Dan Feldman

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LaMarcus Aldridge: ‘Wrong’ for Warriors to have four All-Stars to Spurs’ one

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The 46-8 Warriors have four All-Stars: Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

The 41-13 Spurs have one All-Star: Kawhi Leonard.

San Antonio forward LaMarcus Aldridge, via Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:

“I’m older, so I’m not going to come home and be mad or anything,” Aldridge, 31, told The Vertical. “But I do think that it was wrong for Golden State to have four [All-Stars] and we’re a few games behind and only have one. It is what it is. I’m in this position and I’m going to enjoy my break and just come back fresh.”

I don’t like this paradigm of assigning All-Stars. A good team might have a balanced, starless roster. A bad team might have two stars and a bad supporting cast. An All-Star appearance is an individual honor. Team success can indicate an individual’s worthiness, but it shouldn’t determine it.

The Spurs have one superstar (Leonard) and one other player who warranted All-Star consideration: Aldridge, an All-Star the previous five years. They’re so good because they have a great coach in Gregg Popovich and deep supporting cast. San Antonio’s other starters are solid, and the back end of its rotation is (relatively) awesome.

Golden State has four stars. Everybody knows that.

Personally, I would’ve made three Warriors and one Spur All-Stars.

Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins: ‘I can’t be myself’

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DeMarcus Cousins lets his emotions fuel him — sometimes constructively, sometimes destructively.

An example of the latter came last night, when Cousins — who has already been suspended once for technical fouls — received a tech for slapping Donatas Motiejunas in the face while protesting a call.

Cousins, via Ray Ratto of CSN California:

“It’s obvious, I can’t be myself,” Cousins said. “Me playing the way I play is what makes me the player that I am. Obviously it’s not acceptable, so I’m trying to find a way to do what these guys are asking me to do. It’s not easy, but I’m trying to find a way.”

Is arguing with referees really central to Cousins’ identity? If he cuts that down, would he stop being true to himself?

Many players enter the NBA like Cousins, emotionally volatile, getting too high or too low depending on circumstances. The best players learn how to feed off the positive and remain focused when the negative creeps in. Those who don’t adjust are ultimately worse off for it.

I believe Cousins wants to take that next step, but first, he must understand: A DeMarcus Cousins who doesn’t complain about every call can still be DeMarcus Cousins.

Mike Budenholzer on Hawks trading Paul Millsap: ‘He’s not going anywhere. You can write that’

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The Hawks reportedly told Paul Millsap over the summer they wouldn’t trade him. By January, he was firmly on the block. Then Atlanta told teams and, according to the player himself, Millsap he wouldn’t be traded.

With the trade deadline approaching, Hawks president/coach Mike Budenholzer provides the latest update.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

I don’t believe the Hawks would refuse to trade Millsap if another team offers a package Atlanta deems more valuable than Millsap. I believe the Hawks, having discussed Millsap trades for months, are confident that offer isn’t coming.

Maybe that’s because they value Millsap’s on-court contributions more than any other team does. Maybe that’s because he pledged to re-sign. Maybe that’s because they like their Plan B if he walks this summer.

But whether or not the Hawks trade Millsap won’t be a test of them honoring their commitment. It’ll be a test of whether they correctly predicted a trade market that includes no suitable offers for Millsap.

Magic Johnson: Lakers weren’t headed in good direction

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The Lakers have lost 72% of their games over the last four years.

They’ve also assembled a young core that features D'Angelo Russell,Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr.

Are the Lakers headed in the right direction, or are they on the wrong track?

Magic Johnson revealed what he told Jeanie Buss before she hired him as an advisor.

Johnson, via CBS This Morning:

 

I began to tell her what I felt about the team and the direction that the team was headed, and I didn’t think it was in a good direction.

We know that it’s going to take some time. It’s going to take three to five years to get them back again rolling.

Bemoan the situation you inherit and trumpet the need for patience? This is Job Preservation 101, and Johnson knows business.

He’s gunning to run the front office, and that means resuming his public campaign against Jim Buss. Johnson’s tactics in seeking a promotion are a little unseemly, but that doesn’t make him wrong.

The Lakers have signed too many veterans over the last few years — including Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Lou Williams, Nick Young and, the elephant in the room, Kobe Bryant — to believe this was a team that understood its place. The Lakers weren’t just rebuilding and harvesting young talent. They were trying to win immediately — and falling flat on their face.

That doesn’t engender much confidence in Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak.

However, the Lakers have drafted well under those two. In a league where on-court failure is rewarded with higher draft picks, the Lakers’ future looks bright. They might have backed themselves into this position, but they’re here. Whoever runs the front office in the coming years is set up for success.

Remember that too as you listen to Johnson’s spin.

 

Draymond Green on heckling Thunder fan: ‘This ain’t the ancient times. Slave days are over’

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Draymond Green and a Thunder fan got into it during the Warriors’ highly charged win — in Kevin Durant‘s first visit to Oklahoma City with Golden State — Saturday.

What happened?

Green, via CSN Bay Area:

That guy was just disrespectful to all of us the entire night. I’m all for you cheering for your guys. Cheer. Heckle. Heckle all you want. But don’t be disrespectful. Calling guys p-words and all this stuff and “Get over there, little boy.”

This ain’t the ancient times. Slave days are over. You’re not going to talk to guys like that. That’s disrespectful.

The fan, Rich Taylor, defended himself. Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman:

But Taylor said that while he did engage in back and forth with Durant and Green, he only cursed in repeating a phrase Durant directed at him. said nothing he aimed at Warriors players was vulgar or had racial undertones.

Green’s accusations of racial insults were “because I got under his skin,” Taylor said

“You’re under a microscope when you sit that close,” Taylor said. “I know walking in there that I can’t even swear. One swear word gives them the right to throw me out of the game. I’m from California. I’ve been going to Laker games since I was a kid. I’ve been going to Thunder games since they came here. I know what I’m allowed to say.”

Taylor said he told Green “Don’t kick anybody tonight” and called Durant a “p—-,” but only after Durant used called him one.

Is any of that racial on its face? Seemingly no.

But we can’t escape the greater context: A majority-white fanbase buys tickets that allows yelling at majority-black players. You can debate the relevancy and how to handle it, but that is the reality.

And in this reality, like any, words can have different connotations than in other situations.