Pat Riley

Winderman: Odd NBA executive vote mostly anti-Riley sour grapes

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So what does the NBA think of the notion of securing a big bag of money and throwing it in front of three of the game’s best players?

Apparently not much.

So despite landing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh during last summer’s free-agency-free-for-all, Heat President Pat Riley received only a partial cut of the NBA Executive of the Year award when the balloting results were announced Tuesday.

Actually, Riley was gifted that piddling stake.

In the vote of one executive from each of the league’s 30 teams, Riley received 11 votes, as did Bulls General Manager Gar Forman.

Trouble was, Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson finished third with three votes.

In essence, there were 14 votes for what the Bulls accomplished, 11 for the Heat’s haul.

First, let’s recap: The Bulls visited Cleveland in July to woo James. They then held multiple meetings with Wade and Bosh in Chicago.

Riley signed all three.

Chicago then settled for consolation prizes Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer.

Granted, the Bulls did finish ahead of the Heat in the Eastern Conference.

But it wasn’t because of Boozer, Korver or Brewer.

It was because they won the 2008 NBA Draft lottery over the Heat, getting Derrick Rose at No. 1, with the Heat settling for Michael “since-traded” Beasley at No. 2.

There is no debating the Bulls had arguably the league’s best player this season in Rose, who was named MVP.

And Tom Thibodeau accomplished as much as any coach, closing with the league’s best record on the way to the nod as Coach of the Year.

But exactly which of the 19 team executives that didn’t vote for Riley wouldn’t have taken his haul over any other?

Non-Riley Voter: “Yeah boss, I know we can sign LeBron, Wade and Bosh, but this Boozer guy sometimes plays defense, this Korver dude does one thing very well, and this Brewer fella can defend when he’s not hurt.”

Owner of team run by Non-Riley Voter: “You are an idiot.”

Or, of course, someone who got burned by Riley.

Hmm, the Bulls, Clippers, Cavaliers, Nets and Knicks all interviewed LeBron in Cleveland. (We figure it’s safe to say that if you work for Dan Gilbert, you don’t dare vote for Riley.)

That’s five nays.

The Raptors lost Bosh.

There’s six.

The Magic and Mavericks have had their feuds for years with the Heat.

Seven and eight.

And many would-be contenders saw their chances evaporate when Riley got his Big Three.

Nine, 10 11 . . . you get the point.

There is, of course, consolation for Riley.

Along with half an award . . . he also still has LeBron, Wade and Bosh, and possibly some championship hardware on the way.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for theSouth Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/IraHeatBeat.

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.