Roy Hibbert, Andre Drummond

Roy Hibbert doesn’t like Andre Drummond anymore

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Roy Hibbert has been an All-Star. He’d probably be a U.S. Olympian if he were allowed to be. He’s one of the top players on one of the NBA’s top teams.

He’s what Andre Drummond wanted to be.

So how does Drummond go about rising to that stature?

Well, he worked on his conditioning so he could play more (37 minutes per game this season). He’s getting more comfortable with the ball in his hands. He’s defending more aggressively and more soundly within a team concept.

In time, Drummond will get there, it seems.

Until then, Drummond is doing everything possible to bridge the gap, perhaps learning from the Pistons’ two biggest offseason acquisitions.

The Pistons made Josh Smith their most highly paid player and Brandon Jennings their point guard, putting two players known to play with an edge into leadership positions. If the Pistons-Pacers game Tuesday is any indication, their influence is rubbing off on Drummond.

Pacers Center Roy Hibbert, via Terry Foster of The Detroit News:

“To tell you the truth I was a fan of his until tonight,” Hibbert said Tuesday. “He is a real good prospect, but it seemed like he was running his mouth a little bit tonight. He has a tremendous future, but I was a fan of his. I thought he was supposed to have a breakout year this year. Best of luck to him. He can dunk the ball real well and he can block shots and he can rebound. He is going to have a bright future — but I was a fan of his.”

Hibbert doesn’t like yapping on the court. Drummond knows that and admits to trying to agitate him. It was nothing personal. He was simply doing his job and does not care that his fan club lost a member.

“If I lost a fan, I can’t be mad about it,” Drummond said. “If he complained about me talking, that is part of the game. I’m doing what I can do to get in his head, and it obviously worked because he noticed. So I was just trying to play my game and get into his.”

By saying he doesn’t like Drummond, Hibbert is letting Drummond win – at least to some degree. Hibbert outplayed Drummond in that game, a Pacers win, but maybe the gap between the two would have been wider had Drummond not spoken up.

Knowing he bothered Hibbert will only keep Drummond on this track. Foster:

“My goal was to not make it easy for him,” Drummond said. “It was to make it harder to get his shots, like it will throughout the season. The jump hook I tried to bang him to get him off his spot — that is what we worked on in practice. If he is mad about that, then he needs to get used to it.”

The Pistons and Pacers next play Dec. 16. I wouldn’t be surprised if Drummond has lost a few more fans on opposing teams – and gained more in Detroit – by then. He seems set on defending physically and verbally, a combination that should make the Pistons better, though less liked.

Jazz extend Quin Snyder’s contract

Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder speaks with reporters during the Jazz's end-of-season media availability Thursday, April 14, 2016, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
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The Jazz hired Quin Snyder in 2014, reportedly giving him a contract that ran through next season with guaranteed salaries and contained a team option for 2017-18.

Utah wants to keep him around even longer.

Jazz release:

The Utah Jazz announced today a long-term contract extension for third-year head coach Quin Snyder. Per team policy, financial terms were not released.

“With this contract extension, we are declaring our confidence in Coach Snyder’s ability to continue to develop the Utah Jazz into a championship team,” said Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. “The Miller family recognizes the significant progress made under his leadership and we are excited about the direction we are headed.”

“Our relationship with Quin, and this extension, reflect our shared passion for building a championship team,” said Steve Starks, president of the Utah Jazz. “With long-term contracts now in place for Quin, Dennis and other key front office personnel, we are well-positioned for the future.”

“We have continued to take significant steps as a team under Quin’s direction,” said Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey. “His work ethic, basketball intelligence and ability to connect with and develop our players make him the ideal head coach of the Jazz.”

“I am very grateful for this gesture by the Miller family and the Utah Jazz and appreciative of their belief in me to continue to lead this team,” Snyder said. “Amy and I are fortunate to be a part of a franchise and family that cares deeply for our community, stays true to its values and is committed to winning. More than anything, it is confirmation of our collective commitment to building a championship team.”

Snyder has done a nice job in Utah.

Despite a young roster and some ill-fitting pieces (namely Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors offensively), the Jazz have gone 38-44 and 40-42 under Snyder. Player development looks good, and the defense has been top notch.

At some point, the goal must become snapping a four-year playoff drought – the franchise’s longest since its first four seasons in Utah. But Snyder has the team on the right track, and the Jazz are already winning at a fine clip given their circumstances. He deserves a chance to see this through.

Gobert, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Favors, Dante Exum, Trey Lyles and Alec Burks – who are all already signed for next season (and, in some cases, beyond) – give the Jazz a bright future.

So does Snyder.

Report: Spurs plan to pursue Kevin Durant as hard as Warriors do

San Antonio Spurs' David West, left, and Kyle Anderson, right, defend as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, center, positions for a shot during the first half in Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, May 2, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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The Warriors are reportedly planning a big push to sign Kevin Durant in free agency.

They’re not the only capped-out contender on that track.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Spurs, though, are said to have harbored similar fantasies for months in their famously stealthy manner.

The stately Spurs, league sources say, are just as intrigued as Golden State by the thought of making a run at Durant come July 1.

Every team wants to sign Durant. Not every team will try to sign Durant. Some teams without the cap space or perceived interest from Durant won’t put in the effort – unless Durant throws a nod in their direction first. They just don’t want to waste time and miss out on other free agents in the process.

The Spurs had been the type of team to ignore high-stakes free agency, but that changed with LaMarcus Aldridge last year. Word for a while had been they’d also chase chase Durant.

San Antonio can sell a winning culture, a roster that’s already contending for a title and proximity to Durant’s college (Texas). But creating the necessary cap room will be challenging.

Durant’s max salary projects to be about $26 million next season against a $92 million cap, so the Spurs would need to trim their payroll to about $66 million.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker will make a combined $52,658,381 million. San Antonio would have to decide what to do with Danny Green ($10 million) and Boris Diaw ($7 million, $3 million guaranteed). So much is up in the air with Tim Duncan ($5,643,750) and Manu Ginobili ( $2,940,630), who both have player options and could retire. Patty Mills ($3,578,948) and Kyle Anderson ($1,192,080) also have guaranteed salaries to account for.

But there is a path, and the Spurs seem intent on trying to travel it.

The upside is just too darn high. Durant would put the Spurs on at least on equal footing with elite Golden State – maybe even higher.

Likewise, the downside is huge. If Durant signs with the Warriors, how will San Antonio ever beat them?

Better for the Spurs just to get Durant for themselves – if they can.

Report: Multiple executives expect Knicks to keep Kurt Rambis

New York Knicks head coach Kurt Rambis calls out a play from the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Friday, April 8, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Knicks won 109-102. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
AP Photo/Michael Perez
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Phil Jackson reportedly pushed for the Knicks to give Kurt Rambis a multi-year contract. Jackson isn’t searching for another coach right now.

You do the math.

Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:

Multiple executives around the league expect Rambis to get the job.

The usual question applies: Do these executives know something we don’t, or are they just reading the same writing on the wall? They’re positioned to glean inside information, but that isn’t necessarily required here. All the public circumstantial evidence points to Rambis.

This is another signal the Knicks will make Rambis their permanent head coach, but it was already looking that way.

Goran Dragic’s teeth went through his lip last night (video)

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Goran Dragic has a habit of losing teeth, but not usually through his lip.

Cringe.