Dan Feldman

Did Reggie Jackson distract Jimmy Butler into missing game-tying free throw? (video)

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With the Timberwolves trailing the Pistons by three and 6.2 seconds left, Jimmy Butler drew a foul on a 3-pointer.

Butler made the first two free throws then, just before he got the ball for the third, Reggie Jackson interrupted to talk to Stanley Johnson, who was in rebounding position. Butler missed the free throw, and Detroit won 100-97 after an intentional foul.

Butler said Jackson didn’t affect him, but Butler’s side eye during the delay at least appeared to speak loudly.

Bulls’ Kris Dunn dunks on T.J. Warren after savvy/explosive halfcourt drive (video)

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Kris Dunn had a nice weekend – 39 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds as the Bulls beat the Hornets and lost to the Suns – punctuated by this dunk in Chicago’s 113-105 loss to the Suns last night.

T.J. Warren paid the price for Tyler Ulis overplaying a Robin Lopez screen Dunn cleverly never used.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey: Clint Capela ‘couldn’t price himself out’ of Houston

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Clint Capela is a Most Improved Player candidate.

The Rockets center has advanced his defensive awareness, and he’s crashing the glass harder and showing more touch inside. Importantly, he has also improved his conditioning so he can handle more playing time.

He’s in line to get paid in restricted free agency next summer after Houston didn’t sign him to a rookie-scale contract extension.

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“We’ll have him here as long as he’ll have us,” Morey said. “He couldn’t price himself out.”

“The only way [to overcome the Warriors] is to develop near-elite two-way players,” Morey said. “I think Clint has that potential. He’s on the way. He took a big step forward last year. It’s a lot to put on one guy, but we need one more step, at least.”

Did Morey run that by Tilman Fertitta? The new Rockets owner has said he’ll pay the luxury tax only to reach the Finals, and that’s a high bar to clear with Golden State around.

Houston already has nearly $76 million in 2018-19 and more than $85 million in 2019-20 committed to just five players (James Harden, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Nene). Three starters – Capela, Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza – will be free agents next summer.

Maybe Morey is just trying to scare off other Capela suitors. It’ll already be a tight market, and centers have been especially squeezed. It might not take much to convince other teams to look elsewhere, allowing Houston to re-sign Capela at a discount.

Paul is probably the priority. If Houston is as invested in Capela as Morey indicates, that could leave Ariza as the odd man out.

Or the Rockets could make the Finals or at least convince Fertitta it’s likely next season, and he could greenlight enough spending to keep this core together.

Kevin Durant says he intended to send tweets critical of Thunder from own account, not burner

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In September, Kevin Durant tweeted that he left the Thunder because he disliked the organization and playing for Billy Donovan and that Oklahoma City’s surrounding cast around him and Russell Westbrook was lacking.

Because Durant tweeted in the third person then quickly deleted the tweets, most assumed he intended to tweet from a burner account – a fake identity used to stick up for himself.

Zach Baron of GQ:

The Internet was alive with a gleeful debate about whether Durant had a second, secret Twitter account. That wasn’t the case, he told me. He did write the posts, but on his own account, he said. He described it as a dissociative episode: He woke up from a nap, and “it just felt like I was on the outside looking in at a conversation. I had to walk in and just be like, ‘Nah.’” Either way, he appeared thin-skinned and a bit disingenuous, inexplicably absorbed in criticism during the pinnacle of his professional life. Even worse was what he’d actually said in the posts: After a year of maintaining a scrupulous, respectful silence about his old coach and his old team, he’d finally let slip what seemed to be the truth about his feelings regarding the Oklahoma City **Thunder.

This re-opens big questions: Did Durant actually dislike Donovan and the organization? Why? What did he find lacking in a supporting cast that, at times, included James Harden and Serge Ibaka and could’ve included Victor Oladipo if Durant re-signed?

Durant has mostly taken the high road since leaving for the Warriors, and he clearly has a second Instagram account he has used to spar with critics. I’m not convinced he doesn’t also have a burner Twitter account that he intended to use on those infamous tweets.

But I’m also not sure why he’d deny it considering the questions it opens about whether he truly meant what he wrote.

LeBron James: Draymond Green right about me playing too many minutes

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Draymond Green said Cavaliers fans should be concerned about LeBron James‘ minutes (an NBA-high 38.1 for the 32-year-old). “Yeah, he’s super human but eventually his super human powers go away.”

How did LeBron – sometimes-nemesis, sometimes-business partner, sometimes-banter partner to Green and not always fan of opposing players interjecting themselves – feel about that?

LeBron, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“Draymond’s right,” James told cleveland.com, after Green’s comments were relayed to him. “We want to get those minutes down for sure. But as of right now, we’ve had two point guards out and we’ve had some different lineup changes, so, I’ve had to play more minutes than I would like, and more minutes than my teammates would like me to have.”

“The caliber of players that we have, you always would like to, you know, get a couple more minutes here, couple more minutes there, and be a lot fresher down the stretch,” James said. “Draymond’s right, he’s right on point with it. But there’s going to be games where I have to play 40. There’s going to be games where I can play 32.

“Hopefully it all evens out, especially when IT comes back, D Rose comes back, Tristan comes back, we get more firepower.”

If LeBron wanted to play fewer minutes, he’d play fewer minutes. He holds that authority.

He’s competitive, and it’s hard to sit with so many injured teammates. But both he and the Cavaliers might be better off in May and June if he rested more now and allowed his teammates more opportunities to establish themselves.

It’s on Tyronn Lue to manage LeBron. The coach isn’t afraid to stand up to his star, and it almost seems LeBron is asking Lue to do it here.

I doubt this heavy early workload will wear down LeBron, but it’s time to change it before it does.