Jared Sullinger removed from Celtics’ starting lineup (again) for being late (again)

3 Comments

BOSTON – Jared Sullinger was late to the Celtics’ pregame walkthrough Sunday.

“Not a trend. Not a problem,” Boston coach Brad Stevens said in announcing Sullinger would come off the bench against the Heat. “Not a short or long-term problem.”

Sullinger returned to the starting lineup at New York on Tuesday, but in the Celtics’ next home game – tonight against the Nuggets – he was again late to the pregame walkthrough. Stevens again brought Sullinger off the bench.

“It’s a great decision by coach,” Sullinger said.

Sullinger blamed traffic for both incidents, saying he got caught behind a funeral procession Sunday and had an ambulance block traffic today. And while that might be the case, it might not be the only factor.

A reporter asked whether Sullinger was disappointed in himself.

“I mean, it happens. It happens,” Sullinger said. “You was probably late to a game before.”

The reporter responded he had been.

“Was you disappointed in yourself?” Sullinger asked

“Yes,” the reporter answered.

“Answered it right there,” Sullinger said.

Stevens didn’t say whether Sullinger would be fined, but this could hurt Sullinger’s bank account in 2016.

Sullinger’s qualifying offer is slated to be $3,270,004. If he meets the starter criteria – starting 41 games or playing 2,000 minutes next season or averaging those totals this season and next – his qualifying offer would increase to $4,433,683.

Sullinger – who has started 46 of Boston’s 47 games and played 1,352 minutes this season – is likely to meet the starter criteria, regardless. He’s also unlikely to accept the qualifying offer. Still, it’s possible injury or offseason roster changes interfere, and these two missed starts could come back to haunt him.

If Sullinger arrives on time from here, this will quickly be forgotten. The snow that has blanketed the city could explain his uncharacteristic tardiness occurring for consecutive home games, even if a funeral/ambulance/ticket also contributed.

“I hope it’s the last time we talk about it,” Stevens said. “I hoped that Sunday was, too.”

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

Associated Press
Leave a comment

David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

Getty Images
1 Comment

Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

1 Comment

Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.