Morning Shootaround — April 26


VIDEO: Daily Zap for games played April 25

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Will Nene and/or Gortat play? | LeBron seeks equal treatment | Lakers sticking with D’Antoni | Westbrook’s brother still rankled

No. 1: Will Nene and/or Gortat play? — Losing Nene down the stretch of Game 3 was bad enough for the Washington Wizards. It very well might have cost them the game, a 3-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series and so much momentum heading into Sunday’s Game 4 that the Bulls might have licked their wounds and started planning for summer. Instead, Chicago didn’t have to worry about the big guy who had been the Wizards’ X factor in the first two games and its own bigs, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson, had an easier time navigating foul trouble. The biggest concerns now for Washington are whether a) Nene’s ejection ended it or whether he’ll face a suspension from Game 4, and b) center Marcin Gortat will get whacked for leaving the bench area in the heat of the moment. In the immediate aftermath, Brandon Parker assessed the situation in the Washington Post’s Wizards Insider blog:

What happened after that and how the NBA office will levy punishment has now become as great of a concern as how the Wizards respond following their first loss of these young playoffs.

It’s a given that Nene will at least be fined for his inflammatory role in Friday’s altercation, but whether or not he is suspended is up to the NBA. But Nene might not be the only one in trouble. There was some debate as to whether Marcin Gortat left the bench area during the scuffle. Since the Bulls were charged with calling a timeout immediately following Nene’s basket, Gortat, along with all the bench players and coaches, would be allowed to come onto the floor. But should the NBA deem that Gortat was making his way onto the court before or during the moment the timeout was called, the Wizards center would automatically be suspended for one game, according to NBA rules.

Both are judgement calls but by comparison, take the case of Charlotte’s Josh McRoberts. In Game 2 versus Miami, the Bobcats forward threw a forearm to the nose of LeBron James but rather than being whistled for a flagrant foul during the game or being suspended afterward, McRoberts was fined $20,000.

Playing without one or both of their starting big men could obviously be catastrophic for the Wizards in what’s now a must-win Game 4. Playing with one or both of them still doesn’t leave the Wizards in the clear, as the Bulls are apparently intent on trying to mentally rattle and discourage Washington’s players in what’s sure to be an intense environment.

***

No. 2: LeBron seeks equal treatment — Retaliation is officially off the table, at least according to what the Miami Heat players and coaches are saying in the wake of Josh McRoberts‘ flagrant-2 foul against LeBron James in Game 2 of the Miami-Charlotte first-round series. McRoberts didn’t get ejected after putting an elbow to the throat of the Heat superstar as he attacked the rim, but the foul was upgraded the next day with a $20,000 fine attached. Instead of retribution, James spoke about getting a fair shake from the referees. His view, as related by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, is that he takes more hits because of his ball dominance and foes get away with more because he is so big and strong. Instead of “star treatment,” in other words, James feels he has been enduring Shaq treatment:

James wouldn’t say Friday whether McRoberts should have been suspended, but said “it should have been a Flagrant 2 at that point in the game.”

“What frustrated me is when I watch other games. [In Thursday’s Warriors-Clippers game], it was three flagrant fouls called that got checked [on replay]. My foul didn’t even get checked, and it was a crucial point of the game. … I don’t cry for fouls. If the game is played and [called] how it’s supposed to be, I’m OK with it.”

James added: “I take a lot of hard fouls. I understand that. Guys try to stop me from getting three-point plays. We all know the difference between a basketball foul and a non-basketball foul.”

“I already know there’s going to be a headline tomorrow: ‘LeBron is crying for fouls.’ I don’t want that. It’s not about me wanting fouls or wanting to be pampered. I’m going to be my aggressive self and get to the free-throw line and put pressure on their defense.”

So does he simply want to be treated like everyone else?

“I’m not going to be treated like everyone else,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been treated like everybody else.”

Retaliating is not an option for two reasons, James said: “Every time we hit back, we get suspended or get fined. We tried that tactic. It don’t [work] for us.”

And also: “The game is different. If this was the 1980s, I would come out swinging. It’s not. I mean too much to our team. I can’t do that. Me being out of the game hurts us more than it would hurt the other team. I get frustrated at times.”

***

No. 3: Lakers sticking with D’AntoniWhile their former coach and ring-collecting leader, Phil Jackson, settles in and sifts through his coaching candidates in New York, the Los Angeles Lakers face a situation of their own involving coach Mike D’Antoni, who just lead the team through a forgettable failed season. According to Mark Heisler, venerable NBA columnist who has relocated from the Los Angeles Times to the Orange County Register, that situation essentially has been resolved: D’Antoni will be back next season. Heisler writes with authority about the Lakers’ mess and their limited options for 2014-15 overall – basically a strategy of signing players to one-year deal and keeping their salary-cap powder dry for the free-agent classes of 2015 and 2016. He does include one juicy tidbit about L.A., if it gets lucky in the lottery, possibly offering their first-round pick this spring to Minnesota for All-Star forward Kevin Love. Here‘s some Heisler:

Ready for Mike D’Antoni III? After 10 days of soul searching, the key figures in Lakers management are agreed on bringing back D’Antoni for a third season as coach, a source with knowledge of the deliberations told the Register.

