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#pounditWednesday, April 14, 2021

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Warriors players not happy with Kelly Oubre over bench issue?

Kelly Oubre

Kelly Oubre may be ruffling some feathers in his first season with the Golden State Warriors.

Retired ex-Warriors big man Andrew Bogut said this week in an episode of his “Rogue Bogues” podcast that an unnamed teammate called out Oubre over his recent comments indicating an unwillingness to come off the bench.

“Not gonna name the player, but I heard that the Warriors players didn’t take too lightly to those comments,” said Bogut. “They basically made it pretty known that Andre Iguodala, a Finals MVP, was OK with coming off the bench. ‘But we have Kelly motherf—ing Oubre who won’t?’

“That was not directed behind [Oubre’s] back,” Bogut added. “That was to his face by an unnamed player in that locker room who wasn’t too happy with those comments.”

For his part, Oubre appeared to respond to the allegation with a post to his Instagram Story on Monday. He posted a meme about “smelling cap,” which is a slang way of saying that you detect a lie.

Bogut and Iguodala both left the Warriors after the 2018-19 campaign. If Bogut’s intel is indeed correct, it would almost certainly have to be a player who was on the team during that period. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney are the only holdovers from that era who are still on the Warriors. Guard Damion Lee was also with Golden State in 2018-19 but was not on any of their championship teams of years past.

Oubre, who is a full-time starter for the Warriors this season, hinted that he would not be open to coming off the bench when Thompson returns from injury. GM Bob Myers recently defended Oubre for his comments. But Oubre’s teammates on the Warriors may not be so understanding.

RJ Barrett responds to shade from Anthony Edwards

RJ Barrett

One young NBA phenom is taking some time to hit back at another.

RJ Barrett and the New York Knicks faced off against Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves last week. The Knicks lost by one point when Barrett missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer. After the game, Edwards spoke candidly about how happy he was to see Barrett, instead of Knicks teammate Julius Randle, taking the final shot.

“Try not to let Randle catch the ball, we’re gonna make somebody else beat us,” said Edwards. “Gladly, RJ Barrett caught it. If he would’ve made the shot, we would’ve lived with it. That’s who we want taking the shot. We don’t want anybody else taking it.”

Barrett responded to Edwards’ shade by tweeting a laughing face emoji.

The 20-year-old Knicks star spoke further on Edwards’ comments Monday.

“I thought it was funny,” said Barrett, per the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy. “I don’t usually tweet. I don’t know what it was about this one. I felt like this one was an OK scenario to laugh at.

“Oh I’m very confident,” he added about his next opportunity. “I’m very confident, I can’t wait for the next one.”

Randle, an All-Star this year, is the Knicks’ leading scorer, so getting the ball out of his hands was a definite win for the Wolves. Barrett is also a fairly shaky shooter with a 42.3 field goal percentage for his career. But it is still rare for a player to so openly diss another player’s shooting ability like that.

The No. 1 overall pick Edwards has already won plenty of fans in his rookie season with how real he keeps it. But the flip side of that is that it can easily lead to beef like the one that may be brewing here between him and Barrett.

Photo: Flickr/All-Pro Reels via cc-by-sa 2.0

Nick Nurse pushes back at suggestion that Raptors are tanking

Nick Nurse

Less than two years after winning an NBA title, the Toronto Raptors seem to be going in the exact opposite direction. Head coach Nick Nurse insists that is by no means intentional however.

Addressing reporters on Sunday, Nurse pushed back at the suggestion that the 19-30 Raptors are tanking for a high draft pick.

“I don’t like it,” said Nurse of tanking, per SI’s Aaron Rose. “We’re still playing to win and we’re still playing to make the playoffs.”

Toronto’s front office seems to be embracing the tank though. They traded away Norman Powell, a core player of the last several years, at the deadline. The Raptors came close to trading franchise mainstay Kyle Lowry as well and made no meaningful improvements otherwise on the trade market.

That said, Nurse and the players may not have gotten the memo. The team just set a franchise record this week with a 53-point drubbing of the Golden State Warriors. They are also still just 1.5 games behind the No. 10 seed in the East, which is the cutoff for next month’s play-in tournament.

Sure, Nurse has had to deal with his fair share of turmoil this year. But the 2020 Coach of the Year will not become a tank commander any time soon.

Photo: Nick Barden/Wikimedia via cc-by-sa 4.0

Joel Embiid thought his season was over after knee injury

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid is now back on the court for the Philadelphia 76ers, and he feels very fortunate about that development.

The Sixers star told reporters after he made his return to the lineup this weekend that he thought his season was over when he hurt his left knee. Embiid was injured March 12 on an awkward landing against the Wizards.

