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Russell Westbrook signs largest contract in NBA history, five-year, $205 million extension

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Russell Westbrook wanted to keep the pressure on the Thunder organization to push to win, or he would consider leaving after the season. Sure, he signed a franchise-stabilizing contract extension last summer in the wake of Kevin Durant‘s exit, but that just added one more year to his contract and gave the Thunder a timeline. Pressure is why Westbrook’s five-year, $205 million designated veteran extension sat on the table in front of him unsigned since July 1.

Sam Presti’s response (with ownership agreeing to pick up the tab): Here are Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

That worked for Westbrook, who has signed the richest contract in NBA history, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Combined with the current extension he has six years, $233 million on his deal in Oklahoma City, he is under contract with the team through 2023. Westbrook confirmed the deal.

WHY NOT??

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Westbrook is coming off a historic season where he won the MVP and averaged a triple-double (the first player to do so since Oscar Robertson) of 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game.

Westbrook has said before OKC is where he wanted to be, where he wanted to win, that he didn’t want to leave. Thunder fans clung to that after Durant bolted for the West Coast and his chance at glory. However, some around the league thought Westbrook would follow the LeBron model, leaving his options open and keeping pressure on the organization next summer not to backtrack and save some cash.

Friday, on Durant’s birthday, Westbrook planted his flag and thrilled Thunder fans — he will be in Oklahoma City through his prime. Oklahoma City will be a team to be reckoned with for years.

This will put interesting pressure on George this season, whose camp has let teams know he may well head to the Lakers next summer as a free agent. Now he will get a full-court press season from Westbrook and the Thunder. If this season goes well in OKC — if he meshes with Westbrook, if they win 57 games and reach the Western Conference Finals (all very possible) — will he still want to bolt for his hometown? Or will he want to stay and win? And what of Carmelo Anthony, will he opt into the final year of his contract at $28 million to stay? If George and ‘Melo want to stay, how will the Thunder handle an oversized tax bill of at least $75 million (on top of their payroll)?

Those are good problems to have. Westbrook staying makes a lot of things possible in Oklahoma City.

 

Andre Iguodala out for Warriors again in Game 5; Klay Thompson available

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The Warriors missed Andre Iguodala in Game 4 against Houston. They don’t have a Death/Hamptons 5 lineup without him. Without his depth, the Warriors had to lean more on players such as Kevon Looney (who started), Nick Young, and others who are can be a liability at the high level of play in this series. Not having Iguodala to keep minutes down, play fierce defense, move the ball on offense, and be a stabilizing force was one of the issues that led to the Warriors fourth-quarter issues in Game 4.

Now they are without him for Game 5, too.

Having Klay Thompson on the court is huge for Golden State, although it will be worth monitoring to see how he moves.

The Warriors have gotten sucked into the switching/isolation game the Rockets want to play, if they are going to take Game 5 on the road they need to get back to “the beautiful game” they want to play. That would have been easier with Iguodala.

Two years after NBA retirement, Amar’e Stoudemire talking comeback

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NBA teams seemed to have moved on from Amar’e Stoudemire. After an impressive NBA career — five-time All-NBA, Rookie of the Year, six-time All-Star — he wasn’t physically the explosive player that dazzled with the Suns. Teams were interested in getting younger and more athletic, and Stoudemire was doing neither. He retired from the NBA and played for a season in Israel where he won a league title. This summer he’s signed up to play with the Big3.

After that he’,d like another crack at the NBA. When asked about an NBA comeback, here’s what Stoudemire told CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter on ‘Reiter’s Block’:

“I am. I am. I’m definitely planning on (coming back). I’ve been training like you wouldn’t believe, my body feels great. I had an amazing year last year playing overseas and so I’m gonna definitely continue to work my way back to top shape and see if there’s a team that needs my talents.”

I’m not sure there’s going to be much demand. Maybe a team does an old friend a favor and brings him in for some workouts. However, his knees and body struggled with the physical grind of the NBA the final few seasons of his career, and it’s unlikely with age that got better. No doubt he’s worked on his conditioning and strength, but Father Time always wins the race and it already felt like this chase was over.

That said, good on Stoudemire for not giving up on the dream. His agent should be making calls, maybe he can become the second player to make the Big3 to NBA leap.

 

 

Kristaps Porzingis after conversation with David Fizdale: ‘Man im excited!’

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David Fizdale learned a lot of lessons in his first go around as a head coach, spending 101 games with the Memphis Grizzlies. At the top of the list: Build a strong bond with your star player. Or else.

Fizdale is trying to do that, saying he would fly to Latvia this summer to spend time with Kristaps Porzingis. But first came a phone call, and that seemed to go very well.

It’s not just Porzingis. Fizdale was bonding with Frank Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Damyean Dotson on Wednesday night in Boston. A little “this is where we want to be” motivation.

Good on Fizdale for all of this.

The Knicks got the best coach for them on the board in Fizdale, and so far the new front office — general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills — are making smart decisions. Knicks fans should be optimistic. Knicks ownership just needs to be patient (not James Dolan’s strong suit), because with no Porzingis for a large portion if not all of next season the team will struggle. Wins will be hard to come by. Fizdale needs a season to develop players and lay the foundation for what he wants to build, while the new front office needs time to clean up the salary cap mess that is New York right now.

With some patience, the Knicks could have something special in a few years. And Fizdale may have found the right home for his talents because he’s already got players buying in.

Report: Police officers involved in Sterling Brown’s arrest suspended 15, 10 and two days

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Bucks guard Sterling Brown was tased and arrested in January despite not being violent or overly combative while being questioned about a parking violation.

Gina Barton, Mary Spicuzza and Ashley Luthern of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Milwaukee police officer who first confronted Milwaukee Bucks rookie Sterling Brown outside a Walgreens in January was suspended for two days, the Journal Sentinel has learned.

Two supervisors who later arrived, escalating the situation, were suspended for 10 and 15 days, sources said. Several other officers were reprimanded.

I don’t know whether these suspensions are the appropriate punishment.

But police too often trampling on the rights of people, especially minorities, is a far greater problem than these three officers and this incident.