Nate Robinson isn’t sure why teams overlook him, but he’s sure he likes Brian Shaw

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When Nate Robinson catches fire, there is no better show in the NBA. What playoff quarter was more entertaining than his 23-point fourth quarter in the first round of the playoffs against Brooklyn in Game 4, when Robinson single handedly forced overtime? He’s the shortest player in the NBA, a fan favorite everywhere and he plays with a chip on his shoulder fans love to see.

It’s why Robinson was a natural fit for the new “Pepsi MAX & Kyrie Irving Present: Uncle Drew Chapter 3” commercial — Robinson’s personality and game are a perfect match in that setting.

But Chicago didn’t bring him back after that playoff run. Like Golden State before them. Or Oklahoma City before that. Boston traded him before that, as did the Knicks eventually.

For all the love fans have for Robinson, organizations do not. Coaches crave consistency and see Robinson as boom or bust night to night. Robinson told ProBasketballTalk he’s not sure why teams marginalize what he can do.

“I don’t know. I’ve been hearing rumors about different things but I don’t know,” Robinson told ProBasketballTalk. “I know all I know how to do is be Nate Robinson, I don’t know how to be anybody else…

“You go from team to team and some coaches may like you and some coaches may not like you for whatever reason. But for me I just use everything for motivation. A coach saying one thing about me and not wanting to play me when I come to work every day, I take my job serious, I have fun at what I do but I’m never late, and you can always count on me. I don’t miss games, I don’t miss practices….

“I just feel I get looked over a lot. People pass judgment. That’s just part of life. I just learned to grow with it, I don’t use it as an excuse.”

You can decide for yourself which former coach he is talking about.

But you can see the coach’s side as well Robinson is as likely to come in with the second unit and shoot a team out of a lead as extend it — the fearlessness that makes him so great when he’s on seems to make him oblivious to the nights he is cold. He knows the next shot is going in, so he is going to take it. Fans love that. He’s very popular as a teammate.

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But it’s not for every coach — what Robinson wants in a coach is someone who is straight up with him. He thinks he’s got that with Brian Shaw, the well-traveled assistant now in the big chair in Denver.

“Coach Shaw, he loves hard workers so I know he’s going to love me. I know it,” Robinson said. “I’m not asking him for no minutes, I want to earn every bit that I get. I’m going to be the kind of player I am and push this team where it needs to be….

“It seems like he’s been around coaching for a long time. He played on great teams with great players, he was a great player as well. He does things the right way and he’s honest. That’s one thing I love about him. I’ve been around other coaches who have been dishonest to me over the years, said things than done the total opposite. But he gave me my chance.”

Robinson is getting a chance on a team a lot of prognosticators don’t think has much of one (myself included, to be up front). With a coaching change that brings a new system, with Andre Iguodala gone and Danilo Gallinari out until likely December, people see a big step back for a team that won 57 games last season.

Of course, Robinson is brimming with confidence — he likes this team. We should expect nothing less.

“You’ll see by the way we play,” Robinson said. “That’s how we’re going to convince people and other teams, by what we’re doing this season. And you never know, the record might be worse than last year, it might be better than last year. Nobody knows. Nobody knows the future. No matter what our record is, if we’re the last team standing and we’re holding the trophy, and we had this conversation, I’m going to say ‘I told you so.’”

We’ll see. The one thing I know for sure is with Robinson there and getting minutes, Denver is going to put on a show. This is going to be a fun team to watch.

Watch Lonzo Ball dodge relentless stream of LeBron James questions (video)

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Shortly before the draft, Lonzo Ball was asked in a televised interview to pitch LeBron James on joining the Lakers – and did.

A couple months and a tampering investigation into the Lakers later, Ball learned his lesson.

Sports Illustrated:

Rohan Nadkarni’s questions were all in good fun, and he couldn’t trick Ball into tampering, anyway. The NBA has essentially decided it won’t punish players for tampering with each other.

Ask Ball an honest LeBron question, and he’ll give an honest answer.

Report: People close to LeBron James ‘fairly confident’ Dwyane Wade will join Cavaliers

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Will the Bulls and Dwyane Wade reach a buyout?

Apparently, not only do people close to LeBron James believe it’ll happen, they have a read on Wade’s destination.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

As of right now, people close to James are fairly confident that, at some point this year, Dwyane Wade is going to end up on the Cavs.

Earlier in the podcast, Vardon even listed the only five people he believes reports should source as close to LeBron:

  • LeBron
  • Rich Paul
  • Maverick Carter
  • Savanah James
  • Adam Mendelsohn

So, that something about the proximity of this information to LeBron. Given Wade’s friendship with LeBron, Vardon’s sources could have inside information on Wade’s plan.

But hold your horses on Wade to Cleveland.

