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#pounditFriday, September 18, 2020

Russell Westbrook

Paul George shares how close he and Russell Westbrook are

Paul George

Paul George and Russell Westbrook teamed up on the Oklahoma City Thunder for two seasons before George sought a trade to the LA Clippers. George’s trade also led the team to deal Westbrook and break up the Thunder as we knew them.

During his time in OKC, George became extremely close with Westbrook.

“I was only (in OKC) two years. But you know, during those two years I loved Russ as a brother,” George said during an appearance on Kevin Hart’s ‘Cold as Balls’ program. “I have so much love for Russ. I mean, I was the first phone call after I had word of what was going on and the possibility of leaving, and I had that call with him. You know, he supported me 100 percent. We talked it out and we made the moves necessary to go elsewhere.”

Westbrook ended up traded to Houston while George teamed up with Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers.

Westbrook showed all kinds of support to George. He threw him a party to get him to agree to re-sign with the team. Westbrook also backed George heavily over an All-Star snub in PG’s first season with OKC, which made a big impression on George. After that kind of support, you can understand why George still feels the brotherly love from Westbrook even though they’re on different teams now.

Most crucial questions facing Western Conference’s elite

Anthony Davis Lakers

The NBA is gearing up for a return next month, and the expectation is that we will have playoff basketball. As the Western Conference’s elite teams prepare for the return of the season, we take a look at the most critical question that will define each team’s chances at contending for a championship.

(You can find the biggest questions facing the Eastern Conference’s top teams here)

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Several NBA stars want to resume season

Chris Paul

Several NBA stars want to resume the current season, according to a report.

Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes reported on Tuesday that Chris Paul, who is the president of the players’ association, arranged a call with many other top players in the league to discuss the resumption of the season. Haynes says the call included LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook.

All players agreed that they wanted to resume the current season when it is safe. The belief is that the superstars all being on the same page will influence the direction of the league.

With the exception of Curry, Durant and Lillard, the players on that call mostly are on championship-contending teams, and therefore would have more incentive to resume the season. Haynes says many players not on playoff contenders feel the season should only resume with playoff teams to minimize the risk of virus exposure.

One issue some players are considering is that the next collective bargaining agreement would be negatively affected if the season were not resumed. That is a concern that was raised by one veteran player.

Donovan Mitchell admits he was scared of Russell Westbrook as rookie

Donovan Mitchell

Donovan Mitchell seems pretty fearless on the court, but he shared a story about one time he was intimidated while playing.

Mitchell joined Adrian Wojnarowski for an interview on ESPN’s #oneteam Speaker Series and fielded questions submitted by kids from Boys and Girls Clubs of America. One question he was asked was the biggest fear he had to overcome in his rookie season. Mitchell says it had to do with Russell Westbrook.

“Westbrook was one of my favorite players,” Mitchell said. “He does that thing where he sits on the bench pregame, so physically seeing him I had to get that ‘Oh, that’s Russell Westbrook out of my head’. So Steven Adams is standing in from of him and I peek around him and Steven moves, and Russell is giving me the death stare right in my first game.”

Mitchell being intimidated seemed to show on the court as he went just 1-7 shooting for two points. Mitchell grew up pretty quickly though. He emerged in his rookie season for the Utah Jazz and helped them beat Westbrook’s Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. Mitchell ended up impressing as a rookie with 20.5 points per game that season. He also had much more confidence than he showed in that first game against Westbrook.

From Luka Doncic to Chris Paul: Which guards deserve to make All-NBA

Luka Doncic

Little is known about when the NBA will make its highly-anticipated return. With close to three-fourths of the regular season in the books, the leaders for end-of-season awards have distinguished themselves from the pack. All-NBA selections are meant to represent the best players at their respective positions. Quantifying what it means to be the best at one’s position is as divisive of a debate as the Michael Jordan/LeBron James G.O.A.T. argument. Selection as an All-NBA player is about not only putting up impressive statistics, but also embodying winning with play on the court.

Without further ado, here are my selections for the All-NBA guards based on this shortened season’s body of work.

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Report: Zion Williamson, Dwyane Wade possible participants in NBA HORSE competition

Zion Williamson

The NBA is exploring the possibility of staging a HORSE tournament between top players, and some big names are being floated as possible participants.

According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, top names such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Zion Williamson have been mentioned as possible competitors. The recently retired Dwyane Wade has been considered as well.

