Off Day wrap up from San Antonio: Erik Spoelstra frustrated with Mario Chalmers

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SAN ANTONIO — Emptying out the notebook from an off day near the Alamo….

• Erik Spoelstra is generally positive about players to the press and in public. He’s never really Popovich harsh on guys.

But in his Friday press conference Spoeltra was clearly frustrated with Mario Chalmers, who played just 17 minutes in Game 1 due to foul trouble. “Rio” has had more and more fouls through the playoffs, but due to the heat and humidity in the AT&T Center during Game 1 his foul trouble presented a much bigger problem.

“That hurt last night, 17 minutes,” Spoelstra said, talking about the minutes Chalmers played in Game 1. “We were managing the minutes the best that we could and getting guys in and out, played nine guys and nobody played deep minutes, but those extra 15 or 16 minutes from Rio probably would have helped. And he needs to be more attentive to technique and earlier in his thought process. Things are happening very quickly obviously at this level of competition and your preparation before the play happens is paramount.

“Now, Rio is very important to our success, he understands that, and I believe he will be better with the next game.”

If not, that could be the first line-up change Eric Spoelstra makes.

• Chalmers admitted he has to be smarter on defense.

“Just gotta be careful with my touch fouls,” Chalmers said. “I get a lot of touch fouls and I got to figure out a way to adjust.”

• At one point during Game 1 Chris Bosh kind of grabbed Chalmers by the head to get his attention and, according to Bosh, told Chalmers to get his head in the game and make the simple pass. Chalmers pretty much backed that up.

“I was frustrated with it being the first game, Game 1 of the Finals and being in foul trouble and not be able to help my team,” Chalmers said. “I was getting a little frustrated. He was just trying to keep me in the game.”

At least they weren’t yelling at Chalmers.

Yet.

• Dwyane Wade wisely would not take the bait and talk about Gatorade. That is one of Wade’s sponsors (and the league’s) but their official twitter account criticized LeBron James for cramping up (the company later apologized). Wade said he has not spoken to anyone at Gatorade and he is too smart a pitchman to get in the middle of that one.

• Wade summing up what the heat did to the Heat: “I think part of our problem was mental and physical fatigue.”

• How did Manu Ginobili cool down after that game? “I got home, turned the AC to 64 and lay down on my couch there for a few minutes.”

• San Antonio switched up how they defended the Heat in Game 1 compared to last year’s Finals, they were more aggressive taking away space for LeBron and Wade to work, they were going over picks not under. We’ll get more into that as we get closer to Sunday, but we’re not going to break it down as well as Couper Moorhead for Heat.com, if you love the chess game of the Finals go read that.

• Gregg Popovich on “toughness”: “It depends what you mean by ‘toughness.’
Mental toughness is often confused with a blatant, physical sort of aggression, which isn’t really true. I think you have to be careful when you talk about whether this person is tough or that person it tough.”

• Popovich also had the best line of the day, talking about the air conditioning being out for Game 1: “ll I know is that I saw all the air conditioning people in the hallways on my way out last night and I sent them home.”

(He was joking, it’s fixed.)

Report: Nerlens Noel switches agents in hopes of max deal with Mavericks

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Is Nerlens Noel worthy of a max contract? Not on your life.

But will he get it? That remains to be seen after reports that Noel recently switched agents from Andy Miller to Dan Fagen.

According to NBC 5 in Dallas, Noel has done just that and will be seeking a huge deal from Mark Cuban’s organization.

From NBC 5’s Newy Scruggs:

No other NBA clubs tried to sign the restricted 6-11 center. He has a one year qualifying offer of $5.8 million on the table but it’s not to his liking so he switched agents.

“We’re in a holding pattern,” is what Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told me back in July on NBC Sports Radio when I brought up the contract talks between Dallas and Noel. The NBA salary cap didn’t go up has high as many previously projected, so the summer of 2017 was not a bonanza some players hoped for.

Even with the increase in the cap, and with big contracts flying around for young talent, Noel has done nothing to prove himself worthy of an offer like that for the Dallas Mavericks. Yes, his advanced numbers from his third season in the NBA looked much better, and that was great news as young big men often take time to develop.

Yet the body of work for Noel is simply not there. Fifty games of good play over a 200 game career does not, or should not, earn you a max contract.

Then again, this could simply be Noel preying on Cuban’s need to rebuild.

With Dennis Smith Jr. at the helm, an aging Dirk Nowitzki, and the team that could soon be irrelevant in a increasingly tough Western Conference, Noel stands as a future franchise piece if he does indeed fulfill his potential.

The question now is, especially after how this summer has gone, do you pay upfront for potential talent to an extent that seems unreasonable to a fault?

