Mark Jackson, Andrew Bogut and the media in a weird controversy triangle

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Mark Jackson is mad at the media. Andrew Bogut was mad at Jackson. And the media is probably mad at the pregame food spread.

Bogut has missed the Warriors’ last three games, and before the third game, Jackson discussed the injury. Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News:

Jackson said before the game he did not know how Bogut got hurt before offering these comments:

“As far as I know, it was not on the court,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t in practice. It wasn’t in a game. I’m not really sure. It may have been sleeping, and I say that in all seriousness, but it’s important for us to make sure we continue to treat him, it’s legitimate, and then let’s be smart with it. We’re looking ahead at a whole week of rest and recovery, and we need him.”

So, of course, the reporters then went to Bogut. Bogut, via Rusty Simmons of SFGate:

“I just wanted to address that the sleeping comment is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know if I should read between the lines with it. The frustrating thing is: I don’t know when I hurt it against Utah (on Jan. 31). I just know after that game, it was a little sore. It hasn’t gotten better.”

“I don’t know where (the sleeping comment) came from or if he heard that from the trainer or from somebody, but it’s definitely not the case,” Bogut said. “It’s not like I just woke up after sleeping on my shoulder wrong. I have a bone bruise and swelling in my shoulder. That coming from sleeping is very highly unlikely, I believe.”

You can see why Bogut would be upset. He’s suffered multiple serious injuries and has developed a reputation for being injury prone – maybe even fragile. If people believed he got hurt sleeping, he’d look even worse.

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After the game, Jackson addressed the back-and-forth.

Jackson, via Bay Area Sports Guy:

I made a statement about Andrew Bogut. My statement said ‘legitimate.’ My statement said I had the same thing. My statement said that he was hurt. Please don’t twist my words. Understand this also — you will never see a problem in my locker room. You will not see a problem in my locker room, with my group.

Jackson later said he’d spoken with Bogut and that the issue was nothing, and I’ll take his word on that.

I’ll also guess Jackson will get over his gripes with the media, because it seems he’s just blaming the media to distract fans. As far as I’ve seen, the media didn’t spin Jackson’s comments to describe Bogut’s injury as phony (though, it’s possible a question to Bogut did just that and elicited his strong reaction).

But here’s what I can’t wrap my head around: Why was Jackson speculating Bogut hurt himself sleeping in the first place? Even if Jackson shouts from the rooftops that the injury is legitimate, I can’t imagine Bogut enjoys that theory being floated – especially if, as Bogut claims, it’s not true.

Markell Fultz takes ugly pump-fake free throw

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A key question after the 76ers traded for Jimmy Butler: How would the demanding star affect Markelle Fultz‘s confidence?

Butler isn’t even playing for Philadelphia yet, but this isn’t an encouraging sign.

Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice:

Maybe the ball just slipped out of Fultz’s hands on the way up, and he had to continue pushing it toward the rim to avoid a violation. That could happen to anybody.

But given everything we know about Fultz’s shooting woes, it’s impossible to take this as anything other than a ghastly low point in an ongoing problem.

LeBron James: ‘I almost cracked’ with Lakers’ slow start

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LeBron James has played in eight straight NBA Finals.

How’s he handling reduced expectations with the Lakers, who started 2-5 before rising to 7-6?

LeBron, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

‪“I haven’t changed anything outwardly, but you know me. You know how I am. I almost cracked [last week]. I had to sit back and remind myself, ‘[Expletive], you knew what you were getting yourself into,’” James told Yahoo Sports while laughing after Saturday’s win in Sacramento. “This process has been good for me. I just have to continue being patient.”‬

LeBron warned everyone to stay clear when he loses his patience, but he has never sounded close to losing it this season. He signed a four-year deal with the Lakers, said he doesn’t feel urgency to win quickly before his prime ends and seems content to wait for a co-star.

If anything, it seemed LeBron might be too relaxed, enjoying the Los Angeles lifestyle and focusing on showbusiness.

So, this is a welcome sign of his competitiveness.

Also kudos to LeBron for harnessing it unlike others in the organization. These Lakers need time to determine how these oddly shaped pieces fit together – unless a star becomes available. Then, all bets are off.

Dwyane Wade: Making Carmelo Anthony ‘fall guy’ doesn’t address the ‘real problem’

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LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul – the banana-boat buddies – comprise the NBA’s most famous friendship group.

With Anthony nearing his end with the Rockets, that puts Houston teammate Paul in an awkward place. But Wade and LeBron are speaking up. So are the Trail Blazers’ Evan Turner and Damian Lillard.

Wade:

LeBron:

Evan Turner:

Damian Lillard:

It’s unclear whether Wade is scolding the Rockets or fans/media. That comment is far more loaded if he’s referring directly to the organization. I wonder what he sees at the “real problem” in Houston.

A struggling team waiving a minimum-salary player is rarely viewed as making that player the scapegoat. But Anthony has an outsized reputation due to his long, star-level career. With that in mind, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried to defend Anthony.

But Anthony is a part of Houston’s problems. He’s awful defensively and shooting poorly. There is mounting evidence he’s washed up. Downgrading his role, whether or not that includes waiving him, is a step in the right direction for the Rockets.

It won’t solve everything, and Anthony – after all that he has done in the NBA – should be treated with respect. But there’s no way around his substandard current level of play.

Report: Jimmy Butler planned to hold out from Timberwolves unless traded, informing team during Friday’s game

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According to one narrative, the Timberwolves decided after Friday’s loss to the Kings to trade Jimmy Butler.

But he might have forced their hand, resulting in his trade to the 76ers.

Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Butler decided he would play on Friday night, but he viewed it as the fork in the road. If the Timberwolves didn’t find a deal to fulfill his long-simmering trade request after that, he would begin to sit indefinitely, league sources told The Athletic.

The Kings defeated Minnesota 121-110 to push the Timberwolves to 4-9 and a winless road trip; Butler had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in 41 minutes. He had played almost 124 minutes in the last three games, all losses, and at halftime of the final one, the Wolves were informed that this was it for Butler, sources said.

Butler reportedly held out for a game a couple weeks ago, though he and Minnesota both denied it. It’s quite believable he would’ve held out again if not traded. Still, informing the team during a game he’s playing would have been quite bold.

I’m not sure who actually blinked first. This could be an I-quit, no-you’re-fired (or vice versa) scenario. Both Butler and Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau are stubborn.

But the most important thing is Butler is gone and both sides can move on – whatever ugliness preceded the trade.