Fair or not, the backlash of criticism by NBA talking heads is going to be brutal. But truth be told, the lopsided nature of this series actually reveals why Jokic deserves to be the MVP. Without Joker, this current crew of Nuggets would have trouble beating any team in the league. “It is hard to rely solely upon Nikola Jokic,” Malone said.
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Harrison Wind: Michael Malone on the Will Barton-DeMarcus Cousins dustup on the Nuggets’ bench: “No one wants to get embarrassed. No one wants to get their ass kicked on national TV.” “I think it’s just frustration.”
“We’re getting our ass whupped and a lot of emotions flare up,” a clearly frustrated Monte Morris said. “We’ve just got to be tougher and stay together. We’re not giving ourselves a chance to beat this team with a lot of mistakes. “And also, we’ve got no f—ing chance if we’re going to be apart. We’ve got to stay locked in, stay together.”
“I feel his frustration,” Malone said. “I think he’s getting fouled like he thinks he’s getting fouled. He’s not getting the call. But he has to find a way to play through that. He’s way too valuable.” “As a leader of this team, he’s got to show guys in adverse times when things aren’t going your way, you’ve got to find a way to fight through it, be mentally tough,” the coach added. “That’s going to be a challenge for him moving forward.”
Ohm Youngmisuk: Nikola Jokic said his frustration was with “pretty much everything.” He also said with Gary Payton’s slap on Joker’s butt: “he doesn’t need to do that.”
Mark Medina: Nuggets coach Michael Malone on DeMarcus Cousins & Will Barton having an argument: “If we’re fragmented, if we’re breaking off into groups or individuals, then we have zero chance of winning a game in this series.”
Jamal Murray: Y’all don’t think I wanna be out there huh.. crazy
Still, Jokic was sensational. He finished with 34 points and 11 rebounds, carrying to the Nuggets to the brink of a road victory. “I told our guys just now, Nikola’s not a good player, (he’s) a great player,” Malone said. “But every time he comes out, everything just falls apart. It’s every night. I went to him in the fourth quarter, I called his name, and he looked at me, kind of like, ‘Already?’ And I feel for him. … Nikola’s gonna be worn down by Christmas at this rate.”
Duvalier Johnson: Well, can’t say that the Nuggets don’t care. Jamal Murray is agitated in the post game presser.
Duvalier Johnson: Jamal Murray on a wake up call:”We expect it to and we expect it from outselves.” pic.twitter.com/rcBWjMqOAD
TJ McBride: “I think the energy was there but…we didn’t know where to go. We were going to the wrong places.” Jokic seems to think their loss came down to execution over effort.
TJ McBride: Nikola Jokic said that he wouldn’t share what Malone told them after the game. “That’s a locker room thing.”
Sarah Todd: Mike Malone “We lost the game at the end of the first quarter beginning of the second quarter…it was a wrap”
Duvalier Johnson: Michael Malone on Utah Jazz:”They’re playing on a different level than us right now and we have to find a way to not only match that but exceed that.” pic.twitter.com/FAz5O2ZF7X
Harrison Wind: Malone: We’re not going to go anywhere if Nikola and Jamal combine for 27 points…it’s not just on Jamal it’s not just on Nikola.” “We’re not coaching well enough, we’re not playing well enough.”
TJ McBride: More Malone: “From Nikola, obviously, we need more.”
Nick Kosmider: Michael Malone was blunt this morning in Atlanta while delivering his assessment of where his team stands, with the second-worst defense in the NBA over the last six games, which have seen Denver go 3-3. He said the Nuggets are in a “funk” they have to dig out of. pic.twitter.com/DYbbAABfrX
Michael Singer: Two days later, Michael Malone was still stewing over the Washington loss and what’s transpired over the last six games (29th in defense). “Our defense sucks,” Malone said. “Take ownership in it.”
Michael Singer: Malone on the #Nuggets defensive lapses: “Transition is the beginning (of the recent problems). .. It’s one-on-one containment, it’s low-man awareness, it’s multiple effort.” Said over last two games, Nuggets have been beaten on all the hustle stats.
