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#pounditSunday, September 26, 2021

Basketball

Here is why the Warriors passed on Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas

Isaiah Thomas is still trying to work his way back onto an NBA roster, but his return will not be coming with the Golden State Warriors.

The veteran guard spent a week working out for Golden State. His workouts for the team did not result in a contract offer; they signed someone else instead.

So what happened? The Athletic’s Anthony Slater provided some insight on Friday.

According to Slater, Thomas shot the ball well and showed some good burst in his workouts. However, Slater noted that Thomas’ size and defensive limitations were ultimately the issues that prevented the Warriors from signing him. The team chose to go with bigger and more versatile players instead.

The Warriors will now have five players competing for the 15th spot on their roster.

Golden State went 39-33 last season. That was a big improvement from the previous season, when they had the worst record in the league. The Warriors are a long ways away from being the dominant machine that won three titles in the last decade. However, they will likely figure in the playoff race in the West this season.

Thomas does not seem interest in playing overseas, but he may have to reconsider his options.

76ers fans are major factor in Ben Simmons’ trade demand?

Ben Simmons

Much has been made of why Ben Simmons wants out of Philadelphia. One report indicates that 76ers fans are a rather significant reason.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told SiriusXM NBA Radio that his understanding is Simmons does not want to play in front of Philadelphia fans. The issue is significant enough that Windhorst believes Simmons might be willing to report if not for the fact that he would have to face 76ers fans.

“It’s not just that he doesn’t want to play there anymore,” Windhorst said. “He doesn’t want to be in front of those fans. So for him, I don’t think he intends to ever show his face there again unless he’s part of the visiting team.

“Part of this is just a visceral thing. It’s not even about ‘I’m unhappy, get me out of here.’ I think he has instructed his agents, ‘I’m not showing up. I don’t want in front of those fans.'”

Simmons’ unhappiness is so deep that he reportedly turned down a visit from his teammates, who hoped to change his mind. It makes sense that this goes beyond simply the organization’s treatment of him, but it would be pretty remarkable for a player to detest his own fanbase that much.

Simmons wouldn’t be the first 76ers player to completely fall out with fans. Philadelphia sports fans are notoriously passionate and demanding, but you won’t see this level of mutual antipathy very often.

Joel Embiid thinks Sixers can still fix Ben Simmons situation?

Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid apparently still has yet to give up on his partner in The Process.

Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice reported this week that the Philadelphia 76ers star Embiid has privately insisted that the team can fix the situation with Ben Simmons if they just get him back in the gym and around teammates. Neubeck adds that Embiid has also publicly stumped for Simmons.

Embiid and Simmons are the two cornerstones (and two of the last men standing for that matter) of the Sixers’ “Trust the Process” era. In many ways, the end of their partnership without ever making it past the second round would ultimately constitute a failure of the entire Process.

The star center Embiid has said many times, even as recently as this month, that he loves playing with Simmons. Much has been made about a supposed rift between the two. But Embiid still seems to be holding out hope that he can run it back with his co-star.

Clippers have no idea if Kawhi Leonard will play next season

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard’s status for the upcoming season is uncertain after he underwent ACL surgery in July. Things are so uncertain, in fact, that even the Los Angeles Clippers don’t know when or if he’ll play in 2021-22.

Clippers president Lawrence Frank admitted Friday that the team has no timetable for Leonard’s return, and does not plan on setting one anytime soon.

“Oh, we don’t even breach that,” Frank said when asked if he anticipates Leonard playing this season, via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “I think at this point, it’s just no one knows when you’re dealing with a recovery from an ACL [injury], the time frame.

“Even just to save you guys [from asking] throughout the year, is no one knows. You just attack it day by day, he has a very detailed plan with a great group and we’ll just let his body and the doctors tell us when it’s the right time.”

It’s interesting that Frank says Leonard has a plan and seems to distance the Clippers from it. Their doctors are surely involved, but there were some rumors that the organization was kept in the dark about the procedure.

Some experts have offered opinions on when Leonard might be able to play again. No matter what, it’s definitely going to be a while.

Leaked video of LeBron James’ special minicamp for Lakers emerges

Lakers practice

If the Los Angeles Lakers were trying to keep their special LeBron James-led training camp under tight wraps, it appears that they were unsuccessful.

Twitter user @LakeShowChris_ posted multiple videos to the site this week of the Lakers practicing at his high school in Las Vegas, Nev. The practice was part of a three-day minicamp that was planned by James to build chemistry for the new-look team.

The footage was taken at an angle as the user tweeted that he took it from underneath the door to the gym. Players like James, Carmelo Anthony, and Russell Westbrook could be seen putting in work while new assistant coach David Fizdale and others guided them. Take a look.

When reached for comment, the Twitter user told Larry Brown Sports that the gym was difficult to reach as both security and school principals were standing guard outside. He says he was able to find an alternate entrance however and filmed the above footage from underneath a locked door.

James, Anthony Davis, and Talen Horton-Tucker are the only Lakers left from last year’s team. While new signees Kent Bazemore, Wayne Ellington, Trevor Ariza, Dwight Howard, and Rajon Rondo were all already Lakers in years past, the team still has a lot of first-time teammates to acquaint with one another. That appears to be the spirit behind the James-led minicamp, which is just the latest in an offseason of hard work for the Lakers.

Report: Karl-Anthony Towns unlikely to request trade from Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns

Opposing NBA teams are now likely eyeing Karl-Anthony Towns’ situation in Minnesota like jittery drivers hunting for a parking spot. They may be out of luck for the time being though.

