Dan Feldman

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt yells to players in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 109-97.(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
AP Photo/Tony Dejak

David Blatt accepts Cavaliers ring: ‘Not my championship’ but they convinced me it was earned, not given


The Cavaliers are buying championship rings for more than 1,000 employees, including former center Anderson Varejao and former coach David Blatt.

We don’t know whether Varejao, who was traded during the season and went to the Warriors, will accept his.

But Blatt, who was fired in January, will take his.

David Pick:

This is a pretty humble statement from Blatt, who touted his credentials at every turn while coaching Cleveland. Most infamously, when asked about coaching in front of President Barack Obama for a Cavs-Bulls game, Blatt said he’d already coached in front of other world leaders. Blatt just couldn’t stand anything that presented him as less than a fully accomplished coach.

But he took the high road here, and both sides are right.

This wasn’t Blatt’s championship. Tyronn Lue coached the team to the finish line.

Blatt still contributed, though. He guided the Cavs to a 30-11 start (the best record of a team ever making a mid-season coaching change). That helped Cleveland secure home-court advantage through the Eastern Conference playoffs and reach the conference finals.

The Cavaliers didn’t need to get Blatt a ring, but it was the right move. Respectfully offering it only adds to the gesture. Blatt should have no qualms about accepting it.

Donatas Motiejunas’ agent, B.J. Armstrong: ‘When analytics can measure human behavior, then and only then will I find them useful’

Houston Rockets Draft Picks Press Conference
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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has cultivated a reputation as the NBA’s most statistically inclined front-office chief.

So, it’s impossible to read this tweet from B.J. Armstrong – the former Chicago Bull and current agent of Donatas Motiejunas, who’s in a contract quarrel with Houston – as anything but a shot at Morey and the Rockets.


Of course analytics can measure human behavior. Taking a basketball and putting it through a hoop is a behavior done by humans. Points is a statistic that measures how many times someone has done that from varying distances.

Obviously, analytics get far more complex, but they’re still measuring human behavior.

If Armstrong meant analytics don’t measure the totality of a human, well, I’d like to see a method for evaluating players that does.

Bulls rookie Denzel Valentine expected to miss two weeks with sprained ankle

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 03: Denzel Valentine #45 of the Chicago Bulls looks to pass against the Milwaukee Bucks during a preseason game at the United Center on October 3, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Good news for the Bulls: Their No. 14 pick, Denzel Valentine, looked good in his preseason debut.

Bad news for the Bulls: He also sprained his ankle.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Valentine downplayed the injury after the game. Maybe Chicago is just being extremely cautious.

Either way, he should be back for the regular season.

However, missing portions of the preseason tends to be more detrimental the younger a player is. The rookie Valentine could use this time to transition to the NBA, though a four-year career at Michigan State provides a solid base. Still, this won’t help Valentine battle Doug McDermott, Tony Snell and Isaiah Canaan for wing minutes behind Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler.

Thunder’s Cameron Payne forgoing surgery, out at least 6 weeks with broken foot

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 26:  Cameron Payne #22 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates his three point shot in the second half against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 26, 2016 in New York City.The Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the New York Knicks 128-122 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Thunder guard Cameron Payne will be out for at least six weeks after fracturing a bone in his right foot during a scrimmage last week.

Payne had previously broken the fifth metatarsal, and he had surgery in July. After consulting with specialists, he elected not to have surgery again, instead hoping the bone will heal on its own.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti said Thursday that Payne will be re-evaluated in six to eight weeks, meaning he will miss the start of the regular season.

The 14th pick in the 2015 draft, Payne averaged 5.0 points, 1.9 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 57 games during his rookie season as a backup to Russell Westbrook. He also became known for his pregame dance routine with Westbrook.

After that, Payne topped all scorers in the Orlando Summer League with 18.8 points per game, and also averaged 4.0 assists and 4.5 rebounds in four games.

The next step in his progression is on hold.

“Cameron, his representatives, and the Thunder fully understand that if the bone is not healing appropriately, or if at any point there is a setback in his return to play, surgery may still be required,” Presti said.

51Q: Can the Clippers keep pending free agents Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick happy?

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 21:  Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder drives to the basket on Blake Griffin, Chris Paul #3 and J.J. Redick #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers during the first half at Staples Center on December 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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We continue PBT’s 2016-17 NBA preview series, 51 Questions. For the past few weeks, and through the start of the NBA season, we tackle 51 questions we cannot wait to see answered during the upcoming NBA season. We will delve into one almost every day between now and the start of the season.

The Clippers are aiming for nothing short of an NBA title, which is an admirable mindset.

But it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing this year if they meet another – far vaguer – standard.

To keep their championship window open beyond this season, the Clippers must accomplish enough to satisfy Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and J.J. Redick.

Paul and Griffin have player options next summer, and they’ll certainly opt out to claim their share of the new national TV contracts. Redick’s contract also expires next summer.

Two stars and a third member of a four-man core could leave via unrestricted free agency, sending the Clippers back to their stone ages. Or all three could return and keep the Clippers in title contention until Paul, who turns 32 next spring, declines too far.

The stakes are high.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer will reportedly pay whatever it takes to keep Paul and Griffin, and that’s probably necessary. Re-signing those two would send the Clippers deeper into the luxury tax,* but they’re no-doubt-about-it max players. If the Clippers don’t pay them, other teams will line up to do it.

That’s why also keeping Redick is probably essential. The Clippers can use his Bird Rights to exceed the cap when re-signing him. Capped-out, they would have no way to get a suitable replacement.*

*Based on current projections and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which could change.

So – if the money is right – what else will it take to sell Paul, Griffin and Redick?

In Paul’s five seasons with the Clippers, they’ve reached the playoffs every year. But they’ve exited in the first round twice and second round thrice. Blowing a 3-1 lead to the Rockets in the 2015 second round – after vanquishing the 55-win Spurs in the first round, no less – was particularly painful.

As much as Doc Rivers calls reaching the conference finals a garbage goal, it would probably be satisfying for a franchise that has never been there. And – the Clippers might not want to hear this – losing to the Kevin DurantStephen CurryDraymond GreenKlay Thompson Warriors wouldn’t be so shameful.

That’d clearly signal that the Clippers are on the right track, which could convince Paul, Griffin and Redick to stick together with DeAndre Jordan.

Another second-round loss, depending on the circumstances, and selling a positive direction gets trickier. A first-round loss or somehow missing the playoffs entirely would be a disaster for the Clippers. They don’t want to enter free agency on that sour note.

They’re not the Lakers, but it does help to play in Los Angeles. The size of the market and proximity to Hollywood can sway players.

It won’t be everything, though. The Clippers need to be coming off a good season.

How do you define good?

They probably don’t know precisely right now, but ask Paul, Griffin and Redick on July 1. Their answers then are the only ones that matter.