Morning Shootaround — Dec. 30


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Dec. 29

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Parker might listen to free-agent offers | Durant gets fired up vs. Rockets | More minutes on horizon for Bennett? | Redick nearing return?

No. 1: Parker not opposed to leaving Spurs one day — Much like teammates Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, point guard Tony Parker seems destined to join that duo as a life-long Spur. But Parker, responding to an ESPN.com report that says the Knicks have interest in pursuing him once he becomes a free agent in 2015, isn’t so sure he’d stick with San Antonio no matter the cost. While Parker says staying with the Spurs is his top choice, he told the San Antonio Express-NewsJabari Young that he’s also open to testing the free-agent waters should things not work out as he hopes in San Antonio:

Tony Parker to the New York Knicks?

Unlikely, but Parker wouldn’t rule it out. In fact, he wouldn’t rule out going anywhere if certain circumstances aren’t in place.

A report last week by ESPN.com said the Knicks hope to target the All-Star point guard in 2015, when Parker is set to become a free agent. Told of the report, Parker smiled and said he hadn’t seen it, but is keeping all his options open.

Parker made it clear though, his first choice it to remain in San Antonio as long as he could.

“If I can yeah”, Parker told the San Antonio Express-News. “The history here, they always take care of the guys. They did it with [Tim Duncan] and Manu [Ginobili], so hopefully they take care of me. At the end of this year they have to guarantee my year after, so, technically, maybe, I’ll be a free agent this summer.”

The 31-year-old Parker, who is averaging 17.8 points and 6.0 assists this season, signed a four-year, $50 million extension in 2010. He is owed $25 million in the last two years of his contract, but the final year is partially guaranteed for $3.5 million if he is waived by June 30, 2014 and fully guaranteed for $12.5 million after that.

Said Parker: “I just don’t want a guarantee, I want an extension, too.”

Even if Parker remains in San Antonio for the final year, his decision to stay beyond 2014-15 will depend on his coach and teammates.

Who knows when Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will hang it up, though it may not be too far away, and Duncan has a $10 million player option next season, which is the final year of his deal. Will he be around beyond that?

“I want to stay positive,” Parker said, “but if it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out. My wish is to stay here and play my whole career here, but if there is no more Pop or Timmy or Manu, I’m not against going somewhere. I’m not against that.”

Parker being targeted is nothing new, though, and he always expresses his desire to remain in San Antonio for the remainder of his career. But what if the Spurs and Parker don’t reach an extension, would Parker seek a trade?

“I don’t even think like that because I think Pop and [Spurs General Manger R.C. Buford] they always take care of their guys,” Parker responded. “They did it with Timmy and Manu, so I don’t see no reason why they’re not gonna do it with me.”

***

No. 2: Durant shows fire in win over Rockets — In late October, Kevin Durant told The Oklahoman he wasn’t going to be as ‘obsessed’ about winning a championship as he was a season ago. The Houston Rockets would like to argue otherwise. Durant, in the Thunder’s first game against a contender since losing Russell Westbrook (again), simply dominated on Sunday night against Houston. OKC’s star was going full-tilt, as usual, on offense, but as longtime Thunder observer Darnell Mayberry notes, there was an added passion to Durant’s game:

Perry Jones III hadn’t been in the game 90 seconds.

But Kevin Durant didn’t like what he was seeing.

And so the Thunder star called over his second-year teammate, pulling him off the lane during a free-throw attempt despite OKC owning a 15-point lead.

“Wake your (blankety blank) up,” Durant barked at Jones near the scorer’s table.

No one needed to give Durant a wake-up call.

But it wasn’t just the numbers that defined Durant’s night.

It was the pep in his step, the look in his eyes and the fire and intensity with which he played. He took his game to a higher level Sunday in a showdown he knows could turn into a playoff rematch this spring.

From chewing out an up-and-coming teammate to a second-quarter stare down of old nemesis Francisco Garcia when things got too physical on the low block, Durant was dialed in the whole way.

He harassed an official when he drew a foul call and it was called on Terrence Jones instead of Dwight Howard.

