Morning Shootaround — Jan. 15


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 14

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Smith-Woodson tension boils in Charlotte | LeBron ‘jealous’ of Durant on offense? | Gasol’s return lifts Grizzlies’ spirits | Self-policing style marks Pacers’ success | Report: Clips may soon sign Turkoglu

No. 1: Smith sits vs. ‘Cats; Woodson mum on situation — Knicks swingman J.R. Smith was fined $50,000 by the NBA for his various shoe-untying incidents on Jan. 8 and since then, he has appeared in two of New York’s next four games, playing roughly 25 minutes in each game. Smith was a DNP-CD in the Knicks’ win over the Heat on Jan. 9 and was given the same treatment last night in New York’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. Smith’s relationship with coach Mike Woodson can best be characterized as tense of late and things may be coming to a head after last night’s game. Woodson refused to answer questions about Smith’s lack of playing time while Smith himself says “communication from my end is over” with the Knicks. Marc Berman of the New York Post has more on the fallout from last night’s game:

The J.R. Smith-Mike Woodson feud escalated Tuesday, putting the future of the Knicks’ sixth man under a dark cloud.

Smith didn’t play again, but this time the Knicks didn’t win again and afterward he called the whole thing “ridiculous.’’

Woodson’s latest sending-a-message-to-J.R. ploy backfired on a night the Knicks needed a spark. But Woodson stuck to his guns and benched Smith, and the team’s five-game winning streak ended in a 108-98 defeat to the Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Wednesday is the first day Smith can be traded under a quirk in the NBA bylaws for 2013 free agents, but a despondent Smith had his bags packed for Indiana and flew with the club. His future, however, is in question as a viable member of the team after being benched for the second time in four games.

But perhaps the sneaker-lace caper was the final straw for Woodson and Knicks owner James Dolan, whom The Post had reported was already irate over Smith’s public complaint of being “betrayed’’ by the recent waiving of his brother, Chris Smith.

“For [the sneakers] to be the trigger point and for all this to happen is ridiculous,’’ Smith said in the quiet of the Knicks’ locker room.

Asked if he wanted to be traded, Smith said, “I’m not worried about that. I’m trying to fix what’s going on here.’’

Woodson, who sat Smith on Thursday in the win over the Heat, wouldn’t reveal what went into his latest decision to bench Smith after playing him in Philadelphia on Saturday and against the Suns on Monday.

“I’m not even commenting on J.R.,’’ Woodson said. “I just didn’t play him tonight, just didn’t play him.’’

When asked if Smith would play in Indiana on Thursday, Woodson said, “I’m not commenting on that.’’

Carmelo Anthony said he hopes Smith plays in Indiana.

“The only thing I could do is keep giving him positive energy,’’ said Anthony, his teammate in Denver. “That’s the only thing I could do. Whatever’s going on with him and Woody, they have to deal with that. Of course we missed him. He’s a big part of our team. Sometimes the way he goes, we go. We miss him. Hopefully this will be it.’’


VIDEO: Mike Woodson refuses to discuss J.R. Smith’s benching vs. the Bobcats


VIDEO: J.R. Smith befuddled by his lack of playing time in Tuesday’s game

***

No. 2: LeBron ‘jealous’ of Durant? — The battle for they mythical title of “best player in the NBA” in the minds of many fans is a two-man race between the Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. While James sports multiple MVP trophies, two NBA championships and two Finals MVP trophies, Durant has three NBA scoring crowns and something that James apparently wants: near-complete offensive freedom. In an interview with ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh, James says he wishes he could shoot as much as he likes in the Heat offense (much like Durant does for the Thunder):

“I get jealous sometimes when I look over at KD and he’s like 16-for-32 (from the field) and then 14-for-34. … Man,” James told ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh.

While the Miami Heat star is shooting a career-high 59.1 percent from the field this season, he is tied for just 18th in the league in field goal attempts (580) with an average of 16.1 per game.

With that kind of efficiency, James could stand to take more shots but explained, “I’m not much of a forced-shot guy.

“But there are games where I have it going, and then at the end of the game, I’m like, damn, I shot just 12-for-16? Why don’t I get up at least six or seven more? I definitely notice it.”

“First of all, you have to have an unbelievable mindset to get up 30 shots,” James said. “I always think about it, though. If I get up high-20s, 30 shots a game, what could I do today, with the way I’m playing?”

