Morning Shootaround — Feb. 3


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Feb. 3

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Suns exploring deal for Gasol | Allen gets Super Bowl title, NBA next? | Heat not worried about Bynum in Indy | Rockets have dynamic duo in Beverley and Lin

No. 1: Suns exploring possibilities for Gasol deal – Since the Phoenix Suns have already shown us that they don’t have any idea how to tank properly, they might as well swing for the fences in the Western Conference playoff chase. And that means exploring all of the possibilities for a potential trade for Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol. They’ve been searching for some big man help since trading Marcin Gortat, and Gasol is apparently available. The Suns have the assets to make the deal happen, as reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein:

One option for the Suns, by virtue of their $5.6 million in available salary-cap space, is swapping the expiring contract of injured big man Emeka Okafor for Gasol, even though Okafor’s $14.5 million salary this season falls well shy of Gasol’s $19.3 million.

The Lakers engaged in similar trade discussions in late December and early January with Cleveland in a proposed deal that would have sent Gasol to the Cavaliers for the partially guaranteed contract of ex-Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who then would have been waived to help L.A. save roughly $20 million in salary and luxury-tax obligations.

Those talks, though, broke down because of the Lakers’ insistence on receiving another asset of value in addition to the significant financial benefits, only for L.A. to see Cleveland successfully switch gears and trade Bynum to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.

A trade for Okafor’s expiring deal would not save the Lakers as much as a deal for Bynum would have, but it would come with undeniable financial benefits. The $4.8 million difference between Gasol’s cap number and Okafor’s would immediately drop the Lakers less than $3 million away from the league’s luxury-tax threshold, meaning one more smaller deal before the Feb. 20 trade deadline could conceivably be enough to take them out of tax territory completely.

There would also be salary savings involved because insurance began picking up 80 percent of what remains on Okafor’s contract once Phoenix passed this season’s 41-game midpoint because of a long-term neck injury that has sidelined the nine-year veteran all season.

The Suns are known to be shopping Okafor’s contract aggressively in advance of the trade deadline as a means for whoever acquires the 31-year-old to potentially save more than $5 million in salary payouts thanks to the insurance coverage.

***

No. 2: Allen trying to double up on title this year?– It doesn’t get much sweeter than Sunday night for Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, whose NFL team pummeled Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl in New York. Well, it could actually get a little sweeter for Allen if the Trail Blazers find a way to get to the same stage come June and get a shot at winning a Larry O’Brien Trophy. Don’t laugh. Because as Kevin Garnett famously told us in Boston, “anything is possible.” Seth Prince of the Oregonian poses the question and fans in Portland respond:

The fourth time was the charm for Paul Allen, who achieved his first world championship as an owner tonight as the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII.
He also led the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, as well as the Seahawks to the Super Bowl XL in 2006. All of those seasons ended with Allen’s teams losing.
It raises the question, do you think he’ll be able to bring an NBA world championship to Portland with the Trail Blazers? Let us know in the comment thread below and share how you think he’s matured as an owner through the years.

***

No. 3: Heat not worried about Bynum joining the Pacers – If they are worried at all about Andrew Bynum joining an Indiana Pacers team that has already shown an ability to challenge them, the Miami Heat aren’t showing it. They’re acting like the Pacers’ acquisition of Bynum,  a player they reportedly pursued as well, means nothing in the chase for Eastern Conference supremacy. Perhaps it’s easy to feel that way when you still have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to lean on, not to mention Chris “Birdman” Andersen and even a getting-stronger-every day Greg Oden sharpening his skills. Whether they are just playing the role or not is a question that won’t be answered unless the Heat and Pacers square off in the playoffs. In the meantime, David J. Neal of the Miami Herald takes the temperature of the Heat now that Bynum is wearing blue and gold:

The Heat locker room publicly shrugged Saturday at the signing and likely did so privately aside from a few witty jokes. This is a team that believes, correctly, that while time and pain have improved Indiana, whether or not the Heat complete the championship hat trick relies largely on itself.

