Morning Shootaround — April 9

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

World Peace not surprised by quick recovery | Favors hitting stride at right time | Riley wants to keep Heat stars together 10 years | Thompson taking leadership role on Cavs | Nowitzki: ‘Big summer’ ahead for Mavs

World Peace expects to start vs. HornetsJust a dozen days ago, Lakers forward Metta World Peace was thought to be lost for at least the first round of the playoffs (provided L.A. got in) if not for longer. But the man who always has something to say on Twitter has gone through a miraculous recovery from torn meniscus surgery and expects to play tonight against the Hornets. Phil Collin of the Los Angeles Daily News has more on World Peace, his recovery and his teammates’ reaction to it all:

One teammate uttered the words “bionic nan.” Kobe Bryant has taken to calling Metta World Peace “Logan,” the character in “Wolverine.”

Whatever Metta Madness is flowing through his veins, it looks like World Peace will return to the Lakers lineup tonight, 12 days after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

A medical miracle? Not really, World Peace said. He was itching to play the moment he was asked by Dr. Steve Lombardo if he could put weight on the leg, and he hopped out of bed and did so only hours after the operation.

“As long as he didn’t have to stitch anything together, I couldn’t do anything to (further damage) it,” World Peace said Monday after going through 3-on-3 workouts. “I was in great shape. The doc said he was surprised my knee was in such great shape playing 14 years in the NBA and always in a defensive stance.

“When I heard all that, it wasn’t like I was trying to come back to be a Superman. I figured I’ve just got to play through pain and it will get better as time goes.”

“It’s unbelievable,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s different. I’ve never seen this before.”

World Peace said his recovery was so swift because of his diet and offseason workouts.

“I think the way I eat prepares me for a challenge like this,” World Peace said. “Even when I sprained my ankle most people would have been out a couple games and I came right back against New Orleans.

“You can take a lot of medicine, but when you eat right and you’re injured that swelling is minimized. Right after surgery (Lombardo) was amazed how the swelling didn’t even exist.”

Favors heating up as Jazz find rhythmWhen the Jazz opted to part ways with Deron Williams at the trade deadline during the 2010-11 season, they instead changed directions of the franchise as they plucked Derrick Favors from the Nets (as well as a future first-round pick — which became Enes Kanter). Favors has had periods of fits and starts with Utah during his 2 1/2 seasons there, showing flashes of the talent that made him the No. 3 overall pick. Particularly on defense, Favors has always been a steady contributor for the Jazz, but his offense and post moves have lacked behind. But lately, as Utah is making its push for the postseason and the No. 8 seed in the West, Favors is getting it done, writes Steve Luhm of the Salt Lake Tribune: 

When Derrick Favors arrived in Utah, he was a teenage NBA rookie who had just been traded by a team which repeatedly reassured him that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Favors was confused, bewildered and a little disillusioned after being the centerpiece — at least from the Jazz’s perspective — in the blockbuster trade that sent All-Star Deron Williams to New Jersey.

Coach Tyrone Corbin remembers when the quiet, stone-faced Favors joined the Jazz in 2011.

“Scared,” Corbin said. “He was a scared 19-year-old … that was surprised he got traded and didn’t know what to think of it, what to think of us or where to go next.”

Told of Corbin’s description before Monday morning’s practice, Favors smiled.

“I wasn’t scared,” he said. “I would say I was just mentally exhausted from the whole thing. Everything I went through in New Jersey and then I was traded here, I was just mentally exhausted.”

When he returned to Utah for the 2011-12 season, Favors “started feeling more comfortable because I knew there weren’t going to be any trade rumors. I knew I was going to be here.”

Favors played well, but Corbin continued to bring him along slowly. He made nine starts in 65 games during the lockout-shortened season.

This year, Favors continued to come off the bench as part of Corbin’s big-man rotation that also included Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Enes Kanter, another developing youngster.

Still, Favors averaged only 22 minutes a game — at least until March 27.

In the second quarter of a game against Phoenix, Kanter was likely lost for the season with a dislocated shoulder.

Favors seized the moment.

In the next six games, he averaged 12.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 27 minutes.

In Sunday night’s 97-90 win at Golden State, Favors finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes. His blocked shot with 40 seconds left helped preserve the critical victory.

“He’s grown all year,” said teammate Mo Williams. “He’s getting to the point where he’s turning the corner. … He’s doing great things for us down the stretch.”

