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Spurs’ R.C. Buford wins Executive of the Year, though Trail Blazers’ Neil Olshey gets most first-place votes

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We were split between the Spurs’ R.C. Buford and the Trail Blazers Neil Olshey for Executive of the Year.

Apparently, so were NBA executives.

Buford won the 2016 Executive of the Year despite Olshey getting more first-place votes from their peers.

Here’s the full voting with executive, team (first-place votes, second-place votes, third-place votes, points):

  1. R.C. Buford, San Antonio (9-10-2-77)
  2. Neil Olshey, Portland (10-3-4-63)
  3. Bob Myers, Golden State (5-4-1-38)
  4. Masai Ujiri, Toronto (2-2-2-18)
  5. Rich Cho, Charlotte (1-2-6-17)
  6. Danny Ainge, Boston (1-2-2-13)
  7. David Griffin, Cleveland (0-3-1-10)
  8. Stan Van Gundy, Detroit (0-1-3-6)
  9. Pat Riley, Miami (0-1-3-6)
  10. Sam Presti, Oklahoma City (1-0-0-5)
  11. Sam Hinkie, Philadelphia (0-1-2-5)
  12. Wes Wilcox, Atlanta (0-0-1-1)
  13. John Hammond, Milwaukee (0-0-1-1)
  14. Dennis Lindsey, Utah (0-0-1-1)

Thoughts:

  • R.C. Buford and Neil Olshey had excellent years, as we explained here.
  • Buford, who also won in 2014, is the first two-time winner since Bryan Colangelo (2005 Suns and 2007 Raptors). This can be a funny award.
  • What did Bob Myers do to earn votes this year? Re-sign Draymond Green as a restricted free agent? Lure Anderson Varejao after his buyout? Not trade for Stephen Curry? Myers is an impressive general manager, but this team has been built for a while (as was the case when he won last season). This doesn’t seem to go past simplistic “Warriors are good, so they deserve awards” thinking.
  • I’m not surprised Richard Cho finished highly, but I’m not on board. He made the Hornets better this season, but he did so with a rotation full of expiring contracts. One false step in free agency, and the entire foundation collapses. It could work out for Charlotte if Nicolas Batum and other key free agents re-sign, but I don’t think a first-round exit justifies such an treacherous outlook.
  • An executive from each team votes for this award, so unlike honors where media pick, each voter’s choices aren’t publicly disclosed. The closeness and anonymity of voters opens the door for voting to push an agenda. Do three executives really think Sam Hinkie had a top-three year, or do they just want to throw support to the deposed 76ers general manager? On that note, I’m little surprised Jerry Colangelo didn’t get an honorary vote from the other side of the divide. Does anyone truly believe overseeing the Bucks’ backslide justified a John Hammond vote, or this protesting Jason Kidd’s arrangement?
  • Another curious vote-getter: Wes Wilcox. Mike Budenholzer runs the Hawks’ front office.
  • I wonder whether Phil Jackson is surprised about not getting any votes this year, too.

Russell Westbrook hits game-winning 3-pointer to beat Kings (VIDEO)

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Welp, looks like Russell Westbrook is re-energized after All-Star Weekend.

As the first night of games after the break got underway on Thursday night, it was Westbrook who gave us a jolt as he helped the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Sacramento Kings on the road.

With just a second to go, Sacramento’s Justin Jackson had tied the game up at 107-107. This came after Vince Carter pulled up confidently from nearly 30 feet out, missing badly. Sacramento missed another follow, and then Jackson put home the final try.

Via Twitter:

That left the Thunder to advance the ball with just one second left.

Oklahoma City ran a simple play with Westbrook running near-to-far across the arc from the inbounder, eventually settling at the top of the 3-point line.

He let it fly, and that allowed OKC to come away with a win, 110-107.

Bulls find way to lose despite being up by 5 with 35 seconds left

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CHICAGO (AP) Ben Simmons scored 32 points, making two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to complete Philadelphia’s rally from five points down in the final minute, and the 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 116-115 on Thursday night.

