(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (2) and Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) react to Clarkson receiving a technical foul from referree Ray Acosta as the Utah Jazz host the Dallas Mavericks at Vivint Arena Monday, February 6, 2023.
Will Hardy took his time coming to his postgame media session Monday night, having spent a fair bit of time telling the Utah Jazz’s players how displeased he was with their 124-111 loss to a short-handed Dallas team.
Once finally in front of reporters, Hardy pulled almost no punches in lamenting his players’ half-speed, low-effort performance.
“Credit to Dallas because they came out ready to play — they played as a team, they played harder than us, they out-executed us,” Hardy began in a blistering but even-keeled critique. “… This is the first game all season where I feel disappointed in our focus.”
He wasn’t happy with the defensive rebounding. Or the transition defense. Or the way players reacted to missing shots. Or the level of attention paid to schemes and assignments and rotations.
Still, as previously mentioned, he pulled almost no punches. Subsequently asked why he felt the team was lacking focus against Dallas and if he saw it coming, he declined to address the elephant in the room: “It’s hard to put your finger on what makes something like this happen.”
Jordan Clarkson, however, just went right ahead and said the quiet part out loud.
“We just got a little bit of outside noise or whatever’s going on,” he said.
Maybe you’ve heard the NBA trade deadline is this Thursday? And that more than a few Jazz players are apparently on the market?
Just about everyone asked uttered some iteration of trying to ignore the rumors, blocking out anything peripheral or tangential to the game itself.
Which, as became apparent Monday, is easier said than done.
Veteran point guard Mike Conley said he’d love to be able to convince young teammates to turn their phones off this week, but knows it’s futile. So instead he preaches “try to come in and keep your routine, try to keep your mind away from the what-ifs and all the possibilities that are out there.”
Nevertheless, even he conceded it’s all but impossible to tune out completely.
“It’s tough. I don’t check Instagram or Twitter as often as the young guys, but you get a text from a family member that says, ‘Welcome to Chicago’ or something — I didn’t get traded to Chicago, but now I’m thinking, ‘Did I get traded to Chicago?’” Conley said. “So I go look it up or go call my agent. It’s nonstop.”
All-Star forward Lauri Markkanen noted the irony of the Jazz being the ones to give the disjointed performance considering the Mavericks were so short-handed — partly on account of injuries (Luka Doncic, Davis Bertans, Maxi Kleber), but also because none of the outgoing (Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie) or incoming (Kyrie Irving, Markieff Morris) players from Sunday’s blockbuster trade were available.
It could be argued that the Mavs were more relaxed knowing their big deal was done, whereas the Jazz remain mired in uncertainty, but by all accounts, Dallas’ roster remains unsettled too, as its front office seeks out new landing spots for the likes of Christian Wood and Tim Hardaway Jr.
The Finnish forward said that having been traded three times now, he’s a bit more zen about the idea and so he personally doesn’t find the trade deadline unsettling; nevertheless, he admitted to being one of myriad players playing sub-optimally Monday.
“[In spite of] the stuff they’ve been through the past couple of days, they played better than us, they played harder than us,” Markkanen said. “Give credit to them, but I don’t think we were ready to play. We weren’t in it from the start. We’ve got to be better than that.”
The Jazz had their moments.
They actually got off to a great start — in the opening 12 minutes, they shot 62.5%, they committed just one turnover, they held Dallas to 9 for 22 from the field, they led by a dozen.
And then Dallas reeled off 11 straight points early in the second quarter, the Jazz fell prey to the emotions of seeing the momentum swing against them, and despite occasional flashes of putting it together again, they never really recovered.
• “Collectively, we just did not have the necessary focus and attention to the little things. They had 27 points in transition and 24 second-chance points, and that’s why we lost the game.”
• “You let not making shots bleed into your overall energy level and psyche and vibe and whatever word you want to use, and it’s a recipe for a bad night.”
• “I told them tonight that, at moments, it really just felt like we were somewhere else in our minds. Wherever that place is, I’m not exactly sure. We just did not seem to have that collective chip on our should that we’ve carried with us all year.”
