After Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell was hit with technical fouls on two separate plays in the final minute of overtime and was ejected with 30.5 seconds to go in Utah’s 131-123 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the All-Star said he’s tired of the Jazz being “screwed” by the referees, calling the way his team’s games are officiated “f—ing ridiculous.” “First off, you know, give the 76ers credit. They played a hard game. Joel [Embiid] did what he does, and at the end of the day, they’re a good team. We competed. But it’s tough. It’s tough to go out there and see how we fight and compete, and to have a game like that taken from us,” Mitchell said Wednesday night.
"Now, I'm never ever one to blame a ref, to blame an official -- I can say I could have done more -- but this is getting out of hand. There have been games like this that we've won, there have been games like this that we've lost. But this whole refereeing stuff. ... We're nice, we don't complain, like, we don't get frustrated, we fight through things, and the fact that we continually get ... screwed, in a way, by this. You know?
"We won this game, in my personal opinion. You know? But like I said, I'm going to give them credit. They won. Whatever. Cool. But it's been a consistent thing, and the question is, 'Can we do it? Can we sustain it? Are we for real No. 1? And, yeah the hell we are. And it's getting f---ing ridiculous, that this is what is happening."
"We have a whole second half of the season to go and get ready for, and I'm sick of it, to be honest with you," Mitchell said. "We all are. This is something that just it eats me. It eats at me, man. "Y'all know what it is. We all know what it is. But it's really getting out of hand. It's really, really, really getting out of hand. And the league needs to do something about this. "I want to see the last two-minute report. I want to see it. But it's getting out of hand."
That disparity also drew the ire of Gobert, Utah's other All-Star -- who, like Mitchell, also earned himself a certain fine from the NBA sometime Thursday after repeatedly calling out the officials during his own postgame media session. "Our guys are not able to get calls everybody else in the f---ing league gets," Gobert said. "We know we are the Utah Jazz, and maybe some people don't want to see us go as far as we can go, but it's disappointing. "Three times in a row, Mike Conley is going to the rim, and they're grabbing him right in front of the officials and there's no calls. And, on the other end, there are calls that are invisible that are being made.
Gobert went on to say he believed the Jazz were being treated unfairly because they play in a small market. "I don't want to say that," Gobert said, "but I really believe it. After playing in this league for eight years, it's a little harder [to be in a small market], and that's one of the things that we've got to overcome. That's why I told the guys, 'When you're a small market, you've got to be better than just better. You've got to be elite, and you've got to control what you can control.'
After the game, crew chief Marc Davis told a pool reporter that Booker's first technical was for "continuous complaining" and the second was for "directing profane language at a game official." Suns forward Jae Crowder said he tried to get between Booker and the referees to deescalate the tense situation but was too late. "Devin was disputing his first technical," Crowder said. "He didn't like the first technical that was given to him and he voiced his opinion about it. The second ref heard him voice his opinion and decided to give him another one."
"I think Jae Crowder said it best: We got better tonight," said Suns coach Monty Williams after the game. "You gain confidence when a guy like Book doesn't play or gets tossed and you're able to pull a game out on the road at the end of a trip. That's a recipe for mailing it in, and this group has shown a lot of resiliency. But that was a big-time character win, and we got better. "I think we played good tonight, but we probably got more confidence that we can pull a game out without Devin or Chris [Paul] saving the day.''
The Jump: SVG on Zion: "Someday, he's going to start to get the calls he deserves" #NBA #NBATwitter #TheJump #WontBowDown
Young hit the Brooklyn Nets with the move on Dec. 30. Nets head coach Steve Nash was not a fan. "That's not basketball!" Nash yelled at the officials. Nash's criticism went viral, and Young and the Hawks defended the star guard's tactic while others debated and discussed its fairness. "I learned a lot about drawing fouls from [Nash]," Young told reporters in early January. "If he says it's not basketball, he must've been saying it about himself because he's done it a couple of times throughout his career and was so successful."
