Dan Feldman

San Antonio Spurs v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Three
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Russell Westbrook: ‘I don’t know how to be cool,’ but I’m not mad person – including about Kevin Durant


Russell Westbrook seemingly never wanted to address Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder for the Warriors. In his first interview after the signing, Westbrook downplayed tension with Durant. In a GQ article released today, Westbrook benignly says of Durant:

“I mean, obviously in the NBA there’s a lot of different decisions that people make,” he says. “The whole thing in the NBA is that people sometimes have an opportunity to go where they want. And Kevin chose a place where he wanted to go.”

Yet, in the same breather he says he doesn’t want to answer any more Durant questions, Westbrook also provides his most salacious sound bite since the split: “That’s cute, man. That’s cute. My job is to worry about what’s going on here. We’re going to worry about all the selfish guys we’ve got over here, apparently. So, we’re going to figure that out.”

Why does Westbrook keep pulling the tail on a topic he seems to know he wants to avoid? This seems revealing.

Westbrook, via Daniel Riley of GQ:

“I don’t know how to be cool. You know what I mean? That’s not in my nature. I only know how to play one way. I can’t, like, decide to turn the switch on and off. I’m not good enough to do that.”

But what does it feel like to know that’s how people perceive him, even if he doesn’t perceive himself that way? “I just don’t care. A lot of people don’t really know me. All they know is what they see on TV. So I don’t mind it. Because I play basketball different than how I am off the court. When I’m on the court, everybody thinks I’m angry and I’m mad. I’m fine with that. But that’s why I think some people are confused until they see me off the court. They’ll run into me and be like: ‘Oh, I thought you were gonna be mad.’ But why would I be mad?”

This fits so much of what we know about Westbrook’s game and personality. This is what makes him so great.

It’s also what makes it hard to believe he views playing Durant and Golden State as just any other game. Westbrook says he feels that way and might want to feel that way, and it’s easier for him to convince himself of that off the court.

But when the ball tips and Durant is on the other side, I think we know what’s in store.

Bucks trade Michael Carter-Williams to Bulls for Tony Snell

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 06:  Michael Carter-Williams #5 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots over Tony Snell #20 and Bobby Portis #5 of the Chicago Bulls during a preseason game at the United Center on October 6, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Note to User: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditiopns of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bucks and Bulls were expected to complete a Michael Carter-Williams-for-Tony Snell trade today.

Indeed, the teams swapped the third-year players likely headed toward restricted free agency next summer.

Bulls release:

The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has acquired guard Michael Carter-Williams from the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for guard Tony Snell.

The Bucks were desperate for another wing with Khris Middleton injured, and Snell fits the bill. Snell is a 3-and-D player, but he’s only passably reliable at either skill and brings nothing else to the table. Only Tayshaun Prince played more with a lower PER than Snell’s 6.4 last season. In fact, the only other player who neared Snell’s minutes with a lower PER was Milwaukee’s own Rashad Vaughn, whose 4.2 PER shows why the Bucks were so desperate.

The Bulls took advantage.

Carter-Williams has his own flaws as an erratic playmaker and choppy outside shooter. But the 6-foot-6 point guard offers rare size for the position, and his talent is evidenced by his Rookie of the Year award. Chicago is also upgrading at a position of need. Carter-Williams will back up Rajon Rondo at point guard rather than leaving the Bulls stuck with the best of Jerian Grant, Isaiah Canaan and Spencer Dinwiddie.

The Bulls could afford to deal a wing. Denzel Valentine and Doug McDermott should adequately back up Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler on the wing – at least as adequately as Snell would’ve.

Likewise, Milwaukee should be fine at point guard with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova and Jason Terry.

It’s possible both teams improved with this  deal, but that mostly speaks to the Bucks’ awful wing depth. Chicago definitely walks away with the more valuable player – and one who also fills a need.

Report: Spurs hire former Cavaliers GM Chris Grant as scout

Andrew Bynum, Chris Grant
AP Photo/Tony Dejak
Leave a comment

One NBA employee said of Luol Deng, “He’s a good guy overall, but he’s got some African in him, and I don’t say that in a bad way other than he’s a guy that may be making side deals behind you, if that makes sense. He has a storefront out front that’s beautiful and great, but he may be selling some counterfeit stuff behind you.”

For that, Danny Ferry lost his job as Hawks general manager.

Another NBA employee reportedly said of Deng, “He is a good guy on the cover but he’s an African. He has a little two-step in him = says what you like to hear, but behind closed doors he could be killing you. Con isn’t bad, but it’[end of page] there. African-like, store front looks great but there’s a black market section in the back. Chicago thought he was good for their culture, but an outlier. Teammates liked him, but he [end of page] less impact on the locker room than you would think. He complained about things like not enough team jerseys in the team store, or that his bobble head was last during the year [end of page] has some con and a sense of entitlement. Luol kind of treated Cleveland like a pit-stop after the trade, where he probably became more protective of his body and focused on the [end of page] contract because he didn’t know his long term plan. He some things privately to media but denied them publically and said it wasn’t him. He’s not terrible, but you’ve got to k[end of page] that stuff is there with him.”

For that, nobody received any known  punishment.

One possible explanation: The unknown employee –  listed as a former member of the Cavaliers when the account was given in June 2014 – no longer worked in the league when the scouting report leaked.

Did that just change?

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

The San Antonio Spurs have hired former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant for a role as a team scout, league sources informed ESPN.

It is not confirmed Grant provided the original disparaging use of “African” to describe Deng. But so much circumstantial evidence – the timeline of Grant’s employment in Cleveland, the knowledge of Deng’s salary request – matches Grant, many assume it was him.

That’s not fair to Grant.

It’s also unfair if a current NBA employee goes unpunished for a racist argument against paying a player.

Cristiano Felicio knocks Miles Plumlee out of the way for putback dunk (video)

Leave a comment

The Bulls made their big run in the fourth quarter of their preseason win over the Bucks.

Before that, Cristiano Felicio provided a spark with this brutal putback dunk over Miles Plumlee.

6-foot-nothing Will Bynum makes fantastic chase-down block on D.J. Augustin (video)

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Will Bynum #6 of the Atlanta Hawks poses during media day on September 26, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
1 Comment

Will Bynum is on the Hawks on an unguaranteed contract, so I don’t know whether he’ll make the regular-season roster.

But he’s at least making an impressive effort.

At minimum, this is a little revenge for Bynum, who lost his backup-point guard job on the Pistons to D.J. Augustin a couple years ago.

Augustin, now with the Magic, doesn’t know what hit him: