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#pounditWednesday, April 14, 2021

Stories by Darryn Albert:

Bill Russell had best April Fools’ Day joke

Bill Russell

Forget about all of your juvenile pranks because Bill Russell has officially won April Fools’ Day.

The retired Boston Celtics legend tweeted a video of himself Thursday working out with a kettlebell. In his caption, he announced that he was making his comeback to the NBA. Russell then concluded his tweet by wishing everybody a Happy April Fools’ Day.

The 11-time NBA champion Russell recently turned 87 years old and has been retired from the league for over five decades now. But he is looking absolutely fantastic for his age and might still be able to play 10-15 spot minutes off the bench for a contender.

In all seriousness though, Russell continues to show why he is one of the most beloved NBA players of all-time. His Twitter account is quickly becoming a must-follow as well.

Photo: Pete Souza/Flickr via CC-by-SA 1.0

Carmelo Anthony throws shade at Pistons for odd reason

Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony is getting a little too old to deal with the shenanigans that he was subjected to at Little Caesars Arena this week.

Anthony’s Portland Trail Blazers faced the Pistons in Detroit on Wednesday. After the game, the veteran forward tweeted pictures of himself with an unenthused face amid a noticeable haze in the arena during warmups.

“You guys love that fog machine huh? @DetroitPistons” Anthony wrote.

The Pistons then hilariously fired back at the 10-time All-Star, writing, “Hoodie Melo would have come prepared.”

There is some history between these two sides. The Pistons did notoriously select Darko Milicic, one of the biggest busts in sports history, one pick ahead of Anthony in the 2003 NBA Draft.

Anthony has hinted that he may have actually liked to have gone to Detroit. But the extravagant visual effects in their arena could be forcing the now 36-year-old to reconsider.

Norman Powell says he was shocked Raptors traded him

Norman Powell

Kyle Lowry manage to survive the trade deadline, but one Toronto Raptor who was not so lucky is admitting to being a little shook.

New Portland Trail Blazers swingman Norman Powell penned a piece this week for The Players’ Tribune. In the article, Powell said it was a “shock” that he was traded by the Toronto Raptors.

“I wouldn’t say I had NO idea a trade might be on the table,” Powell wrote. “I understand the way things work — and I knew my situation, as well as the team’s. I’m coming up on free agency. We were 11th in the East. I’m in a position where I can help a contender (and I’ll do that). They’re in a position where maybe they want to get younger (and they did that).

“But even with all of that said, it still caught me off-guard,” the 27-year-old added. “Not just because of the way I’ve been playing this season, but also the bigger picture — I always thought of myself as part of the core that was being built around. Me, Freddy [VanVleet], Pascal [Siakam], we all kind of came up together. We’re all about the same age. We’re thick as thieves, man. And I really felt like our group, plus OG [Anunoby], we were destined to be the next great Raptors team.”

The former UCLA star Powell went to the Blazers in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood. He had indeed been part of the Raptors’ homegrown young core, having been acquired by the team on draft night 2015. Powell blossomed in Toronto from an unheralded second-round pick into now a nearly 20-point-per-game scorer. He also helped contribute to the team’s first-ever NBA championship victory in 2019.

But with the Raptors well under .500 this season and Powell holding an $11.6 million option for next season, they decided that it was time to let him go. It is also clear that Powell is having a hard time adjusting to the change.

Photo: GabboT/Flickr via CC-by-SA 2.0

Ex-Wolves teammate tells great story about infamous Jimmy Butler practice

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler using a bunch of third-stringers to wreak havoc on Minnesota Timberwolves practice is one of the greatest stories of recent NBA lore. Now the story is getting even better.

Ex-NBA guard Jamal Crawford was teammates with Butler on the Wolves. Crawford appeared recently on “Club Shay Shay” with Shannon Sharpe. During the show, Crawford had a hilarious addition to the tale of Butler’s infamous practice incident.

“Jimmy called me,” said Crawford, who was no longer with Minnesota at the time of the incident in 2018. “He said, ‘Man, if you could have been at this practice here.’ They said he came in there, he came to the practice after it got started. They were kinda shocked to see him. I think he was coming off injury or something.

“I’m gonna tell you the coldest part,” Crawford added. “I think he had his Rolex on while he was killing everybody. I think he had a Rolex watch on while he was killing people, picking them apart in practice. Then he walked off. It was classic from what I hear.”

