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Agent: Gordon Hayward leaving Jazz for Celtics ‘broke his heart’

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Gordon Hayward‘s agent, Mark Bartelstein, is sticking with his story: Hayward was still undecided Tuesday when news broke that he’d sign with the Celtics then only made up his mind on Boston later in the day.

In a fantastic account of the saga relayed by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, Bartelstein answers one big question: If Hayward were undecided Tuesday afternoon, how did he write such a lengthy Players Tribune article in such a short period of time? Bartelstein said Hayward previously wrote three versions of the article – one for the Celtics, one for the Jazz and one for the Heat – as a “cathartic” part of the process.

Bartelstein didn’t address my big question, though: If Hayward truly hadn’t made up his mind, why would incorrect reports cause Hayward to, as Bartelstein put it, “re-evaluate everything”?

At least Bartelstein went in depth on plenty. Via Genessy:

“Always through this process the Jazz were the leader in the clubhouse because of the incredible integrity and class that Dennis, Quin and the Miller family showed,” Bartelstein said. “The way they handled everything throughout Gordon’s career has been exemplary. It’s a wonderful place with a great, young team so leaving there was going to be really difficult.”

Hayward’s camp whittled the candidates down to three and set up visits in Miami on Saturday, Boston on Sunday and with Utah in San Diego on Monday.

After every stop, a new leader in the clubhouse emerged.

Hayward’s trip to Miami was “an unbelievable visit,” the agent said. After spending time with Riley, Spoelstra and crew, Hayward told Bartelstein, “I can 100 percent see myself being here.”

Boston surpassed Miami the following day after Hayward and his wife, Robyn, got the chance to spend time with Stevens, general manager Danny Ainge and the Celtics.

“I think this is the spot,” Hayward told his agent during a phone call from the plane Sunday night. “I think this is the right place for me.”

The Jazz were back in the lead after the meeting ended.

“Everything that you would want to touch on to make someone feel that they’d never want to leave is exactly what they did,” Bartelstein said. “And it worked.”

After the Jazz contingent left, Hayward had a two-hour conversation with his rep.

“How do I leave here? How can I leave this?” Hayward asked Bartelstein. “He was very emotional. He was tortured.”

The agent said Hayward continued to be “twisted and turned” until clarity finally came late Tuesday afternoon.

“He had to make a decision that was in his best interest, and it broke his heart,” Bartelstein said. “But he had to make the decision (for him). He had three incredible choices and that’s what made it so hard. There was no no-brainer.”

I recommend reading the full article for a detailed account of Bartelstein’s version of Hayward’s story. Bartelstein, accurate or spinning, is trying to paint his client as still caring and respectful toward Utah.

But it’s too late for that. It’s easy to read some resentment from the Jazz, and their fans aren’t even feigning hiding it. Hayward has become a villain in Utah.

This account of his exit isn’t helping. It just digs the knife deeper. Tying hope to Hayward forcing the Celtics into a sign-and-trade that helps the Jazz at Boston’s expense just furthers the problem.

Nationally, Bartelstein isn’t helping his client, either. Hayward comes across meek and too easily swayed.

Hayward made a tough, bold, forward-thinking choice. The Celtics appear best for his future, which is more important than rewarding Utah for what it did for him in the past.

He should own that and move on.

Draymond Green adds attention to Conor McGregor’s gag about Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s domestic violence

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Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are showing nearly no limits in their effort to promote their upcoming fight.

McGregor has repeatedly stoked the flames of racism, making himself a villain to some and a hero to others – but, more importantly, drawing attention from both sides. He also wore a No. 23 Warriors jersey.

Hey, I wear No. 23 for the Warriors, Draymond Green apparently thought to himself. So, Green posted on Instagram to inform everyone he was supporting Mayweather:

We rocking with Floyd bro not you… take that off bruh @thenotoriousmma

A post shared by Draymond Green (@money23green) on

McGregor responded in the comments:

screenshot-imgur.com-2017-07-23-15-11-32

C.J. Watson previously wore No. 23 for the Warriors, and this isn’t the first time McGregor has referenced the guard in relation to Mayweather:

Why does McGregor keep bring up Watson?

Martin Rogers of Yahoo Sports in a 2013 article on Mayweather domestic-violence victim Josie Harris:

The altercation happened when Mayweather returned to Harris’ property at 5 a.m. on September 9. Police had already been summoned following a verbal dispute hours earlier, but Mayweather came back. Harris says she was asleep on the living room couch when she woke up to Mayweather, holding her cell phone, yelling at her about text messages from NBA guard C.J. Watson.

Mayweather and Harris were no longer together; the boxer had by then installed Jackson in his home and as his main love interest. But, according to Harris, it was not acceptable to Mayweather for her to see other men while living in a house he owned.

“Are you having sex with C.J.?” Mayweather yelled at Harris, according to the arrest report.

“Yes, that is who I am seeing now,” she replied.

Mayweather then grabbed her by the hair and punched her in the back of the head “with a closed fist several times,” according to the report. He then pulled her off the couch by her hair and twisted her left arm.

“All I heard is, ‘Who is C.J. Watson, C.J. Watson the basketball player?’ ” Harris says. “From there it was just … bad. I was powerless. He was holding me down. I couldn’t fight back. The kids were screaming and crying, ‘You’re hurting my Mom.’ ”

At one point, Mayweather yelled, “I’m going to kill you and the man you are messing around with,” Harris told police. “I’m going to have you both disappear.”

