P.J. Tucker setting a good example for the Summer Suns

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LAS VEGAS — P.J. Tucker came to Las Vegas as part of the Suns Summer League squad, but it wasn’t because he needed the practice.

Tucker, 28, has played the last seven seasons professionally — five overseas, two in the NBA — and started 45 of the 79 games he appeared in for the Suns last season.

No, Tucker wasn’t here for his professional development; he was here to set an example.

His work ethic is second to none, and Tucker once again played critical minutes and made some key plays to help the Suns continue their undefeated streak with a 91-89 win over the Heat to advance to Monday night’s championship game of the inaugural Summer League tournament.

The plan was always for Tucker to play a little with the summer team, said Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, just to show the young guys how it’s done.

“Before we took over they had talked to him about playing in the summer just to help establish the hard work for some of the young guys that were going to be here,” Hornacek said. “It’s great for us as coaches to have a guy that demands hard work all the time. That can relate to the other players, so it’s a good example for us.”

But when asked what Tucker is still doing here — leading his team with 19 points in 29 minutes while at the same time going all out defensively — Hornacek said that it was simply due to the fact that Tucker wanted to stay.

“Guys love to play basketball,” Hornacek said. “P.J. was going to be out here anyway and when we initially talked to him, he said ‘yeah, I’ll play a couple games.’ Then the guy’s competitive juices flow, and I keep asking him, do you want to take the next one off? But he goes (quickly) ‘no, I’ll play.’ So I said OK.”

Tucker made the decision to keep playing sound like an extremely simple one.

“I’m here,” Tucker said. “You know, we got a new coach, he’s coaching our Summer League team — why wouldn’t I play?”

It’s been great that he has, for a young Suns team looking to develop a winning attitude under a new coaching staff. And the way Tucker always plays with a high level of energy and intensity can be nothing but a positive for the other guys on the summer roster to experience.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Willhelm
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In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

AP Photo/Margaret Bowles
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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.