Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Four

How Al Horford learned to stop worrying and love Danny Ferry

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Al Horford admits it. Like a lot of other Hawks fans this summer he wondered what GM Danny Ferry was thinking.

Then it all came together. Now Al Horford looks around at the guys working out before training camp starts with the Hawks next week and he thinks he sees the plan. At least he sees something that interests him in terms of potential.

However, in a Q&A with the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Horford admits that back in July when point guard Jeff Teague signed an offer sheet with the Bucks (then asked the Hawks not to match it), he freaked out a little.

(Horford): “More than anything, I have to trust in (General manager) Danny (Ferry) and his vision and where he is going. Even though at times, as people and as players, we can get caught up looking at what is in front of us and he might be looking two or three steps ahead. I might be upset with him like ‘Why did this happen? Why did this move happen?’ At the end of the day I do trust in his vision with this team and what he wants to accomplish. As a player I have to sit back and do my job.”

Q. What were those moves?

A. “I was on edge of course. I’m not going to lie to you. I questioned certain things, like ‘What is going on here?’ I was like ‘We need to get Kyle back. We need to get Jeff back. What’s going on?’ I was definitely on edge about all the things. Once I realized how everything was going, I was like ‘They have a vision. They know that they are doing. I have to trust them.’ I have to make sure that I get better and just get ready.

The Hawks have an interesting roster. Up front they can go small with Horford and Paul Millsap, then they can add Elton Brand and Gustavo Ayon for size if they need it. New coach Mike Budenholzer likely will use Horford in the Tim Duncan role and Teague as Tony Parker, with Kyle Korver and other shooters spacing the floor. It’s not the Spurs, not close, but it could be interesting, especially once Lou Williams gets back healthy.

But whatever this roster is, know that this is Al Horford’s team now. Josh Smith is gone, everyone is gone, this is Horford’s team.

He needs to stop worrying and take charge of it.

Report: Celtics re-sign Tyler Zeller for two years, $16 million

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 19:  Kyle Korver #26 of the Atlanta Hawks grabs a rebound against Tyler Zeller #44 of the Boston Celtics in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on April 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Tyler Zeller is one of the few restricted free agents left on the market who could make an actual impact next season, and on Saturday morning, he’s come off the board. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald reports that the fourth-year big man has agreed to a deal to stay with the Celtics. It’s for two years and $16 million, with the second season being a team option.

Zeller isn’t a starter, but he’s a nice rotation big man, especially at that price. He can play minutes off the bench for Boston, and his contract is also very movable with the second season being unguaranteed. He played just 11.8 minutes per game last season, but averaged 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per 36 minutes.

Watch Charles Barkley struggle to pronounce “Jonas Valanciunas” last season

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The Toronto Raptors were good last season, second best team in the East. That means the guys on Inside the NBA on TNT had to talk about them.

Which means Charles Barkley had to say “Jonas Valanciunas” a lot. Which is high comedy. While a lot of people struggle to say his name the guy is a solid NBA center who, with a little practice, you can say (and spell) his name pretty easily.

This comes from a YouTube user, via Reddit, with a hat tip to Eye on Basketball.

Watch highlights of USA’s 111-74 rout of Argentina in exhibition game

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Argentina isn’t considered a medal contender heading into the Rio Olympics. Their golden generation — led by Manu Ginobili — has picked up a lot of speed on the downhill side of their careers at this point.

They didn’t provide much of a challenge for Team USA in an exhibition game Friday night in Las Vegas, one won by the USA 111-74. Kevin Durant impressed playing with his new teammates in dropping 23 points, Paul George had 18, and the Americans had their way in the game.

Which is what we’re going to see a lot of in Rio — the USA’s talent level is just steps above any other team in the tournament.

Kevin Durant: Nobody has said something negative to my face about joining Warriors

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 07:  Kevin Durant speaks to the media during the press conference where he was introduced as a member of the Golden State Warriors after they signed him as a free agent on July 7, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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When Kevin Durant chose the Warriors, he received criticism from all angles.

Fans burned his jersey. Charles Barkley decried the decision. Markieff Morris said, “That ain’t right.” Durant’s former Thunder teammates leaked their displeasure with the process.

Durant was so reluctant to face the backlash, he stayed in his bed luxurious rental house for two days.

It, uh, worked.

Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

Though he has heard some criticism from Barkley and fellow Hall of Famer Reggie Miller, various talking heads and people in social media who believe he has cheated the system and cut corners to a ring, Durant said the reaction to his choice hasn’t been too bad: “All that stuff happens on the Internet. I haven’t had one person come to me and say anything negative. … It’s easy for the critics on the outside to tell you what to do, to tell you how to play. I’m the one that’s going through it, so I can’t really worry about the outside noise. The work don’t stop. Everything stays the same.”

This is a good reminder how insulated NBA players, especially stars, can be.

And it adds to why Durant signing with Golden State makes sense. While we’re debating his legacy and discussing the backlash (and the backlash to the backlash and the backlash to the backlash to the backlash and the…), he’ll be playing high-level basketball with his friends in a desirable city for a max salary.

Sure, it’s not all rosy. Durant altered his relationship with his friend Russell Westbrook, and Durant will have to return to Oklahoma City for a game. There, he’ll face plenty of booing fans.

But, all in all, Durant should have little trouble tuning out the critics.

They’re too far away for him to hear them much.