Morning Shootaround — April 12

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: As our own Steve Aschburner wrote about before last night’s Knicks-Bulls tilt from Chicago, coach Tom Thibodeau has once again done an amazing job of keeping this Bulls team together all season long. Aside from the scotch-tape job he has done with Chicago’s lineups all season, Thibodeau apparently is the master when it comes to ending a foe’s opposing win streak. The Bulls already had Miami’s 27-game run on their kill list and last night, they added the Knicks 13-game run to it. Nate Robinson was at his best last night, dropping in 35 points and coming up with the hustle plays and backbreaking shots that are a hallmark of his game when he is on.

News of the morning

Parker, Popovich at odds on return| Agent: Collins, Sixers on good terms | Report: Bulls likely to add Mirotic in 2014| Report: Stern may decide Kings’ future | Drummond, Monroe developing in Detroit

Parker, Popovich can’t agree on return dateUp until March 1 against the Sacramento Kings, Tony Parker was in the midst of an MVP-type season. But that night in San Antonio, Parker severely sprained his left ankle and missed 22 days before returning to play (and star) in an OT win over the Jazz. He looked just like his old self for a while, but then suffered a neck injury in a loss at Oklahoma City on April 4 and has been out of the lineup since. Parker is hoping to come back soon, but the exact date on that, according to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News, depends on who you ask:

On his way to the team bus after a loss to the Nuggets in which Gregg Popovich would not allow him to play Tony Parker, the Spurs’ All-Star point guard, made a promise he hopes the coach will allow him to keep on Friday night.

“I’m playing Friday,” Parker said without breaking stride as he focused on Friday’s game against the Kings at the AT&T Center.

For a team disheartened all the more by the pre-game news that forward Boris Diaw has been ruled out of action for two to three weeks with a sprained lower back (technically, a sprained lumbar facet), Parker’s vow was music to his teammates’ ears.

The Spurs leader in points scored and assists, the five-time All-Star hasn’t played since an April 4 game at Oklahoma City in which his most recent injury, a sore neck, resulted in his lowest output of the season: two points, on 1-for-6 shooting.

Parker will have to convince Popovich he is completely recovered from a variety of ailments if he wants to suit up against the Sacramento Kings Friday. The Spurs coach said he would re-visit the issue with Parker after a Friday morning shootaround.

“We’ll see how he feels,” Popovich said after Wednesday’s game in Denver.

Agent says Collins, Sixers on good termsSixers coach Doug Collins hasn’t had the easiest of seasons in Philly, what with Andrew Bynum‘s injury drama, a roster that never seemed to gel and injuries here and there that have messed with Philadelphia’s depth. Collins is best known this season, perhaps, for his epic rant after the Sixers fell apart at home and lost to one of the worst teams in the league, the Orlando Magic. Collins ranted about the Sixers’ inability to keep ex-Sixer Nikola Vucevic off the glass while also sounding off on Philly’s big men and other topics. It wasn’t a pretty scene. All that said, though, Collins’ agent tells PhillyBurbs.com’s Tom Moore that his future is up to him with the Sixers:

In the wake of a published report saying the organization privately hopes Doug Collins doesn’t return next season as 76ers coach, his agent claims it will be Collins’ call.

“The relationship with Doug, me and Sixers management has been terrific,” said John Langel during a Thursday afternoon telephone conversation. “What they told me beyond this season and as recently as today and yesterday is how long Doug stays here is Doug’s decision.”

Langel denied rumblings that the story, which cited multiple unnamed NBA sources, in Thursday’s Philadelphia Inquirer originated from Collins’ camp.

Sixers spokesman Mike Preston said, “We are aware of the report and will not comment on a column loaded with innuendo and speculation.”

In October, Sixers majority owner Josh Harris announced the team had picked up a fourth-year option (for the 2013-14 season) on Collins’ contract. It is believed to be worth $4.5 million.

Sixers CEO Adam Aron has repeatedly — and as recently as last month — said management would like for Collins to coach the team beyond next season.

Harris is expected to meet with the media next Thursday, the day after the end of the regular season.

Report: Bulls likely to add Mirotic in 2014Back in the 2011 Draft, the Chicago Bulls pulled off a trade that day with the Houston Rockets to pick up Real Madrid star Nikola Mirotic. Since then, he’s been stashed overseas and is developing his game while Bulls fans salivate over the prospect of having a talent like Mirotic on the roster soon. Bulls fans should get their due soon, though, writes ESPNChicago.com, as the Bulls are poised to add Mirotic to the roster come 2014:

Chicago Bulls fans eager for Nikola Mirotic to join the team that drafted him with the 24th pick in 2011 will likely have to wait until the summer of 2014, general manager Gar Forman explained.

“You’re slotted in the first round, and I think the slot for No. 24 is $1.3 or $1.4 million,” Forman said Thursday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “Well, he makes a lot more money than that right now over at Real Madrid. So the way the CBA is written is after three years then you’re no longer slotted. Then you can use whether it’s exception room or cap room in order to pay a guy.

“So there’s no possibility this summer because next year will be his third year. But after next year, the summer of 2014, then we’ll be able to start some negotiations as far as a buyout possibly with Real Madrid or negotiate with him to come over here.”

The 6-10 forward has been compared to Dirk Nowitzki and Danilo Gallinari.

“He reminds me of Dirk and a little bit of Gallo, just a little bit,” said Memphis center Zach Randolph, who played against Mirotic in an exhibition game. “But I can see the Dirk comparisons. I can see why, definitely.”

Some thought Mirotic could play small forward, but Forman said he’ll be a power forward.

