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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Basketball

Joe Ingles expected to transition to full-time sixth man role for Jazz

One of the NBA’s cult heroes is set to play a new role for his team this season.

Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles came off the bench once again for Monday’s preseason game against the Sacramento Kings and is likely to make the full-time transition to sixth man, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

“At 32, it’s a new challenge, which excites me,” Ingles was quoted as saying. “I honestly haven’t sat at home and lost any sleep over starting or not. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

Ingles, who averaged 12.1 points and 5.7 assists per game on 39.1 percent shooting from deep in 2018-19, had started 163 of 164 games for the Jazz the past two seasons. The move to the bench makes sense though with Utah adding Mike Conley, Jeff Green, and Bojan Bogdanovic this offseason. It would also allow Ingles to become the lead creator for the Jazz second unit.

Utah also dealt away one of their more traditional frontcourt big men this summer, and bringing Ingles off the bench should help further what will presumably be a greater emphasis on positionless basketball.

Zach LaVine ‘tired of people talking s—’ about his defense

Zach LaVine

Zach LaVine has been seen as somewhat of a one-way player to this point of his NBA career, but he is hoping to change that narrative this season.

In an interview this week with The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry, the Chicago Bulls guard said that he is focusing on improvement on the defensive end.

“I’m just tired of people talking s— about my defense,” said LaVine. “I’ve always been a good on-ball defender. But there’s no reason I can be this good offensively and not be that good on the defensive end. So I’m taking more pride in it. I’m pretty sure it’ll show. I’ll make sure of that.”

LaVine, 24, put up career-highs across the board last season with averages of 23.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game. Advanced metrics had him as one of the worst defenders in the league at his position however, as he posted an overwhelmingly negative defensive plus-minus (1.87, per ESPN).

But the former UCLA star has proven to be a man of many talents, so there is no reason why he can’t become a plus defender if he puts his energies into it.

LeBron James already backtracking off Daryl Morey China comments?

LeBron James

LeBron James has been widely criticized for his first public comments about the NBA’s China-Hong Kong controversy, and he already seems to be backtracking.

James spoke on Monday about the matter and said he did not think Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was “educated” on the subject when Morey tweeted his support of the Hong Kong protests against an oppressive communist government.

Not long after James’ comments circulated online and the Los Angeles Lakers star began to receive negative attention, The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears tweeted a supposed clarification. According to Spears’ report, James was talking about the ramifications of Morey’s tweet when he said the Rockets GM was misinformed.

What difference does it make what James was talking about? Would Morey have thought twice if he realized all the fallout his tweet would have caused? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s not like he was coming down on the wrong side of history. He was supporting democracy in the face of communism. Very few in America are disagreeing with Morey.

Whatever his intent, James’ comments are a contradiction based on everything he has billed himself as the past several years — someone who champions free speech and standing up for the right to speak out against injustices. In the past, he never seemed to indicate financial considerations were an important factor to evaluate when it came to social justice matters.

LeBron James tweets to try clarifying his comments about Daryl Morey

LeBron James

LeBron James on Monday finally spoke about the NBA’s situation with Hong Kong and China, and his comments were met with such negative reception that he felt the need to immediately issue a clarification.

In his comments, James said he felt Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey was not “educated” on the subject when tweeting about the Hong Kong protests. In followup tweets, James clarified that he believes Morey was not educated about the fallout his tweet would cause.

Regardless of what James’ point was — and he did say multiple times that Morey was not educated — he still refused to back the GM for standing up for democratic ideals. That is indisputable.

For someone who stood up for Colin Kaepernick multiple times and frequently stands for social justice and advocates for the right of players to have voices outside of sports, now saying “sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut” comes across as incredibly hypocritical. And it’s not hard to understand why this is now his response; his money, the NBA’s billions, and Nike’s billions are all on the line, and all parties want to protect it.

Enes Kanter seems disappointed with LeBron James over China remarks

Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter seems disappointed with his old nemesis.

The Boston Celtics big man sent several tweets on Monday night that seemed to be aimed at LeBron James in response to the Los Angeles Lakers star’s comments about Daryl Morey.

Speaking about the NBA’s China/Hong Kong situation, James said he did not feel the Houston Rockets GM was “educated” on the topic. James later tweeted to clarify that he meant Morey was not educated about the backlash and fallout his tweet would cause. Either way, James failed to defend Morey for standing up for democracy against a communist country.

That fact led to these Twitter responses from Kanter, whose family lives in Turkey under the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Kanter knows what it’s really like to not be free, which is why he is so outspoken. He even did not travel with the Knicks to London last season out of fear for his safety.

Report: LeBron James thought Daryl Morey should have been punished for tweet

LeBron James

LeBron James thought Daryl Morey should have been punished for his tweet about Hong Kong that upset China, according to a report.

ESPN reporter Dave McMenamin was on “SportsCenter” and talked about a meeting NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had with players in China last week after Morey’s tweet began making headlines. Two teams — the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers — were in China for exhibition games. Those involved were trying to come up with a plan for how they would address the matter.

According to McMenamin, James spoke during the meeting and pointed out what he felt was a double standard: a player would be reprimanded for tweeting something so costly to the league.

“Nearly a week ago today, in a Shanghai hotel room, or Shanghai hotel ballroom, Adam Silver got up and addressed the players, and LeBron James is one of the players who got up and spoke and said, ‘Hey, what are we doing here? Daryl Morey made these statements,’” McMenamin said Tuesday of James’ comments.

“You know damn well if a player made similar statements and caused such poor ramifications for the league, there would be some sort of league recourse. There would be repercussions the player has to pay,” James argued, according to McMenamin.

“Potentially this tweet could cost the NBA hundreds of millions of dollars, which could come out of the players’ pockets, and so that’s the double standard that was being addressed in that meeting.”

Again, here is the problem with James’ stance. He has spent the last several years making his outspokenness a big part of his identity. He has been at the forefront of the “more than an athlete” movement. His “The Shop” TV show and “Uninterrupted” business are intended to be platforms for athletes to speak their minds. James has tweeted MLK quotes about injustice.

He has accepted comparisons to being the modern day Muhammad Ali.

He has demanded that he and other athletes have a voice beyond basketball and will not “shut up and dribble.” He has crusaded for social justice. That’s why he is held to a high standard and expected to take the side of democracy in this situation, and why him putting money first, is incredibly hypocritical, disingenuous and disappointing. Worse, he felt a punishment or reprimand was in order for Morey for costing the league and players so much money.

James has made it clear that he prioritizes money over social justice if his finances are in jeopardy, which makes him less of the social justice warrior he has claimed and professed to be.

Here is the video:

H/T Daily Caller

Doc Rivers backs Daryl Morey: He was right in saying that

Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers appears to be the first NBA figure to stand with Daryl Morey.

The Los Angeles Clippers head coach spoke with reporters on Tuesday and said Morey “was right in saying that” but there are consequences to every action.

“It’s a tough issue, clearly, and that’s what it is,” said Rivers.

There it is. Someone from the NBA finally said it: Morey was right, but there are consequences, as we have seen.

This is the statement Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich and LeBron James should have said. Instead, Kerr feigned ignorance on the subject, Popovich defended Adam Silver, and LeBron blamed Morey for not thinking of the players.

From the way he helped guide the Clippers through the Donald Sterling audio tapes to his handling of player personalities and political issues and his recognition of big moments, Rivers has long shown he is an excellent leader. He failed to disappoint once again.

UPDATE: Rivers later clarified he supported Morey’s right to express himself.