Kenny Atkinson, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets
Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets shockingly parted ways on Saturday. Personally, I saw this as a huge mistake on the Nets part as a fan of Atkinson’s coaching. However, according to Vincent Goodwill Yahoo! Sports, Atkinson wanted a divorce “just as much, if not more” than the Nets.
In a year that was nothing more than groundwork for the future, the meshing of Atkinson’s style with Durant and Irving was on trial. Even though Irving only played 20 games and is out for the season following shoulder surgery and Durant is still recovering from his Achilles injury, everyone had to deal with each other and honestly evaluate if this would be a marriage that would stand into next season.
“Kenny pushed for the parting just as much, if not more than Brooklyn,” a league source told Yahoo Sports.
In a player’s league and on a team where star players’ voices undoubtedly matter for a franchise that yearns to matter, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Durant and Irving wanted to keep Atkinson around, but general manager Sean Marks was hellbent on firing a friend, someone who helped build the Nets into a respectable product.
Smart guy. He’ll get another shot.
Jontay Porter signs with Memphis Grizzlies
Jontay Porter, who before suffering an injury was viewed as a lottery talent in the 2019 NBA draft, has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies after going undrafted last summer.
Jontay Porter, a rookie F/C out of Missouri, has signed a multi-year deal with the Grizzlies, his agent Mark Bartelstein of @PrioritySports tells ESPN. Porter rehabbed two separate knee injuries, but has progressed well and is expected to be ready for training camp next season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 8, 2020
The Grizzlies just keep doing things right in my book. This is a low-risk, high-reward signing to go along with an already impressive young core.
Pacers pursuing Lance Stephenson
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Indiana Pacers are closing in on a deal with Lance Stephenson.
Lance Stephenson is in strong talks on a potential deal with Indiana, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. No agreement or decision is finalized. Stephenson would also need clearance from his Chinese team and FIBA.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 8, 2020
I added this because the Pacers are relevant to the Sixers, but Stephenson is probably irrelevant. He’s long been over the hill and I don’t see him making much of an impact.
NBA Injury Report
- Malcolm Brogdon is week-to-week with a “a torn left rectus femoris”, according to ESPN. I don’t need to know Latin for that to sound painful. From a quick Wikipedia search, the rectus femoris “is one of the four quadriceps muscles of the human body.”
- Nickeil Alexander-Walker is out indefinitely with a fractured wrist, per ESPN.
- Kevin Looney is out at least three weeks with a left hip injury, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo is out at least two games with a knee sprain, per ESPN.
You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been absent over the last 10 days. I was on vacation out in the Southwest. On the off chance you’re someone who loves reading about travel, feel free to check out my itinerary and pictures. Otherwise, feel free to ignore or make fun of me for thinking anyone cares.
- I flew in to Phoenix and stayed the weekend for the Innings Festival, which was fun but felt more rushed than Warped Tour sets. I was thrilled to see Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who put on some of the most captivating music performances I’ve seen since I was a kid in high school. The Phoenix-Tempe area is awesome, at least in early March. Beautiful weather and a somehow immaculately clean city with infrastracutre built for the 21st century. Shoutout to the guy I met on the Valley Metro who had just been released from county jail (who by the way had to wait four days just to see a judge) — I hope you find out where they impounded your car and that you make it back home to Illinois. A word of advice: don’t wear hoodies with the word “Grow” if you plan to switch vehicles in California and drive back across the country.
- I then rented a camper van Monday through Saturday, but I had to return it by 10:30 am Saturday, so I basically had five days to do what I wanted to do. My wish list: Joshua Tree, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon. My lady’s: Joshua Tree, Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon... Sedona, Sedona, Sedona. So we mapped it out with some not so subtle hints from my girlfriend.
- Six days encompassing 1,200+ miles and 20+ hours of driving.
