NBA Media Days: The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook Dilemma, The Celtics’ Sudden Coaching Debacle Between The Stickiest Storylines


The 2022-23 NBA season is fast approaching. The first preseason game is September 30, and the regular season kicks off less than a month from now on October 18. But first will be the team media days, most of which are scheduled for Monday.

For the most part, these will be mandatory pressers and journalist scrums designed only to saturate the internet with canned and overly optimistic quotes, but that won’t stop reporters from trying to pry. There will certainly be some sticky questions that players, coaches and GMs will have to respond to.

Here are six teams not exactly looking forward to the mics.

Rob Pelinka and Darvin Ham have already canceled their press conference scheduled for Tuesday. Some think this is a harbinger of a trade in the coming days and the GM and coach won’t talk until something is official. Others think it’s just a stalwart tactic to avoid awkward questions about what exactly Pelinka did or didn’t do with this Lakers roster.

If it’s the latter, Pelinka can run, but he can’t hide. Lakers media day is Monday and sooner or later Pelinka will have to face this Russell Westbrook-sized elephant in the room. Are the Lakers going to trade him? Did they already have a chance to trade it and got stingy with their future design choices? Are they going to give him the John Wall treatment and pay him $47 million to stay at home?

Or are they seriously going to reverse this woefully failed experiment? If so, is Darvin Ham Westbrook starting? Patrick Beverley — not to mention the well-known tension between the two — is an option on the point guard, as is the new Dennis Schroder. If Ham Westbrook starts for optics and to pacify a stubborn former star, who will get the call in the end times?

It’s tacky to say the least and everyone in Laker country will be asked about it. LeBron. Anthony Davis. pelinka. Ham. Perhaps most flammable, Westbrook himself. It’s clear that Westbrook won’t be happy with the way his game has dragged through the mud this offseason. He spoke about the verbal abuse his family committed during games last season, and now his wife just happened to post the following message on Instagram – which certainly looks like a pretty thinly veiled shot at the Lakers.

Until Westbrook is traded or sent home, these questions don’t end after media day. That will only be the beginning.

Late Wednesday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Celtics coach Ime Udoka would face disciplinary action, which could lead to a one-year ban, for violating an unspecified organizational guideline.

Thursday morning early, Wojnarowski reported: that the unspecified organizational guideline Udoka violated was “to have a consensual relationship with a female member of staff,” adding that Udoka is indeed likely to be suspended for the entire 2022-23 seasonand that Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla is likely to be named as Udoka’s interim replacement for the year.

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So this is quite a state of affairs. This is a coach and a team that should be on the media day with the culmination of two NBA championship wins. This instead. And maybe a few questions for Jaylen Brown and how he feels about being caught up in a Kevin Durant trade proposal.

Celtics media day just turned into an event.

You would think Sean Marks and Steve Nash are professionals, but they are also people. No one wants to hear that their star player has been screaming for their heads. But that’s exactly what Kevin Durant did in what was seemingly a last ditch effort to use Brooklyn to trade him. Fire Marks and Nash, or I’m gone. It did not work. Durant is still in Brooklyn. Just like Marks and Nash. The company line, provided by Marks, is that everyone “agreed to move forward” with “one collective goal”.

We’ll see.

In the meantime, Durant, Nash, Marks, and probably just about every other Net will have to answer questions about all of this summer’s drama that didn’t end with the Durant’s trade request then backfired on his “bosses.”

There is also a distraction/Hall of Fame player named Kyrie Irving. The Nets were in talks to trade him. They probably would have moved Durant. Marks did not shy away from the media incentives against Irving, saying that at the end-of-season press conference the Nets are looking for players who will be “available”, something Irving has not proven to be. terribly interested.

Oh, and don’t forget Ben Simmons. You know, the man who forced his way out of Philadelphia and didn’t play a single game for the Nets last season, despite reports that he was preparing to play Game 4 of Brooklyn’s first-round loss to Boston, only to eventually bounce back. to pull. minute.

So, Steve, what about your star player who wanted to be traded, your other star player who recently chose to spend more time on his soapbox than on the field, and your other potential star player who literally hasn’t played since June from 2021 and whether or not mentally prepared to adapt again, let alone go to the free-throw line?

Yeah, something tells me the Nets would like this media day to be over in a minute in New York.

