Morning Shootaround — Nov. 26


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Nov. 25

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Bulls likely to stick with Deng | Gay bans postgame stat sheets | Kobe: No ‘negotiation’ on extension needed | Pacers on mission for No. 1 in East

No. 1: Report: Bulls, Deng likely to stick togetherDerrick Rose‘s season-ending knee surgery brought up a host of questions for the Bulls in 2013-14, but perhaps some of the biggest questions surround the roster. Namely, should Chicago think about trading its moveable players — like Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer — in hopes of landing first-round picks in the 2014 Draft? Or should they hold tight, play through the season and figure things out in the offseason? For Deng, at least, it seems he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today reports that he and the team plan to stick together long term:

By ruling out Derrick Rose for the season, the Chicago Bulls eliminated any speculation about his return. That allows them to concentrate on this season without his status overshadowing everything.

So who will lead the team to those wins now that Rose is out? It seems that role will fall to forward Luol Deng. He has done it before. He is Chicago’s leading scorer (16.3 points a game), third-leading rebounder (7.3 a game) and a capable passer (3.4 assists a game). He is also Chicago’s best perimeter defender.

With that in mind, Deng, who will make $14.2 million this year in the final year of his six-year deal, probably will be with the Bulls for the long haul, a person familiar with both sides told USA TODAY Sports. Even though an expiring deal is ideal to trade, both sides appear to want to keep him on the team. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about a potential deal.

Furthermore, not many, if any, teams will be looking to deal high draft picks when the 2014 draft class is loaded, especially at the top.

Carlos Boozer’s big contract expires after 2014-15, and he will make $16.8 million the final year. It will be tough to move his deal and get what they want in return. The Bulls could always amnesty Boozer in the offseason, but their philosophy on that has always been: “Where else are we going to get 17 points and eight rebounds a game?”

Guard Jimmy Butler is an asset, but the Bulls aren’t interested in moving him.

There’s no indication the Bulls are going to fall apart. They didn’t last season without Rose, and they are have veteran leadership with Deng, Boozer, Kirk Hinrich and Joakim Noah. Butler is due back from a toe injury within the next couple of weeks.

All those adidas commercials shining light on Rose’s painful rehab and then his anticipated return left everyone joyous to see Rose on the court again this season. And like that, he’s gone again.

In a statement, adidas said, “As fans of the game and a close partner, we wish Derrick a quick recovery. His hard work, dedication and love of the game is inspiring to his millions of fans worldwide and to all of us at adidas. Our support for him will continue to be unwavering.”

A person familiar with Rose’s relationship with adidas told USA TODAY Sports that Rose commercials will continue to air while he is out. That person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about Rose. Without providing specifics about future commercials, the person said all plans remain unchanged in regards to Rose.

***

No. 2: Gay bans scoresheets in the locker room – For a couple seasons running now, Raptors swingman Rudy Gay has been a favorite target of the NBA analytics crowd for what they claim to be his lack of efficiency as a scorer. (ICYMI, our own Jeff Caplan caught up with Gay about that very topic during the offseason.) This season, the Raptors are leading the (not-so-great) Atlantic Division and Gay has taken to banning postgame scoresheets from the locker room in an effort to not boost his own cause, but that of his team, writes Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

A locker room is a sanctuary for the players on a professional team.

It is the primary space away from the court where they develop the chemistry and bonds that help them become even better than their collective talents.

Which brings us to what you are not going to find in the players’ locker room anymore.

And that would be scoresheets.

It’s common practice that after every game each player is provided a scoresheet. The sheet breaks down the individual players’ contributions as well as team totals.

That won’t be happening anymore in Toronto. Rudy Gay has put a stop to it.

Gay sees the scoresheets as an unnecessary barrier to team unity or even a temptation to be more focussed on what is best for the individual as opposed to what is best for the team.

“We’re not playing for stats,” Gay said.

Gay said there was no incident or no moment that pushed him toward this decision but as a leader on this team, he felt it was just something that was best for the team.

“I wanted to just nip it in the bud before it became an issue,” he said. “We come in here after losses, after wins and people are staring at those stat sheets, but that’s not what we’re about. We’re a team and the stat that matters is the W.”

Gay said there were no objections from his teammates when he delivered the news.

“No, none. It was pretty easy.”

***

No. 3: Kobe says no ‘negotiation’ involved in new deal — At almost the same time Bulls fans got the heartbreaking news about Derrick Rose yesterday, Lakers fans got some good news when it was learned that Kobe Bryant and the Lakers had agreed to a two-year, $48.5 million extension. Analysis is already running rampant about how this deal will affect L.A.’s ability to be players in free agency, but one thing is clear, writes Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski – this was a deal Bryant and the Lakers didn’t have to tussle over:

Between his signature on a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension and a cross-country flight to the East Coast on Monday, Kobe Bryant was left befuddled and bemused by those who declared him greedy and uncaring about chasing championships.

