Coaches of the Greek and Serbian teams are, shockingly, shocked at FIBA's suspension rulings

1 Comment

Hey, remember that time a Greece-Serbia friendly broke out into a rootin’, tootin’, chair-throwin’ brawl? When Antonis Fotsis and Sofoklis Schortsanitis went absolutely nuts?

Even if you don’t (which you really should — it’s been the most notable moment in the lead-up to the FIBA World Championships), I’m pretty sure the Serbian and Greek players, do. And FIBA, too, judging by the fact that they doled out suspensions yesterday.

Suspensions that the coaches of each national team don’t seem to be too happy about. From the Associated Press:

[Serbia coach Dusan] Ivkovic criticized FIBA for waiting until less than 48 hours before the start of the tournament to suspend Oklahoma City Thunder center Nenad Krstic and guard Milos Teodosic for their roles in a brawl in Greece.

Krstic will miss the first three games and Teodosic the first two.
Ivkovic said Serbia has lost “two key players” for the games against
Angola, Germany and Jordan. “We will be playing 10 against 12 in
the first two matches and 11 against 12 in the third and that’s a big
handicap,” Ivkovic said.

“We have to react in a very short time,
I have to prepare my players mentally,” Ivkovic added. “Krstic is our
captain, or pillar, our main offensive option. Without Teodosic, we
lose a lot of creativity.”

Greece coach Jonas Kazlauskas said the
FIBA suspensions altered his plans ahead of Saturday’s opening game
against China. Both Fotsis and Schortsanitis will also be sitting on
the bench during Sunday’s game against Puerto Rico. “It is a disappointment,” Kazlauskas said after practice at Ankara Arena in Ankara, Turkey. “This is something unbelievable.”

Personally, I find both Ivkovic and Kazlauskas’ reactions to be a bit…surprising. Coaches of national teams often take on this “us against the world” mentality, probably because it literally is them against the world. Still, though FIBA officials could certainly have issued a quicker, and more decisive ruling, both coaches should understand that their players got off easy.

Krstic threw a chair at someone, and will sit for three preliminary games. Sofoklis Schortsanitis’ damage wasn’t even properly captured by the camera, but looks plenty brutal enough. It doesn’t matter if FIBA games have a “European atmosphere,” or not, this isn’t acceptable behavior. FIBA issued a statement saying as much, and then proceeded to issue a few slaps on the wrist for the players involved.

This isn’t “something unbelievable,” unless Kazlauskas agrees that FIBA should have been a bit more harsh in their punishment. There’s no use in Ivkovic griping about how long it took to issue the suspensions when everyone got off a bit easy. The coaches aren’t just looking the gift horse in the mouth on this one, they’re punching it in the mouth.

Or maybe even throwing a chair.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

Leave a comment

The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

AP Photo/R Brent Smith
6 Comments

LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
3 Comments

That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.