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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Basketball

Pat Riley denies calling Tom Thibodeau F-word

Pat Riley Heat

Pat Riley issued a statement on Friday to deny dropping an F-bomb on Tom Thibodeau.

ESPN Los Angeles radio host Jorge Sedano, who used to be a Miami Heat pregame host, reported on the radio this week that Riley called Thibodeau a “motherf—er” for trying to squeeze him on a trade for Jimmy Butler that seemed to nearly be agreed to.

According to Sedano, the medicals had been exchanged, and then Thibodeau called Riley back and asked for more draft picks. That meshes with what was previously reported about the trade talks breaking down between the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves.

“As to what has been reported in the past 24 hours, I have too much respect for Tom Thibodeau and all that he’s accomplished in this league… Our conversations have been nothing but cordial and I have never used that kind of language in negotiations, but I do admit to telling Danny Ainge to,” Riley said in a statement.

The Heat president didn’t complete his statement, but you can get filled in on his whole exchange with Danny Ainge here.

By referencing a past incident where he dropped an F-word, Riley seems to be telling everyone that he isn’t afraid to use a curse word when necessary, which is why we should take his word for it in this case.

He must really want Jimmy Butler badly.

Kevin Garnett shares thoughts on Jimmy Butler situation

Kevin Garnett

As the most famous player in Minnesota Timberwolves history, Kevin Garnett can’t help but pay attention to the drama that is unfolding between his former franchise and Jimmy Butler. But the 15-time All-Star is not picking sides, and he feels both Butler and the franchise share blame for the ugly turn things have taken.

In a lengthy interview with Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Garnett shared some of his thoughts on the “s— storm” that erupted this week in Minnesota. He said the most alarming thing for him is the way everything went public, and K.G. admitted that there were times in practice when he acted the way Butler did on Wednesday.

“You don’t think that I went crazy sometimes? Man, I was a damn Tasmanian devil,” he told Krawczynski. “I would say s— at (Kevin) McHale. I would say s— at Flip (Saunders). But it was all to motivate all of us.”

Garnett added that he feels both Butler and the Timberwolves are a “little delusional,” noting that Butler is a great player who probably sees his worth as closer to that of Kevin Durant and LeBron James, which it clearly is not.

“I don’t know if he had the power to come out and force a trade like this,” Garnett said. “He can be disruptive, but I don’t know if he actually had the clout to come out and do that. I don’t know if Jimmy has enough juice to be that.”

Of course, Garnett knows plenty about having issues with the higher-ups in Minnesota. His relationship with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is basically non-existent at this point, and Garnett explained why last year after he returned to the team and then retired.

Garnett said he believes Butler simply wants to put himself in a better situation and that he is not motivated by his ego, but we know there are more than a few people who would disagree with that. Whatever the case, K.G. is right that all of this being aired in public is a bad look for the T-Wolves.

Reporter blames Jimmy Butler’s demands on friendship with Mark Wahlberg

Jimmy Butler

It would not be a great leap to say that the antics displayed by Jimmy Butler at Minnesota Timberwolves practice on Wednesday were those of an egomaniac, but you may have a tough time arguing that Mark Wahlberg had anything to do with it. Believe it or not, one reporter isn’t ruling that out.

Butler and Wahlberg struck up a friendship several years ago when Butler was still with the Chicago Bulls, and it has been said before that the star swingman has come to adore the Hollywood lifestyle. That’s true of plenty of professional athletes, but Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune wrote this week that Butler’s theatrics at Wednesday’s practice were “done well enough to be a Marky Mark Production.”

Reusse is not the only one who thinks Butler’s stunt was premeditated, as it probably was not a coincidence that ESPN’s Rachel Nichols was standing by for a pre-arranged interview with Butler after he berated his teammates, coaches and Minnesota’s front office. There was also a report that Butler told Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau earlier in the week that he planned to act the way he did if he was not traded and had to rejoin the team.

When Butler was in Chicago two years ago, a Bulls reporter criticized him for his massive ego and said Butler walks around bragging about how he hangs out with Wahlberg. Reusse alluded to that report, noting that Butler and Thibodeau once had a great relationship when Butler was a hungry underdog but that it has since soured as Butler’s head grows bigger.

Butler is clearly trying to send a message to the higher-ups in Minnesota, and it’s possible his decision to change the location of a meeting with Thibodeau earlier this offseason was anything but a coincidence. It’s highly unlikely — if not downright silly to think — that Wahlberg had a hand in Butler’s outburst this week, but the narrative that Jimmy has “gone Hollywood” is hardly a new one.

