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Clippers executive Jerry West calls Celtics’ Gordon Hayward ‘a very good player’

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Clippers executive Jerry West raved about Warriors stars Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green – which sounded a lot like the comments that got Lakers president Magic Johnson fined for tampering with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

But Johnson previously received a tampering warning for winking at Paul George. Maybe West got warned for his Golden State remarks.

After all, NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained the Johnson fine: “What we’ve said to him, and it’s a clear message to other team executives, is that stop talking about star players on other teams. There are plenty of other issues they can address.”

Well, West again talked about a star player on another team. This time it was Celtics forward Gordon Hayward.

West, via Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

“I’ll just say that every once in a while, there’s a chance that people get to take advantage of someone,” West said. “I don’t think that will ever happen again, but what Brooklyn did almost should be legislated against, to be honest with you.

“It’s very much like when Stepien was in Cleveland,” he added, referring to former Cavs owner Ted Stepien, who traded away so many first-round picks that the league no longer allows teams to trade first-rounders in consecutive years. “We got the No. 1 pick in the draft (James Worthy in 1982) out of it, who helped us win championships.

“But Danny’s done a nice job back there. Are they good enough? They had a terrible break with a very good player (Gordon Hayward), and are they good enough now? At the end of a couple of years, they’re going to be judged by that, by how they’re doing then — not by now. They’ve got some good young players. They’ve got a terrific coach. They’ve got a lot of positive things going, that’s for sure.”

I promise I’m not trying to pick on West. I appreciate his perspective, as a former great player and longtime executive. I don’t think he should be punished for this.

But I wouldn’t blame the Lakers one bit if they feel they’re being held to a different standard. The NBA has created an unease around the most benign forms of tampering – the most meaningful still go largely unchecked – thanks to a selective enforcement.

Moving onto to the substance of West’s quote, he might be right about a rule change to prevent another Brooklyn situation.

It’s easy to say the NBA shouldn’t protect teams from themselves, but that’s probably counter to the league’s financial interests. The Nets have been hopeless for three years, and it’ll probably take multiple more seasons to dig out of this hole. A large market is going to waste. The NBA is a money-making enterprise more than anything else, so that’s a big problem.

The Nets found a loophole in the Stepien Rule with pick swaps, allowing the team to keep a first-rounder every other year – just not the high one their lousy record would otherwise entitle them to. It was a clever workaround, one that effectively nullified the Stepien Rule.

There’s a case that Brooklyn’s plight will dissuade teams from ever trying such a plan again. But a similar case could have been made about Stepien’s Cavs, and the league decided that type of trading must be specifically prohibited.

The Stepien Rule exists for a reason, and if that reason is valid, the rule doesn’t go far enough.

Fixing that would be a much better use of the league’s time than (sometimes) turning harmless mentions of opposing players into the high crime of tampering.

Steven Adams repeatedly calls hip injury ‘Australopithecus afarensis’ (video)

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Steven Adams is delightfully different.

The latest example? The Thunder center calling his hip injury “Australopithecus afarensis.”

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

I hope Adams is prepared for Katz’s hard-hitting follow-up questions.

Kobe details fight with Shaq: ‘I must have been the craziest 19-year-old in the world’

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In their highly publicized sit-down, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal discussed their first fist fight.

Kobe went into even more of the fun details on Jimmy Kimmel Live (of course, building up the Legend of Kobe in the process).

Ray Allen: Rajon Rondo told Celtics he carried them to 2008 championship

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Ray Allen fell out of favor with the Celtics when he signed with the Heat in 2012. His relationship with Rajon Rondo, poor already, became especially dismal.

Allen said the issue stems from him trying to have Rondo stop a trade of the pair to the Suns in 2009.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News:

It came up again during the 2010-11 season. In a team meeting, Allen writes, Rondo told his teammates, “I carried all of you to the championship in 2008.”

Allen continued: “The rest of the team, almost in unison, responded, ‘You what?’” Rondo said everyone on the team had problems with him, and when Allen told him, “None of us had issues with you,” Rondo said to him, “You did, too. You told me I was the reason we were going to be traded.”

Allen describes Rondo as a player who expected that he would be treated as a leader without having done the work to deserve the role, and describes the Celtics as an organization that could not figure out how to handle Rondo. Coach Doc Rivers asked Garnett and Allen to “let [Rondo] into the circle,” but Allen told Rivers, “We can’t make him a leader, Doc. He has to earn it.”

Allen details the famed incident during the Celtics’ playoff series against Miami in 2011, when Rivers was going over film with the team and pointing out some of the errors made during their losses in the first two games. Rondo “put his head down and turned his chair toward the lockers.” Rivers implored him to watch the film.

“F— that film,” Rondo said, according to Allen, hurling a water bottle at the screen and breaking it. Rivers ordered Rondo out. Garnett followed him and said, “Young fella, you need to get your s— together.”

Keep in mind: This is Allen’s perspective, detailed in a new book. Rondo might describe things differently.

Though even Rondo admits he can be difficult.

Rondo didn’t receive enough credit at the time for Boston’s 2008 title. So much of the praise was heaped on stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Allen. Rondo, just a second-year player, was also very good and hadn’t yet been recognized for his production.

But that’s not close to saying he carried the Celtics to the championship. He was still their fourth-best player.

And telling his Boston teammates he carried them would be a whole other level. Allen revealing this will probably take his feud with Rondo up a notch, too.

Hawks: Kent Bazemore to miss rest of season

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Not a great day for veteran shooting guards on tanking teams.

First, it leaked the Mavericks’ Wesley Matthews will likely miss the rest of the season. Now, word comes that Kent Bazemore will, too.

Hawks release:

Earlier today, Atlanta Hawks guard/forward Kent Bazemore, who left last night’s game vs. Chicago during the second quarter with a knee injury, underwent an MRI at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex, which revealed a bone bruise in his right knee. He will miss the remainder of the season. Additionally, guard Jaylen Morris sprained his left ankle in yesterday’s game. He will miss approximately two-to-four weeks.

The Hawks are unsurprisingly much worse without Bazemore, a capable veteran. They’ve gotten outscored by 6.5 points per 100 possessions without him, down from -3.7 per 100 with him.

Atlanta (20-47) is tied for the NBA’s third-worst record. This should only help in the tank race.

With Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli already bought out, the Hawks are slowly becoming the younger, worse team they should have been all along.