Can Dwyane Wade be Dwyane Wade again for an entire Eastern Conference final? The Heat can get through the rest of the East with Wade on a maintenance plan or having games where he’s an above average player. It will take an extra game here or there, which you never like, but that’s not a problem against any two teams not named Indiana put together.

Against Indiana, Miami will need six or seven games of the future Hall of Fame Wade to get the job done. Bynum neither helps nor hurts in that regard.

Can Chris Bosh continue to be that helpful omnipresence, having a hand in most wins even if that hand’s not doing what stat-minded fans and media wish it were? Bosh draws Hibbert and Bynum out of the middle with his range, then makes them work and getting up and down the floor.

The Heat knows it’s about the three-point line, both defending it and scoring from behind it. If the Heat’s snipers misfire, that lane gets packed like Miami Beach streets during Art Basel and those penetration-and-ones dwindle to not often enough.

Hibbert’s Metallo, the super-strong villain with the kryptonite heart. Great against Superman, not the most useful guy against the rest of the Justice League. Hibbert hurts no team more than he does the Heat, yet still, the Heat find ways around and over him. Bynum’s Hibbert Lite at this point.

Most ridiculous is the idea Indiana signed Bynum to keep him from the Heat. Although the Heat has nothing against height, it already has a big guy with unreliable lower limbs, one who showed tremendous determination just to get back to being able to take the floor. Greg Oden embodies the diligence, grit and good citizenship the Heat likes to think of as its franchise hallmarks. Oden might not be a problem for opponents the way it hopes, but the Heat knows he won’t be a problem for them in the locker room or after midnight.

***

No. 4: Rockets have their own dynamic guard duo in Beverley and Lin – Phoenix, Golden State and Oklahoma City aren’t the only Western Conference playoff teams that can boast of having guard rotations loaded with talented players at the same positions and making it work to their advantage. The Houston Rockets have their own version in Patrick Beverley and Jeremy Lin, a pairing that hasn’t been seen healthy and attacking like they were in the preseason until now. And it’s a sight to see for Rockets coach Kevin McHale, who has been looking for a spark from his point guards. They give the Rockets the sort of balance needed with All-Stars like James Harden and Dwight Howard on the other side of the scale. Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle discusses the finer points of the two-point guard system the Rockets are tinkering with:

Right from the start of training camp, Rockets coach Kevin McHale liked what he saw when guards Pat Beverley and Jeremy Lin were on the court together.

He saw them complement each other all through the preseason and was excited about what they would bring to the Rockets.

Then came the injuries. Beverley, 25, was hurt in the first game of the season (bruised ribs) and was sidelined. The two-point guard experiment was put on hold.

When Beverley came back, the two flourished, providing a mix of Beverley’s stifling defense and Lin’s attack-minded offense. Then came a knee sprain and back spasms for Lin, 25, then a fractured hand for Beverley.

Now that both have recovered from injuries and are back on the floor together consistently, McHale sees flashes of the preseason.

“I like those two playing together,” McHale said. “I thought earlier in the year, they were our best combination on the floor. Those two have a nice symmetry between them. They both enjoy playing with each other. They are very respectful for each other, and they work to help each other.”

When the two play together, the Rockets are 15-7. When they start together, the team is 5-1.

In the Rockets’ 106-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night, the two were balanced. Lin had his first career triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists; Beverley went scoreless but had 10 rebounds, eight assists and a career-high five steals.

“Pat was unbelievable,” guard James Harden said. “Then Jeremy came off the bench and gets a triple-double. Those two are playing really good basketball together.”

Beverley averages 32 minutes per game; Lin plays 31. Much of that time they are on the floor together.

“I think we play really well together,” Beverley said. “We played together last year. We know each other well. We know each other’s games, and I think it works really well.”

Lin said when he and Beverley are in the game at the same time, they bring the Rockets the fast pace they seek.

“I think it just sets a tempo,” Lin said. “We push the ball hard. Just having two point guards out there definitely changes the tempo.”