• “We’ve really prided ourselves all year on carrying that chip on our shoulder, and I think we’ve done that every night — win or lose — this year. And tonight it just felt like we sort of let off the gas a little bit.”
Ultimately, both the coach and his point guard summed it up more succinctly.
“Our minds wandered a little bit,” said Conley.
And so, “We didn’t deserve to win,” concluded Hardy.
The Jazz will hold optional workouts for players on Tuesday but, technically, no official practice.
They also apparently have already ruled out having a Wednesday morning shootaround prior to that night’s game against the visiting Timberwolves.
No official practice and no shootaround means no media availabilities. Which means no reporters around asking players about the trade deadline.
The Jazz are doing whatever it takes to turn down the volume of the “outside noise,” apparently.
Short of turning off their phones, that is.
SALT LAKE CITY – Jazz guard Mike Conley spun for a tough floater during the final quarter of Utah’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Jazz hosted the Mavericks at Vivint Arena on Monday, February 6.
With 9:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, Conley spun off a Dallas defender before floating a shot into the hoop.
Conley’s shot gave the Jazz a 94-92 lead.
After the bucket, the Ohio State product had 10 points on 4-8 shooting. He also had one rebound and 10 assists in 24 minutes on the floor.
This season, Conley is averaging 10.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 0.2 blocks, and 1.0 steals per contest.
Utah’s game against Dallas is broadcast on AT&T SportsNet, NBA League Pass, and KSL Sports Zone.
On Sunday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania announced that the Mavericks were trading guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Dorian Finney-Smith to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Irving and Markieff Morris.
Irving has 48 hours to report to Dallas and won’t be available when they face the Jazz on Monday night.
The Mavericks had already announced that superstar guard Luka Doncic would miss the game against the Jazz with a heel injury.
Dinwiddie torched the Jazz for 35 points on 11-23 shooting when the Mavericks were in town on January 30, despite suffering a 108-100 loss.
Though shorthanded, Dallas will welcome forward Christian Wood back to the lineup after missing the last eight games with a thumb injury.
Guard Frank Ntilikina is questionable with a non-Covid illness.
The Jazz had one of their uglier performances in Friday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks shooting a sluggish 1-12 from the three-point line in the first quarter.
The Hawks built a 20-point lead in the second quarter and coasted to a stress-free 115-108 victory in Salt Lake City.
Rookie Walker Kessler had a rare down performance against Atlanta scoring two points and grabbing five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Kessler is averaging 13.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks in Jazz wins since entering the starting lineup in early January, and just 6.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in the losses.
Stephen Curry is on the shelf again, and that means it's Jordan Poole's turn to step up. See why we think he's well-positioned to erupt in our Thunder vs. Warriors free NBA picks and predictions.
The Warriors have been unstoppable at home. Does that remain true on Monday with Stephen Curry missing against a surging Thunder team?
The Warriors and Thunder played a tight game in Oklahoma City a week ago, with Curry ultimately pushing Golden State over the top through a 38-point performance. Now the star guard is out, and the defending champions need to once again find a way to win without him.
Let’s break down how his absence could put Dub Nation in a tough spot with our Thunder vs. Warriors free NBA picks and predictions.
If you’re looking to capitalize on the injury to Curry, Jordan Poole is the clear target. The honorary splash brother gets a Usage Rate increase of 5.6% when Curry is off the floor this season, and his numbers are much better. He’s averaging 3.9 more points per 36 minutes, and Poole is registering 1.5 more 3-point attempts per 36 minutes.
Poole took 9.9 threes per game in the 11 consecutive contests Curry missed in December. While he shot just 27.5% from deep, his attempts were a sign that Poole holds command of the offense when replacing Curry. He has the autonomy to take whatever shot the 23-year-old really wants.
That's why I feel confident investing in some Poole stock on Monday night. He was able to score 27.9 points per game in 34.6 minutes over that 11-game stretch without Curry. While his assist and rebound numbers haven’t been much different, I'm buying into the huge increase in usage without Curry, which will get us across the finish line on this bet.
