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Report: Marc Gasol did not have “him or me” ultimatum, but relationship with coach was strained


In the NBA, elite players have the power, not coaches. This isn’t college ball where the coach is the face of the program and the guy with the hammer (read: ability to pull scholarships), or even Europe where the coaches wield that same CEO power. There are far fewer elite players in the NBA than quality coaches, and elite players are harder to get on the roster, so simple supply and demand gives the players power.

Those players can get a coach fired.

Marc Gasol did not push to do that with David Fizdale in Memphis, even though Fizdale was fired on Monday after benching in the fourth quarter on Sunday, and Gasol made frustrated comments after the game. From Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Let’s not confuse that with Gasol and Fizdale getting along, something that had been rumored around the league for a while. Gasol has had strained relationships with most of his NBA coaches. Gasol had adapted his game and was shooting threes and spacing the floor more in the past year, but he and Fizdale had clashed. From Matt Moore at

“It’s not like people in the league didn’t know that Marc and Fiz weren’t speaking or getting along,” an NBA executive told CBS Sports, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on another team.

This is more than just star player vs. coach, this is a culture clash within the organization — what kind of team are the Grizzlies trying to be? Are they spacing the floor or still old-school grit-n-grind? Both? Are they rebuilding, trying to put some guys around a couple stars and be competitive, or some combination of those two? This team feels like it’s on the cusp of major change, Memphis’ stars from its best era are aging or gone, yet some in the organization are holding on to the past.

J.B. Bickerstaff will coach out the season, but as the Grizzlies get to the trade deadline and next summer, they have some major decisions to make.

Giannis Antetokounmpo to tell his story on 60 Minutes this week (preview clip)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo grew up hocking wares — clothes, sunglasses, whatever — on the streets of Athens, Greece. He easily could still be living there, the tallest salesman in a poor part of a country with high unemployment and real challenges.

Instead, he is a multimillionaire living comfortably in the United States, and is one of the 10 best basketball players in the world — and still improving. In a few years we may well be saying he is the best player on the planet.

Antetokounmpo will be telling his story on the legendary television news magazine 60 Minutes this week, and the show released a clip. Check it out.

This is the best missed free throw to game winner you will ever see

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We’ve all seen this situation before at every level of basketball: A team down three points gets fouled in the final seconds and has two free throws, so the shooter aims to make the first free throw then miss the second and create a rebound he or a teammate can grab then throw back in to tie the game. It works about as often as an NFL Hail Mary — either the shooter makes the shot anyway or the defense gets the board — but what other choice is there?

Nobody has ever pulled it off as well as Paulinho Boracini of the Brazilian league team Cearense.

Intentional or not (and I lean not), he banked the second free throw off the rim toward the corner, ran it down himself and hit the game-winning three.

Damn. That’s impressive.

(If Boracini and Cearense sound familiar, you win the award for “watching too much Knicks preseason basketball” because they played New York in a 2015 exhibition.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo doubtful with ankle injury for Bulls game

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MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.

The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.

Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.


Anfernee Simons declares for NBA draft straight out of high school (kind of)

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Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.

Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.

Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation

Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.

A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.

By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.

As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.