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#pounditTuesday, January 25, 2022

Basketball

Charles Barkley gets hit with memes for disgusting moment on ‘Inside the NBA’

Charles Barkley licking his glasses

Charles Barkley gives opinions like a savage, and he apparently cleans his belongings like a savage as well.

The “Inside the NBA” host went viral on Thursday for a disgusting moment that aired on the TNT broadcast. Barkley got caught cleaning his glasses … by licking them directly.

The Basketball Hall of Famer was clowned by his co-hosts, especially when he had a cleaning cloth right there with him. “I have to get it wet first,” Barkley hilariously retorted.

Barkley also got clowned on Twitter with some golden memes. Take a look.

Since Barkley licks his glasses first, that means that he is putting his tongue onto dirty lenses. That is downright nasty.

To his credit, Barkley had some great moments during the day’s broadcast. But his barbaric glasses-cleaning display was definitely not one of them.

Knicks fined over Julius Randle not talking with media

Julius Randle smiles

Julius Randle has continued to avoid the media after games, and now the New York Knicks are paying the price — literally.

The Knicks were fined $25,000 by the NBA for not making Randle available to speak with the media. Players being available to talk with the media is part of their obligations.

The Knicks lost 102-91 to the Pelicans on Thursday night. Randle went 1/9 and scored just four points.

Randle has not spoken with the media in eight of the team’s last nine games, according to reporter Marc Berman.

The last time Randle talked with the media after a game was Jan. 6 when the Knicks beat the Celtics. The Knicks have gone 3-4 in the seven games where Randle has not talked with reporters. He’s only shot over 40 percent from the field in one of those games.

Randle is having a down season compared to when he averaged 24.1 points per game on 45.6 percent shooting last season. The 27-year-old is averaging 18.8 points per game on 41.1 shooting this season.

Photo: Nov 8, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first half at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

Did Pacers big man try to bite Gary Payton II before ejection?

Goga Bitadze bite attempt

Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze was involved in a bizarre incident Thursday against the Golden State Warriors, and there were questions about what exactly he was trying to do.

In the fourth quarter, Warriors reserve Gary Payton II dunked on Bitadze, which seemed to bother the center. Bitadze squared up Payton, and then seemed to lunge at him. What initially looked like a headbutt attempt looked more like a bite attempt in slow motion.

It’s hard to figure out what Bitadze was thinking here. Even Payton looks a bit surprised and amused by whatever happened as he backs away.

Bitadze received his second technical foul of the game and was subsequently ejected. That won’t sit well with the Pacers, who were significantly shorthanded and needed Bitadze late.

Yes, biting is very rare in sports. When it does happen, the biter usually tries to hide it. Whatever Bitadze was going for, expect the NBA to take a look at it.

Lakers guard urges patience from fans

Kendrick Nunn looking on

One Los Angeles Lakers guard is asking fans for a virtue that they might not have right now.

First-year Laker Kendrick Nunn, who has not played for the team all season, took to Twitter on Thursday to urge patience from the team’s fans with his lengthy recovery process.

“Lake Show I promise I want to be out there helping my team,” said Nunn. “Stay patient with me. This process has been just as frustrating for me. I’ll return as soon as I’m healthy! It’ll be worth the wait.”

The 26-year-old Nunn continues to work his way back from a right knee bone bruise that has sidelined him all year. The team announced this week that Nunn had a setback with the knee and will have his activity scaled back.

After signing a two-year deal with the Lakers in the offseason, Nunn, who averaged 14.6 points a game last season for the Miami Heat, has now missed 45 straight games and counting. The Lakers have had a difficult time finding consistent production in the backcourt without Nunn and are now 22-23 overall. Granted, fans of the team can probably afford to be patient with Nunn since a different player is the subject of their ire right now.

Photo: Oct 6, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kendrick Nunn (12) against the Phoenix Suns during a preseason game at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nets to part ways with one of their former All-Stars

Steve Nash

One Brooklyn Nets player will continue his quest for his first NBA championship on a different team.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Thursday that the Nets and forward Paul Millsap have agreed to find Millsap a new NBA team where he will be able to have a larger contribution.

