Carlesimo admits benching Lopez against Grizzlies was mistake

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Brook Lopez was in a mini-slump following All-Star Weekend in Houston. That happens. The players are pulled 50 different directions during the day and then there are parties every night.

But a week after that game, on Sunday night, the Nets were locked in a low-scoring affair with the Memphis Grizzlies, a team with a big front line (Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol). Plus the Nets were without Joe Johnson for the night.

But coach P.J. Carlesimo benched Lopez the entire fourth quarter. Memphis won 76-72 and the Nets offense had no good options late, while their leading scorer (18.7 points a game) sat on the bench.

Carlesimo admitted to Howard Beck at the New York Times that was a mistake.

Carlesimo acknowledged his error Monday, telling reporters: “I created the situation, and it’s not a good situation. I worry about it that I need to address it, and I worry about it that I need to watch what I do going forward.”

Thing is, Carlesimo has done that a few times recently, Andray Blatche is getting the run. Not only does Lopez need to be in the game but the Nets need to run plays for him — he can score with the game on the line but he’s not going to be Joe Johnson, get the ball 25 feet from the basket and create his own shot. Get Lopez the rock in the post or force the defense to adjust and take that away, which opens up other options.

The Nets are not a consistent team. They need to lean more on Lopez and Johnson, who are their most reliable players night in and night out.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.