Author: Brett Pollakoff

Flip Saunders

Flip Saunders (sort of) makes up with Jazz broadcaster after ripping him for saying Timberwolves were tanking


Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders ripped the Jazz television broadcast crew recently, after they accused his team of tanking by suiting up only seven healthy players.

Minnesota actually ended up winning the game, but Saunders went off anyway after it was finished.

“That’s totally irresponsible, we’re not tanking games,” Saunders said at the time. “If that’s so, then [Utah] got beat by a team who was tanking. … We’re playing to win. Our guys are out there: We won two games ago at New York, we lost in the fourth quarter against Charlotte last night. We’re not tanking games. It is irresponsible for them to go on TV saying that. If you work at ESPN, you get fired for saying stuff like that.”

With Utah in Minnesota to face the Timberwolves on Monday, one of the broadcasters that Saunders had words for used it as an excuse to confront him over those remarks.

From Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune:

“Still feel like the announcers need to be fired, including myself?” Bolerjack asked.

“I didn’t say you,” Saunders replied. “I just said that at ESPN, you do things like that. … You know, we have these [interviews] beforehand, people come and ask us, you know, who we have, who’s playing, who’s not. So that’s why we have this here.”

“But did you hear the broadcast?” Bolerjack asked.

“Yeah. I heard the thing. I heard the broadcast. I didn’t go back and hear it again,” Saunders said.

The situation ended amicably, with Saunders saying, “Hey. I’d forget about it. Things are done. They’re over with. I’m just at the time, in the context it was taken, I thought it was taken to mean that we were looking at tanking. If I was wrong, I’ll apologize for being wrong.”

“I appreciate the thought,” Bolerjack said over a handshake. “Thank you.”

Saunders tried to shut down the conversation initially, then diplomatically brought it to a close.

This seemed like an unnecessary exchange altogether; the broadcaster appeared to be looking for some attention, or perhaps to create an in-person verbal confrontation that he could use for fodder on that night’s broadcast.

It’s tough to discern exactly how this went down without hearing the tone in the two men’s voices, but either way, it seemed as though Saunders wasn’t exactly ready to thoroughly forgive Bolerjack for his previous comments.

UPDATE: David Locke, radio play-by-play voice for the Jazz, has the audio up here. The exchange didn’t seem to be one that was contentious.

Lance Stephenson receives DNP-CD in Hornets’ loss to Celtics

Charlotte Hornets v Sacramento Kings

The Hornets signed Lance Stephenson to a three-year, $27 million deal in free agency last summer, with the hope being he could become one of the team’s go-to players — if not initially, then certainly as the season progressed.

But things have been rocky for quite some time, and may have hit their low point Monday night.

With Charlotte fighting for the East’s final playoff spot and playing a critical game against the Boston Celtics — a team they were tied with in the loss column — Hornets coach Steve Clifford made the decision to keep Stephenson on the bench.

From the Associated Press:

“It’s not in my hands. It’s in Coach’s hands,” Stephenson said.

When asked if he was upset by the decision, Stephenson said, “I mean, of course. I feel like I could help our team. I feel I could have helped tonight.”

Said Clifford: “I explained to him that I’m not saying it’s his fault at all but we have struggled to find a group that has played well off the bench in these last few games.”

The Celtics won in Charlotte 116-104, which put the Hornets a game-and-a-half back of Boston in the standings.

Stephenson struggled in the early part of the season to find his way, and after returning from an injury-forced 14-game absence, he’s been relegated to a reserve role ever since.

The Hornets explored trading Stephenson midseason, but that’s not how you want to treat your newly-signed free agents, no matter how poor the match. If they’re not even going to play him in the season’s most critical contests, however, they’ll probably revisit dealing him once the season is finished.

Kings considering shutting down DeMarcus Cousins for remainder of season

DeMarcus Cousins
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DeMarcus Cousins sat out of the Kings’ 97-83 loss to the Grizzlies on Monday, after the team announced ahead of time that he would be doing just that.

Cousins has been dealing with some nagging injuries as of late, and with the Kings having nothing left to play for (which has honestly been the case for months now), the thinking is that there’s no good reason for him to push through.

The team is considering shutting down Cousins for the remainder of the season, but Sacramento head coach George Karl would like Cousins to play here and there if he’s healthy enough to do so.

From Michael Wallace of

Kings coach George Karl said Monday that he spoke with Cousins about how they would approach the final weeks of the season. Cousins has been dealing with a calf strain, sore foot and a thigh bruise among other ailments for several weeks.

