Green: Season 'about experimenting' for Golden State | Reports: Millsap off trading block | George regrets 'fatherhood' comments
No. 1: Green: This season 'about experimenting' for Warriors -- Draymond Green is the emotional center and is never afraid to call out a teammate's mistakes, even if it is someone like superstar forward (and new addition) Kevin Durant. Green did exactly that in a game over the weekend as the Warriors lost to the Memphis Grizzlies. Green talked with USA Today's Sam Amick about that blowup, the Warriors' season and more in a Q&A:
Q: So last year was a circus – just an absolute show every single night. I feel like this year is a whole lot more learning and tinkering …
A: “Last year we were trying to win every single game every night. This year we’re trying more things out, we’re trying different combinations, we’re playing more guys trying to figure out what works, and I think it’s good. I think it’s been good for us. And yet, we’ve still been able to win at a really high rate. We’re definitely trying things out, trying to figure out what works.
“It’s been experimenting with lineups, experimenting with substitutions patterns. It’s been experimenting with plays – down the stretch, experimenting with plays, seeing what works. It’s been a ton of experimenting. Last year, was ‘We know what to do. Go do it. We know who’s coming in.’ It’s been a ton (compared to last season) – it’s really been all experimenting, for the most part. I mean obviously you have your parts in the game where it’s not, but I’d say at least half a game – including subs, and lineups, and play calls – has been experimenting."
Q: Is that situation with Kevin (where Green wanted him to run pick-and-roll when Durant instead took the isolation approach) another growth experience, in that regard? It seemed like he was completely straight when it came to you guys having that kind of communication.
A: “Absolutely. That’s what makes him special. That’s what makes him an incredible star. He’s a megastar. You know, most people would look at how you’re saying something and not what you’re saying. He looks at what you’re saying, and not how you’re saying it. Obviously he knows me very well. We have a great friendship, and so he knows what type of person I am. He knows how passionate I am about everything, and everything I say.
“I think everybody tried to blow it out of proportion, which was funny. And yet, I saw something that said, ‘Draymond and Kevin gets into an argument,’ or something. I don’t know if you can really get into an argument where one person is talking and the other guy is saying, ‘What would you rather me have done here?’ And I’m like., ‘You go into the pick and roll – blasé, blasé, blasé,’ and he’s like, ‘(Ok), I got you. Alright, cool. Let’s go.’”
Q: Do you second guess the way you’re getting your message across in that moment at all?
A: “No, not at all, because that’s the heat of the moment right there. That’s what being teammates is about. And if you have to second guess talking to a teammate, it’ll never work anyway. I didn’t for one second think, ‘Oh no, I have to tone it (down).’ Not at all. Number One, we’re super close – super close.”
Q: How close are we talking?
A: “It’s hard to really say how close. But (close) like building a relationship far beyond basketball, like hanging with each other in the summer close. It’s beyond that. It’s a special thing. It’s a special relationship. Like I said, if we have to question (the way they talk to each other)…
“(The communication) is vice versa (too). He comes up to me all the time, ‘(Draymond), you on (expletive),’ and I’m like, ‘Ok, I got you. I got you.’ If you’ve got to second-guess talking to a teammate, what you have will never work.”
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No. 2: Reports: Hawks pull Millsap off trade market -- Kyle Korver is no longer an Atlanta Hawk, having been officially dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers last weekend. Before that, word had circulated that the Hawks were making All-Star forward Paul Millsap available for trades. Yet as the Hawks have found traction of late (they're on a six-game win streak), those talks have quieted. Now comes word from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Chris Vivlamore that the Hawks are telling other teams Millsap is no longer on the trading block:
Paul Millsap will not be traded.
The Hawks’ all-star power forward has been taken off the trading block, according to several people familiar with the situation. General manager Wes Wilcox began informing teams on the decision on Monday.
The Hawks took a “long, hard look” at trading Millsap but ultimately decided he is too valuable to the franchise and they want to keep him, according to one person familiar with change of decision. The new mandate may have come from Hawks ownership.
Millsap said last week his heart is in Atlanta. Following the recent news, he is said to be happy with the decision and wants to “finish the job.” Millsap has a player option for next season and can opt out and become an unrestricted free agent. While no decision has been made, Millsap will likely make such a move with an increase in the salary cap and his potential for a max or near-max contract.
The Hawks were in discussions with a number of interested teams regarding Millsap. The Kings were one team described as very interested, according to one person.
The Hawks recently began to look at ways to change the roster after a 16-16 start to the season. They had discussions with teams about several players, including Millsap, Kyle Korver, Thabo Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr. Millsap was the biggest name mentioned in deals. At first, the organization was simply doing its due diligence and seeing what the market would yield for Millsap. However, after further internal discussions, a decision was made to seriously consider offers before the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 23.
