The Jazz banned from their arena the fan who got into a verbal altercation with Russell Westbrook earlier this week.
What about the fan who repeatedly called Westbrook “boy” during last year’s playoffs?
Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News:
On Friday morning, a source informed the Deseret News that the Jazz have also permanently banned a second fan for degrading and offensive conduct against Westbrook that took place during the 2018 postseason.
This is the right move by the Jazz. That racist talk is completely unacceptable.
But what took so long?
Westbrook got security to handle the heckler at the time, according to Woodyard. The Jazz could have investigated and acted then. The video didn’t become public until this week, but there were still plenty of witnesses – including Westbrook – to the racist taunt.
This is happening only because Westbrook made such a big deal this week about the verbal abuse he has received. If he reacted passively to the latest heckler, it probably would have gotten swept under the rug. This year-old incident is so telling. The Jazz didn’t act – for nearly a year! – until Westbrook turned up the heat on them.
Westbrook got fined $25,000 for yelling profanity at the fan earlier this week. He shouldn’t have said what he did, even though his anger was completely understandable. But Westbrook’s harsh videoed and published response to the fan shined a light on much bigger problems in Utah.
Hopefully, the Jazz act far more swiftly in the future.
Among the questions and frustrations with the Lakers this past season — and there were many, most of them much more significant than this — were questions about the construction of the coaching staff under Luke Walton. Brian Shaw was the lead assistant, a former NBA head coach with plenty of experience, but there were questions about the experience on the rest of the staff.
Throw in the uncertainty circling Walton right now after a sexual assault allegation against him, it makes sense to have a veteran coach right next to Walton on the bench in Sacramento. That may be Jeff Hornacek, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.
According to sources, Walton and Kings general manager Vlade Divac met with former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek in Sacramento about the possibility of him being the team’s lead assistant coach.
Amick’s primary point is that as of right now the Kings and Walton are moving ahead as if their working relationship will continue. They are lining up assistant coaches and taking the other steps expected this time of year for a new coach.
Both the Sacramento Kings and NBA are investigating the allegations of sexual assault against Walton, put forward in a lawsuit by a former female reporter for the Lakers’ regional sports network. Kelli Tennant, the accuser, conducted a press conference to state her case on Tuesday. Walton, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.
Oklahoma City is brash, a reflection of their best players. Russell Westbrook was talking throughout the series against Portland because, well, that’s Westbrook. Dennis Schroder was pointing at his watch — imitating Lillard time — as the Thunder won Game 3. Paul George threw down a dunk (just after the buzzer expired) rather than dribble out the end of the Thunder win.
Damian Lillard saw it all.
Inside he was fuming, in a rage that continues as he waved goodbye to the Thunder after hitting a historic jumper. He told Jason Quick of The Athletic what went through his mind as the shot fell through the net.
“Yeah,” Lillard said he thought in the moment. “What you all have to say now?”
Wednesday, Lillard posted this to Instagram.
Lillard was boiling over the night before the final game of this series, at his home in Portland, as Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports details in a must-read piece on Lillard dropping the mic on OKC.
And what came out of Westbrook’s mouth during a few of his post-basket outbursts was the B-word, something most players wouldn’t dismiss without an altercation.
“The way I see it, it’s basketball,” Lillard told Yahoo Sports. “I know I ain’t no b—–ass mother——; so it doesn’t bother me. If they think I am, then we can take it off the court and find out for sure.
“I’m not out here to prove to these dudes that I’m the hardest mother—— in the league because they cussed at me on the court. But they know where I’m from and what I’m about. This Oakland. But I don’t take s— personal. My goal is to get the win.”
Lillard won. He outplayed Westbrook.
Coach Terry Stotts had pulled Lillard off the court before the end of Game 4, a 13-point Portland win on the road, and Lillard said that was probably good because if he had been on the court he might have jacked up a 30-footer at the buzzer to send a message. Instead, he waited a game. And Monday night Lillard said this:
“I’m going to get the last laugh,” he said. “I promise you that.”
Drop. The. Mic.
Paul George averaged 28.6 points per game against Portland in the first round, but he wasn’t his mid-season efficient self, shooting 31.9 percent from three, where he took 46.5 percent of his attempts. George tried to make up for it by attacking the rim and drawing fouls, and he averaged almost 10 shots from the charity stripe a game (9.8, which boosted his true shooting percentage to an impressive 58.3).
OKC needed more of George and less of Russell Westbrook settling for jumpers, but George’s jump shot just was not going down at the rate it did the first half of the season.
How much of that was his shoulder problems? George admitted that four days before the playoffs started he couldn’t lift his hand over his head he was in so much pain. George said it wasn’t an issue in the playoffs, but nobody really believed him.
George said postgame he would get his shoulder healthy this summer, but dodged the surgery question, via Royce Young of ESPN.
Whatever he does — rest, therapy, surgery, going to Lourdes and getting water on it — George needs to get healthy because his efficiency is critical if Oklahoma City is going to get out of the first round of the playoffs. It would help if Sam Presti and company can add some shooting around him and Russell Westbrook (easier said than done with their tight cap situation).
D'Angelo Russell had a breakthrough year for the Brooklyn Nets.
He was an All-Star in his fourth NBA season, averaging 21.1 points and seven assists per game, and a lot of the jump came because his shooting improved — 36.9 percent from three, and a true shooting percentage of 53.3 that’s close to the league average. His hitting floaters and jumpers opened up the rest of this game, and his confidence grew as a leader. He pushed the Nets to the playoffs, where he and his team played tough but fell short against the more talented 76ers. Russell struggled to a 3-of-16 night in the closeout game Tuesday, it was a learning experience.
This summer Russell is a restricted free agent. Brooklyn wants to keep him… but for $27 million? That’s his starting salary at the max. Brian Lewis of the New York Post said that’s what Russell wants.
But he’s got a $21.1 million cap hold, and could get a max offer from a point guard-hungry team. That would be $27 million, which league sources have intimated is what Russell wants. The Nets haven’t shown themselves to being convinced he’s worth that much, and could well let the market decide.
The Nets have the right to match any offer, but would they go to the max to do it? League sources told me most teams see Russell as a step below max, however, if a team is trying to poach a player via restricted free agency they have to overpay to get the team with his rights to back off and not match. Ultimately, that means his agents (Austin Brown and Aaron Mintz) finding a team willing to pay the price to nab him. Depending upon how the draft lottery and the rest of free agency goes, that team may be out there.
Sean Marks and his Nets are going to have a very busy summer and Brooklyn — while it loves the team it built — may not look the same at all next season.