SAN ANTONIO — Not everything interesting that players and coaches say from practice can make it into a full-blown story. But sometimes, the answer to a single question is deserving of being mentioned all by itself.
Especially when Gregg Popovich is the one giving the response.
There were plenty of questions about Tony Parker’s status for Game 4, after an MRI revealed that he suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain and was officially being listed as day-to-day.
A reporter wondered aloud to Popovich whether or not he might just “mail in” Game 4 in order to give Parker some extra rest to get right for the remainder of the series, and it went over about as well as you might have imagined.
“I’ve just got to tell you, that phrase ‘mail in Game 4 …’ Popovich began, clearly agitated by the proposition. “It confuses my whole brain. I don’t think I can think past that comment. I would like to help you, but I don’t know how to help you. You can come back to our coach’s office and hit us up. We’ll be talking about all these sorts of things. Any ideas are welcome. I have no idea until I know how healthy he is tomorrow.”
Popovich can be famously difficult if a question isn’t posed to him in precisely the right way, and this one wasn’t that outrageous on the surface. San Antonio played at different times over the course of the season without some if its key players, and managed to win a very high percentage of those games no matter who was on the floor.
“We played all season long with minus a couple of guys in different cases for whatever amount,” Tim Duncan said on Wednesday. “I was gone for ten games, Tony was gone for a little while, Manu was gone for a little while. We made adjustments. We played without individuals. On this stage at this time, [if Parker is unable to play] it would be obviously a huge loss for us.”
So again, it wasn’t that crazy of a question to ask. But Popovich gave us yet another reminder that how you approach him with such things is as important as anything in determining the level of bite you get when receiving his response.
The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.
Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.
Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.
The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?
Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?
Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.
The Kings have a decent crop of low-paid young players: Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Malachi Richardson.
Soon, Sacramento will add a highly paid young player to the group: Bogdan Bogdanovic, whose rights the Kings acquired when trading down from No. 8 with the Suns in last year’s draft.
Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:
Because Bogdanovic was drafted three years ago (No. 27 by Phoenix in 2014), the Kings can exceed the rookie scale to sign him.
Bogdanovic is a talented 24-year-old, but this deal removes much of the value usually tied to rookies on cost-controlled scale contracts. It’s hard to see Bogdanovic’s production exceeding his salary over the next four years.
Still, what else was Sacramento supposed to do with its cap space? Just getting Bogdanovic to jump from Europe might be worth it. The Kings already have more cap flexibility than they know what to do with – especially after letting Ben McLemore become an unrestricted free agent.
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
Sacramento took McLemore No. 7 in the 2013 draft then spent the next four years watching his value depreciate.
Teams will line up to take a flier on him. Will someone pay him as if he’ll pan out even a little? That question will drive his unrestricted free agency.
Chris Paul is on his way to Houston in an attempt to form a superteam to challenge Golden State.
Now what for the Clippers?
They have two options: One, tear it all the way down and rebuild.
The other: Re-sign Blake Griffin, run the offense through him and put his underrated passing skills to the test while surrounded by shooters.
The Clippers are opting for door No. 2, at least for now, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.
The fundamental question is: Does Griffin want to stay? The Clippers can offer more money and a larger contract, five -years starting just shy of $30 million a year. However, he will have good teams from the East calling. Miami is interested, and they have a strong point guard in Goran Dragic, a good wing defender in Justise Winslow, and a guy inside who can defend, rebound, and finish dunks in Hassan Whiteside. Plus, no state taxes on all that new money. Also, Boston (if they strike out with Gordon Hayward) and other teams will come calling. Griffin will have options.
If Griffin does stay, this could be interesting if the team is built right. Griffin is an underrated passer and playmaker — he averaged more than five assists per game last season, and that was with Chris Paul on the team. The Clippers would need to use him sort of like Denver uses Nikola Jokic, running the offense through him out high where he is a threat to score from with a midrange jumper, put the ball on the floor, or make a pass. Griffin would need to be surrounded by shooters and guys willing to work off the ball, such as J.J. Redick. Who is almost certainly gone.
If Griffin leaves, the Clippers don’t have much a choice and will have to start shopping DeAndre Jordan around and rebuilding the team (they got a fairly good haul for CP3 for that, considering the situation, Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell are good young players who can be part of a rotation). Then Los Angeles will have two rebuilding teams, and that always makes for a great rivalry.