Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol

Blake Griffin says his game not about intimidation

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It looks intimidating.

When Blake Griffin flies in and dunks over Pau Gasol or Kendrick Perkins or Timofey Mozgov or any one of many of his victims, it looks intimidating. More than just the dunks, Griffin’s game plays to his physical strengths. He plays a power game.

But he says it’s not about intimidation.

“Intimidating, that’s not something I consciously go out and try to do,” Griffin told ProBasketballTalk. “As far as being physical, that’s just a part of my game. I don’t try really hard to be physical but it’s just a part of my game and I’m not going to shy away from it…

“I think it works to my advantage whenever it is a physical game because I feel more comfortable with contact and all that. It’s one of those that if it happens it happens, but I don’t go out seeking out contact and trying to hit guys hard.”

Griffin dishes out a physical game, but he takes it, too. The book on him is to push back, and a lot of teams do with hard fouls and physical play that are not called. It’s part of the NBA. He’s not backing down. Griffin said he is not sure there really is a lot of intimidation going on once you get to the NBA. Pretty much every guy there was the one doing the intimidating in high school, and the guys who back down tend not to make it this far.

“Not really, I really don’t think (there is intimidation in the NBA),” Griffin said. “A lot of these guys in the NBA are so talented you kind of have a mutual resect for guys and you know what guys can do and can’t do and you just try to play them the best you can.”

Griffin said right now he and the Clippers are trying to take care of their own business, to work on their defense, and not scoreboard watch as they head into the playoffs. They are in a battle for the Pacific Division crown with the Lakers — and the loser likely gets the red hot Memphis Grizzlies in the first round.

“It’s great to be able to play exactly who you want and be able to play at home, but it all means nothing if come out and didn’t play well,” Griffin said.

Griffin was speaking to PBT as part of a promotion with Subway, pointing out that during April people who stop in before 9 a.m. and buy any six-inch sandwich and the second one is free.

Griffin appears in a number of ads for Subway as well as other sponsors such as Kia. More and more, you are seeing Griffin’s personality — and dry sense of humor — shine through in those.

“When I first came in (to the league) I had never done anything like that,” Griffin said. “For me, it was tough to just open up and show some of (my personality). Now, doing more stuff, I have more opportunities, you open up to it. It’s a lot of fun. The more you do it the more comfortable you become.”

He’s comfortable being himself now. Both on and off the court. And that’s not supposed to be intimidating.

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.