LeBron says NBA ‘definitely got this wrong’ with Sarver; Adam Silver defends decision

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One of the reasons Donald Sterling was given a lifetime ban from the NBA and eventually was forced to sell the team back in 2014 was the pressure from players. His Clippers made a very public on-court protest, the Warriors and Clippers almost boycotted a game, and other players such as LeBron James raised their voices in protest.

That backlash hadn’t happened with Suns’ owner Robert Sarver, even after the league suspended him for a year and fined him $10 million for racist and misogynistic comments, as well as creating a hostile work environment for the Suns organization.

That was, until Wednesday afternoon, when LeBron spoke out.

LeBron is the first current player but far from the only voice saying Sarver got away with a light punishment for 18 years of offenses — that includes some current and former Suns employees.

“It’s barely a slap on the wrist and shows us the league truly doesn’t stand for diversity, equity or inclusion. I’m grateful to have the validation after being told I was insane, a bitch, and being dramatic. That definitely lets me breathe a little. But I’m angry. The league failed us when they had the opportunity to stand behind its values.”

Just hours before LeBron’s Tweet, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended his decision to suspend Sarver for a year, saying that he took into consideration the bigger picture, which includes the positive things Sarver has done and the progress he made.

“Let me reiterate, the conduct is indefensible,” Silver said at a press conference following a Board of Governor’s (owners) meeting in New York. “But I feel we dealt with it in a fair manner in both taking into account the totality of the circumstances, not just those particular allegations, but the 18 years in which Mr. Sarver has owned the Suns and the (WNBA Phoenix) Mercury.”

Silver said there was no discussion with the other owners about removing Sarver and forcing him to sell.

This was the most off-balance the usually smooth Silver had ever appeared at a press conference. He struggled to come up with a good answer for why Sarver would be able to continue as an NBA owner in 12 months when any league or team employee would have been fired for a fraction of the incidents detailed in a 36-page report the league commissioned. In doing so, Silver revealed the truth — owners can’t be fired.

“There are particular rights here of someone who owns an NBA team as opposed to somebody who is an employee…” Silver said.

“I don’t have the right to take away his team. I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league. It’s very involved, and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level… There’s no neat answer here, other than owning property, the rights that come with owning an NBA team, how that’s set up within our constitution, what it would take to remove that team from his control is a very involved process, and it’s different than holding a job. It just is, when you actually own a team. It’s just a very different proposition.”

Silver also spent considerable time explaining what was different to him about this Sarver case from the Sterling case, where the league gave an owner a lifetime ban and eventually forced a team sale.

“I think what we saw in the case of Donald Sterling was blatant racist conduct directed at a select group of people. While it’s difficult to know what is in someone’s heart or in their mind, we heard those words….” Silver said. “In the case of Robert Sarver, I’d say, first of all, we’re looking at the totality of circumstances over an 18-year period in which he’s owned these teams, and ultimately we made a judgment… It’s beyond the pale in every possible way to use language and behave that way, but that it was wholly of a different kind than what we saw in that earlier case.

One thing that was different with Sterling — aside the player pressure and the presence of the audio tape everyone could hear as opposed to a written report — was the fact that t team and league sponsors started pulling back from the Clippers. Big names sponsors — State Farm, Carmax, Kia, Corona — hit the other owners in the pocketbook. That changed the dynamic, although still not all owners wanted to force out Sarver.

Sponsors have yet to pull away from the league due to Sarver.

If players speak out, fans speak out, and sponsors pull away the dynamic around Sarver could change. But, for now, Silver has said his peace and both he and Sarver will keep their heads down and hope this situation blows over.

Players from the WNBA and NBA may not let that happen.

Report: Draymond Green facing potential discipline after fight with Jordan Poole

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Warriors practice got heated on Wednesday and Draymond Green reportedly escalated some chest bumping with Jordan Poole and punches were thrown. The team is now considering internal disciple, according to The Athletic.

When a heated interaction with guard Jordan Poole escalated, Green forcefully struck Poole and needed to be separated swiftly, sources said. Green and Poole came chest-to-chest, with both players pushing and shoving each other prior to Green’s escalation of the physical altercation, those sources said.

There aren’t details of the incident beyond that description (at least so far), although several reporters have confirmed the was a fight and the two had to be broken up. Poole was seen getting up shots after practice when the media was allowed in and reportedly was joking with teammates.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports Tweeted out what feels like the Draymond Green camp spin on the incident.

