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.
News of the morning
KG open to move to Clips? | Hawks determined to move J-Smoove? | Buss kept Kobe from moving | Kings not likely to deal | Lin ‘thankful’ he wasn’t an All-Star | Sixers hope for Wall-like comeback for Bynum |
Celtics still open to moving Garnett? — Just 10 days ago, Kevin Garnett was quite vocal in his displeasure of any trade talk and backed up his desire to remain with the Celtics during All-Star weekend, going as far as to say he’s going to “live and die in green.” ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports, though, that the Celtics are trying to possibly get their star forward to open up to a trade to the Clippers:
According to one theory in circulation on the personnel grapevine, Celtics officials could be moved this week to try to make the case to Garnett that waiving his no-trade provision to accept that long-rumored trade to the Los Angeles Clippers would be the best thing not only for himself but for the long-term health of the franchise. Combine that approach with the expected lobbying from the L.A. side by good buddy Chauncey Billups, as the theory goes, and maybe Garnett will ultimately relent and consent to a swap.
Have to add three follow-up caveats here, though:
1. After spending a solid 15 minutes in the same room with Garnett in Houston as part of ESPN Radio’s All-Star Weekend team, I became convinced that KG isn’t waiving that no-trade clause. For anyone or any team. My impression is that it’s going to take more lobbying than anyone out there can muster.
2. Broussard reported late Monday night on “SportsCenter” that Billups has already warned the Clippers that Garnett’s position appears to be firm … and that Garnett spelled out the exact same thing to Chris Paul last summer when Paul informed KG that the Clippers wanted to pursue him via trade.
3. Even if Garnett did wind up with the Clippers this week, after all the bluster against the idea, I still struggle to picture the Celtics telling Pierce that they’re going to send him to the Hawks for the good of Boston’s long-term health. The deal might make sense for Atlanta — since Pierce’s $5 million buyout for next season would extend the Hawks’ window of flexibility and create a new set of options — but it still looks like as an impossible sell in Boston.
I’ve always thought Rajon Rondo, not Pierce or Garnett, would be the first member of Boston’s star trio to be dealt. There simply might not be a shake-up move available to the Celtics at this deadline now that Rondo has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.
There’s more on that subject.
The Clippers, according one source close to the situation, would not be willing to surrender both Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Boston even if Garnett was willing to waive his no-trade clause.
Is that posturing? An absolute stance?
We’ll find out for sure between now and the deadline, but the source insisted that the Clippers feel that a Bledsoe-and-Jordan combo is too much to surrender for a 36-year-old who isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be playing.
Report: Hawks driven to deal Smith soon — Hawks star Josh Smith has seen his name in the trade rumors almost as much as his childhood friend, Dwight Howard. So far, we’ve had talks of Smith going to San Antonio, to Brooklyn, to Phoenix (though not as likely) and some other places, too. Add a couple more teams to the mix, as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard report. The Nets and Suns are hot after Smith, but now the Bucks, Wizards and the Celtics are reportedly entering the fray, too, with some big names being tossed about to land the Hawks’ versatile forward:
The Atlanta Hawks have convinced numerous teams that they’re definitely trading Josh Smith this week, largely because they see the unpredictable lefty as a virtual lock to leave them in free agency this summer.
One team close to the situation consulted Monday night predicted that the Nets would ultimately land Smith via a three-way trade after ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported Feb. 11 that Smith is a prime Brooklyn Nets trade target.
Another team pinpointed the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks as the strongest contenders to win the Smith sweepstakes. The big worry for both of those teams, though, is whether they could really risk trading for Smith when convincing him to re-sign for the long term is likely to be a serious challenge in either city. Especially with Smith said to be angling for a max deal … and with nobody confusing the Suns or the Bucks with Mikhail Prokohorov‘s Nets.
Broussard, furthermore, tweeted early Tuesday that the Washington Wizards have made anyone on the roster available for Smith, apart from John Wall, Bradley Beal or Nene.
Which brings us to the Boston Celtics.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Monday that the Boston Celtics have, indeed, registered their interest on the Smith front, with the caveat that they also remain highly interested in the Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe.
