Morning shootaround — Feb. 17

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Amar’e gets Maverick | Report: Bucks, Sanders talk buyout | What’s next for Marc Gasol? | A weekend with Westbrook

No. 1: Amar’e gets Maverick — Just hours after securing his release from the New York Knicks, according to multiple reports, Amar’e Stoudemire and the Dallas Mavericks have reportedly reached an agreement on a deal to bring Stoudemire to the Mavs. After writing a poem to say goodbye to Knicks fans, Stoudemire will chase a championship with the Mavericks, teaming with his former Knicks teammate Tyson Chandler to provide an interior presence for Dallas. As ESPN’s Tim McMahon writes, after considering several offers, Stoudemire ultimately decided Dallas was the best fit for his skill set…

The Mavs could only offer the prorated veteran’s minimum to Stoudemire, who was in the final season of a five-year, $99.7 million deal with the Knicks.

Dallas was attractive to Stoudemire in part because of a pick-and-roll-intensive offense that plays to his strengths. The Mavs also have a highly respected medical staff, led by Team USA athletic trainer Casey Smith, that will maximize Stoudemire’s chances of staying healthy for the stretch run and playoffs while dealing with chronic knee problems.

The Mavs envision Stoudemire as a key bench player who will back up center Tyson Chandler and also see spot duty at power forward behind Dirk Nowitzki. He will provide the Mavs with a quality replacement for Brandan Wright, the high-efficiency reserve big man the Mavs gave up in the December deal to acquire Rajon Rondo.

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No. 2: Report: Bucks, Sanders talk buyout — As recently as two seasons ago, Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders was considered one of the NBA’s most promising young big men. But since then, it’s been a slow decline. Sanders has dealt with injuries and suspensions, and hasn’t played this season since just before Christmas. Now it seems that perhaps the Bucks have had enough and are ready to move on without Sanders, writes ESPN’s Marc Stein

Buyout discussions have begun between the Milwaukee Bucks and Larry Sanders that would make the recently suspended big man a free agent, according to league sources.

Sanders has served a 10-game suspension for violating the league’s anti-drug program but has not returned to the team and is not expected to play for Milwaukee again. He has been listed as out for “personal reasons” in each of the Bucks’ past three games.

The 26-year-old has been adamant that he wants to resume his NBA career despite the personal struggles that have resulted in two league suspensions in less than a year.

“Soon you all will know the truth,” Sanders tweeted last week.

When asked last week about Sanders’ status, Bucks coach Jason Kidd told local reporters: “That will be determined during the break.”

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No. 3: What’s next for Marc Gasol? — The Memphis Grizzlies may be chasing a title, but after his gig starting for the Western Conference All-Stars, it’s probably worth remembering that Grizz center Marc Gasol will be one of the most sought-after free agents this summer. USA Today‘s Sam Amick caught up with Gasol during All-Star Weekend, and Gasol says leaving Memphis would not be easy, if it comes to that…

“The city of Memphis and the franchise means a lot to me,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s not going to be easy for me to leave a place like that.”

Not only do the Grizzlies have the edge of being able to offer him a five-year deal as opposed to the four-year offers every other team is limited to, but the ‘Grit & Grind’ Grizzlies remain a close-knit group that is playing the kind of elite basketball (39-14) that certainly qualifies as championship-caliber. The Knicks, Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and others have long been expected to come after him, but he knows as well as anyone that he won’t find this mixture of relationships and ring-worthy talent anywhere else. At least not at the start.

From his close friendship with point guard Mike Conley to his connection with forward Zach Randolph (“My man,” he calls him) to Tony Allen and the rest of the lot, there are roots that run much deeper than they do in most NBA locker rooms. There’s an impressive body of work serving as the foundation, too, a winning percentage of .635 since the start of the 2010-11 season and years of playoff battles that they hope have steeled them for the coming challenge.