Take a strong look at Over 3.5 threes made at big plus odds since Poole is better than the 27.5% shooter from deep that he was when Curry sat previously, but the value here is on this prop. While the Thunder haven’t been the worst defense in the world, they're allowing 24.8 points per game to opposing point guards, which ranks among the NBA's bottom 10. And they’re also rating pretty poorly while allowing 2.8 threes per game to the position.
There’s been some slight movement toward the Thunder here, with the line opening at five points and shifting to four, and even 3.5 in some places. DraftKings is reporting that Golden State is drawing 60% of the spread bets, while a commanding 72% of the money is with the home team. That makes the line movement here a little odd.
The reason for all the public money on the Warriors is surely that they’ve been nearly unstoppable at home. Entering play on Monday, the defending champs are a commanding 20-6 straight up in the Bay Area. However, they’re just 15-10-1 against the spread at home. But that's still 60%, and a lot better than Golden State’s 8-18 ATS road record.
The number here makes sense, but I’d still lean toward taking the points with the Thunder. Curry was just injured, and we normally see teams go through a bit of an adjustment period after a major injury occurs. Secondly, Golden State was 5-6 ATS during that 11-game stretch without Curry.
The Thunder are a very dangerous team to play for Golden State. They’re No. 3 in Net Rating over the last 10 games, and they're playing exceptional defense, particularly on the perimeter.
The Warriors' defensive efficiency has increased 1.1 points per 100 possessions with Curry on the floor. On offense? They’re 10.3 points better per 100 possessions. It’s very clear where the two-time MVP makes his mark.
The Warriors’ pace rating with Curry is also a ridiculously high 105.35. Without him it’s 102.47.
So you’re going to see a slower-paced game without Curry and Golden State struggling mightily on offense. That’s doubly true when you consider that Oklahoma City is eighth in Defensive Rating over its last 10 contests.
Stay away from the total here. The opening number was 238.5, and that’s now been bet down as far as 233.5 points. The difference in the Warriors’ production is baked into this number. But if you wanted to bet on a low-scoring or high-scoring game, there’s a clear side to take. Go with the Under.
The Over is 6-5 during the Warriors' 11 games without Curry in 2022-23. Find more NBA betting trends for Thunder vs. Warriors.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd brushed aside questions about newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving's past controversies and future contract negotiations, preferring to focus on his belief that pairing Irving with fellow All-Star starter Luka Doncic cracks open a championship window for the franchise.
The Mavs pounced on the opportunity to acquire a legitimate co-star for Doncic, agreeing to a blockbuster deal for Irving and veteran forward Markieff Morris on Sunday, two days after Irving requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets in the wake of fizzled contract extension discussions. Dallas sent starters Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick and two second-round picks to Brooklyn to land Irving with no assurances that he will remain with the Mavs after his contract expires at the end of the season.
"You look at his journey at other stops, he's won where he's gone," Kidd said before Monday night's 124-111 road win against the Utah Jazz, just after the trade was made official. "We feel that the talent and his abilities to make us better are something that we needed. We feel that getting him is going to help put us in a position to win a championship."
Irving, 30, is expected to join the Mavs for practice Tuesday in Los Angeles and play the next night against the LA Clippers. He's an eight-time All-Star who has earned a reputation as one of the league's most brilliant offensive creators during his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Nets, averaging 23.3 points and 5.7 assists per game in 12 NBA seasons.
Irving won a title with the Cavaliers in 2015-16, hitting the game-winning shot in the final minute of Game 7 in the NBA Finals, but controversy has swirled around him with each of his previous teams. He requested to be traded from Cleveland in 2017, following three consecutive Finals appearances alongside LeBron James, left Boston in free agency after two seasons and had several dramatic sagas during his 3½ seasons in Brooklyn.
Irving was suspended for eight games in November as part of the fallout for posting a link on Twitter to a film containing antisemitic tropes. He wouldn't get vaccinated against COVID-19 and, because of New York City workplace rules, had to miss most of Brooklyn's home games last season. He also took two leaves of absence during the 2020-21 season.
And Irving twice made trade requests, one before this season that he rescinded and the second last week with the Nets in fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
"It's easy to look at all the talk of the negative, but let's look at the positive of what he's done on and off the court," Kidd said. "That's the way we're approaching it."