“This was easy,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports on Monday night. “This wasn’t a negotiation. The Lakers made their offer with cap and building a great team in mind while still taking care of me as a player.

“I simply agreed to the offer.”

Until the hours before the Lakers’ meeting with the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, that’s all Bryant would say about the contract extension. He is 35 years old, working his way back from a torn Achilles and the Buss family is still betting Bryant is the best free-agent star available on the market, betting that Bryant can still drive ticket sales and TV ratings and make these Lakers relevant again.

In this basketball universe, that’s what a max player does for a big-market franchise. The late Lakers owner, Jerry Buss, was always brutally honest about the value of his superstar players – so much more so than his ownership peers. Once, Buss told Bryant he believed he was worth $60 million to $70 million a year to the Lakers.

With Bryant’s deal – which will pay him $23.5 million and $25 million in 2015 and ’16, respectively – the Lakers have room to recruit a max player this summer, and only Bryant’s contract is still on the books for the summer of 2016.


VIDEO: The Beat crew discusses the Lakers’ future & Kobe’s new deal

***

No. 4: Pacers driven to lock up East’s No. seed — Save for a blowout loss to the Bulls in Chicago, the Indiana Pacers have made quick work of just about every opponent they’ve faced this season. Such was the case last night as Indiana took what was a mostly close game with the Minnesota Timberwolves and turned it into a blowout by the middle of the fourth quarter. The Pacers are playing with a purpose and focus that few teams in the NBA right now can match and Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star says that’s because Indiana has a laundry list of goals clearly set in its mind:

It’s as if everything they do now, even in these early days of the season, is informed by the predicament they found themselves in last year, playing in Miami’s house for a chance to reach the NBA Finals.

A special season is now off to a special start, a potential record-breaking start, the Pacers beating a really good Minnesota Timberwolves team, 98-84, Monday night to push their record to 13-1.

Thirteen-and-one.

It’s all about Game 7 in Miami.

They never want to be on the road again for a Game 7.

Ever.

“That was the motivation for this year,’’ Paul George said after a 26-point, eight-rebound performance. “It came from coach (Frank Vogel). We were special in the playoffs at home and we knew, if we can give ourselves the opportunity to play Game 7 in our house, we can do some special things.’’

This team isn’t playing around, not even in late November, long before things really start to count in the long NBA season. They want that No. 1 seed. They want to send Vogel and his staff and a couple of players to the NBA All-Star Game. They want to be the talk of the NBA.

Yes, there will be injuries and there will be lulls and there will be nights when the schedule — like an upcoming five-games-in-eight-nights run — will catch up to them.

Or will they?

This suddenly looks like a team that can win 60 games or more.

“We knew that we sometimes put ourselves in tough situations last year, and that’s where we’ve matured this year,’’ Hill said “We’re really coming together. Even when things aren’t going well (like several foul calls the Pacers argued throughout the first three quarters), we know how to play through those things. We’re a more complete team now. Guys can come off the bench and fill their roles and not have there be a drop off. The starting five has a year under its belt together. We know each other, the way each other plays. Coach (Vogel) always says we should be the most together team in the NBA.’’

For the Indiana Pacers, it’s No. 1 seed or bust, Finals or bust. They’re not afraid to say it. They’re not afraid to believe it. And they’re not afraid to pursue it.


VIDEO: Paul George discusses Indiana’s big win over Minnesota

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Mavs owner Mark Cuban says his one-year feud with Jason Kidd is over and may end up retiring Kidd’s number … Rookie forward Otto Porter, Jr., the third pick in the 2013 Draft, finally participated in practice with the Wizards

ICYMI Of The Night: Paul George shows that he knows what to do when given a nice breakaway dunk opportunity …


VIDEO: Paul George shows off his dunking skills on this breakaway attempt

27 Comments

  1. bodjee says:

    Gay is the dictator now! Soon, we will be renaming streets in Canada to please Mr Gay. If you don’t care about stats then you don’t care who wins or who looses too. I wonder how Toronto Raptors is going to evaluate their players from now on. The stats is not even showing any lack of grind. Are the players allowed to watch recorded games?

    • Chris says:

      Do you understand the point of what he is doing? Do you understand psychology or is it too much for your mind to comprehend. They still watch game footage to learn from their mistakes its to build team unity since they are trying to become a better team. Him and Demar are the captains of the team so they are leading the team and trying for change to better the team. And did you read the whole section where the only stat the matters is the W or are you too incompetent to read and comprehend a whole paragraph.