Paul said he hears assistant coaches screaming at defenders to be ready for it, to get their hands back. Milwaukee Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo was a recent victim, and as coaches yelled at him to be aware, DiVicenzo said, "What?" "By the time he heard it," Paul said, "it was too late." If there's a player that seeks those advantages within the rules of the game McCutchen talked about, it's The Point God. "They're not annoying. If you watch enough games every night, you know what to expect. There's a skill to that," Paul countered. "That stuff James [Harden] does where he puts the ball out, that's a skill. DeMar DeRozan is great at it. That's a skill."
The other thing to try, Ayton said: Get in front of it. Talk to the ref before the game and tell them to be on the lookout for these cheeky plays. "In the post, I'll tell the refs, when I know it's a center that likes to bang, like Jokic, I'll tell the ref, 'Hey, just watch my hands,'" Ayton said. "Showing my hands when I'm taking contact, so don't call a foul. Just reminding the ref, 'Yo, we bangin' but my hands aren't in there, I'm straight up.'"
There are plays like Reggie Miller's scissorkick, where he'd cleverly leave one leg hanging out on a jumper for a defender to potentially clip. It was irritating, and in 2012, seven years after Miller retired the league implemented, you guessed it, "The Reggie Miller Rule," that made it an offensive foul to leave a leg out. By next season, we might be talking about "The Trae Young Rule." But until the league legislates it out of the game, it's fair play. And it's up to the players to discover counters.
The pump-and-jump is one of the eye-rolliest plays in the game, but to an official, it's more straightforward than it appears. It's the more subtle ones, like an offensive player throwing their head back to draw attention to contact, or a big man disguising a moving screen as roll to the basket, or a big man giving a slight nudge to clear space. "It's called the Black Tornado," Shaquille O'Neal said of his savvy veteran and very legal move. "Bump, spin, bump, get you off balance and then dunk in your face. Just to let you know that you ain't strong enough and you ain't ready."
Chris Mannix: Per the NBA's L2M report, the offensive foul called on Kawhi Leonard in the closing seconds of the game against Brooklyn was the correct call.
"It's really hard, it's really hard," George said. "I mean, I haven't really got into the flopping game, but in today's game, it's smart, you know what I mean? "It's smart. They control the refs. They got the refs in their pocket, so kudos to the guys who are great at that part of the game."
At the start of the drive, Leonard appeared to try to shake Harden from grabbing his left arm. Then as Leonard gathered and went up for the layup, his left forearm made contact with Harden's torso, and the referees called the foul. "My take from it is if we gonna pretty much play bully ball at the end of the game, let both sides play it," Leonard said. "But they didn't call it, so good defense. I got grabbed early, but like I said, no call, so great defense."
"I mean, they called it, so there's nothing you can do about it now," Lue said. "I'm not a big complain guy, but [someone] said [Harden] had his arm before Kawhi was able to push off and he said Harden grabbed his ... I don't know because I didn't look at it. To me, the game's over and nothing you can do about it, so it is what it is."
At this point, it's getting old and Lillard appears to be tired of it. “For me, it’s just frustrating how physical people can be when defending me in certain situations. In our last road trip, I had back-to-back games with five fouls, about to foul out just playing normal defense," said Lillard after the game. "I’m going to the rim getting smacked in the head. I’m getting grabbed. Getting slapped on the arms. Getting pushed in the back. I mean, that’s the frustrating thing for me. I'm not out here flopping and trying to trick the referees or things like that. I'm trying to score and getting hit in the head."
Of course, like many players, Lillard tries to voice his concerns during the game. But the answers he is getting from the officials are about as poor as the no-calls themselves. "I’m trying to have conversations about it and I’m getting slick looks and kind of like sarcastic answers or just dry answers. That's frustrating."