Riley hopes to keep Heat stars together 10 yearsMiami Heat president Pat Riley was the man who, back during the 2009-10 season, put together a squad that amassed just 47 win and lost in the first round of the playoffs. After that season, though, Riley constructed the big rebuild of the Heat by re-signing Dwyane Wade while adding in Chris Bosh and LeBron James to create the superteam that Miami has come to know and love. That long-term vision is apparently on Riley’s mind again as he is working on constructing a way to keep the Bosh-James-Wade trio together beyond the summer of 2015-16, which is when all three players have player options on their deal. Joseph Goodman of the Miami Herald has more:

While the rest of the NBA community is busy speculating about the future of LeBron James and how the Heat plans to navigate the new salary cap, Pat Riley is thinking long-term about how special the run of this Heat team can become.

Speaking with reporters at the Heat’s “Family Fest” on Sunday, Riley pointed to models of success the NBA considers some the best in its history as the ultimate goal for the Heat while also reminding the city to enjoy this “special time.”

“I just want to keep helping them, keep bringing in more pieces that are going to complement them and hope we can have one of those 10-year rides, you know,” Riley said. “You think about every team, through the Celtics in the ’60s and the Lakers in the ’80s and the Bulls and then again the Spurs, those guys have been together eight, nine, 10 years and if we can keep this group together for eight, nine, 10 years, then we’re all going to have some fun.”

And then a piece of advice.

“So, don’t ever take it for granted,” he said.

Thompson taking on more leadership with CavsMuch was expected from Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 overall pick of the 2012 Draft, last season. But Thompson’s first NBA campaign was mostly a disappointment as he finished as an All-Rookie Second Team member. But this season, Thompson has found more of a groove on the court — the season-ending injury to Anderson Varejao freed up more minutes for the youngster — and has become a true building block for Cleveland’s future. As well as his increased on-court production, Thompson is emerging as a spokesman of sorts for the Cavs, something All-Star teammate Kyrie Irving has shied away from. Jason Lloyd of the Akron-Beacon Journal has more:

The evolution of Tristan Thompson as both a man and basketball player has dramatically progressed over the course of the last week. The Cavs will say he has always been one of the team’s leaders, but never so publicly as recently.

Thompson defended his coach as a father figure last week and called any speculation about Byron Scott’s precarious future “bogus.” Then he responded with two sensational performances in victories over the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic.

As Kyrie Irving continues to shrink away from any public platform, Thompson is embracing his role as a spokesman — and he’s backing it up with his play on the court, too.

“Just being myself, just being a natural leader and speaking up if I see something is wrong,” Thompson said after the victory Sunday against the Magic. “Just recently y’all have been coming to me, and I’ve been speaking, so I guess you can say I’ve been a leader.”

Because of the position he plays and his immense talent, Irving remains the floor leader. But twice in the past week Irving has been given the opportunity to take a stand publicly and twice he declined.

Asked after a dreadful loss to the Brooklyn Nets if the players had given up, Irving passed and said he wouldn’t answer for anyone else, then embellished the point of his recent shoulder injury as proof he hasn’t quit.

Asked prior to the game Sunday against the Magic about the speculation surrounding Scott, Irving again passed on the chance to support his coach.

“Until that time comes, I’m not really worried about it,” Irving said. “To even imagine that, I’m not going down that road. I’m focused on finishing the season with him and that’s all that matters right now.”

Thompson was so bothered by the speculation that he went into Scott’s office last Thursday and explained to his coach why he said, “All the rumors about coach Scott, hot seat and all that crap, that’s bogus. It’s up to us to go out and compete and play hard because we’re the ones out there. When he was out there playing, he won championships. It’s up to us to go out there and play.”

Scott conceded that he was touched by Thompson’s defense but told him to worry instead about his performance on the court.

“I told him, ‘You don’t have to fight my battles,’ ” Scott said. “Any coach would say, ‘I really appreciate the support from a guy like that.’ Then to go out and play the way he’s played has been fantastic. Hopefully he can continue to play that way.”

Nowitzki: ‘Big summer’ looms for MavsThe Dallas Mavericks’ immense letdown of a season is something that apparently is more than a little on Dirk Nowitzki‘s mind. The Mavs’ superstar chimed in on it yesterday in an interview with USA Today’s Sam Amick and, now, is getting the message out to the local writers, too. Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News has more on Nowitzki and his thoughts on what will undoubtedly be a summer of changes for Dallas:

Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t want it to end like this.

Slugging it out for the eighth seed — or more likely missing the playoffs — is bad enough once. Or twice.

In the autumn of his NBA career, he wants more. And while he has no problem putting pressure on ownership to find some high-quality warriors to play alongside him, Nowitzki also is OK taking on his share of the workload off the court.

He’s ready to hit the recruiting trail.

“I’ve said it all year long — this is a big summer for us,” Nowitzki said. “We have to get better. We have to get some guys in that can get us back to the top level. We want to be a top-four seed in the West. That was always our goal, to play for the top. So this is a big summer. If [owner Mark Cuban] needs me to recruit and do all that stuff, I’m more than happy to.”

