NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: John Wall has more to say — The soap opera surrounding the Wizards and their starting backcourt is either an overblown story that’s dominating a quiet summer, or something real under the surface. If you believe John Wall, it’s the former. To recap: Wall and Bradley Beal, in so many words, see themselves as the face of the franchise based purely on their lead-singer personalities and determination. Also, Beal signed a deal this summer that makes him the team’s highest paid player, while Wall is making Ian Mahinmi money. Well, Wall insists he has no problem with that, and took to social media, specifically “Uninterrupted” to squelch any rumors of unrest regarding salary:
“I just wanted to clear the air for all these people talking about how I’m watching other people’s pockets and I’m not worried about basketball and getting better,” Wall said directly to the camera. “Listen, that doesn’t matter to me. If I produce like I’m supposed to on the basketball court and take care of myself and image, I’m going to be fine with making money. That’s not why I play the game of basketball.”
News of a rift between Wall and Beal came to light earlier this week, when both players acknowledged their difficulties in dealing with each other on the court. Wall point-blank stated the two “have a tendency to dislike each other on the court” in an interview that aired on Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday night.
Beal, meanwhile, described himself and Wall as two “alphas,” insinuating that their difficulties stem from their personalities.
Neither player mentioned Beal’s new contract, which will garner the 23-year-old $128 million over the course of five years. This makes Beal, who will earn more than $22 million this season, the highest-paid player on the team. Meanwhile, Wall, 25, remains the second-highest paid player, despite being a three-time all star. Under Wall’s current contract, a five-year deal that goes through the 2018-19 season, Wall is set to make just under $17 million this season.
“Me, talking about Bradley Beal [making] more money, I’m not mad. I’m happy. He’s my teammate,” Wall said Friday. “He came out at the right time when the contract money came up. I can’t control that.
Wall added that if he does what he’s “supposed to do and the Washington Wizards win,” he’ll get his own salary bump in the future.
Wall also addressed rumors that he was “rankled” over James Harden’s four-year, $118 million extension.
“I don’t care,” Wall said of the Houston Rockets star’s deal. “I’m happy for him. That’s my guy. I’m not mad at him. … Please stop saying I’m watching money. I’m not.”
No. 2: Donovan on being one-and-done with Durant — Billy Donovan left the University of Florida two summers ago to take his dream NBA job: Coaching Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and a loaded Thunder team. Donovan did well as a rookie NBA coach, but once again OKC came up short of a championship after blowing a 3-1 lead on the Warriors in the West finals. Compounding matters, of course, was losing Durant to free agency weeks later. Donovan is now left holding the bag with just Westbrook inside, and the coach often wonders what-if he had that duo intact at least for another season. He recently spoke to the Vertical and shared his thoughts on Durant joining the loaded Warriors:
Billy Donovan did not go as far as saying that he thought Kevin Durant would definitely re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder in free agency, but the coach told The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski that he felt good about their chances after their meeting.
From The Vertical Podcast:
“I don’t know if I ever felt like he was going to necessarily come back, but I thought our meeting went very, very well. I think Kevin on the front end was very, very, honest that when the season ended, he was going to go through this process and he was going to take a meeting with us, obviously, first. And then he was going to have some other teams he was going to meet with. And I think a little bit later on, after the season ended, they decided to do it out in The Hamptons. But I thought the meeting that we had went very well. I think we talked about basketball, we talked about our team, we talked about direction, we talked about obviously his leadership, his role, all those kind of things.
“I think leaving the meeting it was very, very positive. I thought it was very, very clear. I think there was direction on both sides. But one thing I think with Kevin was going through nine years in the organization, he was at a point of time when he was allowed obviously to be a free agent and go through this process and start to gather some information. We were the first meeting. So obviously, I think being in college for so long and you go through recruiting, you know that during that process, things can change through some of these different meetings. And obviously after meeting with Golden State, things probably in his mind changed in terms of what he was evaluating.”
Essentially, as ESPN’s Royce Young reported, the Thunder were optimistic after speaking with Durant for five hours in Oklahoma City. They were less so after he started listening to other teams. Elsewhere in the podcast, Donovan says that he always knew there was a possibility that Durant would leave, but as a coach, he knew he couldn’t control that. In Donovan’s words, Durant earned the right to go through the process, so all he focused on was trying to make the team better. On the Fourth of July, Donovan’s job immediately became about what has to change next year.
Ever since Durant’s decision, there has been all sorts of conjecture about why he did what he did, what it means and whether he made the right or wrong call for his legacy. Donovan, though, sounded completely uninterested in that. He said he would have loved for Durant to return, obviously, but he wasn’t particularly concerned with why it didn’t work out. Now that he’s gone, it doesn’t matter how well Oklahoma City played in the playoffs last season, and it doesn’t matter how much planning and preparation went into its presentation to Durant. The pitch didn’t work, and the Thunder have to move on.