He squawked at the Rockets bench after hitting a jumper over former teammate James Harden, a play he orchestrated the entire way when he called for a screen that would force Harden to switch and be left isolated on the right wing.

“He feel like he got to come and set the tone, and he doing that,” said Kendrick Perkins. “I’m liking the mean KD; giving stare downs when he’s dunking on people. I’m rolling with that.”

Durant, meanwhile, is too politically correct to speak on it publicly, and so he downplayed the source of his efforts after the game. But all throughout the summer, when Houston commanded the league’s attention with its blockbuster acquisition of Howard and caused many to wonder whether the Rockets had surpassed the Thunder, Durant grew testy each time the topic was brought up. The focus, Durant always said, should be on the Thunder. That’s the way he wanted to keep it.

With Sunday’s performance, Durant did his part to make sure it stayed that way.


VIDEO: Highlights from Kevin Durant’s monster game vs. the Rockets

***

No. 3: Bynum’s suspension opens up minutes for Bennett — ICYMI somehow over the weekend, things aren’t going so great for the Cavaliers in their attempts to restart Andrew Bynum‘s career. On Saturday, the team suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team and by Sunday, rumors were swirling that the Clippers and Heat were interested in landing the one-time All-Star center. As Cleveland navigates its future with Bynum, one player who could benefit from the fallout is rookie Anthony Bennett, writes Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal. Lloyd has info on that, plus some news on what is next for the Cavs and Bynum, too:

Andrew Bynum’s removal from the Cavaliers clears two spots in Mike Brown’s rotation. One will go to Tyler Zeller, the other to Anthony Bennett.

The top pick in the draft has played sparingly to this point, but no longer. The Cavs are committing significant minutes to Bennett moving forward, which is why Mike Brown acknowledged Sunday that he needs to give Bennett time to play through inevitable mistakes.

“I have to continue trying to have patience with him,” Brown said. “This is an opportunity for him to go out and play some minutes and show what he’s capable of doing.”

After saying that, he only played Bennett 11 minutes in the 108-104 overtime loss Sunday to the Golden State Warriors after playing him 19 minutes in the loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday.

“I’m still clueless about this whole thing,” Bennett said. “I’m still trying to learn a lot. I can still learn from my teammates, from the coaching staff, watching film. I just feel like this whole league is all about learning, just going out and playing.”

He has played a fraction of the minutes other top picks in last summer’s draft are receiving. The Cavs hope more consistent minutes will mean more production.

Brown has juggled Bennett’s role from power forward to small forward and now back to power forward, which seems to have further confused the rookie. When he switched Bennett back to power forward, Brown said there is still the possibility he could see minutes on the wing. For right now, Brown likes some of the things Bennett is doing away from the ball. He just wants the rookie to slow down and show some composure when he has the ball.

In terms of Bynum, it looks like the Cavs will have to move quickly on a trade if they want to spare themselves having to pay the majority of Bynum’s salary this season:

Bynum’s suspension was lifted Sunday, but he is still excused from all team activities. He was docked one game’s pay (roughly $110,000). The Cavs have until Jan. 7 to trade or release him or they will be responsible for the balance of his $12 million deal.

If they can’t find a deal by Jan. 7, a league source confirmed the team is considering holding onto him anyway. They would have until June 30 to trade or release him before his $12 million deal for next season becomes guaranteed.

Bynum’s locker hadn’t been cleaned out yet at Quicken Loans Arena. Among the items left behind was a pair of headphones. He is also still part of the pregame introduction video. The team did not hand out his Fathead on Sunday, as was previously scheduled. They also did not hand out game-day programs, called “Tipoff Tonight,” because he was featured on the cover.

To make up for the Fathead issue, kids 14 and under received a certificate to redeem for future Fathead packs.


VIDEO:
Coach Mike Brown talks after the Cavs’ OT loss to the Warriors on Sunday

***

No. 4: Redick nearing return for Clips? — As one of the marquee additions to the team in the offseason, the Clippers’ J.J. Redick got off to a solid start for Los Angeles before a torn ligament in his wrist sidelined him for 6-8 weeks in early December. He’s been rehabbing the injury ever since and Clippers coach Doc Rivers tells Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times that Redick could be on his way back to the lineup soon:

Clippers rookie swingman Reggie Bullock, who is out with a sprained right ankle, has been working out and is making progress.