***

No. 3: Gasol’s return lifts Grizzlies’ spirits — Memphis, in short, has spent most of this season trying to rediscover the magic that made them a 56-win team and a Western Conference finalist last season. When All-Star center Marc Gasol suffered a knee injury on Nov. 22 that would lead to him being out eight weeks, Memphis went from a 7-6 team that evening to a 17-19 squad before last night’s matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But thanks to Gasol’s trademark passing and defense, the Grizz got a solid home win and are hoping things will pick up even quicker for them, writes Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal:

The shot clock running down, the ball found its way to Marc Gasol a good 20 feet from the hoop.

So he shot the thing. It went in.

Whereupon, Gasol laughed, headed back down the court, leapt in the air and — there is no other way to put this — slapped himself on the butt.

It was a joyful slap.

It was a slap of pure glee.

And let me just say that if any of you feel like leaping in the air and slapping yourself on the butt this morning, nobody will blame you.

Big Spain is back.

He played like the same grizzled guy you remember.

There was that set shot from 20 feet. There was a gorgeous high-low bounce pass to Mike Conley. But the most Gasol play of all may have come with 4:28 left, on the defensive end of the court.

Kevin Durant was eviscerating the Griz. He seemed bent on ruining the party. The Grizzlies were obliging him in this effort, letting him sail right to the basket.

“We got out of the way of four or five opportunities to take charges,” said Griz coach Dave Joerger. “You’ve got to step in there and take one.”

So Gasol stepped in there and took one. The guy with the bum knee. He went down, popped back up, and roared in triumph.

Gasol wound up with 12 points and four rebounds in 28 minutes. He will need some time to knock off the rust. But with that one play, he reminded everyone exactly what the Grizzlies had been missing.

“That was a big play by Marc,” said Joerger.

That was a huge win for the home team. Because now the Grizzlies are just one game under .500 and just three games out of a playoff spot.


VIDEO: Marc Gasol’s return helps lift Grizzlies to win over Thunder

***

No. 4: Pacers’ players, not Vogel, do the policing in Indiana  — With last night’s blowout victory against the Sacramento Kings, Pacers coach Frank Vogel clinched the right to coach the Eastern Conference All-Star team in the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans. As much as the win was a milestone for Vogel and the rest of the Pacers’ brass, it also provided a prime illustration of how Vogel’s style and demand that the Pacers trust each other works for that team. Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star has more on the Pacers’ unique self-policing ways:

One of Frank Vogel’s best attributes as a coach is his unwavering belief in his players.

“It seems like we’ve grown together. I’m happy for him,” said Paul George, who will almost certainly join Vogel in New Orleans for the Feb. 16 All-Star game. “This is going to be a fun trip. I’m looking forward to being down there with him.”

Vogel does not have spend time shepherding egos, because he has shaped a locker room where the words “sacrifice” and “togetherness” spill from everyone’s lips. Neither does Vogel have to stay on Stephenson, the one Pacer most likely to explore the full range of his emotions for all to see, because he has empowered his players with responsibility over themselves.

Nearly 3 minutes had expired in the second quarter when Vogel stepped in and called a timeout to break up the momentum Sacramento was building with a 31-29 lead. On his way to the huddle, Lance Stephenson appeared rattled and fumed from an earlier pass he tried shoveling inside but that Ian Mahinmi couldn’t handle. So as Stephenson barked, Luis Scola followed his teammate back to the sideline and told him to cut it out. Then, David West took over, standing up with a menacing scowl and letting Stephenson hear it. Finally, Vogel and the coaching staff walked over. The players turned their attention toward his clipboard and listened. Back to business.

The scene described here does not color the Pacers as a divided team, but rather one that freely communicates and polices its own transgressors.

“We check each other,” West said. “Before it gets to the coaches, that’s something correctable by us. Obviously, we hold each other accountable and we coach each other up.

“I feel like that’s a good formula for success, so we go with it.”

This is the atmosphere that Vogel has worked so hard in developing since the day the ‘interim head coach’ tag dropped from his name. He might have been a relative unknown to the NBA back in 2011, but in Indianapolis, Vogel already had earned the respect.

“I came in here with him,” George said. “He’s the one dude I respect the most on this team. He’s really coached me through a lot of things and made me better as a player. So it’s amazing.”

“Frank has proven himself based on what he has done with this group,” West said. “Finding the right balance for this group, transitioning from assistant with some of these guys to taking on a different role as a head coach.

“He’s done his job and he’s done a good job in that.”


VIDEO: The Pacers talk about beating the Sacramento Kings

***

No. 5: Report: Clippers close to signing Turkoglu — Ex-Magic swingman and former Most Improved Player of the Year winner Hedo Turkoglu was cut by Orlando on Jan. 3, but since then, his name has been closely linked to the Clippers. It appears that his move to Los Angeles could happen as soon as today, as both ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Arash Markasi report a deal seems likely for Turkoglu:

The Los Angeles Clippers could be signing veteran forward Hedo Turkoglu soon, coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday.

“We could. We’re looking at him strong. I can say that much,” Rivers said.

The Clippers brought in Turkoglu for a meeting and a workout Thursday and liked what they saw. The Clippers signed point guards Darius Morris and Maalik Wayns to 10-day contracts last week. Their deals will expire before the Clippers’ start a 12-day, seven-game road trip Thursday, when Turkoglu potentially could sign.

“He made shots from everywhere,” Rivers said after the free agent’s workout. “He looked good. It was a good workout.”

Rivers and the Clippers have had their eyes on Turkoglu since he became available.

“I just like him as a player,” Rivers said last week. “I think he’s out there and we should look at him. I’ve always liked him. He can play [the] three and four. It’s a position that we can use in some ways, so we’re looking.”


VIDEO: Clippers coach Doc Rivers addresses the media after Tuesday’s practice

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Does Oklahoma City need a more structured offense? … Cavs coach Mike Brown isn’t concerning himself with restricting Luol Deng‘s minutes … Surprise, surprise: Derrick Williams is just a little excited about playing the Timberwolves tonight … Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson are learning, slowly but surely, how to play together

ICYMI(s) of The Night: A sequence like this illustrates why Paul George is among the best two-way players in the game today …:


VIDEO: Paul George gets the steal and then caps the break with a fancy jam

48 Comments

  1. #30 says:

    KD should be jealous to Lebron..
    coz LBJ has Wade and Bosh..

  2. Lms says:

    Cmon… too much hate on these comments. LeBron clearly was only making fun about Durant’s situation. You guys take this too serious, he’s not whining, complaining. Not hard to notice it’s all about humor.

  3. zhiggi says:

    Wow…so much hate for a great player….I know he made the biggest blunder of his life from making that “decision” but c’mon show some love….I am pretty sure he regrets everyday of his life for regretting the way he handled it but seriously?

  4. squala96 says:

    I highly doubt that LeBron is jealous of Durant. He has won two crowns and multiple MVPs. His PPG also hardly deteriorated compared to his times at Cleveland where he was pretty much the KD. If Kevin wins MVP this year, that’s because his team has not squandered as many games as the Heat did. Miami has lost to the likes of Boston, New York, Brooklyn (twice), even Philly. Without those defeats, they could have well been best in the East.

    As for JR, I’m not sure if Woodson not letting him play was a good call at all. They lost to Charlotte for crying out loud, and even his own job is on the line here. Smith is one of the few talents left in the Knicks and despite his issues, he still contributes a lot. Either trade him for Tyreke Evans or stop benching him.

  5. demagofrak says:

    the clips.. big dunks, that’s what big is. excepted that,nothing to see enjoy the regular season guys

  6. demagofrak says:

    I get jealous sometimes when I look over at KD and he’s like 16-for-32 (from the field) and then 14-for-34. … Man,” James told ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh. —

    right but rare 14/34 16/32, durant is efficient and not so forced, not like the new york fraud guy,
    but hey you can tackle durant because he is number 2 after you (happy or not ladies, eternal 2 for now)

  7. NBA Fanatic says:

    I think it’s funny how a basketball player who speaks his mind, in this case LeBron, gets ridiculed. He is a human being, humans get jealous. Because he makes this statement doesn’t make him any less of a player or person. Stop hating on a great player with your ignorance and try learning the game of basketball first. All the hate is unnecessary, especially coming from people who know absolutely nothing about the game of basketball and are completely consumed in all the drama. Anything LeBron does gets hate, but what else can you expect from greatness. Seems like the only people that are “jealous” are the ones hating on him with ignorant comments.

  8. bodjee says:

    KD is the point getter but RW is more valuable to the Thunder! Lebron thinks that Durant does not trust his teammates enough on offence. He is saying that you cannot compare him with Durant because Kevin is not as efficient a player as he is, True! He has the stat sheets to prove it!

  9. Loc says:

    James can’t shoot like KD & Melo can! Unless he takes it to the hole. Stop hating Queen James!

  10. Jane says:

    LBJ is consistant in his games like no other. He ALWAYS comes out to play his BEST. The beauty about LBJ is his unselfishness. He reads the court like nobody else. He knows what he needs to do to help the Team. A true Team Player he is. A great role model for many. There is nobody in the NBA who can play all 5 positions in one game the way LBJ does. He has a talent unlike anyone else. He doesn’t need to prove himself. LBJ knows he is #1 in the world. He is MVP on talent alone. LBJ knows what it takes and 3peat it will be! LBJ is the best basketball player in the world!

  11. Jimmy says:

    Man, call me a hater if you want but I call it like I see it. LeBron is the biggest crybaby superstar I have ever seen. I swear it’s at least once a month he’s complaining about something when he’s already the most coddled player in the NBA, Oh and by the way, LeBron, you average more field goal attempts per game in his career than Durant. Smh, some of the things he says just baffles me.

  12. DeemtheDream says:

    Queen James deserves a guiness world record for biggest flop ever. I distinctly remember a game this season when he flopped from the top of the key all the way to the bench. His reign is overthough, Indiana is going to chew him up right after Nazr Mohammed clotheslines him again in the playoffs (c’mon you agree that was the highlight of the 2013 playoffs)

  13. Tim says:

    Does nobody realize this is LeBron actually trying to make fun of Durant? He knows KD has his best chance this year to win his first MVP and LeBron is SCARED. So what does he do? He gives a backhanded compliment. “Man, he shot for 16-32? I only went 12-17.” If he wanted to he could easily shoot more shots. You know why he doesn’t? He is too afraid to bring his FG percentage down because he hears the media hyping up how efficient he is. LeBron might have ya’ll fooled but he is very transparent to me.

  14. Jane says:

    LBJ you are not a ‘selfish’ player. What you are is the BEST all-round player who is able to play all 5 positions on the court. You are the best driver to the basket and NOBODY can stop you! I love to see you drive more to the basket because you’re the ‘freight train’. Perhaps you need to be a little more selfish and take control of the game because you are ‘King James’…the most talented Basketball Player ever! The one and only! MVP – 3Peat all the way!

  15. tim says:

    Hes not whining people…Hes just trying to convince people that he could score 30 a night to, and that basketball contains other elements than just scoring…..and who to say whos better than the other one? I dont think you can..

  16. Adam says:

    Lebron could shoot all he wanted to in Cleveland. He’s on a stacked team ( 4 HOF) so he shouldnt want more shots. Nobody wants to see him running over more people anyway

  17. Father says:

    Lebron is a douchebag for implying Durant shoots 30 shots per game. It has only happened twice this season and that was because OKC were chasing the game. Durant averages 19 shots per game. Only three more shots than Lebron who averages 16 shots. If Durant had Wade and Bosh and some of the best 3 point shooters in league history playing with him, he would have a better than 60% FG stat as well. Lebron needs to shut his mouth up on that

  18. BIG KNICKS FAN says:

    Woodson made a dumb move in benching JR Smith again, I understood it the first time, but not the second time. I blame yesterdays loss and the end of the streak on Mike Woodson!!!

  19. Dyron from Belize says:

    Lebron is sooooo stupid sometimes! I wish I was Scoring champ, I wish I was Defensive player of the year, what else do you want baby bron bron! this dude is a good player but is such a cry baby! You could have been scoring champ in Cleveland bron bron but U were not! U are winning rings and still complaining! All of you heat trolls here is something for you! Tim Duncan never once complain that Dirk Nowitski was scoring more than he was because he was busy winning rings!

    • Dyron from Belize says:

      and I said was meaning before 2011

    • KL says:

      Very good point…

    • Han says:

      No, it’s a bad point. LeBron did win scoring champ back on his days with Cavs, get your fact straight. And I didn’t see him complaining or whining, as he could have done with Miami it if he want to, more like trying to highlight KD’s different to him

  20. xlr8_555 says:

    King James taking more shots? That means no ball movement… That means that Dwyane Wade doesn’t get his 20-30 points because of LeBron’s hogging. If LeBron takes more shots, his team will suffer. No wonder Wade is averaging only 19.6 points and LeBron is averaging 27…

  21. TTKIN says:

    This is why Lebron will never be on the same level as Kobe, or MJ, or Magic etc…..he complains about EVERYTHING!

    Not to mention, he flops with regularity and there isnt really footage of Kobe or MJ or Magic doing that. Could you imagine Kobe or MJ flopping? Hell no, they didnt want anyone thinking they could be rag dolls like that. Lebron is a different story.

