Paul George on Lance Stephenson: ‘He’s got to learn to control himself’

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Another Pacers loss to the Cavaliers, another example of Paul George publicly calling attention to his teammates’ flaws.

First, George’s dismay was directed at C.J. Miles for taking the final shot – rather than passing to George – in the Game 1 defeat. Now, Lance Stephenson and Indiana’s bigs come under George’s microscope after Game 2.

Stephenson guarded Kevin Love in the third quarter, a matchup Stephenson couldn’t handle. He thrice fouled Love, reacting once by pushing Love after the whistle and another time by slamming the ball:

That didn’t sit well with George:

George:

He’s got to learn to control himself. He’s got to learn to just be in the moment. Lance is, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader, one of our leaders. So, his body language has to improve, just for the team. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. And a lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness that that emotion comes out on. But he’s got to channel that and put it towards making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.

George’s point isn’t altogether incorrect, and I have no problem with players openly discussing problems.

But George ought to look in the mirror first.

Watch him after Miles’ miss to end Game 1:

I’m also unconvinced Stephenson is such a leader in the locker room. Lavoy Allen is the only other Pacer who was in Indiana during Stephenson’s previous stint there. I bet most of Stephenson’s teammates see him as a role-playing journeyman, not someone who played a central role in the franchise’s best teams in a decade.

George is unquestionably the team’s leader. When he looks upset about Miles shooting, that matters – especially when George says exactly that, even if he walks it back.

Yet, George’s teammates have mostly answered the call when Cleveland double-teams him. That still hasn’t spared them from further scrutiny.

George:

I just thought in that third quarter, they double-teamed. They trapped. And we should have did a better job of, once we got it out in the pick-and-rolls, our bigs got to make plays at that point. And we didn’t.

I’m looking for them. I’m looking for them, to try to pass out of those traps and take advantage of the three-on-twos or the four-on-threes. That’s really what it comes down to. On all of those pick-and-rolls, I’m looking for them, because that’s how you play the game. You’ve got to burn them up if they send two to the ball, getting that ball out of that trap. And we’ve got to rely on them to make plays. It’s the only way that it’s going to free me up on these pick-and-rolls, because they’re not going to want to get burned by that.

It’s very obvious that they want the ball out of my hands, and they’re going to force other guys to beat them.

Indiana’s bigs didn’t always handle those possessions perfectly, especially in the third quarter. They can do better.

But George’s complaints are misplaced.

His floormates are shooting 50%, including 36% on 3-pointers – creating an effective field-goal percentage (54%) that would have ranked fourth in the league among teams in the regular season. They’re taking fine advantage of all the attention George draws.

The Pacers’ problem is defensive. They just can’t stop Cleveland (admittedly, no easy task).

In the end, how George feels matters far more than whether he’s right. He’s on track to become a restricted free agent in 2018, and he has dropped several hints about his dissatisfaction in Indiana. Falling behind 2-0 to the Cavs surely isn’t helping. I don’t know whether George is setting the stage for his eventual exit, but it sure feels like it.

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.

Report: Clippers to offer GM job to Thunder assistant Michael Winger

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Doc Rivers no longer has the hammer on trades and player moves in Los Angeles, that has been wisely handed over to Lawrence Frank, the team’s new president of basketball operations. He has Jerry West as a consultant — who will have the owner’s ear — working with him.

Frank now has a new right-hand guy, one of the better respected, up-and-coming front office people in the league, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The LA Clippers have offered Oklahoma City Thunder executive Michael Winger its general manager’s job, league sources told ESPN. A deal could be finalized soon, league sources said…

Winger, 37, has spent the past seven years with Oklahoma City, working closely with Executive Vice President and GM Sam Presti.

ESPN’s Thunder reporter Royce Young chipped in with this.

This is a good hire by the Clippers, bringing a smart young executive from a well-respected organization into the fold to help energize their front office.

This past summer the Clippers lost Chris Paul (traded to Houston, because he was leaving as a free agent otherwise), locked up Blake Griffin long-term, and now have to decide on a future direction. DeAndre Jordan has a player option next summer, do the Clippers want to max him out or move another direction? The Clippers need to inject some younger, more athletic players into their roster and move out of the win-now, trade youth for vets mode Rivers had them in. The Clippers have done a poor job developing young talent and using that to supplement their stars (something teams like the Warriors and Spurs have done well over the years).

Winger should help change that dynamic.

LeBron James’ best play from every game in 2016-17 (VIDEO)

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I’m not sure it’s possible to argue that LeBron James is not the most important player in the NBA, even in 2016-17.

Yes, others have won the MVP award in years past, but each and every postseason you understand just how important LeBron is to every roster he is on. NBA players even voted him as the player they would most secretly want on their team.

That’s why it’s pretty easy to galvanize that opinion when you watch a 20-minute highlight video of LeBron’s best plays from each game of the past season.

Summer is upon us and even preseason seems like a long way off. Thankfully, we will be able to get to see plays like this here in what feels like the near future.