Keeping D’Antoni, of course, would be unpopular among Lakers fans, united in their desire to see him fired and Jim Buss resign.

The Lakers aren’t commenting, but Jimbo’s not planning on leaving. With Pau Gasol making no secret of his dissatisfaction and Kobe Bryant reportedly in favor of a change, D’Antoni was widely expected to be fired.

But one thing you’ve got to love about the Lakers – I do, anyway – they don’t always do the easy thing.

D’Antoni took himself out of the running for the Marshall University coaching job last week, which went to his brother, Dan.

However, reports from West Virginia that the Lakers told Mike he was returning are incorrect.

D’Antoni decided he didn’t want to return to Marshall, where he once starred, in any case.

The Lakers have yet to inform D’Antoni of anything, but they intend to keep him, absolving him of blame for the 27-55 finish without Bryant and Steve Nash for 141 of a possible 162 games.

Nor are they discomfited by Gasol’s announcement on his website. (“I’ve never concealed the fact that D’Antoni’s style doesn’t suit my game. … I don’t know if my decision will be swayed by whether Mike stays or leaves. Obviously, the coach is a very important factor for any team.”) Jeanie Buss, who noted recently, “I’m the boss,” is continuing her preference to leave basketball decisions to the basketball people.

Jim is aligned with GM Mitch Kupchak, a steadfast D’Antoni defender emerging as an ever-stronger figure with a multi-year extension in the wake of their misadventures.

***

No. 4: Westbrook’s brother still rankledWhile Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook prevailed on his brother Ray to delete a Tweet from late Thursday night suggesting Thunder head coach Scott Brooks be dumped, he didn’t exactly change his younger sibling’s mind. After practice Friday, Westbrook told reporters: “I took care of that. We don’t conduct business like that. Scotty and me got a great relationship.” But Ray Westbrook, while complying, wasn’t necessarily on board with the damage control, according to a blog by The Oklahoman sports columnist Barry Tramel:

[We] got back to our hotel after the game, probably around 1:30 a.m., and decided to get something to eat. So we walked the few blocks to Blues City Cafe, which is open from 11 a.m. to 5 a.m. And on the way, we ran into a certain Ray Westbrook.

Yes, the same Ray Westbrook whose big brother plays a little hoops for the Thunder, and the same Ray Westbrook who in the middle of Game 3 tweeted that the Thunder needed a new coach.

Ray is a friendly fellow, and we asked him about the tweet. He said the Thunder already had reached out to him to express its displeasure, but he was unapologetic. “That’s how I felt,” he said. “If you don’t like it, don’t follow me.”

Of course, by the next morning, Ray Westbrook had apologized for the outburst. But it’s pretty safe to assume he didn’t mean it.

42 Comments

  1. Cpt G says:

    Lakers are getting what they deserve.

  2. Rhedz03 says:

    Kobe, Pau, Kaman are the few players who doesn’t like D’ Antoni…Its hard to find good veteran superstars nowadays..So In my opinion Lakers should let go of D’ Antoni and keep paul, kobe and back up center kaman. Team chemistry and respect comes first before everything else…There’s alot of good coaches who would die to have a chance to be lakers next head coach. Just my 2 Cents…The lakers management will go down if they dont fix their locker room. If Lakers want to be what they were few years back then they should try to rebuild the team with a new coach and additional fresh legs and elite veterans.

    D’ Antoni should go back coaching college kids…Or maybe he can work for that racist idiot clippers owner and blake, paul, Doc Rivers, jordan and the rest of the useful clippers players should move to lakers instead.

  3. hellon says:

    Wow,so no need to watch Lakers’ games,nevermind….

  4. 11:11 says:

    DOH!!!

  5. Roy T says:

    No more lakers, no more NBA. Lakers is a big brand around the world. If Lakers don’t do well, it really does affect the whole NBA in terms of the fan base for NBA.

    • chalice says:

      Lakers used to be the biggest name in the NBA, but not so now. I think this statement was true 10+ years ago but not now. The NBA (29 other teams) is faaaaar bigger than the Lakers right now.

