Dahntay Jones again says he feels bad, didn’t try to intentionally hurt Kobe

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Dahntay Jones has been hearing it from everyone today — Kobe Bryant has vociferous defenders online and in the media, and when he sprained his ankle then said and tweeted he felt it was intentional, the attack dogs came out.

And a lot of people such as TrueHoop’s Henry Abbot (certainly not always a Kobe backer) raised legitimate questions about what Jones did — he tightly contested and Kobe’s potentially game-tying shot, but he didn’t leave Kobe room to land. (By the way, did anyone else enjoy the irony of Bruce Bowen calling Jones out for this on ESPN?)

After the game Kobe referenced Jalen Rose, a player that admitted he slid under Kobe intentionally in the NBA finals and forced him to miss a game with a sprained ankle.

On SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio channel 86 Thursday, host Adam Schein (“Schein on Sports”) got Jones to talk about the play — and as he tweeted the night before Jones said this was not intentional.

“After the game I felt bad and heard the responses and things of that nature, that he sprained his ankle. After I turned around on the play I saw that he was hurt and I thought that I did hurt him. We went in the locker room and looked at it and when we looked at it from three different angles it looked as if he came down on the floor but my foot was behind where he came down on. And I didn’t feel him come down on my ankle so I never thought he came down on my foot. And usually when shooters come down on your foot they come down on the top of your foot and that’s how they roll [their] ankle. So I felt bad. That’s why I kept looking at the play to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. And I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. I was trying to contest the jump shot and my job as a defender is to make people uncomfortable and to challenge shots. I had an iso with eight seconds. I was trying to get him to go where I wanted him to. He pulls up and does a fadeaway and his leg kick I ran into and it made him come down awkwardly. That’s how the play went. But I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. It’s very hard to time somebody’s foot, to walk under someone’s foot and do things of that nature when the game is on the line….

“I just wanted to do my job and just try to contest the shot. It was a fadeaway. When guys shoot fadeaways you’re not just supposed to let them go, you’re supposed to keep playing and try and get as close as possible to be able to challenge the shot. I didn’t want to give up on the play. I wanted to make sure I was there so he would at least see me and feel me. I didn’t have a chance to worry about his landing. I didn’t want to hurt him and get in the middle of his landing but I was just trying to contest the shot.”

This comes back to the basic argument — Jones contested and had to move in to do so because it was a fadeaway. He clearly didn’t give Kobe enough room to land, but Kobe was kicking out his right leg as well (it’s clear on the video).

I don’t think what Jones did was intentional. I think there is a valid case to be made that you should call every foul when a player doesn’t have room to land, but that is not how the league has called things pretty much ever. And you do need to be careful because if you start calling it the best offensive players will try to draw that foul, the same way they did with the rip move.

It’s a complex issue. Kobe will use it as fuel because Kobe uses everything as fuel. But I don’t see Jones as a villain.

Giannis Antetokounmpo announces he will not play for Greece in Eurobasket

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Giannis Antetokounmpo said had big plans to play for the Greek national team this summer, taking his country back to the top of the European ladder at EuroBasket (they had won the tournament a dozen years ago).

Instead, a sore knee will keep the Greek Freak out of EuroBasket. He made the announcement on his Facebook page.

Antetokounmpo had missed all but one of Greece’s early EuroBasket tune-ups due to a sore knee. That, understandably, concerned the Bucks, especially with his four-year, $100 million contract extension about to kick in next season.

Antetokounmpo is in China promoting shoes, but said he on Facebook he took a physical while there and was not able to complete the exercises due to pain.

“It is by far the biggest disappointment in my career. I must deal with the problem,” Antetokounmpo said in the Facebook post (written in Greek).

Within hours of the post going up, the Greek basketball federation released a statement slamming the Bucks and Antetokounmpo, saying they had done an MRI of his knee and found no damage.

“The simultaneous report by the Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo himself, by phone and social media from faraway China, and not by the appropriate official manner, of his inability to join the national men’s team saddens us … but is not surprising… A series of indications … had convinced us of the existence of an organized and well-staged plan by (the Bucks), with the full knowledge if not encouragement of the NBA that put the athlete on the spot and forced him to announce today that he is no longer part of the men’s national team.”

Great, just what the world needs, another conspiracy theory.

While NBA teams generally are not huge fans of their stars playing in national team tournaments (due to the injury risk), teams cannot stop a healthy player from playing. Antetokounmpo said this was his decision because he is in pain and has to think about the upcoming NBA season.

Whatever the Greek Federation believes internally, slamming the player and his team publicly like this is one good way to make sure he will not want to play for them in the future. He’s got knee pain, they are saying “you’re fine, walk it off, ” and that must have Antetokounmpo and the people around him wondering if the Greek Federation has his best interests — or theirs — at heart.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.