Iguodala was frustrated in Philly, which somehow is news

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Somehow, the fact Andre Iguodala was never quite comfortable or happy in Philadelphia, especially the last couple years, has become a story. I’m not sure how this is news to anybody, but here we are.

Iguodala has a unique set of skills but he was always mismatched in the Sixers offense, and he was never a favorite of fans in Philly who thought he didn’t produce enough to warrant his contract. Iggy saw it differently, saying he was asked to facilitate on offense, not score.

That’s not at all where Matt Moore, writing for CBSSports.com, went with his interview with Iguodala, he talked mostly about a player whose contributions often are undervalued. But when Iguodala talked about that, he talked about his frustrations in Philly.

“I haven’t really enjoyed basketball a whole lot the last couple of years,” Iguodala said. “Last year was a big year for us, but it was just draining for the criticism to be there every single day….”

“Once again, you get that perception that you’re just a defender, you’re just an athlete, blah, blah, blah,” Iguodala said. “I think that’s what the perception was based on my last two years in Philly because I was the facilitator. They didn’t want me to go out there and get 20-25 (per game) because when I got that, they said we couldn’t win….”

“So in Doug Collins’ first year, I didn’t shoot threes because he was like, ‘I don’t want you shooting threes, I don’t want that shot.’ Last year, I said, ‘I’m shooting it.’ And what happened? Shot 38 percent from three, top-25 in the NBA from three and I’m supposed to be a non-shooter. You put so much work in, and then to be told, ‘Don’t do what you worked on all summer.'”

Of course, there are plenty in Philly who are not going to pass up another chance to take a swing at Iggy.

Fortunately for us, Doug Collins wasn’t one of them. He took the high road talking to CSNPhilly.com.

“My feeling is I had a wonderful two years with ‘Dre,” Collins said. “I look back and I think he made me a better coach….

“Our first year, we were plus-14 wins and he was second-team All-Defense. Our next year, we go to the seventh game of the conference semifinals, and he makes the All-Star team and wins a gold medal. So I feel great about our time together.”

I think the guy that may make the most sense is Evan Turner talking to CSNPhilly.com.

“I think ‘Dre, whether he was frustrated or not, he still came out and played every night. He played hurt. You can’t really knock his opinion. It is his opinion and I am not going to knock him for how he feels because that is a personal thing. At the end of the day, it is about what the team needs from you and what the coach asks you to do. In Andre’s defense, he always did both. Last year, he was an All-Star, won a gold medal and got us to the second round.”

Philly never ran an offense that really played to Iguodala’s strengths, Denver does. Fast tempo, lots of touches, lots of chances to turn defense into offense and a green light to shoot any open shot. Use him right, like Team USA did in the Olympics, and he can be a force. Iguodala is the most George Karl of players, and he could have a monster year in Denver.

And he seems happy. Which clearly he was not the past couple years. I’m not really sure how that’s a surprise.

Jazz mitigate loss of Gordon Hayward well, but that’s still a devastating departure

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Jazz traded up to draft a player who is already exceeding expectations.

But they lost Gordon Hayward.

The Jazz made a savvy trade to land a starter before free agency even began.

But they lost Gordon Hayward.

The Jazz executed several nice value signings.

But they lost Gordon Hayward.

In what was otherwise a smart offseason, there’s just no way around Utah losing Hayward – a 27-year-old star at the critical wing position. Hayward’s importance to the Jazz is self-evident in the effort to re-sign him – a max offer, a billboard, multiple players flying to San Diego for a final meeting. His departure to the Celtics derails what had been a promising ascension.

Two years ago, the Jazz were the only team with four 25-and-under players – Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood – who posted at least six win shares.

Last year, the Jazz were the only team a pair of 26-and-under players – Hayward and Gobert – who posted at least 10 win shares.

Though Favors’ and Hood’s progress was sidetracked by injury, Utah still made another step forward with Hayward and Gobert becoming All-Star caliber. If Favors and Hood got healthy, they could have joined Hayward and Gobert – and Donovan Mitchel (who was drafted No. 13 this year then impressed in summer league) and Ricky Rubio (who was acquired for just a likely low first-round pick thanks to the Jazz’s excess cap space to close the 2016-17 fiscal year) – in a core that was growing into a legitimate Western Conference power.

Alas, Hayward bolted for Boston, which threatens even more in the Eastern Conference.

