It was a rough night in Denver for the Warriors’ Stephen Curry.
Not only did the Nuggets avoid elimination with a Game 5 victory, they were able to shut down Curry in the process.
Denver held Curry to a series low 15 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including just 1-of-7 from three-point distance. This came after Curry had averaged 30 points per game over his last three, all of which were wins for the Warriors.
It wasn’t just the low scoring output that was troubling for Curry. The Nuggets were extra-physical with him throughout the night, especially early in the game when setting screens on him and making sure contact was made anytime he went cutting through the lane.
Kenneth Faried was the one who appeared to be dishing out most of the physical play on Curry, and Warriors head coach Mark Jackson accused the Nuggets of playing dirty against his superstar afterward.
All of this is to say that Curry had plenty of reasons to be frustrated. And he took out some of that frustration on a fan as he exited the floor of the Pepsi Center immediately following his team’s loss.
We have no idea how inflammatory the fan’s comments were, but clearly whatever was said was enough for Curry to feel the need to respond. The commentary from the TNT crew in the video clip above makes the whole thing seem hilarious, but anytime a player confronts a fan in that way, there’s a possibility for things to go in a very bad direction.
Kyle Lowry to critical DeMar DeRozan: ‘Every shot you shoot is a bad shot, analytic-wise’ (video)
I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.
Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.
But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.
His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.
Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets
So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.
The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.
Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.
After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).
But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?
Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him
This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.
I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.