Shootaround (May 18) -- Tristan Thompson promises to keep past vs. Boston Celtics 'in the past'
Plus, Zaza Pachulia's MRI comes back clean and more from around the NBA this morning
No. 1: Thompson vows to take high road after Game 1 — Although the Cleveland Cavaliers had little trouble dispatching the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the game was not with some doses of drama. In particular, a mini-scuffle between Tristan Thompson and the Celtics’ Marcus Smart was a topic of conversation afterward. ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin reports Thompson, for his part, isn’t going to get caught up in a tit-for-tat battle in the series:
Perhaps the most competitive moment Wednesday between the Cavaliers and Celtics came during a confrontation between Tristan Thompson and Marcus Smart late in the third quarter.
The dispute was a blast from the past on a night in which the Cavs never trailed and led by as many as 28 points in a 117-104, Game 1 win.
It brought to mind the Cavs and Celtics’ first-round playoff series in 2015 that devolved into a physical affair with Kelly Olynyk wrenching Kevin Love’s shoulder out of its socket, JR Smith drawing a two-game suspension for his flagrant foul on Jae Crowder that caused Crowder to fall to the floor and sprain his left ACL and Kendrick Perkins scuffling with Crowder.
However, Thompson vows there has been no carryover effect as the Eastern Conference finals continue.
“Whatever happened in the past is in the past,” Thompson told ESPN after finishing with a career-playoff-high 20 points on 7-for-7 shooting, nine rebounds and two steals. “We got guys that understand that whenever you take extracurricular actions, there’s consequences for it and for us. We need everyone, every game. So I’m not going to put myself in the position to hurt my team or my teammates.”
Thompson and Smart were called for a double foul with 3:10 remaining in the third when the Cavs big man threw the Boston guard’s arm off him as the two got tangled up while fighting for rebounding position.
Smart, who left the arena without speaking to reporters, took exception to Thompson’s aggression. Thompson then took exception to Smart elbowing him, and the two went chest to chest, prompting the referee to blow the whistle.
Thompson said there was nothing personal between him and Smart that was behind the flap.
“No history,” Thompson told ESPN. “He wasn’t at Oklahoma State when I was at Texas. He’s younger. But he plays hard. He plays hard. He does the same thing I do. He’s a guard that plays hard, and you got to respect it. He leaves it all on the line, and he kind of gives them that boost.”
Smith told reporters he expects more physicality from the Celtics in Game 2.
“For them to come out swinging, playing scrappy like they do,” Smith said, “they’ve been playing like that all year. Whenever their backs are up against the wall, they tend to play better, just like we do. We just got to expect that and understand there might be dirty plays, might be cheap shots coming from the other side just because they are fighting for their lives at this point. We just got to keep doing what we’ve been doing.”
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No. 2: Report: Pachulia’s MRI comes back clean; Spurs fan files lawsuit against Pachulia — First, the good news for Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia and the team’s fans: ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports the MRI on Pachulia’s heel revealed no serious injury from Game 2:
Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia underwent an MRI on his sore right heel Wednesday, and the results came back clean, league sources tell ESPN.
Pachulia, whose status is day to day, suffered a heel contusion in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs.
He scored four points in seven minutes before suffering the injury and told ESPN after the team’s 136-100 victory that he didn’t know how serious it was.
Now, the bad news for Pachulia. A San Antonio Spurs fan is suing him for the foul he committed against Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 that led to Leonard re-injuring his balky left ankle. Nick Moyle of the San Antonio Express-News has more on Pachulia’s lawsuit and what comes next:
The Spurs have not asked the NBA to review Zaza Pachulia’s foul on Kawhi Leonard, which caused Leonard to re-injure his ankle and forced him to miss the final 20 minutes of Game 1 and all of Game 2.
Juan Vazquez isn’t letting go quite so easily.
Vazquez on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against Pachulia and the Warriors on behalf of Spurs season ticket holders and San Antonio card shop What’s On Second.
“All we are asking from the court is that this type of behavior, that can and does cause serious injury to our team and those that love it, not be allowed in San Antonio,” said Alfonso Kennard, Jr., lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
The suit claims Pachulia acted “without excuse or justification, intentionally and maliciously invaded the landing zone of an opposing athlete, Kawhi Leonard.”