  6. True says:

    To begin this post, I would like to say I am a die hard Lakers fan. Now, with that out of the way I wanna focus on the problems here:
    1. Kobe Bryant. Kobe was great, he was tough. However, nowadays he is on the decline and a lot of us are starting to notice it as well. Mike D’Antoni is a great offensive coach, we have seen him in the past with the Phoenix Suns, but he lacks defense. D’Antoni with certain players can run his system of offense, as we observed last year those players did not execute it well enough. Perhaps D’Antoni can make it happen this year.

    2.Jim Buss. Thats it

  7. vincent says:

    k guess ill be a real Clippers fan now

  8. jsodu001 says:

    Bringing back Dantoni is a huge mistake and suicide mission “I give up” message to fans of Lakers. Feel sorry for laker fans. Lakers had such a winning organization.

  9. Daniel says:

    As far as D’Antoni, the lakers know that they are going nowhere, meaning they won’t make the playoffs next year, or if they make it they are out on the first round. So, why change coaches and pay D’Antoni 4 million for nothing, and bring another coach that can not do much?, so just let him do another year.
    In the meantime, the lakers either get a great pick in the draft or get Love in a trade, that will put some fans on the stand, and save the year. At the same time, they get rid of Gasol, Nash will do its last year, and save money for 2015 and 2016.
    The reason they give Kobe that contract is as reward for all the things he has done for the Organization, Jennie said that, but everybody knows that Kobe is Finished, at least the old Kobe.
    Kobe will bitch about it, that is what he is all about, always thinking about himself, and nothing else.Remember last year, they got Sessions for a first round pick, they got Howard without a previous extension, all that to please Kobe.
    By 2016, Lakers Kobe contract is gone, the Lakers will have 3-4 studs that can take the Lakers to a championship. The way the salary cap is, there is no room anymore for contracts like Kobe, so you have to have 2 major start, get the third star through the draft, and then develop 3-4 guys. And that is the plan, Any other way makes no sense.

  10. Laker fan says:

    If Doc Rivers decides to leave the Clips after the season, because of the owner, he should be hired to coach the Lakers.

  11. IsaMeat says:

    I AM LUCKY TO CANCEL MY TIME WARNER CABLE.
    CLIPPER GOOOOO !!!!

  12. Jill says:

    Lakers SHOULD their money wisely. Ineffective or chronically injured players area risk for the team. Lakers leadership wist money with questionable decisions. Send Kobe on vacation to Europe when their team partners are working hard y pay him good money for it. It is waisted money. Pay more money for a better coach and cut your roster for liabilities.

  13. Tom says:

    Jim Buss please step down before things went to far.

  14. Tom says:

    lol have fun with another season of breaking records for 3’s and losses

  15. kobeballhog says:

    these kobe fanboys always blame dantoni, its so clear that kobe is the main reason why lakers in the dumps, it isnt the coach fault wherein kobe gasol and nash almost non existent add to that kobes ego wont give way to dwight, now dwights in the playoffs while the lakers in the dumps say goodbye for the next 2 years until kobe retires, he got most of the lakers salary cap held hostage

  16. Bataar says:

    BYE LAKERS!!! I have been support Lakers team over 15 years. maybe until today.

  17. None Of The Above says:

    @rollin stone – You made some sense until you made the following claim about Kobe Bryant “you are the best ever,and the best that ever happen in the game of bketball” sic. Bryant isn’t the best player of his generation let alone ever. As for best thing to happen in basketball or “bketball” again no. Bryant is far too over-hyped.

  18. Mike D'Antoni says:

    C’mon fans, don’t worry. I promise we’ll win with my own recipe of mediocre offense at best plus no defense. With me as coach, I’m pretty sure we’ll attract top free agents (yeah Right). An of course I would like to thank my owner Jim Buss for trading picks for an aging yet my favorite PG Steve Nash, and for building a team with lackluster, unwanted players (Sacre for example).

  19. Sato says:

    You are a bunch of fools..Lakers would like to have a 3 peat of their own.. 3 years of sorrow and agonizing loss night after night..good luck fans..

  20. rollin stone says:

    D’ANTONI should resign if he has dignity ,and shame.as for my man,MR KOBE BRYANT,i will follow you ,and support,no matter anyteam you choose to play for.you are the best ever,and the best that ever happen in the game of bketball.you gonna come back strong, and win your sixth ring,amen.cant wait to see you back on the court soon.

  21. Milen says:

    OMG let me join the band of whining mourning LAL fans… the Buss kids are destroying their father’s legacy ): There must be a reason for all this… they are either totally incompetent or there is some sort of a plot to devaluate the stock of the franchise and buy it out or something… Dumbtoni is clearly disliked by most of the fans and the players… or they are preparing for another trip to the lottery in 2015 and are saving their cap space for the free agency in 2015 when they will finally get rid of this Bozo. Jeanie Buss let Phil Jackson go to NY…. this world now makes even less sense… smfh….

