Patrick Beverley says there was no intent to injure Russell Westbrook

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When the news broke that Russell Westbrook would be out indefinitely after needing to undergo surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus he suffered in the Thunder’s Game 3 win over the Rockets, all eyes turned to Patrick Beverley, and the play where Westbrook was injured.

Beverley ended up knocking knees with Westbrook, on a play where the Rockets guard was trying to steal the ball just before the Thunder were set to call a timeout.

Fans in Oklahoma City (and at the time, even Westbrook himself) seemed angry at Beverley for making this play, one that is routine in the NBA and happens on a nightly basis.

Speaking to reporters after shootaround on Friday, Beverley made it clear that he had no intention of trying to injure Westbrook.

“Unfortunate situation, of course,” he said. “You hate to see the type of player like that go out with an injury like that. But the Thunder are still a good team, and we have to prepare for a good team right now.”

Beverley was asked where he made contact with Westbrook, but said he hasn’t seen a replay of the incident.

“I don’t even remember,” he said. “I haven’t really seen it yet. I really don’t watch ESPN like that, so I haven’t see it yet. But like I said, it’s definitely unfortunate. I was definitely looking forward to playing Westbrook again and battling again. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”

As for whether or not trying to make that play as the opposing team is heading into a timeout is a questionable tactic, Beverley pointed out that it’s relatively common around the league, before making it known that he wasn’t trying to hurt anyone with his aggressive actions.

“A lot of people do it throughout the league,” he said. “Anyone who knows me, I don’t go out there and try to hurt anybody. I play at one speed, that’s fast. I crash for offensive rebounds. I was just trying to make a play on the ball before they called timeout, and a play like that I’ll continue to say, it’s just unfortunate right now.”

Finally, Beverley was asked if he believed the play he made was a basketball one, and whether or not there was anything dirty about it.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think I tried to make a play on the basketball before he called a timeout. No intention at all to try to injure anybody. Like I said, anyone who knows me knows that’s not my type of game.”

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.