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Warring Warriors? Draymond Green plays down heated moment with Kevin Durant

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Draymond Green approached Kevin Durant near the end of Golden State’s bench and quickly their discussion escalated into a heated dispute, both players punctuating their points with demonstrations. While the rest of the Warriors watched, a teammate eventually came over to keep the peace.

That flap during Saturday’s overtime loss at Sacramento wasn’t the first between the All-Stars, either.

Warring Warriors? Naw, no worries about a family feud for the NBA’s top team.

Green insists that’s all part of it from time to time and there is never any harm intended. Coach Steve Kerr considers it healthy and a positive once in a while.

“If you can’t, you’re probably on a losing team,” the fiery Green said Tuesday. “But everybody who makes a big deal out of it probably are losers. That’s how I view it. Anyone who knows anything about winning knows that that’s going to happen.”

Green and Durant squabbled on the court late in the third quarter after a mix-up led to a shot-clock violation. Soon after, Green could be seen on video walking toward Durant and yelling from close range while raising his hands in the air.

Green then took a seat on the bench and Durant came over to continue their argument, with Shaun Livingston playing peacemaker.

“We know it’s really nothing. It’s constructive to try to understand how we’re going to get better,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said Tuesday. “It comes from a place of respect between everybody on this team, including those two guys. So, nobody takes anything personal, nobody goes home and cries about it.”

“It’s about everybody wants to win, and in that moment it might get heated, it might happen in front of cameras, it might happen in the locker room, it might happen at practice, it might be a phone call, offline, whatever. Those kinds of conversations need to happen so that we continue to try to get better and challenge each other to not get complacent,” he said.

Green wouldn’t say exactly what was at issue moments after the Warriors’ 109-106 defeat, just that “it was actually a tactic, but that’s for us to know and for everyone else to figure out.” Green and KD also were teammates on the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in Rio last summer.

Kerr, meanwhile, was already long gone after being ejected with 3:34 left in the third quarter for a profanity-laden tirade directed at official Bill Spooner. The reigning NBA Coach of the Year apologized through the league to Spooner a day later. The NBA fined Kerr $25,000 on Monday.

Kerr called the defeat one of his team’s worst games. The Warriors, with an NBA-best 43-8 record, host Chicago on Wednesday night and will try to avoid consecutive regular-season losses for the first time since April 2015 during the franchise’s championship season.

“We had all kinds of arguments that game,” Kerr said. “Totally normal. You should have seen the Bulls back in the day, we had guys yelling at each other all the time. I equate it to if you have a lot of siblings and you’re in the house together every day and you love each other and you’d do anything for each other but you’re going to get in fights.”

“That’s what it’s like to be on a team. These guys are so close,” he said. “KD and Draymond are best of friends and they’re together every night laughing and joking. So when something happens on the floor, I don’t even bat an eye. It’s just competitive, heat-of-the-moment stuff. We played an awful game. I coached an awful game. It was a bad night for all of us.”

Green realizes there will be more tense moments with teammates along the way.

And everyone is after one thing at the end: another championship.

“If you’ve got to hide something from one of your teammates and you can’t say something, then you’re in a bad situation,” Green said. “And me personally, I don’t want to be in that situation. If you’re on a team where you can’t talk, where there’s moments where you need to yell at each other, maybe that yelling is to get each other going, like you don’t know what that is. No one else knows what that is, so if there is a team like that, please make sure I’m on the first thing smoking out of there because that team ain’t for me.”

NOTES: Klay Thompson was away from the team for a second straight day while attending his grandfather’s memorial service. … Neither F David West, out since suffering a non-displaced fracture of his left thumb Jan. 18, nor C Zaza Pachulia – sidelined with a strained right rotator cuff in his shoulder – will play against the Bulls. West still has some pain and will be re-evaluated in a few days, Kerr said. … The Warriors are four games ahead of San Antonio for the top record in the NBA.

Report: Pau Gasol near one-year deal to play for Barcelona

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Pau Gasol, who just turned 40 this week, has said he wants to play one more season to give himself a chance of making the Spanish Olympic team next summer. He mentioned the Lakers or Barcelona as a preferred destination.

It looks like Gasol is headed back to where it all started for him, in Barcelona.

Nikos Varlas at eurohoops.net confirmed a rumor that had been floating around for a few days, that Gasol and Barcelona were near a deal.

The long-awaited return of the 40-year-old Spanish legend in Pau Gasol to the European basketball is very close to happening as the player is near an agreement in principle for a one-year deal with Barcelona. The deal is expected to get finalized later in the summer…

The ideal unfolding of Pau Gasol’s story would be that the Spaniard completes a full circle in his career with one year at Barca and then retire after one final Olympic run with the national team in Tokyo.

We have to start with the caveat: In these uncertain times, nothing is guaranteed until Gasol puts pen to paper, and that has yet to happen. This could all fall apart.

Gasol has to prove to Barca he can stay healthy — he only played 30 games in 2018-19, then signed with Portland for this season but never saw the court due to a foot injury and was waived. Add to that his age and, understandably, Barcelona will want their medical people to get a good look at Gasol before agreeing to anything.

It would be a great story if it did come together, even if Gasol’s role is limited. One of the great players ever out of Europe, he would return to the club of his youth for one more season in the Spanish league, then end his career on the international stage at the Olympics. After that, the Hall of Fame is waiting.