Things got a whole lot easier for the Suns after it was announced Wednesday that owner Robert Sarver, who was recently banned for a year and fined $10 million by the NBA after completing an investigation into his inappropriate workplace misconduct, started the process of selling the team.

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Prior to news of Sarver’s intention to sell, Chris Paul was quick to respond to the competition’s verdict, tweet that the punishment “fallen short of really addressing what we can all agree on was appalling behavior.”

Paul will have an easier time on media day because he’s already got his thoughts down, but he, and probably everyone else in the organization in front of a microphone, will still have to deal with questions about the (soon to be former) misogynist, racist and downright deplorable owner of Suns, instead of being able to begin the process of turning their attention back to basketball as they prepare for what everyone expects to be next season with a championship battle.

There is also the situation of Deandre Ayton. The Suns were clearly looking for a trade for him, having already opted not to renew his rookie deal last summer. But then Phoenix ended up giving Ayton a four-year deal of $133 million after their hand was forced to match the Pacers’ offer or lose him for nothing.

Ayton could still be traded this season, but not before January 15, and it should be for a team of their choice as he has a one-year non-trade clause. There’s going to be questions about the situation, how it turned out, how Ayton likes being captivated by trade rumours, and everyone’s going to say the right things — that this is a company, that everyone’s excited to get back into the company of pursuing a championship, and chances are it won’t be very uncomfortable. Especially with the Sarver news now leading the way.

Like the Suns with Ayton, the Knicks seem to have paid RJ Barrett only after their hand was forced. It was widely reported that their number one priority was to trade Barrett to the Jazz as part of a Donovan Mitchell package, and Steve Berman of the New York Post reported that even if the Knicks had been able to bring in Mitchell without including Barrett in the deal, they would not have paid Barrett until at least the October deadline and might have waited for their hand to be truly forced into a limited free agency next summer.

The picture Berman paints is one where the Knicks felt compelled to make some sort of splash after they played out a Mitchell trade, and the four-year Barrett $120 million extension was, perhaps begrudgingly, the .

The most important line from Berman’s source was this: …”[the Knicks] like RJ, but he’s not one of their guys.”

Like the Ayton situation in Phoenix, when the inevitable questions about Barrett’s extension and how the Knicks clearly preferred to trade him are asked, there’s a good chance everyone will stick to the company’s line, but you’d rather not anyway. dancing around an awkward answer.

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And Barrett wasn’t the only one to be shipped in a Mitchell deal. Obi Toppin was reportedly included in the proposed package. Previous reports indicated that the Knicks were willing to trade Immanuel Quickley, but when Utah counterattacked with Quentin Grimes instead of Quickley, New York withdrew. What does Quickley think about that?

Yes, everyone is a pro, and being offered in exchange for a player of Mitchell’s caliber is really not like a slap in the face, but it’s never optimal to come to the media day and answer questions about how your team tried to dump you.

For the most part, Monday’s media day will be a celebration for the Warriors, who won the 2022 title and brought back the core of the team. But how long will that core stay in place? The Warriors will have to make some tough contract decisions over the next two summers, starting with Jordan Poole, who will be eligible to sign a rookie extension until October 18.

If the Warriors don’t offer Poole that extension, or if it’s low and Poole doesn’t sign it, he will become a restricted free agent next season, after which the Warriors would have to pay him for nothing or lose him. That is difficult, because Andrew Wiggins will also be a free agent next summer. The same goes for Draymond Green, who will most likely turn down his 2023-24 player option to strike another big-money long-term deal. Then, in the summer of 2025, Klay Thompson will be a fairy agent.

The Warriors have made it pretty clear that there is a limit to how much they will spend, and when it comes to these tough choices, who are they going to pick? Poole or Wiggins? If both, would they really let Draymond walk after all he’s done for the franchise? Would they trade it before it comes to that?

The Poole decision is the first domino here. Bob Myers will be asked about it. Poole will be asked for it, as barring a maximum offer from Golden State, he has some incentive to keep his free agency status intact in 2023 with the opportunity to play a bigger deal this season.

These are, of course, first world problems. The Warriors have been in six of the last eight championships and have won four. Having too many good players worth a lot of money, with only a limited amount of that money to go around, is a nice dilemma to face. But it’s a dilemma nonetheless, and the Warriors will kick off a year with these questions on Media Day Monday.