Gregg Popovich pregame interviews can be fascinating. Most of the time they are banal (like all coach pregame interviews, frankly), or occasionally he’s already in curmudgeon mode.
Then there are the moments when he is talkative, funny and you get a little glimpse of the Popovich his players and friends rave about. Apparently he was in that place before the Spurs played the Nuggets Monday, when Matt Moore of CBS’s Eye on Basketball asked him if he has talked about the government shutdown with his players.
In what is a deeply political issue, Popovich sounded the populist tone of “a pox on both their houses” in a well spoken way. (And I fully agree with him on the broad point, having long thought Washington is about people fighting what they see as a zero-sum game for power and any policy, whether you like it or hate it, is just a byproduct of the fight.)
“We talk about a lot of things with the team. We haven’t gotten really specific with the shutdown… Most foreigners think we’re pretty silly, and they’re correct. It’s children fighting over their toys, so to speak. It’s got nothing to do with the public or what’s good for the country. It’s about winning and losing, and that doesn’t do any of us much good. Hopefully they’re going to get to some sort of agreement in the next couple of days that might be good for the American people.
“It’s funny how each of them talks about what the American people want. The leaders from one side, they talk and say ‘The American People want…’ How the hell do these people know what they want? They live in a fishbowl. And then the other side says the same thing. It’s kind of comical, if it wasn’t so dramatically devastating for so many people.”
The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.
Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.
Royce Young of ESPN:
I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.
Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.
But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.
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.
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.
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.