We sure hope the Blazers have hit rock bottom

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You know, when you think about it “Hey, it could always be worse” is kind of a cruel thing to say to someone.  Because if things go badly enough to justify you saying that to them? They likely haven’t just started going bad, or had one bad thing happen. Most bad things tend to happen in a series of events, leading up to the person being frustrated with how bad it has gotten. So next time, be really careful with who you say it to, because it may just make them feel worse as they stare down the long, dark pit that their life currently personifies.

Like, for example, Nate McMillan and the Portland Trail Blazers. Don’t say that to them. From the Oregonian following last night’s Blazers loss to the freaking Washington Wizards:

“Evidently, they’re not responding to me, because all these games look similar,” McMillan said. “So I asked them: ‘Is it clear what we’re asking you to do?'”

His words were met with blank states and silence.

“They didn’t say anything,” McMillan said. “The thing is, they didn’t have to say anything. I think the games show that. We’re not getting it done.”

via Washington 83, Portland 79: Blazers fall to Wizards, stagger to sixth consecutive defeat | OregonLive.com.

Yikes. Someone give that man a hug.

Here’s the thing. This business? It’s not reasonable. That’s the assessment I’ve come to. There’s absolutely nothing reasonable about the everyday dealings of the National Basketball Association. There are a few people who behave reasonably, and those people are pretty successful. The San Antonio Spurs organization. David Stern (note I said reasonably, not fairly). Boris Diaw. It’s a short list. Most owners, however? Completely and totally unreasonable. And if we’re ranking the most unreasonable people in the NBA, the Vulcan ownership group of the Blazers has to be up there. Which means right about now they’ve reached that point where steam is coming out of their ears and they’re just shooting off their guns. Actually, that’s perfect. Think of Vulcan as Yosemite Sam.

Which means you should see Nate McMillan running across screen with Vulcan behind him firing his guns randomly in the air not actually hitting anything momentarily. But McMillan won’t do that. He’ll just keep doing what he’s doing, and hoping it turns around.

The problem is that we’ve seen this before. Not with Portland, but other teams. Teams have a shelf life without sustained improvement or success. Eventually they expire and detonate. And when that happens everything goes wrong, seemingly at once. The Blazers have held off the expiration date for years, but it’s just become too much for the fates to hold back. Oden, Roy, Przybilla, the defense, the offense, the works. You’re witnessing the end of an empire, just one that didn’t hold hardly any land and kept getting overrun by extremists.

The clock’s not just ticking on a blow-up of this team, it’s pounding like a kick drum.

Suns’ GM says there is “overwhelming likelihood” team keeps No. 1 pick

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It takes a rare kind of courage, an extraordinary level of organizational backing, and a special kind of draft to do what Danny Ainge did a year ago trading the No. 1 pick. While a consensus had formed around Markelle Fultz as the best player in the draft, Ainge was a Jayson Tatum guy. Doubts about the top pick are common, but that alone is far from enough to trade that pick away — most GMs don’t have the job security to know if they miss on moving the pick and sliding down they will not be let go. Ainge had that, and he had his confidence in his scouting, so he made the move to trade the No. 1 pick to Philadelphia. (While it looks good now for Ainge, it’s too early to judge how that pick plays out — Fultz has barely played, we don’t know what extra pick the Celtics will get out of this, it takes time to fully judge these kinds of moves.)

This year is different. DeAndre Ayton is more of a clear No. 1, a guy with franchise changing potential. Plus Suns’ GM Ryan McDonough may not be standing on the kind of bedrock that allows for the trade of a No. 1 pick.

Recently McDonough said he’d listen to trade offers for the pick. That’s very different from trading it, as Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic had the GM saying Friday.

Because they should do their due diligence, the Suns will look at Luka Doncic (who does have a relationship with new coach Igor Kokoskov) and Marvin Bagley III, among others. Rumors may leak, spun by agents or other teams. However, at the end of the day, good luck finding anyone around the league who thinks Phoenix will not take Ayton — who attended college in Arizona — to be the inside to Devin Booker‘s outside. It’s the smart play.