Kidd, who along with Doncic pushed for the trade, has long had a relationship with Irving, as has Dallas general manager and former longtime Nike executive Nico Harrison.
Kidd, who led the New Jersey Nets to two Finals appearances before winning a title with the Mavs during his playing career, was one of Irving's favorite players during Irving's childhood growing up in New Jersey. They got to know each other while sharing a personal trainer, Robin Pound, and Irving made a point to attend Kidd's Hall of Fame induction.
"He's all about basketball," Kidd said. "He wants to win, and he wants to be coached, and this is a great opportunity for me to have someone like this to help."
Irving's arrival fills the Mavs' top personnel priority: Finding a legitimate co-star for Doncic, who is tied with Philadelphia's Joel Embiid for the league lead in scoring at 33.4 points per game and ranks seventh in assists (8.2) despite frequently facing traps to force the ball out of his hands as he crosses half court. Dallas will dare teams to double-team Doncic when he shares the floor with Irving, who is averaging 27.1 points and 5.3 assists per game this season.
"Pick your poison," said Mavs reserve forward Theo Pinson, a former Nets teammate of Irving's. "It's one of those things where I don't know what you do. Personally, I really don't. You can trap Luka all you want now. We swing it to another killer. It's going to be fun to watch."
Dallas, which is 29-26 and fifth in the West, has scored at a league-best rate with Doncic running the offense (118.7 points per 100 possessions) and league-worst rate when he isn't on the floor (106.8). That disparity has exposed a flaw created by the departure of guard Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency following last season's run to the Western Conference finals.
As long as Irving is available, that's no longer a concern for the Mavs.
"When you look at Kai, nothing against [Brunson], but Kai is at a different level," Kidd said. "This gives us another weapon. Someone is going to be free. Someone is going to have the advantage."
It isn't yet clear when Doncic and Irving will make their first appearance as a duo. Doncic will join the team in Los Angeles on Wednesday, but he is still recovering from a right heel contusion suffered last week and will not play against the Clippers. His status for Friday's game in Sacramento has yet to be determined.
While Kidd anticipates an adjustment period, he's confident that Dallas will dominate offensively with Irving and Doncic, noting that Doncic is frequently compared to James. Kidd joked about Doncic adapting to share the ball with another superstar.
"When you look at the usage, it's at 99.9, so it has to come down," Kidd said, slightly exaggerating Doncic's career-high 38.5 usage rate. "It's going to come down. And that's a healthy thing. It's not a bad thing. ... Actually, he'll be stronger in the fourth. The team will be better. Then the trust between the two -- it's going to take some time to get that rhythm and trust, but Kai is about winning."
The trade wasn't made to help a Dallas defense that has slipped from seventh last season to 24th in efficiency. Finney-Smith was considered the Mavs' best defender, frequently drawing the assignment of guarding the opponent's best scorer. The Mavs have prioritized adding defensive upgrades in the final days before the trade deadline, shopping shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and center/power forward Christian Wood, sources told ESPN.
Whether or not Dallas makes any more trades, Kidd believes that teams will have a hard time keeping up with the Doncic- and Irving-led Mavs.
"We're still going to preach defense, being able to get stops, but there's going to be nights where we're going to try to make you feel uncomfortable on the offensive end with scoring 130 or 140," Kidd said. "Some nights, you're going to have to use the offense as your defense, but Kai's going to compete on the defensive end. Luka's going to compete on the defensive end. But when you look at the offensive end -- can we put pressure on the opponent, and are they going to be comfortable to be able to score that many points?"
Australian Josh Green has made a big statement by scoring a NBA career-high 29 points on the same day his Dallas Mavericks team acquired eight-time All-Star Kyrie Irving.
Green and fellow youngster Jaden Hardy both had 29 points to lead the short-handed Mavericks, playing without superstar Luka Doncic, as they stunned the Utah Jazz 124-111 in Salt Lake City on Monday night.
The big trade deal which puts Irving alongside Doncic is expected to boost the Mavericks' title push as they sit fifth in the hotly-contested Western Conference with a 29-26 record.
