Randy Wittman should be pissed off. John Wall came back with what early on looks like the same old jump shot (9-of-29 outside the paint so far this season). The top 10 defense the Wizards built last season is gone, they are allowing 108.1 points per 100 possessions through three games (think they don’t miss Emeka Okafor?).
With an owner who is demanding a playoff berth and a GM who also may feel his seat getting warm, well, that’s the kind of storm that gets a coach fired early in the season.
So Wittman let out a little of that frustration Friday night after his team lost 109-102 to the 76ers on Friday and used some expletives during his post-game press conference. When asked what he thought the problem was, Wittman said a “commitment to playing $*#&%ing defense” and dropped another bomb in the same answer.
That’s a no-no in the media friendly NBA world, so Monday the league slapped him with a $20,000 fine.
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Washington is 0-3 to start the season and have the surprisingly hot 76ers, Nets and Thunder this week. If they fall to 0-6, at least behind closed doors you can bet on more expletives.
Doc Rivers shot down rumors of defecting to the Lakers and said he agreed to a contract extension with the Clippers. Rivers focused on why he likes coaching the Clippers.
But maybe something about the Lakers also turned him off.
Michael Wilbon on ESPN:
There are people in southern California right in that environment telling Doc, “You don’t want do this.” And one of those reasons is simply LeBron James. He’s been told by people – and I know this – LeBron doesn’t want to be coached.
Don’t get it twisted: Just because people warned Rivers about coaching LeBron doesn’t mean Rivers wanted to avoid coaching LeBron. Not all advice is heeded.
Coaching LeBron is tricky.
He’s an incredibly smart player who’s comfortable asserting himself. He attracts drama, including the perception he serves as de facto coach. His presence raises pressure and expectation.
But LeBron is also one of the NBA’s best players. He offers a path to championship contention. Coaches generally win at a far higher level with him.
Rivers has dealt with plenty of difficult players, including Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. I doubt Rivers is scared off by LeBron.
I also think the idea LeBron doesn’t want to be coached is wrong. LeBron is the most important person on all his teams. There’s no getting around that. His coach must work with him, not above him. That’s not the traditional power structure, but LeBron developed productive partnerships with Tyronn Lue and Erik Spoelstra. It can work, as long as the coach doesn’t try to posture as LeBron’s boss. The coach works for LeBron far more than LeBron works for the coach. That’s OK.
And Rivers is OK staying with the Clippers, surely for numerous reasons.
Kelly Oubre has a lot of tantalizing raw talent. He’s young, energetic and feisty.
But just as it appeared as his game was rounding into form, Oubre – who averaged 20 points and two steals in 12 games since moving into the starting lineup – will get shut down.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. will undergo a minor procedure on his left thumb and miss the rest of the season, league sources told ESPN.
Oubre is expected to make a full recovery in four to six weeks, sources said.
This could be a blessing in disguise for Oubre, who’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. He ends his season on a high note on the court. There’s no opportunity for regression to the mean. This also isn’t an injury that will last long into the offseason.
The 23-year-old Oubre is a versatile defender. When his 3-pointer is falling, he looks really good. In a league that can’t get enough productive wings, he should draw a solid contract.
Kevin Durant made himself public enemy No. 1 in Oklahoma City by leaving the Thunder for the Warriors three years ago.
Nick Collison, on the other hand, remains beloved in Oklahoma City. Like Durant, he moved with the franchise from Seattle. But Collison stayed until retiring last year.
With the Thunder retiring his number yesterday, Collison vouched for his former teammate.
Collison, in a Q&A with Royce Young of ESPN:
Kevin Durant gave you the nickname “Mr. Thunder.” Do you think the Thunder should eventually retire No. 35?
It’s their decision to make, but I would certainly think so. He’s meant a ton to Thunder basketball and spent a huge majority of his career here. A lot of these honors are just kind of what the team decides to do, and I think players are appreciative of them. I don’t get too worked up about it. I’ll let other people debate that, but to me, he’s a big part of what we did here.
The Thunder will probably retire Durant’s number. Time heals most wounds, likely including this one.
Durant spent eight seasons in Oklahoma City. He won MVP and made five All-NBA first teams and an All-NBA second team there. He helped the Thunder win 10 playoff series.
No matter when each player retires, Oklahoma City will almost certainly retire Russell Westbrook‘s number first. He’s the one who stayed.
But some time after that, I’d bet on Durant getting his number retired.
Kobe Bryant, who spent his entire career with the Lakers, has said he wanted to play for the Wizards and Bulls.
Add the Knicks to the list.
Bryant in a Q&A, via Frank Isola of The Athletic:
What other teams would you have liked to play for besides the Lakers?
There are some teams … I always kind of dreamed about playing in New York and what that would have been like. It’s true. As a fan, the Garden was the historical arena.
So, I always wanted to be a part of that history and play in it. So, New York was a team … it would have been pretty good to play in that city.
For a while, the best thing the Knicks have had going for them is their arena. That gets them only so far.
They need better ownership, better management, better coaching.
Maybe Kevin Durant will help turn the tide. If he chooses New York, it surely won’t be for only Madison Square Garden.