 

Joel Embiid on NBA bubble: ‘I don’t think it’s going to be safe enough’

76ers center Joel Embiid
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76ers guard Shake Milton said, “I don’t really think we should be playing.” He’ll also presumably play for Philadelphia in the NBA’s resumption at Disney World.

That’s not as hypocritical as it sounds at first. Milton is concerned about basketball overshadowing the current movement for racial justice (a concern also voiced by Kyrie Irving and Dwight Howard). But players collectively decided to continue the season. NBA games will proceed, with or without Milton. At that point, his desire for collective action was eliminated. He had to make a personal choice and decided to play.

His 76ers teammate, Joel Embiid, has a much more confusing stance.

Embiid, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

I hated the idea,” Embiid said. “I feel like with everything that has been going on, it’s unfortunate what’s been going on in the world. Obviously people look at it in a different way. There might be some other reasons behind everything going on. To me, that part never mattered. To me, all I want is to stay healthy and stay safe, keep the people around me safe. I want to make sure I’m able to live for a long time and not have any sort of consequences in the future from this if I were to be in a situation where I was getting the virus.
Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the idea. But then again, I’m going to do my job. I’m not going to let the city down. I’m going to represent my city — that’s what I’ve always done — my family, my teammates. The mindset doesn’t change. It doesn’t matter the fact that I don’t like that idea and I still don’t believe in it. I don’t think it’s going to be safe enough.”

“Because I know I’m going to do the right things, I know I don’t ever do anything, I only play video games, I’m always home — I don’t do anything. But then again, I don’t trust those other guys to do the same. But, like I said, I’ve gotta do my job.

I don’t understand this. If Embiid doesn’t think the bubble is “going to be safe enough,” why go?

Of course, the bubble won’t be perfectly safe. Nothing is perfectly safe, and many normal activities are more dangerous amid the coronavirus pandemic. Damian Lillard expressed similar distrust of other players follow the protocols.

But each player must make his own judgment about “safe enough.”

There are reasons to play – money (individually and collectively), a chance to win, representing those important to you. Those must be weighed against the risks. Embiid did that and seemingly decided to play.

Is he having second thoughts? Did he just not choose words carefully enough while discussing his very-legitimate concerns?

I’d like to hear more about what Embiid means.

Spurs’ Patty Mills says he’ll donate remaining salary ($1,017,818.54) to fight racism

Spurs guard Patty Mills
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Patty Mills will play in the NBA restart, and the San Antonio guard said Wednesday that the reason why he’s decided to participate is so he can give just over $1 million of his salary to causes in his native Australia devoted to fighting racism.

The exact amount, Mills said, for the Spurs’ eight remaining regular-season, or seeding, games will be $1,017,818.54. He will split that money between three causes – Black Lives Matter Australia, another group that deals with the problem of Blacks dying when in custody, and to the newly formed We Got You campaign that he helped organize to address the issues of racism within Australian sport.

“So, I’m playing in Orlando because I don’t want to leave any money on the table that could be going directly to Black communities,” Mills said.

Mills isn’t the only player that has announced he will be donating his salary for the eight games to charity. Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard revealed earlier this week that he will give the remainder of his salary for the season to a charitable initiative he started called Breathe Again, which was designed to fight hatred and racism.

Mills is the longest currently tenured player on the Spurs.

“He’s a guy that I think everybody looks to for motivation and stuff like that,” Spurs teammate Trey Lyles said Wednesday, not long after Mills made his announcement. “I think along with his actions and his words backing up his actions … he’s definitely been somebody that I think not only the team but the league realizes is a community leader and somebody that’s always caring for other people.”

This is not the first time Mills has tried to shine a light on race-related issues this season.

Mills – an Australian whose mother is Aboriginal and whose father is from the Torres Strait Islands – and the Spurs hosted a celebration of Indigenous people back in January, which he hoped helped educate people on the importance of recognizing the value of other cultures.

“Australia is a great country. America is a great country,” Mills said. “We all have issues and different aspects. But the point of it is, is being able to come together to be able to work together.”

The Spurs leave for the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida on Thursday, when they will be among the final eight arrivals of the 22 teams that will be participating in the NBA restart. The season has been halted by the coronavirus pandemic since March 11.

Mills was to have earned about $12.5 million this season, had the season not been interrupted and some games been canceled because of the pandemic.

Report: Nets advancing toward signing Michael Beasley

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The Nets are cornering the market on past-their-prime scorers who haven’t played in the NBA this season.

After agreeing to sign Jamal Crawford, Brooklyn is moving onto forward Michael Beasley.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

The NBA isn’t testing for marijuana at Disney World. Presumably, prior drug suspensions would still apply, though. Beasley must serve a five-game suspension (consistent with a third marijuana violation) if his NBA career resumes.

Brooklyn will play at least nine games in the resumption (eight seeding games and at least one play-in game). The Nets could play a second play-in game and/or make the playoffs. But Beasley will likely be ineligible for a decent chunk of Brooklyn’s schedule.

The Nets have several players who won’t play the rest of the season – Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler and Nicolas Claxton. This is turning into quite the patchwork roster.

Still, I wouldn’t expect much from Beasley.

He struggled on and off the court with the Lakers last season. Last summer, the Pistons looked at him and Joe Johnson and chose the over-the-hill Johnson. Beasley is now 31.

But Beasley grew up in Prince George’s County, Md., with Durant. The former No. 2 pick also has some talent that continues to intrigue. That’ll get him another opportunity.