Portland was down by seven with under a minute to play. A Lillard three could have made it a four-point game and made the Wizard sweat a little. Instead, Hachimura was fouled, made two from the line and made it a nine-point game. That is basically a five-point swing, and Lillard knows it. The reason the foul wasn't called. The ref didn't see it, or so he said. "'I didn't see that' was literally the answer," Lillard said of when he asked the ref about the no-call. "I stole the ball and he ran into my back. I didn't see that? C’mon, man. To me that’s a slick comment when that’s your response. ‘I didn’t see that,’ when the whole arena saw that. So, it’s just those moments that’s frustrating when it comes to the physicality.”
The Kings were baffled by the NBA’s ruling after general manager Monte McNair discussed the incident with the league office earlier this week. Game officials gave Valanciunas a technical foul but determined no flagrant foul had occurred. After reviewing the altercation, league officials concurred, an NBA spokesman told The Sacramento Bee. “In-game, the referees ruled the act to be a dead ball physical taunt and assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul,” the spokesman said. “Upon league office review, we agree with how it was adjudicated on court.”
Walton said he was disappointed in the league’s response, saying the NBA would have imposed harsher penalties if LeBron James or another star player had been thrown to the floor under similar circumstances. “I don’t think that’s much of a question,” Walton said. “I feel like that’s a certainty more than anything else. It’s player safety. That’s what this league is all about now. It’s come a long way since the 80s, but I think anyone who saw that play knows that it would be different if it was someone else hanging on the rim trying to land safely.”
Adam Spolane: John Wall with a wonderful 90 second rant about continuing to not get calls: "I'm tired of it. It's definitely frustrating. Every time I drive, every time I do anything it's always an excuse when it comes to me for some reason. I don't really know what more to say about it...." pic.twitter.com/QDN2EU0cpP
Chris Kirschner: Lloyd Pierce on the play at the end of the game: "It's really unfortunate that the game ended that way. Trae sets a great screen. It should have been a foul. We should've had the basketball after the free throw on the side. Just disappointed with the way that game ended."
Chris Kirschner: Lloyd Pierce on what the refs said after the game: "I got an answer that said, 'I spared Trae. It should've been an illegal screen.' It was a perfect screen. Willie Cauley-Stein ran Trae over. That's a foul. It blows up our play. It's unfortunate. Trae was fouled."
Most of Saturday’s whistles were legit. But, quick tangent, Doncic did get a few pump-fake lean-in calls that had the Warriors bench erupting. Here was the worst of them. After the game, Andrew Wiggins said it was a “bogus call” and Kerr had some extended thoughts on the general tactic, which has spread like wildfire in recent seasons among star perimeter scorers. “I don’t fault the officials,” Kerr said. “I fault the league for basically gifting those calls to all of our players. Our guys get them, too. To me, it’s not a basketball play. If you jump three feet forward, I don’t think you deserve a foul when all you’re doing is looking for a foul. I think the league has done a great job helping find a really good place for the offense players to shine, the athleticism to be on display for fans.
“But we’ve gotten out of control gifting offensive players the ability to deceive the refs or to grab, whatever, jump three or four feet into a guy and draw a foul. We have to give the defensive player some benefit of a doubt. But the officials have to call it because that’s the way the league dictates they call it. I have no problem with the officials.”
Lynn Dowdy: I know how tough he is, but this speaks for itself. “This crew really missed this” -commentator- Ja Morant: lol. a no call.
But during the Nets' 124-120 win over the visiting LA Clippers in a contest that lived up to the pregame hype, the Clippers' star duo could not keep up with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, especially at the foul line. Brooklyn's star trio combined to go 16-for-16 from the line. Leonard was 8-for-9 at the stripe, but George went to the line only one time in 36 minutes. "I mean, I think it was disrespectful that I had one free throw attempt today," said George, who registered 26 points and six assists. "I am going to leave it at that."
