Adonal Foyle retires, but he has a long journey ahead

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According to Brian Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, Adonal Foyle has decided to retire. That’s not “Magic center Adonal Foyle,” or “twelve-year veteran Adonal Foyle,” even if he happens to be both of those things. Rather, the NBA’s most renowned renaissance man, one of its most inquisitive minds, and one if its most philanthropic individuals will hang them up. It’s not an announcement that will necessarily affect anyone’s win total, but the league will be a little bit less interesting without Foyle as a part of it.

Robbins threw out two interesting tidbits regarding Foyle’s (and the NBA’s) future:

Because of his retirement, Foyle said he likely will resign his
position as first vice president of the National Basketball Players
Association within the next few days.

The Magic’s director of player development position is vacant, and Foyle could be an ideal fit for the job. But aside from continuing his humanitarian work — he founded the
nonprofit Kerosene Lamp Foundation in 2005 to help children — Foyle
said he hasn’t considered what he’ll do next.

He said, “Right now, I just want to finish this part of my life and
then really try to figure out how to journey to the next spot.”

That first note is important. Foyle has long been an important part of the NBPA’s operations, and with negotiations over the terms of a new CBA ongoing, losing an asset like Foyle is a pretty big deal. There are still plenty of ways he can be involved in that process, but losing a direct avenue for Foyle’s knowledge, perspective, and charisma is a loss for the players.

Robbins also kind of nominates Foyle as a candidate for Orlando’s director of player development gig, which comes as something of a disappointment. As Eric Freeman noted earlier this year on the now-defunct Sporting News blog, The Baseline, “Foyle has always seemed, if not exactly better than basketball, than at least more attuned to the emotions and larger issues that the game reminds us of rather than the sport itself.”

Simply put, there are guys who live and die with the game, and there are those for which there is always something more. Maybe not a greater calling, but a different one. Foyle has seemed to be such a player — Freeman mentioned at the time that Foyle’s reputation may be deceiving in that regard — and to that I’ll echo a slight disappointment should Adonal opt for a more conventional post-NBA path.

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.