  2. Arky says:

    Rudy Gay has been taking lessons from the Iraqi Information Minister. Ignore the scoresheets! All those bricked shots didn’t really happen, they are a lie of the stat nerds! Have faith that Rudy’s isolation plays will triumph over the decadent West(ern Conference)!

  3. Brent says:

    Kobe is obviously one of the greatest players of all time.

    But that deal pretty much ended any chance the Lakers might have had to make a run at a sixth title with Kobe. The last time he was in the playoffs the Lakers lost in the second round. They obviously need more players who can really contribute. One would think Kobe would understand that and maybe counteroffer a deal for a little less money that would allow the Lakers the room to sign one more star player.

  4. okc2014 says:

    Am I the only one who thinks any discussion about the Lakers or Kobe Bryant is just plain boring?

    • Kobe Fan says:

      OKC Fan huh? Great season for your team, but eventually choking during playoffs and finals.

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        You wish. Russell Westbrook is 100% and made an incredible game-winning 3 in the game against the lowly Warriors (who I don’t think will even make the playoffs). They might. Then again, nahhhh. West is too deep this year. At least Warriors will come close. Lakers may never make the playoffs ever again.

        I predict 2014 NBA Finals: OKC Thunder vs. Indiana Pacers

        2014 NBA Champion: OKC Thunder.

        The Spurs are still great, but father time has really caught up with them. Despite that, they almost defeated the Heat last season in the Finals. Which, just proves the Heat really aren’t that great. They barely defeated a team that is over the hill, for the most part. Spurs execute great, but they’re too slow overall to keep up with the young, energetic OKC Thunder.

  5. jr says:

    kobe is kobe.
    lakers is lakers.
    period.

  6. Desmodeus says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that Paul George walked on that dunk?

  7. BBALL7 says:

    Obviously, Kobe and the Lakers will be stuck in an area known as “Can’t contend in either the playoffs nor the lottery.” The fact of the matter is that the Lakers cannot restart until Kobe retires and have done an extremely poor job on building a true supporting cast around him. They are not thinking when they sign these guys and honestly Mike D’Antoni needs another “Linsanity” to happen to even dream of a winning streak before Kobe returns. Sure Kobe is great, but he needs help everywhere, not just in Pau. If the Lakers truly want to get Kobe that 6th ring, please tell them they need to blow up their roster. Soon.

  8. courageoussquirrels says:

    The money that theyre giving Kobe is NOTHING compared to what he has generated for the franchise. The TV deal that they did with Time Warner was for about 3BILLION dollars over 20 years. Now, obviously Kobe wasnt the ONLY factor in landing that deal, but I can guarantee he played a role. He’s helped bring excitement and attention to the Lakers’ franchise for nearly 20 years. This deal is a “thank you” to Kobe more so than anything else, and he deserves every penny.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      3 billion dollars over 20 years? Talk about a rip off! No wonder FOX Sports dumped the LA Losers.

      So, that would be 150 Million per year with Time Warner. Come to think of it, that actually does not sound all that lucrative, if you think about it. The salary cap is around $58 million. Very rarely, will any team go close or over $100 million payroll for a season.

      Do the Clippers make more with their deal with FOX Sports (a real sports channel)? I bet they do. If not, then Time Warner is losing lots of money on that deal. They got screwed big time. This could put them out of business by the year 2020. Bankruptcy. Chapter 11 or 13 or whatever it is.

      So what if the Lakers can pay luxury taxes comfortably? Not any more than the biggest market in America (New York). Ha. Lakers still lose. Still a wannabe big market team. Ha. The deal with Time Warner only allows the Lakers to throw money away in luxury taxes because they’ll never be a winning team again. Any extra revenue is held onto dearly for fear of having to move the team to another city. Either that, or paying off the refs to fix games, like the Lakers did many times last season.

      Plus, FOX Sports gets way HIGHER TV ratings than that low-end whatever station the Lakers are on. Ha! That right there attracts more and better sponsors to Clipper TV than Laker TV. Lakers and/or Time Warner losing more money again to the superior LA Clippers in LA.

      I bet Time Warner wants out of whatever deal they have with the lowly Laker franchise. They’ll try to find a way to break off the contract as early as possible cause they are getting ripped off by an NBA team that will never make the playoffs ever again.