The 22-year-old Green could also benefit with expanded duties after the Mavericks delivered key role players Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the exchange.
"Luka (and Irving) are going to have their amazing nights, but if we want to be a championship team it's about the rest of us being able to step up," Green said.
Irving and traded Nets teammate Markieff Morris arrived in Dallas on Monday to undergo physicals and were not available for the game.
But their new team rallied behind Green, who averages 8.1 points, and Hardy, who scores 5.6 per game.
When Green was on the court, the Mavericks outscored the Jazz by an astonishing 39 points and won their first game in eight tries without Doncic, their leading scorer with 33.4 points a game.
"The guys believed and Josh set the tone," Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. "He understands how to play and he's not afraid of the moment."
Doncic (heel bruise) missed his third game in 10 days.
Before Monday's game, Dallas coach Jason Kidd said the Mavericks plan to have Irving and Morris join them on their current five-game road trip in time for their Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
It's uncertain if Doncic will be healthy enough to play by then, however.
Irving was averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds for the Nets this season.
Meanwhile, the Nets, without injured superstar Kevin Durant for a 13th straight game, were unable to match the Mavericks trade deal day heroics as they slipped to a 124-116 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Nets' defeat came despite a career-high 47 points from Cam Thomas while Paul George scored 29 points and Kawhi Leonard added 24 for the Clippers.
Australia's Ben Simmons remained unavailable for the Nets for a fifth straight game due to knee soreness but could play Tuesday against Phoenix on the second night of a back-to-back.
In San Francisco, fellow Aussie Josh Giddey contributed 15 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as his youthful Oklahoma City Thunder outfit were outgunned 141-114 by defending champions Golden State Warriors.
For the Warriors, Klay Thompson scored 42 points with a season-high 12 3-pointers, Jordan Poole added 21 points and 12 assists starting in injured Stephen Curry's place.
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It wasn’t quite enough, but in an exhilarating performance, Cam Thomas scored 47 points on 15-of-29 shooting Monday night, fittingly the first night in the post-Kyrie Irving era, but the Nets lost, 124-116 at Barclays Center.
Thomas has now scored 91 points in the Nets last two games, having crushed the Wizards two nights ago with a 44-point performance. In doing so, Thomas became the second youngest player in NBA history to score back-to-back 40-point games. Only LeBron James did it at a younger age, besting Thomas by 24 days. In fact, Thomas surpassed the previous No. 2, teammate Kevin Durant. The other two players on the list of five youngest: Allen Iverson and Luka Doncic.
Here’s the details, from YES Network...
On being told of his accomplishment, Thomas had this to say...
“For real? For real? That’s great company to have my name mentioned with that guy, though I’m a Kobe guy. If you said Kobe, I’d be more…no I’m kidding. It’s great company,” Thomas joked. “He’s about to break the all-time scoring record in two games or one game. I’m just glad to have my name mentioned with him this young.”
On a more serious note, Thomas had this to say about how he’s made the most of this opportunity.
“I love to hoop, man. Obviously, I want to play in the real games. Who doesn’t? Can’t tell me one person who don’t want to play in a real NBA game, that’s foolish,” he told the media post-game.
Thomas scored in every which way, hitting 7-of-11 from deep but he also got to the line repeatedly, hitting 10-of-11 of his free throws and generally dominating play, his well-honed confidence driving him time after time despite being double-teamed and bounced around by Clippers defenders.
And his highlights weren’t limited to scoring...
“I think it just reinforces our belief in him, overall his belief in his own game to be able to showcase it and to answer when we needed it most,” said Jacque Vaughn post-game. “We needed his scoring, his ability to playmake and he provided for us definitely these last two games.”
Thomas wasn’t the only young Net to take advantage of opportunities. Edmond Sumner, 27, scored 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep to go along with five rebounds and three assists. Sumner, who scored a career high 29 vs. the Wizards, had back-to-back 20 point games for the first time in his career. And Nic Claxton, 23, who got off to a slow start (and by halftime was rumored to be a trade target of the Raptors), finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks including this double domination of Paul Leonard...
And this coast-to-coast number...
It was Claxton’s 20th double-double of the season.
