Things are a little tense in the Chicago Bulls front office.
According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the recent tension between Bulls Vide President John Paxson and coach Vinny Del Negro turned physical.
After a loss to the Phoenix Suns on March 30, an irate Paxson walked into the coach’s office at the United Center and confronted Del Negro over a narrow breach of a management-imposed minutes limit on injured forward Joakim Noah(notes). Sources said Paxson first grabbed a hold of Del Negro’s tie and seemingly tried to provoke him with two successive jabs into his chest. Paxson was even heard to angrily challenge Del Negro to a fight.
There were several staff members present, sources said, and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff stepped between Paxson and Del Negro and pulled Paxson away.
The Bulls are now investigating the incident.
Despite the Bulls being in the middle of a playoff push — including a big game tonight against Boston — Joakim Noah has been on a management-imposed 35 minutes per game limit, imposed apparently by Paxson. It has been there all season due to Noah’s foot injury, and the minute limits have gradually increased through the year.
When the Bulls were losing to the Nets the other night in a close game that went to overtime, Del Negro wanted to use Noah more. He had his assistant ask general manager Gar Forman, who had to go ask Paxson.
Del Negro comes out smelling pretty good in this one so far, especially for someone who has reportedly been on the hot seat. He did not take Paxson’s bait. He has gone through channels to get more playing time for Noah in what should be a coach’s decision. He has done fairly well with a team that was set up to have cap space next year and not win this year, then suffered a rash of injuries and some trades. Yet the Bulls are close to making the playoffs.
Is it ever good when vice presidents become involved in player minute micromanagement?
Devin Booker complained to his opponents for double-teaming him during a pick-up game.
That has sparked a Great National Debate: Is it right or wrong to double-team during pick-up games?
That’s a reasonable conclusion. The primary defender is missing an opportunity to work on his defense by getting help. But I also think it fails to address the main point. Booker wasn’t complaining to help the defender. Booker wanted the ideal training environment for himself, the offensive player.
How should the offensive player feel about it?
It’s a reasonably interesting question that’s getting taken far too seriously because the NBA is in a dead period. But to give it more juice, let’s add the Kevin Durant-Draymond Green relationship to the equation.
It seems Durant can laugh it off now, but this story feeds into what so many people think they know about these players – that Green is a relentless competitor (accurate) and that Durant is soft (inaccurate).
NBA players spend so much time playing basketball. Sometimes, it’s helpful to face game-like conditions, where double-teams can happen at any point. Other times, it’s helpful to have more-relaxed conditions.
I don’t know enough about Booker’s pick-up game or the Warriors’ practice to say what was appropriate in each.
It’s all about leverage.
Right now the vultures are circling the Oklahoma City Thunder, hoping to get a free meal. Everyone knows the Thunder are moving into a rebuilding mode and want to trade Chris Paul for picks/young players, so other general managers — the vultures — are throwing out lowball offers hoping to get a steal of a trade. And by steal we mean making the Thunder throw in a first-round pick as a sweetener to get CP3 and the three-years, $124 million left on his contract off their books.
Oklahoma City’s response? Say “we’re not trying to trade him” and be patient. Here is how Brian Windhorst phrased it on ESPN’s The Jump (hat tip Real GM):
“Here’s what executives expect to happen: they expect the Thunder to put out a message that we’re not looking to trade Chris Paul…We want him to work with our young guys. Because they don’t want anybody to think they’re panic-trying to trade him, and they want to hope that somebody has something happen where they need Chris Paul,” said Windhorst.
Royce Young, who covers the Thunder for ESPN, added that he believed the Thunder would hold on to Chris Paul rather than surrender a draft pick.
This is the smart play. CP3 is still a top-flight point guard in the NBA, even if he has taken half a step back, and there are at least eight NBA teams going into this season thinking they have a shot at a title, and a few more looking at deep playoff runs. Some team is either going to realize they are not as good as they thought they were, or are going to suffer an injury, and be looking for an All-Star level player and replacement. Enter the Thunder and Chris Paul.
What this ultimately means is expect this to drag out. Not just through the summer and through training camp, but maybe all the way to the trade deadline.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Larry Bird likes the mural but not the tatts.
A lawyer for the former NBA star has asked an artist to remove certain tattoos from a large painting of Bird on an Indianapolis multi-family residence. The tattoos include two rabbits mating on his right arm and a spider web on a shoulder.
Artist Jules Muck painted Bird in a blue basketball uniform. It’s a replica of a 1977 Sports Illustrated cover when he played for Indiana State.
Attorney Gary Sallee says Bird “needs to protect” his brand and “doesn’t want to be seen as a tattooed guy.” Muck says she adds things like tattoos to her art to avoid creating a complete copy of a photo.
She says she’s trying to reach an agreement with Bird’s representatives.
This upcoming year is the 50th season in existence for the Portland Trail Blazers, and as such the team has quite a bit in store for us.
The Blazers already released a first look at the court they will be playing on this season. It harkens back to the very first court that Portland played on back in 1970 during the first year of the team’s existence.
Now, the Blazers are offering fans a chance to relive the 1977 NBA championship with none other than Bill Walton.
In a release posted to social media on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers said that fans will be able to go on a celebratory bike ride with Big Red himself. The route will follow that of the original championship parade, going from Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the east side of the Willamette River and ending in downtown Portland at one of the several park blocks.
This is pretty incredible given that things didn’t end well between Walton and the Blazers organization. There was a lot of back-and-forth about Walton’s foot in 1978, and it ended with the San Diego native sitting out the 1978-79 season, eventually signing with the Clippers in 1979. Things have calmed since then, but this is still nice to see.
No word yet on what the Blazers plan to reveal, but my guess is that it will be some kind of retro jersey that features the vertical BLAZERS wordmark a la the kind Walton wore in ‘77.