The event remains in the planning stages, and nothing is final. It’s an effort to provide some form of entertainment during the league’s shutdown, and these are definitely top players worth watching. There are a lot of logistical hurdles to clear in this endeavor before it becomes a reality, though.

Russell Westbrook sells Oklahoma home

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook will always have great affection for the state of Oklahoma, but now he has one fewer piece of real estate there.

Westbrook recently sold a home he owned in Edmond, Oklahoma for $426,900, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The home was originally built in 2004 and purchased by Westbrook in 2008 for $383,500 when he first began his NBA career. Westbrook went on to spend 11 seasons with the Thunder, taking them to an NBA Finals and winning an NBA MVP award.

Westbrook is from Los Angeles and has made two home purchases in the city since 2015. His most recent purchase was a mansion near LeBron James in the Brentwood area of LA for just under $20 million.

Westbrook likely had motivation to sell the Oklahoma home after being traded from the Thunder to the Houston Rockets over the summer. The Edmond home was first listed for sale in October, three months after Westbrook was traded for Chris Paul.

Daryl Morey explains why Rockets traded for Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

The Houston Rockets made a big trade over the summer that brought them Russell Westbrook and sent Chris Paul to Oklahoma City. Many questioned whether the Westbrook acquisition would significantly improve the Rockets, and whether adding him and the contract he was on would actually hurt the team long term. The answer so far seems to be that Westbrook has helped Houston remain one of the better teams in the West (and NBA).

So why did the Rockets feel motivated to make that move? Rockets general manager Daryl Morey shared the reasoning during a visit with ESPN’s Zach Lowe on “The Lowe Post” podcast. Essentially, Morey felt the addition of Westbrook would increase Houston’s ceiling.

“We just felt like you can’t win unless you’ve got a peak level that’s very high,” Morey told Lowe. “And we thought with Chris (Paul) and James (Harden) we were an extremely good team, and in fact in 2018, you could argue the best team. I think Golden State, to be fair, was probably the best (in 2018), but we were right there with them.

“And we felt like the team we had with Chris and James was extremely good but was going to come up short of the title. And we thought that adding Russ, who unquestionably has this peak level of play that not many guys have reached, was the right move.”

Morey clearly isn’t worried about the risk of possibly having a bad fit that doesn’t work if it means increasing the chances of his team winning a championship. And the move has paid off, as Houston now focuses on spacing, and Westbrook isn’t taking as many three-pointers as he used to because he has many more options for passing. The team even traded away Clint Capela to go all-in on making this squad as competitive as possible based on their strengths.

Will the Rockets win the championship? Maybe not, but Morey is at least going to go down giving what he feels is the team’s best shot. And what’s funny is now he’s banking on a guy he used to dislike.

Video: Russell Westbrook’s hilarious sideline outfit gets roasted by announcers

Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook sat out Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans, with the team employing some load management for the front end of a back-to-back.

That meant Westbrook, ever the fashion icon, had to pick an outfit to wear on the sideline. He went with traditional dress on the top and shorts on the bottom — a choice that was roasted by the Rockets’ broadcast team.

What do you expect for a team that uses a red carpet for player arrivals? Westbrook, a fashion aficionado, is pushing the envelope — or something like it. The man has done it before and will do it again.

Rockets GM hated Russell Westbrook when he was with Thunder

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook plays with the kind of style that makes you love him if he’s on your side and dislike him if he’s not. That’s even been the case for Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

During an appearance on FS1’s “First Things First” Tuesday, Morey talked about Westbrook’s game with the Rockets and jokingly admitted he hated Russ when the guard was with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“When [Westbrook] was in OKC, I hated him. I’ll be frank,” Morey said. “He played with such a passion, and he would win games with his energy alone. Here it’s the same thing.”

The answer from Morey came in the context of a bigger question about Westbrook not shooting as many 3-pointers over the past two months as he did early in the season with Houston, and as he had been doing with the Thunder. Morey says there is no directive from the team telling Westbrook how to play. Instead, he believes Westbrook is just seeing lots of open players and therefore opting to pass more.

Another reason for the previous dislike from Morey towards Westbrook? It probably had to do with Rockets star James Harden competing with Westbrook for NBA MVP in 2017. Morey was backing Harden all the way and felt the voting was wrong.