Charles Barkley continues to rip Sixers offseason strategy

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We get it that Charles Barkley doesn’t get it.

The Hall of Fame forward often associated with his Philadelphia years has been the most prominent critic of the Sixers off-season strategies — ripping apart the roster go get bad and particularly GM Sam Hinkie taking a long time to hire Brett Brown as coach (remember the Sixers selected him long after the draft).

Barkley was on sports talk radio station WIP in Philly and was once again pounding the Sixers, reports CBSPhilly.com.

And also, I had a problem with—if I’m a coach I would want to have some say in the draft, I would want to have some say in the draft. These are all Sam Hinkle’s people who they drafted this year. He traded one of the better point guards in the NBA, yeah I have a problem with the way the Sixers are running their organization right now. Listen, Howard, you know I don’t believe in that analytical crap. If LeBron James couldn’t spell cat, I want him on my team. I always tell people, give me a dumb guy that can really play. Don’t give me no smart guy.

That’s when Barkley went into his analytics rant that was nonsense and we’ve covered before.

Is Hinkie taking a big risk? You bet. Especially since he’s one of a number of teams looking to be bad this year going into a deep draft.

But this was a better play then being a 41-41 team that in this cap era where they really couldn’t get guys through free agency. The Sixers were on the mediocrity treadmill and this was the best path off it.

What does analytics tell you? First, that you really need a couple elite stars to win a title. No, you don’t need analytics to know that but notice the analytics teams are going after those players. They get what they have to do to build a contender, including the guys in Philly. The Sixers had a No. 2 guy in Jrue Holiday and no means of getting one of those elite players — now they should get someone of real quality in the next draft. And they got Nerlens Noel (a good risk, let’s see how he plays in three years before we judge him). And they will have future drafts and cap room to add quality players around what stars they get and to grow a team (and that’s what analytics is really about — finding players who fit the system you install, guys who have value in their role and will fill holes with your team at a fair price).

This could blow up. Maybe the Sixers are better than we think or maybe the lottery gods are unkind to them and they don’t get a high pick. Maybe the guy they draft and think is elite doesn’t pan out that way. Maybe injuries. Maybe a whole lot of things.

But despite the short-term pain, this is better than being in a rut of mediocrity in the NBA, which is where the Sixers were headed.

A mediocrity that Barkley would be quick to rip in public.

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.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.