Millsap, a four-time All-Star, had been getting very few minutes this season, his first with Brooklyn. He averaged just 3.4 points and 3.7 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game across 24 appearances. Charania adds that Millsap had played in just two of the Nets’ last 17 contests as well.

The soon-to-be 37-year-old Millsap is no longer starting-caliber. But he is a perfect glue guy off the bench and brings 16 years of NBA experience to the table. Given the teams that were interested in Millsap last summer, there should be several good landing spots out there for him.

Photo: Mar 31, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former basketball player Steve Nash speaks during the NBA Hall of Fame press conference at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Barkley rips Lakers for scapegoating Frank Vogel, Russell Westbrook

Charles Barkley holds a microphone

Charles Barkley had some words for the Los Angeles Lakers over their handling of Frank Vogel and Russell Westbrook.

Barkley was speaking on TNT’s “NBA Tip-Off” program Thursday prior to the Suns-Mavericks game. The TNT analyst called out the Lakers because he feels they are scapegoating Frank Vogel and Russell Westbrook.

“The Lakers are such wussies. And I only said ‘wussies’ because I can’t say the word that I want to say. The way they have tried to throw Russell Westbrook and Frank Vogel under the bus is just really pissing me off,” Barkley said. “The people up top who put that trash together are running and hiding like cowards, saying ‘It’s Frank, it’s Russ.’ You put all them old geezers out there …”

Barkley went on to say that Stanley Johnson has been the Lakers’ second-best player lately behind LeBron James.

There was a report this week saying the Lakers were close to firing Vogel following a blowout loss to Denver on Saturday. Then on Wednesday night, Vogel benched Westbrook at the end of the Lakers’ loss to the Pacers.

The Lakers did a poor job building the roster for this season, and everyone saw it entering the season. Worse yet, they will have a hard time addressing their problems via the draft since they traded all their picks to New Orleans for Anthony Davis. But that’s the price they felt they had to pay, and that earned them a championship two seasons ago.

Photo: November 23, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Turner Sports sportscaster Charles Barkley before The Match: Tiger vs Phil golf match at Shadow Creek Golf Course. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Daryl Morey hints at lowering 76ers’ Ben Simmons asking price

Ben Simmons

Could the Philadelphia 76ers be more willing to accept a slightly lower return for Ben Simmons?

76ers president Daryl Morey suggested Thursday that the team might be a bit more willing to accept a lesser player in trades, though extra draft picks would still be necessary. Morey told Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic that Joel Embiid’s dominance was a motivating factor for the Sixers, and that a complementary piece that might pair well with Embiid could move the needle in trade talks.

“I think with how great Joel is, our line has moved down a little bit,” Morey said, via Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice. “Because Joel has lifted us to contention by his sheer will of greatness this year, that does the number of deals we would do more likely. It’s more likely that we can find ones that get us into the top few contention because of how great Joel is playing. So we are sitting right now at a better chance of a trade that actually helps Joel and the Sixers.

“[Before], we absolutely need to get an impact player, but there’s an impact player that has to be in the top 30 of the league. Because Joel is playing amazing and has lifted us into probably five percent plus title odds just on his play, now we might be able to do it with a top-40 player who’s a great fit. Or we could do it where we do a trade, it helps the team, it’s a better fit, and maybe our future opportunities are still open because we get some draft picks as part of it.”

This is not a huge shift from Morey, but it is a notable one. The Sixers have been remarkably stubborn on their asking price for Simmons, and no team has been willing to part with an established star in such a deal. Morey sounds like he’s admitting that may no longer be necessary, though Simmons will not come cheap.

Embiid is in incredible form right now. Morey is right that trying to take advantage of it would be silly, and the right Simmons trade could be a big part of that. Whether that comes along or not remains to be seen.

Photo: Jan 30, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) talks to fans before a game against the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Heat, Suns announcers trade barbs on Twitter

Pat Riley

There could be an interesting subplot to the upcoming Miami Heat-Phoenix Suns matchup on March 9.

