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Rumor: J.R. Smith’s soup throw stemmed from him not sharing Damon Jones’ joking mood

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The big question of J.R. Smith‘s soup throw has already been answered: chicken tortilla.

But other questions remain, like why would Smith throw a bowl of soup at Cavaliers assistant coach Damon Jones?

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

I don’t know the whole story. The version of what I had heard with J.R. was he and Damon have sort of a playful, joking, make-fun-of-each-other relationship.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t want to say this is totally accurate. But this is the version I’ve heard, is that sometimes a joke isn’t so funny if you’re not in the right mood for it, right? When someone is messing with you, you’re just not in the place to take that or do that, and it doesn’t go over right. And I think that’s what kind of led to this soup-gate thing.

He’s got a young baby at home. He’s dealing with a lot of stuff personally. Obviously, there’s frustration from shooting whatever he’s shooting at this point. It’s right around 30% from the field, not so great. There’s a lot of that.

This would be relatively benign on the scale of soup-throw motives. Smith is understandably frustrated. If he and Jones have a good relationship overall, it might have been an isolated case of Jones misreading Smith’s mood.

But because this version of the story is so harmless, it makes sense the Cavaliers would push it – whether or not it’s true.

Either way, Cleveland needs Smith in a different headspace entering the playoffs, one where he makes more 3-pointers and throws less soup.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle irresponsibly calls Mark Cuban sexual-assault report ‘most insidious form’ of ‘fake news’

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Sports Illustrated detailed a predatory environment – including sexual harassment and domestic violence – in the Mavericks’ business office.

Outspoken and hands-on Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has rightfully come under the microscope for allowing it. He has already accepted responsibility for mishandling one situation. There’s still more information to gather about Cuban’s handling of incidents and just generally his outlook on these things.

To that effect, Willamette Week recently published a story detailing a not-previously reported accusation that Cuban sexually assaulted a woman in 2011. She said he reached down the back of her pants and inserted his fingers into her vagina while they posed for a photo in a Portland bar and stands by her claim. He denies it. Police investigated and didn’t press charges, citing (among other things) that no interviewed bar employees saw the alleged incident. However, a not-interviewed bar employee has since said he saw the woman jump after the photo and get angry with Cuban, whom the bar employee called “gropey” while posing with women throughout the night.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, via Edie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:

“Very sad,” Carlisle said after practice. “And I view that situation as a baseless and journalistically unethical rehashing of a proven non-event. That’s what that is.

“Have you ever heard the term fake news? This is the most insidious form.”

Carlisle can say he believes Cuban. He can explain why he doesn’t believe the accuser.

But just calling it a “proven non-event” and “fake news” without further explanation is terribly irresponsible.

It is not a proven non-event. What was reported is not fake news.

Read the Willamette Week report. Read The Oregonian’s follow-up reporting. Neither outlet takes a side. Both responsibly lay out the facts – the accusation, the denial, the investigation, the finding. This is information worthy of public consideration.

Nobody reporting on the situation is saying Cuban did it.

Sexual assault is often difficult to prove. Our country – wisely – requires a high burden of proof to convict someone of a crime. Many sexual-assault cases come down to he-said, she-said, making it tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

That’s why the prosecution didn’t file charges.

To be fair, the prosecutor went a step further and wrote in his memo: “A fact finder could conclude the allegation of the complainant is unfounded.” But even that doesn’t make it a “proven non-event.” And perhaps the prosecutor wouldn’t have written that if the other bar employee had been interviewed at the time.

I get that Carlisle is in a tough spot. NBA coaches are the most frequent faces of a franchise, and he’s answering for the conduct of people he didn’t necessarily work with regularly and his boss. That’s not fair to Carlisle.

But if Carlisle is going to address these questions, it’s also unfair of him to answer this way.

It’s unfair to the accuser, who deserves to have her side of the story heard just like Cuban does. It’s unfair to sexual-assault victims, who are given yet another chilling effect for coming forward. And it’s unfair to the outlets reporting on the story, who have seemingly done so responsibly.

Joel Embiid: Hassan Whiteside dirtily tried to hit me in back, but he hits too soft (video)

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76ers center Joel Embiid and Heat center Hassan Whiteside have a personal rivalry brewing.

It flared up during the Heat’s win over the 76ers last night.

The centers tangled running up the court in the third quarter. Officials called a technical foul on Whiteside and a personal foul on Embiid.

Embiid, via Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

“Looking at the replay, it looked like I didn’t touch him,” Embiid said. “Then they called a double foul. [He] tried hit me in the back, which is kind of dirty because of the fact that I’ve had back problems. So we’re going to see about that. I won’t forget about that.

“But I didn’t think I touched him. But then they called a technical foul on him because obviously he’s the one that made a dirty play.”

“He hits really soft, so I didn’t feel anything,” Embiid said. “But just the action of him trying to do that I think is pretty messed up. I don’t care what we have outside of basketball but at the same time, you’ve got to respect the rules of basketball and play basketball and have fun doing it. But I’m not worried about it. We lost the game. Right now I’m worried about are we going to get better.”

You’re dirty for hitting me in the back AND you hit too soft for me to feel it? That’s a diss in every direction. Embiid is really good at trash-talking.

Philadelphia and Miami aren’t scheduled to play again this season, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Whiteside collects himself and responds on Twitter.

These are two proud players battling for supremacy in their conference at their position. I doubt either backs down.

Karl-Anthony Towns simultaneously dunks on, gets taken out by Aron Baynes (video)

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Aron Baynes has been on the wrong end of a few big dunks this season.

At least the Celtics center exacted some revenge by knocking down Karl-Anthony Towns during this dunk attempt – which made the fact that Towns still threw it down even more impressive.

Anthony Davis: I heard DeMarcus Cousins plans to re-sign with the Pelicans

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Anthony Davis has been on an absolute tear lately.

It’s not a complete coincidence this is happening since DeMarcus Cousinsseason-ending injury. On the simplest level, the Pelicans need more from Davis without Cousins. But Davis is also spending more time at his optimal position (at least in the micro) of center, and the floor is better-spaced better for him – important for his playing style.

But New Orleans’ ceiling is far higher with Cousins, as Davis said.

Will Davis and the Pelicans get another chance to explore that potential with Cousins, who’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer?

Davis, via Marc Stein of The New York Times:

“I hope so. That’s a decision he has to make. I’m pretty confident that he’ll stay. From what I hear, he plans on it. But I’m going to keep selling the dream here. I’ll be very involved — I want him here.”

Cousins re-signing in New Orleans long seemed likely, though far from inevitable.

Capped out, the Pelicans wouldn’t have a mechanism to adequately replace him. And Cousins’ attitude could narrow his market.

But the 28-year-old’s torn Achilles could throw a wrench in those plans. Will New Orleans still offer him a max contract (which projects to be worth about $176 million over five years)? If not that, could open the door for other teams.

Davis is positioned to know Cousins’ plan, and that makes this quote so intriguing. But it’s also possible Davis doesn’t have the most up-to-date information. And, of course, even if Davis does, Cousins’ plan could change between now and July.