Brooklyn was hit by injuries and a general lack of personnel in facing the Clippers led by healthy all-Everything wings Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris were in Dallas by the time the Nets-Mavs trade became official just before 6:00 p.m. ET while the Nets return on the deal, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, weren’t cleared in time. Three other Nets — Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Seth Curry — all sat with injuries.
The game was tight from the beginning with the Nets going out in front early and then trading leads throughout the game with the Nets biggest lead eight points and the Clippers 11. Then, in the fourth quarter, things got interesting but in the end, it was the Clippers poise that won out.
After a number of futile tries, the Nets tied the game at 99 in the middle of the quarter, helped by five quick points from Thomas. Then, it seemed like the Nets would take control after back-to-back threes by Joe Harris and Edmond Sumner put the Nets up 107-99. Barclays Center erupted and Ty Lue called a Clippers timeout.
In the end, though, experience won out over youthful excitement.
Leonard and Reggie Jackson hit back-to-back shots, getting LA within three. Leonard also made a pair of free throws to cut the lead to one one-point game Ivica Zubac’s hook gave the Clippers back the lead.
Thomas made a valiant attempt to take over, scoring six straight to give the Nets their last lead before the Clippers held on for the win. Thomas missed a couple of shots that would have brought the Nets closer — and give him a 50 piece. Indeed, late sloppiness and the Clippers steadiness won it. The Nets are now 5-8 since Kevin Durant went down.
Thomas came up clutch again scoring Brooklyn’s next six points to put the Nets back in front, but the Clippers managed to retake the lead and hold on. Thomas and Claxton both missed shots in the final minute that would have closed the gap.
Paul George finished with 29 points, Kawhi Leonard 24 and Ivica Zubac 19 for the Clippers.
Notably not on the list: Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Jacque Vaughn said pre-game that he and Kevin Durant haven’t talked about Kyrie Irving’s departure but that in his conversation with his superstar anchor, Durant had expressed enthusiasm about the team’s progress.
“My conversation with Kev basically was based around the [Wizards] game and how our group pulled together to get a win,” he said. “He was enthusiastic about how our guys played, how Cam [Thomas] played, so our conversations really kind of geared toward that direction.”
Moreover, Vaughn said that Durant just wants to play, wants to win.
”At the end of the day, Kevin just wants to win,” Vaughn said. “That’s been our goal. He wants to win at shootaround, he wants to win any game of the week. That’s why he loves to play, and that’s why he wants to play 82 games. That will be our holy grail. We’ll continue to put a group out that wins and until there’s something for me to be concerned about, then I’ll carry on business as usual.”
Durant sat on the Nets bench, wearing his signature pink beanies and grey hoodie. He left before the media could ask him detailed question about the trade.
Jacque Vaughn said that Ben Simmons could’ve played vs. the Clippers but with the back-to-back, he wanted to rest him so he can be ready for the Suns game on Tuesday. Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith are also expected to be uniform.
Kevin Durant underwent a re-evaluation of his sprained MCL on Monday. Vaughn said pre-game there was a limited possibility that he would have an update after the game. Instead, he said the Nets will provide the update on Tuesday. Seth Curry remains out with an adductor strain.
Both Cam Thomas and Nic Claxton spoke after the trade was announced about what they’ll miss about Kyrie Irving.
“Everything really,” Thomas said. “That’s my guy we talked about it a lot. We talked about Kobe. Just life in general man. That’s really the main thing that I will miss from Kai is me having that big brother on the team to laugh with, joke with and make fun with. He’s my big brother. Even though K [Kevin Durant] is my big brother for real, me and Kai made more jokes together. I can joke around with Kai.” said Thomas.
“That’s still my brother, my mentor. We’ll continue to have a close relationship off the court. Our relationship always transcended basketball. He was one of the best teammates I’ve had, despite what people wanted to say,” said Claxton.
And on the business of basketball, Brooklyn-style, the four-year veteran had this to say.
“It’s been a whirlwind I’ve become all too familiar with being here for four years. But I can’t control it and you have to just keep rolling with it. You come out here and you still have a job to do every single night,”
Back to work tomorrow night at Barclays Center where the Nets will face the Suns at 7:30 p.m. ET on YES and TNT.
