Lance Stephenson finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting in the Pacers’ Game 5 win over the Heat, and overall, those numbers didn’t have all that much of an impact on the game’s final result.
Stephenson, however, tried to put his stamp on this one in other ways, the most noticeable being an odd exchange where he was seen blowing in the ear of LeBron James.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel wasn’t exactly in support of this particular tactic, saying the following day that he wants his guys to be competitive without crossing the line. And the team’s president, Larry Bird, similarly wasn’t pleased with Stephenson’s odd behavior.
From Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:
But if you thought the actual incident was funny and entertaining, there’s one important man who doesn’t.
Asked via text message if he was bothered by Stephenson blowing in James’ ear, Pacers president Larry Bird replied, “Yes I am.”
The ear incident wasn’t the only trick Stephenson pulled to try to gain a psychological advantage. He attempted to eavesdrop on a Miami huddle at one point, and tried to flop to get the referees to disqualify James, for which he received a $10,000 fine the next day.
Bird’s opinion of Stephenson is the most important, because he’s the one who will ultimately decide how much to offer Stephenson to stay in Indiana when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. Given his string of questionable postseason decisions, along with some play deemed by his teammates to have been selfish, it’s worth wondering if Bird is still intent on retaining Stephenson’s services.
If you’re going to bet on an NBA player likely to be moved before the start of the NBA season — or at least by the deadline — Bucks’ big man Greg Monroe would be a good choice. It’s no secret he is on the trade block, the Bucks just aren’t finding a team making an offering to their liking.
What would Monroe like?
He probably wants to end up in New Orleans, ESPN’s Marc Stein said on the Lowe Post podcast.
Which makes a ton of sense — he was born in New Orleans, he wants to go home. The two sides have talked about a deal multiple times in the past, but nothing got done.
The problem is the Bucks are only getting rock-bottom offers for Monroe. On the upside, he’s an efficient offensive NBA big who got the Bucks 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game last season. However, he’s a defensive liability who does not protect the rim, plus he’s a $17 million rental next season (he can and likely will opt out in the summer of 2017). Even teams that could use a scoring big are not going to give up much quality in a trade for a rental like Monroe.
The Pelicans already have Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca as traditional fives, and they should play Anthony Davis there more anyway. Roster wise, the Pelicans would need to make some other moves for this deal to make sense.
But eventually, the Bucks will find an offer they are willing to take.
Venezuela is in its first Olympic basketball tournament in more than 20 years — they upset Canada and Argentina to win the FIBA Americas tournament last summer and earned the right to go to Rio.
But they are going to have to play there without the one NBA player on their roster. Greivis Vasquez, who had ankle surgery last December, announced he had to pull out, via the Nets.
If you want to know what this means for the Venezuelan team heading into Rio, well, they shot just 23.9 percent in an 80-45 loss to Team USA Friday night in Chicago — and that was by far the USA’s worst performance in the exhibition run-up to the Rio Games.
Vasquez should be getting decent minutes off the bench behind Jeremy Lin in Brooklyn this season. They need him healthy as the team tries to move from “god awful” to just plain “not good” next season.
Another smart move by the Spurs.
Monty Williams is one of the better assistant coaches in the NBA right now, and he was available (remember he understandably left Oklahoma City last season after the tragic death of his wife). He’s part of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff with USA Basketball this summer — watch him in practices at age 44 and he’s a better defender plenty of players in the league — and he wanted to get back on the bench.
San Antonio has snapped him up, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Sources told ESPN that Williams — who left the Oklahoma City Thunder’s bench in February after the tragic death of his wife, Ingrid — has been urged by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take as much of a role with the organization as he feels comfortable for the 2016-17 campaign.
The specifics of what role Williams would fill and how much time he could commit have not yet been determined, but sources say San Antonio has opened the door to either a coaching and player-development role or a front-office position (or a hybrid), depending on what he prefers.
One source close to Williams told ESPN that the 44-year-old “absolutely” intends to be a head coach in the league again after his expected stint with the Spurs. The source also said numerous teams, including Oklahoma City, have made similar offers to Williams for next season.
Williams will get another shot in the big chair down the line. In the short term, this is a smart move — nothing looks better on a resume than “Spurs” around the league right now.
Team USA had their “Tiny Dancer” moment.
Like “Stillwater” in Almost Famous, Team USA’s Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green and Kyrie Irving were leading a sing-along of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles” on the team plane out of Chicago to Houston for the USA’s final exhibition game. Hat tip Alysha Tsuji who pulled the snapchats.
Everyone was loving it… except for Carmelo Anthony, according to DeMar DeRozan.