Kings’ Isaiah Thomas calls Celtics’ Jerryd Bayless a ‘fake tough guy’ after on-court incident (VIDEO)

33 Comments

This is yet another example of why you don’t give a max contract to a player with the temperament of DeMarcus Cousins without the presence of any veterans on the roster to help with the team’s leadership. But this is only about him tangentially, so we’ll revisit this in a moment.

Late in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ blowout win over the Kings on Friday, Sacramento’s Isaiah Thomas got into it with Boston’s Jerryd Bayless. It was a ridiculous incident that was completely unnecessary, and also one that was entirely Thomas’ fault.

After Bayless fell, Thomas stood over him for an extra few seconds, preventing Bayless from standing up. Bayless gave Thomas a shove, and Thomas overreacted to the point where the two needed to be separated by their respective teammates.

The nonsense from Thomas continued once the game was over.

From Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee:

“I don’t like him,” Thomas said of his former AAU teammate. “End of story. He’s a fake tough guy.”

So where does all this animosity come from?

“He knows,” Thomas said.

And why doesn’t Thomas like Bayless?

“Because I don’t,” Thomas said. “That’s why.”

It sounds like there may be some history here, at least in Thomas’ eyes. And as it’s always worth noting anytime players go at each other, some things may have gone on during the game that we simply didn’t see.

But getting back to Cousins, he’s the team’s best player and face of the franchise, given both his level of talent and that huge contract. He’s continually shown a propensity to get into these kinds of situations and then keep it going with silly comments afterward, most recently calling the Bulls’ Mike Dunleavy a “clown” in continuing to hold a grudge for an incident that occurred last season.

The Kings as an organization let Cousins behave this way without repercussion, so Thomas has no reason to believe that he can’t do the same. Sacramento, by the way, lost to a Celtics team playing without Rajon Rondo, and trailed by as many as 18 points.

Thomas shot 9-of-23 from the field and finished with 24 points in 39 minutes. Bayless, meanwhile, was a very efficient 7-of-9 in getting his 19 points in just 18 minutes off the bench.

Maybe that was the source of the frustration.

Watch Jerry West’s emotional memories of trading for/his relationship with Kobe Bryant

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jerry West has never understood why people thought he was brilliant for recognizing the talent of a 17-year-old Kobe Bryant coming out of high school. To him it was obvious.

If it had been obvious (and if that era had not frowned on the development that came with drafting high school players), Kobe wouldn’t have been a Laker, and NBA history might be very different.

For West, Kobe was not just another player, he was like a son. West talked about it on the well done TNT special commemorating Kobe Tuesday night.

What those neatly packaged TNT clip does not show is just how difficult and emotional it was for West to talk about Kobe.

West has had a life of incredible highs, but also more lows and pain than many — abused by his father and battling depression his entire life — and this is another emotional tax on the NBA legend.

Joel Embiid returns to Philadelphia rotation after nine-game absence

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When you saw the image of Joel Embiid‘s dislocated ring finger facing a direction no finger should face, you knew he was going to miss some time (even though he had it taped up and returned to that game). Embiid had surgery to repair a torn radial collateral ligament on the ring finger of his left hand. Ultimately he missed nine games while he recovered.

Tuesday night against the Warriors, Embiid will be back.

He will have a soft wrap on his left hand that has been cleared by the league.

Philadelphia went 6-3 while Embiid was out.

Ben Simmons stepped up — in his last five games (before Tuesday) he averaged 24 points a game on 70.6 percent shooting, plus 10 rebounds and 8.6 assists a game. Without Embiid in the paint or taking up touches, Simmons took over the offense and looked much more comfortable in his role.

However, the Sixers’ offensive rating in those nine Embiid-less games was 104.9, 29th in the NBA (even in the last five it was 103.2, still 29th in the league). Simmons may have been playing better but the offense was not.

When Simmons and Embiid share the court this season, their offensive rating is 106.7 — not great, but better than without Embiid playing.

Victor Oladipo returns to Pacers Wednesday, likely off bench with minutes limit

Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Indiana has gone 30-17 this season and sits as the five seed in the Eastern Conference — and Wednesday they get their best player back.

Victor Oladipo — the former Most Improved Player and All-NBA team member who has been out for most of a year with a right quad tendon rupture — practiced with the Pacers on Tuesday and, as expected, will make his return to the court Wednesday night against the Bulls.

Coach Nate McMillan would not say how he planned to use Oladipo but, considering the minutes limit, off the bench seems the most likely move. McMillan said the team would revisit the minutes and role after the All-Star break.

While Milwaukee has separated itself atop the East, the next five teams — Miami, Boston, Toronto, Philadelphia, and Indiana — are all within 2.5 games of each other and could end up in any order. If Oladipo can return close to the All-NBA form he was in prior to his injury, the Pacers become a big threat to break out of that group. If nothing else, they become a much tougher out in the postseason.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Wizards (shoulder)

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Giannis Antetokounmpo is on track to repeat as Most Valuable Player.

So, any game he misses is notable.

Bucks:

Expect to see more Ersan Ilyasova and D.J. Wilson. With the trade deadline approaching, this could even be a showcase game for Wilson.

Milwaukee is still favored over the Wizards. The Bucks have outscored opponents by 7.8 points per possession without Antetokounmpo this season. They’re deep.

Of course, anything can happen. It’s only one game in a long NBA regular season.

Which might something to do with Antetokounmpo sitting. Even if he plays in Milwaukee’s next game, vs. the Nuggets on Friday, he’ll get six straight days off. That’s a nice break.