Kobe Bryant: ‘I couldn’t play for him’

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Considering the news of the day, Kobe Bryant’s latest tweet is almost certainly about Donald Sterling:

When Kobe was a free agent 10 years ago, he said, “I could see myself playing for the Clippers.”

That doesn’t necessarily make Kobe a hypocrite. For one, he didn’t sign with the Clippers, and it’s possible Sterling’s ownership was the reason. It’s also possible Kobe learned more about Sterling since, though Sterling’s racism has long-been alleged.

But it’s also possible Kobe is saying one thing now when he would have done the opposite in a different situation – and maybe that’s a reasonable way to handle two different situations.

It’s a question with no easy answer. How should people handle working for someone whose worldview doesn’t align with their own?

Kobe has a large contract with the Lakers, and there’s no chance of them trading him to Los Angeles’ other team. He’s stable now.

When he was a free agent and his future was more tenuous, maybe playing for Sterling wasn’t so unappealing if it came with other advantages.

I have no doubt Kobe, even if his previous comments on race have caused confusion, abhors what Sterling allegedly said. I’m sure he’d prefer not to play for an owner like that, and now that there are no advantages to doing so, Kobe no longer must bite his tongue.

But when the Clippers could offer him the best combination of winning, money, location and any other factor Kobe deemed important… should he have let Sterling set back his professional aspirations? That isn’t fair to Kobe.

It’s why LeBron James, who also came out strongly against Sterling today, also entertained the Clippers as a free agent option. It’s why Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Doc Rivers and the rest aren’t wrong for working for the Clippers now. They shouldn’t necessarily deny themselves professional opportunities in very a very competitive field with very limited openings.

So, today, Kobe can truthfully say he wouldn’t play for Sterling – even if it was a legitimate option for him 10 years ago.

Rich Cho on Trail Blazers getting swept: ‘Being a previous Portland GM, that didn’t disappoint me’

AP Photo/The Charlotte Observer, Jeff Willhelm
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In 2011, the Trail Blazers surprisingly fired Rich Cho after only season as general manager.

Cho – since hired and fired by the Hornets – seems to be holding a grudge.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

That’s a sentiment many people hold toward their former employer. Few say so publicly. That Cho did indicates just how strongly he feels.

Under owner Paul Allen, the Trail Blazers have run through numerous executives. It’s part of the culture in Portland, and it leaves a lot of outgoing people bitter.

Current general manager Neil Olshey ought to be mindful of that.

Josh Allen’s old tweet: ‘I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks’

AP Photo/Margaret Bowles
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Josh Allen, a quarterback from Wyoming, could be the No. 1 pick in tonight’s NFL draft. But his recently unearthed high school tweets – which include using the n-word with an ‘a’ at the end – are the sports story of the day.

And there’s an NBA tie.

Via Ryan Young of Yahoo Sports:

I hate LeBron!!!!! #LeBronSucks

— Josh Allen (@JoshAllenQB) June 7, 2011

Damian Lillard went down this same road with LeBron James, and they got past it.

But it would be a little more awkward if the Cleveland Browns – who have the Nos. 1 and 4 picks – take Allen. Then, Allen will face more scrutiny over this tweet – the most innocuous of the bunch.

Donovan Mitchell tells Thunder fans, Jazz teammates Utah not returning to Oklahoma City this season

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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The Jazz blew a 25-point second-half lead in Game 5 last night, extending their series with the Thunder. Up 3-2, the Jazz are still in control. They can close out in Game 6 tomorrow in Utah. Blow that, and they must return to Oklahoma City for Game 7 Sunday.

But Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell is making it abundantly clear he doesn’t plan to do that.

Gabe Ikard of The Franchise 107.7:

Jake Edmonds of KUTV:

A confident proclamation that rallies his team or youthful exuberance run amok?

The narrative will be decided after Game 6. That’s just how this is done.

Report: Grizzlies moving toward keeping J.B. Bickerstaff as coach

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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From the moment Robert Pera opted to retain control of the Grizzlies and end a prolonged ownership saga, it seemed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff would remain Memphis’ coach.

Lo and behold…

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Bickerstaff did a decent job before the Grizzlies started tanking. But that was a small a sample, and his prior work as Rockets interim coach was uninspiring.

To be fair to Bickerstaff, those were both difficult situations. He’s an experienced assistant who might be ready for this challenge.

To be less fair to Bickerstaff, this looks like Memphis taking the cheap route. The Grizzlies didn’t appear to conduct much of a coaching search, if any. Nor has Bickerstaff been mentioned with other openings. It probably won’t cost as much to hire him as it would a more-established option.

Memphis seems to be operating under the belief that a healthy Mike Conley and Marc Gasol will right the ship next season. And they might. But given the age and injury history of those two, I wouldn’t assume they stay healthy and productive all season. Even if they do, they’d have to carry an underwhelming supporting cast – with limited room for upgrade this summer – in a deep Western Conference.

The Grizzlies want Bickerstaff, who’d be a first-time non-interim head coach, leading that team trying to win now? That doesn’t seem like the right risk-reward balance – at least until considering his salary, and even then.