For a different perspective head on over to Clips Nation, our SB Nation sister site.
Nicolas Batum just hit one of the biggest shots of the season for the LA Clippers, but there are still plenty of people who don’t know who he is.
The Clippers are in the New York City area this week for a two-game set. They played the New York Knicks on Saturday and face the Brooklyn Nets on Monday. During Saturday’s game, Batum hit a huge game-tying three as time expired in the fourth quarter. The clutch triple forced overtime, where the Clippers eventually won 134-128.
Unfortunately, Batum’s big shot was not enough to earn him the respect of the town. He tweeted Sunday that a fan asked him for a picture, thinking that Batum was Al Horford of the Boston Celtics.
“Just took a picture with someone in the street of New York and the guy told me « Thank you Al, Go Celtics!»” Batum wrote.
Here is what the two players look like side-by-side.
That is actually not too bad of an error from the fan. On top of the shaved head look they both have, Horford (6-foot-9 and 240 pounds) and Batum (6-foot-8 and 230 pounds) have very similar body types. The two are also contemporaries with Horford having entered the NBA in 2007 and Batum following one year later in 2008.
Additionally, Batum might consider himself fortunate that this was not nearly as brutal as the treatment he got from another fan last summer.
The Utah Jazz will be the last team to play the Mavericks in the pre-Kyrie Irving era.
The NBA Trade Deadline is in roughly 72 hours, however, the most significant move of the season may have already happened with yesterday’s Kyrie Irving trade, which came off of the heels of his trade request on Friday.
BREAKING: The Brooklyn Nets are trading Kyrie Irving to the Dallas Mavericks for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round and multiple second-round picks, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
The Utah Jazz are the first team on the schedule for the Dallas Mavericks since the trade, but unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) Jazz fans won’t get to experience the Luka + Kyrie Mavericks tonight. The Mavs will surely be a fascinating team for the remainder of the regular season and could make some noise in the playoffs with this new addition. The Mavs title odds jumped from 30:1 all the way to 12:1 on DraftKings after the trade was announced yesterday.
The team the Jazz face tonight will look nothing like the Mavericks of the future. Due to the trade, the Mavs will not have Spencer Dinwiddie or Dorian Finney-Smith tonight, and Kyrie will not be available to play for the team until their game on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Add in the fact that Luka Doncic is listed as “Out” on the injury report with a right heel contusion, and it’s looking like it could be a disappointing night for the fans that bought tickets to see this game.
It’s unwise to ever underestimate an opponent in the NBA, but the Jazz should have a pretty easy road to victory tonight if they play to the level they’ve shown that they’re capable of so far this season. I’ll really be looking to Lauri Markkanen to have a big game tonight, he’s seemed to feast on under-manned teams this season. Although Lauri has been feasting against just about everyone for the past month or so, he hasn’t scored less than 20 points in a game since he put up 18 points in a game against Milwaukee on 12/17/2022. Since then he’s been averaging 29 points and 9 rebounds per game.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on the energy level of the team tonight with so many names swirling around in trade rumors. It’s a tough time of year for players, not knowing if they’re going to be shipped across the country to play for a different team the next day. It’s part of the business, but I imagine that the stress level is pretty high with the amount of uncertainty around a rebuilding roster during trade deadline week. It’s been widely reported that the front office is actively fielding offers for multiple guys on the team, we’ll see if that has an impact on the court tonight at all.
LeBron James is nearing the NBA's all-time scoring record, as he stands 36 points away from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's long-standing record.
Certainly, it's one of James' more impressive soon-to-be accomplishments. But, to Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who's in town for Monday's Bulls-Spurs game, James' eventual surpassing of Abdul-Jabbar is not his most impressive feat.
"I would say his ability to carry on in a classy manner in the midst of all the attention that he gets and has gotten since he was a kid. I find it amazing," Popovich said on Monday.
James and Popovich have a long-standing competitive relationship since James entered the league in 2003. They've faced off 41 times, of which James owns the most wins between the two (22).
