Morning Shootaround — Feb. 18

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: What a weekend in Houston — Kenneth Faried showing the nation at large his “Manimal” routineKyrie Irving showed he’s got an impressive stroke from 3-point rangeTerrence Ross dethroned Jeremy Evans for the Sprite Slam Dunk title … they’re all among the more notable events of the weekend that was in Texas. If you somehow missed last night’s marquee event, the All-Star Game, well, that’s your mistake. Overall a solid game quarter-by-quarter and the West took care of business down the stretch thanks to the exploits of game MVP Chris Paul and it’s near-MVP, Kevin Durant. There’s still time to relive the good times from H-town with all of our All-Star coverage, but if you just want to catch up on the game, well … here you go:

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News of the morning

Kobe: Howard staying ‘doesn’t matter’ | Bogut restriction-free? | LeBron happy for Irving, Cavs | Raptors make push for 2016 All-Star Game

Your daily dose of Dwight drama Be it as All-Star participants (like Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant are) or as other members of the team, the Lakers got away from L.A. for a few days during the NBA’s All-Star break. But just because Kobe and Dwight weren’t in Lakerland doesn’t mean the constant Dwight will-he-stay/will-he-go? drama was quieted. In the past few days in Houston, we had reports of a Howard-for-Rajon Rondo swap and we had Howard himself piping up on all the latest rumors. And then we have Kobe speaking up after the All-Star Game itself on Sunday, shedding a little more light on his thoughts on what should happen with L.A.’s star big man. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times has more:

Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were here, so of course there was going to be drama.

Howard said Friday that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak had told him he would remain with the team through Thursday’s trade deadline.

On Sunday, Bryant said “it doesn’t matter” what his team does with the six-time All-Star.

“I don’t know what they are going to do,” Bryant said Sunday at Toyota Center after helping the West defeat the East, 143-138, in the All-Star game. “But at this point … , it doesn’t matter. what matters to us is what we do on Wednesday [against the Boston Celtics] and go from there.

“That’s the most important thing. That’s my message to the team is that you can’t worry about the future, you can’t worry about the past, you just have to focus on the present and we really have to maximize every single game.”

No minutes restrictions for BogutThe Warriors got off to an impressive start to the season, racking up a 22-10 record through Jan. 2. But since then, they’ve gone an unimpresive 8-12 and have fallen from a sure home-court seed in the playoffs to No. 6 in the West. Center Andrew Bogut returned to the Warriors’ lineup on Jan. 2 and has been in and out of the mix as he works his way back from his ankle woes. He took some shots at Golden State’s defense of late and hasn’t been able to do much to shore up the interior thanks to a minutes restriction that had him playing about 19 minutes a game when he DID play. Ric Bucher, via Sulia.com, says Bogut is looking ready to bear more of a role and more minutes, though:

Hard as it is for me to believe after watching him last Tuesday against the Houston Rockets, Andrew Bogut says that he expects to play without restriction following the All-Star break, including playing in back-to-back games. We won’t have to wait long to find out if that plan holds — Warriors play at Utah on Tuesday and at home against the Suns on Wednesday.

LeBron glad to see Irving as face of CavsWe need not detail all of LeBron James‘ rise and fall as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, as those of you visiting these parts know well enough about what he did — both good and bad — as a Clevelander. Since he moved on from the Cavs to the Heat in the summer of 2010, Cleveland has been looking for someone to take over the mantle of the franchise that was left in James’ departure. Enter All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who is the reigning Rookie of the Year winner and the newly crowned Three-Point Contest champion, too. Although Cleveland is 16-37 and seemingly on its way to another lottery season, there is hope there and even the former King of Akron can see it:

The business of basketball is booming these days, and the one-man brands of players like Irving are built in times like these. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ point guard thrilled the masses in the Rising Stars game on Friday, won the three-point contest on Saturday and was ready to enjoy his newfound elite status in his first All-Star game on Sunday with 15 points on six of 11 shooting. All the while, the counterintuitive notion that the Miami Heat’s LeBron James could return to Cleveland as a free agent in the summer of 2014 continued to grow, in large part, because Irving’s talent is tantalizing enough to make the Akron, Ohio, native seriously consider going home again.

“He’s unbelievable,” James said about Irving’s coronation as the new king of Cleveland. “He’ll be (among) the top two, top three best point guards in the league. He’s headed there already.

“He’s doing some great things right now. They should be excited about having him in Cleveland.”

Irving came to Houston from Cleveland on Thursday, and the welcome challenge of keeping up with a jam-packed schedule began. The first of 27 items on his four-day itinerary was what’s known in NBA circles as ‘The Circuit,’ a string of media appearances and in-house interviews inside the Hilton hotel that comes in rapid-fire form. And per the NBA-issued paperwork that became his All-Star weekend bible of sorts, this called for a collared shirt.

