Morning Shootaround — Feb. 6

Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.

The one recap to watch: Lost in the day-after hubbub of both Kobe Bryant‘s monster game in Brooklyn and the Rockets’ barrage of 3-pointers against the Warriors is a true gem of a game: last night’s Bucks-Nuggets game in Denver.  Lots to enjoy in this one (except if you’re a Bucks fan — those last three turnovers down the stretch … yeesh). There was a Samuel Dalembert sighting as he went off for a career-best 35 points. There were the Bucks building a 15-point halftime lead. And there was a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Nuggets to get the win, with the sealing play coming off a wild, over-the-shoulder and-one shot by Danilo Gallinari that you must see.

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News of the morning

Gasol worried about injury | Howard not going anywhere | K.G. not worried about trades | Grizz hitting the skids | George petitions for West | Foye sees future in SLC

Gasol ‘worried’ about injuryLate in the fourth quarter in Brooklyn on Tuesday, Lakers big man Pau Gasol was having a decent night. He had 15 points on 6-for-16 shooting and two blocked shots. But everything changed with 4:21 to go in the game as Gasol went up to contest a shot by Nets center Brook Lopez and came down awkwardly. Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register and Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com detail what’s next for L.A.’s big man, who is more than a little concerned about things:

From Kevin Ding:

The sore plantar fascia Pau Gasol has been managing since Christmas worsened lately but then actually improved the past two days.

Then he said he tweaked it early in the game Tuesday, and it got worse and worse as the game went on, which he said limited his ability to finish moves or shots as he kept coming up short on plays. Then came the big blow.

When Gasol tried to summon shot-blocking vertical as Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez drove the lane with 4:21 to play, Gasol felt “a pop” in his right foot.

“Just as I took off,” Gasol said, “I felt a pop on the bottom of my foot, on the fascia, and I couldn’t get up. … I’m worried about it.”

Gasol said he’s “uncertain” now and trying to draw any conclusions before his MRI today in Boston. He said “this is something different” than the plantar fasciitis he has been navigating.

From Dave McMenamin:

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol left Tuesday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets after straining the plantar fascia in his right foot late in the fourth quarter.

Gasol, who left Barclays Center on crutches, admitted he is “worried” about the injury. The four-time All-Star is scheduled to undergo an MRI on the foot Wednesday after the Lakers travel to Boston.

“I tweaked my fascia in the first half, so I was dealing with quite a bit of soreness in the second half,” said Gasol, who left the game with 3:50 remaining. “So I couldn’t do certain things.

“I was dealing with it, but that play when I tried to jump off of it and try go block the shot (by Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez), just as I took off, I felt a pop in the bottom of my foot on my fascia and I couldn’t get up. I’m worried about it.”

Last week, Gasol said he was playing through a pain level of eight out of 10 in his right foot.

“I’ve been dealing with it for a couple months now,” Gasol said. “But I never felt anything like I did tonight. Right now it’s a certain level of strain. We just don’t know how bad it is.”

Gasol initially tried to play through the injury. But after one trip up and down the floor, he asked coach Mike D’Antoni for a sub and went to the locker room with Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.

Gasol was unsure how long he could be sidelined if the injury turns out to be too severe to play through.

“I’ve had some injuries before,” he said. “They’re never pleasant, they’re never fun. But right now, I’m a little bit uncertain how long this thing is going to take.”

Gasol finished with 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks in the Lakers’ 92-83 win.

“I’m very, very concerned about it,” Kobe Bryant said. “Obviously, we don’t know the extent or the severity of the injury yet. But I’m very, very concerned to say the least.”

Gasol has missed 13 games this season due to tendinitis in both knees and a concussion.

“I’ve been playing with the fasciitis, which is painful and uncomfortable and limiting; this is something different,” Gasol said. “We’ll find out (Wednesday). Right now it’s really sore, but hopefully it will get better. … With the MRI, I’ll know exactly what I have and what’s next.”

The Lakers could be without both of their star big men Thursday against the Boston Celtics, as Dwight Howard has missed the past three games with a sore right shoulder.

When asked after Tuesday’s game whether he would play against the Celtics, Howard said: “I’m not talking about that right now.”

Dwight gets more reassurancesA day after telling ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith that he didn’t want this season to become a ‘circus’ of trade rumors, the Lakers seem to be getting the word out that Dwight Howard definitely isn’t going anywhere by the trade deadline. ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard reports that Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has reassured Howard multiple times that the Lakers won’t be shipping out the superstar big man anytime soon:

Kupchak recently told Newsday the same thing, saying: “We will not trade Dwight Howard.” Sources say Kupchak has told Howard several times that he has no intention of trading him.

There have been rumblings for the past month that the Lakers are considering moving Howard out of fear that he might leave as a free agent after the season. Despite their concerns, the Lakers have not directly asked Howard whether he plans to stay or go in free agency, according to sources.

Sources have told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that the Lakers are “very confident” Howard will remain with the team this summer.

Howard has steadfastly refused to reveal his plans for this summer, and sources say he truly does not know what he will do. The sources add that he definitely will not ask to be traded.

Howard becomes a free agent July 1 but wants to live in the present, sticking to his goal of winning the first championship of his nine-year career this season, no matter how unlikely it might seem with the Los Angeles Lakers getting off to a 23-26 start more than three months into the season.

“Right now, my only focus is to get us into the playoffs and win the championship,” Howard said in an interview Monday with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. “Nothing else matters at this point.”

Atlanta, Dallas and Houston will be Howard’s chief suitors when he enters free agency July 1. But the Lakers can offer Howard a five-year contract worth roughly $118 million while every other team in the league can offer him only about $88 million over four years. The extra $30 million means a lot to Howard, sources said, and is definitely a major advantage for the Lakers. With the injuries he’s recently suffered to his back and shoulder, Howard might be less inclined to give up the extra year of security.

“I understand, you know, what the Lakers want,” Howard told Smith on Monday of his contract status. “And I also understand that right now, there’s no need for all the circus and all the stuff that happened last year [with Orlando] to start back up. I don’t want it, my team doesn’t need it, I don’t need it, and frankly, our fans don’t need it neither.”

Of the Lakers’ three free-agent competitors, Houston appears to be the most favorable for Howard. Dallas is aging, and Howard is not keen on playing in his hometown of Atlanta. Houston, on the other hand, has star guard James Harden and is only a frontcourt star away from becoming a legitimate factor in the Western Conference.

While Howard had no interest in going to Houston last season, sources say he is aware the Rockets have become a more attractive destination since acquiring Harden.

K.G. downplays trade talksAs the Feb. 21 trade deadline creeps ever closer, the topic of who might be headed where bubbles up more and more each day. Celtics star Kevin Garnett has seen his name tossed about in the trade rumor mill, specifically in some kind of deal that would put him on the Clippers. The key thing to remember is that Garnett has a no-trade clause in his contract, so even if Celtics boss Danny Ainge cooks up something to send K.G. elsewhere, Garnett has to buy into it, too. All that said, Garnett doesn’t seem to be worrying about the prospect of having to pack his bags for a new city in a few weeks, writes Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe:

Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, has been involved in those rumors, specifically with The Sporting News reporting that, according to sources, the Clippers are interested in Garnett in a deal that could include Caron Butler and Eric Bledsoe.

On Tuesday, Garnett addressed those rumors — and he started out by indicating that under Danny Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, any change would not be surprising.

“Danny made it very, very obvious, since day one when he brought Ray (Allen) and myself here to align with Paul (Pierce), that he’s going to do whatever’s best for the organization,” Garnett said. “He’s always made that apparent, so I’ve always understood that.

“I bleed green, I’ll die green,” Garnett continued. “That’s what it is. But it is a business. When it crosses that path, I’ll deal with it. Trades are apart of this league. Every year you’re going to hear things. If I were y’all (the media), I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

Celtics coach Doc Rivers made it a point to note how many trade rumors that make the rounds in said current media landscape aren’t based on any shred of truth. Rivers pointed out that any trade rumors were coming from the media, not from the Celtics organization.

“Sometimes some of the stuff that happens is just silly,” Rivers said. “It really is. When I wake up in the morning and I hear a trade rumor that I haven’t heard in my office, that’s silly. And that’s what happens.”

Rivers added that trade rumors aren’t new; they’re just often coming from people who, as he said, “sit behind a computer.”

“The problem is now that you guys have to actually report it, which you shouldn’t do, but you do and it becomes an issue,” Rivers said.

Grizzlies keep on stumblingThere’s no denying that Memphis coach Lionel Hollins hasn’t been the biggest fan of the direction the roster is heading. Trading away reserves Mo Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and starter Rudy Gay in separate deals over the course of nine days didn’t sit well with him. Even before that trade, Hollins had taken to the Memphis airwaves to bemoan advanced statistics and, after Gay was dealt, famously quipped that “When you have champagne taste, you can’t be on a beer budget,” in regards to the Gay trade. All that to say the Grizzlies have been sliding of late and last night’s loss to Phoenix seemed to bring a lot of issues to the forefront, writes Geoff Calkins of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal:

Tight game, inside a minute left, Tayshaun Prince inbounds the ball to Jerryd Bayless. Or, tries to, anyway. Bayless thinks Prince is going to inbound the ball to Zach Randolph, so he isn’t looking. Prince fires the ball past Bayless and out of bounds.

You want your Grizzlies in a nutshell?

That is your Grizzlies in a nutshell.

The Grizzlies lost to the Phoenix Suns at FedExForum Tuesday, 96-90. And the score wasn’t even the ugly part.

Uglier: Explaining the loss, Hollins twice pointed out that when Gasol got in foul trouble, he couldn’t put in another big to match up with Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat.

“One of the issues that I have is that neither Darrell or Ed (Davis) are fives. We don’t have another big guy. We weren’t able to play big and have two bigger people across the board because we don’t have a bigger guy to put in the game.”

In other words, Hollins no longer had Mo Speights or Hamed Haddadi because they were traded away. Did Hollins mean it as a shot?

It almost doesn’t matter, honestly. When the head coach spends part of his press conference lamenting what he no longer has on his roster, that’s not a good sign.

