Steve Clifford/Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats. This is a season-long grade, not for getting swept by the Heat. Charlotte was expected to be a lottery team, a continued punch line. Two things changed that. One was Steve Clifford as coach — he got a team of guys not exactly known as defensive stalwarts to play committed, hard nosed defense every game. As the Heat saw in this playoff series, the Bobcats just are not easy to play against. The second thing was Al Jefferson, who had a monster 21 and 10 season and gave the Bobcats a consistent, quality scoring option inside. They missed the real him in these playoffs. Together they made the Bobcats respectable this season. That is a big step forward for the franchise.
Mike Scott, Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks are on the verge of eliminating the East’s top seed and Mike Scott was a key reason — he came off the bench to drain four straight threes in second, and he went on to hit 5-of-6 from three, score 17 points and lead the hot shooting Hawks to the win.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs. He has been the Spurs best player this series, he is the guy driving their offense. The Mavericks have no good answer for him. He had 23 points, 5 assists and was +11 in this game, not to mention he knocked key free throws late. He generally was the guy driving the Mavs crazy. Has been all series. If the Spurs win this series, he’s their MVP.
Draymond Green says he will stand for anthem, criticism of Kaepernick “ridiculous”
I’ve said this before: while there will be national anthem protests once the NBA starts playing games in a couple of weeks, don’t expect it from the biggest names — the guys with the biggest international brands to promote. At the same time, expect all those guys to back Collin Kaepernick and others who have done these protests.
I respect Colin for that because he took a stand, that he knew would probably create some controversy. And he didn’t care. And I respect that because sometimes controversy is needed in order to get the point across. And I think he’s gotten his point across. But my question is like what’s next?…
And of course if everyone wants to talk about Colin, and he’s disrespecting America. No, we’re going to talk about what he’s doing and try to sweep what he’s really talking about under the rug. I think it’s quite ridiculous, to be quite frank. Am I going to kneel down and put my fist up, no I’m not. That’s no disrespect to Colin or anybody else that’s doing it. But they’ve gotten the point across. I don’t think I need to come out and do a National Anthem protest. Because it’s already been started. There’s already a conversation.
What Green is asking is what a lot of people — athletes, activists, people who care about this country — are asking: What kind of actions, what kinds of change can come out of the start of this conversation? Because the question isn’t about respect for the flag or lack thereof — that’s a side issue, a distraction from people who don’t want to talk about race in America and the challenges we still face as a nation in that area. Some of these police shootings are a brutal reminder of how far this nation has to go, but they are just part of a broader issue.
“I respect everybody’s voice, everybody’s platform, and their opportunity and right to protest what they feel in their heart is something they want changed. I’ve said that plenty of times about Colin. I respect what he’s doing. I respect the message that he’s fighting for, and I hope all the spotlight is on that particular message and the things we can do to make changes that are blatantly obvious we need change, so I hope going forward it’s not about who’s raising their fist, who’s kneeling, who’s standing, who’s doing this or that. It’s about what Colin and other guys – what the message is, and what we don’t want to stand for any more.”
John Wall limited at Wizards’ camp, no timeline for full return
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington Wizards guard John Wall will be limited at training camp after undergoing knee surgery over the summer and the team has no timeline for his return.
The 26-year-old All-Star says he’s feeling great and has been able to play 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 with teammates. Coach Scott Brooks doesn’t know if Wall will play in any preseason games.
Wall and Brooks insist they’re “in no rush” with the focus on the point guard getting fully healthy. In May, Wall had a procedure on the patella tendon in his left knee and an arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
The Wizards open training camp Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia. Brooks says Wall will participate in segments of each practice as he works to get back to 100 percent.
Cavaliers have offered Anderson Varejao a championship ring. Does he take it?
In the middle of last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers let go of long-time Cav and fan favorite Anderson Varejao to make room for Channing Frye, a stretch four they thought would be more valuable in the playoffs. In hindsight it seems the right move.
After a cap clearing move in Portland, Varejao ended up on the bench of the Golden State Warriors. We all know the story from there, including Varejao getting some meaningful minutes after Andrew Bogut went down, but it wasn’t enough for Golden State.
Which brings us to the awkward championship ring conversation. Usually, an iconic team player like Varejao would get one from the Cavaliers, but will Varejao want this one? From Marc Stein of ESPN:
Anderson. Varejao says the Cavaliers have indeed offered him a championship ring but says he hasn't decided yet whether to accept it.
Is there a correct answer for Varejao? A wrong answer? I can’t blame him either way.
He is on the Warriors roster again this season, and he once again could get meaningful minutes (now behind Zaza Pachulia). Does he decide that one with this team is what he wants (and will bet is going to happen)? Nobody can answer all these questions for him.
Nuggets retiring Dikembe Mutombo’s number at first home game
Mutombo spent his best years with the Hawks, but he was pretty darn good with the Nuggets, who drafted him No. 4 overall in 1991. He won a Defensive Player of the Year award and went to three All-Star games with Denver. Playing for the Nuggets, he also produced the most iconic image of his career: lying on the floor and clutching the ball in jubilation after Denver became the first No. 8 seed to upset the No. 1 seed (Seattle SuperSonics in 1994):