Kawhi Leonard is extremely reserved. Which is totally fine. He doesn’t owe it to anyone to change his personality.
When he was leading the Spurs to a championship, his quiet nature was endearing.
At this stage of his career, it causes more frustration.
Just how standoffish is Leonard?
Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News:
Once, on a trip to Philadelphia, a reporter heard Leonard went to a cheesesteak place for lunch and tried to ask how it was. Leonard scowled and said he only would answer questions about basketball. On the day he made his first All-Star team, he was asked for a pregame comment and resisted until a media relations staffer pleaded with him to give a one-sentence statement.
Last season, a national reporter landed a one-on-one interview with Leonard, and during the conversation wanted to follow up on something in a piece written by Express-News beat writer Jeff McDonald, who had covered – with rare exceptions – every game, home and away, of Leonard’s career since he entered the league in 2011.
“I know you mentioned this to Jeff,” the national reporter began.
“Who’s Jeff?” Leonard said.
Leonard doesn’t isolate himself from just the media. He sent such mixed signals about whether he’d return from injury last season, his teammates ambushed him with a meeting to ask him directly. Management had a hard time connecting with him, too.
If Leonard wants to keep to himself and focus on basketball, he absolutely can. But teams have a vested interest in reading his intentions, and he’s keeping everything close to the vest.
Would he re-sign with the Raptors? Is he set on going to Los Angeles? Lakers or Clippers? What motivates him? Who is he listening to? What happens when he and his advisors disagree?
It’s hard to find anyone a good read on any of those questions, which only increase intrigue as Leonard’s free agency approaches.
The Rockets leaned heavily on Carmelo Anthony then promptly declared him unplayable. Anthony remains in limbo with Houston, on the roster but no longer part of the team. It seemed he might be finished in the NBA.
But he might get another chance soon.
Sam Amick of The Athletic:
According to two sources with knowledge of Anthony’s situation, the exiled 10-time All-Star who remains on the Houston Rockets roster has multiple options available and is expected to pick one before the Feb. 7 trade deadline. There is no clarity as to whether he would be traded in these scenarios or waived and subsequently signed, but there are strong signs that he will play in the NBA again.
These options can’t be great. Otherwise, why wouldn’t Anthony have joined his new team already? My only guess is he’s waiting for a better offer.
Anthony has been most commonly linked to the Lakers. But that’s seemingly due more to his friendship with LeBron James than the Lakers wanting him. That said, LeBron’s voice carries a lot of weight in Los Angeles.
It’s tough to find a team that would actually benefit from acquiring Anthony. He looks washed up.
But if someone wants him and he wants to keep playing, he should go for it. He doesn’t owe it to anyone else to retire so we feel better about his legacy. It’s his life, not ours.
Chicago Bulls head coach Jim Boylen received a raise as part of the team deciding he deserved additional compensation after moving up from an assistant position.
Of course, what Boylen probably didn’t expect when he took the head job was to literally be in a more vulnerable position on the floor.
During Thursday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, Boylen was it standing on the sidelines in front of his bench when an errant pass from Nikola Jokic sent Torrey Craig hurdling into Boylen.
Everyone appeared to be okay after the collision, but even still it feels like with the way things have gone for Boylen in Chicago, this could only happen to him.
Kyrie Irving made headlines on Wednesday night when he won the game for the Boston Celtics against the Toronto Raptors, then proceeded to call LeBron James to apologize about how he treated the Los Angeles Lakers star when the two were on the Cleveland Cavaliers together.
To many, the move seemed like a quick maturation of Irving as well as a surprising about face by the shifty point guard. Even LeBron thought that Irving calling him was out of character, saying as much to media on Wednesday.
However, some saw Irving’s comments and actions a little bit differently. Speaking on Inside the NBA on TNT on Thursday, Charles Barkley said that he felt Irving’s conversation with LeBron was actually a swipe at his current Celtics teammates.
To be fair, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst expressed a similar sentiment to Barkley’s on “The Jump” on Thursday, and I have to side with both of them. Their explanation of Irving’s comments make more sense than some kind of overnight maturation on the part of the Celtics star.
Irving is a very good player but he’s also a transparent marketer. His flat earth comments, his commercial that became a terrible movie … it’s all about his personal brand. Part of that is shifting blame away from himself as Boston — currently fifth in the East — continues to struggle.
I don’t think Irving is magically more mature. If anything, his apology is a self-serving attempt at comparing himself to LeBron and by association, the rest of the Celtics as the flotsam that has traditionally consisted the Cavaliers roster.
That’s really not a fair view of either side, and I don’t trust much of what comes out of Irving’s comments beyond their obvious marketing value.
Russell Westbrook seems like a pretty intense guy. The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard has won an MVP not by being a pushover, but by pushing past opponents for triple doubles.
We have really rounded out Westbrook as a individual over the past couple of years, particularly after Kevin Durant decamped Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors. Part of that has been seeing Westbrook as a father, which we got more of on a Thursday before the Thunder took on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Before the game, Westbrook was seen on the floor hanging out with his son, Noah, and generally having a good time.
The result was, admittedly, extremely cute.
Noah Westbrook will be draft eligible in 2036. Set your calendars, I guess.