  22. D-Fence says:

    lol people don’t you get a joke? how could he be jealous of Durant? he was always a facilitator, if he wanted to he would be shooting as many shots as he wants but he just creates for everybody else to get them involved, don’t you watch games? I guess y’all are jealous

  23. spguide says:

    We see Lebron’s game maturing every year , we CAN’T say that about his comments . Last week he was whinning about a flop from Kirilenko , Lebron flops a lot . This week he is whining about Durant forcing some shots , as if he never did that . Besides how annoying is the see a 29 years old man , acting like a 14 year old spoiled rich kid , every time there is a call against his will .

  24. TURKEYGLUE says:

    BALL

  25. bgriffin562 says:

    woow lebron is stupid of course kevin durant takes more shots no one is stepping up in his team while lebron is surrounded with Shooters kd would rather have players stepping up on offense then letting him do all the work c’mon lebron stop crying

  26. spguide says:

    We see Lebron’s game maturing every year , we can say that about comments . Last week he was whinning about a flop from Kirilenko , Lebron flops a lot . This week he is whining about Durant forcing some shots , as if he never did that . Besides how annoying is the see a 29 years old man , acting like a 14 year old spoiled rich kid , every time there is a call against his will .

  27. Jack says:

    Poor LeBron… So now the supporting cast is so ridiculously good, you do not get enough shots for yourself anymore? This guy is such a joke.

  28. spguide says:

    Queen James must be joking , he is jealous ? Come on man , stop acting like a little girl or simply keep ur silly thoughts to yourself

  29. Bill Kovacs says:

    L4ebron should just shut-up and play, and stop winniong about everybody elses shots.

  30. KillerDancer says:

    Kevin Durant is the new Kobe. He shoots a lot, wins scoring-titles and OKC loses. Anybody who thought KD could challege LeKing for MVP has the chance to see these days how valuable KD is for OKC without Westbrook.

    • Frankie says:

      Do you watch basketball? Westbrook takes more shots then Durant to only hit forty-two percent while Durant hit closer to fifty. Then he’s another Kobe? Kobe shoots forty four percent career wise, again Durant his around fifty. Durant is okc westbook is only there to help Durant

  31. PRDGi says:

    KD has to play that way because of Westbrook being out. So much of the offense is run through him whereas LBJ is not the only playmaker (not saying the Thunder don’t have other options, but that the Heat have many more offense weapons). I see what he is saying, but it is kind of funny that he is now pointing this out, especially when you look to his tenure with the Cavs.

  32. realist says:

    lamarcus alrdridge has 20.2 shots per game this year
    carmelo 21 per game
    kobe allways has about 20
    but durant has 19.4 this year
    why is lebron jelous of durant and not the other guys
    and lebron in cleveland had 20 fg attempts per game every year accept his rookie year
    durant shot over 20 fga for a season once in his career
    sry for my bad english
    cant w8 for miami vs thunder : )

    • Tim says:

      Does nobody realize this is LeBron actually trying to make fun of Durant? He knows KD has his best chance this year to win his first MVP and LeBron is SCARED. So what does he do? He gives a backhanded compliment. “Man, he shot for 16-32? I only went 12-17.” LeBron might have ya’ll fooled but he is very transparent to me. If he wanted to he could easily shoot more shots. You know why he doesn’t? He is too afraid to bring his FG percentage down because he hears the media hyping up how efficient he is.

  33. realist says:

    well lebron is like the pg on that team lol
    hes dominates the ball the same way durant without westbrook does
    kd last year attempted 17 shots per game lebron 18 :p

  34. Celtics Fan says:

    instead of being grateful that he is surrounded by a lot of talent, Lebron is whining AGAIN that he’s not getting enough shots? wasn’t that the reason he left Cleveland for Miami carrying the Cavs alone for 6 years?

    • Apex Predator says:

      He wasn’t whining. He said, he was “jealous” for the offensive freedom that Durant has. KD doesn’t have the option to take less shots with no Westbrook in the line up. If KD doesn’t score, OKC loses. LeBron wins by playing efficient, the 2 rings prove that point.

      He just wants to have a scoring title under his belt before he retires, thats all.

      • Apex Predator says:

        A correction from my previous statement.

        James did win a scoring title while in Cleveland. So I would retract the last statement.

        I’m sure he wants to win one while in Miami, remeber Jordan had 10 scoring titles in his career.

    • asd says:

      you’re a celtics fan lol its been a tough few years

  35. King James you need to shoot more !!