In 2017, James called Popovich the "greatest coach of all time." The two have only joined forces for national responsibilities, teaming up during the 2004 Olympics.
Their relationship is built on mutual respect for the other's achievements, as they've created a historic player versus coach-battle over the years. To that, Popovich tipped his cap to James on Monday, sticking up for a player he's known for 20+ years.
"He'll be the first one to tell you: The Miami departure thing, why he went, that didn't go great," Popovich said. "He would probably would've liked to have done that a little differently---verbally, or the things he said.
"But give me a break. That's a whole career. And there's one small irrelevant snafu like that?"
Certainly, as Popovich alluded to, The Decision for James to sign with the Miami Heat in free agency before the 2010 season, and leave his hometown team the Cleveland Cavaliers, turned his image into an antagonist.
Yet, he's never held that title with bitterness or a sour taste. James has always been unapologetically himself, on and off the court.
To that, Popovich commends James for upholding the highest expectations a player in the NBA can receive. He serves as a near-perfect role model, someone who millions around the world can aspire to be, while having the spotlight directed straight at them.
"He's been an exemplary player, an icon of the league," Popovich said. "Off the court, he has been wonderful. He doesn't get into trouble so to speak. He's weathered all the questions that have been asked, especially at the beginning."
James has the highest upstanding values any figure of his acclaim could maintain. But, as Popovich said, James doesn't take his fame and fortune for granted, holding up high values in his personal, off-court life.
He represents a family he started with his high school sweetheart, Savannah, with two sons – Bronny and Bryce – and one daughter – Zhuri. James is a family man by heart, as shown by his long, ongoing wish to play with his oldest son, Bronny, in the NBA.
James serves as an indirect spokesperson of the NBA, expressing his opinions on nationwide politics, social justice issues and NBA matters. In 2015, he was elected the first Vice President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA).
His activism is arguably the most admirable point on his résumé. His largest philanthropic achievement is opening the "I Promise School," in 2018 in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, in adjunction with the LeBron James Family Foundation to help struggling kids stay in school.
Despite all his achievements, on and off the floor, he still earns an inordinate amount of skepticism, based on casual fandom who wish to point at the easiest target the NBA has to offer – LeBron James.
Simpletons often criticize his complaints to referees, on-court overreactions, and insistence on addressing political issues (editor's note: remember "shut up and dribble"). The same take to NBA Twitter by referring to him as any negative word using the prefix "Le-" (such as "LeBum").
These are some of the norms for one of the game's greatest players. In fact, they're often found in Chicago, amid a city of people who would prefer Michael Jordan over James in the classic "GOAT" debate.
Every superhero has a villain, I suppose. To Chicago, James identifies as one.
But, to Popovich's point, his ability to handle the attention with "class and aplomb" is an outstanding achievement on its own, far past the degree of his 19 All-Star nods, four league MVPs and four NBA championships.
LeBron James is LeBron James. And for that, he'll always receive some part of the cold shoulder.
"If he passed it, he should've shot it. If he shot it, he should've passed it," Popovich said. "All of a sudden, everybody is as smart as they are about the Chinese balloon up in the sky.
"Everybody has an answer for what should happen, like you're all intelligence majors or something like that. And he weathered it. And he's done it consistently. His consistency has been amazing over all this time. Just a great individual in every way."
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The Dallas Mavericks officially acquired Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets on Monday in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Dallas also managed to land Nets big man Markieff Morris in the trade. Morris, 33, has not been part of the rotation for head coach Jacque Vaughn.
Brooklyn wanted to involve the Toronto Raptors in the trade in hopes of getting Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, but nothing materialized.
Besides Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith, Nets received a 2027 second-round pick, 2029 first-round pick and 2029 second-round pick.
It's possible that Brooklyn makes another move involving their new assets ahead of Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
Nets owner Joe Tsai reportedly did everything to make sure Irving did not end up playing for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Official accounts claim Dallas simply offered a better trade package than Los Angeles general manager Rob Pelinka.
Lakers star LeBron James opened up to ESPN about Pelinka not being able to trade for Irving.
"I can't sit here and say I'm not disappointed that we can't get so much talent that can help you win championships," James said.