The Cavaliers jersey came off and the infamous gray T-shirt went back on, and Irving made his way to the ‘Circuit’ that would occupy his next two hours. There was an NBA TV set, an ESPN radio room, an NBA Cares room and a photo studio where shots of players in their off-floor attire were tweeted to the masses and made available to the media. It was inside the Grantland room, however, where Irving struggled to keep up with the dizzying array of names, faces and microphones.

For all the intriguing parts of Irving’s story, whether it’s his love of music (he still sings and played the horn baritone as a child) or the pursuits that go beyond basketball (he takes classes at Duke in the offseason and made a promise to his father to finish his education), the question of whether he would lure James back to Cleveland was the only one that seemed to matter over the weekend.”Right now, I’m just living in the present,” he said during the ESPN radio spot. “All the what-ifs, and what could happen, you know obviously people are going to be — I’ll probably get that question all weekend. But right now it’s just about me and my team getting better.”

The mere fact that Irving is such a significant part of the James story line is as good an indication as any of his rising profile, not to mention the drastic change it represents from the start of his career. When he was drafted first overall by Cleveland, the only James-related question was whether Irving could handle the incredible shadow he had left behind.

“It’s funny how the roles have changed a little bit,” Irving told USA TODAY Sports. “I was replacing him, and now there’s all these rumors that he can come back. But it’s about brushing off that question and just being in the present — just being in the present and trying to develop this core group for the Cavaliers. My eventual goal is to win a championship. And before I retire I just want to win a championship. That’s it. It’s a learning process game to game.”

Winter-weather All-Star weekend?Not since the 2005 All-Star Game in Denver has the NBA put its midseason showcase in a cold-weather climate, but that might change come 2016. According to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, the Raptors and Maple Leaf Sports are getting the pieces in place to push for the All-Star Game to be held in Toronto. If Toronto gets its wish, the game would be held in the furthest northern city in North America since Minnesota hosted All-Star weekend back in 1994. Here’s more on the proposed bid:

The process of staging the NBA’s all-star weekend is elaborate and time-consuming and it’s impossible for things to happen without a huge amount of lead time.

Three years in the case of Toronto.

According to several sources, Maple Leaf Sports and the Raptors have already begun the process of submitting an official bid to host the 2016 all-star game to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the franchise and to bring one of the league’s most popular events to an international venue for the first time ever.

People with knowledge of the hospitality industry in Toronto say league officials have already been in the city making inquiries about hotel availability and convention space.

League sources said there have been no other expressions of interest yet in the 2016 event; the 2014 weekend is scheduled for New Orleans and NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver said here Saturday night that either Brooklyn or New York are odds-on favourites to host the 2015 game.

“There are two (2015) applications in, one from Brooklyn and one from the Garden,” said commissioner David Stern.

The league accepts bids for all-star games from cities interested in hosting them that include specifics on hotel and convention space and arena modifications needed to stage the event. The league does not solicit bids from specific cities.

“We don’t consider anything in a vacuum,” said Stern. “We announce that bids are open for future all-star games.”

The Raptors have never bid for the game, often because of a lack of space for the massive NBA Jam Session that’s part of the weekend; that won’t be an issue for 2016, sources said.

For the departing Stern, the event here will be the last he’ll preside over since he is scheduled to retire weeks before the 2014 game.


Silver, who assumes the commissioner’s duties next February, said the selection process isn’t likely to change and while it might be intriguing to take the extravaganza to neutral cities, perhaps in Europe, that might not be workable.

“We’ve discussed playing internationally. . . . I’m not sure if it will work logistically, but it’s something we’ll continue to study,” he said. “We’ve looked at other neutral cities. We’ve looked at refreshing All-Star Saturday Night and other innovative events for the weekend, and I think we’ll continue to do that, the same way we have under David’s leadership.”

ICYMI of the night: Seeing as how Michael Jordan‘s 50th birthday interview on NBA TV (8 ET) is merely hours away, it is only fitting to pick this Jordan-esque reverse layup by Russell Westbrook:

4 Comments

  1. jose says:

    B Russel better than Jordan. He’s got eleven !!!!!
    Fisher better than Barkley -Miller -malone. Since 5 > 0

  2. it’s just a minor block for LBJ from kobe, try to watch this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHjtGMqm9o8
    and you will know how pathetic kobe is.. hahahah!
    i would love to see kobe vs LBJ on finals for us to know who will be the next MJ:)
    5 is greater than 1 but i think LBJ is right, rings is not a basis to compared this two great players.. Stats is enough to see and to witness who among this two guys is the REAL KING nowadays:)

    anyway i am a certified Michael Jordan’s fan:)

  3. Nash fan says:

    Kobe > Lebron on this one!

  4. LadyNette says:

    I am a Cavs fan and Clevelander — speaking for myself, I’m not interested in LeBron coming back to Cleveland. I would much rather see how far Kyrie and the team can go, I think they have a great future ahead of them,