Artest-Ariza comparisons spark Twitter spat between Ariza and Artest's brother

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Ron Artest doesn’t really like being compared to Trevor Ariza, and it turns out that Ariza feels very much the same way about being compared to Artest. In fact, Ariza engaged in a mini-debate of sorts with Daniel Artest, Ron’s brother, on Twitter, in which the two engaged in 140-character rebuttals concerning the relative merits of Artest’s game. From Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register:

You can check their respective Twitter timelines (Daniel Artest’s and Ariza’s)
for the full conversation, but Ariza was annoyed in the same way as two
months ago with me at ongoing comparisons between the players. One of
the first, strong statements Ariza wrote to Daniel Artest was: “what r
u doing with ur life.”

Daniel Artest had Tweeted about Ariza: “Yea. He has the ring. But
what else besides being a role player has he done? I mean. Ron was on
All def teams, 3rd team all NBA. When he was 24(ariza age now) No
disrespect but TA hasn’t sniffed Ron career. Yes. TA did play a great
role in helpn LA win a chip but I don’t think he’ll ever be on Ron
level as far as being the man. … Let’s be honest. LA stumbled into the
playoffs. I believe that LA with TA3 wouldn’t have gotten out the first
round. KD wouldve went off.”

“Let me do me Im trying to get better Ron is a great player,” Ariza
later Tweeted to Daniel Artest. “love his game but I don’t compare what
I do to what he did at my age sorry brotha.”

…Ariza wrote later about Twitter: “Ppl are so tough on here boy ill
tell u.” But his conversation with Daniel Artest ended amicably enough,
with Artest writing to him: “I like stuff u say I just wanted to ask a
question.”

“what r u doing with ur life?” Zing!

If anyone out there was looking to argue that Twitter isn’t petty, tiffs like these put the cause back a bit. Sure, it’s just a confident athlete defending his honor against another athlete’s know-it-all brother, but why does Trevor even bother? What’s the point? It provides an interesting wrinkle for the Artest-Ariza conversation, but only because we now know just how uncomfortable the comparisons make Ariza as well.

It’s a bizarre situation in which both players feel that the other has the upper hand in terms of perceived talent and value. That makes sense, considering the basketball-viewing public so rarely builds consensus on any particular player. Ariza and Artest should find some solace in that, even as each continues to make their case as the superior player.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.