If the Leonard gambit fails, the Raptors risk looking l…

If the Leonard gambit fails, the Raptors risk looking like a franchise that at once cannot keep a true star and does not know good enough when it is staring them in the face. “We’ve been doing this for how many years? You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again,” Ujiri said. “And when you get a chance to get a top-five player — which isn’t very often — I think you have to jump on it.”
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October 20, 2018 | 11:57 am EDT Update
You’ve had some of the trickiest locker rooms that I’ve been around when it comes to the relationships with your guys. But outside looking in, I’ve sensed that the locker room dynamic in your time in Houston has been really strong and that you haven’t really had many fires to put out. Does that sound about right? Mike D’Antonti: “Oh, that’s definitely the case. And probably, there’s a lot of reasons. Basically, Chris, James, and the guys who were here last year, are good guys. And they like each other. But I think also, not having the shoot-arounds (on game days), and not being around each other all the time, is kind of healthy. You’re not getting tired of the same old shit the guy just said, and you’re like ‘Man, do I have to hear that again?’ It’s good to get away. Even the coaches are less cranky, and that’s when little flash fires start, when everybody is on edge or tired, or bored. And again, it goes back to the players. They’re good, and they understand what’s at stake. But we keep telling them, ‘hey, there’s going to be some days where you’ve got to swallow (your pride) because somebody did something you’re not going to like.’ I mean we all have egos. …Today, this guy is going to yell at you, and tomorrow you’re yelling at another guy and then that guy is yelling at somebody and then everybody’s yelling at (Rockets center) Clint (Capela) (laughs). That’s just the way it is. Just take it for what it’s worth, and there will be moments where everybody is pissed at each other. But it’s got to go quickly, and it does.”
What about the elephant in the room question about ‘Melo coming off the bench? Are you worried about how he might take that? Mike D’Antoni: “The only thing I can say is that you have to have a gut feeling, kind of, and you want to look at it. But my gut’s not making the decision. The play, the stats, how we win, that’s what will make the decision. And I think so far, everybody has said, ‘Whatever it takes.’ Then that’s what we play. So I know it’s real hard for a Hall of Famer to think about going to the bench or whatever. The only thing I can say is that Bob McAdoo – two titles with the Lakers (in 1982 and 1985), where Kurt Rambis started over McAdoo, who was the MVP of the league (in the 1974-75 season with the Buffalo Braves) and he was coming off the bench (with the Lakers). … (San Antonio’s) Manu Ginobili was a sixth man, and how many championships did they win (four with Ginobili)? Boston sits down (John) Havlicek, and how many championships did they win? You’re talking about a lot of Hall of Fame guys where that role is very important. So to me, we have seven or eight starters on this team, and we’ll just figure out how it’s best to play that. And again, we’re talking about the four-spot, and PJ Tucker is becoming … one of the best players in the league. People kind of fall asleep on him, but I don’t know why. You watch the game last night, and he’s unbelievable. I mean now he’s shooting about 40 percent from threes. He’s one of the best defenders in the league. He’s smart. He’s played 600-something games in a row. He doesn’t miss a game. So what do you have to do to become a good player? I don’t get it in this league. How can you get better than that?”
October 20, 2018 | 8:20 am EDT Update
After going through an energetic post-shootaround workout, which included a few emphatic tomahawk dunks, Westbrook met with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s medical staff and decided to sit against the Clippers. He has been increasing his practice workload, including being cleared for basically full-contact practices and drills. “A lot of it is him and the medical staff talking to each other and him giving feedback,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “In my conversations with him, it’s always how he’s feeling the next day. And I think for him, he needs to be right because you don’t want to have something lingering. And he knows his body better than anybody else.”
4 hours ago via ESPN
Storyline: Russell Westbrook Injury