“We’re really, really excited about him,” Forman said. “We built a relationship with him, we’re in constant communication. John (Paxson) and I went up and saw him this fall when he played at Memphis and at Toronto in a couple NBA exhibitions, and we think the ceiling there is incredible.

“He’s probably a four, but he’s very, very skilled. He shoots it from 3, can handle it, good mobility. And he’s a tough, tough kid.”

Report: Stern my decide on Kings’ futureOriginally, the Sacramento Kings’ future was to be decided at the April 18-19 Board of Governors meeting, but after groups from Sacramento and Seattle gave their presentations on April 3, that deadline was pushed back (as our David Aldridge reports). More developments have come along (as our Scott Howard-Cooper reports) and the future of the Kings remains very much in doubt. Sam Amick of USA Today, though, says that Commissioner David Stern could be the deciding vote in whether or not the Kings move or stay put:

When David Stern announced he would retire next February, his 30th anniversary as NBA commissioner, he likely thought he had seen it all.

But here he is, in the 11th hour of a tenure that has been historic and memorable in many ways, directing traffic in an unprecedented affair, this fight for the Kings between Sacramento and Seattle, that will leave a lasting note on his legacy. And with a week left before the Board of Governors meetings in New York, when a vote on the matter likely will take place, this much has become abundantly clear: Stern still wields considerable influence, and strong signs persist that he’s doing all he can to keep the team in Sacramento.

For all of Stern’s talk of playing a merely advisory role, the growing sentiment from all sides is the commissioner, who has always been clear about his distaste for relocation, is determined to avoid having a sixth team change cities on his watch. And he remains powerful enough to pull it off. The story line is sticky, of course, because of the way the league moved the Seattle SuperSonics to the Oklahoma City in 2008 and the widely held assumption that Stern was hellbent on returning the NBA to Seattle before he retired.

This is a good problem to have for Stern and his successor, deputy commissioner Adam Silver. They clearly are smitten with the potential global impact that could come with Sacramento’s lead investor, Indian software tycoon Vivek Ranadive, but might have a hard time denying Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his deep pockets. Rumors of expansion as the potential solution to satisfy both sides persist, but Stern has said consistently it is not an option at the moment. The reality remains that one city will go home unhappy.

Monroe, Drummond rising for PistonsDetroit is in the midst of a fourth straight season of winning less than 40 percent of their games and have a 50-plus loss season for the third time in four seasons. But in the midst of a losing campaign and more rebuilding, the Pistons have found some hope in their frontcourt tandem of rookie big man Andre Drummond and second-year center Greg Monroe. Richard Hardy of HoopsWorld.com has more on the Pistons’ developing duo and the prospects for a brighter future in Detroit:

After selecting Andre Drummond in this year’s draft, the Detroit Pistons had a potential log-jam at the center position. Just two years earlier they had selected Greg Monroe. Both players have shown that they deserve to be starters in this league and rather trading one of them, the Pistons opted to move Monroe over to power forward, hoping that the two can player together.

“We’ve put Greg in a situation where he’s playing a different position than he’s used to,” Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank said. “He’s responded very positively and we just want him to continue to progress in these last 16 quarters of basketball.”

At 6’11 and 250 lbs, Monroe is deceptively quick. Frank believes that in time Monroe can thrive at the four, regardless of what teams throw at him.

“Greg’s ability, with his size and skill level, to put the ball on the floor and make decisions is critical,” Frank said. “His low-post game continues to expand and he’s continuing to gain more and more confidence in his 15-foot jump shot. Defensively, when you look at the last 10 to 12 games, he’s had some really good individual defensive challenges that he’s responded to.”

Although Drummond and Monroe are similar in size, Drummond insists that their games are radically different.

“I do all the dirty work,” Drummond said. “Greg is the fundamental guy. He has the ability to hit the jump shot and he can pass the ball really well. He does all the active stuff and I clean up around the rim. We complement each other and for me, the game is easier when he’s out there.”

Monroe has been impressed with what Drummond has been able to do in such a short amount of time in the NBA. Although he agrees with Drummond about them being different players, he also sees similarities in their games.

“Andre is someone who’s very comfortable around the rim,” Monroe said. “He can run the floor and he’s a better passer than people give him credit for. I think both of us are pretty unselfish and we both have a ton of room for growth moving forward.”

ICYMI of the night: Chris Anderson, formerly of the Nuggets, has just been getting victimized by his old teammates. The latest to slam on him? None other than Washington’s Nene … :

4 Comments

  1. jake s. says:

    I don’t know about on purpose… The Rockets and Lakers are both brand new teams this year. The only difference is that the Rockets are better. If coach Popovich was the best coach at damage control ( which he is ) in the nba, then i would say he wants to play the Lakers in the first round. He has seen what James Harden can do to his team. He is probably dreading the Rockets over the Lakers.

  2. Romo Lampkin says:

    i’m wondering if pop is secretly angling to finish 2nd so that they will face the rockets in the first round. the way the spurs play is well suited against a team like the rockets who rely on a high pace, high tempo type offense. if they slow the game down they will overwhelm the rockets easily with their superior half court offense.

    if they do end up facing the lakers (there’s still that chance), the odds are slightly less favorable, especially if dwight wakes up and kobe continues his red hot form into the first round.

  3. Nebojsa says:

    Nikola Pekovic, Nikola Vucevic and Nikola Mirotic, did you know that they are all from Montenegro, small Europian country with population of 650 thousand people.

  4. mee(a)T says:

    well chicago is just breaking streaks huh…