Orlando Magic v Phoenix Suns

Suns coach Gentry gets vote of confidence; report has Beasley as issue

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When the Phoenix Suns traded Steve Nash, let Grant Hill go and brought in Michael Beasley to be the designated scorer, you knew things were not going to go all that well in the Valley of the Sun this year.

But Suns fans weren’t ready for a 7-15 record with seven straight losses, and everyone is starting to point fingers.

Two things leaked out of Phoenix. One was owner Robert Sarver backing his coach, via Chris Broussard of ESPN.

The other is this tweet from the well respected Shaun Powell (who has written for NBA.com, ESPN and others).

 

Is any of this really a surprise?

We can have a discussion of if Gentry was the right guy for this job all along, but Gentry didn’t forget how to coach in past year. He took the Suns to 54 wins his first year, but as the roster aged and was depleted they became a .500 team the past couple seasons. Then they took a lot more talent away and they struggled this year. That’s not all the coach. You can bring back John Wooden and he couldn’t coach this Suns roster to the playoffs.

And you added Beasley as a go-to guy — for three years at $18 million — and you’re stunned he’s not an efficient scorer and can divide a locker room? Beasley is giving the Suns 11.4 points a game but at 38.3 percent shooting and 30.5 percent from three. He’s a gunner, it’s what he is. Sam Amick had more details at USA Today.

The nature of Beasley’s role is at the root of the problem. Despite the fact that he was added to take a leading-scorer role, there is a sentiment from some on the team that the Suns are more effective when his role is limited. Apparently coach Alvin Gentry is among those who have that opinion, as he played Beasley just 15 minutes in Sunday’s loss to Orlando that was the Suns’ eighth straight defeat.

The truly problematic part, according to a person close to the situation who spoke with USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, is that Beasley is hardly hiding his frustrations with the fact that his role isn’t what he thought it would be.

The Suns may want to trade Beasley, but the market for him is going to be rock bottom. They are going to have take back a contract or player they don’t want if they can even find someone who wants to take Beasley on.

Sorry Suns fans, but this is what rebuilding feels like. Especially when you use someone like Beasley as a patch to make it less painful, because there is no way to make it hurt less. I’m sorry Kendall Marshall is struggling (even in the D-League) and that it’s going to take time. That is the nature of it. Rebuilding is a hit and miss process, it’s not all Oklahoma City.

But you can’t throw this all at Gentry’s feet. Especially not Beasley.

Luis Scola to carry Argentina’s flag in Olympic opening ceremony

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 22:  Luis Scola #4 of Argentina brings the ball up the court against the United States during a USA Basketball showcase exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The United States won 111-74.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Pau Gasol carried Spain’s flag and Yi Jianlian carried China’s flag for the 2012 Olympics.

The NBA will once again be prominently represented in the opening ceremony this year — with new Net Luis Scola.

Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:

Argentina is back in the Olympics, and this time Scola isn’t just leading the basketball team.

He’s leading the whole delegation.

The veteran forward will carry the flag in the opening ceremony

Scola will team with Manu Ginobili to try stopping Argentina’s Olympic slide — gold in 2004, bronze in 2008, fourth in 2012.

Watch Alfonso Ribeiro show Stephen Curry, Justin Timberlake how to do the Carlton

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There are not words.

Stephen Curry was paired with Justin Timberlake at the American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe this weekend, which at first led to mouthpiece throwing.

Then the Carlton. With Alfonso Ribeiro.

Why New Orleans, despite Louisiana lawsuit, differs from Charlotte for NBA All-Star game

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 22:  President & COO of the Golden State Warriors Rick Welts speaks as (L-R) Co-Executive Chairman's Peter Guber and Joe Lacob, and Mayor Edwin M. Lee looks on at a press conference with the Golden State Warriors announcing plans to build a new sport and entertainment arena on the waterfront in San Francisco in time for the 2017-18 NBA Season on May 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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How could the NBA pull the All-Star game from Charlotte due to North Carolina’s anti-LGBT law and move it to New Orleans, considering Louisiana is suing the Obama administration over its directive on sex discrimination?

This leak from the Board of Governors meeting proves illustrative.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

In a poignant address, Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, 63, who is openly gay, explained his meaningful and lifelong affiliation with the NBA and told league owners he didn’t feel comfortable attending the All-Star Game in Charlotte if the law remained as is.

He then said if the All-Star Game remained in Charlotte, he wouldn’t feel comfortable attending, and he said he has spoken to employees in the LBGT community from half of the league’s teams who didn’t feel comfortable attending either.

Another influence on the NBA owners: A number of NBA sponsor/partner businesses have told the league they would not be involved if the game remained in North Carolina.

This isn’t so much about a moral stance or punishing North Carolina. It obviously isn’t about punishing Louisiana.

It’s about treating employees and customers with respect.

Putting valued employees in uncomfortable positions is bad business. Holding All-Star Weekend in North Carolina would have done that. Maybe Welts and those he spoke with wouldn’t immediately quit in protest, but why should the league put them in such harsh work conditions? Imagine being forced to choose between your job and traveling to a place you’re denied fundamental protection under the law. Welts earned his position for a reason. The NBA should make reasonable efforts to retain him and other talent.

The same is true of potential customers, some of whom would have been reluctant to attend All-Star Weekend in North Carolina for the same reasons. Maybe the NBA still would have sold out every event, but it’s not worth alienating a portion of the fanbase. (Though the league’s decision inevitably alienated some fans on the other side of the issue. There is some moralism at play here.)

Maybe Louisiana will eventually succeed in its lawsuit and enact its own anti-LGBT laws. But right now, New Orleans doesn’t legally discriminate against the LGBT community. That makes it an acceptable place to host the All-Star game.

This isn’t about sending a message. It’s about finding a location people like Welts — people the NBA value — feel comfortable.

Report: Celtics agree to guaranteed contract with Demetrius Jackson, partially guaranteed deal with Ben Bentil

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 25:  Demetrius Jackson #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish celebrates after defeating the Wisconsin Badgers with a score of 56 to 61 during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional at Wells Fargo Center on March 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Celtics are slowly but surely taking care of their eight (!) 2016 draft picks.

They’ll sign No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown. No. 16 pick Guerschon Yabusele and No. 23 pick Ante Zizic will remain overseas. The Nos. 31 and 35 picks were traded for a future first-rounder on draft night.

And Boston has reached terms with No. 45 pick Demetrius Jackson and No. 51 pick Ben Bentil.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe:

As second-rounders, neither Jackson nor Bentil count against the cap until signed. So, the Celtics — with a little cap space plus the room exception and minimum-salary exceptions available — might wait a while to officially sign either player.

Jackson would give Boston 16 players — one more than the regular-season roster limit — with guaranteed salaries. Obviously, the Celtics will have to make a move — a big one, they surely hope.

Any deal could avoid a point guard, because Jackson makes four with Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier. Most teams carry just three.

With this roster crunch, Bentil will probably head to the D-League after training camp. The partial guarantee is likely just designed to entice him to stick in Boston’s system rather than sign overseas.

This leaves just No. 58 pick Abdel Nader unaccounted for among the Celtics eight (!) 2016 draft picks.