But in a game with five perennial All-Stars on the floor, George felt he didn't receive respect from the officiating crew. "The amount of plays I initiated or created contact," George argued, "and to get sent to the line [one] time ... "
In a back-and-forth game, the Kings shot just 5-of-11 from the free throw line. They certainly could have hit more than five, but let's get back to those 11 attempts. The Heat’s Jimmy Butler hit 14-of-16 from the stripe on his own. Overall, the Heat outshot the Kings 26-11 at the line ... in a one point game. “One player on their team made more free throws than our whole team shot,” coach Luke Walton said. “It’s going to be hard to win when that’s happening. We stayed in attack mode, that’s all we can do.”
“If I go to the rim and there can be contact and not be a foul, then I feel like if they go to the rim and there is contact, then there shouldn’t be a foul,” De’Aaron Fox explained after the loss. Both the Kings and Heat scored an identical 42 points in the paint. Sacramento shot 21-of-34 in the key and Miami shot 21-for-35. It was a physical game, especially at the rim, but one team struggled to get calls and the other did not.
“If it was consistently a no-call or a foul, then I would be fine with it,” Fox said. “But I don’t think the whistle was consistent on both ends, so that’s where the frustration comes from, at least on my end. I don’t want to speak for anybody else.” The Kings came into the night fourth in the league in free throw attempts at 25.5 per game. That’s a tremendous improvement over the 20.3 attempts they averaged last season.
Josh Lewenberg: Kyle Lowry on his 2nd tech: "I definitely didn't think it was warranted. I didn't do anything wrong. I wasn't looking towards the official or anything. She was the only one that heard it... I do a lot of complaining but I think I got the short end of the stick on that one."
On his way back down the floor, Green's voice boomed through a near-empty Chase Center as he appeared to air out his frustration at the rookie. When the whistle was blown and Green was assessed his second technical, Kerr and several members of his staff tried to explain to the officiating crew that Green's ire was directed at the rookie center. But after listening to Green bark at various points throughout the night, hearing his frustration one more time apparently was enough, in the officials' minds at the time, to warrant an ejection. "At halftime Ben Taylor came out and told me that it was a mistake," Kerr said. "That John Butler didn't realize that Draymond was yelling at his teammate. He thought he was yelling at him."
Dane Moore: Anthony Edwards on not getting calls as a rookie: "I feel like every time I go to the rim that I get fouled. So I could get going at the line, but I'm not getting any calls."
Ira Winderman: Erik Spoelstra says it remains unclear about what else can be reviewed once a coach's challenge is issued for a foul, "I would like more clarification on that." No, not happy about that Embiid palm/travel that league did not cite in postgame report.
"There's a lot of things that I like and enjoy about it, and there's a lot of things that I hate about it," Duncan said. "I hate the way the game's being officiated at times, how they've underpowered the effect of a post player so that you're allowed to beat the crap out of a post player. You're allowed to take him off his spot. You're allowed to hit him, bump him while they're shooting. But if you turn and face and go out to the 3-point line, and you shoot the ball and fall down, all of a sudden, the whistle is blown. "So they're protecting the shooters away from the basket. It overpowers some of the players that are away from the basket, and it underpowers post players who use their bodies and their physicality around the basket."
John Karalis: Jaylen Brown on the offensive foul call: "I'm not trying to get fined, but I'm interested to hear what the verdict is on that"
ClutchPoints: After the no-call, Luka Doncic took out his frustrations on the advertisement video board by the Mavs bench.
Drew Hill: Ja Morant said if getting a tech is what he has to do to get calls he's going to get them. "When somebody is fed up, that's what happens."
Joe Mullinax: Ja said there’s a lot of contact in the paint which definitely affects his shot. He’s also irritated with the lack of calls
Drew Hill: I followed up on the Ja Morant comments and ask if he thinks more years in the league will help him get calls. His answer: "That's a question that needs an answer. I don't know."