Timberwolves writer Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic appeared Thursday on SiriusXM NBA Radio and said Towns is unlikely to ask out of Minnesota.

“Karl-Anthony Towns has weathered a lot of drama in his six years here,” said Krawczynski. “So far, there are no indications that he is ready to go that route. I know the team has engaged directly with him and his representation over the last 24 hours to try and send a new message and get everyone on board and let them know what they’re thinking and what they’re doing.”

It is reasonable to question Towns’ commitment to the Wolves amid recent events. The former No. 1 overall pick was clearly very taken aback by the team’s sudden firing of president Gersson Rosas this week. The Wolves have also made the playoffs just once during Towns’ career (a first-round exit in 2018) and are now on their fourth head coach since his rookie season.

The 25-year-old Towns is under contract through 2024 though. He has also reaffirmed his commitment to Minnesota throughout all their drama, and nothing about that appears to be changing just yet.

Kevin Love has vulgar message for Jerry Colangelo over Olympics diss

Kevin Love

Kevin Love has a vulgar message for Jerry Colangelo.

Love was one of the participants on Team USA Basketball ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo this summer. Love did not play well in camp and ended up withdrawing.

Following Love’s withdrawal, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo had harsh criticism of the veteran. Colangelo called the addition of Love to the team a “mistake.” He said Love was out of shape and some other stuff.

In an episode of HBO’s “The Shop” this week, Love’s response to Colangelo aired.

“There was no need to do that,” Love said of Colangelo criticizing him.

The 33-year-old felt like Colangelo was setting Love up as a fall guy in case Team USA performed poorly at the Olympics.

“(He was) protecting his legacy. He wanted something to point the finger at if they lost … which it was looking bad. It was just wrong in so many ways,” Love said.

Then Love went from being diplomatic to being vulgar.

“For me, I’m sitting up here being the nice guy right now. But honestly, f— that him. F— him!”

You can see the clip below but beware it has bad language:

The addition of Love to the team received negative attention from the start.

Love only played in 25 games last season and has not been much of a factor since LeBron James left the Cavaliers. He has participated with USA Basketball since 2010 and was part of their 2012 Olympic gold-medal winning team. But Love said that he was not fully recovered from his calf injury when he attempted to help the team this summer, which led to his poor results.

Kyrie Irving supporting anti-vaccine sentiment on Instagram

Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving has gone from declaring that the earth is flat to now perpetuating a much more dangerous sentiment.

Rolling Stone’s Matt Sullivan reported in a feature article this week that the Brooklyn Nets guard recently started following and “liking” posts from an account on Instagram that is pushing an anti-vaccine stance. The account has claimed that “secret societies” are behind the COVID-19 vaccine and are trying to use them as part of a “plan for Satan” to connect black people to a master computer. Sullivan further adds that this microchip misinformation campaign has spread across numerous NBA locker rooms and group chats.

Irving, who is the vice president of the NBA Players’ Association, already drew criticism recently for a mask-related tweet. He later clarified though that his tweet was just a metaphor and was not meant to be taken literally.

The All-Star guard will have a much harder time defending himself against this latest controversy however. Beyond the recklessness of casting doubt on the legitimacy of the vaccine, Irving plays in Brooklyn, a city that will be governed by New York’s rules requiring proof of vaccination to play indoors.

While the NBA has said that 90 percent of players have received at least one dose of the vaccine, we have seen some players’ anti-vaccine beliefs come to light in recent days. Now Irving appears to fall into that category as well.

This is how Timberwolves reportedly learned of Gersson Rosas affair

Gersson Rosas

The abrupt firing of Minnesota Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas looks set to remain a major story, and we continue to learn more about how quickly Rosas’ transgressions came to light.

Reports surfaced Thursday indicating Rosas was fired in part for engaging in an “inappropriate relationship” with a fellow member of the organization. Rosas’ actions did not come to light until very recently, and did not become known throughout the organization and the league until Wednesday.

A new report indicates that Rosas was stunningly public in carrying on the affair, which helped lead to his downfall. According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, team officials became aware of Rosas’ affair when presented with a series of photographs. The photographs allegedly show Rosas and a female Timberwolves staffer, both of whom are married, kissing in a suite at last Saturday’s Minnesota United FC match. The soccer club had reserved luxury seating for several members of the organization, including Rosas and the female staffer.

In one close-up photograph, Rosas and the woman are seen sitting beside each other. In another, they are seen leaning toward each other to embrace.

The identity of the woman has not been disclosed publicly, though a second employee also left the organization on Wednesday.

Jordan Clarkson appears in hilarious video with clueless reporter

Jordan Clarkson interview

A local TV reporter doing interviews with Utah Jazz fans stumbled across Jordan Clarkson, and didn’t even realize it.

Hayley Crombleholme, a reporter for KUTV in Salt Lake City, was doing street interviews when she stumbled across Clarkson. The Utah Jazz guard played it cool, complying when Crombleholme asked him to spell his name. Even then, she still didn’t realize that Clarkson played for the Jazz, making the next question about how many games he went to even funnier.

To Crombleholme’s credit, she was a good sport about it, joking that she had some follow-up questions for Clarkson.

Clarkson was cool about it after the fact, joking that he was relieved he spelled his name right.

It’s worth noting the same thing happened to Klay Thompson once, though that was in a different city than the one he played in and had nothing to do with basketball.

Clarkson is, of course, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and was a major part of Utah’s success last season. It’s too bad Crombleholme didn’t get the chance to ask him his thoughts on dinosaurs.