Author: Dan Feldman

Rajon Rondo leaves DeMarcus Cousins hanging, so Kings center high fives himself (video)

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DeMarcus Cousins – excellent basketball player, terrible high fiver.

Cousins snubbed teammate Kosta Koufos on a high five earlier this season, leaving Koufos to high five himself. After that game, Cousins rightfully apologized.

Yesterday, Cousins had to slap his own hand after Rajon Rondo left him hanging. But again, this was Cousins’ fault. Why was he trying to high five Rondo after a Seth Curry free throw? You don’t get dap for standing on the lane for the first of two free throws.

Cousins and Rondo have been on the same page, and they clearly laughed off this miscue. Cousins offensively rebounded Curry’s subsequent miss and drew his own trip to the line, chuckling with Rondo as they took their positions. Following the first free throw, it appeared Cousins and Rondo whiffed on yet another high five, though this time not for a lack of effort. As Cousins shot his second free throw, he directed some playful-looking words to Rondo.

Unfortunately for the Kings, they weren’t in such a good mood after the game.

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Northern California, you can stream tonight’s Kings-Warriors game here.

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry talk trash at each other during interview (video)

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The Raptors are feeling good.

They’ve won 7-of-10. DeMarre Carroll is back from injury. Jonas Valanciunas is expected to return tonight.

So, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry had a little fun when Lowry joined the media interviewing DeRozan, using a glass bottle as a microphone.

  • DeRozan: “…You really just go out there and play and do what you know you can do, and that’s just be aggressive and the chips fall where they may.”
  • Lowry: “Like potato chips?”
  • Reporter: “Obviously, DeMar, you’ve always been able to score, but the fact that your field-goal percentage in this last stretch has been higher, what’s the reasoning for that would you say?”
  • Lowry: “Because he’s not shooting that many shots.”
  • DeRozan: [irritated face] [side eye toward Lowry] “At least I can get my shot off whenever I want.”
  • Lowry: “After 38 pump fakes”
  • DeRozan: [laughs as hysterically as the claim is true]

Scene

Report: Bulls believe Jimmy Butler has changed as person, question his leadership

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Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose have reportedly had problems with each other (though both have denied that).

Then came a report Butler is bothering more than Rose.

What is happening in Chicago?

Nick Friedell of ESPN on the Posting Up podcast with Tim Bontemps:

I don’t think that the tension between Jimmy and Derrick was ever as bad as it was made out to be. But the tension now, moving forward off the Derrick talk for a second, between Jimmy and other players in that locker room is bad.

Because you can’t just say, “I signed this new deal. I’m the leader.” That respect has to be earned over time. Nobody is questioning Jimmy’s work ethic. He’s worked his tail off. But they are questioning whether Jimmy can be the leader that this group needs with so much turmoil going on around them.

You talk to anybody within that Bulls organization, and they’ll tell you that Jimmy has changed. His personality has changed.

And it’s not to say he’s wrong in that.

But this was a kid that loved saying he was from Tomball, Texas and that he was just a role player on a really good team. And now he wants all the trappings that come with being a star in the league.

And that’s all well and good.

But again, this ties back into the leadership problem this team has. You can say all that, but you can’t just say, “Alright, I’m the leader.” You have to earn that respect over time. Maybe Jimmy will.

He’s really rubbed some people the wrong way with how he’s going about things. So, it’s something to watch for, and it’s something that I know is on the minds of the front office in that, “Can we trust this guy to go out and to be who we need him to be every night, and can he lead us the way that a championship-caliber team needs to be led?” And early on, the returns have been no.

Key words: “Early on.”

Butler admitted publicly criticizing Fred Hoiberg’s coaching style was not the best way to handle his concerns. Butler also brought controversy to himself and the team when he declared before the season, “I am a point guard” – Rose’s position.

But Butler is new to leading. He was a role player until last season – and that seemed like a great accomplishment for a late first-round pick who spent a couple years at a community college.

Now, Butler is an All-Star on a max contract. Things have changed – though maybe not enough.

Rose – who has led Chicago – is still there. Joakim Noah – who has led Chicago –is still there.