That tempo and the mix of the two point guards’ strengths bring a different dimension to the Rockets.

“We have wanted to play them together all year,” McHale said. “I like that combination. With injuries, we haven’t been able to as much as we have wanted to.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Kevin Durant showed off his otherworldly scoring abilities in January, but also shined as a facilitator/passer as well for the mighty Thunder  … Kings coach Mike Malone is still trying to coax his team into being a defense-first outfit … The Chicago Bulls are open for trade business but All-Star center Joakim Noah is what we in the business call untouchable … Pacers boss Larry Bird insists the signing of Andrew Bynum was about two things, “he’s big and he can help us.”

ICYMI of the Night: Celtics fans have been waiting all season for Rajon Rondo to look like, well, Rajon Rondo. With only one game on the slate yesterday, Rondo had a perfect opportunity to take the spotlight and he did so …


VIDEO: Rajon Rondo dominates against the Magic

47 Comments

  1. Kobe Bryant says:

    Never gonna happen

  2. Rikishi says:

    NOOOOO! Pau Gasol NOOOOOO!

  3. bataar says:

    Marcin Gortat < Pau Gasol. so 10 Marcin Gortat = Pau Gasol

  4. Zer Torres says:

    D Wade is D Wade “The Flash” again tonight as he paved Miami’s way to victory over the Pistons. Now, who asks again if he be himself again at the ECF?

  5. okc2014 says:

    I’m kinda liking the Gasol trade to Phoenix. For no particular reason other than I would love to see him out of Lakerland. I agree, they treat him like %$#@.

  6. lakers777 says:

    lakers is the best team in the nba but this time he needs one more superstar melo or kevin love and good bench to ave.poin.25
    in 2016 lakers will win championship against indiana pacers
    mwp kobe

  7. Axel F says:

    Im down with that!!! Give us Dragic and the morris twins, that seems like a even trade right there!

  8. Art says:

    Deng to Miami is the best joke of the year.
    Moneywise it’s possible. Bosh & Wade opt out, leave 2years $42M on the table and sign 4 years $46M.
    But Luo is too nice person to play for South Beach. Please try J.R. Smith & Kenyon Martin instead.

  9. erik spoelstra gf is hot says:

    damn 2 more months before post season..

  10. El Magic says:

    The term “world champions” is totally off when used to compliment winners of SB which is only played on US soil. Also “World Series” is another arrogant term for a tournament played only on US soil. The correct term is NATIONAL CHAMPIONS…. WORLD CHAMPION fits when team/player wins a game and flags of both countries are presented and national anthems played.

    The term “Americans” is totally off too. Everybody that lives in the continent named America IS AN AMERICAN…. don’t matter if you live in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina….. you live in America YOU ARE AN AMERICAN.

    last but not least…. ship Gasol out to Suns… Lakers dont deserve him.

    • justsayin says:

      Only on US soil – right. I guess you don’t recall Toronto winning the World Series on a walkoff Joe Carter home run.
      There’s no credible league to compete with the NFL so their designation is apt as well.

      Perhaps you should tend to your own ignorance and arrogance.

      I’m no big patriot but the stone throwing in threads like this makes me ill. We get to see that Americans haven’t cornered the market on ugly behavior.

  11. MIAMI HEAT says:

    completely agree with you heatNATION

  12. dustydreamnz says:

    Why would the Heat need Gasol? They can’t afford him anyway.
    Gasol would be a great fit in Phoenix I think, they could do with his experience and it might rejuvenate him getting away from the drama in L.A.

    • Han says:

      And why would Gasol be a great fit in Phoenix? They play fast, similar to what D’Antoni is trying to do to LA and it doesn’t seems to work with Gasol. He may fit better in Houston (yes, they also play fast, but they combine with low post presence in Howard. Suns doesn’t have the material to do that, even with Gasol as addition)

  13. okc vs indiana says:

    portland could lose in 1st round if they play the suns or rockets, rockets have beaten them 2/3 times and phoenix has beaten them 2/3 times, should’ve been 3/3 if a goaltend had correctly been called on batum

  14. brian says:

    It would be a dream come true if the Blazers won a championship, but its not in the cards this year. They may be playing better than they have in years, but I don’t think they have what it takes to go the distance with the thunder, rockets, spurs or the heat.

