Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka froze out selfish Reggie Jackson

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Reggie Jackson wants to start. He’s made no secret about that.

In fact, the fourth-year Thunder player will reportedly seek an offer sheet next summer that allows him to escape Russell Westbrook’s shadow and become a starting point guard elsewhere.

For Jackson to succeed in that mission, he must first handle a tricky balance this season. He has to prove his own abilities while meshing with a team that began the season with realistic championship aspirations.

When Jackson made his season debut Monday after an ankle injury, some thought he handled that conflict poorly in a 31-point loss to the Nets.

Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman:

He played selfishly at times in his season debut at Brooklyn on Monday, putting on a one-man show and what seemed to be a dribbling exhibition designed to search for his own shot. He finished with a game-high 23 points but took 20 shots. Perry Jones and Serge Ibaka, the next two highest shot takers, had 12 and 11 shot attempts, respectively. Jackson had five assists but committed five fouls and seven turnovers.

Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins grew frustrated with Jackson by the third quarter. Both big men began freezing out their point guard, refusing to pass him the ball to lead the break following defensive rebounds.

After the game, Thunder coach Scott Brooks even publicly criticized Jackson for not moving the ball.

Jackson took responsibility.

Perkins wasn’t proud of his actions, either.

“Just let the game come to you,” Perkins said about Jackson. “But with myself and with Serge, we got to do a better job with our body language and leadership skills, because I didn’t like the way I acted in the Brooklyn game as far as my body language toward Reggie. But we know Reggie means well. We support him. He’s one of my good friends off the court. So it’s no harm in that.”

Maybe Jackson was too selfish. He probably was.

But I’m not totally convinced that’s a contract-year issue. The Thunder aren’t used to playing without Kevin Durant and Westbrook, and it’s not easy for the remaining players to just pick up that scoring. There will be growing pains as everyone adjusts to new roles without the teams’ stars, and Jackson is the natural choice as the first option now.

I am convinced it’s a frustrating time in Oklahoma City. The Thunder, 1-4, haven’t lost four of five since the 2013 playoffs. They’re not accustomed to losing, and that can bring out ugly tendencies – like a player in a contract year hogging the ball or veterans refusing to pass to a younger player.

It’s good Perkins acknowledged he went too far, and Jackson can respond by better involving his teammates. This will probably wind up a minor incident.

Still, it certainly seems like it could be part of a bigger issue – Jackson changing his game in a contract year, the Thunder exasperating their struggles by reacting poorly to them or both.

Heat: Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic doubtful for Game 2 of NBA Finals

Heat players Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic
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Bam Adebayo‘s and Goran Dragic‘s injuries… not looking great for the Heat approaching Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

Heat:

This is a disaster for Miami. The Lakers dominated Game 1, and now the Heat have two starters hobbled at best. At worst and more likely, Adebayo and Dragic are out.

Adebayo would be the bigger loss. Miami was completely overmatched when facing Anthony Davis without a center. Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard can try to keep up, but they’re far from great solutions.

At least the Heat have more options at point guard. Kendrick Nunn can get an elevated role (especially after excelling in garbage time of Game 1). Jimmy Butler can become the de facto point guard. Tyler Herro can also play the position. But Dragic was playing so well during Miami’s run through the Eastern Conference. This is also a major setback.

 

Report: Tyronn Lue ‘early favorite’ to become Clippers head coach

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Doc Rivers is gaining momentum in the 76ers’ coaching search.

As for the job Rivers left behind with the Clippers… Clippers assistant and former Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, unsurprisingly, has the inside track.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Clippers are planning to interview other candidates, starting soon, sources said.

The New Orleans Pelicans are planning to interview Lue in the near future too, sources said.

Lue would be a sensible hire. He has championship experience, which would help the Clippers hit the ground running in a make-or-break season before Kawhi Leonard and Paul George can become unrestricted free agents. Lue managed stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The Clippers must improve their chemistry around their stars. And the last time Lue got promoted from assistant to head coach, his team won a title.

New Orleans also has an appealing job. But the Clippers are far closer to championship contention. And if both teams want Lue, I bet Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would outspend Pelicans owner Gayle Benson.

Still, the Clippers are conducting a coaching search. Other candidates could emerge. This isn’t necessarily Lue’s job for the taking.

How long would he wait on L.A. if the Pelicans make an offer? Lue has shown he values being entrusted.

Report: 76ers focused on Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni in coaching search

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The 76ers appeared focused on Mike D’Antoni in their coaching search.

Then, Doc Rivers surprisingly became available.

The former Clippers coach met with the 76ers and is now in the center of the conversation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

For the Sixers now, the focus is on Rivers and D’Antoni, a source told ESPN. A decision is expected this week.

Rivers would be an easier fit with this roster than D’Antoni, whose style doesn’t appear to work as well with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Rivers also looks like he’d help Philadelphia take the next step.

But that seemed like it’d be true with the Clippers and wasn’t.

Tyronn Lue’s candidacy with the 76ers has clearly faded. Could he join the Clippers, Rockets or Pelicans? If Philadelphia hires Rivers, maybe D’Antoni still lands with the Pacers?

Rivers’ availability has definitely thrown a wrench in the coaching carousel.

Victor Oladipo denies trade rumor he wants out of Indiana

Victor Oladipo
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It was a trade rumor that kind of came out of nowhere — maybe more as a thought exercise for Celtics fans hoping to move on from Gordon Hayward — but it got traction: Victor Oladipo reportedly wanted out of Indiana.

Not true, Oladipo said.

Oladipo jumped on Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe and shot down the rumors (hat tip Clutch Points):

“I’m a Pacer. I’m a Pacer…

“Those rumors on the internet, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I’m just focused on getting my knee right for next year.”

He said later in the interview he wants a ring, he wants “hardware” because that is needed to show you are one of the greats, and he would consider leaving the Pacers to get it. But that wasn’t a short-term thing. (Also, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and a lot of other guys would like to talk with you about that attitude.)

Oladipo returned mid-season from his knee injury to a Pacers’ team that finished as the four seed in the East but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

Oladipo never quite returned to his All-NBA form after coming back from injury and averaged just 14.5 points a game in the 19 regular season games he did play. Oladipo is owed $21 million next season, the last year of his current deal.

Whether he wants out of Indiana or not, at $21 million and with questions about just what level of player he is post-injury, there is not much of a trade market for Victor Oladipo. Indiana more than likely runs it back under a new coach — who has yet to be chosen — and banks on a healthy Oladipo helping the team make the next step.