Heat star Jimmy Butler got ejected from Wednesday’s win over the Portland Trail Blazers for screaming in the face of an official after an and-one.

Phoenix Suns announcer Eddie Johnson, who is the team’s television play-by-play analyst, tweeted a random shot at the Heat and their famed “Heat culture” in response to Butler’s ejection.

The Heat’s radio play-by-play guy, Jason Jackson, responded to Johnson’s post with a barb about all of the technical and flagrant fouls that the Suns have racked up themselves this season.

Johnson fired back by asking how Miami’s culture was any better than that of the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, or San Antonio Spurs.

It seems pretty odd that the Suns announcer Johnson would diss the Heat when the two teams were not even playing each other on Wednesday. But he might still be salty from the the last Heat-Suns game on Jan. 8. Miami won that game, which was played in Phoenix, by a 123-100 final, despite not having Butler and Bam Adebayo against a full-strength Phoenix team.

After that game, Johnson went after a Miami fan who was bragging about the win on Twitter and talking about “Heat culture.”

“I would call it LBJ, Shaq, D Wade, Riley and Spoelstra Culture,” Johnson wrote at the time. “Too bad the late arriving fans to game who stay in [the] bar at halftime and then rip teams when they win about Heat culture on Twitter are not on board yet about the meaning of a culture!”

There is not much history otherwise between the Suns and the Heat. That makes this the biggest beef between the two sides not involving a mascot.

H/T NBA Reddit

Photo: Steve Mitchell-USA Today Sports

Video shows reported play that got Russell Westbrook benched

Russell Westbrook getting beat defense

Frank Vogel’s decision to bench Russell Westbrook is the talk of the town in Lakerland at the moment. Now we can better visualize what exactly led to Vogel’s decision.

The L.A. Lakers guard Westbrook was pulled from Wednesday’s game with the Indiana Pacers late in the fourth quarter. Vogel, the Lakers coach, opted to sit him for the final 3:52 of the contest, which the Lakers lost 111-104.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported Thursday that there was one specific play that led to Westbrook’s benching: a blow-by that he allowed to Pacers guard Caris LeVert for an easy basket midway through the fourth quarter.

From McMenamin’s article:

The final straw, pushing the staff to honor their instinct to bench him, was when Caris LeVert blew by Westbrook on defense for a layup with 7 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.

The coaching staff had repeatedly emphasized the scouting report to take away LeVert’s right hand, and Westbrook, guarding LeVert at the top of the key one-on-one, didn’t angle himself properly to thwart the drive and allowed LeVert easy access to the paint en route to the hoop.

Lakers Daily shared video on Twitter of the reported play. In the video, you can see Westbrook darting one way to anticipate a LeVert drive off a dribble handoff, only for LeVert to cut back the other way to his strong hand.

Westbrook actually played for another three minutes after the sequence in question. But that appears to have been what spurred Vogel’s decision to bench him as the game tightened.

Though he has struggled mightily for much of the season, the former league MVP Westbrook did not handle the benching particularly well. What is also interesting about the whole situation is that Vogel reportedly had plenty of support to make the move.

Report: Sixers making unexpected player off-limits in trade talks

Daryl Morey in a blazer

Ben Simmons may not be the only player that the Philadelphia 76ers are valuing extremely highly.

Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer reported this week that Sixers guard Matisse Thybulle is close to being untouchable in trade talks ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline.

That is a fairly surprising valuation of the 24-year-old Thybulle. He is a top-notch defender with an excellent motor on that end of the floor. Thybulle even made the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team last season. But Thybulle is more of a role player, as he has averaged less than five points per game for his career and does not hit the three-pointer consistently.

The Sixers continue to search for a viable trade for Simmons, who is nearing five months now of holding out. But at this point, the team may have to add some extra incentive to a deal in order to do so. Philly appears to be much more willing to include this other player in a trade than Thybulle though.

Photo: Dec 22, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey looks on before a game between the Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports