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Lillard poised to pass Drexler as Trail Blazers all-time leading scorer Report: Udoka used ‘crude language’ with female subordinate prior to improper relationship Suns update: Ayton blames Sarver for contract, Crowder conflict, Johnson to start Blake Griffin agrees to join Boston Celtics on one-year deal Highlights from Japan Game: Hachimura and Wiseman put on show, plus Suga and Curry

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Damian Lillard could have done what a lot of NBA stars did—what a lot of them told him when they recruited him—and decided to stay in Portland. He wants to be remembered as the greatest Trail Blazer of all time.

A good way to do this is to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Sometime around Thanksgiving or so, Lillard will do just that, leading Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler to 18,040 points (Lillard is 531 behind).

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Chris Haines of Yahoo Sports spoke to Lillard about when he knew the record was within reach, during the Trail Blazers’ training camp in Santa Barbara, California (go gauchos!). This was when Lillard scored 10,000 points.

“I was like, ‘Damn, did I get 10,000 already?’ Lillard told Yahoo Sports that he was reminiscing at the time. “This was my sixth season in the league. That’s when I started to think that if I was consistent, I could score 20,000 points. For a scorer, 20,000 points is always considered a special mark. From that moment I realized that it was possible, but also when I first researched Clyde Drexler. [scoring] recording with the team.

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Drexler does a good job of getting passed by Lillard.

“We all know that records are made to be broken, but I can’t think of a better player or person to break a record than Dam,” Drexler told Yahoo Sports. “He is an example of a team player and professionally doing his job. I have nothing but admiration and respect for him. When he’s close to getting the tape, and if our schedules match up, I’ll be happy to be there to help in any way I can. This is a good milestone to reach. I’m looking forward to when he does.”

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This season, Lillard is on the watch list of many front office staff, like “how long will it take before he gets unhappy and asks for a trade?” The thing is, Lillard has been on this list for years, and he keeps choosing Portland — he’s not going to leave. Sure, a $120 million renewal and a retooling of the roster around him helped make that decision, but Lillard always had other options if he wanted them (and at times it looked like he would take them).

Trail Blazers brought Straw Grantre-signed by Anfreni Simons, and will supply them with a solid core of others such as (finally healthy) Yusuf Nurkic, Josh Hart, Gary Payton II and others. It’s a good lineup, the question is how good is it in the deep west?

There are a lot of questions about how Portland will play out this season, but one thing seems certain: Lillard is the Trail Blazers’ all-time leading scorer. And it seems appropriate.

The Boston Celtics handled the investigation and suspension of Ime Udoki in accordance with corporate guidelines: they kept the woman’s name out of the news, kept details confidential (even without revealing much to players for legal reasons), and acted quickly and decisively.

But as the team on the court begins to defend their Eastern Conference title, there is concern that leaked details about the investigations – and the responses to those leaks – could turn this into a season-long drama and distract the team. It started with On Friday, when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported it:

An independent law firm investigated Boston Celtics coach Ima Udoki, which found that he used strong language in his dialogue with a female subordinate prior to her having an inappropriate relationship in the workplace, which greatly contributed to the severity of his year’s punishment. suspension, sources told ESPN.

These findings of the investigation, which described verbiage on Udoka’s part, which was deemed particularly concerning coming from a supervisor in the workplace, contribute to what is likely to be a difficult path back to his reinstatement as a Celtics coach in 2023, sources told ESPN. .

A few thoughts here.

• “Rough language” is just part of a more detailed and revealing report, league sources told NBC Sports. An independent investigation revealed much more, including about the power dynamics in the game. It’s enough that the Celtics felt the best move was to suspend the player-loved coach who led the team to the NBA Finals for the entire season (not something the Celtics organization did lightly).

• As Wojnarowski and others have pointed out, it’s unlikely that Udoka will return as Celtics coach next season, even if it’s not yet official.

• While some pundits and league officials say the Udoka is “finished,” the NBA has seen unexpected changes before. Never say never in this league.

• The only thing that can be said for sure is that this story is not over yet.

Phoenix made it to the NBA Finals two seasons ago and had the most wins in the NBA last season, but dark clouds seem to be keeping the Suns from entering this NBA season.

Here’s the latest on three Suns situations: Deandre Aytoncontract failure why Jay Crowder asks, and who starts at four now.

• Ayton ended up signing a four-year, $132.9 maximum deal and will return to the Suns earlier this season, but it’s been a rocky road. The Suns did not offer Ayton a contract extension of up to five years, his name constantly popped up in Kevin Duran Trade rumours, so Ayton walked out and received a maximum four-year offer from the Pacers, which the Suns immediately agreed to. Phoenix saved $40 million and a guaranteed year, but Ayton was a little upset by the process.

Ayton blames outgoing owner Robert Sarver – a notorious curmudgeon as owner (much worse, among other things) – Mark Spears and ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne discussed on NBA Today (Real GM hat tip).

“It certainly made him angry,” said Mark J. Spears. “They told me it was Robert Sarver who didn’t want to give him this fifth year, he wanted to save money.”

“From conversations with people close to Deandre, I understood that he also thinks that this was the decision of Robert Sarver. And Robert Sarver will no longer be the owner. So there might be some healing going on there. But I know there were some resentments about this contract and how it ended.

“If they were going to instantly match the offer sheet he signed, why not just give him the maximum contract? Yes, it saved them a year and $40 million, but as someone close to DeAndre told me, “there’s karma in it.” Why do this to your first overall number?”

Shelburne hit the nail on the head: The NBA is a business, but it’s a relationship business. Not only did the Suns mess up their relationship with Ayton, you can also be sure that every other agent in the league noticed how it was done. It doesn’t help when recruiting players. A possible new owner, whoever it turns out to be, has a lot of work to do to change the perception of the franchise.

• Jay Crowder stays out of the Suns during training camp pending trade (which reportedly won’t be in Dallas). Crowder has started 109 games for the Suns over the past two seasons and has been a key part of their journey to the NBA Finals, so why did things take a turn for the worse so quickly? Mark Stein lays it out in his latest Substack newsletter..

Entering the final season of his current $10.2 million contract, Jay Crowder told the Suns he was seeking a contract extension. League sources say the Suns response message should have told Crowder that at 32, he’s no longer sure he’ll start or end the game early. Cam Johnson. This chasm between the parties led Crowder to seek a way out of the desert, leading him to mutually take an indefinite leave of absence from the team until Phoenix…


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