Kelly Olynyk is a young multi-millionaire athlete living in Miami. There are worse lives to lead.
He’s in Miami because the Celtics had to renounce him to make room to sign Gordon Hayward this summer.
Some players would take offense at that and use it as motivation heading into the season, or into his “revenge game” which came Saturday when the Heat hosted the Celtics. Not Olynyk. One of the NBA’s most chill dudes had nothing but positive things to say about Brad Stevens and Boston when Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe asked him about it.
“I’ve always been good with Coach Stevens,” he said. “First and foremost, Coach Stevens is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met in the world. Top to bottom. Good day, bad day. Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, he’s an unbelievable human being. It doesn’t matter what situation is thrown at him, what the circumstances are, win, loss, he is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever come across in my life.
“I talked to him the other day and there’s a lot of things I’ve learned in Boston and I’ve taken from Boston and from him that you don’t even really appreciate until you’re removed from it. You really realize, and I told him this, I can’t thank him enough for how much he instilled whatever it was, habits, work ethic, just a way of thinking and a way of being in life into me the last four years — especially being a young guy and being able to be molded.
“I think he was a key cog in my development. As much as you don’t see it at the time, when you’re removed, you appreciate everything that he does.”
Olynyk signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Heat and has been their sixth man, averaging 9.5 points and 6.5 rebounds a game, and being the glue of a solid second unit. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra loves the way he spaces the floor and makes the smart play when he gets the ball, helping create for others.
Olynyk is in too good a spot professionally and in life to hold a grudge.
Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.
After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.
Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.
The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.
At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).
But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.
Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.
Report: Dennis Smith Jr. planned to have J. Cole dunk in dunk-contest routine
The dunk-contest scoring system – five judges ranking dunks on a scale of 6-10 – is plenty flawed. There should have been a larger difference between the Smith and Victor Oladipo dunks the Dallas point guard mentioned. But Oladipo didn’t advance, either. Personally, I thought the right two players – eventual-winner Donovan Mitchell and runner-up Larry Nance Jr. – advanced.
Maybe Smith was more upset about the missed opportunity – dunks (plural!) involving rapper J. Cole.
If Dennis had made it to the finals, Cole was going to throw him the alley-oop. But then the plan was, he was going to throw him the oop, Dennis would dunk it, and then Cole would catch the ball, and then he’d dunk it too. That was going to be the ill, craziest dunk-contest use of a prop or a person ever. But we never got to saw it, because they were holding out until the final round. They didn’t want to bring it out in the first round.
This certainly would have been unprecedented and cool. But unless Smith had something amazing planned for the alley-oop, the best element would have been Cole dunking. That would have upstaged Smith, who’s presumably the one being judged.
For what it’s worth, Cole can dunk. We’ve seen it in the celebrity game:
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard returns this season
The Spurs (35-24) are third in the West despite Leonard playing just nine games. Popovich has done a great job (maybe Coach of the Year-worthy). LaMarcus Aldridge is having a bounce-back season in a leading role. Pau Gasol leads a supporting cast of players good in their roles.
But San Antonio’s ceiling is so much lower without Leonard.
He’s an elite defender who shuts down opposing scorers on the perimeter and can comfortably switch inside. He can isolate offensively to score efficiently, and he spaces the floor off the ball with strong 3-point shooting. Those are all skills that translate to the playoffs.
Without him, the Spurs rely too heavily on older, slower defenders. That’s ripe to be exploited in the postseason.
Teams might even jockey to match up with San Antonio – the most vulnerable-appearing Western Conference team in line to get home-court advantage in the first round.
Of course, this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of Leonard returning. Popovich could just be trying to shut down speculation. He clearly doesn’t like discussing this issue.
But the Spurs are the most cautious team on injuries. If Leonard risks further injury, they’ll keep him sidelined.
This injury has already caused tension. This won’t help.