Michael Singer: NBA's L2M from Nuggets-Kings isn't pretty. Here's list of incorrect no-calls. In 4th: Barnes traveling In OT: Foul on Whiteside defending Jokic, DEN lost ball Barnes traveling before tying game at 122 Barnes foul on Jokic w/ two seconds left Barton foul on Barnes' dunk
The Lakers had been annoyed with what they felt were extra steps being afforded to Heat rookie sharpshooter Duncan Robinson when he received the ball coming off curl screens, league sources told Yahoo Sports. And with Robinson occasionally talking trash, that only increased the Lakers’ annoyance after he torched them for 26 points while draining seven triples in Game 5.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope came into Game 6 focused on not losing sight of Robinson, a rookie who is already one of the best players in the league at moving without the ball. Of course, the game got chippy. “You ain’t nothing,” Caldwell-Pope shouted at Robinson with 2:50 left in the half while Miami’s Bam Adebayo was at the free-throw line. Referee James Capers warned Caldwell-Pope to cool it down and he replied, “He’s the one talking sh--. He ain’t getting nothing tonight.”
Fournier specifically mentioned the Los Angeles Lakers who, according to him, are known around the league as massive complainers. Fournier specifically remembered their first game against the Lakers, which was before the bubble in which they complained to the refs for most of the time despite playing in a scrimmage. "Our first pre-bubble game was against the Lakers, and they complained from the first to the last minute, although it was a scrimmage, no TVs or anything. It’s just how the Lakers approach games." Evan Fournier, via NBA Extra
The NBA upheld the two calls Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel took exception with in L.A.'s 111-108 Game 5 loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals on Friday, but the league did find two other calls that should have gone the Lakers' way. In its last two-minute report released Saturday, the NBA announced that Jimmy Butler should have been called for a shooting foul on LeBron James with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter for extending his arm and making contact with the side of James' head on a drive to the hoop when L.A. was trailing 105-104. The missed call ended up being inconsequential as James corralled his own miss and laid the ball in to put L.A. up 106-105 with 58.2 seconds left.
It also determined that with 28 seconds remaining, Miami's Andre Iguodala should have been called for a defensive three-seconds violation for not clearing the lane when not actively guarding an opponent. Again, the no-call did not affect the Lakers as that possession ended with a layup for Anthony Davis to put L.A. up 108-107 with 21.8 seconds left.
NBA Central: Fans are calling for the NBA to look at this Anthony Davis elbow on Jae Crowder JR Smith got suspended for 2 games in 2015 for doing something similar to Jae Crowder pic.twitter.com/krc9sgM0LB
Harrison Faigen: Frank is gonna get fined. "I felt two bad calls at the end of the game put Butler on the line." He thought AD's contest on Butler was "textbook verticality" and that Markieff had a good contest.
Michael Singer: Malone said the team fed the NBA some clips they thought were missed from Game 4. Said they’re waiting on a response.
The Lakers made 28 of their 35 free throws, including an 11-for-14 mark by James and a 13-for-14 line by Davis. “I’m going to have to go through the proper channels like they did to see if we can figure out how we can get some more free throws,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone, whose team shot 23 free throws. The Lakers outrebounded the Nuggets 41-33, including 12-6 on the offensive boards. They outscored the Nuggets 25-6 on second-chance points. "That’s really hard to overcome," Malone said.
Asked if the Lakers' tactic of going to the league about foul calls worked, Malone said he didn't know. "I just know they went 35 [times] and we went 23," Malone said. "I think late in the game Jamal Murray attacked the basket a few times where it appeared to be contact. We'll watch the film and send our clips in. We'll reach out to the NBA and kind of make our points noted. Whether them going through the proper channels affected tonight or not, I have no idea. The NBA does a great job of listening. You hope that next game maybe some of those fouls are called."
