NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Report: Cavs shopping Waiters – By just about every statistical measure, Cavs guard Dion Waiters is having a bit of a sophomore slump. His shooting percentage has fallen from 41.2 percent as a rookie to 39.9 percent, and his points per game (13.8) and assists per game (2.3) are down, too. Part of the reason for his drop in numbers might be due to the relationship — or lack thereof — that he has with his teammates. According to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard, the Cavs are shopping Waiters, who has had some clashes with his teammates this season:
Three teams the Cavaliers are known to have spoken with are the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, the sources said. The Cavs’ targets are Iman Shumpert in New York, Evan Turner in Philadelphia and Luol Deng in Chicago, sources said.
It is believed Cleveland has reached out to other clubs as well.
Waiters, whom the Cavaliers drafted with the No. 4 pick in 2012, has a contentious relationship with several teammates, including star point guard Kyrie Irving, and sources say he is open to being traded. In fact, although Waiters has not demanded a trade, he brought up the subject in a three-hour meeting last week with coach Mike Brown and general manager Chris Grant, according to sources.
“It’s just nonsense,” Waiters said of the trade rumors following his season-high 24 points in the team’s 95-84 loss to Miami. “There’s been things thrown out there that haven’t been true at all.”
The Cavaliers are looking to shake things up after a 4-11 start. Part of their problem has been the dysfunction in their locker room. Waiters, a 6-foot-4 guard, got into an altercation with forward Tristan Thompson during a players-only meeting after a 29-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 13, sources said.
Sources described the following account:
Irving called the meeting after the game, and every player spoke. When Waiters was given the floor, he criticized Thompson and Irving, accusing them of playing “buddy ball” and often refusing to pass to him. Thompson took umbrage with Waiters’ words and went back at him verbally. The two confronted each other, but teammates intervened before it could escalate into a fight.
However, Waiters and Irving are not close. Waiters believes the Cavaliers have a double standard when it comes to Irving, sources said. Waiters feels that while Irving is allowed to get away with loafing defensively, making turnovers and taking bad shots, he is taken out of games for such things. Waiters has shared his views with Brown and Grant.
No. 2: Knicks hold closed-door meeting after loss to Clips — On the heels of a seventh straight loss — this one coming at the hands of the title-contending Clippers in Los Angeles — the Knicks continue to reel and struggle as much as they have all season. They have the third-worst record in the league and another loss would give New York its longest losing streak since 2010. All that negativity and all those bad vibes led the Knicks to hold a postgame team meeting, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
After the New York Knicks lost their seventh consecutive game Wednesday night to fall to 3-11 on the season, players and coaches held a 20-minute, closed-door meeting.
“The easiest thing for us to do is just to crumble right now,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We are in a dark place but we have to get out of this. We just have to get out of it.”
“We talked. Everybody talked,” Anthony said. “The players had a meeting, the coaches — everybody had a meeting after the game. We had to talk. We’re trying to figure it out together. We have to put four quarters together. We got to do it for one another. Right now the game is not for nobody. We’re just not making it happen.”
Last season, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were two of the big reasons the Knicks won 54 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. But both players have struggled this season, and on Wednesday, Smith and Shumpert combined for just nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.
“They have to figure it out, and we have to help them figure it out,” Anthony said. “I really don’t know how we do that but we’re going to keep trying and we’re going to keep trying to figure this out. Them guys have to figure it out on their own, too, and along the way, we all have to be there for one another. The easiest thing would be for us to go our separate ways and separate this team in the locker room but we have to be here for one another right now. The hardest thing to do right now is to remain positive. I know it’s tough but we have to do that.”
Knicks point guard Raymond Felton started Wednesday after missing the previous four games with a back injury, but his return wasn’t enough to improve the team’s fortunes.
“It hurts. It’s something that no team wants,” Felton said. “We don’t want it. We’re not used to it. It’s mind-boggling. I can’t really put it into words. We’ve got to keep fighting. We’ve got to figure this out, someway, somehow.”
“We’re not struggling,” Metta World Peace said. “It’s part of life. You know how life is. We had a bad hair day, you know?”
World Peace signed with the Knicks in the offseason, passing up an opportunity to stay in Los Angeles with the Clippers, largely because of the lure of winning in New York.
“I honestly didn’t even know who the coach was when I was coming to New York,” World Peace said. “I just wanted to win a championship; I didn’t even know who was coaching. I didn’t care. It could have been Aunt Jemima. They could have had the syrup coaching. I was coming here regardless. I just wanted to win a championship here.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson has come under scrutiny after the team’s poor start but believes they have to have faith in the process and believe they are a win away from turning their season around.
“It’s something we haven’t experienced the last two years but we just have to stay the course,” Woodson said. “This is no time to panic and feel that you can’t get out of it. You win one game and that gets your confidence back going and there’s no telling what can happen so we just have to stay the course, keep grinding and see what happens.”
No. 3: Did Kidd intentionally spill his soda? — The Lakers seemingly had last night’s game against the Nets in Brooklyn in hand, building a lead to as much as 27 points. But the Nets surged back in the second half and managed to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. With 8.3 seconds left in the game and L.A. nursing a 96-94 lead, Nets coach Jason Kidd spilled his soda in a move some are questioning whether it was intentional or not, writes Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com:
With 8.3 seconds left in Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers and his team out of timeouts, Kidd, who was holding a cup of soda, appeared to say “hit me” to point guard Tyshawn Taylor in order to stop the game so the team could draw up a last-second offensive play.
After Lakers guard Jodie Meeks made the first of a pair of free throws, giving his team a 96-94 lead, Taylor walked toward Kidd near the sideline and collided with his coach, who was holding a cup of soda at the time. The cup of soda spilled on to the court. While it was being cleaned up, the coaching staff drew up a last-second play. Taylor was subbed out of the game for forward Mirza Teletovic.
Adding to the chaos of the moment, while Nets assistant John Welch drew up the team’s final play, two Lakers appeared to be in the middle of the huddle.
Meeks then made the second free throw, and on the ensuing Brooklyn possession, small forward Paul Pierce missed a 3-pointer that would’ve tied the game with 2.2 seconds remaining. The Nets ended up losing to the Lakers 99-94 at Barclays Center.
“Cup slipped out of my hand while I was getting Ty,” Kidd said of “Cupgate.” “Sweaty palms. I was never good with the ball.
“In the heat of the battle, you’re trying to get guys in and out of the game, and the cup fell out of my hand.”
Video replays appeared to show Kidd saying “Hit me,” something Taylor flatly denied.
Said Taylor: “No [Kidd didn’t say that]. I wasn’t paying attention. I just kind of bumped him. I didn’t even know he was holding [anything]. [But] coach was drinking a soda on the sideline. I was like, ‘What’s he doing?’
“It could ice a free throw shooter and be a timeout when you don’t have one, but that wasn’t the thought process. I was just coming out, and he was in my way. ‘Coach, get out of my way, bro.’ “
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Sixers got Thaddeus Young back in the lineup last night after he had missed some games due to a family issue … Andris Biedrins is practicing with the Jazz, but his return date is unknown … Kendall Marshall, the 13th pick of the 2012 Draft, will enter the NBA Development League …
ICYMI Of The Night: Bulls forward Carlos Boozer gets a lot of (deserved) flak for how he defends the paint. After what Rodney Stuckey did to him, I doubt we’ll see him contest a shot again anytime soon …