Kokoskov and the Suns have a lot of work to do to build a foundation for success with this franchise. However, that almost never starts by trading away the top pick in the draft.

Rumor: Paul George’s agent telling people client will re-sign with Thunder

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That rumor Paul George will leave the Thunder?

How about the exact opposite?

Dean Blevins of News 9:

Allegedly, apparently, Paul George plans to stay with the Thunder. I know. It’s not what people believe. But in separate conversations, I’m told P.G.’s agent has told people associated with the NBA that P.G. believes the injury loss of Andre Roberson was huge and he’s staying. Disclaimer, though: Believing everything that agents allegedly say can be dangerous to your health.

This, by Blevins’ own admission, isn’t the staunchest reporting. Nonetheless, I appreciate him sharing and contextualizing it. We can evaluate it for what it’s worth.

George is known to share his plans – though the previous example was him planning to sign with the Lakers. And he might have really believed it at the time, when he was still with the Pacers.

But throughout the season, George seemingly went out of his way to profess his affection for Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder. That only raised expectations in Oklahoma City of George staying, and if he leaves after doing that, he’d be inviting even more backlash. I think he’s smart enough to understand that, which is why I thought he made those especially strong pro-Thunder comments only after deciding he’d likely stay.

On the other hand, even if my assessment was correct, conditions change. The Jazz brutally exposed Oklahoma City’s flaws, and if George re-signs and Anthony opts in, the Thunder will have minimal cap flexibility to upgrade the roster. In fact, they might take a step back with the supporting cast to keep the luxury-tax bill manageable. George could see free agency as his chance to escape that mess.

Roberson was a huge loss, and if George is focused on that, that would bode well for Oklahoma City. Though Roberson was just a role player, he was pivotal to the Thunder’s defense. And his teammates had learned how to play around his offensive shortcomings. Oklahoma City didn’t have any good replacements for him on the roster. Roberson getting healthy is the clearest way for the Thunder to improve next season.

Of course, that’s predicated on George returning, too. Will he?

One last note of caution: People often believe what they want to hear. It’s easy to see someone in Oklahoma City hearing George bemoan the loss of Roberson and elevate that to George planning to re-sign, even George wasn’t going that far.

Draymond Green guarantees Warriors will beat Rockets in Western Conference finals

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Warriors coach Steve Kerr is confident despite his team trailing the Rockets 3-2 in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State forward Draymond Green goes further.

Green, via Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic:

“We still winning this,” Draymond Green said. “Book it.”

Of course, Green is confident. He’d never say he expects his team to lose.

But he didn’t need to frame it this way. He could’ve said he was just focused on the next game rather than make such a bold proclamation.

He’s taking pressure upon himself and putting his reputation on the line. If Golden State loses, especially in Game 6 at home with Chris Paul out, Green will be widely mocked.

If he and the Warriors pull through, he’ll probably deserve praise for setting a tone that helped them advance.

Danny Green: Kawhi Leonard told me he wants to stay with Spurs

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The Spurs are reportedly worried Kawhi Leonard‘s camp wants to get him to the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks or 76ers.

Leonard hasn’t said much himself – except apparently to San Antonio teammate Danny Green

Get Up on ESPN:

Green:

I talk to him here and there, check up on him, see how he’s doing.

I think he wants to be in San Antonio. He’s let me know that. He’s let me know verbally he wanted to be there. So, we’ll see what happens.

Green has tried playing peacemaker throughout this saga – going as far as denying tension that clearly exists. He’s not the most reliable source.

And even if Leonard explicitly told Green he wants to remain in San Antonio, I’m not sure Leonard is confrontational enough to tell Green he wanted out, even if he did.

Those caveats acknowledged, this could be a huge revelation.

If Leonard wants to stay with the Spurs, the next step is meeting with them, mending their relationship and convincing them he deserves a super-max extension (which projects to be worth $219 million over five years). No matter how Leonard feels about San Antonio right now, if the Spurs don’t trust investing so much in him, that could lead to a fractured relationship and his exit.

So, there’s still a lot to sort out. But Green saying this means something.