NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Iguodala says Thunder should have won 2016 title — It will likely be a long time before any NBA fan forgets the epic seven-game series the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder waged in the Western Conference finals. From the storylines to the impact the Warriors’ rally to win the series had on both franchises, this playoff matchup will live on in NBA lore for years. One of the key performers in that series, Golden State forward Andre Iguodala, had some praise for the Thunder after the Warriors’ loss in The Finals has settled. Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman has more on what Iguodala told Power 105.1 radio in New York:
More than a week later, Kevin Durant‘s stunning departure still stings Thunder fans for a variety of reasons. Andre Iguodala just added another one.
Appearing on a recent New York City radio show, Iguodala told the hosts that the Thunder, not the 73-win Warriors or NBA champion Cavaliers, was the best team in the playoffs and should’ve won the title.
Quite infamously, OKC blew a 3-1 series lead and a double-digit second half cushion in Game 6, melting away its title hopes to the same Warriors who snagged away the face of the franchise a month later.
“Now that we got KD, I can say it: They were the best team last year in the league in the playoffs,” Iguodala said. “They were better than us. They were better than Cleveland. They were the best team in the playoffs. They should’ve won a championship.”
Why didn’t they?
“I mean, we just hawked them down,” Iguodala said. “But they were better than us. They played us better than anyone. They played us better than Cleveland. Some of the stuff they was doing, it’s like…oh, man. We gotta play perfect.”
No. 2: Lakers standout Nance Jr. suffers ‘probable’ broken hand — The Los Angeles Lakers lost in the second round of the NBA Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, suffering an 88-80 defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers. As that game wore on, though, Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. suffered an injury to his right hand as he went up for a dunk in the fourth quarter of the game. The Los Angeles Times Broderick Turner has more on Nance Jr.’s injury and what may be next:
The Lakers said forward Larry Nance Jr. suffered a “probable” break in his right hand during an 88-80 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night in the summer league in Las Vegas.
The Lakers said preliminary results from an X-ray Nance took after the game showed a fracture to the third metacarpal of his right hand.
Nance will return to Los Angeles to be evaluated by a hand specialist Friday. The Lakers said an update on Nance’s condition will be issued once he’s been examined.
No. 3: Conley wants a championship parade in Memphis — Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley has never been an All-Star. He’s never won a game in the Western Conference finals. What he has, done, though is become one of the figureheads of the Grizzlies’ “grit-and-grind” playoff teams of the past six seasons and a steadying presence on offense during that run. As he officially re-signed with the Grizzlies yesterday, Conley talked about his legacy in Memphis and his desire to see the Grizzlies reach the NBA pinnacle before his time is through there. Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal has more:
But at a time when NBA stars are bolting smaller markets for more glamorous cities — on a day when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league might have to make adjustments to the collective bargaining agreement to maintain competitive balance — it was striking to see yet another Grizzlies star elect to stay right here in Memphis.
Indeed, remember the 2007 NBA draft, when the Grizzlies supposedly got shafted by falling from No. 1 to No. 4 in the draft order?
Greg Oden, the No. 1 pick, never panned out because of injuries.
Kevin Durant, the No. 2 pick, just left Oklahoma City for Golden State.
Al Horford, the No. 3 pick, just left Atlanta for Boston.
Which leaves Conley, the No. 4 pick, as the last man standing, the only first-round pick from that draft who remains with the franchise that drafted him.
This isn’t just an accident, either. It says something about the franchise and about Conley.
“Legacy is all I could think about at the end of the day, just that one word, what I’d think about at night,” he said. “I’d like to be in Memphis and say that we brought a championship here, from winning 20 games a year, to going to the playoffs six straight seasons, to continually getting better each year, to ultimately bringing that trophy home and having a parade on Beale Street.
“Those are the visions I have. I just couldn’t see doing that anywhere else. I felt like it wouldn’t be who I am to leave and to abandon what I felt I helped build.”
There were other factors, of course. Money and winning, chief among them. But the Grizzlies made it clear from the start that they were going to offer Conley the full max contract, which made that part easy. And then they successfully wooed Chandler Parsons as a free agent, which demonstrated their commitment to winning.
So that let Conley do what he wanted to do all along, which was remain in the city where he has become a beloved part of the community. The Craig Brewer recruitment film didn’t hurt, either. Conley was with friends in Columbus, Ohio, when he saw it.
“Joe Abadi texted me and said, ‘Look at the website,’ ” Conley said. “I put my phone on and looked at it, and I was like, ‘Hold on, hold on, let me rewind this. Y’all got to see this. This is what Memphis is about. This is the city that I feel like I grew up in.’ “
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Oklahoma City Thunder star guard Russell Westbrook has been mum all summer about the changes to his squad … Is anyone interested in signing Maurice Harkless this summer? … Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick had pointed thoughts on the notion of ‘competitive balance’ … Could the Boston Celtics be looking to trade for Westbrook or Blake Griffin? … Speaking of the Thunder, former star Kevin Durant says he doesn’t expect his relationship with Westbrook to ‘ever be the same’ …