Butler, who was with the Wolves for two seasons, grew unhappy with the culture and direction of the team. His discontent culminated at the practice in question. Butler showed up, sided with a group of reserves, and destroyed the team’s starters, including Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, in a total tour de force. There were some other details about the practice as well that are almost too ridiculous to believe.

Minnesota ultimately traded Butler not long after the outburst. He has since found a home with some like-minded individuals on the Miami Heat. In fact, Butler just led them on a surprise run to the NBA Finals last season. But no matter what he accomplishes from here, the legend of Butler’s mic-drop moment with the Wolves will live on forever.

Dennis Schroder hardballing Lakers in contract extension talks?

Dennis Schroder

Dennis Schroder and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be in quite the staring contest over his contract situation.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Tuesday that the Lakers guard turned down extension offers from the team in the range of four years and $80 million. Steins adds that the Lakers considered trading Schroder at the deadline due to the gap in their contract talks. No trade ultimately materialized however, and Schroder will be a free agent after the season.

This seems to be a bit of hardballing on Schroder’s part. The Lakers traded for him last offseason. That means that they also acquired Schroder’s Bird rights, which allow them to go over the salary cap to re-sign him. It also means that it will be difficult for the Lakers to replace Schroder if he leaves.

The 27-year-old Schroder has held down the Lakers’ backcourt this season as a full-time starter. But his averages of 15.4 points and 4.9 assists per game still mark a regression from his peak production of years past.

We recently heard that the Lakers are willing to spend big to keep Schroder. This may be a case of him leveraging his position in order to secure the bag.

Jazz team plane makes emergency landing after frightening incident

The Utah Jazz are safe after a frightening incident on Tuesday involving their team plane.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reports that the Jazz team flight to Memphis experienced engine failure after hitting a flock of birds shortly following takeoff. Abbott notes that the team is safe but rattled.

Spencer Burt of FOX 13 in Salt Lake City adds that the pilot of the flight made an emergency landing back at the Salt Lake City International Airport where they had just taken off from. The left engine was shut down, but there were no injuries as a result of the incident.

Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appeared to express gratitude on Twitter after the safe emergency landing.

The Jazz defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Monday night. They are next scheduled to face the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday night. Utah’s 35-11 record is currently the best in the NBA.

Michael Rapaport accuses Kevin Durant of threatening him on Instagram

Kevin Durant

Some major New York beef may be brewing between Kevin Durant and Michael Rapaport.

The outspoken actor and comedian Rapaport took to social media on Tuesday to accuse the Brooklyn Nets star of threatening him on Instagram. Rapaport posted screenshots of a direct message exchange, allegedly with Durant, where the former NBA MVP supposedly challenged him to a fight.

“I receive threats and disgusting messages DAILY, but never in my wildest dreams did I think @KDTrey5 would be among them,” Rapaport wrote. “The Snake himself is now threatening me, bringing up my wife and wants to fight. This is supposed to be America’s sweetheart right #ImDaRealMVP”

The root of the beef appears to be some criticisms that Rapaport has levied against Durant over the last few months. You can see Rapaport’s post here, but be warned that it has some very bad language and personal attacks.

It is hard to determine if the Instagram exchange is genuine, as the alleged comments from Durant are extremely vile and over the top. But we do know Durant often fires back at trolls on social media, even if they are no-names.

As for Rapaport, he has been doing his best to make a name for himself as a sports pundit. He also just saw a defamation suit that he had filed against Barstool Sports get dismissed. Meanwhile, Durant would not be the only NBA star that Rapaport has rubbed the wrong way.

Lakers could buy out Marc Gasol?

Marc Gasol

You would think that Marc Gasol came from a laundromat with how washed he has looked this season. Now the Los Angeles Lakers may be trying to cut their losses on him.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported Tuesday that some rival executives speculate the Lakers could buy out the three-time All-Star big man.

Gasol, 36, is having a disappointing year with 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds a game as the Lakers’ starting center. The team just signed Andre Drummond, who will presumably supplant Gasol in the starting lineup. Montrezl Harrell can also play as a small ball 5, as can Anthony Davis whenever he returns from injury. That would appear to leave Gasol as the odd man out in the frontcourt rotation.

A buyout might not be too difficult, as Gasol is making just $2.6 million this season and $2.7 million next season. He also has an NBA championship ring already, meaning that he might not be too opposed to leaving the defending champion Lakers for better playing time elsewhere. We do know of one rival team who seems to be looking for more size.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Photo: Chensiyuan/Wikimedia via cc-by-sa 4.0