With 17 regular-season games remaining in a tight playoff race that has the Nuggets on the outside, coach Michael Malone knows his team doesn’t have much time to figure it out. “When a player of Paul Millsap’s magnitude misses 44 games and comes back with 22 games to go, that is a huge challenge,” Malone said. “Especially when the team was playing so well.”
Though Millsap has flashed active moments while blocking shots, making steals and maintaining stout position defense, Malone cautioned that the Nuggets can’t rely on one player to transform their performance on that end of the floor. “(Millsap) needs the other four guys to buy in and give the same effort that he’s giving,” Malone said.
Harrison Wind: Michael Malone ripped into his team during his postgame interview on @AltitudeTV for their lack of defense: “They kicked our ass, it’s becoming the same story every single night….my message is stop feeling sorry for yourself…”
As the Nuggets get to work in preparation for the NBA season, Kenneth Faried stubbornly refuses to accept a reserve role and defiantly insists if Denver can’t give him the minutes on the court he deserves, there are 29 other teams in the league where he can go play.
“I’ll just put it out there for everybody. I’m not a bench player. I’ve been saying that for the longest. I’m a starter,” Faried said Monday, when I asked him about his status with the Nuggets. “I love to hear the crowd (when introduced as), ‘Starting at power forward, No. 35, Kenneth Faried.’ Yes, that’s me. One hundred percent, that’s been my whole life. And I’m going to fight for a starting position. I’m just not going to lay down and let somebody take it. ”
“There are 29 other teams,” said Faried, whose contract with the Nuggets runs through 2019. “If this team doesn’t want, or respect me enough, to play me the minutes that I think I deserve to play, then I understand that. Hey, there’s 29 others. Maybe I’ll go somewhere else and do what I need to do there. But at the same token, I’m here in Denver, and I want to play Manimal basketball, no matter what, every time I step on that court.”
Nate Timmons: There’s definitely something brewing (about to boil over?) between Coach Malone & the players. Team seems like a mess.
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June 28, 2022 | 6:30 pm EDT Update
According to an NBA source familiar with the situation, the Miami Heat are willing to extend a fully guaranteed contract for the maximum-allowable three years to free-agent power forward P.J. Tucker. The Heat’s offer is built off the $8.4 million non-Bird salary-cap exception, which would put the team’s standing offer at $27 million over three years.
Should the Heat lose out on Tucker, the team, according to an NBA source, is considering either a trade for former Heat power forward Jae Crowder, who is entering the final year of a contract that pays $10.2 million next season with the Phoenix Suns, or a possible free-agent move for Indiana Pacers forward T.J. Warren.
Starting guard Jalen Brunson hasn’t informed Dallas’ front office about where he plans to sign in what’s become a head-to-head pursuit between the Mavericks and the New York Knicks, a source told The Dallas Morning News on Tuesday. But the source said the Mavericks expect Brunson will choose the Knicks — and their family- and stardom-related perks — when the league allows players and teams to start verbally agreeing to new contracts at 11 p.m. Thursday.
After moving Kristaps Porzingis at the deadline, the Mavericks extended the same four-years, $55 million offer to starting wing Dorian Finney-Smith, who signed immediately despite potential to earn more as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Another source said Brunson was prepared to do the same — but the Mavericks didn’t offer the extension.
JD Shaw: The Philadelphia 76ers have received a summer league commitment from guard Grant Riller, agent Scott Nichols of @Rize_Management tells @HoopsRumors. The 25-year-old spent time on a two-way contract with the team this past season.
June 28, 2022 | 5:31 pm EDT Update
Adrian Wojnarowski: Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac has agreed on a three-year, $33 million extension, his agents Jeff Schwartz and Mike Lindeman of @excelbasketball tell ESPN. The Clippers declined his $7.5M team option for 2022-2023, clearing the way for Zubac’s new deal.
Law Murray: Source confirms to @Theathletic that LA Clippers center Ivica Zubac is getting a raise. 3-year, $33 million. @Wojespn first. No options, fully guaranteed, hits market 2025. Not trade eligible this offseason. Longest-tenured Clipper returns as unquestioned starting center.