Author: Dan Feldman

Pero Antic, Thabo Sefolosha

Pero Antic testifies: Thabo Sefolosha was giving cash to homeless


NEW YORK (AP) A professional basketball player was about to give a handout to a man asking for money when police officers took him to the ground and arrested him, a former teammate testified Wednesday.

Ex-Atlanta Hawks power forward Pero Antic said he was sitting in an Uber car with the door open near a trendy Manhattan nightclub in the early hours of April 8 when he heard officers arguing with guard-forward Thabo Sefolosha as he tried to give a beggar money.

“They didn’t allow him to give the money,” said Antic, who was also arrested after he climbed out of the car and touched an officer’s shoulder while asking why his friend was being placed under arrest. “The police officers arrested him before he got to.”

Sefolosha has pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from the confrontation with police outside the 1Oak nightclub. Charges against Antic have been dropped. Prosecutors have said in court papers that Sefolosha was lunging toward an officer when he was confronted.

The Swiss national’s leg was fractured in the struggle. His attorney has argued that injury was caused by the officers, one of whom had a baton in his hand during the confrontation.

On Wednesday, the man who had asked Sefolosha for money, Amos Canty, testified for the defense that he never received the donation and instead saw Sefolosha being “pushed on the floor.”

“They handled him rough,” said Canty, a regular outside the nightclub.

Antic, Sefolosha and others were told to move up the block and away from a crime scene where another NBA basketball player, Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland, and two women were stabbed earlier, prosecutors have said. But the 6-foot-6-inch Sefolosha repeatedly refused to move away from the scene, calling the 5-foot-7-inch officer who was clearing the block a “midget,” an assistant district attorney argued.

Sefolosha’s attorney, Alex Spiro, has argued that his client, who is black, was targeted because of his race by a white officer.

The Manhattan Criminal Court judge hearing the case rejected two motions Wednesday to dismiss the disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges. He said he’s still deciding a defense motion to dismiss the obstructing government administration charge.

Craig Sager’s son: Dad cleared

Craig Sager
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Craig Sager plans to work opening night of the NBA season.

This will make it easier.

Craig Sager Jr.:

Wonderful news.

51Q: If Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are healthy, can anything hold back the Thunder?

Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant

The Thunder have won 71% of their games with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook the last five years. The only team with a better mark in that span is the Spurs.

But without those stars, Oklahoma City’s win percentage drops to 57%.

When Westbrook got hurt in the 2013 playoffs, Oklahoma City lost in five games to the Grizzlies in the second round. Without Durant for large portions last season, the Thunder missed the playoffs entirely. In surrounding years – 2011, 2012 and 2014 – they reached at least the conference finals and even the 2012 NBA Finals.

At this point, we know this team. Oklahoma City is a championship contender when Durant and Westbrook are healthy, a borderline playoff squad when at least one isn’t.

With Durant and Westbrook healthy right now, can anything hold back the Thunder?

Serge Ibaka is a bona fide third core piece. Oklahoma City has spent to build a suitable bench. Durant remains under contract.

So much appears to be falling in line for the Thunder, but the list of potential pitfalls is long:

1. The NBA’s other contenders, especially in the Western Conference, are loaded. The Warriors, Spurs, Clippers and Cavaliers look about as good on paper as the Thunder. If they successfully integrate Ty Lawson, the Rockets could reach that level, too.

2. Most first-year coaches aren’t Steve Kerr. Looking beyond last season, history strongly suggests Billy Donovan will need more time before he’s capable of leading Oklahoma City to a title. Plus, he has the added challenge of coming from college – a jump few have successfully made.

3. Donovan must balance the Thunder’s fit/talent divide.

Andre Roberson and Steven Adams have played exceptionally well with Westbrook, Durant and Ibaka. That unit posted an offensive/defensive/net rating of 109.8/96.4/+13.4 last season. The year before, albeit in a small sample, it was 103.0/78.0/+24.9. Roberson is a defensive ball hawk, though his outside shooting is putrid. Adams, also defensive-minded, does a lot of the little things. They work well next to the ball-dominant Westbrook and Durant.

So where does that leave Dion Waiters and Enes Kanter? Waiters is a low-efficiency, chucker – an awful fit with other talented players. He doesn’t put enough energy into defense, either. But Oklahoma City surrendered a first-rounder for him for a reason, and he’ll likely be entering a contract year wanting to post big numbers. Kanter already his max contract, but he might see that as validation for deserving a large role. Kanter provides an offensive boost with his pick-and-roll finishing, but it’s not clear that offsets his defensive shortcomings.

