Charles Barkley is being Charles Barkley.
He’s at the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship Tournament in Lake Tahoe, where he is showing off an improved golf swing and speaking to the media. That included an interview on CSNBayArea.com, the home of the Golden State Warriors. You remember them, the jump shooting team that won the NBA championship last season.
CSNBayArea’s Jim Kozimor asked Barkley why he hates the Warriors. Barkley gave the Warriors just a little credit but mostly said the Cavaliers were too banged up to take advantage — then threw in a great line tied to “Trainwreck,” the new Amy Schumer movie where LeBron has a supporting role.
I still think if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving had’ve been healthy, they would have won that series. LeBron flat out ran out of gas. But you put two more All-Stars on that team, the Warriors still might have won but I would have picked the Cavs if everyone was healthy.
LeBron should call it Trainwreck 2, because the finals was Trainwreck 1.
Barkley softened his stance when on in the Bay Area, but in other interviews (he did a series of them) he would not give the Warriors credit for winning with small ball in the interview, even when it made him look bad.
Studies have shown that we as humans do not let go of our beliefs even when we are shown evidence and proof that they are wrong — in fact, we tend to become more entrenched. Barkley believes that you need to play inside out with a more traditional big man to win, which was fairly true when he played. However, the change in defense rules allowing zones changed that — back-to-the-basket big men in the post see earlier and harder doubles under the new rules than was allowed before. You can overload their side of the court and take away a big’s advantage. It’s not that Dwight Howard or DeMarcus Cousins can’t have success, they can, but teams don’t need that guy to win.
But Barkley is going to be Barkley.
Rumors about Kevin Durant leaving the Warriors are intensifying. Even people within the Golden State organization are bracing themselves for him to depart in free agency next summer.
Not even the Warriors collecting their championship rings could stop the momentum.
In fact, last night’s celebration contributed to the noise.
Kevin’s brother, Tony, commented on Kevin’s Instagram post featuring the rings, “Filling the hand up before we get outta here!”
Rob Perez of The Action Network:
My best guess was “here” meant the Warriors’ arena in Oakland. This is their last season there before moving to a new arena in San Francisco Francisco.
Or maybe “here” meant in the NBA. Careers in the NBA are finite.
Another thought that crossed my mind: “Here” could have meant in this world. Lives, too, are finite.
The only clear part: Tony wants Kevin to win a handful of rings. The deadline is nebulous.
Of course, the loudest speculation was “here” meant playing for the Warriors and this being the last run. But Tony sharply denied that.
If you want to be a conspiracy theorist, perhaps Tony meant leaving Golden State after this season but Kevin just instructed him to downplay it to quiet chatter. I suppose that’s possible, though it wouldn’t jibe with Kevin’s tell-the-truth-about-free-agency approach.
Occam’s Razor suggests taking Tony at his word, and that’s what I’ll do.
After sitting out while
awaiting a trade rehabbing after injuring his wrist, Jimmy Butler practiced with the Timberwolves for the first time last week. He reportedly showed up late, talked a ton of trash and led third-stringers to a win over the starters then left early.
Amidst widespread speculation they had to trade Butler after that, the Tom Thibodeau-run Timberwolves put out word they considered it their best practice of the year.
Maybe Thibodeau is that insanely competitive. Maybe he was just trying to preserve leverage.
If it were the latter, he sure stuck to his story.
Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN:
Teams who talked to Minnesota after his first practice, literally the day after his practice, Minnesota was asking for more then than they were before the day. Which tells you this: Minnesota is not trading him. They’re asking for packages that know teams aren’t going to agree to.
The Timberwolves are in a though spot. Butler is an excellent player, but everyone knows he wants out. I don’t blame them for trying to maximize their limited leverage.
How will Butler react to this revelation, though? Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he told Butler the team would seek a trade. Butler pledged to play hard in the meantime.
But if Butler playing hard just makes it less likely Minnesota will trade him, will he feel as if the team isn’t holding up its end of the bargain? Then what?
It has long seemed Taylor and Thibodeau are on different pages on several issues. Though Taylor just backed Thibodeau, Butler could drive a wedge even deeper between the owner and president-coach.
NBA’s opening night was quite tame. The Celtics and Warriors won as expected, neither the 76ers nor Thunder mounting much of a challenge.
That allowed Russell Westbrook — out with an injury — to have the most fun moment when he looked around deviously, turned to his side and ate something.
What did did Westbrook eat? Was he not supposed to be eating? Did he not want to share? Big questions remain unanswered surrounding this important incident.
The 76ers-Celtics rivalry is being renewed.
But it’s not there yet, according to Philadelphia center Joel Embiid.
The 76ers are 3-19 against Boston since drafting Embiid, and though that includes multiple tanking years, Philadelphia hasn’t fared much better since getting good. The 76ers went 2-7 against the Celtics last season, including 1-4 in their second-round playoff series. Philadephia followed that with a season-opening loss to the Celtics last night.
Embiid, via Matt Haughton of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“JJ (Redick) mentioned it earlier, this is not a rivalry,” Embiid said to reporters after the Sixers’ 105-87 season-opening loss to the Boston Celtics (see observations). “I don’t know our record against them but it’s pretty bad. They always kick our ass.”
I appreciate Embiid’s directness. We can all see the problem. There’s no point denying it.
The subtext is Embiid’s motivation to change this status quo, and a lot of it does fall in Embiid. Al Horford has given him fits. Even Aron Baynes worked him at times last night. Embiid is talented and far younger than those two. He’ll eventually get there.
In the meantime, he’s not mincing words.