The Mavericks followed up their championship in 2011 by barely squeezing into the playoffs last season. They will probably miss the playoff this season for the first season since 1999-2000.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily Cuban’s plan to go for eight, nine one-year players,” Nowitzki said. “Once you let the championship team go, there were some consequences and obviously some risks that go with it.”

And Nowitzki has made it abundantly clear to Cuban that another season like this one isn’t something he’s interested in.

“My last couple years, I’d love to contend,” he said. “We’ve been a championship team that one year, and once you smell that victory, you want to smell it again. I don’t want to go anywhere else. [Cuban] knows that. Everybody knows that. I want to be a Maverick for life.”

ICYMI of the night: On the heels of the Hall of Fame announcement on Monday, it’s as good a time as any to relive the greatness that was Gary Payton in his prime …:

14 Comments

  1. Big Al says:

    1. Metta punches hard and takes punches even harder, a true warrior indeed. The ‘thug’ has become a health adviser by saying that eating right can minimize injuries and make them heal faster. He will play with all heart to take that 8th spot.

    2. With his series of injuries, it’s unlikely that Wade will last that 10-year dream of Pat. Kobe is older and has played much longer than him, but is in significantly better shape. The best thing to do is build a team around LeBron in the long term as he is likely to be effective longer than Dwayne and Bosh.

    3. Dirk has to admit that there was a good deal of luck in Dallas winning the championship in 2010, that repeat crowns will require a much stronger team. When many players left the Mavs the following year, the team was on a steady decline. And with Cuban wasting time berating Derek Fisher and wooing that Shaq of a girl to the NBA instead of signing Allen Iverson, Nowitzki will have to decide whether he will be a Maverick forever or win another ring, as he can certainly not attain both ever again.

  2. Doucheku says:

    Soon as the Heat lose this year, he’ll change is mind-

  3. Unkle Daddy says:

    Dirk you may not want to leave Dallas, but if you want to “smell it again” your gonna have to wave bye bye. Don’t be Barkley and wait too long to leave. You should have left as soon as Cuban broke up the championship team. I wish you luck, sir.

    • John Halliday says:

      Yeah to hell with all the loyal Mavs fans that have supported you for 15 years go leave the franchise when it needs you most and try grab one more title! PLEASE players are lucky to have been looked after by a franchise for that long, how can people really believe that being paid literally hundreds of millions of dollars and having owners bending over backwards for a decade TO MAKE THEM HAPPY mean they OWE the player LOL! Hilarious. Its comments like that which make modern athletes believe they can just float from team to team and get paid!

      Its a privelige to play for an NBA team ANY TEAM not a right!!

  4. Para Punna says:

    Raptors to win a championship in the near future? lol….

  5. Brian M says:

    Gary Payton deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but anyone who says he was a better defender than Stockton is just not thinking. Who is the All-Time Leader in Steals beating the next closest by almost 600 (beating Payton by more than 800)? Stats aren’t everything, but they are definitely a big part of the story here.

    • John Halliday says:

      Gary Payton guarded: Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Prime TMAC, VC prime, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Penny Hardaway, Alan Houston who dropped 53 on kobe! Stockton could not guard anyone of these players at any point in his career! Steals have very little to do with guarding someone i think you’ll find Gary was responsible for 1000 other steals that guys like hawkins, Johnson, Schrempf, Pierce got the stat for! I agree stocktons steals record is unbelievable but that alone does not make him or anyone a better defender than someone else! Gary Payton literally is the only guard I know of apart from MJ (there might be others, but ive got over 2000 nba games on dvd and hard drives and havent seen any others) that teams actually ran their offences to the side of the floor he was not on! This is not an attack on Stockton, the greatest “pure” PG off all time IMO. But GP is by far the greatest Defensive PG ive seen and I have got 100’s of games with Cheeks and Stockton in. Cant speak for Cousy cause i only have a few highlights!

  6. slider821 says:

    Article mentions Kyrie is shying away from public and leadership roles. Does anyone know why? I find that kind of odd, Kyrie seemed like a true leader for that team early this season.

  7. Jim says:

    This article just reafirmed sth.You can call MWP stupd,crazy,reckless but above all he’s a fighter.And no I’m no LAL fan this coming from a Raptors fan :D

  8. oldiegoldie39 says:

    well deserved.

  9. W/E says:

    Lol at Pat Riley, 10 years until wade is 40 lol.

    • dattebayo says:

      So you have problems with math, huh. The Big Three started in July 2010, when Wade was 28, Bosh was 26 and James was 25. If they play 10 years together it would end in April/May/June 2021 and neither one of the Big Three would be 40 then…

  10. Alan says:

    Mavs are the best team ever.

  11. Josh Astive says:

    I fully agree with you, Dirk! Hope Cuban listens.