Coach Doc Rivers said Bullock shot some during the team’s shoot-around before Saturday night’s game against Utah.

“Yeah, he’s getting closer,” Rivers said.

J.J. Redick, who is out with a broken right hand and torn ligaments on the right side of his wrist, now has a soft cast on his hand and not the hard cast anymore.

Redick, a right-handed shooter, has not been shooting the ball yet.

“He’s close too, would be my guess,” Rivers said. “I think it’s a couple of weeks, maybe.”

.***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Blazers rookie C.J. McCollum is getting closer and closer to his NBA debut … The Knicks might be closing in on a deal with big man Jeremy Tyler, a move that could result in the cutting of Chris Smith … The Wizards’ Bradley Beal is a much better shooter when Marcin Gortat is on the courtBlake Griffin has been playing some MVP-type basketball the last few games

ICYMI Of The Night: Maybe there are times now, what with Russell Westbrook being injured, that Kevin Durant misses his old teammate James Harden. But he made a point to see him up close again when he dunked on him last night


VIDEO: Kevin Durant drives in and dunks over ex-teammate James Harden

25 Comments

  1. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    BTW, I bet OKC is looking like an awesome destination for Carmelo Anthony (if he’s still a FA after this season). After watching OKC show how great they are on Christmas day and with the Knicks continuing to struggle, OKC has more than enough cap flexibility to invest in Carmelo. To Carmelo, I can’t think of a better team for him to join to win multiple Championships or Final appearances. The Thunder organization (in the long run) should at least consider this; it is like adding another Kevin Durant to your team! Melo won the scoring title last season. He and KD were awesome on the Olympic Gold Medal team; they will be even more awesome if they team up to play for the mighty Thunder!!

  2. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    The way Reggie can attack the paint and make difficult buckets in traffic reminds me of James Harden (believe it or not). OKC no longer misses Harden that much because Reggie Jackson has successfully taken his spot/role in OKC’s lineup. Thunder keep drafting incredible players. Jeremy Lamb has successfully taken Kevin Martin’s spot/role, as well. Amazing.

  3. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    A mistake I’m seeing: some people claim Westbrook is “injured.” Officially, he is NOT injured. He had a third operation on his knee to reduce swelling. That was like when Westbrook had the second operation to repair a stitch. Nothing serious. Just precautionary measures to ensure he is 100% come playoff-time. He’s not injured. He probably could play. Just precautionary measures.

    Since when do “swelling” or a “stitch-repair” equal an injury? This is nothing serious. He’ll come back later and pay extremely well just like he did at the beginning of this season. They’re just making sure he’s super fresh for the playoffs in which case the Thunder will dominate.

  4. okc2014 says:

    Kevin Durant is on a “I hate you tour”. I’ve said this before. He perceives the public to think that OKC is just “another good team”, He is out to prove the doubters. I am not a doubter, I believe! Go Thunder! Get well Russell Westbrook, we miss you!

  5. jk613 says:

    Dear moderator,
    while you unwilling to acknowledge this morning the real Tony Parker story, I should commend the nba for at publishing the apologee.

  6. BluesGypsy says:

    i hope Bynum signs with the Clippers !
    the Clippers could use his size & i think Bynum would appreciate being back in LA.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      You’ve got to be kidding me. Cippers already start Deandre Jordan who is having an incredible season, rebounding-wise. He’s averaging like 13 RPG! What is the point of them trying to add Bynum? Do they not believe in Deandre that much?

  7. Realist2014 says:

    Durant has been a beast since high school. Rockets biggest issue is their lack of defense. Even when they win games their opponents match their point total damn near. They had a horrid shooting percentage Sunday, but I wouldn’t hand the rings over to any team based on a regular season performance, especially a Rockets team that is still figuring out continuity and polishing off their games to complement each other. Honestly Durant wasn’t the Hero, he’s expected to do what he does, Jeremy Lamb was the surprise as he is starting to get his groove in the NBA. Guys like that is what change the game.

