Shaquille O'Neal Heat

Shaq’s interesting interpretation of his final days in Miami


The feeling of the people in Miami about Shaquille O’Neal and his book may best be summed up by a tweet from Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel:

There is the truth and then there is Shaq’s spin on his Heat departure.

But Shaq’s spin makes for an entertaining read. The chapter of his new book — Shaq Uncut: My Story — that deals with his final days with the Heat was published on ESPN over the weekend.

As we detailed before, Shaq says his ticket out of Miami was punched when he stood up to Pat Riley for being too hard on the team. Specifically, Riley threw Jason Williams out of practice for being “10 seconds late” and that Shaq had enough. As Shaq tells it, he and Riley did not get along and after that incident they almost came to blows. Soon after the Heat were shopping him around.

When he traded me, Pat denied we were having any problems. He told the media, “I loved Shaq when I got him and I love him today.”

He didn’t mean it. He hated the way I called him out. He didn’t like to be challenged. I’m sure he thought I was trying to destroy the culture he created. He was probably right. I thought his “culture” needed some tweaking.

Winderman recounts a different telling after the Shaq trade, when Heat owner Micky Arison spoke about how things went down.

Foremost, in the wake of the unloading of O’Neal, Arison spoke of the center’s push for a trade dating to December 2007, with the Dallas Mavericks the object of the center’s affections at the time….

Amid that unease, O’Neal’s Heat teammates at the time told stories of how the massive center would engage in horseplay in the locker room prior to games only to tell the team’s training staff he was physically unable to play.

Did free spirit Shaq and harda** Pat Riley have a clash of styles? You bet. But just be careful buying the idea that Shaq was the good guy in all this. Shaq was Shaq, and any time he ran into a culture that really pushed him to better use his talents (Kobe Bryant, for example) he pushed against it.

Still, Shaq makes a good read.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.