Yet a Boston deal for Smith, sources said, would almost certainly have to be built around Paul Pierce, because Kevin Garnett isn’t waiving his no-trade clause to go to the Atlanta Hawks if he’s not willing to waive it to go to the Clipperland. And the prospect of Celtics front-office chief Danny Ainge exiling Pierce to the Hawks for Smith, after everything Pierce has done to restore the Celtics to glory over the past half-decade, is still hard to imagine.
At least for me.
Buss’ legacy helped Kobe stick with Lakers — With legendary Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss dying yesterday at 80, a dark cloud hangs over the NBA this morning (and likely will for several days) as the league mourns not only one of its most successful owners, but one who shaped the vision for several other franchises. Our own Scott Howard-Cooper has a great look at Buss and how he turned Los Angeles, which was not an NBA hotbed when Buss bought the team in 1979, into a hoops town. One of the hallmarks of Buss’ stint as an owner was his ability to build the Lakers into a contender two separate times — once with the Magic Johnson-led group of the 1980s and again in the 2000s with the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal-led group. But once O’Neal was dealt to the Miami Heat in 2004 and Bryant was left with a less-than-stellar team in L.A., Buss faced the challenge of not just building a new contender, but keeping Bryant from forcing his way out of L.A. As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports, a near-trade for Bryant in 2007 helped Kobe realize just how good of an owner Buss was:
After all the anger and angst and fury of the immediate post-Shaq era had inspired Kobe Bryant to make a trade demand, Jerry Buss finally called his superstar guard to the owner’s home in the Los Angeles hills on an autumn evening in 2007.
The Los Angeles Lakers had found a trade for Bryant, but Buss warned him that it wasn’t to one of his selected destinations.
“Detroit,” Buss said.
The Lakers had agreed to a deal to send Bryant to the Pistons and needed Bryant’s approval to waive his no-trade clause. The package included a combination of Detroit’s core players and draft picks, sources say. Buss and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak needed an answer soon, because they refused to let the issue linger into training camp.
Looking back, Bryant isn’t sure it would’ve mattered whether it was Detroit or Chicago, Dallas or New York. In that moment, in Buss’ house in the hills, it washed over Bryant how much staying a Laker for life meant to him, how no matter how dire the state of the franchise seemed, that Buss had a history of restoring the Lakers to championship contention.
“It hit me that I didn’t really want to walk out on Dr. Buss,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
Months later, Kupchak honored Buss’ faith and made the trade for Pau Gasol. Soon, the Lakers were back in the NBA Finals three straight years and winning two more titles. Soon, Bryant was back to understanding the inevitable essence of Jerry Buss’ prowess: In the end, the old man was a force of nature.
Now, the Lakers understand that relying upon Bryant as the franchise player is coming to an end in the next couple of years, and Dwight Howard must be convinced to stay and be the cornerstone for the future.Buss had been seriously ill, less connected to the franchise in the past year, but you’d have to believe at a different time in his ownership that he would’ve forged a relationship with Howard that would’ve made it impossible for him to leave. Those days are done; Jim Buss isn’t Jerry. No one will ever be Jerry Buss again.
In that meeting in the fall of 2007, near the start of training camp, Buss presented Bryant with a scenario of Bryant’s own request: a trade out of Los Angeles, out of the franchise that drafted and groomed him and taught him to be a champion.
Even now, Kobe Bryant still thinks about that time in his life when he was too impatient, when he failed to give Buss’ own history and greatness its proper due. Whatever the owner had told him that night about a trade – Detroit or Chicago, Dallas or wherever – it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
For all Bryant’s impatience, there was still such an immense part of him that was comforted in the company of the Los Angeles Lakers’ patriarch. True for Bryant, true for all of them.
No one walks away from the Lakers, from Buss, and does so without a deep, lingering regret. These were the Showtime Lakers, and they would be again with Bryant and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. In his 17th season, Bryant’s belief that he’ll never wear another uniform is unwavering.
Jerry Buss gave Bryant the gift of Jerry West trading for him on draft day in ’96, of Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson, of five NBA championships that perhaps wouldn’t have been available anywhere else.
All these years later, Kobe Bryant is blessed to know that he never walked out on Dr. Buss, that he’ll share something with the late, great owner forever: Lakers for life – and beyond.
