Baron Davis says playing for Clippers almost killed his love of the game

14 Comments

Right now, the Los Angeles Clippers are the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA. They are athletic, fast paced, smart thanks to Chris Paul at the helm. They are learning to be contenders. There is a buzz around their games that is reminiscent of that other team in Staples Center — the building is full, it’s loud (louder than Lakers games) and there are a lot of people showing up to be seen in the lower bowl.

But the history of the Clippers still looms over this success — owner Donald Sterling is keeping an arm’s length from this team. Which is a good thing. Because he is the person most capable of killing all that momentum.

For an example of how, we bring you part of a must-read Baron Davis Q&A with the New York Post, where Davis recounts how Sterling used to heckle him from courtside.

And the other lowest point is when I played for the Clippers. … I just stopped liking basketball. And then you dribbling down the court and having the owner like cuss at you and call you an idiot. I didn’t even look forward to coming to the games, and if the owner [Donald Sterling] came to the game, I definitely was not gonna have a good game because it was just like, how do you play when the main heckler in the gym is the owner of the team, and he’s telling you how much he hates you and calling out your name?

Make no mistake, Davis was frustrating to Clippers fans. His injuries often stemmed from his conditioning early in the season, he seemed to be focused only every third game or so, and he fell in love with the pull-up three with 16 seconds left on the shot clock. Plus, a key reason they wanted to trade him was to get his attitude and work ethic out of a locker room where Blake Griffin was changing the culture.

But it’s a big jump from there to the owner sitting courtside and heckling one of his own players. It is right out of bad management 101. And we’re not going to get into the laundry list of other issues around Sterling. There are fantastic, hardworking people in the Clippers organization who have made smart moves to get them where they are. Let’s hope the man at the top doesn’t screw that up.

Back to Davis, he also talks about Jeremy Lin, UCLA, Steve Lavin, John Wooden and much more. Here are some comments on Lin and how their games mesh, but go read the whole thing.

He’s an attack, attack, attack, attack. Like he’s speed and fast. I’m more so kinda shifty and at a different pace than his. I’m more like pass first than I am scoring. … He plays like north-south … straight lines. … I play like … in squiggly lines. Jeremy sets the defense up because he attacks, attacks, attacks and gets in the paint and puts a lot of pressure on the defense. Then when they’re used to that pressure, when I come in, it’s like, “Oh, he’s not going all the way to the basket. He’s stopping, and he’s finding.”

Report: Timberwolves active in trying to land Paul George or Jimmy Butler

Leave a comment

Minnesota is one of the NBA’s best positioned up-and-coming teams. They have a franchise cornerstone in Karl-Anthony Towns, a quality No. 2 in Andrew Wiggins, maybe like Zach LaVine can blossom into an All-Star, and players such as Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica could be part of the picture. Maybe Ricky Rubio, too, although he’s further along his career arc. A lot of people look at this team and think around 2020, when the Warriors fade (or break apart), the Timberwolves can step up to elite.

Tom Thibodeau is apparently not willing to be that patient — he’s looking to get in the Paul George/Jimmy Butler talks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Thibodeau helped develop Butler in Chicago and they have a great relationship, he certainly makes the Timberwolves better next season. Same with George, although he’s a rental who almost certainly bolts after the coming season

My question to the Timberwolves: Why?

What was wrong with the building trajectory they are on? I get it, they haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004, a ton of money was just sunk into upgrades at the Target Center, and the owner is not getting younger. Those are all non-basketball reasons to screw up what the basketball side is doing right. It’s the mistake of poor franchises to let that happen.

Could the Timberwolves use a point guard of the future, more depth on the wings and better defenders all around? You bet. But they don’t need to rush the development program either. If Minnesota can land Butler only giving up Rubio and a protected future first or something, sure, but the Bulls continue to ask a very high price for a deal.

Outside of personal feelings, why would the Timberwolves do that?

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge unhappy playing for Spurs

Jason Miller/Getty Images
4 Comments

The Spurs trading LaMarcus Aldridge – they’re reportedly shopping him – could open enough cap space to sign Chris Paul.

But that isn’t the only reason San Antonio is trying to move Aldridge.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

According to a person with knowledge of the Spurs forward’s situation, it’s the 31-year-old’s unhappiness in San Antonio that is the driving force behind the Spurs’ trade talks on Thursday. The five-time All-Star, according to the person, is hopeful that San Antonio can find a better fit for his talents.

Rumors about the Spurs trading Aldridge emerged early in the season, as he was reportedly unhappy about Kawhi Leonard getting the spotlight. When Aldridge signed with San Antonio, it seemed Leonard could do the heavy lifting as the team’s best player and Aldridge could get outsized credit as the leading scorer. But Leonard has emerged as the go-to offensive player, pushing Aldridge into a supporting role both in reality and reputation. Gregg Popovich calling out Aldridge publicly during the playoffs surely didn’t improve relations.

Aldridge turns 32 this summer and will likely become a free agent after next season. Wanting to leave the Spurs – held up as the NBA’s best culture – will raise additional red flags.

San Antonio might not get as much as it hopes in a trade for Aldridge. If Chris Paul is coming, the Spurs wouldn’t need as much for Aldridge. But they won’t know about Paul until July.

San Antonio also values building a roster of players who’ve, as Popovich puts it, “gotten over themselves.” If that’s not Aldridge, the Spurs might not want to keep him around.

There are numerous factors to weigh and incomplete information, but this is the twisting road San Antonio is navigating.

Here’s Knicks’ reported asking price from Celtics in Kristaps Porzingis trade

8 Comments

Knicks president Phil Jackson’s asking price for Kristaps Porzingis is reportedly “massive.”

Just what does that mean?

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

According to a Knicks source, Jackson is asking for the third overall pick in Thursday’s draft as well as next year’s Brooklyn pick along with Jaylen Brown and Jae Crowder. This version of the deal would not include Boston taking on Joakim Noah‘s contract.

All the Knicks fans who threatened to relinquish their fandom if the team traded Porzingis – most would love this deal.

Would the Celtics? I doubt it.

The question is whether there’s a middle ground between what New York wants and what Boston would do. It’s possible Jackson won’t budge and is just shopping Porzingis on the off chance someone accepts outlandish requests like these and to teach Porzingis a lesson for skipping his exit meeting.

Report: First-round draft prospect says Phil Jackson fell asleep during his workout

16 Comments

Like I said, there are better reasons to criticize Phil Jackson than him saying his priority was the Knicks and that he had discussed trading Kristaps Porzingis.

Jay Williams of ESPN:

A top-15 draft pick told me the other day, because we were involved in this out of this conversation about Phil Jackson and the Knicks, and he said, “Phil Jackson was falling in and out of sleep in my workout.”

Yes. “Falling in and out of sleep at my workout.” This is what this guy told me.

Especially given Jackson’s salary and reputation for not being a diligent worker, this story is too good to check out.