That makes it much more difficult for Butler to successfully assert himself. Not only are other players accustomed to looking to players still in the locker room, it can’t be easy for Rose and Noah to defer.

Butler hasn’t handled everything well, and that this issue could be deeper than we suspected if the personality that led him here has significantly changed. But as much as, if not more than, any individual, the Bulls’ leadership problems could just be due to circumstance.

Butler’s talent demands Chicago gives him an opportunity to grow through this stage. It’s just not easy to find 26-year-old wings who excel on both ends of the floor.

The other elements could sort themselves out soon. Noah’s contract expires this summer, and Rose might not be long for the Bulls, either.

I wouldn’t rush to declare Butler a problem in Chicago. His off-court issues would have to be far worse than we realize to counteract his on-court production.

But I would keep an eye on him and how he handles suddenly being the team’s best player – and how his teammates handle it, too.

John Wall on ranking fifth among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting: ‘It’s a joke’

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15: John Wall (L) #2 of the Washington Wizards  and the Eastern Conference talks with Kyrie Irving (R) #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Eastern Conference during the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2015 in New York City.  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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John Wall started his first All-Star game last season, but he slipped significantly this year’s first voting leaderboard. The top 10 Eastern Conference guards:

Wall, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

“It’s a joke” Wall, who didn’t make one mention of his strained right ligament in his knee, bruise on the same knee, high right ankle sprain and bone spur, told CSNmidatlantic.com after his 15th double-double. “I played like horseshit the first month and a half but I still was averaging like 16 and eight. That’s not bad numbers.”

“I guess it’s the record. No offense Kyrie, he’s played (three) games,” Wall said. “If he was healthy he probably would be in that position because he’d be playing well. I can see him there because that’s how talented he is.”

My criteria for choosing All-Stars differs from most. I’d pick whichever players would be most likely to help a team win that day. So, the fact that Irving has played just three games wouldn’t harm his candidacy in my book. (Judging which players have had the best seasons — which very much includes availability — should be for All-NBA teams.)

That said, I can see why Wall is upset. He has played every game, sometimes through injury, this season. Meanwhile, Irving (not by his own accord) has taken his time returning. Wall, reasonably, wants to be rewarded his that.

For now, I’d choose him over Irving, who’s still getting his legs under him. But that could easily change by the All-Star game, as Irving should only continue to improve.

Passing Wall doesn’t mean I’d vote Irving to start, though. It’s difficult to find a reasonable set of criteria where I wouldn’t pick Lowry and Butler right now. They’ve been awesome this season, and I think it’s sustainable. Irving has the talent to top one of those two, but he has major work cut out for himself.

Likewise, Wall faces a tough road just to make the game as a reserve. He remains a very good player, but he’s turning the ball over too much and defending worse than last season. Not that I’d pin the Wizards’ 14-14 record on him, but that’ll make it harder for him to beat players like Wade (if he somehow loses his hold on the starting spot), DeRozan, Thomas and Reggie Jackson. Even using my criteria – which doesn’t directly reward team record at all – at least a couple of those players rank ahead of Wall.

The exact order might be a little off, but Wall ranking fifth among Eastern Conference guards in All-Star voting seems closer to right than a “joke.”

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Washington, you can stream tonight’s Wizards-Clippers game here.

George Karl cuts off press conference: ‘I’m done. I’m frustrated’

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 21: Head coach George Karl of the Sacramento Kings  looks on in the second half of their 113-99 loss to the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on December 21, 2015 in Washington, DC. 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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George Karl was in a pretty foul mood after the Kings’ 98-94 loss to the Trail Blazers yesterday.

Sacramento committed 23 turnovers and blew a double-digit lead – to a team missing Damian Lillard.

Karl was despondent throughout his post-game press conference. After talking talking about his team’s miscues, the Kings coach declared “I’m done. I’m frustrated” and left:

Karl’s frustration was evident in his answers to earlier questions:

It’s not Karl’s words so much as the sounds he made between them. This is the stuff nightmares are made of:

Who would’ve thought coaching a team with DeMarcus Cousins (five turnovers) and Rajon Rondo (eight turnovers) would be so trying for a coach?

If you’re a Comcast subscriber in Northern California, you can stream tonight’s Kings-Warriors game here.