Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs, Game 3

Jason Terry believes Spurs’ air-conditioning outage might have been intentional

46 Comments

This season, 341 visiting players played a game in San Antonio.

Surely, in that large group, at least some believe the Spurs’ air-conditioning outage in Game 1 of the Finals was a nefarious plot.

And among that subset, it takes only one to speak out.

Jason Terry – who spent the last half of the season not playing for the Kings and battled San Antonio in the playoffs thrice previously with the Mavericks – is carrying that torch.

Terry on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM, as transcribed by Bryan Gutierrez of ESPNDallas.com:

“You know what, Pop [Spurs coach Gregg Popovich] has done that so many times. I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy, but I’m telling you, going into San Antonio is a tough place to play,” Terry said.

“And I can remember very well one time where it was cold showers, there were about a thousand flies in the locker room. This year, there was a snake in the locker room. So, they’re going to pull out all the stops to get into your head.

“When you go to San Antonio, expect something like that. And Miami fell victim to it.”

To be clear: I don’t believe the air-conditioning was anything more than it appeared to be – a chance electrical outage. Conspiracies are difficult to execute because, the more people involved, the harder they are to be kept secret. A plot like this would require, at minimum, an electrician to damage the system and a trainer to hydrate the San Antonio players. Likely, even more people would have to coordinate.

So, I don’t believe it.

But I can’t completely put it past the Spurs either.

Gregg Popovich snaps at reporters because protecting info might give San Antonio an edge. That’s the Spurs’ franchise culture. They’ll go to great lengths for even the slightest chance at an advantage.

Is it impossible to believe they’d crank up the heat if they thought it would help against Miami? (And with LeBron James’ cramps, it did help.)

Like the Spurs, the New England Patriots were once seen as a team that does everything the right way. And they committed Spygate.

These are competitors at the highest level. I don’t think we can ever fully trust we understand what limits they’ll set for themselves.

So, no, I don’t believe Popovich masterminded an air-conditioning conspiracy. But I don’t find Terry’s suspicions unrwarranted, either.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
1 Comment

The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
1 Comment

Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Leave a comment

The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

3 Comments

John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.