Agent: Hey, stop picking on Rudy Fernandez, it's not nice

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nba_fernandez_250.jpgRudy Fernandez has not been popular in Portland this summer. Primarily because he said he didn’t want to be there anymore, said he wanted to be in Europe and had an agent publicly pushing for a trade.

But you know, aside that it’s all puppies and rainbows.

Jason Quick of the Oregonian wrote what a lot of Portlanders have been feeling recently. The article may have crossed the line — Fernandez is there and balling — but it spoke for a lot of people.

Gerard Darnes, the European agent for Fernandez, came out returning fire for his guy in Portland Wednesday. First he went on 95.5 FM’s “Morning Sports Page” and said you can’t blame someone for having the desire to be somewhere else (not so sure about that) and that Fernandez has been in camp and professional through this (that is true).

Then in the afternoon Darnes sent a letter to members of the Portland media, which you can read the highlights of here (as posted by Blazers Edge):

First of all, I don’t think anybody has the right to make fun or joking about a human being wishes and desires, and nobody can evaluate how fine or how sad a human being is being far from home, friends and culture. Nobody can blame any little thing about Rudy practice and attitude. He has been playing in every practice that he could.

He apologize to the staff and to the owner if anything he said hurted them during the summer… Also, as he said, is not getting used to the NBA system, he likes the European style of game better.

In my personal opinion, NBA and the Union have to find new rules that adjust the relationships between NBA franchise and the rest of the world.

Mr. Darnes, think what you want of the Oregonian article, there are some underlying things here: Fans are emotionally invested in a team so when you say you don’t want to play for a franchise, that is taken as a personal insult. Blazers fans love Portland and the team that your client wants nothing to do with. That after signing a contract that committed him to them. That feels personal on some levels.

Second, Fernandez is being paid very well. The Trail Blazers have lived up to their end of the deal — he has been paid more than $2.2 million total the last couple years and will make another $1.2 million this year. That’s a lot of scratch. It’s hard to be sympathetic with a guy making 20 times what you are and then complains about his situation.

Just so you are clear where everyone is coming from.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

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There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.