Coaches of the Greek and Serbian teams are, shockingly, shocked at FIBA's suspension rulings

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Hey, remember that time a Greece-Serbia friendly broke out into a rootin’, tootin’, chair-throwin’ brawl? When Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis went absolutely nuts?

Even if you don’t (which you really should — it’s been the most notable moment in the lead-up to the FIBA World Championships), I’m pretty sure the Serbian and Greek players, do. And FIBA, too, judging by the fact that they doled out suspensions yesterday.

Suspensions that the coaches of each national team don’t seem to be too happy about. From the Associated Press:

[Serbia coach Dusan] Ivkovic criticized FIBA for waiting until less than 48 hours before the start of the tournament to suspend Oklahoma City Thunder center Nenad Krstic and guard Milos Teodosic for their roles in a brawl in Greece.

Krstic will miss the first three games and Teodosic the first two.
Ivkovic said Serbia has lost “two key players” for the games against
Angola, Germany and Jordan. “We will be playing 10 against 12 in
the first two matches and 11 against 12 in the third and that’s a big
handicap,” Ivkovic said.

“We have to react in a very short time,
I have to prepare my players mentally,” Ivkovic added. “Krstic is our
captain, or pillar, our main offensive option. Without Teodosic, we
lose a lot of creativity.”

Greece coach Jonas Kazlauskas said the
FIBA suspensions altered his plans ahead of Saturday’s opening game
against China. Both Fotsis and Schortsanitis will also be sitting on
the bench during Sunday’s game against Puerto Rico. “It is a disappointment,” Kazlauskas said after practice at Ankara Arena in Ankara, Turkey. “This is something unbelievable.”

Personally, I find both Ivkovic and Kazlauskas’ reactions to be a bit…surprising. Coaches of national teams often take on this “us against the world” mentality, probably because it literally is them against the world. Still, though FIBA officials could certainly have issued a quicker, and more decisive ruling, both coaches should understand that their players got off easy.

Krstic threw a chair at someone, and will sit for three preliminary games. Sofoklis Schortsanitis’ damage wasn’t even properly captured by the camera, but looks plenty brutal enough. It doesn’t matter if FIBA games have a “European atmosphere,” or not, this isn’t acceptable behavior. FIBA issued a statement saying as much, and then proceeded to issue a few slaps on the wrist for the players involved.

This isn’t “something unbelievable,” unless Kazlauskas agrees that FIBA should have been a bit more harsh in their punishment. There’s no use in Ivkovic griping about how long it took to issue the suspensions when everyone got off a bit easy. The coaches aren’t just looking the gift horse in the mouth on this one, they’re punching it in the mouth.

Or maybe even throwing a chair.

Celebrating anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game (VIDEO)

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Sorry to bring this up Raptors fans…

It was 11 years ago today (Sunday) that Kobe Bryant dropped 81 points on the Toronto Raptors in an eventual Lakers win. We thought it would be fun for everyone south of the border to take a walk down memory lane.

Remember, this was not just Kobe padding stats, the Lakers were on a two-game losing streak and were down 14 at the half to the Raptors. This was a Lakers team that started Kwame Brown and Smush Parker — I still say getting this team to the playoffs was one of Phil Jackson’s great coaching jobs — and the Lakers needed Kobe to step up and take over. So he did.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson each hit seven threes, Warriors pull away from Magic

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each hit seven 3-pointers and the Golden State Warriors won their seventh straight game, beating the Orlando Magic 118-98 on Sunday.

Tied at the half, the Warriors woke up from West Coast time in the second half to pull away. This was the first Eastern time zone noon tip for them since 1995, when they lost by 34 points in Orlando.

Curry went 7 for 13 on 3s and scored 27 points while Thompson as 7 for 9 from behind the arc and had 21 points. The Warriors shot 19 of 42 overall from 3-point range while the Magic went 7 for 28.

After trailing by 11 in the first half and committing a dozen turnovers, the Warriors went into the break even at 50. Curry hit four 3s and had 14 points in the third quarter as the Warriors outscored the Magic 42-24.

Kevin Durant added 15 points for the Warriors, Zaza Pachulia had 14 and JaVale McGee added 13.

Elfrid Payton led Orlando with 23 points. Nikola Vucevic, Jeff Green, C.J. Watson and Bismack Biyombo each had 12.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Lost at Orlando 132-98 on March 26, 1995, in their previous noon tip in the East. … Coach Steve Kerr decided to rest backup point guard Shaun Livingston.

Magic: D.J. Augustin sprained his right ankle during the second quarter and did not return to the game. … The Magic signed D-League affiliate Erie BayHawks forward Anthony Brown to a 10-day contract Sunday. Brown is averaging 21.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and one steal in 16 games with the BayHawks.

 

Report: Bulls shopping Rajon Rondo, Nikola Mirotic as trade deadline apporaches

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 02: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Chicago Bulls watches from the bench as the Bulls take on the Charlotte Hornets at the United Center on January 2, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Hornets 118-111. The 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Chicago’s front office chose to make quick-fix, treading water moves this summer. They wisely traded Derrick Rose and kept Jimmy Butler as a franchise cornerstone, but when the possibility of getting Dwyane Wade became a reality they decided to push to win more now, adding Rajon Rondo to the mix. The fit seemed awkward from the start and the result is exactly what everyone outside Chicago predicted — a roughly .500 team (22-23) that is terrible at shooting the three.

The Bulls are barely in the playoff mix and are now looking to make changes, shopping Rondo and Nikola Mirotic in hopes of finding players that are better fits, reports Joe Crowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to multiple sources, the Bulls have been actively shopping Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic in hopes of shaking up the roster, as well as making a second-half run in the wide-open Eastern Conference. However, according to one of the sources, neither player is moving the needle as far as what general manager Gar Forman deems a worthy return.

“Obviously, you knew that would be the case with Rondo,’’ the source said. “But they don’t like what they’re hearing back on [Mirotic] either. Then again, that’s a [front office] that tends to overvalue its assets.”

This isn’t really news to anyone following the Bulls, they have been looking for deals — particularly for Rondo — for a little while.

The bigger question is: What do the Bulls think they could get back for Rondo? It’s not going to be anything of value. The summer free agent market for him was not strong and, while he was arguably the best point guard still on the market when they went looking, the $14 million they gave him this season was more about money they had to spend than pure market value. Since then, Rondo has had clashes with the coaching staff and been sent to the bench which plays into his reputation (whether that is fair or not is another question), making it even harder to find a taker for him.

Mirotic has taken a step back this season and is inconsistent with what his supposed to be his strength, outside shooting — he is hitting just 31.1 percent from three this season. While a change of scenery could be good for his touch from the outside, he is also a major defensive liability, which limits his value.

All of which is to say, the Bulls are not going to get a lot in return here. The Bulls may realize that Cristiano Felicio is the future at that spot for them, but it doesn’t mean others are biting on Mirotic.

Also, just a reminder that the Bulls are shooting down all trade interest about Butler.

 

Baron Davis figured out why Russell Westbrook isn’t starting All-Star Game: Russian hackers

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When the starters for next month’s All-Star Game in New Orleans were announced this week, there was a mini-uproar on Twitter because Russell Westbrook — the guy averaging a triple-double this season — wasn’t picked. It’s hard for me to get worked up over two-time MVP Stephen Curry getting the nod, but if you want someone to blame it was the fans’ call — they voted Curry first overall, James Harden second, Westbrook third. The players and media had Westbrook first, Harden second, but the tie is broken by the fan vote.

Enter Baron Davis with the timely joke.

We just need to tie in a Zaza Pachulia joke and it will be perfect.