According to the arrest report, when Harris screamed for her children to call for help, Mayweather turned to them and warned he would “beat their ass if they left the house and called police.”

I don’t think Green realized the context. He responded to McGregor in the comments by hyping his superiority to Watson and talking about boxing:

Knowingly or not, making light of domestic violence is on brand for the NBA.

What’s Kyrie Irving’s problem with LeBron James?

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Kyrie Irving reportedly requested a trade from the Cavaliers because he no longer wants to play with LeBron James.

But what does that actually mean?

Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Much of Irving’s disenchantment with James was rooted in game play, sources said. James, as a once-in-a-lifetime talent, controlled the ball more than any other forward perhaps in league history.

But there were ancillary issues that bothered Irving, too, such as how James’ good friend Randy Mims had a position on the Cavs’ staff and traveled on the team plane while none of Irving’s close friends were afforded the same opportunity.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

In registering his preference for a trade, league sources said, Irving divulged to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert that he’s become increasingly uneasy about a future that includes a roster constructed to complement LeBron James — a roster that could be devoid of James come free agency in 2018.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Irving wants to take his show away from James so he can grow his career (his on-court acclaim and notoriety, his brand, his voice) outside of James’ shadow.

Numerous people who’ve talked to Irving over the past month have said to cleveland.com that he told them he wanted to leave to grow his career, and it was the message Irving sent to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert when he asked to be traded last week.

These can all simultaneously be true. There needn’t be one singular reason Irving wants a trade.

It can also be true that former general manager David Griffin might have soothed Irving’s discontent. It can also be true that the Warriors’ dominance influenced Irving, as he might have been more willing to remain in a secondary role if it were more likely to result in a championship.

But so much of this comes back to LeBron, a massive presence around whom everything in Cleveland revolves.

Being the top player on a team means so many things – dictating on-court action, having the supporting cast built around you, influencing team staff, building a larger sponsorship presence. Irving can’t get any of that while playing with LeBron.

Irving led the Cavs in shots and usage percentage last season, but that happened only because LeBron allowed it. LeBron obviously retook control in the playoffs. There’s no question whose team this is.

There is also no indication Irving is fighting that. He’s not trying to usurp LeBron’s power, and Irving has molded his game the last few years to fit with LeBron.

But now Irving his exercising his own power so he can get even more the only place possible – somewhere away from LeBron.

Did Cavaliers dropping David Griffin lead to Kyrie Irving’s trade request?

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Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he had the NBA’s hardest coaching job. Following that thinking, former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin might have had the most difficult front-office job.

Not only did he face the same championship-or-bust pressure and oversee the same players (and their egos) as Lue, Griffin also reported directly to Dan Gilbert, the Cavs’ sometimes-difficult owner. The Gilbert aspect is often discussed, as is working with great/brilliant/passive-aggressive LeBron James. But it has probably been undersold how high-maintenance Kyrie Irving – who requested a trade – also was for Griffin before the general manager was ousted last month.

Ramona Shelburne, Dave McMenamin and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Over the previous few months, the Cavs had been worried about Irving’s mindset. They knew at times he’d grown unhappy with playing a secondary role on the team. Griffin had several conversations with Irving throughout the year, sources said, trying to find ways to work on the situation.

After the season, there was a desire to arrange a meeting to clear the air from all sides, sources said, but it didn’t take place. Unlike most teams, the Cavs did not have postseason exit meetings with their players.

What followed was a whirlwind, with the Cavs putting forth a series of trade packages looking to acquire either Butler or George. Some of these talks included Irving, which upset him even more when he found out about it, sources said. Previously, Griffin had worked to keep lines of communication with Irving open, but now Irving was in the dark.

Irving’s trade request had been building for years. The reported timing is vague, but Irving might have even requested a trade while Griffin was still in charge.

Either way, there’s no guarantee the Cavs keeping Griffin would have placated Irving. But it seems an experienced voice running the front office could have only helped.

Now, the task of trading Irving or mending fences falls to new general manager Koby Altman – who must solve this issue in a spotlight he never wanted.

If only Cleveland had Phil Jackson to insist on exit meetings. Maybe this would have been smoothed over a month ago.

LaVar Ball gets technical foul, pulls his AAU team off the court, forfeits game it was winning (video)

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Magic Johnson said he’s convinced LaVar Ball’s outlandishness is just marketing and that the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball is truly committed to developing younger players.

This didn’t look like someone who put youth player development over his own image.

With LaVar Ball’s AAU team leading by nine, he got a technical foul then pulled his team off the court:

He (kind of) explained why after the game (warning: profanity):

He also touched on his reasons in a video that, of course, quickly turns to promoting his brand:

This doesn’t mean Johnson is completely wrong, but the Lakers president seemingly misdiagnosed Ball’s priorities. What if Johnson is also wrong about Ball staying clear of the Lakers? That could create problems – if it hasn’t already.

I was never convinced, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver predicted, LaVar would settle down after Lonzo was drafted. I still believe Lonzo’s talent justifies managing LaVar, but that appears increasingly likely to be a burden the Lakers must actually handle rather than just brush off.