  15. shirley denson jacobs says:

    someome please help my lakers, their bleeding bullets. kobe need your suggestions(, emergency call for rebuilding , NOW!!!! BOOWHOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIwhoooo

  16. Adrian says:

    Miami Heat go and get Pau Gasol

    • heatNATION says:

      yeah man!! who would miami give up?? james jones straight up yo!! then dengs coming in free agency next year!! melo too man!!!
      PG: LeBRON
      SG: WADE
      SF: DENG
      PF: MELO
      C: BOSH

      Strong Reserves: gasol, beasley, oden, cole, chalmers, allen, battier, haslem, birdman, lewis

    • Fan of Basketball and oh yeah Lebron.. says:

      This NEEDS to happen

  17. The Voice In The Distance says:

    Pau Gasol should just leave the Lakers as they’ve treated him so badly anyway.

  18. The Voice In The Distance says:

    Pau Gasol should leave the Lakers – he’s been so badly treated by them anyway.

  19. The Other One says:

    Bermir – I totally agree with you! Some Americans will call the NBA champions or Superbowl winners “world champions” and there’s the World Series. Americans can be a very arrogant and self obsessed nation – that’s nation not world.

    • justsayin says:

      Hey – your prejudice is showing.

      But never mind the fact that those terms were coined in their land of origin, well before those sports were widely played elsewhere. (which outside of basketball they really aren’t – baseball and football don’t even rate the Olympics)

      You’re welcome for these superior alternatives to soccer and hockey though.

      And congratulations on your World Chamionship in whining. Americans wouldn’t care in the slightest if you called your Natl champs “World Champs”, particularly if you INVENTED the flaming sport!!!

  20. Jose (Clipper Nation) says:

    Looks like a good deal for the Lakers rebuilding plan. Just keep Kobe and let him teach the rookies.

    • Caldron Pool says:

      I think they already are . . . Jay Leno had a hilarious joke the other night about them . . . something about somebody getting into the lane more than the Lakers . . .

  21. D.C. Andrews says:

    The Short Buss seems to be doing everything he can to tank the Lakers into oblivion for the foreseeable future. From Jerry Buss, a man who would spend anything to put a winning team on the floor and get out of the way and let the GM/Coaches do their job, to The Short Buss, who has managed to destroy the franchise completely in two years.

    Jeanie and Phil need to do something, or else the Lakers are going to become the joke of the NBA.

  22. Boston until I die! says:

    Man if Emeka could back in a good shape,he can be a good DEFENSIVE center for the Lakers…LA should get Luol Deng next year,its obvius that he dont want to stay with the Cavs.And I’pretty sure that Kevin Love ll join the Lakers next season.Haha I know thats sounds crazy,and i’m not a Laker fan,i hate them.But if one franchise could do something like this,its the LA Lakes!

    • BillyRay says:

      well k love isnt able to opt out and become a free agent til the season after so pay attention before making such outrageous comments.

    • artifex says:

      Haha, I got puzzled from your name with each line until the “I’m not a Laker fan”.
      Had to laugh so loud!! Thanks man.

      Boston will remain my “local” team forever!

      Love to LA. No problem. Pierce veteran return to the Celtics!

  23. Kunjaymaster says:

    Indiana is very good, specially if they go on a tear like the OKC went against Miami recently where they were even making banker 3′s. Aside from that if Wade is healthy i don’t see anyone beating the Heat 4 times out of 7, too deep and too talented.

  24. Charlie says:

    I’m not sure how to feel about a Gasol trade. I’m a Lakers fan and one of the things that has traditionally made the the Lakers a threat is their size and the talent of the size. Pau in an anomoly in that I truly believe he’s in the top five big-man forwards, but he seems to play his best when there is a threat of a trade. His numbers since have actually been off the charts for some time AND and is playing through his health issues. When he is not under the gun of a trade he seems to play too relaxed and unfocussed.

