Paul George said Russell Westbrook advocating so vigorously for George as an All-Star made George’s impending free agency decision easier.
My inference: George was already leaning toward re-signing with the Thunder. If he were leaning the other way, his appreciation for Westbrook’s comments would have made the decision harder.
Still, it’s always possible George got carried away in the moment or I’m misinterpreting him. But these latest comments only reinforce the idea George will likely sign with Oklahoma City this summer despite persistent rumors about his hometown Lakers that really gained steam while he was with the Pacers.
George, via ESPN:
I obviously would have loved to go home. That was ideal when it was that time.
But now, being here and playing alongside Russ, playing alongside Melo, I’ve built a real brotherhood with those guys. If we’re here right now [holds hand at chest level], then where can we be next year [hold hand at eye level]? Where can we be the year after that [holds hand above head]?
Of course, L.A. is home. So, that’s always going to draw the attention.
But we’ll see. I won’t rule anything out. But I’m definitely happy where I’m at. I like where we’re going, and I want to see how this unfolds.
It still depends how the Thunder finish the season. They have plenty of time to build their case, for better or worse.
But the more George talks about free agency, the more he sounds like someone planning to stay in Oklahoma City.
The Steve Kerr-James Harden saga took a turn Thursday, when Warriors coach Steve Kerr replied to this NBA tweet:
Kerr’s tweet was quickly deleted – but not before someone screenshotted it:
Chris Haynes of ESPN:
“I thought it was a direct message,” Kerr said. “My new iPhone is killing me.”
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, since Kerr’s message was intended to be private, the league didn’t see a reason to issue a fine. Kerr said he’s trying to figure out the new iPhone 10 and realized his tweet was public soon after publishing.
“A friend DM’d me and said what do you think about this clip, and I responded to him,” Kerr said. “I hit send, and I was like, ‘Oh no.’ I went right over to [assistant coach] Chris DeMarco because I have no idea how to delete a tweet. I rarely even send a tweet, let alone delete one, so I gave it to DeMarco. He deletes it after maybe thirty seconds, and I go, ‘What do you think? Am I going to get away with it?’ And he goes, ‘Hell no.’
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t anything too damning.”
Not too damning? Kerr called the NBA promoting a highlight of a rival player an “embarrassment.” That’s a shot at both Harden – who excels at these legal, though dubious-looking moves – and the league. Players have been fined for saying less.
The message to any player or coach who wants to publicly criticize officials after the game: Tweet then delete the gripe. That’ll get your point out and, based on this precedent, prevent you from getting fined. Call it the accidental tweet on purpose.
Knicks center Willy Hernangomez has not hidden his displeasure with his lack of playing time.
Now, he’s going a step further.
Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
Representatives for New York Knicks center Willy Hernangomez requested for him to be traded ahead of Thursday’s deadline, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Hernangomez’s representatives informed Knicks officials of the trade request in recent days, league sources said, seeking a team in which he can continue his development as a young NBA center.
The Knicks don’t necessarily have to trade Hernangomez to appease him. They could clear a rotation spot for him in New York by dealing Enes Kanter or, more likely, Kyle O'Quinn.
The 23-year-old Hernangomez, who made the All-Rookie first team last season, is four years younger than O’Quinn. Hernangomez is locked up for the next two seasons at the minimum (unguaranteed in 2018-19). O’Quinn, who has a $4,256,250 player option for next season. On a team professing to be rebuilding, Hernangomez should be the priority.
That said, it matters what each player would return in a trade. The Knicks shouldn’t pick between their centers in a vacuum.
But, by now, they should have an idea of the market. This situation has been brewing all season. It shouldn’t take a specific trade request from Hernangomez for New York to act.
UPDATE #2: The league has confirmed it, Donovan Mitchell will replace Aaron Gordon in the dunk contest.
UPDATE: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
No surprise and well-deserved.
The NBA assembled a strong field for the dunk contest:
George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel:
Gordon was the most accomplished competitor slated for this year’s dunk contest. He went toe-to-toe with Zach LaVine in a great dunk contest a couple years ago, though Gordon fizzled as favorite last year. Unfortunately for him, he won’t get redemption this year.
Next up? Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell is the people’s pick and probably the most likely actual selection. The high-flying guard is turning heads in a hurry.
The Magic, intentionally or not, are in tank mode at this point. Gordon missing a couple more games will barely cause a ripple on the court, though this could affect his trade stock ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
Al Horford hitting a game-winner from mid-range? Totally in-character.
Al Horford jamming on Jusuf Nurkic? That’s a surprising treat.