    As far as Andrew Bynum, when he refused to work out for teams he needed to be dismissed by all suiters. The guy has bad knee’s he’s made his fortune and was just trying to stack a little more for the road, even with the provisions in his current contract he is getting millions for little to no effort. BRILLIANT!!

    Mr. Parker isn’t going anywhere, why would he? Pops full bench rotation and winning ways make him the greatest coach in my book. Unless he’s just out for money which with the culture Pop has developed in his players I don’t think anyone is going to woo him away. Just another way for the media to hype stuff up. He’s going to retire a Spur.

    • Sharpie says:

      I think this is Parker’s way of trying to do two things. 1) Trying to force Pop into staying as the head coach until he retires and 2) He wants the Spurs to compensate him late in his career, just like they did for Tim and Manu.

      For example take 03-04. Timmy had already helped the Spurs win 2 titles yet he only made $12.6M. That same year KG (who couldn’t get his team out of the first round until that year) was making $28M. Heck the first time Timmy made it over $20M was 08-09.

      Anyway I think it’s his way of saying “I took a serious pay cut so you could afford to pay Timmy his earned dues and so we could keep Manu. Once Tim and Manu retire it’s time for me to get my earned dues.”

      Parker as a 3 time champ and a Finals MVP has never made more than $13.5M ($12.5M this year), while Chris Paul and Deron Williams are making over $18M.

      Anyway I would be crushed if they don’t reward this guy for all his hard work.

  8. dustydreamnz says:

    I see no reason why Parker won’t be a spur for life. The other 2 of the big 3 are so I’m sure he will follow suit.

  9. maorinash says:

    Since when did Francisco Garcia become Durant’s old nemesis??? Durant probably doesn’t even care about him. That sick cross over move Durant did on Parsons was amazing for a guy his size.

  10. No Joke says:

    $110K a game is what Andrew Bynum is getting and he cannot get himself together to play ball with a good attitude? That one game’s pay is more than probably 75% of every-day working people’s annual salaries.

  11. IvanE says:

    Spurs need to give Tony Parker an extension and retire him as a Spur. Thats what he wants. When Ducan, Pop and Ginobili retire, spurs fans are going to be sad but will be happy because they will have Tony Parker left for a few more years. Plenty of time for spurs ffans to get used to Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard to be stars of the team

  12. djMamba says:

    Man Durant is too good!! and He is still getting better, not even near his prime.! woof

  13. pacquiaoverated says:

    Anthony Bennet is the oldies singer? lol

  14. KingaSAS21 says:

    Congrats to Duncan for going over 10 000 Defensive Rebounds!!! Now we are only waiting for 3rd place and overtaking Parish.

  15. cameron says:

    This is an issue off topic but i need to get off my chest. People are on Even Turner`s last bucket vs the Lakers. What happened to playing hard for 48 mins. People pay good money to see a full game and players play. There`s to much buddy, buddy in the NBA There`s more hand slapping and talking with the other team after the game than with there own teammates. when Kobe scored 81 vs the Raptors was he disrespecting. Point is keep playing hard win or loss to the end.

    • Sharpie says:

      Yeah I didn’t see a problem with it at all. However most Lakers fans are crybabies. If they didn’t want to give up a basket at the end they should have ran back on defense. There was still 5 seconds left on the clock when the started running the fast break and they were only up by 5. It’s possible to foul, have the other team miss 2 free throws, hit a 3 twice within 5 seconds and win the game. Yeah he could have ran into the corner and sat there and ended the game but he doesn’t know for sure how much time is left or how far behind the guy chasing him is. The truth is he made sure they got 2 more points, to make it a 3 possession game, so the game would be sealed. Honestly had the score been reversed all the Lakers fans would have been up on their seats cheering.

  16. Bennett needs minutes. he got drafted for a reason, he has a chance to make a big move and get consistent minutes.. #goodluck rookie

  17. Saffe says:

    Anthony Bennett is the first pick of the 2013 NBA draft

  18. Voilet says:

    Who is Bennett!!!