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Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk: “I don’t think I’m a dirty player”

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Washington’s Kelly Oubre has been suspended for Game 4 of a feisty playoff series against Boston, the result of him racing halfway across the court to shove Kelly Olynyk to the ground.

Why? Oubre had been dropped by a hard screen on the play with what looked like a shot above the neck — Olynyk was given a foul on the play — and Oubre said he had been “hit multiple times by the same person” and he just reacted.

Olynyk has set hard screens, been physical in a chippy series, and worked to get under the skin of a few Wizards. That’s led to a lot of “Olynyk is a dirty player” talk. Remember, Olynyk was the guy who dislocated Kevin Love‘s arm in the playoffs a couple seasons ago.

Olynyk was asked about his dirty play Saturday, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com.

“I don’t think I’m a dirty player. My teammates don’t think I’m a dirty player. It’s basketball. It happens. You have to set a screen, you box out, you have to do a lot of things. It’s not something you focus on. You just go out there and play the next game.”

Olynyk has to be physical for the Celtics, especially when he’s not hitting shots, which has been the case much of this series, particularly Game 3. He did not play well. But he’s out there because of his style of play.

Olynyk is the kind of player fans love if he’s on your team and despise if he’s on the opposition, joining a long line of pests. He’s dirty until he’s your guy, then you love him. He skirts the line, but Olynyk knows where it is — Oubre crossed it and that got him suspended.

 

Newly empowered Kevin Pritchard ready to use aggressive approach on Pacers’ revamp

Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Pritchard spent the last six seasons speaking his mind privately.

He shared his crazy ideas with Larry Bird, occasionally agreed to disagree with the boss, and might have even tried to persuade Bird to be more aggressive with player moves. Now, the Indiana Pacers are about to see if Pritchard can live up to his word.

“I think you have to be bold in this position,” Pritchard said earlier this week after being given the team’s president of basketball operations job. “I like interchanging pieces, I like moving around in the draft, I want to be aggressive, I want to make deals.”

Pritchard’s attitude may be just what the Pacers need as they enter a transformational offseason.

He has played this game before, though his wheeling-and-dealing ways cost him the general manager’s position in Portland after a little more than three seasons. But the man who was hired to replace Bird acknowledges he’s not the same guy who was fired on draft night in 2010.

Pritchard credits Bird with teaching him about the importance of continuity. After returning to his home state in 2011, Pritchard said he understood that great minds don’t always have to think alike – until a final decision is made and then everyone must present a unified front. He developed an affinity for Bird’s ability to speak plainly, bluntly and meaningfully, and he’s even changing his mind about the thought of Lance Stephenson playing point guard.

But Pritchard still intends to be aggressive with trades, in free agency and with a budget that even made Bird reconsider his plan to step down as the team’s lead decision maker.

“After seeing next year’s budget, I almost want to stay,” Bird joked on Monday. “I think he’s the right guy.”

While the Pacers have a pretty good notion of what they have in Pritchard, it’s the Indiana native who is waiting to see what cards he’s dealt.

Former All-Star point guard Jeff Teague, forwards C.J. Miles and Lavoy Allen, and backup guard Aaron Brooks can all become free agents. Four-time All-Star Paul George has one year left on his contract and could become trade bait if he refuses to commit to playing in Indiana next season. Pritchard said he expects to keep George well beyond 2017-18 and will do almost anything to make it possible.

That will require Pritchard to put a better supporting cast around George, who has made no secret of his desire to bring the Pacers their first NBA title.

Pritchard, born in Bloomington, Indiana, grew up in suburban Indianapolis, and understands.

“This team has been to the playoffs 22 of the last 29 years and we want to be successful,” Pritchard said. “The message (from George) was that he wants to win. We want to win. So we’re on the same page.”

The conventional wisdom last summer, after the Pacers acquired Teague and forward Thaddeus Young in trades, was that they might be on the cusp of returning to the Eastern Conference finals. Instead, they needed to win their last five regular-season games just to make the playoffs, and were swept by defending champion Cleveland in four games.

So Pritchard will begin the revamp from inside the organization.