Even more on Jerry Buss’ passing — Rather than detail every story around the web paying tribute to Buss, here’s a tidy roundup of some of the best we’ve seen that are worth your time:
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com — On where the Lakers go from here
- Lee Jenkins of SportsIllustrated.com — On the Lakers still being run like a family business
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register — On the future of the Lakers’ front office after Buss’ death
- Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times — On how Buss impacted the life of Magic Johnson
- Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — On the early years of Buss’ tenure in Los Angeles
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News — On Buss understanding the need for small markets to succeed
- Howard Beck of The New York Times — On how Buss was the owner who made the NBA cool
Kings not likely to make a trade — Uncertainty seems to be the general vibe around the Sacramento Kings, what with talk of the team moving to Seattle almost always dominating any conversation about the club. The news has definitely affected the on-court play as the Kings are 3-10 since the announcement came down several weeks ago that the Maloof family was selling the team to a group led by Seattle mogul Chris Hansen. As the post-All-Star break portion of the NBA schedule begins, Sacramento is in a battle with the Phoenix Suns for the basement in the Pacific Division and has a logjam in the frontcourt with talented prospects like Thomas Robinson, DeMarcus Cousins, Jason Thompson and others vying for minutes. Still, Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie doesn’t expect the team to make a trade before the Feb. 21 deadline, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee:
Basketball president Geoff Petrie said it was “unlikely” any of the Kings’ top players would be dealt. But he declined to comment on how the ownership situation affects what he can or cannot do with the roster.
Don’t look for the Kings to move any other players, either.
“Trading role players around with 28 games in a non-playoff season probably doesn’t do a lot going forward that you couldn’t do in the summer,” Petrie said.
Ideally, the Kings would like to add size to their backcourt and length in the frontcourt to provide shot blocking while clearing the logjam of perimeter players.
Without any deals on the horizon, Petrie will look for improvement from the current roster, which has not performed up to expectations.
“I don’t think we’ve developed the overall type of consistency that we’d hoped for at this point,” Petrie said.
Coach Keith Smart said he’s not focused on what the Kings can accomplish over the next 28 games.
“I’m a day-by-day goal person because you can only reach those goals one at a time,” Smart said. “What I shared with the team is, ‘Can we go out (tonight) and play a really good basketball game?’ That’s the goal. Let’s focus on the short-term goals.”
When it came to his own future, Petrie was mum. He is in the last year of his contract, and the ownership uncertainty makes his future unclear.
“I think that needs to be dealt with at some future date,” Petrie said.
Members of the Kings’ front office are still going about business as if there will be no changes in their roles. They continue to scout players for the draft, and Petrie attended games involving Cal and Stanford over the weekend.
Lin ‘thankful’ not to be an All-Star — As the All-Star Game voting totals rolled in every few weeks leading up to the announcement of the starters on Jan. 18, Rockets guard (and international sensation) Jeremy Lin was often in the mix for one of the starting backcourt positions. He eventually wound up as the third-leading vote-getter in the West with 883,809 votes — a solid total, but nowhere near enough to supplant Chris Paul or Kobe Bryant as starters. Lin did take part in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge and was quite visible during All-Star weekend in Houston, but he tells CSNHouston.com’s Dave Zangaro he’s somewhat relieved he wasn’t an All-Star this season:
Jeremy Lin didn’t really get a chance to watch most of the All-Star Game on Sunday night.
Instead, the Rockets’ point guard, went out to dinner with his friends and family. But he did catch some of the game, enough to see his teammate, James Harden, play some in the first half and some in the second.
Lin watched Harden play and said he was happy for him. But he also admitted the All-Star Game wasn’t for him. Not this year.
“I’m kind of thankful I didn’t get voted because when … I want to make sure I’m fully, fully deserving of it, when I play,” Lin said after the team’s evening practice on Monday. “And I didn’t feel like that was the case this year.”
Did watching Harden play in the All-Star Game at the Toyota Center motivate Lin to get to that level, to where he’s deserving of playing in the game?
“I’m not really any more motivated to make it to the All-Star Game to be honest,” he answered. “I’m happy for James but for a player, I don’t think that’s anybody’s motivation.”