No. 3: Jason and Jason a tandem again, now in Milwaukee — The last time Jason Terry and Jason Kidd needed each other was in Dallas. Neither had a championship ring for all of their years in the NBA, and the aging teammates helped produce one of the bigger Finals upsets when they beat the favored Heat in 2011. And now, as coach of the transitional Bucks, Kidd is leaning on his new veteran addition to help push the Bucks into steep territory in the East. Another championship doesn’t appear to be in the works right away, but the Bucks are building with youth and need guidance in the locker room and on the court. Terry recently spoke with Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the upcoming season and the challenge:
Terry believes his 17 years in the NBA will translate into a mentoring role with the young Bucks seeking a bounce-back season in 2016-’17.
“I think it’s very important,” Terry said in an interview after signing a one-year deal to rejoin former Dallas Mavericks teammate Jason Kidd, entering his third season as the Bucks coach.
“If you look at all playoff and championship teams, they have solid veteran guys to steer the ship. There are going to be times during the season when the coach’s voice, some of the young guys get tired of hearing it. That’s when the veteran leadership steps in and says, ‘No, we’re not going to go away from the ship. We’re going to continue to follow the right direction.’”
It will help that Terry and Kidd have such a close relationship. They played together on the 2011 Mavericks team that won the NBA championship, and Terry was on the Nets roster in Brooklyn during Kidd’s first year as a pro coach in 2013-’14.
“I just knew if I had an opportunity to either play again for him or coach with him, I would take it,” Terry said.
When Kidd was in Dallas, his advice proved valuable to the 6-foot-2 shooting guard. Now Terry believes he can play the same role in Milwaukee.
“It was him taking me in the weight room and just showing me another way to get longevity out of my career,” Terry said. “I didn’t know that if you lifted weights the morning of the game, that prolonged your career.
“That was something I really took to heart, because he didn’t have to teach me that. The respect level was there, No. 1.
“And No. 2, he’s a Hall of Famer. I had a chance to pick his brain and see what he’s seeing on the court. It was just phenomenal for me.”
Terry was coming off knee surgery when he played for Kidd in Brooklyn, but in the past two years he has been healthy and played in 149 games with the Houston Rockets.
He was part of the Rockets team that stunned the Los Angeles Clippers, erasing a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference semifinals in 2015.
Even though he will turn 39 years old before training camp opens in late September, Terry believes he still can contribute on the court.
“I stay in top condition,” Terry said. “I’m always watching film. I’ve already been watching some film on the Bucks last year.
“I may not be playing the point guard position, but I can still help guys get in position and calm them down, just like I did in Houston.”
Terry, nicknamed “The Jet,” ranks third all-time in three-pointers made with 2,169, behind only Ray Allen and Reggie Miller.
“I’ve always been a guy that came early and stayed late,” Terry said.
“If we’re on the road, I will go at night and get shots up in the other team’s arena. It familiarizes you with the environment. The rims are still 10 feet, but the shooting background and environment are different. Only shooters can understand that aspect.”
Terry said he learned from watching Miller and Steve Kerr, now the Golden State Warriors coach and former teammate of Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. Another major influence was Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki.
The increased emphasis on three-point shooting in today’s NBA is not surprising to Terry. Golden State’s success behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson is leading other teams to emulate its style of play.
“I love it,” Terry said. “A guy that’s 38 and still can shoot, it prolongs your career because you’re still valuable.
“You have to have shooting on the floor in today’s basketball. When you have great 1-on-1 players, it provides spacing for your guys to operate.”
The Bucks lagged behind in the three-point game last season, finishing last in the league in threes made and attempted.
But Terry sees that changing with the additions to the roster the Bucks have made in the off-season, including the signing of free agents Mirza Teletovic and Matthew Dellavedova.
The Bucks still have the length featuring 21-year-olds Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, but teams will not be able to pack the paint as much if they can show legitimate three-point threats.
“When you have a guy like Giannis who can play point forward and Jabari, who is great off the dribble, you have to have spacing on the floor and guys who can knock down shots,” Terry said.
“Teletovic, he’s my candidate for sixth man of the year. I don’t know what their plans are, but he can flat out shoot this ball. He’s good.”
Terry is ready for the next chapter in his career and eager to arrive in Milwaukee after Labor Day to begin working out with his new teammates.
Last season the Bucks sorely missed the leadership of Jared Dudley and Zaza Pachulia, who were traded last summer as the youth movement took full flight.
Terry isn’t the bashful type and is nearly twice the age of some of the Bucks players.
“I have a routine and I will show them,” Terry said. “They already have the work ethic and that’s half the battle.”
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