Five Takeaways from NBA Wednesday: Frustrated Alvin Gentry goes off. For him.

5 Comments

A full slate of games around the NBA, not many upsets but at least one very upset coach. Here is what you need to know from around the league.

1) Frustrated Pelicans’ coach Alvin Gentry: “We are not a good team.” If you were a Pelicans fan, the last few weeks you could talk yourself into “maybe, maybe they could come back and make the playoffs.” They had played a little better, other teams were banged up, so maybe if New Orleans got on a little run. Then Wednesday night happened. The night after playing double overtime, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle decided to rest four starters Wednesday. Didn’t matter. The Mavericks still took control of the game in the third quarter and thanks to a dozen points from Raymond Felton in the fourth quarter (22 on the night) Dallas won 100-91.

That set Alvin Gentry off. Well, as much as the player-friendly coach is going to go off in front of the media. But he was ticked.

More, from the Times-Picayune:

“I don’t really know, to be honest with you. I wish I had answers. I don’t have answers, but we’re going to come up with answers. It’s not fair to the fans. It’s not fair to anybody for us to come out and have that kind of effort. It really isn’t. And when I say ‘us’ I mean all of us: coaches, players, everybody. It’s just not good. I’m really disappointed in the way we approached the game. We tried time and time again to say that it doesn’t matter who is playing and who is not playing. Usually in these kinds of situations, guys try to step it up anyway because they are trying to earn extra minutes. And we didn’t react. I wish I knew, but I don’t.”

The Pelicans started the season looking like a M*A*S*H* unit and never have gotten right, their offense has been pedestrian on the season and down from a year ago (when it was top 10). But last summer Gentry gave a lot of lip service to improving the defense, he brought in a defensive-minded assistant to lead that charge, and the Pelicans are worse defensively than a year ago. This team is worse. Certainly the blame starts with Dell Demps and the roster he put together (conventional wisdom around the league is his job is in danger). No doubt starting this summer there needs to be a roster overhaul. But Gentry is far from blameless here — he has put in his philosophy of ignoring the offensive glass (something Anthony Davis does well) to get back in transition defense and be better set on that end, and it hasn’t mattered. The Pelican defense is still a sieve. There needs to be some real soul-searching in New Orleans this offseason.

2) C.J. McCollum sits out Blazers game because of “clerical error.”
It is fairly common with teams for the team trainer to handle the official roster — the trainer has the final say on if a guy can or can’t play due to injury, so he fills out the roster sheet in consultation with the coach. Then the coach signs it, and away we go. Except the Blazers messed up and accidentally listed C.J. McCollum as inactive when he was set to play. That’s the sheet they turned in. Once the mistake was realized the Blazers tried to correct it, but Doc Rivers would not let them off the hook (and I’m okay with that, this isn’t U8 soccer where everybody plays nice).

The Clippers went on to a comfortable 109-98 win. Would Los Angeles have won if McCollum played? Probably. But the question is moot, the Blazers turned in the form saying their second best player was out and they had to live with the consequences.

3) Kyrie Irving is all the way back, watch what he does to Nene.
We told you the other day Kyrie Irving was all the way back, but if you need further proof we submit this:

4) Tweet of the night: Boris Diaw is awesome. From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

5) LeBron James can still get do nasty things. Lest you thought the Cavs were all Kyrie right now, LeBron had 34 and owned the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Report: Rockets exiled Anthony rather than just dropping him from rotation ‘because his name was Carmelo’

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
1 Comment

Why isn’t Carmelo Anthony in the NBA?

That’s the question everyone obsesses over, but the answer is quite simple: He’s washed up. Anthony played poorly for the Thunder then even worse for the Rockets. He’s now 35. Occasionally, washed-up players still land on NBA rosters, but they usually don’t. It’s not worth fretting over the common outcome happening.

The question that really intrigues me about the latter stages of Anthony’s career:

How did Houston go from giving Anthony a major role to deciding he suddenly couldn’t be with the team at all?

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

Still, the Rockets know they can’t just take him out of the rotation; doing so would cause a media firestorm. “Because his name was Carmelo, we treated it differently,” one team source says.

The Rockets hope that parting ways with Anthony quickly might allow him to join another team.

This is a strange explanation.

What made a “media firestorm” so inevitable? Even if it were inevitable, what made a “media firestorm” so difficult to deal with? The Rockets couldn’t handle a few questions about Anthony?

If Anthony protested about a reduced role, that would’ve been one thing. But by all accounts, he did what Houston asked of him while there. He didn’t even get a chance to show whether he could’ve helped as a non-rotation player.

The Rockets gave him 20-39 minutes in each of his games with them. If he deserved that much playing time, he couldn’t have helped at all in situational spot minutes? Maybe Anthony’s awful defense would have been at least tolerable if he could’ve conserved his energy for smaller bursts on the court.