10 NBA players who could become first-time All-Stars

Donovan Mitchell

Last year’s NBA All-Star Game was the most competitive we’ve seen in years, as Team LeBron edged Team Stephen, 148-145. Something about having the two stars pick their squads, playground-style, got the competitive juices flowing.

The entertaining showdown featured five first-time All-Stars (including four from the East): Joel Embiid, Victor Oladipo, Bradley Beal, Goran Dragic, and Karl-Anthony Towns. So, which players could make their first All-Star Game appearance this year? Here are 10 to look out for.

10. Brandon Ingram, Lakers

The Lakers may not win the West, but adding the best player alive practically guarantees they’ll be a top-tier team. As L.A. jockeys with the Warriors, Jazz, Rockets, and company, someone is going to have to step up to complement LeBron James. Ingram is your best bet to fill that role. The lanky Duke product made a big leap from year one to two, significantly elevating his per-game averages in points (9.4 to 16.1), rebounds (4.0 to 5.3), assists (2.1 to 3.9), and blocks (0.5 to 0.7), as well as his three-point shooting percentage (29 percent to 39 percent). Though rumors are swirling that Kevin Durant may opt to join LeBron in Hollywood in 2019, Ingram has an opportunity this year to prove the Lakers already have a Durant-type star.

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Brad Stevens hopes to have Terry Rozier on Celtics ‘for a long time’

Terry Rozier

Brad Stevens is making it quite clear how he feels about Terry Rozier.

Rozier was a first-round pick by the Boston Celtics in 2015 and entering his fourth season with the team. He blossomed last season amid injuries to Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, averaging 11.3 points per game during the regular season and 16.5 points per game during the playoffs.

Boston has until the season opener to extend Rozier beyond his rookie contract, but NBC Sports Boston says that is unlikely to come. Regardless, Stevens hopes the Celtics will have Rozier around for a long time.

Rozier says that he is open to signing an extension after the season.

Boston has Hayward under contract for potentially three more seasons. Irving says he wants to remain with the team longterm. Marcus Smart is already locked up through 2021-22. Boston has so much money already committed that they may have to make a decision on keeping either Rozier or Jaylen Brown.

Draymond Green shares his funny Tim Duncan trash talk story

Draymond Green blocks

Draymond Green is once again sharing his story of trying to trash-talk Tim Duncan, and it never gets old.

Green spoke with ESPN The Magazine’s Sam Alipour for an interview appearing in the magazine’s NBA preview. During their interview, Alipour calls Green the best trash-talker in the game. Green proudly agreed and was asked who’s impervious to his trash talk. That’s when he brought up Duncan.

“The guy I’d never waste my breath on? Tim Duncan,” Green told Alipour. “As a rookie, I tried talking junk to Tim, and he was like a tree staring back at me. [Laughs] No expression. I said, ‘All right. It’s over.’ Never talked junk to him again. After that, anytime he fell, I’d be the first person to help him up, like I was his teammate. [Laughs] I also tried talking junk to Kobe [Bryant], maybe my second year. On a potential game winner, Mark Jackson put me in to guard him, and I got the stop. I said, ‘Yeah, I’m locking that s— up!’ He looked at me like I was crazy and said, ‘That miss ain’t got nothing to do with you. Sit down.’ I said, ‘Oh, s—! All right, I’m out.'”

The entire interview is fantastic. Green also talks about trash-talking Stephen Curry in practice, clashing with Kevin Durant and Steve Kerr, and how the Golden State Warriors would stack up with past dynasties.

But the Tim Duncan story is great. Green can trash talk anyone and throws so many guys off their game. Yet when it came to Duncan, Draymond realized he was barking up the wrong tree. It’s a story Draymond’s been sharing since 2015, and we love it no less.

T-Wolves player denies report of Jimmy Butler calling players-only meeting

The Minnesota Timberwolves may have held some sort of meeting on Thursday to address the way Jimmy Butler acted at practice the day before, but one member of the team insists any talk of Butler calling a players-only gathering is nonsense.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Butler called a players-only meeting Thursday to express his feelings about his situation and reassure his teammates he will compete with them if he is not traded prior to the start of the season. T-Wolves point guard Jeff Teague called Charania’s report “fake news.”

Without trying to read too deeply into an 18-word tweet, it’s noteworthy that Teague specifically denied the part about the meeting only involving players. With Minnesota having cancelled practice and media availability on Thursday, perhaps members of the coaching staff and/or front office were present for the meeting.

Whatever the case, Butler has essentially confirmed that he lashed out at teammates, coaches and Minnesota’s front office during Wednesday’s practice. He still wants to be traded and is said to have a specific destination in mind, but Butler is a competitive player who has given no indication his effort will be in question if he remains with the Timberwolves through the start of the regular season.