But that’s where the Grizzlies are right now. Everyone in the locker room seems confused. Tony Wroten has gone from not playing to playing to not playing. Bayless has gone from backup point guard to backup shooting guard to backup point. Hollins is trying to figure out if and where Austin Daye and Davis fit in the lineup. Same with Chris Johnson, back for a second 10-day stint.

Oh, and all that pales next to the larger issues of establishing – or re-establishing – the identity of the team. Once Rudy Gay was traded, the idea was that the team would go back to playing through its big men, Randolph and Gasol. And yet, in the two games since the trade, the Grizzlies have been outscored in the paint by Washington and Phoenix.

So that is the state of the Grizzlies as they get ready for critical games against Atlanta (tonight) and Golden State (Friday). It’s an odd position for a team that recently considered itself elite. This is exactly what the new management risked when it decided not to wait until the end of the season to remake the roster. The skeptics will be out in force today.

In the end, the Grizzlies will have to do what they have always done under Hollins. Put aside the excuses and focus on the task at hand. This is a team that survived the loss of Gay and Randolph in successive seasons, after all. Will it let itself be done in by a pair of trades?

“We have to get back to work, ” said Allen. “If we do that, we’ll be OK.”

George wants West to join him in Houston Pacers All-Star Paul George is doing everything he can to try and get David West to join him at the All-Star Game in Houston on Feb. 17. Although it would require an injury to a current All-Star for West to make the team, George isn’t holding back any praise for Indiana’s big man, writes Curt Cavin of the Indianapolis Star:

It doesn’t take an NBA All-Star to recognize one, but Paul George believes there’s one dressing two lockers over at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

David West has been one of the league’s best players all season, but the Indiana Pacers’ power forward has elevated his play since the All-Star reserves were named Jan. 24.

Since then, only three Eastern Conference players have averaged more points: LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony.

Heavy company, to be sure. All three are All-Stars.

“David had big games even before All-Star selection; he’s really carried us in so many games,” George said before Tuesday’s game with Atlanta. “He’s been our most consistent (player).”

West is averaging 22.8 points in the five games since not being named to the All-Star team. He scored 30 and 29 points, respectively, in key wins over Miami and Chicago in recent days.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him play as well as he’s playing right now,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s just carrying us, (and) not just on offense. On offense it’s obvious what his efficiencies (are) — field goal percentage, shot making, all those things — but he’s really leading us on the defensive end and from a determination standpoint, too.

“He’s got such tremendous will to win these games. A lot of times it just comes down to that, and that’s contagious.”

George is the Pacers’ only All-Star this season. He said he would have given West, a two-time selection while in New Orleans, the position if it were up to him.

George and West have nearly identical season statistics. That’s why both should have made it, point guard George Hill said.

“We’re atop our division and only got one player in (the game),” he said. “That’s kind of a slap in our face. It tells you what (others) really think of us.”

Foye sees future in SLCOne of the big problems for the Jazz the last few seasons has been a lack of 3-point shooting. They addressed that in the offseason with trades for Mo Williams and Marvin Williams as well as signing ex-Clippers guard Randy Foye. While Mo Williams has been out the last few weeks with a thumb injury and Marvin Williams has struggled with his shot, Foye has become a valuable signing for Utah. He ranks seventh in the league in 3-point shooting (43.3 percent) and has made 114 3s, fifth-best in the NBA. He’s inching closer to Mehmet Okur‘s single-season team mark for 3s (129) and says he can see a long-term future with Utah, writes Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune:

The issue may be taken out of his hands, but Jazz shooting guard Randy Foye said Tuesday he hopes to have a future with the Jazz beyond this season. He has emerged as a viable option at shooting guard, although the Jazz seem to have plenty of long-term options at the position with Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks. However, it could be tough to turn away a player who will likely not only break the franchise’s single season record for 3-pointers, but could do it before the All-Star break.

As I wrote for Wednesday’s Tribune, Foye needs just 15 more 3s to tie Mehmet Okur’s record 129 3-pointers. In a Tuesday morning one-on-one, Foye discussed his hot shooting, but also his adjustment to Utah, and said some revealing things about his future.

Here’s his quote in full:

“To tell you the truth I do see myself long-term here. Because everything from an organization, to the values they have here is me. And in the beginning I probably never would have thought it was Utah, probably thought I was a big-city guy. But this is me. I got my family here, my family really likes it here, even when my friends come out they really like it. We’re from the East Coast, and all you see is life moving so fast. Everything here is kind of slow and it’s just laid back and I see myself here. I love the guys here. I know the guys, we get along really well. I just picture myself being here for a while. I don’t really want to talk about contract things, but I just picture I would want to be here for a long time.”

ICYMI of the night: As the Rockets showed the Warriors last night, sometimes you’re simply hot from 3-point range and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it …:

2 Comments

  1. Heisenberg says:

    With pau gasol’s injury, Mr. Kupchak might change his mind not trading Dwight Howard.

  2. scott says:

    Trade Gasol. He’s not good for the Lakers anymore. He makes to many mistakes and doesn’t play hard.