Jusuf Nurkic did his best to end any speculation that there could be drama building about his crunch time role, dealing with the media or his former team on Sunday afternoon. “No drama, man,” The Portland Trail Blazers’ center said in what would be a theme to his post-practice interview. “It’s all about the (next) game.”
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In each of the Portland Trail Blazers’ last two games, backup center Ed Davis has earned the fourth quarter minutes over Nurkic, finishing out close losses to Memphis and Brooklyn. Nurkic said he spoke with Blazers coach Terry Stotts and there is no brewing conflict between Portland’s young center and the head coach. “I respect coach’s decision,” said Nurkic, who scored 21 points against Brooklyn despite only playing for 53 seconds in the fourth quarter. “And to be honest, I never have a better coach than Stotts. So, there’s (not) anything wrong.”
“Jusuf Nurkic wants to play well, but he wants us to win,” Terry Stotts added. “When I talked to him he was more upset that we lost the game (against Brooklyn), than about him not playing in the fourth quarter. We’re at a stage, we’ve lost two in a row, just winning the game is the most important thing for everybody.”
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February 18, 2018 | 1:57 pm EST Update
Noah was banished from the Knicks after an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice last month. The disagreement stemmed from Noah’s lack of playing time, and it turned physical the day after he logged only five minutes against the Warriors. While no punches were thrown, the Daily News learned that Hornacek was the first to shove Noah before they had to be separated.
“I mean, I don’t really have an agent, so I’m not even sure how people get in touch with me,” he said. He added that Kobe Bryant tried to recruit him to the Los Angeles Lakers once when he was a free agent—he can’t recall the exact year—but he never gave leaving Dallas much thought.
Nor did Mavericks owner Mark Cuban give much thought to dealing him. “One time a decade ago when there was discussions of Kobe being on the trade block, [Dirk] said he would trade himself for Kobe,” Cuban wrote B/R in an email. “I wouldn’t.” But with the Mavericks struggling in recent years, have teams reached out about Nowitzki’s availability? “Of course,” Cuban wrote. “We laugh.”
“Misunderstood,” LaMarcus Aldridge said, “because I don’t think people really understand me.” Fortunately for Aldridge, his current employer no longer falls into that category. “People who don’t understand my personality don’t know how to handle me,” the 12th-year power forward said. “The Spurs have kind of learned who I am as a person and have let me be me. They had Tim (Duncan), who was an introvert, kind of a private person, so now they understand me better.”
“Some people accused me of being stubborn all those years I didn’t change. I didn’t think I was being stubborn. I thought that was the way to do it. Why should I change if I know it’s the right thing to do?” It was right for the Phoenix Suns because he was the right coach at the right time, with a point guard, Steve Nash, ideal to run his style, and frontcourt players, Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion, suited to his small lineups. That could not work in New York when four starters were traded for a post-up player, Carmelo Anthony, to fit into an offense without post-ups, or Los Angeles, where the Lakers were breaking down rapidly.
Destiny can be changed, but sometimes, it knows what it’s doing. For D’Antoni, it even held up a flight to a life and success he could not imagine. “I thought I wanted to do something else outside of basketball,” D’Antoni said. “I didn’t want to spend my whole life in basketball. I would do other things. I was a pretty good student. My mom wanted me to be a doctor so I went to pre-med. But what I do best is coaching. After a while, life just happens. “I just try to be who I am, try to do what I need to do. If I’m doing the best I can do, I can live with whatever happens.”
JJ Redick: Just saw a video that is being circulated of me wishing a happy new year to NBA fans in China.Clearly I was tongue tied, as the word I purportedly said is not in my vocabulary. I’m disappointed that anyone would think I would use that word. I love & respect our friends in China.