Jeremy Lin a fan favorite in Vegas

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At the beginning of Friday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Washington Wizards, those assembled at the COX Pavilion in Las Vegas were on their feet and craning their necks to get a look at No. 1 overall pick John Wall. The crowd oohed and ahhed at Wall’s pre-game routine of windmills and tomahawks, just like they have before every Wizards game in Vegas.
But while Wall was the star of pre-game warmups, Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin ended up stealing the show. Lin isn’t the most athletic guy in Las Vegas, and he’s not the most skilled, but he may be the most fearless. 
Don’t let the Harvard degree fool you — Lin is a hard-nosed player who loves to take the ball right at the rim in every situation, and he doesn’t mind taking a bump or flat-out crashing into an opponent on his way to the hoop. 
Lin played the same aggressive game against the Wizards that he’s been playing all week, and the crowd ate it up. When Lin converted a tough drive, the crowd cheered. When he threw down a fast-break dunk, they roared in appreciation. When Lin split a double-team, weaved through the rotating defenders, got knocked down, and had a shot linger on the rim for a few seconds before it fell to the floor, the crowd went absolutely crazy. Even though the shot missed and Lin actually got called for a charge on the play, it was as loud as the COX Pavillion has been all week. 
Just like his and-1 that wasn’t, Lin’s bid for an NBA roster spot may come up just a bit short. Friday was by far the best of Lin’s four summer league games, and his stat line still didn’t look all that impressive: 13 points on 6-12 shooting, four rebounds, two assists, four turnovers, and six fouls. It’s hard to make the NBA as an undrafted rookie without great athleticism, a great shooting stroke, or great court vision, and Lin doesn’t have any of those. What Lin does have is the toughness, determination, and savvy that have made him one of the most fun players to watch in summer league, and there’s always a chance an NBA team will want somebody with Lin’s attitude and approach to the game on their bench. 
Lin has a bright basketball future ahead of him, even if that future doesn’t include a stint in an NBA rotation. Wherever Lin does go, he’ll have plenty of fans who will remember the fearless show he put on during his time with Dallas’ summer league squad. 

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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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)
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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 โ€“ a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 โ€“ 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 โ€“ 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.