"Respectfully, obviously, they're trying to do their job," Murray said when asked what kind of feedback he got back from the officials. "I mean, I did get fouled on a few. We could see the replay clearly. The same thing when [Utah Jazz's] Rudy Gobert fouled me when we lost Game 4 [in the first round]. ... My team shows respect any time you talk to them." "LeBron is going to go get his," Murray added. "But we just have to look ahead and play through it. ... We're a young team. We're the younger team, youngest team, whatever we are. Look at where we're at. We're going to have to earn their respect if we're going to want to prevail."
The Lakers have presented a case to the NBA that their star, LeBron James, is not nearly getting his fair share of free throws even though they are positive the hard-charging forward is getting fouled plenty by the Denver Nuggets in their Western Conference finals playoff series. “We’re dealing with the fouls through the proper channels with the league,” coach Frank Vogel told the media via videoconference Wednesday after practice. “I think he’s gone to the basket very aggressively, and I’ll just leave it at that.”
So, I asked, how did Lakers coach Frank Vogel see it after he had watched the film? “We were definitely the aggressors in the game, and the box score I have right here has us with 28 (fouls),” Vogel said. “We got called for 28 fouls. They got called for 26.” It was a savvy stance to take, albeit oversimplified. So as Vogel left his media session to rejoin his team, I admitted to him that I hadn’t noticed that the final fouls tally was in the Nuggets’ favor. “I do my research,” he said with a grin.
After getting dunked on and dissed during a 126-114 loss in Game 1 Friday in the Western Conference finals, it’s obvious that the league regards the Nuggets as little more than props in this Lake Show, starring James and Anthony Davis, who hammered Denver with 37 points. It was so ugly and frustrating the entire fourth quarter stunk like garbage time. “I’m not going to sit here and blame it on the refs. That’s not what I’m doing,” Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said. “We’ve got to play through it and earn their respect.”
A day before Game 7, Nuggets coach Michael Malone cited ESPN’s experts, and mentioned how 19 of them predicted the Clippers would win. Not one said the series would advance to a Game 7. “Nobody wants us here,” Nikola Jokic said in his postgame interview. “Nobody thinks we can do something. We prove ourselves and proved everybody we can do something. Next is Lakers another tough opponent for us. We just have to be out there and having fun.”
On the court, the issue made the Denver Nuggets feel frustrated. Off the court, the issue prompted Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to offer sarcastic laughter and coach Mike Malone to offer sarcastic analysis. After suffering a 126-114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, how do the Nuggets adapt better to whistles? “Just try to play through it. It’s tough,” said Murray, who nearly had has many fouls (four) as assists (five) to go along with 21 points. “They’re going to talk about every call and have conversations and try to manipulate what happens. But you can’t worry about it. It’s going to be we’re the younger team. We’re going to play through it and find a way. We’re not going to go away so easily.”
“They’re not trying to make the wrong call. They are just doing their job,” Murray said. “We’re going to miss shots and they’re going to miss calls. I’m going to make a bad pass, and they might make a bad call. It’s going to happen. There’s no reaction. You play through it. We’ll be all right. I’m not going to sit here and just blame it on the refs. That’s not what I’m doing. You just have to play through it and earn your respect.”
“I’m looking forward to watching the film to see where all these fouls were called,” Malone said. “Obviously in the second half, it evened out. But it was an extreme advantage for the Lakers in that first half. Watch the film and see the fouls that are being called, why they’re being called, should they have been called. Then try to learn from it and get better for it for Game No. 2.”
Jovan Buha: Mike Malone on Patrick Beverley’s flailing comments about Nikola Jokic: “I don’t listen to Patrick Beverley a whole lot. If Kawhi Leonard was talking, maybe I would listen to it. Kawhi’s a great player. ... They shot 26 free throws, we shot 10.”