Among the plaintiffs’ demands:
Judgment against defendants for a sum within the jurisdictional limits of the court for all their actual and exemplary damages in a sum determined by the trier of fact but in no event greater than $73,000.00;
A temporary restraining order be issued without notice to defendants and that defendants and others named herein be restrained from engaging in the conduct described above; and
Such other and further relief to which plaintiffs may be justly entitled.
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No. 3: Pierce calls for Celtics to trade No. 1 overall pick — Paul Pierce understands exactly what it takes to climb to the top of the NBA’s mountain. He performed the feat in 2008 as the leader of the champion Boston Celtics. As his retirement begins and he moves into a new stage of life, he feels his former team should deal their freshly acquired No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft to get Boston ready for a true title run. AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today has more:
Not only are they in the Eastern Conference finals as the No. 1 seed, but they just landed the No. 1 overall pick in June’s draft thanks to a 2013 trade with the Brooklyn Nets that’s still paying dividends. The only problem? It appears, especially after Wednesday night’s Game 1 rout, that they don’t have nearly enough to get past LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Not this year, and judging by James’ continued dominance, probably not next year, either.
This current dilemma, albeit a good one to have, begs the question: Should the Celtics hold on to the pick (likely Washington’s Markelle Fultz) and continue to build for the future, or should they take a more win-now approach and move the pick, along with other assets, for a player like Indiana Pacers forward Paul George or Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler?
If it were up to Paul Pierce — the Celtics legend who just completed a 19-year Hall of Fame career — Boston would go with the latter.
“You trade this pick, because he cannot help the Celtics get over the top,” Pierce said while making an appearance on The Jump Wednesday afternoon. “The window is now. … You’re a 50-win team, you’re the No. 1 seed. You have to build on this momentum. If you can acquire a Paul George a Jimmy Butler or a Gordon (Hayward) from Utah, you have to do it.”
Hayward — who played college ball under Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler — can opt out of his contract and test the unrestricted free-agency waters this summer, but the Jazz have a bit of an upper hand, as they’re able to offer him a more lucrative five-year deal as opposed to a team like Boston.
“I would try to persuade Gordon to sign as a free agent,” Pierce said. “You don’t have to trade for him. You go out, you try to get Gordon. Now, you have a chance with the No. 1 pick to try to acquire Jimmy Butler or Paul George, you go for it. You need these guys. You want to get over the top. Boston doesn’t praise winning the Eastern Conference. They’re going for a championship.”
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No. 4: Report: Knicks, Nets, Sixers have interest in Redick — The LA Clippers’ season ended in the first round of the playoffs, starting a summer of questions about the roster that features several prominent free agents. One of those names on that list is unrestricted shooting guard J.J. Redick, who is expected to command interest from several teams. Adrian Wojnarowski discussed that and more in a recent podcast, which the folks at NetsDaily.com transcribed:
In a podcast recorded after the dust had settled from the NBA Draft Lottery, Adrian Wojnarowski said J.J. Redick, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is being sought not just by the Clippers, but by three Atlantic Division teams, the Nets, Knicks and 76ers.
Woj stated that the Sixers appear to have the most interest, but that the Nets may want to add the 6’4” shooting guard, if the price is right.
“Brooklyn, the Knicks are teams that have interest in Redick. We’ll see how far they’re willing to pay,” Woj noted.
Woj said Philly would appear to be in the lead for the Duke legend.
“Redick is a guy who at least in the short term who give them a guy who comes in and start to space the floor a little bit and gives them the reason why they wanted Manu Ginobili last year… they wanted Manu to come in and be a mentor, be a veteran.
Redick of course recently purchased a $4 million condo in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Earlier this week, Jeremy Lin said he’s been working out with his Nets teammates and Redick, making it seem that Redick has been working out at HSS Training Center.
Woj said Redick could fill the veterans void for the Nets
“He impacts a locker room and I do think for Brooklyn, for New York, for Philadelphia, that’s a big part of the appeal for Redick,” he said.
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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Friendly reminder that the All-NBA teams are being announced today … Former Seattle Sonics guard Ray Allen is among the many pushing for the city to get an NBA team again … How Lonzo Ball’s family reacted as the 2017 Draft lottery played out … ICYMI, Kemba Walker had a knee procedure done and will be out about six weeks … Small moves the Golden State Warriors made to their roster over the years paid off in Game 1 … Fun look at the best (and worst) Draft picks ever from every team in the NBA …