Poole is on the verge of an extension to his rookie contract, one where Tylyer Herro just set the market.

There is a history of tension between Green and Poole, including a public flare-up between the duo early last season, but the two talked after and smoothed things over. At least for a while.

What punishment Green will face from the team remains to be seen.

Green had hoped for an extension from the Warriors this offseason but there were limited discussions between the parties. Green can opt out of the final year of his contract at the end of this season and become a free agent.

Wizards’ Kispert likely to miss start of season due to sprained ankle

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The Washington Wizards made fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the league last season. They didn’t take a lot (second fewest) and didn’t make the ones they took (fifth lowest percentage). One goal for Wes Unlseld Jr. this season was to change that dynamic, and second-year player Corey Kispert was a big part of that plan.

Now Kispert is out through at least the start of the season, sidelined 4-6 weeks by a sprained ankle, the team announced Wednesday.

The injury happened on a fluke play in Japan against the Warriors, but Kispert shouldn’t miss much time once the real games start. The Wizards are a little short on the wing right now with Kispert joining Deni Avdija (groin injury) in the training room.

Kispert took 62% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and hit 35% of them, both solid numbers but ones Wizards hoped would improve for the 6’6″ wing this season.

Scoot Henderson says he has skills to be No.1 pick but not hung up on it

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
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Scoot Henderson came out like a man on a mission Tuesday night against the Metropolitans 92 and Victor Wembanyama — he was in attack mode. He used his explosive athleticism to get to the rim, his impressive body control to get off good shots, and his strength to finish with authority. And if the defender played back, he would drain the jumper over him.

A year ago, Jaylen Brown called him the best 17-year-old he’d ever seen. Scoot is better than that now.

Many years, Henderson would be a clear No.1 overall pick. But, not this year, Wembanyama has that crown because he breaks the mold with his size and skill set (in the NBA, height still wins out).

Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer asked Henderson why he should be the top prospect and got a confident answer.

There will be a lot of people making the Henderson case this season — and with good reason. He could be a franchise cornerstone player for the next decade.

Henderson, however, is trying not to get hung up on No.1 vs. No.2.

There’s a long list of legendary players selected No.2: Bill Russell, Kevin Durant, Jerry West, Jason Kidd, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Henderson can be one of them.

Unless Wembanyama’s medicals come back with red flags, he is destined to be the No.1 pick next June. That, however, will not be the end of Henderson’s story. Instead, it will be just the beginning.

Doc Rivers says he wants Harden to be ‘a scoring Magic Johnson’

Philadelphia 76ers Media Day
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We’re not in Houston anymore.

James Harden in Philadelphia will not be chasing scoring titles and dominating the game in quite the same way. Instead, he’s been asked to be more of a facilitator — but not too much of one. Doc Rivers told the team at ESPN’s NBA Today he wants scoring to go with the facilitating. Just like one of the all-time greats.

“I think we’ve talked so much about him being a facilitator… I need him to be James Harden too. If I had to combine, I would say a scoring Magic Johnson, I don’t know, but that’s what I want him to be. I want him to be a James Harden, but in that, I want him to also be the facilitator of this basketball team too. So in a lot of ways, his role is growing bigger for our team, and I just want him to keep thinking, ‘Do both.'”

Just play like Magic, no pressure there. For his career, Magic averaged 19.5 points a game (with four over 20 PPG) with 11.2 assists.

Harden can get close enough to Rivers’ lofty goals to make Philly a real threat, so long as defenders still fear his first step and step back. Harden can get his shot and get to the line, and he’s long been a great passer who has averaged 10.5 assists a game over the past two seasons. Now it’s just a matter of finding the balance of when to set up Joel Embiid, when to turn the offense over to Tyrese Maxey, and when to get his own shot.

Philadelphia is a deep team poised to win a lot of regular season games — the Sixers being the top seed in the East is absolutely in play. The questions Harden — and, to a degree, Embiid — have to answer come in May, when the second round of the playoffs start and Harden has faded while Embiid has had poor injury luck. In a deep East with Milwaukee, Boston, and maybe Miami and Brooklyn in the contender mix, there is no margin for error.

A Magic-like Harden would be a big boost for the Sixers in that setting.