“We talked when he commented after one game that his body was beat up,” Karl said before the Kings faced the Grizzlies. “I said, ‘Instead of thinking about shutting it down, let’s try to find some days that you can get your body rested.’ We might schedule a piece of our games and (rest Cousins) again.” …

“I think Cousins likes to play and I think he’s doing it because he wants to play at a higher efficiency,” Karl said. “It gives me an opportunity to experiment a little bit. At home, I’d like to go in and (let Cousins play) every game. But on the road, I might experiment a little bit more.”

There should be no rush for the Kings to have their franchise player participate in games if he’s even the slightest bit injured.

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Cousins is simply putting up big numbers on a bad team during blowout losses at this point; he scored 39 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in his last outing, a 14-point loss to New Orleans. That’s not going to help him or the franchise in any capacity moving forward, so if his health is indeed an issue, the smart thing would be to simply shut him down.

Jordan Clarkson hits game-winner to give Lakers overtime win over Sixers (VIDEO)

Philadelphia 76ers V Los Angeles Lakers

It’s a strange time to be a Lakers fan.

On one hand, you’ve got a nice rookie in Jordan Clarkson who finished with 26 points, six rebounds and 11 assists in a win over the Sixers — one in which he hit the game-winner after an incredible pass from Wayne Ellington.

On the other, every win — especially against fellow bottom-feeders like the Sixers — inches the Lakers closer to potentially losing their lottery pick in this summer’s draft.

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Strange times, indeed.

NBA players’ union head believes new labor deal can be reached without a work stoppage

Michele Roberts, the Executive Director of National Basketball Players Association

NBA Players Association executive director Michele Roberts has taken a hard-line stance against virtually anything commissioner Adam Silver has proposed where a new collective bargaining agreement is concerned, and that has many believing that another lockout is inevitable when negotiations ramp up following the 2016-17 season.

But if her most recent remarks are to be believed, that may not be the case.

While there will most certainly be a new deal (because the union will opt out of the current one, as is its right), Roberts believes there is enough money in the league’s new broadcast rights deal to go around, so therefore the talks shouldn’t be so contentious.

From Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

While the NBPA quickly rejected the “smoothing” concept suggested by commissioner Adam Silver and owners regarding the expected exponential increase of the salary cap for the 2016-17 season, Roberts said she views the $24.9 billion war chest from the nine-year television deal as a positive, suggesting the league is fully healthy.

“We want a deal. We want a deal that is as fair as we can get. We understand you’ve got to give a little to get a little,” she said. “There’s going to be a deal and my view is let’s get it done. Silver has said the same to me, so I think the good news is we don’t have the backdrop of poverty. There’s all this money. The game is growing in popularity. Everyone should be singing, ‘Hallelujah.’ They’ve got a new commissioner. I’m new. I have no bad blood with Adam because I don’t know him. Nor he with me. Everything in the world suggests we should be able to get through this without a problem. And if that doesn’t happen I would be, and I think Mr. Silver would be, disappointed.”

When asked whether a deal could get done before 2017, Roberts said, “Sure. Wouldn’t it be great for everybody, the players, for the owners, and God knows the fans, if we could say these were the major issues that we knew we had to deal with and we saw no reason to wait until 2017, so we got them done? Not only is there not going to be any opting out, but we’ve agreed to these new terms and an extension of the CBA. Wouldn’t everybody just be delighted? It would be great for the game.”

The “smoothing” concept that Silver proposed was indeed rejected, which was a move that favored the small percentage of the league’s superstars, instead of looking out for the bulk of the league’s players. The reasoning was supposedly based in a feeling that the union shouldn’t be responsible for trying to protect the owners from themselves in terms of over-bidding for players and doling out contracts that were more lucrative than necessary, but it’s going to create a chaos in free agency, the likes of which we’ve never seen.

As for the comment about there being “all this money,” that much is true. And while the days of teams crying poverty are over, thanks both to franchise values skyrocketing as well as the influx of dollars from the new broadcast rights deal, there may be a short-term cash flow issue that Roberts is either unaware of, or is simply choosing to ignore.

From Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

“$24.9 billion ain’t a problem,” — it is when its not paid the first day you have to start sharing it with players.

The reason the NBA and its owners want to “smooth” the salary cap increases is because not every team has the cash flow for the new amounts

The TV payments don’t come in the day the season opens – they need a year of those checks to get enough bankrolled to meet the new numbers.

More than anything, this just shows that there’s still plenty to sift through before a new labor deal can be reached. These are the softest and most optimistic comments we’ve seen from Roberts yet, but that doesn’t mean a work stoppage is any less likely, at least at this extremely early stage.