  22. okc2014 says:

    Maybe the Lakers organization feels they made a mistake by signing Kobe again. But maybe they don’t feel like they are making a mistaking by signing the coach again. Maybe Kobe Bryant isn’t in their future plans. Seems like they are really trying to stay on budget by not having to cash out on existing contracts. I don’t blame Nash or Gasol if they don’t return. And of course Swaggy P will stay. How foolish is this team?

  23. Travis Smith Sr says:

    Seriously Mike’s still the coach, he didn’t make it in New York nor phoenix and u still choose to have this man coach a franchise winning organization HMMPH silent note Mike Brown got fired 5 days in why is Dantoni still there?

  24. get a life says:

    Bunch of idiot fans right here… you think your opinion counts? Who are you people? Kobe or the Lakers doesn’t even know you… just shut up and watch.. if you don’t want to watch basketball anymore then shut up and do it…

  25. phil atti says:

    Keepin D’Antoni will just make the Lakers situation worse and new players will not come the lakers as long D’antoni is there RIP LA this man never won anything what make them think he will ever do look at most of the teams who make the playoffs this year

  26. Jarween says:

    Ok NBA, ok Lakers!

    Sorry but I was a Lakers fan for now more than 30 years – no more!
    Go Kobe – terminate your contract – find yourself a team u can have at least a small chance on a title shot!

    Its sad what that guy made with all the great guys he had this season. Its NOT coaching to let a bunch of high-flying wild young shooters and dunkers do what they do best anyway. Coaching is also to plant the defensiv disciplin and mind and coach on makin the right decision at the right time defensivly as well as offensivly.

    If anyone saw any of that last or this season – call out maybe I change my mind?!

    Bye bye Lakers, bye bye NBA! As I loved the Lakers – I won’t scream or cry for another team anymore – means I give up to watch basketball. But I can at least agree with the guy before :-) I save a lot of money for the merchandise, the NBA subsription and a lot of time watchin the aweful Lakers another season!

  27. Damian Batista says:

    If I were the Lakers, I would fire Mike and hire Lionell Hollins because he’s a good coach he led the Grizzlies to the Confernce Finals for a underdog team.

  28. Dumbtoni says:

    Bye Lakers!

  29. Ken says:

    Regardless if they fire him now or not, the Lakers won’t be contending for next 2 or 3 years. So why waste money paying two coaches. They be lucky to make the playoff next year, if hey do maybe 7 or eight seed first round exit, and only if Kobe plays.

  30. SodaPop says:

    This is horrible. I feel sorry for Kobe

  31. Nast says:

    ooohhhh noooooo, Mr Moustache will be back :S
    Jim, can you leave bball operation earlier pls? We know you love Mitch but he made only 1 good move in xx years (bringing Gasol) and you are both destroying our beloved franchise :C

  32. Brenan says:

    And the Lakers thought this was their worst season in franchise history. As long as D’Antoni coaches more years he’ll continue to break his own record. THE MAN DOES NOT KNOW WHAT DEFENCE IS. CMON MITCH KUPCHAK

  33. spguide says:

    Lebron must be kidding ” I don’t cry for fouls ” ?????
    Every single call he does not agree with , he whines like a spoiled girl.

  34. Paul says:

    R.I.P Lakers

  35. M1978 says:

    Keepin D’Antoni will just make the Lakers situation worse (if it is possible). Gasol will leave, and – with NAsh retiring – Bryant will be alone with some really bad or at best mediocre players. I wonder if the Lakers keep up this stupid direction is it possible to piss of Bryant so seriously that he leaves the team….
    So Lakers fire D’Antoni he is a bad coach.

  36. FrankL2010 says:

    I don’t want to see another wasted year for the Lakers :(

  37. lakers not in playoffs 2015 says:

    i think that the lakers will not make playoffs as long as D’antoni no matter the talent level he is not a good game manager and kobe shold get a smaller role he mostly hurts the team by being a ball hog and forcing the issue nash is there and wont get anywhere if he cant create plays.

  38. Lakers' fanboy says:

    Nice, We are keeping Mike…..we are ready to re-injure all the players and tank for 2014 and 2015. thats cool. then why we sign kobe for….let him retire….leavin him hanging like this….

    • Dieter says:

      Exactly… I don’t understand why they gave Kobe such a contract if all they wanna do is tank 2 seasons in a row. If they’re not getting Exum through the draft, they pretty much lost 2 seasons for nothing, because why would a player like Love or any other All-Star choose the Lakers over the other teams? Players don’t want to go to losing teams with bad management, so don’t gamble on what’s gonna happen in 2 years.

  39. Juwo says:

    HAHAHAHA LAKER “FANS”

  40. David B says:

    On the bright side, I will save a load of money on the NBA package. I didn’t get it this year and won’t if the Lakers don’t get a new coach