      Plus, comments like yours doesn’t help. Only fuels Bryant’s motivation to only come back if he can pad his inflated stats by ballhogging again, even to the detriment of the Laker franchise. If he plays some time this season, the Lakers will be even worse than they are now. He’s going to play selfish basketball because Bryant thinks he is the Laker team. No, NBA is a team game. Bryant will never understand. He’ll come back and younger players like Wes Johnson and Nick Young will see their stats tumble big time. The rest of the team will suffer big, in every way thinkable, from a team-productive or statistical standpoint. He’ll probably miss this whole season, anyway. He’s out of shape and just now started rehabbing. He’s done. He should be able to play next season. I feel sorry for whoever has to play with a MINUS selfish player like Bryant, next season.

      I suppose some of you Laker fans didn’t learn anything from last season. Bryant was primarily responsible for destroying the Laker franchise and continues to do so. He played to pad his individual stats. But because he stinks now, he overachieved causing the team to stink worse.

      A true NBA coach doesn’t want a mediocre player putting up stats that aren’t legit. Probably why D’antoni plays Bryant 40+ minutes-per-game. To purposely injure Bryant and get him out of there so that he can run the type of offense he wants to run. Up and down and fast, not slow and ball-hogging like Bryant.

      I am the truth from which you Lakers run.

  9. Game Time says:

    Kobe is only in the league now to chase the most points ever record. He knows he’s not getting to another finals with the current roster. Smart move for him, very dumb one for the Lakers if they had hopes of getting back to the finals.

  10. Laks Fan says:

    Actually, Dominique Wilkins at age 32 had the same injury and played better the next year. There was also less medicine tech back then also.

  11. Barles Charkley says:

    good idea, i just hope this is not only to hide the poor FG% who can bring a lot of questions and responsabilities about shot selections (gay and derozan need to shoot a lot, not to do horribles shots a lot

  12. blaz says:

    To Damger:
    Any Superstar at NBA got enough money after 3-4 years, but I have never seen them sign below their value… And Kobe is still one of the best players with around 20M salary.

  13. Roy says:

    As a native Toronto fan, I’m really disappointed by this mentality that Gay has, same with any other Raptor player OR fan that has it. Stats are a tool to tell the truth, maybe not the 100% truth but a truth none the less. A ban of stat sheets in the locker room shows a clear lack of willingness to change and improve your game, which CLEARLY needs to happen if you want to compete in the post season. DeRozan and Gay are both averaging 20+ points while both shooting 8% lower FG% than nearly every other player in the top 25, pathetic.

  14. Danger says:

    How is giving a 35 year old a who hasn’t even come back from one of the worst injury’s in sport 25 mil per year a good thing.. Stats prove no one comes back from that the same,, and if he does still.. Kobe is arrogant.. and clearly an idiot.. and probably delusional, if he cared for the lakers more than him self he could have taken say 2 years at 20 mil say.. not bad for 36-37 years old… God knows hes got enough money.. and leave the lakers in a position to sign 2 younger players to Max deals and build for 1 more run for his 6th ring and working for the future after his retirement.. hes cost himself any shot at another title.. but i think he genuinely believes hes that good to be worth 25mill at 37, so hey. But this is a Fail.. lets see what others like Dirk do with his contract RiP lakers.. and if we he says is true the lakers are really dumb..

    • slider821 says:

      yeah…you have no idea what you’re talking about. how is 4m/yr going to make or break whether the lakers can contend next year? they would barely be able to sign a bench player for that much. and if it was really an issue, its up to management to spend the extra 4m, not kobe’s responsibility to take cuts. has nothing to do with kobe. they offered him an amount and he accepted. keep hating

    • Rey says:

      Dominique Wilkins did, and had arguably one of his best seasons scoring wise.

    • jreads says:

      Have you not seen what kobe did last year for the lakers, have you not seen the kind of heat kobe has to play through pain? He’s an idiot? this man is one of the smartest players to ever play the game. 37 years of age he will still be better than more than half the players in the league. Kobe agreed to his offer it was not a negotiation.

    • LB says:

      If you happen to have read his excerpt he clearly states that there was no negotiation. This is the offer that LAL came to the table with and he simply agreed to it. So how is this Kobe’s fault??? I’m sure LAL mgmt did their research and due diligence. They don’t just pull numbers out of a hat.

    • LBJKIN6JAMES says:

      @ Danger
      Your comments are 100% correct. Please repeat everything you just said to the “Don’t ever CLICK MY NAME!!!! You Have been warned” guy. He’s a delusional Laker fanboy who thinks the Lakers will sign a bunch of superstars and win a championship in the next 2 years!
      Laker fans just don’t get it, they are still clinging to the glory days and wishing that this delusional fantasy will come true. its almost sad…

  15. After all I don’t think that Kobe should come back any time soon