Though they could buy him out sooner, the Bulls are incentivized to keep Wade past the trade deadline. His $23.8 million expiring contract could prove useful in a trade. If no trade comes up and Chicago is out of the playoff race, as expected, a buyout would make far more sense. Now, eliminating that trade chip and sticking a large amount of dead salary on the books would be problematic for the Bulls – unless Wade cuts them a big discount. He doesn’t sound inclined to do that.

Even if Wade gets bought out, he has been rumored to follow LeBron to Cleveland for years. It obviously hasn’t happened yet. Wade’s friendship with LeBron is the primary lure – but it also might push Wade to signal a desire to team up while he can’t commit then go a different direction when push comes to shove. It can be hard to tell friends no.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade ends up with the Cavaliers. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is just wishful thinking by people close to LeBron.

Clippers’ Jerry West: ‘I did not want to leave’ Warriors

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A report emerged last spring that Jerry West was nearing a deal to stay with the Warriors as a consultant. Instead, he took the same job with the Clippers.

West, via Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, via NBC Sports Bay Area:

“Frankly it was very sad, OK? It really was. A place where I thought that if I was going to work another year or if somebody wanted me to work another year, I thought I could contribute; I did not want to leave. I did not want to leave. I was very happy there.

But those things happen sometimes. Obviously to be around a bunch of players that were as together as any I’ve seen and I think more importantly the talent that was on that team and to see the joy. There’s a lot of joy there. I think those are the kind of environments where people really prosper.”

“It was time for me to leave. I’m in Los Angeles again. For me, I’ll have a chance to go in the office a little bit and watch some of the people that have been hired, to watch our coaches coach. I’ve often said I’ve done some crazy things in my life because of the timing and maybe the timing was right.”

The Clippers’ appeal appeared to be their salary offer – reportedly $4 million-$5 million annually. And maybe that factored.

But it sure sounds as if there’s more to the story.

With Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum, Celtics continue ascent – just not as steeply as hoped

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Celtics landed the No. 1 pick and signed the top free agent to change teams.

Given that, it feels like their offseason should have gone better.

Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward are nice, and I won’t lose sight of that here. But…

Boston traded down from the top pick to No. 3 to draft Tatum. Count me among those who believed there was a significant drop from Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball to the next tier – and the tier after that.

The extra first-rounder the Celtics acquired has also only lost value since the trade.

It’d convey from the Lakers if they pick 2-5 next year. But they added two players, Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, better than they were expected to get. Los Angeles looks less likely to stumble into a top-five pick – especially without incentive to tank.

If not the Lakers’ pick this season, Boston will get the higher of Sacramento’s and Philadelphia’s 2019 first-rounders (or lower if one is No. 1). The Kings signed a couple veterans, George Hill and Zach Randolph, to help them in 2018-19. Sacramento’s young players will be more developed by then, and mirroring the Lakers this year, there’s no incentive to tank. (Philadelphia is also on the rise, but the Celtics probably already knew that.)

There’s still a chance Boston winds up with a high pick – or even wins the trade with a middling additional selection. Tatum, as the Celtics have claimed, might be a better prospect than Fultz outright.

I originally thought the trade was about fair. Developments swing the pendulum away from Boston, though perhaps I’m overly colored by my relatively dim evaluation of Tatum. (I expected the Celtics to draft Josh Jackson when the trade was made.)

Boston’s next big move, signing Hayward, also comes with a major caveat. To get Hayward, the Celtics had to downgrade from Avery Bradley to Marcus Morris.

The reasons are clear: Bradley is earning $8,808,989 in the final season of his contract. Morris is locked up for two more seasons at $5 million and $5,375,000.

Not only was that salary difference essential for clearing max cap space now, Bradley will enter unrestricted free agency with Isaiah Thomas next summer. The raises necessary to re-sign both likely would’ve pushed the Celtics higher into the luxury tax than they’re willing to go. Thomas and Morris should be affordable.

Morris is a fine player, but it looks like he’s caught between better combo forwards (Hayward and Jae Crowder) and higher-upside/younger combo forwards (Jaylen Brown and Tatum). How much will Morris matter in Boston?

Bradley certainly did plenty, defending the better opposing guard so the undersized Thomas didn’t have to. Marcus Smart can handle some of that responsibility, but that cuts into the time he can play in relief of Thomas at point guard and the time he can defend forwards.

Getting Aron Baynes for the room exception was solid. He might even start for the Celtics, eating up minutes against big starting centers. I suspect Al Horford will play center in most pivotal minutes, though.

Signing Baynes was one of Boston’s several respectable moves – drafting Semi Ojeleye in the second round, signing 2016 first-rounders Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic and paying to take a flier on Shane Larkin.

But the real needle-movers were signing Hayward, a 27-year-old versatile star, and adding a highly touted talent in Tatum. Even in the less-flattering greater context, those are huge additions.

Offseason grade: A-