Report: Hawks submit Mike Budenholzer, not Danny Ferry, for Executive of the Year

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Hawks general manager Danny Ferry took an indefinite leave of absence before the season, trying to distance himself from the racist comments he made about Luol Deng.

Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer has run the front office since, creating a potentially awkward situation for Executive of the Year voters (executives themselves).

The Hawks have excelled this season, running away with the Eastern Conference with a balanced roster. Nearly any year, that would draw Executive of the Year votes – if not the award itself.

But this year, it draws confusion. Should voters pick Ferry (who remains absent), Budenholzer (who took control after the roster was mostly assembled) or avoid Atlanta’s executives completely?

The Hawks are attempting to provide clarity.

Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

With general manager Danny Ferry on a leave of absence the entire season, the Hawks submitted head coach Mike Budenholzer for consideration in voting for the NBA’s Executive of the Year Award, a person familiar with the situation told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Budenholzer, via Vivlamore:

“Anyone who has followed the Hawks for the last two or three years knows that Danny Ferry is the executive who is most responsible for the makeup of our team,” Budenholzer said Sunday before the Hawks played the Wizards. “Danny is responsible for me being here. Our team is in a good place. I’m very grateful to work with such good players and with such a great staff.”

Everyone is correct here.

1. The Hawks should not have Ferry on the ballot. It would be embarrassing to them if he got votes, let alone won the award.

Really, the NBA shouldn’t want Ferry on the ballot. It would embarrass the entire league if he got votes.

Ferry did a bad job as an executive this year.

Sure, he put together an awesome roster – and he absolutely deserves credit for that. It’s an important part of his job.

But it’s not the only part of his job.

Ferry used the term “African” as a pejorative in the middle of a workplace conversation. I don’t care whether he was reading off a scouting report. I don’t care whether he’s a racist.

He did something racist, and it contributed significantly to fracturing the Haws’ relationship with their community. It damaged the NBA’s credibility on its handling of race.

That is why he did an awful job this year, and if he got Executive of the Year votes, it would say something about the league’s priorities. His job is not all about acquiring the right players. Far from it. He failed at very important aspects of his job.

Ferry, to his credit, has seemingly taken a sincere interest in learning from his mistake and making amends in his time off. If he has truly undergone that personal growth, maybe he could win Most Improved Executive (a fake award I just made up) next year.

But an award this year? No way.

2. Ferry is responsible for the Hawks’ roster. Budenholzer didn’t do anything to deserve this award, so he shouldn’t get votes either.

It’s an individual award – not one assigned to the entire Atlanta franchise.

Collectively, the Hawks have done a good job, including their response to Ferry and Bruce Levenson’s racism scandals. Of course, they’re nailing the on-court aspects of front-office work.

There just isn’t a person in the organization who deserves Executive of the Year. Ferry’s pros in the last year are outweighed by his cons, and Budenholzer is a placeholder.

For everyone’s best interests and what’s actually right, Executive of the Year voters should look past the Hawks.

Luka Doncic with 42-point triple-double, sticks dagger in Spurs for Mavericks win

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Luka Doncic is having a “we’ve got to talk about this guy as a possible MVP” kind of season so far.

The latest addition to the resume: A 42 point, 11 rebounds, 12 assist triple-double to lead the Mavericks past the Spurs. That includes sticking the dagger in the Spurs late.

Dallas won 117-110 and improves to 8-5 on the season.

The 42 points is a career-high for Doncic, and he is the first player in Dallas history to record a 40-point triple-double. This is Doncic’s sixth triple-double of the season.

And he’s still just 20 years old.

Here’s the full list of NBA players who have had 40-point triple-doubles at the age of 20 or younger:

LeBron James
Luka Doncic

That’s it — and that’s some impressive company for Doncic.

Kings’ Buddy Hield fined $25,000 for kicking ball into stands in celebration

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This was a $25,000 celebration by Buddy Hield.

Sacramento led by one in the final seconds against Boston Sunday, but the Celtics had a final shot and Marcus Smart‘s attempt at a game-winning floater hung on the rim seemingly forever… then fell off. The ball was tipped out to mid-court and — as you can see in this video — Heild kicks the ball into the stands as part of the celebration.

Kicking or throwing the ball into the stands is a standing $25,000 fine, and the league came down with that on Hield on Monday. It was not a surprise.

Hield was the reason Sacramento won the game, scoring 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three. He’d likely make that trade for the win again.

Kawhi Leonard out vs. Thunder Monday night, third straight game due to knee bruise

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This isn’t load management. This is a bruised knee.

The first Clipper game with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sharing the court will have to wait as Leonard is going to miss his third straight game with a knee contusion Monday night against the Thunder. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news.

The Clippers are going to be cautious with bringing Leonard back from this, thinking long term with his health, as they should. Los Angeles is playing for games in May and June, not games in November.

This means tonight the Clippers will be the Paul George show again — in two games he has scored 70 points in 44 minutes. This will be George’s first game against the Thunder since he demanded a trade out of the city last summer, landing him on the Clippers with Leonard.

Kevin Love tries to ignore trade rumors, ‘let the chips fall where they may’

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Cleveland Cavaliers GM said he has no interest in trading Kevin Love.

You can count the number of people around the league who believe him on one hand. There’s a good chance Love is still on the Cavaliers at the end of this season, but that’s more about him being in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension than it is Cleveland’s willingness to trade him (or interest from other teams, if money was not an issue). The Cavaliers are rebuilding, and if they can get young players and picks for Love, they have to consider it.

With Portland off to a slow start, and Love growing up in the Pacific Northwest, that rumor has floated around. There are others. Love is just trying to ignore them and play ball, he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times.

“I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” Love said. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization. If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”

Love, who has been open in recent years about his struggles with anxiety and mental health, said dealing with the trade rumors that constantly swirl around him can be a challenge on that front.

“A big aspect of mental health is just staying in the present but it’s so hard,” he said. “You have to try to not get too far ahead of yourself or get worked up. You can get that anxious feeling or fear for the future, but you have to try to stay focused on getting better and let things work out the way they should.”

Kevin Love has played well to start the season, averaging 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, shooting a respectable 34.7 percent from three. He could help a lot of teams, particularly ones in the West who want to be in the mix for a ring but who look at the Lakers and Clippers and think, “we have to get better fast.”

The rumors around Love are just going to get louder the closer and closer we get to the trade deadline. Love will have to do a lot of work to tune all that out.