Sam Presti denies interviewing for Kevin Pritchard's job

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I’m not sure if there was a specific moment where things went sour between Kevin Pritchard and the Portland Trailblazers, but at this point the funk in the air is undeniable.

And Sam Presti doesn’t want any of it stinking up his place with the Thunder or his status as one of the top GMs in the league.

Reports have indicated that Presti was interviewing for Pritchard’s chair with Pritch still in it, but they didn’t quite pass the smell test. Why would Presti hand over the Thunder, who are coming off of an incredibly successful season with the roster he constructed, to anyone at this point? Kevin Durant is a top five player, Russell Westbrook is positively captivating, and the team is only in a position to improve from this point forward. If Presti stays in OKC, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before the Thunder are perennial contenders.

It makes sense that Portland would want Presti, but to assume Presti would leave the Thunder for the Blazers? Iffy at best.

So it comes with minimal surprise that Presti himself has denied the rumors. Via Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman’s Thunder Rumblings blog:

“The story is absolutely false,” Presti said in response Tuesday. “I
have not interviewed with any teams or spoken to officials related to a
team, nor do I intend to. I have a terrific situation here with the
Thunder and enjoy being a member of the Oklahoma City community. I am
excited about the short and long term vision for our organization.”

It’s the second time in four days Presti’s name has been linked to
the Blazers and the second time Presti has had to express how satisfied
he is in his current position. A Yahoo! Sports story over the weekend
reported the Blazers had targeted Presti as a potential replacement to
Pritchard should they part ways with him and even have made several
“fact-finding calls” about Presti.

“Portland has a general manager, and I have a great job in Oklahoma
City,” Presti said Sunday. “I am excited to be a part of what we’re
building here.”

Now, Presti would probably respond the same way even if he had been interviewing for the Portland job, but think about it. Do the math. Reflect. Why would a successful GM bail on a project he built from the ground up?

Kobe Bryant dropped from film festival after backlash due to his 2003 rape charge

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Kobe Bryant has become acclaimed for his filmmaking, even winning an Oscar.

But his sustained prominence in basketball retirement, especially considering his new industry, has sparked questions about why he hasn’t been swept up by #MeToo. After all, Bryant admitted in 2004 to having sex with a woman who didn’t view the encounter as consensual the year prior. (That statement part of Bryant moving on and readily accepted by the public, which shows why a reckoning in our handling of sexual misconduct was so necessary.)

Bryant was selected to judge a film festival, but a petition emerged to prevent his participation. Apparently, 159 signatures were enough for the festival to change course.

Evan Real of The Hollywood Reporter:

Kobe Bryant has been removed from the Animation Is Film Festival jury following backlash stemming from a 2003 rape allegation. Though the former L.A. Lakers star was set to serve as a juror at the annual event this weekend in Hollywood, organizers announced on Wednesday that he will no longer participate.

On one hand, it’s not surprising the petition received just 159 signatures. Bryant remains highly popular and is beloved by many.

But this also shows the power of a relatively small number of voices speaking up.

 

Blake Griffin’s dunk attempt stuffed by Jarrett Allen. Again (video)

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Pistons star Blake Griffin learned his lesson after getting his dunk blocked by Nets center Jarrett Allen in the preseason. In the regular-season opener, Griffin went up even harder.

And Allen still stopped him!

Kevin Durant’s brother says Instagram comment wasn’t about star leaving Warriors this summer

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Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.

Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.

In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.

Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”

Rob Perez of The Action Network:

My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.

Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.

Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.

The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.

Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.

Perez:

If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.

Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.

Report: Tom Thibodeau raised asking price for Jimmy Butler after infamous practice

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After sitting out while awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.

Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.

Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.

If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.

Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:

Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.

The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.

How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.

But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?

It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.