And now another change. Millsap will remain.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein says the Hawks' recent win streak helped lead management to rethink trading Millsap:
The Atlanta Hawks have abruptly decided to halt their attempts to trade All-Star forward Paul Millsap, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that the Hawks, after signaling to a number of teams that they were ready to trade Millsap and fellow pending free agents Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha, made it known Monday that they are pulling back after completing a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Korver.
The fact that Atlanta has managed to put together a season-high-tying winning streak of six games in the midst of all the recent trade speculation has likely contributed to the Hawks' sudden reluctance to talk trades. Yet it remains to be seen, with the NBA's annual trade deadline on Feb. 23 still 45 days away, whether the Hawks will hold firm with their new stance on Millsap or decide once again to reconsider their trade options.
ESPN first reported on Jan. 1 that the Hawks were inviting offers for the likes of Millsap, Korver and Sefolosha.
On Saturday, Atlanta acquired a 2019 first-round pick from Cleveland, along with Mike Dunleavy and Mo Williams, in exchange for Korver.
That same night, Millsap told ESPN in Dallas that he hoped he wouldn't be the next to go.
"It's tough, but being in the league for 11 years, there's going to be a lot of rumors," Millsap said. "Who's to say they're true or not? But whatever happens, you gotta just be prepared for it."
ESPN reported Friday that the Hawks were hopeful of securing at least one quality future first-round pick at the heart of any trade package they received for Millsap, but it's believed they were having difficulty finding that kind of return for the 31-year-old because of Millsap's looming free agency.
And as Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical points out, this doesn't mean the Hawks can't change direction on Millsap offers in the coming days and weeks:
Atlanta general manager Wes Wilcox started informing teams Monday afternoon that the Hawks were no longer working to unload Millsap, sources said. Millsap can be a free agent this summer, and multiple teams – including Denver, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers – had an interest in making a deal for him, sources said.
The commitment to trade for Millsap, 31, would be significant for teams because of the assets it would take to acquire him and the likely $30 million-plus annual salary needed to re-sign him in summer free agency. If the Hawks had overwhelming offers for Millsap, they may not have hesitated on pulling him from the market.
Nevertheless, the Hawks could change course with several weeks left before the Feb. 23 trade deadline and return Millsap to the marketplace. For now, the Hawks – 21-16 and fourth in the East – are turning back toward competing in the conference.
The Hawks had planned to move veteran Mike Dunleavy Jr., who was acquired in the Korver deal, to a third team with Millsap on the trade market, but the directive to change course made it easier for the Hawks to commit to a role for Dunleavy and convince him that a contract buyout wasn’t his best alternative for his season. Dunleavy, 36, will report to the Hawks on Tuesday to take his physical and complete the Korver trade, league sources said.
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No. 3: Karl regrets 'fatherhood' comments in book -- Former Nuggets coach George Karl turned more than a few heads weeks ago when an excerpt from his new book, "Furious George", came out detailing his time in Denver. Of particular interest were his comments about ex-Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony and pointed words he had for Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith and others about the lack of their fathers being in their lives. Martin didn't take kindly to those comments and fired back at Karl via social media and a Players Tribune article. In a recent interview, though, Karl says he regrets those comments and wants to mend fences, if possible. AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today has more:
Ex-NBA head coach George Karl found himself in hot water recently when comments he made in his book — Furious George — were released, including his labeling of Carmelo Anthony as a “user of people” and claim that Anthony and Kenyon Martin“carried two big burdens” because they had “all that money and no father to show them how to act like a man.”
The book was officially released Tuesday and before it came out, Karl joined USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt on the NBA A to Z podcast to talk about why he wrote the book and to respond to some of the criticism.
When asked if he regretted how he phrased anything, Karl said “I think the one thing is (the) fatherhood (comments). Fatherhood is very important to me, and I made that a target. It seems like that was the one thing, and I said it poorly, I wrote it poorly, it’s read poorly in the book. And my whole thing is the one thing I regret probably most is some of the mothers (being offended). Kenyon Martin’s mother is one of the great mothers, superstar mothers of the NBA, and I would never want to take anything away from some of the special families and also special mothers."
Karl, who landed his first head-coaching job in 1984 and spent most of the next three decades on the NBA sidelines before being fired by the Sacramento Kings at the end of the 2015-16 season, said that he wants to try and clear the air with those he offended, including Anthony and Martin, who he coached with the Denver Nuggets.
“I think for me, whenever the storm settles a little bit, I think that’s a possibility that hopefully maybe Kenyon and whoever else, J.R. (Smith), Melo, whoever other people who feel that we should have a one on one conversation, I would be totally and completely open to that,” he said.
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