    I don’t like to jump on band wagons, but Mike D is a coach that is not the right fit for the kind of basketball the Lakers are historically known for. We need to get some solid big men and find a coach that can utilize such talent. The one good thing about this horrid season is that we have found a small group of “kids” that have proven themselves.

    I’d like to see the Lakers keep Gasol and seek out some new talent to surround his with, cut ties with Nash, and politely send coach Mike D on his way. All this being said, I give Mike D an “A” for dealing with all the injuries and keeping his head high.

  25. Bermir says:

    The N in NBA stands for national.
    Why do some writers and commentators insist on calling the team that wins the NBA ‘world champions’? Is their world that small?
    Arrogant and ignorant habit…

    • Jorge Millan says:

      It is a practice on all American sports competitions. It has nothing to do with the NBA writers in particular, is a problem of cultural ego at large.

    • GSOM2014 says:

      The N in NFL is also national. So why did they call the Seahawks “world champions?” #stupidrants

      • artifex says:

        Because there’s definitively no other American Football team outside the US that’ll matchup with them.
        Same goes for the MLB champion.
        These are typical American sports that originated thereo r had the earliest and strongest development there.

        It’s a bit different with hockey and basketball.
        Hockey’s a rather international game with Russia, Sweden and Finland also very good, but still, many of their best players play in the NHL.
        Same goes for NBA basketball, so it is arguably the league with the most of the worlds best players.
        As sign, all top 10 leading scorer at London 2012 play in the NBA, 4 of the All-EuroBasket 2013 team play in the NBA.

        I wouldn’t say a top Spanish and Greek team wouldn’t stand a chance in the NBA (like 10 years ago), but in a best of 7 series between any NBA and EuroLeague finalists I would always bet on the NBA teams.

        So, agreed, in basketball this isn’t an automatic (anymore) but it’s
        - a historically developped term (and probably 99% sure until the late 90s)
        - even today is probably a 75% true statement, if it had been tested.

        So, I have no problem with that term.
        (and this comes from a European basketball fan)

    • justsayin says:

      Count our Olypmic gold medals and despair!

      Last one we didn’t get was only because our top players were afraid to travel abroad in the fallout of 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

      But don’t think the NBA won’t want to expand and form conferences overseas – I bet you’ll get your chance at a “world championship” eventually.

  26. dom says:

    dont trade gasol you fools

  27. fds says:

    Ofc Miami is not going to say – yes, we wanted Bynum, but our opponents got him, so this will make our lives harder. Nobody is going to say that… In 99% of cases GMs, coaches will tell the media that it doesn’t bother them at all or just make random general comments that hes a good player and you wish all the best.
    And whatever Bird says the discussion about Miami in on way or another (them getting Bynum or Pacers need to improve their bench to battle Miami) surely popped up before making a move on Bynum…

    In my book such interviews, statements are absolutely meaningless.

  28. Hey Steppx:

    They wrote about the Suns.

    It ain’t much but it’s something.

    Hope you happy now.

    Enjoy reading it :)

  29. Erlo says:

    I would love to see Portland win it, but I can’t see the Heat losing 4 games to anyone. They are too good at coming back in games, clutch when it counts, and have the best player on the Earth.

    • qwerty says:

      If Indy and OKC play in the postseason the way they play now, heat wont even take 2 games from them. It will be a fun postseason though,cant wait for it to start

      • Anthony is shaking his head at heat fans that aren't knowledgable about basketball says:

        you realize what you’re saying right? The Pacers and the Heat have split the season series and miami isn’t even playing a set rotation right now. OKC will definitely be a tough challenge but to say the Heat will lose to either of those teams and not win 2 games is pure foolishness.

  30. asas says:

    I love Pat beverley. that guy is all hustle.

  31. Bballfan says:

    Nice superhero reference