Joel Embiid had 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Simmons added 11 assists and seven rebounds as Philadelphia won its sixth straight and snapped a four-game road losing streak.

Bobby Portis had a career-high 38 points and Zach LaVine added 23 for the Bulls, who were 18 for 34 on 3-pointers.

Chicago had a 115-114 lead and the ball with 8 seconds to go before Embiid deflected an inbounds pass to create a turnover. Simmons came up with the ball near half court and was fouled by Denzel Valentine. He made both free throws.

Portis had a chance for a game winner, but his short attempt – with Embiid defending – just missed.

The 76ers raced to a 25-7 lead midway through the first quarter before Portis got hot and Chicago started making 3s.

Philadelphia’s lead was down to 33-29 at the end of the quarter and the Bulls busted out for 40 points in the second to take a 69-67 halftime lead. Chicago was 9 of 12 on 3-pointers in the quarter, including 4 for 5 by Portis.

The 76ers were up by five early in the fourth before Portis scored six straight points – on a 3-pointer and a three-point play – to put the Bulls on top 101-100. A few minutes later, Portis dunked over Embiid to stretch the lead to 111-106 with just over four minutes to play.

LaVine hit a 3-pointer to make it 115-110 with 1:02 left.

TIP INS

76ers: C Embiid has nine straight double-doubles . Simmons has six triple-doubles this season, which ties him with Wilt Chamberlain (three times) and Billy Cunningham for most in a season in team history.

Bulls: To look at some younger players during the final 25 games, C Robin Lopez and G/F Justin Holiday were removed from the starting lineup. Both were inactive on Thursday as Cristiano Felicio and David Nwaba (21 points) started; Also, Cameron Payne – who played in his first game on Thursday – will replace Jerian Grant as the backup point guard.

“It really is hard,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “It’s hard for Robin, it’s hard for Justin and it’s hard for Jerian, who’s probably making as big a sacrifice as anybody.”

UP NEXT

76ers: Host Orlando on Saturday.

Bulls: Visit Minnesota Saturday night.

Kelly Oubre gets caught untying Rodney Hood’s shoes (VIDEO)

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The NBA seems to have a secret obsession with tying and untying shoes mid-game. J.R. Smith once got a warning for doing as much, finally earning himself a $50,000 fine after doing it multiple times. Likewise, other players like Rajon Rondo and Danny Green have pulled down the shorts of opponents while the clock was rolling.

Perhaps that emboldened Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre on Thursday night as his team took on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Ohio.

During the game, game operations crew at The Q ran a video on the big board that appeared to show Oubre untying the shoes of Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood.

Via Twitter:

These guys have so much to think about during a game I’m honestly impressed that they have the time to remember to do petty stuff like this.

I suppose it worked?

Oubre had 17 points off the bench, adding five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Hood had just eight points in 27 minutes on the floor.

The Wizards beat the Cavaliers on the road, 110-103.

Report: Warriors will spend trip to D.C. with kids, not Trump

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Donald Trump decided to disinvite the Golden State Warriors to the White House despite team winning the 2017 NBA Championship. Many members of the Warriors have been critical of Trump during his short tenure in Washington D.C., which the former mail order steak salesman has not taken lightly.

With no invitation to the White House on hand, and considerable doubts that the team would go even if the opportunity resurfaced, the Warriors have decided to take a private tour around the nation’s capital instead.

According to a report from ESPN, the team will take a trip with just players, coaches, and some kids to a discreet location as part of a tour.

Via ESPN:

Head coach Steve Kerr left it up to the players to determine how they wanted to spend their time, and the players selected a venue in which local kids would join them. It will be closed off to the media, sources said.

The players wanted the outing to be a personal, intimate experience.

“It’s their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it’s up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans,” Kerr told ESPN. “I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they’re doing.”

Golden State will be in D.C. to play the Washington Wizards on February 28. They will reportedly take their trip — sure to be fun for the kids — the day before.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder if an NBA team will ever visit the White House while Trump lives there. People from LeBron James to Gregg Popovich have spoken out about their disagreements with him, and the Warriors were pretty vocal about not attending a ceremony with Trump.