- Monday: I got the van around noon and the plan was to haul ass to Joshua Tree and then camp in Palm Springs. I really did not appreciate how difficult this day was going to be. Jet lag was setting in and I had just spent the weekend in the sun. After a few stops, I got to Joshua Tree around 4:30 I think. We went in the south entrance and then drove north. We did a short hike and to be honest, while I found Joshua Tree beautiful and mesmerizing just for what it was, I wasn’t really blown away either. I am worried however that the real way to do Joshua Tree is to go in the West entrance early in the day and get a good 8 hours in and that I have a pretty poor representation of Joshua Tree. As the sun started setting, we headed to the van and realized just how out of the way Palm Springs was going to take us. Instead, we’d set out for Valley of Fire near Vegas. The drive was hell and I knew every minute longer I drove the closer I came to falling asleep at the wheel. We set up shop in the Mojave desert. It was barren, dark and cold, but the sky was stunning, the closest I’d ever seen real life to stuff you see in Nat Geo.
- Tuesday: I woke up freezing from our night in the desert but quickly got myself together. It was around 4:00 am and we were three hours and a timezone change from my most anxiously awaited destination. We got to Zion early, too early to buy camping spot. So we went back into Springdale and picked up groceries and firewood, and came back for our spot a little later than we intended. We were lucky to get one, because from what I hear, it’s rare to get a camping spot at Zion past 11:01 am on a 62 degrees sunny day. Zion was everything I had hoped and then some. It is my single favorite location in the world. We did Angel’s Landing, as far as I was concerned there was no other option considering the Narrows were closed. As most of my hikes would tell me, going up was the easy part. But what a rewarding trek.
- Wednesday: After one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had, we woke up with Bryce Canyon on the radar and felt like we could take on Everest if wanted. The ride through the top of Zion and onward to Bryce is an attraction worth traveling for itself. We got to Bryce early and the grounds were covered in snow but just like Zion, the sun was strong and warm weather was taking over for the overnight shift. We cooked up breakfast and then drove out to the canyon. We decided to do the Navajo Trail/Peek-a-boo Loop combo, a 6 mile out-and-back/loop combo that takes you down into the Canyon and then back up to lookout on a mountain side. Like Zion, the sights often left my without words to describe it. Bryce is on my list behind only Zion and Rocky Mountain, and it is very close. After we finished up, we still had some juice. We knew we wanted to get to the Grand Canyon, so rather then stay at Bryce we hopped back in the van. This time we decided we’d just find a camping spot halfway, and that we did. Not too far north of Horseshoe bend, we found what initially seemed to be just as likely a path to our death as a path to a campsite. 2 miles off the interstate, we parked up.
- Thursday: When we finally made it to the Grand Canyon, we really just wanted to chill. The six-miler at Bryce took more out of of than we realized and I’m not in nearly as good of shape as I tell myself. We did a short rim trail and while I didn’t hike down into the canyon, it’s not any more difficult to appreciate our country’s most iconic landscape from above. We slept at the Grand Canyon, which was maybe my favorite site for actually camping. The moon is so bright that you can see pretty clearly around you even at night.
- Friday: The drive to Sedona Friday morning was cake. It’s less than two hours from the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s highway system is very efficient, and coming into Sedona from the north down the mountain provides still more mesmerizing views. Sedona is a really cool town and the residents really embrace the legends surrounding it (see: Sedona Vortex). It is very touristy and it’s overcrowded due to its smaller size, but maybe I was there at a bad time. We shop hopped for a bit and then talked to a local for hiking ideas. We ended up going with what is probably the most popular hike in the Devil’s Bridge. It was an easy hike I’d love to wake up for once a week, but again, very crowded. There was literally a line of people waiting to get a solo shot on the Bridge. So if you wanted to walk it — not even get a picture, just walk it — you had to wait in line. All in all though, I loved the scenery and general atmosphere in Sedona and was very happy to have visited.
It was the perfect trip and I highly encourage you to go see our country’s gorgeous parks. I also have a much greater appreciation for the state of Arizona — what a beautiful chunk of land and what incredibly hospitable people. I am so sorry about Robert Sarver, you deserve much better.