Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry says contract talks may have affected his opening night performance

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The Warriors earned a hard-fought victory over the Suns on Wednesday, in a game where they blew all of a 17-point first-half lead and had to come from eight points down in the final period to get out with that win.

A big part of the Warriors’ trouble was the fact that the team’s biggest stars in Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut, and David Lee didn’t contribute in a positive way offensively to the team’s effort. Curry and Lee combined to make just 4-of-30 field goal attempts, and Bogut, playing his first game since suffering an ankle injury nine months ago, performed well but was limited to just 18 minutes by the team’s medical staff.

It’s unclear why Lee was so off on this night (and we’ll leave it to Warriors fans to further disparage his particular performance), but Curry may have had a legitimate reason.

The contract extension talks — which resulted in a generous $44 million dollar extension over the next four years — had been weighing on Curry significantly, and after the game he said that the “crazy day” he endured may have indeed been part of the reason for his 2-of-14 night from the field.

“I think it was just one of those games, but it was just a crazy day,” he said, while trying to make sense of it all. “It was still a little nerve-wracking the last 48 hours seeing if we could get something done, and obviously we didn’t have any games so it’s pretty much all I was thinking about. And then this morning, realizing that it was finally done, and then media obligations and family texting me every five seconds … it was definitely a blessing. But thankfully we were able to get a win and finish off the day nicely.”

The win almost didn’t come, with the Warriors leaving the door open time and again for the Suns to take it instead, especially down the stretch. Curry had a chance to seal the game with his team up two and just 4.4 seconds remaining, but the career 90 percent free throw shooter missed two straight from the line to give the Suns one final chance.

“That was about the sign of how my night went,” he said. “Thankfully there was not enough time for them to get a shot off and I was able to walk off with a win.”

Now that the contract extension is firmly in place, it’s likely Curry returns to form the next time he takes the court. If he takes the advice that head coach Mark Jackson had for him, he should be able to put this one bad game behind him and immediately find his way back.

“I told him he already earned his money,” Jackson said. “He doesn’t have to go out there and try to earn it all again in one night.”

Rudy Gay, Vlade Divac clear the air

Rudy Gay
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Rudy Gay expressed displeasure with how the Kings were handling trade rumors. Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac retorted that Gay had his phone number.

Apparently, Gay found it.

Sean Cunningham of ABC 10:

Following those comments, Gay told ABC10 on Thursday afternoon that he had since spoken with Divac.

“I have talked to Vlade,” Gay said from his Nike Skills Academy at Hardwood Palace in Rocklin. “I can’t say since Monday stuff has changed, but I just feel like we have a little bit of time to start changing things.”

Gay, who will be entering his 11th NBA season, has insisted he hasn’t demanded a trade and should he remain a member of the Kings by the time training camp opens in October, he says he’ll report and be ready to go.

“At this point in my career I just want to be happy,” said Gay. “I talked to Vlade and we’re trying to make that happen.”

Even if he hasn’t demanded a trade, it sure sounds like Gay would welcome one. I doubt the Kings would mind moving on, either.

But it takes another team to trade for Gay, and so far, one hasn’t emerged.

In the meantime, tensions appear to be eased. Open communication usually helps.

 

Jimmy Butler: I didn’t move Derrick Rose or Joakim Noah from Bulls

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Joakim Noah #13, Derrick Rose #1 and Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls react during the second half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 30, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Bulls 99-93. 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Jimmy Butler said of the Derrick Rose trade, “It had to be one of us.”

Butler also says not blame him for the Bulls losing Rose — or Joakim Noah, who’s also headed to the Knicks.

Jimmy Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“That has nothing to do with me, I don’t move guys,” Butler said. “People are gonna think what they’re gonna think. I don’t let it bother me. I know where I stand, I know who I am. It’s one more thing for people to talk about. I don’t pay too much attention to it.”

I can believe Butler didn’t directly urge Chicago to trade Rose, but Butler’s presence matters.

Rose and Butler clearly didn’t ideally mesh on the court, and there might have been off-court issues, too. If it weren’t for Butler, the Bulls might have kept Rose.

Noah is a little different, because it seems he, more than the team, was ready for a breakup. Still, that might have also had to do with Butler.

Butler is trying to grow into a leader, a natural progression for someone who became his team’s best player. But that was awkward with the Bulls’ previous leaders — Rose and Noah — still in the locker room. There’s no simple solution, though moving on without Rose and Noah will clear that cloud.

So — without other information — it’s too much to “blame” Butler for Rose’s and Noah’s departures. But Rose and Noah moving from Chicago to New York can still be ascribed to Butler.

It might not have been something asked for directly. It’s just the reality of the situation.

Dwyane Wade: “It’s Jimmy Butler’s team”

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Dwyane Wade is back in sweet home, Chicago.

Wade met with the media for the first time and talked about the pairing of himself and Rajon Rondo with the Bulls’ existing star in Jimmy Butler — Wade used the term “three alphas” more than once. But he also was clear about whose team this was going to be on the court.

“We’re not going to go through this all year. It’s Jimmy Butler’s team. Myself and Rondo are here to bring what we bring as athletes.”

Wade added that he would not be a Bull if Jimmy Butler had not personally called him and asked him to come.

Wade took that cue from Shaquille O’Neal when he joined Wade’s Heat team — which eventually led to the Heat’s first title in 2006. The Bulls would love for that kind of result here, although it’s much tougher to see this Chicago roster having anywhere near that kind of impact.

 

LeBron James talked Justin Bieber out of performing at Donald Trump’s nominating convention

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 29: Justin Bieber drinks champagne at the podium during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2016 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)
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With the Republican National Convention being held in Cleveland, you knew there was going to be a LeBron James influence.

It apparently kept Justin Bieber away from Donald Trump and Co.

TMZ

Justin Bieber got a $5 million offer to perform at a Republican event during the GOP Convention, but turned it down after his manager considered quitting and LeBron James urged him to reject it … sources tell TMZ.

That’s a lot of money for a single gig. This either speaks to the power of LeBron’s words — or the embellishment of Bieber’s value.