He’s encouraging promising center Myles Turner to come back bigger and stronger. Pritchard wants Stephenson to get healthy so he can energize the Pacers in a way others cannot. Of course, Pritchard wants to re-sign Teague and George, and he wants the Pacers to get back to some of their more traditional traits.

“Look, we have to be a tougher team,” Pritchard said. “We won at home last year, but when you look at what it takes to win on the road, you have to be physical and you have to play tough. So toughness is what I want to add to the team. We used to be known as a lunch pail team, and we have to get that back.”

And now it’s Pritchard who must finish the job.

“As the No. 2 guy, you make all sorts of recommendations and some are crazy, and then you move into this role,” he said. “Sometimes, it’s OK being the No. 2 guy, too. But Larry and I have had a lot of conversations and he just said `It’s time for you.”‘

 

Always wanted to see Nick Young in lederhosen? We’ve got you covered.

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You always wanted to see Nick Young wearing lederhosen, you just didn’t know it.

The Lakers’ Young and some friends are on vacation in Germany. Apparently, Young was on his way to a beer garden and decided to get into the theme. It’s not October, but Young pulls it off.

Germany Lit fit

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Beer festival imma a real German 😂😂😂😂😂

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Once again, Nick Young is having more fun than you are.

Damian Lillard rallies Blazers’ players to donate $224,000 in playoff bonuses to team staffers

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NBA players get paid from the start of the season, from late October through mid-April. When the sports world turns its eyes closely to the NBA for the playoffs, the players are no longer getting checks from the team, at that point they are playing for pride/brand/playoff bonuses.

Damian Lillard rallied the Portland players this year to do something different with their playoff bonuses from the first round — turn them over to team staff to reward them.

Via Jason Quick CSNNW.com.

The day after the Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs with a disappointing sweep at the hands of Golden State, Lillard still had one task to perform: Getting the rest of the team to sign off on donating their playoff checks…

As captain for the past two seasons, Lillard has made it clear to his teammates that their playoff checks should be donated to the Blazers’ support staff, which consists of everybody from massage therapists to the trainers at the practice facility.

“We divide our playoff shares to give to the people who we work so closely with because they spend as much time away from their families as we do, and they are just about as invested as we are,’’ Lillard said after the season. “They also do as much as possible to make our lives easier, even if it makes theirs more difficult – all while making far less. So it’s a further way of showing appreciation beyond a thank your or a handshake.’’

Portland got a check for $223,864 from the league as a playoff bonus, which is to be divided among the players (the deeper a team goes in the postseason, the more money they get, up to a few hundred thousand). Divided up that would have been about $16,000 per player — not nothing, but that lowest paid player on the Blazers roster this season was Tim Quarterman at $543,471. Safe to stay a few thousand dollars (whatever it breaks down to) matters more to that staff than it does the players.

This is just a very Lillard thing to do. He was awarded the Pro Basketball Writers Association’s Magic Johnson Award this season for the player who combines being good on the court with cooperation with the media off it. (Note: I am a member of the PBWA.) He’s the face of the Blazers in the community, and just someone who by his nature is a good person trying to connect with the fans. Donating the playoff checks is just an extension of who he is.

Raptors’ Kyle Lowry calls himself “doubtful” for Game 4

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Kyle Lowry sprained his ankle in Game 2 — and it was an inward sprain, the more rare kind that hits the inside of the ankle and seems to heal slower than the usual outward roll. Lowry was officially available for Game 3, but he didn’t touch the court and DeMar DeRozan tried to carry the load, but the Raptors came apart in the fourth and lost.

Down 0-3 against a dominant LeBron James led Cavaliers team, will Lowry be back for Game 4 Sunday? Not likely. According to Lowry himself (via the fantastic Eric Koreen of The Athletic).

Without Lowry, it’s hard to be optimistic about the Raptors chances of avoiding the sweep. DeRozan put up 37 points in Game 3 and did his best job offensively of stringing out the traps and double teams Cleveland threw at him to open up shots for teammates. But even if he has another monster game will he have enough help to get the job done?

Against a Cleveland team playing better and better every game, particularly LeBron being at the peak of his form, it’s just hard to picture.