 49 am: Fans are Portland are confused. They love Kevin Pritchard. He’s part of the team that drafted Brandon Roy and the young core of talent that give the Blazers a bright future. He changed the image of the “jailblazers.” He made it fun to be a Portland fan again.

And he is in trouble, maybe losing his job trouble. There is anger in Rip City. Fans do not like the idea of losing their savior. But they saw his right-hand man, Tom Penn, get fired. It is all the fans are talking about — they chanted and waived signs in Pritchard’s support at Thursday night’s game.

Owner Paul Allen wanted to quell this frenzy, so he issued a statement. One that will quell nothing because it really says nothing.

We are not going to make any more long-term decisions today. When the season ends we will evaluate how best to move the Trail Blazers forward. That’s no different than the way we have operated for the past 21 seasons.

I support everyone who works for me, including Kevin Pritchard, and that’s why he’s our general manager. We all have the same goal — to bring another NBA Championship to the great fans of Portland.

Paul Allen is telling the truth. Decisions on where the good ship Blazers will sail next — and who is still on the boat — will be made after the season. Henry Abbott at TrueHoop makes the good point that this is how Paul Allen runs all his businesses — deep annual reviews where the top executives face tough questions.

But Paul Allen also is human. He may not be certain what he is going to do, but you can bet he has an idea. He has an opinion. One that will become better informed, one that could be changed, but right now he has an opinion.

And he’s not going to let it be known in a statement. But the statement he did release is not going to quell the speculation in Portland. If anything, it is just going to fuel the fire. Because it doesn’t say anything.

Jahlil Okafor tweets apology for recent off-court behavior

Jahlil Okafor
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The off-court incidents have been piling up for Jahlil Okafor over the past month: first, an incident captured on video that showed Okafor getting into a fight with a heckler early Thanksgiving morning; then, a report that Okafor had a gun pulled on him in a previous incident; and finally, this morning’s report that the Sixers’ No. 3 overall pick in this June’s draft had been pulled over in recent weeks for driving 108 miles per hour in Philadelphia. Together, they aren’t a good look for the rookie.

On Sunday afternoon, Okafor apologized for his recent behavior in a series of tweets:

The recent incidents involving Okafor are surprising—going into the draft, he never had any red flags for maturity or off-the-court issues. He’s certainly saying the right things after the fact, and he’s only 19, so hopefully this is nothing more than a small rough patch where he’s made some bad decisions, and not an indicator of things to come.

Kobe Bryant announces this is his final season


It has seemed like this was it for a while. Kobe Bryant has been frustrated; he hasn’t been able to produce like he expects — his play has been hard to watch — and the Lakers are a train wreck.

Kobe made it official Sunday via the Players’ Tribune — this is his final season. He did it via a letter called “Dear Basketball.”

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
This season is all I have left to give.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

It’s not coincidental this was announced a couple days before the Lakers travel to Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia to face the Sixers. Also remember Kobe is an investor in The Players’ Tribune.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver quickly released this statement:

“With 17 NBA All-Star selections, an NBA MVP, five NBA championships with the Lakers, two Olympic gold medals and a relentless work ethic, Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players in the history of our game.  Whether competing in the Finals or hoisting jump shots after midnight in an empty gym, Kobe has an unconditional love for the game.

“I join Kobe’s millions of fans around the world in congratulating him on an outstanding NBA career and thank him for so many thrilling memories.”

Kobe will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. Few can come close to his resume: Five NBA titles, two NBA Finals MVPs, 15 time All-NBA teams, one MVP, 17 times an All-Star (and the All-Star Game MVP four times). And we could go on and on.

Good on Kobe for doing this now. After 55,000 NBA minutes his body has quit on him, and where his mind is still willing the flesh is clearly weak right now. He has not been able to adapt his game to the changing realities of what he can do.

Kobe has said he doesn’t want a “Derek Jeter Farewell Tour” but that will be the feel from here on out. Expect some special recognition at the All-Star Game in Toronto.

Bulls’ Dunleavy to see specialist after suffering setback with back injury

Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah
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CHICAGO—Over the past few weeks, Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy has seemed to be making progress in his back rehab. Dunleavy underwent back surgery shortly before the start of training camp and was initially given a timeline of 8-10 weeks. Recently, he’s been increasing his workload, and he traveled with the team on their recent west coast road trip.

However, his recovery may have hit a snag.

“Mike is going to see a doctor again tomorrow and then we should have a better update after that,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Sunday. “He had a little bit of soreness. But we’ll have more on that tomorrow.”

An update to Dunleavy’s status is coming, but given Dunleavy’s age (35) and the frequency of back injuries to reoccur, this news certainly isn’t encouraging. Between Tony Snell and Doug McDermott, the Bulls have struggled at both ends of the floor on the wing. Getting Dunleavy back, whenever that happens, will be a huge help. But nobody knows when that will be.

Stan Van Gundy calls out Andre Drummond’s effort after loss to Thunder

Andre Drummond
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After a promising start to the season, the Pistons have lost three of their last four games and seven of their last 10. And although he’s been outstanding for most of the season, Andre Drummond has not been above receiving criticism from Stan Van Gundy. The coach called out Drummond’s effort on Friday night after a loss to the Thunder.

Via Sportando:

“I didn’t think he brought much energy to the Milwaukee game, and I didn’t think he brought much energy tonight,” Van Gundy said of the two beatings the Pistons received this week. “Why that is, I don’t know. But we need a lot more from him than we got tonight.”

Calling out your best player in the media is bold, but Van Gundy has enough of a track record and a reputation, going back to his days in Orlando with Dwight Howard, that he can get away with it. It also sends a message to the entire team that Van Gundy isn’t going to hold his star to a different standard than the rest of the team.

Despite a couple of poor performances, Drummond is having a career year, leading the league in rebounding at 17.1 per game while also averaging 17.9 points.