“When I got hurt and was laying on the floor in Washington, honestly I thought I was done,” said Embiid, per Justin Grasso of SI. “I thought my season was done. The pain, how bad it was hurting. I just knew that it was something worse than what we saw after.

“I was just crying and asking myself, ‘Why me? Why does it always happen to me?’ You know, when everything seems to be going well with the team and myself, something always has to happen.” Embiid continued. “I’m glad it wasn’t anything bad, and I’m able to get back on the court and help the team go on a championship run.”

The four-time All-Star Embiid managed to escape with just a bone bruise. He still missed a total of ten games with the injury. But it obviously could have been much worse, especially for a player like Embiid, a seven-footer who has a long history of foot and leg troubles.

Regardless, Embiid is back on the floor now, ready to bolster his case for NBA MVP and occupy more real estate inside the heads of his opponents.

Isaiah Thomas paying tribute to Kobe Bryant as he joins Pelicans

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas is officially back in the NBA, and he is using the opportunity to pay tribute to The Black Mamba himself.

The former All-Star Thomas, who has not played in the league since Feb. 2020, signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans this week. He will be wearing No. 24 with the team and let it be known on Twitter this weekend that the jersey choice was in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.

Thomas was very close with Bryant. He was one of the athletes included when Bryant memorably issued several Twitter challenges back in 2017.

Countless tributes have sprung up in Bryant’s honor since his passing over a year ago. Thomas rocking the No. 24 jersey will be another cool one.

Look: Al Horford got Tim Duncan treatment during game against Suns

Al Horford

Al Horford caught one heck of a stray during Friday’s game against Phoenix.

The Oklahoma City Thunder center has been shut down for the rest of the season so that the team can focus on developing their younger players. The Suns’ broadcast had a bit of fun with that much, hilariously listing Horford as out for being “old.” Take a look.

The “old” designation may sound familiar to you, and you would be right. Recall that retired San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan got some similar treatment back in the day, being listed as “DND-Old” for a game in 2012.

Duncan was nearing 36 at the time, and Horford is not far behind — he will turn 35 in June. Horford also seems particularly ancient on a Thunder team with 11 players age 23 or younger. Thus, he might not disagree with the reason given for his absence.

Photo: Flickr/All-Pro Reels via cc-by-sa 2.0

Rajon Rondo looking forward to Lakers-Clippers rivalry

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is excited to dine on the other side of the table of Los Angeles’ most heated rivalry.

The new LA Clippers guard appeared Friday on ESPN’s “The Jump” and said he was looking forward to doing battle with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It’s different,” said Rondo of the dynamic between the two teams. “It was a rivalry. I’ve been getting just a lot of welcome-backs. I’m looking forward to the competition.”

The 35-year-old Rondo had been with the Lakers for the past two seasons. He had a massive impact on their NBA championship victory last year with his elevated play in the postseason. But Rondo left in the offseason to sign with the Atlanta Hawks and was dealt to the Clippers at the trade deadline.

Rondo has yet to make his Clippers debut due to an adductor issue. But a potential showdown with the Lakers in the playoffs will be must-see TV, especially since Rondo has beef with some current members of that team.

Doc Rivers responds to criticism from former player

Doc Rivers

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers can’t help but scoff at the shade that one of his former players recently threw at him.

Ex-Sixers center Vincent Poirier criticized Rivers this week for not reaching out to him after Poirier was traded to the New York Knicks.

“I wish someone had told me, ‘We were wrong. You can’t play with us’. I like it when things are straight,” said Poirier, per EuroHoops. “The coach didn’t even send me a message although I know he sent others. I’m not asking him to give me compliments but just a message to wish me good luck.

“We are not commodities, we are still human beings,” Poirier added. “It’s a minimum of sending a message, to say that the situation was complicated, but thank you for your professionalism. A bogus thing, even if he doesn’t really mean it.”

Before the Sixers played the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, Rivers responded to Poirier’s criticisms.

“I don’t get involved in that crap,” he said, per Justin Grasso of SI. “You know that. So, Vince and I have talked. That kind of talk and all that kind of stuff … That’s for, I guess newspapers. So, I’ll let you guys [the media] do that. I don’t get involved in that stuff.”

The 27-year-old Poirier was a non-factor for the Sixers after they acquired him last offseason. He finished his Philadelphia career with 0.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 3.9 minutes per game over ten total appearances. Poirier went to the Knicks as part of the three-team trade where the Sixers acquired guard George Hill. Poirier was then waived by the Knicks just days later.

Rivers has built up a reputation as a players’ coach and a highly-respected professional over his multi-decade NBA head coaching career. But Poirier is not the first former Rivers player who seems to have an issue with him.