Roberson and Adams know their limitations and play within them. With Durant and Westbrook, that’s frequently enough. Waiters and Kanter might be capable of more, but they too often fail to complement their better teammates. If Donovan can reign in those two, that’s ideal, though it will be difficult. It might be even more challenging to use them if they remain committed to their previous styles.

4. The roster is probably set, as is. There’s little room for upgrading. The Thunder are already above the luxury-tax line and might be reticent to accept more salary in a trade. Plus, they can send a team only one guaranteed first-round pick, and they can’t guarantee it will be conveyed until 2022.

5. Durant might get hurt again. His foot injuries were more serious than we initially knew, and they were already pretty troubling. There might be something about his long, lanky frame and playing style that leaves him susceptible to injury. Plenty of players have had their careers derailed by foot injuries.

If Durant has a structural issue, that’s it. The Thunder can’t win without him.

But if he and Westbrook remain healthy, we might look back on this team as the NBA’s best. It will still have to cross several landmines, but the potential is there.

Report: Matt Barnes attacked Derek Fisher, who’s dating Barnes’ estranged wife

Derek Fisher, Matt Barnes, Russell Westbrook

Matt Barnes is an instigator. He has been arrested for domestic violence. He also had a weird thing where he implied he was dating Rihanna only for her to claim they’d never never met.

Which is to say this is believable – that the Grizzlies forward attacked Knicks coach Derek Fisher for dating his estranged wife.

Ian Mohr of the New York Post:

Sources said Fisher was at the LA home of Gloria Govan — Barnes’ estranged wife​,​ who stars on “Basketball Wives LA” — on Saturday. Fisher and Govan have been dating for “a few months,” a source said, after Fisher filed to divorce his wife of 10 years, Candace, in March.

But when Barnes learned that Fisher was at his former home with Gloria, he drove 95 miles to LA to “beat the s–t” out of Fisher, sources said.

“Derek was in Gloria’s back yard with about 10 people having a bonfire on ​​Saturday,” said a source. “Derek’s separated from his wife and there’s a relationship with [Gloria].”

The source added, “Barnes was in Santa Barbara [at Memphis Grizzlies training camp] and heard that Fisher was in his house. He went crazy. He got in his car and went to the house and went after Fisher.”

​A source close to Fisher ​confirmed the fight but said, “Matt came after Derek but he only had a few scratches … Derek’s not going to press charges, he’s going to let it go.”

Even if Fisher – who missed practice Monday for what the Knicks called “personal reasons” – isn’t pressing charges, the NBA is investigating.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is a weird jurisdictional issue, especially if no criminal charges are filed. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the league punishes Barnes – a former Lakers teammate of Fisher – if it finds evidence to support the Post’s description of events.

Caron Butler details Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton gun incident

Caron Butler

Caron Butler wrote an autobiography, a recently published excerpt details his accounting of the Gilbert Arenas-Javaris Crittenton gun incident when they were with the Wizards.

An excerpt of the excerpt in The Washington Post:

When I entered the locker room, I thought I had somehow been transported back to my days on the streets of Racine. Gilbert was standing in front of his two locker stalls, the ones previously used by Michael Jordan, with four guns on display. Javaris was standing in front of his own stall, his back to Gilbert.

“Hey, MF, come pick one,” Gilbert told Javaris while pointing to the weapons. “I’m going to shoot your [expletive] with one of these.”

“Oh no, you don’t need to shoot me with one of those,” said Javaris, turning around slowly like a gunslinger in the Old West. “I’ve got one right here.”

He pulled out his own gun, already loaded, cocked it, and pointed it at Gilbert.

Other players who had been casually arriving, laughing and joking with each other, came to a sudden halt, their eyes bugging out. It took them only a few seconds to realize this was for real, a shootaround of a whole different nature. They all looked at each other and then they ran, the last man out locking the door behind him.

Somebody outside the locker room called 911. Flip Saunders was the coach back then, but he was too scared to even come into the locker room.

Click through to read the entire excerpt. It’s captivating.

Arenas is essentially retired and still spouting off silly takes.

Crittenton is currently serving a 23-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter.

Butler plays for the Kings.