Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph ‘still in shock’ over suspension that forced him to miss Game 7

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The Grizzlies fought admirably for the first half of their eventual Game 7 loss to the Thunder, but realistically, they had a very small chance of pulling off the victory with Zach Randolph out of the lineup.

The frustrating thing for Memphis fans is that only Randolph himself is to blame, for landing a punch to the face of Steven Adams late in Game 6 that caused the league to hand down a suspension the very next day.

It was a more unusual situation than most like it, in that essentially no one saw this coming. This play completely flew under the radar until the league dropped the hammer, which may explain Randolph’s extended state of surprise.

From Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal (via HoopsHype):

The punishment for punching Thunder center Steven Adams came out of nowhere. Randolph’s head is still spinning. “It hurts,” Randolph said from a hotel less than a mile from Chesapeake Energy Arena about 90 minutes before tip-off. “I apologized to the guys. I feel like I let them down. I’ve got a lot of emotions going on right now, and rightfully so. When I woke up the next morning (after Game 6), I didn’t have any idea I was going to get suspended. I’m upset about it. I’m still in shock.”

“I want to apologize to my fans and the organization,” Randolph said. “This was totally unexpected. I wasn’t even thinking about that play. Normally, if you do something in a game like get a technical or get into something, you think about it all night. I didn’t think about it. I was just upset about the loss. Not being able to play in Game 7 never crossed my mind.”

It wasn’t much of a punch, but it was a blow to the head nonetheless, and the league made the right call in issuing the suspension. Randolph’s remorse is likely of little comfort to the fans or his teammates, as his actions caused his team to squander a legitimate chance to upend the Thunder and advance to the second round.

It’s worth noting that Randolph may have played his final game for the Grizzlies. He has a player option for $16.9 million for next season, but can forego that to become an unrestricted free agent, thereby securing more guaranteed money over a long-term deal.

Randolph has been great for the Grizzlies during his five seasons there. It would be a shame for his time in Memphis to end like this.

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

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Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

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Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

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This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

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In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.