Sixers hoping Bynum has Wall-like recovery — Save for the discrepancy in height, dribbling skills, shooting range and All-Star berths, Sixers center Andrew Bynum isn’t all that different from Wizards point guard John Wall. Both players entered the 2012-13 season with the weight of their respective franchises upon their shoulders, with Bynum looked at as the piece that could push Philly into the East’s elite and Wall viewed as the player to make Washington relevant again. But both players began the season injured and nursing knee injuries. Although Wall has returned and played in the Wizards’ last 18 games, Washington was hoping that he’d make a full recovery from his injury and play like his old self — which, so far, he has. But the Sixers are still waiting on Bynum and as John Wolf of The (Wilmington) News-Journal points out, they’re hoping he can make the same kind of comeback Wall has:
John Wall sat in the corner of the visitors’ locker room before a game at the Wells Fargo Center late last month, heavy wraps keeping heating pads affixed to his knees.
It had been 2½ weeks since Wall made his long-awaited season debut with the Washington Wizards and nearly seven weeks since Dr. David Altchek injected his ailing left knee with Synvisc-One, a compound that lubricates and cushions the joint, relieving osteoarthritis pain for up to six months.
Andrew Bynum visited that very same doctor, who administered those very same injections, the very next day.
Bynum’s agent has prohibited Altchek from publicly discussing his client’s condition. And the Sixers, who originally said Bynum would be ready for the season opener on Oct. 31, have declined to comment on a series of reports in The News Journal in November, when one of the top knee surgeons in the country surmised that Bynum’s condition was likely to keep him sidelined until late March at the earliest, and possibly cost him the entire season. Less than a week after the articles were published, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo announced that Bynum was out indefinitely.Although Wall and Bynum may not have suffered the exact same injury or extent of damage, the same tissues were affected and they shared a common goal – to ensure the stability of their knees before returning to play pro basketball.
What can we learn about Bynum’s recovery process by examining Wall’s experience?
Perhaps a great deal.
Both were examined and treated by Altchek, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Both said they expected to play this season in one breath, but in the next conceded that missing the full season remained a possibility.Ten weeks passed between the time Altchek initially diagnosed Wall’s injury on Sept. 27 and when the point guard received his most recent Synvisc injection on Dec. 14. Wall joined his teammates in limited contact drills exactly three weeks later, on Jan. 4. He made his season debut eight days after that, on Jan. 12, 29 days after receiving the shot and nearly 16 weeks after Altchek’s diagnosis.
“I just thanked God, I prayed on it, kept doing my thing and working out, and it just healed in the right way,” Wall said. “All I asked for for Christmas was, all I wanted was to play basketball. And basically my Christmas wish came true.”
Bynum was diagnosed with a second injury, a “mirror issue” in his left knee, after a piece of cartilage broke off and the joint swelled after he went bowling on Nov. 10. Twelve weeks passed between the time Altchek diagnosed that injury and when Bynum received his most recent Synvisc injections on Jan. 31 – or two weeks longer than it took Wall to get to that point in his rehab.
If Bynum were to follow Wall’s exact post-injection schedule, he’d join his teammates in practice on Thursday and make his Sixers debut in less than two weeks from today – at home against Golden State on March 2 – with 26 games remaining in the regular season.
Bynum said his injections “didn’t help that much, to be honest,” and admitted Monday that after two days of practicing defensive slides, dunking, full-court layups and post ups, he was forced to reduce the intensity of his workouts after experiencing “a lot of pain” in his left knee. He’s also still experiencing a locking sensation caused by loose cartilage and a range of motion issue in the joint.Bynum said his right knee feels “phenomenal,” but that joint, which he injured first, has had as many as two additional two months to heal.
Bynum also has yet to practice shooting against live defenders. Sixers coach Doug Collins and DiLeo have both said that once Bynum advances to 1-on-1 shooting drills, they expect him to slowly build toward playing 2-on-2 before taking part in full 5-on-5 scrimmages. Bynum previously said that once he progresses to full practices, he thinks he’ll need between 10 days and two weeks to get into game shape.
Earlier this month, DiLeo cast doubt on that assertion.
“[Bynum] said in the past he thought it would be 10 days to two weeks, but there’s a lot that goes into it,” DiLeo said. “We’ve been through this long process. We don’t want to take any shortcuts now. We want to make sure that when he comes back, he is healthy and he can continue at that time.”