LaMarcus Aldridge says Lakers meeting was “blown out of proportion,” same with Knicks non-meeting

16 Comments

There’s a theory that LaMarcus Aldridge always knew what team he would choose this summer. He took the meetings, had a few nice steak dinners, but so long as the Spurs could work the cap situation out, he was coming to San Antonio.

True or not, those other meetings became big stories — particularly the Lakers meeting, which did not go well at all. The Lakers pitch was reportedly heavy on selling Los Angeles as a marketing and lifestyle destination — but Aldridge already has a home in the area (Orange County), they needed to sell him on basketball but didn’t. The Lakers went from being one of the co-favorites to land him to being voted off the island. The Lakers got a second meeting, but it didn’t change things.

Then Aldridge didn’t even meet with the Knicks.

Both of those were huge stories, but Aldridge told Basketball Insiders it got blown out of proportion.

“With the Lakers, it wasn’t anything crazy,” Aldridge said. “It was just the [first] meeting didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, so I did another one.  People blew it out of proportion about things happening in the meeting. That wasn’t correct. It just didn’t go as good as I wanted it to so I had one more….

“About the New York Knicks, they told me that they wanted me to play strictly [center],” Aldridge said. “So they didn’t want to meet with me. People was saying it was me, but it was both parties agreeing that we shouldn’t meet.”

 

Why the second meeting with the Lakers? Because Aldridge’s agent Arn Tellem has an excellent relationship with GM Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers, he’s has done a lot of business with them and would like to do more in the future, and how that story broke nationally was an embarrassment to the Lakers. Online and on sports talk radio, discussion of what the Lakers were doing wrong in their pitch meetings became a thing. Tellem was looking for a way for the organization to save face.

As for the Lakers pitch being light on basketball, what could they sell him right now? They had won 21 games the past season, and their hope for the future on the court — D’Angello Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle — were years away from helping the team contend for a title. Kobe Bryant is a legend but is entering likely his final season. The rest of the cupboard was pretty bare. Even with Aldridge (and another max free agent to come in the next couple years) this team was years away. Aldridge is 30 years old, he can’t wait around for that to come together. The on-the-court pitch was doomed before it started.

Or, maybe I’m just blowing it all out of proportion like Aldridge said.

Arizona State leading scoring Remy Martin declares for 2020 NBA Draft

(Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

Arizona State junior Remy Martin has declared for the 2020 NBA Draft:

The six-foot point guard took on more of scoring role in his third season with the Sun Devils than he had in his first two seasons. Martin averaged 19.1 points per game on 43.2% shooting from the field. Martin also dished out 4.1 assists per game, after averaging 5.0 assists as a sophomore.

Arizona State’s leading scoring may just be testing the waters, as he’s expected to go undrafted. NBA scouts have concerns over Martin’s size at the NBA level. One concern is his ability to hold up defensively, as NBA point guards are trending bigger and bigger in recent years.

As a smaller guard, Martin was one of the players who could have benefited from the traditional pre-draft process. With in-person workouts on hold, and potentially cancelled entirely, players have limited opportunities to improve their draft stock. Teams may be drafting off previous in-person scouting and off of tape.

NBA players reportedly to take part in televised NBA 2K tournament Friday

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NBA 2K
Leave a comment

If we can’t watch NBA players on the court, at least we can watch them control their digital selves and teammates in a live basketball tournament.

ESPN plans to broadcast an NBA 2K tournament with only NBA players at the controllers, a story broken by Chris Haynes at Yahoo Sports. The hope is to have it air Friday, with the players competing from their homes around the country.

The NBA is planning a players-only NBA 2K tournament that will feature the league’s sharpest video gamers and it will be broadcast on ESPN, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Players competing against their peers in the comfort of their own homes could offer a distraction for fans who are missing the game and a little competition.

Esports are incredibly popular and growing as a spectator sport, both in person and on Twitch and other platforms. With there being a pent-up demand for sports programming, this seems a smart attempt to draw eyeballs. Even people who are non-esports viewers could tune in just to check it out, because it’s that or rewatching Tiger King.

You can bet that if it works, we will see a lot more of it in the future.

(Inside baseball note: I would love to see the emails/texts flying around ESPN about Yahoo breaking a story about what is coming in their network.)

 

Shaquille O’Neal: I had no idea what was happening with Joe Exotic of Tiger King

(Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Papa John's International, Inc.)
Leave a comment

On a recent episode of “The Big Podcast with Shaq” former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal said that “he had no idea” what was happening at the zoo run by Joe Exotic. Joe Exotic was recently made famous through the popular Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”.

Footage of O’Neal appeared in the first episode of the show and was shown taking photographs with the animals.

The documentary also showed a cut of O’Neal on TNT saying “Shoutout to Exotic Joe. I got two more tigers.”

On his podcast, O’Neal explained:

“So we go in there, and it’s a beautiful place, and the character that was there was Exotic Joe. We’re there and I dropped some donations for the tigers’ foods and all that. We take pictures with (the) tigers. We went back a couple times. Then we go back another time and we found out that he’s involved with all the stuff, and then, actually, I stopped going.”

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, was sentenced to 22 years in prison after being found guilty of 19 different charges. Those charges included murder-for-hire plot, illegally selling endangered species and other animal-related offenses.

O’Neal clarified that he never bought any animals, but often donates to charities that help animals. He also made it clear that he’s not friends with Joe Exotic, nor anyone involved in the trade of endangered species.

“I don’t harm tigers,” O’Neal said. “I love tigers. I love white tigers. Do I put donations to these zoos to help these tigers out? I do it all the time. Do I own tigers personally at my house? No. But I love tigers. Listen, people are going to make their own opinions, but, again, I was just a visitor. I met this guy — not my friend. Don’t know him. Never had any business dealings with him, and I had no idea any of that stuff was going on.”

Report: Brooklyn Nets looking to hire a blue-chip head coach

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Leave a comment

When the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson parted ways in early-March, the team installed Jacque Vaughn as the interim head coach.

According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that’s a short-term appointment. On his podcast “Brian Windhorst and The Hoop Collective”, the reporter said the Nets are looking to hire a coach with a track record of NBA success.

“One of the things that has been expressed sort of the grapevine, that’s the way I’m going to say it to protect myself from the aggregators, is that Durant and Irving would like a blue-chip coach. I don’t know what this says about the way they thought about Atkinson, but they want a big-name coach.”

Names linked to the Brooklyn opening are Tom Thibodeau, Mark Jackson, and both Jeff and Stan Van Gundy.

Atkinson leaving Brooklyn was a surprise, considering he had led the Nets back to the playoffs in 2019. That success came after a three-year rebuild. That process was kicked off when general manager Sean Marks hired Atkinson to lead the on-court development. Under Marks and Atkinson, the Nets developed several players who had been given up on by other teams.

Brooklyn was 28-34 when Atkinson was let go. The Nets had gone 2-0 under Vaughn before the NBA suspended play in mid-March.