If Houston tried to do him a favor, it failed. Anthony never landed with another team. His abrupt and confusing end with the Rockets certainly didn’t instill confidence around the league.

Anthony has expressed resentment for how Houston exiled him. He deserves some blame for the predicament. His prior objections about coming off the bench in Oklahoma City contributed to everyone being on pins and needles about his role.

But it remains strange the Rockets handled the situation in such an extreme manner.

Report: Lakers player lost $1 million endorsement deal in China

Scott Varley/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images
3 Comments

LeBron James publicly criticized Daryl Morey and reportedly pressed NBA commissioner Adam Silver on punishing the Rockets general manager.

Why is LeBron so upset with Morey, who merely tweeted support for Hong Kong protesters trying to expand and maintain their freedom?

Following the money often provides an answer.

Due to Chinese backlash, the NBA will reportedly lose millions of dollars of expected revenue, which affects players’ salaries. Lakers players also felt even-more-direct consequences while in China for preseason games.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo — to name a few — had appearances canceled. One Lakers player, sources told ESPN, had agreed to a $1 million endorsement deal with a Chinese company prior to the trip. When he arrived — poof — it was gone. A seven-figure payday went out the window.

It’s understandable someone would be agitated by losing a $1 million endorsement deal because of someone else’s tweet. I can’t even imagine how frustrating it’d be to miss out on that money.

Morey chose to take a political stand. Others are paying the price. He definitely rankled people around the league.

But perhaps scorn for Morey is misdirected.

This is the peril of chasing money in a place where an endorsement deal can fall apart because of someone else’s tweet. Maybe a bigger problem is a business environment where free expression is so stifled.

Report: Kings offer four-year, $90M contract extension to Buddy Hield, who wants $110M

Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
1 Comment

Buddy Hield is making noise about leaving the Kings in free agency next summer if they don’t sign him to a contract extension by Monday’s deadline.

Where do negotiations stand?

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:

The Kings have an offer for Hield on the table for four years and $90 million, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Hield and his agent, Brandon Rosenthal, are seeking a number closer to $110 million, sources said.

This will primarily come down to two factors – Sacramento’s willingness to bend and Hield’s appetite for risk.

A four-year, $90 million extension seems quite fair. I bet many players of Hield’s caliber would’ve already accepted it.

But in a weak free-agent class, he has a chance to get much more next summer. He could even draw a max offer sheet, which projected to be worth $125 million over four years (though that was before the NBA began losing China revenue).

Of course, the Kings would have matching rights on Hield, who’d be a restricted free agent without an extension. So, Hield can’t unilaterally leave Sacramento next summer. The Kings also have another good young shooting guard in Bogdan Bogdanovic (who has his own extension offer on the table). These factors all give Sacramento reason not to pay Hield generously now.

If the Kings up their offer, that’d make it easy on Hield. He and Sacramento are trending in the right direction together. A big payday would clearly satisfy him.

If the Kings hold firm at less than Hield’s desired $110 million, he faces a choice: How much risk is he willing to incur to bet on himself?

With those numbers so close, perhaps there’s room for compromise. In addition to salary, guarantees, incentives and options could help bridge the gap. But evident by the lack of a signed extension, a significant divide clearly remains.

Report: LeBron James pressed Adam Silver on Daryl Morey repercussions, perceived double standard for players

Zhong Zhi/Getty Images
5 Comments

Lakers and Nets players – who were meeting with Adam Silver in China – reportedly told the NBA commissioner they would’ve been punished for a tweet as costly as Daryl Morey’s and asked Silver what he’d do to Morey. LeBron James reportedly spoke up in that meeting. LeBron also later criticized Morey.

It wasn’t difficult to connect the dots.

But in case you wanted confirmation LeBron was among the players questioning Silver on Morey…

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Silver opened the floor. James raised his hand.

His question was related to Morey — and the commissioner’s handling of the Rockets’ GM. James, to paraphrase, told Silver that he knew that if a player caused the same type of uproar with something he said or tweeted, the player wouldn’t be able to skate on it. There would be some type of repercussion. So, James wanted to know, what was Silver going to do about it in Morey’s case?

Silver pushed back, reminding the players that the league never doled out discipline when they publicly criticized President Donald Trump. Morey was exercising the same liberty when he challenged China. Regardless of the financial fallout of one versus the other, that’s not what should matter. Silver might have disliked the ramifications of Morey’s tweet, but he would defend the right to say it.

We can’t know what would’ve happened if a player tweeted like Morey. But Silver is right: The NBA has a track record of allowing players – including LeBron – to speak unchecked on social issues. I think a player would’ve gotten the same treatment as Morey. Still, as the WNBA showed, there might be limits for players’ freedom of expression.

This line of questioning also reveals something about LeBron. There are many possible responses to this situation. Seemingly suggesting Morey – who supported Hong Kong protesters, who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms – deserved punishment is, um, one way to go.