I would still doubt that Noel ends up with that max contract, but some positioning here could earn him a few extra bucks.

NBA confirms Lakers under investigation for potential tampering with Paul George

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Paul George is not a member of the the Los Angeles Lakers. Yet.

The California native has one year to go on his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder after being traded there by the Indiana Pacers. Rumors have been swirling for months about whether George would stay in Indiana, a new city, or if he would bolt for his hometown in LA after the upcoming season comes to a close.

Even more rumors have said that the Lakers have felt confident enough that they are going to get George in the summer of 2018 that they weren’t urgent in trying to pick him up sooner.

Meanwhile, the NBA has confirmed that the Pacers have filed tampering charges against the Lakers, and that the league has hired an independent law firm to conduct the investigation.

From the NBA’s press release:

At the request of the Indiana Pacers, the NBA opened an investigation into alleged tampering by the Los Angeles Lakers. The independent investigation is being conducted by the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. The Lakers have been cooperative and, at this point, no findings have been made. We have asked both teams to refrain from commenting all the investigation is ongoing.

The rumor first broke this weekend when Peter Vecsey published it on his Patreon.

Magic Johnson has spoken publicly about George, explicitly stating that he knows he is not supposed to tamper with players. However, on an episode of the Jimmy Kimmel show, Johnson did say that he would give a wink to George if you happen to see him.

Via Jimmy Kimmel:

“I had to go to school. I had to go to CBA school, salary cap school and tampering school. You can’t tamper with somebody else’s player.”

“We gonna say hi because we know each other. You just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,’ even though I’ll be wink-winking like, ‘You know what that means, right?’

Punishment from tampering charges are rare in the NBA but are not unheard of. In 2013, the Atlanta Hawks, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings were fined for name dropping Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

According to ESPN, Johnson is at the center of the investigation for tampering with George. If evidence is found, the punishment could be significant for LA, and could include future restrictions when it comes time to acquire George.

Via ESPN:

The Lakers are denying the allegations filed by the Pacers, insisting that there is no evidence of tampering, and they expect to be cleared in the matter, a team source told ESPN.

If the league office’s probe can prove the Lakers were guilty of tampering with George while under contract with Indiana, Los Angeles can be punished in several ways, including a loss of draft picks, financial fines up to $5 million, future restrictions on acquiring George and possible suspensions of offending officials.

It’s still unclear at this point if anything is going to come out of this investigation, but it certainly does seem as though Los Angeles is confident that they are going to be able to sign George next summer.

LeBron James once saved someone while snorkeling with Dwyane Wade

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LeBron James is one of those guys who seems like he can do it all. He’s been league champion, league MVP, and Finals MVP. He’s an international marketing icon. He’s the best basketball player of a generation.

Apparently, he can also save people from the water like a dang superhero.

The recent article published on Vogue about James and his wife Savannah, the author shared a story told to him by Gabrielle Union, actress and wife of Dwyane Wade.

As Union tells the story, during a snorkeling trip in the Bahamas, Lebron noticed one person wasn’t back in the boat at the end of the session.

He then leapt in to bring them back.

Via Vogue:

As I prepare to say goodbye, I am reminded of a story Gabrielle Union told me about LeBron. Union and her husband, Dwyane Wade, with other friends and athletes, were out snorkeling in the Bahamas a few years back. Some, including Wade, were ocean-shy, city-born and not as strong at swimming as LeBron. (“LeBron, it turns out, is Aquaman!” Union says.) Eventually, the group got out in the water, though at the end of the swim, when everyone was back in the boat, LeBron took a count and noticed a man missing, immediately diving back in. “He literally brings our friend back, like something out of an episode of Baywatch,” Union says. “Because he’s that guy, and when you see that, you know he is not going to leave these at-risk kids behind or an NBA player snorkeling. He’s that guy who dives in.”

Lebron James: that dude.

Watch the 10 best plays from Andrew Wiggins’ 2016-17 season (VIDEO)

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This upcoming season will be a huge test for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins.

After a couple years of steady improvement, it appeared that Wiggins started to level off in his third season. Yes, he increased his 3-point shooting percentage but dips in his free-throw rate and VORP were a tad disappointing considering his usage even as he contributed more points per-game. Many in Minnesota expected him to be a superstar, and now it’s possible he ends up simply as a perennial rotation guy.

Still, the new season for the Timberwolves should be pretty interesting as they have added new pieces to the roster, including former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler.

The video above includes 10 of Wiggins’s best plays from the 2016-17 NBA season. Hopefully Wiggins will be able to build on this type of play as the roster around him and gets better and expectations rise.