Dan Feldman

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Evan Turner to contract critics: ‘Kiss my ass. Dead serious. Write that. I earned that (expletive) money’


The NBA doesn’t seriously investigate players swearing at fans. But get caught on video doing it? A fine quickly follows.

So, I’m not sure why Trail Blazers forward Evan Turner essentially turned himself in for cursing at a Portland heckler. But if the NBA fines him, Turner – who signed a four-year, $70 million contract in 2016 – can afford it.

Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest:

So, late in that Sacramento game, Turner faced the “dumb redneck,” who sits three rows back from the court.

“When I turned around and cursed him out, he turned bright red,’’ Turner said chuckling.

In telling the middle-aged heckler to “shut the (expletive) up,” Turner might as well been speaking to all who still harp on his 4-year, $70 million contract.

“First off, let me say one thing: Everything I have done, I have earned,’’ Turner said. “My contract – that’s my bread, and I earned my bread. So, kiss my ass. Dead serious. Write that. I earned that (expletive) money.’’

There are two ways of looking at this:

1. Turner earned the contract because he convinced a team to give it to him. That’s demonstrably true.

2. Turner is earning the contract because his production is commensurate with his salary. That’s almost certainly false.

Turner is a subpar shooter, making just 32% of his 3-pointers and 48% of his 2-pointers while still being highly selective in his shot selection. He has a higher turnover percentage than assist percentage. He’s merely a fine defender, at best.

By real plus-minus, Turner ranks 442nd of 502 players.

That said, backlash to Turner’s contract has left him underrated in some ways. Just because he’s overpaid doesn’t mean he’s worthless. He still contributes plenty to Portland.

He’s a smart player and a good passer for his size. His versatility helps, especially defensively. Though he won’t lock anyone down, he can adequately defend multiple positions, making it easier for the Trail Blazers to switch and put other players in ideal matchups. His fun personality is welcome in the locker room.

Quick details all these traits, getting input from teammates and Portland coach Terry Stotts, in a story worth reading. Ed Davis put it best:

“A lot of players get judged on their salary,’’ Davis said. “If he was making, let’s say 8 million a year, they would be like, ‘He’s the best player in the league’ … that’s just how life is. But I always tell him: That’s a good problem to have. I’d rather have someone talk (stuff) to me if I was making 17 million a year than 6 million a year. So that’s a good problem.’’

Rudy Gobert: Gordon Hayward ‘kind of ignored me’ during free agency


Rudy Gobert previously complained about Gordon Hayward not texting back during free agency. Hayward, of course, left Gobert and the Jazz for the Celtics.

Now, Gobert is expanding on his displeasure for Hayward’s handling of his exit.

Gobert, via FOX 13 Salt Lake City:

We all know Gordon is a good player. We all know it’s a business, and sometimes you have to make tough decision.

For my part, it was only the fact that he didn’t really communicate with me. I tried to reach out to him before, just to have some informations. No matter what, I was going to respect his choice. He kind of ignored me. That’s the part I didn’t really like.

I was kind of considering him as a brother. We played four years together, went through a lot. And I thought I was important enough to know. Looks like I wasn’t, but we’ve moved on.

Hurt feelings are nearly inevitable in these situations. It obviously stinks that Hayward left someone who considered him a brother feeling this way, but I also understand Hayward needing to look out for himself at that point.

Talking to Gobert could have complicated Hayward’s decision-making. Even giving Gobert a heads up of his decision would have increased the chance of it leaking (which happened anyway).

If Hayward needed space, he was entitled to it. He probably should have at least texted Gobert that, though.

And Hayward still met with the Jazz, including Gobert, in San Diego. It’s not as if Gobert were completely shut out.

But high-stakes free agencies almost always cause bitterness.

In this case, Gobert felt the brunt of it.

Report: Kawhi Leonard unlikely to return for targeted Spurs-Pelicans game

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Kawhi Leonard was reportedly targeting Spurs-Pelicans on Thursday for his return.

Alas, it probably won’t happen.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

We’ve already been here before, Leonard missing his targeted return date. For all the progress made, this injury remains vexing.

San Antonio (37-30, in a three-way tie for eighth in the Western Conference) is facing razor-thin margins in the playoff race. The Pelicans are one of the teams the Spurs are trying to catch, and so are Saturday’s opponent, the Timberwolves. And who knows how long Leonard will need to acclimate once he returns?

That process can’t start soon enough for San Antonio, but apparently it won’t begin Thursday.

Warriors cancel practice after Stephen Curry’s 30th birthday party (videos)

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Stephen Curry will turn 30 tomorrow, and the Warriors celebrated last night.

The above video has plenty of great moments – Klay Thompson dancing (China Klay in the USA?), coaches Steve Kerr and Mike Brown dancing and Curry sitting on stage eating ribs while E-40 performs behind him.

But this was my absolute favorite:

Curry’s injured ankle didn’t stop him from going dumb.

But apparently, the party slowed the team today.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

The Warriors are good enough to do whatever they want. That’s the dream.

Harrison Barnes: Thunder, not Cavaliers or Warriors, were best team in 2016 playoffs

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In 2015-16, the defending-champion Warriors went an NBA-record 73-9. They were rightfully generating discussion as the best team of all time.

Then, suddenly they fell behind 3-1 to the Thunder in the Western Conference finals. Oklahoma City won Game 3 by 28 and Game 4 by 24.

Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes, who played for Golden State that year, via Road Trippin’:

My opinion is that OKC was probably the best team in the playoffs that year. I mean they were rolling, and we just didn’t have an answer for them. If Klay doesn’t have that crazy Game 6, if he just doesn’t have that crazy game, they were going to the Finals. I mean the way they were built, they were on. Rebounding, scoring – they were doing it all.

This isn’t Barnes slighting the Warriors because they let him walk to sign Kevin Durant. Andre Iguodala, who remained with Golden State, said the same thing.

And they’re right.

As good as the Warriors were throughout the year, the Thunder reached a level in the first four games of the conference finals unmatched by any team that season – including the Cavaliers, who won the title. Led by Durant and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City overwhelmed Golden State with elite athleticism, skill and execution.

The Thunder came back to Earth just enough to allow a comeback. The Warriors won Game 5 at home and Klay Thompson‘s 41 points carried them to a Game 6 win in Oklahoma City. Then, Golden State finished the comeback in Game 7 at home.

The Warriors then blew their own 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, to Cleveland – clearing the way for Durant to sign with Golden State.

No matter how he spins it or what other reasons he had, Durant signed with the best team.

But, for a week that spring, he was already on the best team.