It was the third time during this postseason that a Rockets player was hit below the belt. Sources told ESPN that the Rockets were upset that Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Chris Paul's jab to Ben McLemore's groin area in overtime of Game 3 of their first round series -- a play extremely similar to Davis' drive -- was not reviewed by the league office. Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni received a technical foul for angrily arguing that the referees should have reviewed the play to determine if it was a flagrant foul, and sources said the Rockets believed a suspension should have been considered for Paul due to his history of similar incidents.
Michael Singer: Nikola Jokic, when asked about Beverley’s “flailing” comment: “They had 26 free throws, we had 10.” Good question @Royce Young.
But what happens when a player storms to the sideline certain he didn’t commit a foul? “I try to gauge who it is, meaning how often has he lied to me in the past and how adamant is he about it,” Rivers says. “I mean, I laugh now. I literally laugh. Every game, I see 15 a game, where the players are doing [the finger] and so unless I'm clear visually, I usually just ignore it. I did have one where Kawhi [Leonard], who rarely says something, runs to me and says, ‘I swear I didn't touch him.’ And we challenged it and we won. After the game, I always say, ‘All right. Credible, he's credible, not, not, not, not.’ I mean that's basically what we do. We make fun of it now.”
April 17, 2021 | 1:45 am EDT Update
The pool of teams that will have the salary-cap space to make a run at Markkanen is limited, but multiple executives and scouts anticipate the San Antonio Spurs will make a strong offer this summer. Without LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio has a need for a stretch big with Markkanen’s size and skill set.
Warriors star Stephen Curry will be entering a contract year in 2021/22 if he doesn’t reach an extension agreement in the offseason with the team. However, he doesn’t sound like someone eager to test free agency. Asked by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (video link) how much of a priority it is to spend his entire career in Golden State, Curry affirmed that’s his plan. “It’s always been a priority,” Curry said. “When you look at guys like Dirk (Nowitzki), Kobe (Bryant), that I played against and have heard them talk about what that’s meant, they don’t speak on it lightly. There’s a reverence for that club.
“You never know what can happen, obviously, but I feel like that’s always been something that would mean so much to me. You want to stay competitive, you want to stay in that fight where you’re winning championships. If I can accomplish both, that’s the ultimate goal.”
Convincing Zach LaVine the Bulls are building a playoff contender is important when you consider the 26-year-old’s “big focus” coming into the season was to get Chicago into the playoffs. That’s why rival executives anticipate the Bulls will try to lock up LaVine with a contract extension (he will make $19.5 million this season and next) but know he’ll likely let his deal lapse, become an unrestricted free agent and sign what will be a more lucrative multiyear max pact.
“That’s why them getting Vooch was a really big deal,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “Players want to get paid, just like we all do. But they also want to win, and guys like Zach have been around the block long enough to know they can’t win in this league by themselves. LeBron’s the best to do it, and he couldn’t win it all by himself. Even he needed help.” The exec added, “Them getting Vooch sent a clear message to Zach that yes, Chicago is serious about trying to put together a winner here and now.”
The patience has paid off to a relative degree, as now the Wizards are in position to possibly make the playoffs. Beal feels like he has been somewhat vindicated by the experience. “It speaks volumes. It’s always tough because when my name was buzzing, that’s all I heard early in the year is ‘trade Beal, trade Beal.’ It wasn’t anything other than that,” Beal said. “So, me knowing who I am and just sticking through it, that’s a testament to what we did as a team this year.”
Ian Begley: On The Putback this week: Dennis Schroder among PGs on NYK radar for 2021 free agency; he reportedly turned down a 4-yr, $80M-plus extension from LAL.
Brunson, who scored 15 points with seven assists and five rebounds in a win over the Knicks on April 2, has a non-guaranteed year left on his pact. The Mavericks, whom the Knicks visit on Friday night, could let Brunson become a restricted free agent and match any offer this summer. Or they could let him become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. The guard is the son of former Knick Rick Brunson. The Knicks have had their eye on Jalen Brunson, whose father was one of Thibodeau’s assistant coaches with the Bulls and Timberwolves.