The Jazz rebounded as well as can be expected. They preemptively got Rubio for just a lottery-protected Thunder pick, allowing them not to re-sign George Hill and deal with the 31-year-olds frequent injury troubles. Mitchell has quickly drawn rave reviews. Thabo Sefolosha ($5.25 million), Jonas Jerebko ($4 million) and Ekpe Udoh ($3.2 million) are all on favorable salaries – and each have unguaranteed seasons tacked on for next year, making their deals even more team-friendly.

Those players could join a deep rotation that already includes Gobert, Favors, Hood, Joe Ingles, Joe Johnson and Dante Exum. And here’s a little secret: Gobert – not Hayward, the team’s lone All-Star – was Utah’s best player last year. The Jazz aren’t falling off the map just yet.

Their defense might be even better. They could win even more than the 51 games they won last year if healthier.

But their offense will suffer without Hayward’s creation (which could hurt their defensive rating, if they’re defending after makes less often), and their ceiling is far lower. Guaranteeing Ingles $50 million during his 30s is probably an overpay that will also limit flexibility, though at least his salary declines annually.

The Jazz did a good job of handling losing a star. But losing a star isn’t good, and I’m grading results.

Offseason grade: D+

Kyrie Irving-LeBron James saga featured in hilarious parody of Eminem’s ‘Stan’ (video)

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What’s going on between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James?

I’ve seen better explanations.

But I haven’t seen more entertaining explanations.

Houston billionaire Dan Friedkin expresses interest in buying Rockets

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We’ve seen the flashy names – Beyonce and Hakeem Olajuwon – interested in buying the Rockets.

But what about someone who can actually afford a majority stake?

Mark Berman of Fox 26:

Houston billionaire Dan Friedkin, owner and CEO of Gulf States Toyota and the president and CEO of the Friedkin Group, acknowledged in a statement released to FOX 26 Sports that he is interested in buying the Houston Rockets franchise.

“I’ve expressed interest in exploring the purchase of the Houston Rockets,” Friedkin said in a statement released by his company.

Forbes pegs Friedkin’s net worth worth at $3.1 billion and the Rockets’ value $1.65 billion. So, while he might be able to buy the team outright, it’d likely be a stretch of his assets.

More likely, if Friedkin is serious about purchasing the team, he’ll do so as part of a group. Whether he’d spend enough to be the controlling owner is an open question.

Memphis coach David Fizdale calls confederate monuments in city “unacceptable”

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Confederate President Jefferson Davis has a statue in Memphis. So does Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a man who went on to be one of the early members of — and reportedly the first grand wizard of — the Ku Klux Klan (he would later deny to Congress any involvement with the group). Both men lived in Memphis.

The Memphis City Council voted in 2015 to remove those statues — part of a growing trend nationally to remove Confederate monuments — but it was stopped because the statue is under the jurisdiction of the Tennessee Historical Commission, which denied the request. The city is still fighting that legal battle.

The removal issue has been divisive is Memphis, but in the wake of violence in Charlottesville by white supremacists and Nazis — ostensibly about the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in that city, but really about much more than that — Grizzlies coach David Fizdale spoke out on the issue. He was interviewed as part of the MLK50: Justice through Journalism program, with the translation courtesy The Commercial Appeal‘s Geoff Calkins.

“Fifty years later (Martin Luther King Jr.) is speaking to us from the grave and telling us to stand up to this crap that we’re seeing, that’s festering in our country, that our president has seemed to deem OK and label as equal as people who are fighting for love and fighting hate and bigotry and all of those things. We’ve got to listen to Dr. King. There’s no way, with me being the head coach in the city of Memphis, that I will sit on the sidelines and disgrace his legacy, my grandfather’s legacy, and let somebody destroy something that we built in America that I think can be exemplary.”

“I can’t sit and watch this, not in a city where Dr. King was assassinated 50 years ago, where we have, even today in our city a statue of a known Klansman, right here in the beautiful city of Memphis with all these incredibly wonderful people. It’s unacceptable. It will no longer stand. I think you’re seeing it all over America people are not standing for it anymore. It’s a black eye on our history.”

David Fizdale is not known for holding back his feelings — “take that for data!” — and he is spot on here on a far more important issue. Good on him for using his platform and voice to speak out.

These are statues dedicated to men who fought to uphold slavery as an institution, and as a nation that something we fought a war over. The north and the Union Army won the military campaign more than 150 years ago, but we are still fighting the Civil War in this nation in terms of ideals. Fizdale understands that. Removal of those statues is a step in the right direction, away from glorifying an ugly past built on the notion that one man was not equal to another, that one man could own another.

Don’t expect Fizdale to be quiet on this issue. Nor should he be.