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Wednesday, November 14, 2018



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Gordon Hayward willing to make sacrifice to help spark Celtics’ offense

Gordon Hayward

The Boston Celtics appear to be in need of an offensive spark, and Gordon Hayward says he is willing to change his role going forward if that will help provide it.

With the Celtics ranking near the bottom of the NBA in scoring through the early part of the season, head coach Brad Stevens said this week that he is considering making changes to his lineup. That has led to speculation that he could be thinking about removing Hayward from the starting five, and the star forward insists he would have no problem with that.

“For me, I’m happy to be on the court, No. 1 more than anything and, No. 2, whatever I can do to help us win,” Hayward told reporters on Tuesday, via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I said it before the season, it’s whatever to me.”

Hayward, who averaged 21.9 points per game with the Utah Jazz two seasons ago, is averaging just 9.9 points on 39.6 percent shooting this season. He acknowledged that he is off to a slow start as he works his way back from a devastating leg injury.

“There’s obviously a little bit of rust and sometimes you just go through those phases. You go through slumps,” Hayward said. “The shot feels good in practice and looks good and for whatever reason in the game, they’re in and out.”

The good news for the Celtics is they are still one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. Hayward will likely get better as the year progresses, and one of their other star players said before the season that he is also willing to come off the bench if need be. Now might be a good time for Stevens to experiment with some changes.

Jason Pierre-Paul admits he’s motivated to face Giants

For the first time since being traded, Jason Pierre-Paul will face the New York Giants, and it’s safe to say he’s looking forward to it.

Pierre-Paul, now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, admitted he’s had the game circled on his calendar, and seemed to indicate that there’s still some lingering bitterness over how the team he came up with and had so much success with handled his departure.

Pierre-Paul indicated that he was a little annoyed to get nothing but a phone call when he was traded, and seemed somewhat amused by the Giants’ lack of pass rush in his absence.

Pierre-Paul was traded in March in a deal that didn’t net them the salary cap savings that they probably would have liked it to. It sounds like they’ll be facing a very motivated player on Sunday.

Robert Griffin III could start if Joe Flacco sits with hip injury

Robert Griffin

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has not been practicing this week because of a hip injury, leading many to speculate that we could see rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson get his first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. However, the Ravens could opt for their veteran backup instead.

As Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic noted on Wednesday, the Ravens have said Robert Griffin III is an option to start, and RG3 has been preparing accordingly.

Jackson has also been preparing as though he could start, and the Ravens are not sharing much information about their contingency plan should Flacco be forced to sit.

Baltimore is 4-5, so John Harbaugh will play the quarterback he believes gives the team the best chance to win if Flacco is unable to go. The Ravens would undoubtedly start Jackson if they were out of playoff contention, but that is not the case. It’s worth noting that RG3 was ahead of Jackson on the depth chart at one point, so it remains to be seen if that is still the case.

Anonymous Warriors player believes there is ‘no way’ Kevin Durant will re-sign

Kevin Durant

The feud that broke out between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green late in the Golden State Warriors’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night was apparently just the tip of the iceberg, and at least one player on the team believes it ruined any chance of Durant staying with the Warriors beyond this season.

Marcus Thompson II spoke with several Warriors sources — including players — who made it clear that Monday’s verbal altercation between Durant and Green was about more than just Green’s decision to not pass the ball as the final seconds of regulation ticked away with the game tied at 106. Green felt as though Durant was trying to show him up, and he made things personal when he reportedly reminded Durant that Golden State was winning before he arrived. Green also called K.D. out for letting his impending free agency become a distraction for the team.

Green ended up being suspended for calling Durant a “b—-” numerous times, but one anonymous Warriors player told Thompson that he believes things Green said to Durant about his impending free agency caused irreparable damage.

“With what was said, there is already no way Durant is coming back,” the player said. “The only hope is that (management) can say this summer, ‘See, KD. We’ve got your back. We protected you from Draymond.’”

Some see the Warriors’ decision to suspend Green for Tuesday night’s game as the organization’s way of choosing sides, creating questions about whether Green could end up wanting to leave Golden State. That said, Thompson was told that Durant’s teammates have made it clear that they have no interest in “another Please-Stay-KD tour” this summer.

It would be easy to chalk Monday’s altercation up to two competitive teammates butting heads in the head of battle, but the way Durant spoke about the situation the following day proved the issue is a significant one. If one player is convinced Durant will bolt in free agency because of it, the Warriors may have a significant problem on their hands.

Ben Roethlisberger is done talking about Le’Veon Bell

Ben Roethlisberger

Now that Tuesday’s deadline has passed and Le’Veon Bell will officially have to sit out the entire 2018 season, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has no interest in talking about a player who will soon be his former teammate.

Roethlisberger said Wednesday that he texted Bell before the deadline on Tuesday telling him he hoped he was going to show up, and the star running back never replied. Now, Big Ben is done talking about the situation.

In some ways, it may help the Steelers that Bell is no longer eligible to play this season. At least the saga has now ended, and they won’t have to wonder if and when he’ll be showing up for work.

James Conner has been one of the best running backs in football during Bell’s absence, and that has made it a lot easier for the Steelers to adjust. Judging by what some Pittsburgh players said recently about Bell’s situation, they’re probably happy to know that Conner is the guy going forward.

Ex-NBA coach: Carmelo Anthony will have tough time finding job

Carmelo Anthony

The Houston Rockets are expected to part ways with Carmelo Anthony in the near future, and one former NBA coach seems like he would not be surprised if that resulted in Carmelo contemplating retirement.

Byron Scott, who last coached in the NBA in 2016 with the Los Angeles Lakers, shared his thoughts on Anthony’s situation in a brief interview with TMZ this week. He would not name any specific teams that he thinks could be a fit for Carmelo, noting how it will be “hard” for the 34-year-old to find work.

“It’s gonna be hard, man. He’s up there in age,” Scott said. “Melo can still make shots, but it’s a tough business.”

The Philadelphia 76ers are one team that has already been linked to Anthony, but Scott doesn’t think they would be a fit.

“It depends on the direction you’re headed. If you’ve got a youth movement, he’s not gonna fit in. If you’ve got a team that’s a half-court team, that wants to set up, that’s a contending team, he might be a fit,” the ex-coach said. “But if you want to get up and down (the court), that ain’t gonna work.”

Houston has not played well as a team to start the season, but it’s alarming how quickly they have given up on Anthony. Given the specific problems they have had in the early going, it’s no surprise they feel Carmelo is expendable.

Kevin Durant had no interest in downplaying feud with Draymond Green

Kevin Durant Warriors

Kevin Durant was given every opportunity on Tuesday night to throw cold water on the reports of issues between teammates and heated exchanges within the Golden State Warriors’ locker room, but the reigning NBA Finals MVP had no interest in doing that.

Durant was visibly upset with Draymond Green for not passing the ball at the end of regulation in an eventual overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, and the frustration reportedly spilled over into a heated locker room exchange after the game. When asked about the incident following Tuesday’s 110-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks, Durant said he and Green had not smoothed things over. He then passed up numerous opportunities to downplay the feud, saying he would rather “keep that in house.”

If it wasn’t already obvious that Durant and Green are not on good terms, that should remove all doubt. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc J. Spears described Monday’s locker room scene as “one of the most intense of this G-State era,” and Durant’s postgame remarks on Tuesday did nothing to make us think that is an exaggeration.

Durant can opt out of his contract after this season and become a free agent, and that is apparently becoming a big issue for the Warriors.

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