Paul George, Jeff Teague

Paul George ‘would love to’ guard Jeff Teague

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LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Chris Paul – who will each get All-NBA, if not MVP, votes – are the only players to score as much as Jeff Teague in the opening games of the 2014 NBA playoffs

The Hawks point guard, who averaged a career-high 16.5 points per game during the regular season, burned the Pacers for 28 points in Atlanta’s Game 1 win Saturday. He also scored 25 against Indiana in a regular-season game earlier this month.

So, the Pacers are searching for a way to contain Teague.

Michael Marot of the Associated Press:

All-Star Paul George acknowledged he’s likely to spend at least some time defending Hawks point guard Jeff Teague on Tuesday night

“I would love to, just to change it up a little bit and give him a different look,” George said after the Pacers practiced Sunday.

George said he and coach Frank Vogel discussed the defensive assignment Sunday, though Vogel declined to confirm the move or any other changes he might make now that the top-seeded Pacers trail Atlanta 1-0 in the first-round series.

Here’s how Teague scored with each Pacer defending him in Game 1:

  • George Hill: 1.1 points per possession (16 points, 7-for-12 on 2-pointers, 2-for-2 on free throws, two turnovers)*
  • C.J. Watson: 1.0 points per possession (5 points, 0-for-1 on 2-pointers, 0-for-1 on 3-pointers, 5-for-6 free throws)
  • Paul George: 1.0 point per possessions (2 points, 0-for 1 on 2-pointers, 2-for-2 on free throws)
  • Evan Turner: 3.0 points per possession (3 points, 1-for-1 on 3-pointers)
  • Lance Stephenson: 2.0 points per possession (2 points, 1-for-1 on 2-pointers)
  • Roy Hibbert: 0.0 points per possessions (0 points, 0-for-1 on 2-pointers)

*Teague also missed a 3-pointer while Hill left completely open to help on an another open player. I didn’t assign that to any defender.

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To some degree, I think the Pacers problems a matter of Hill not being on the same page as Hibbert. Hill didn’t excel at keeping Teague in front of him, but when Teague passed Hill, Hibbert was rarely there to stifle the drive. Hill needn’t singlehandedly shut down Teague, but he must at least funnel him toward Hibbert.

George could take a turn on Teague, and that might work, but who guards Atlanta’s wings? Hill can rotate down to Kyle Korver or DeMarre Carroll, but that might cause its own problems. Do the Pacers want their best perimeter stopper (George) on Atlanta’s hottest player, or do they want to preserve traditional matchups throughout the floor? It’s a question with no easy answer, but Indiana must address it before a pivotal Game 2 Tuesday.

Joakim Noah: Jerry Reinsdorf’s ‘frontline’ comment a ‘low blow’

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 10:  NBA player Joakim Noah looks on during a game between the Florida Gators and the Kentucky Wildcats at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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After watching Joakim Noah leave for the Knicks, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said, “We felt Joakim wasn’t going to be a frontline guy anymore.”

Ouch.

Noah, via Marc Berman of the New York Post:

“He’s entitled to his opinion,’’ Noah said. “I feel I have no regrets about my time in Chicago. I gave it everything I had. To me that’s all that matters. I did everything I could for that organization. I thought it was a little bit of a low blow, but at the end of the day I have nothing but respect for that organization. I’m just excited for this new chapter of my career.”

Reinsdorf was right. Noah, 31, is on the downside of his career. I wouldn’t want him for $72 million over the next four years.

But Noah is also right. He gave the Bulls everything he had.

Noah didn’t deserve that parting shot, even if it was correct.

I also wonder how much this has to do with Chicago correctly assessing Noah’s value vs. the Bulls losing a player whom they wanted to keep and lashing out about it.

Spurs waive Ryan Richards, open roster spot

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 12: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs waits for the Oklahoma City Thunder to bring the ball down court during the second half of Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 12, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.   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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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The Spurs drafted Ryan Richards No. 49 in 2010, and he could’ve signed with San Antonio any year since. To maintain a second-rounder’s rights, a team must extend a required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum. If the player rejects the offer, those rights extend another year, and the team must then offer the tender again the following year.

Richards finally took the tender this year.

Just a couple days into training camp, the Spurs showed how much they value him.

Spurs release:

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have waived forward/center Ryan Richards.

San Antonio now has 19 players and one open roster spot. I know what you’re thinking.

Thunder PG Cameron Payne fractures foot. Again

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 08:  Cameron Payne #22 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on February 8, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Thunder defeated the Suns 122-106.  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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Just as he was getting back into the flow after fracturing his foot this summer, Thunder point guard Cameron Payne hurt himself all over again.

Thunder release:

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced today that guard Cameron Payne suffered an acute fracture to his fifth metatarsal in Tuesday night’s Blue-White Scrimmage.

This is a troubling setback for the 22-year-old Payne, whom Oklahoma City drafted No. 14 last year. The Thunder didn’t play him enough last season to maximize his development, and now, they won’t the chance to make amends for a while.

Russell Westbrook will obviously still handle the large majority of point guard minutes, and this sets up Ronnie Price to open the season as the primary backup. The 33-year-old Price can play tough defense in limited playing time, but asking him to run the second unit offensively will likely turn out poorly.

Oklahoma City could stagger Westbrook’s and Victor Oladipo‘s minutes, using Oladipo as the lead guard when Westbrook sits. But Oladipo didn’t take to that role in Orlando.

This could also open the door slightly for Semaj Christon to make the regular-season roster as the third healthy point guard. But the Thunder already have 16 players, one more than the regular-season roster limit, with guaranteed salaries – and that doesn’t count Christon. Oklahoma City would have to drop Mitch McGary and one other player to keep Christon, which seems unlikely.

The Thunder will probably just have to grind it out with Price behind Westbrook.

Paul George on MVP: ‘This is my year to go get it’

TORONTO, ON - MAY 01:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after sinking a basket in the first half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 01, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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MVP feels wide open this year.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James have accounted for the last five. But Curry and Durant are now sharing touches with the Warriors, and LeBron is 31 and has coasted in the last couple regular seasons in the midst of so many Finals runs.

That opens the door for new contenders like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard (my pick), Anthony Davis – and Paul George, the Pacers star who’s announcing his candidacy loud and clear.

George on SiriusXM NBA Radio:

I want to be MVP. I definitely want to be the MVP this year. It’s tough, as always. It would be a challenge, but with coach Nate and the guys that I got here, I’m in position to move into that spot as long as I remain being me, being a leader, being aggressive and wanting that. It’s not mine for the taking. I got to go get it. And this is my year to go get it.

The MVP usually goes to a player on a top-two seed, and that’ll be a tough nut for Indiana to crack with the Cavaliers, Celtics and Raptors standing in the way. But, again, this is an atypical year with most top teams so balanced.

If the Pacers hit the high end of their potential outcomes, George would be a strong candidate. He’s is the second-best player in the East, so most nights, he’ll be the best player on the court. That goes a long way for perception.

The best thing George can do for his case is help Indiana win big. If he does that, he’ll surely impress enough individually along the way to warrant major consideration.