“Basketball is about relationships,” said Marc, who played his high school basketball in Memphis while watching Pau play for the Grizzlies, then returned (after playing professionally in his hometown of Barcelona) to begin his NBA career in 2008. “The bond that you create by playing together, going through battles together. The trust that you build goes a long way. It goes beyond the game of basketball. Those guys, you could see them 15 or 20 years from now, when everybody is older and it’s a little tougher to walk, you’ll see each other and your brain is going to immediately think back to those memories that you created.

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No. 4: A weekend with Westbrook — Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook is one of the NBA’s most dynamic players and personalities, as furious on the floor as he can be off of it, with a diverse set of interests. In New York for All-Star Weekend, where he ended up walking away with the All-Star MVP, Westbrook maximized the time by running all over the city to make appearances, and he brought Bleacher Report along for the ride

The following day, Friday, around 11:30 a.m., Westbrook arrives for All-Star media availability, located at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel. This marks one of the few times of the year when every kind of question you can imagine gets thrown at a player.

“Russell, do you wish you guys ever wore tiny, little shorts?” His answer: “No.”

“Who’s the sexier Van Gundy, Stan or Jeff?” His answer: just shakes his head.

Then there’s the influx of international media—this year, a record 534 members from 52 countries—who ask for acknowledgement of their fans.

“Please give us a message to Japanese fans.” His response: “Hello, Japanese fans all over the world. Thank you for your support.”

Compared to the previous night, Westbrook, wearing all Jordan Brand gear, including the Air Jordan 1 Fragment Design sneakers, is completely different. Many times, he looks down during questions and looks away while responding. His answers are short—usually one word or one to two sentences—similar to other basketball interviews he’s done in the past. Smiles and long answers are sparse. A lot of “I don’t knows.” For some, he has the look of “Where have you been?” as he quickly shakes his head to disregard the question.

“He doesn’t like to talk about basketball,” his younger brother, Ray, 23, says. “We just talk about life, play video games.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: According to this report, the Utah Jazz plan to hang on to Enes KanterJermaine O’Neal says he doesn’t feel comfortable committing to a team at this point … Goran Dragic‘s agent will meet with Suns management today … Austin Daye has signed with the D-League

15 Comments

  1. jake s. says:

    I think if you threw me in the attic for 4 months, then pulled me out and told me that any of the western conference playoff teams made it to the finals (including OKC not Phoenix). I would believe you. I would be surprised however, if you told me it was Dallas, Houston, or Portland. Dallas is a new experiment, Houston still needs one more piece, Portland has little bench. My current contenders in order: Warriors, Thunder, Spurs, Grizzlies, Clippers.

  2. LBJ23CAVS says:

    i never thought heed go to the mavs but hey golden state you guys better watch out its a sure thing that okc will take that 8 th spot the will keep it to and the mavs roster is looking hot with stoudemire added to it you could have thunder and mavs for western conference finals

  3. LBJ23CAVS says:

    i never thought heed go to the mavs but hey golden state you guys better watch out its a sure thing that okc will take that 8 th spot the will keep it toand the mavs roster is looking hot with stoudemire added to it you could have thunder and mavs fo wcf

  4. jen says:

    He can be a good bench for Dirk and Tyson chandler..replacing Brandan Wright role..with villanueva ang jefferson ..but hopefully they all stay healthy…

  5. harriethehawk says:

    Contenders, Pretenders and Bottom feeders. Well, the Dallas Mavericks are certainly not bottom feeders. But contenders????

  6. Ivan says:

    Mavs definite title contenders. Stat fills the hole in the team, and hes still a great pf, just not a 100 million man. great minutes to production ratio.

    • en. says:

      Keep on dreaming they still ain’t even better than the rockets and all the rockets have is james harden……smh…..overrated team dirk is the only player I like and respect……but chandler, parsons, ellis, rondo,,,,,, alll suk

  7. en. says:

    Overrated they can have him…….

  8. teg says:

    I don’t see Stoudemire making ANY difference for Dallas. I thought before the season started that it wouldn’t have surprised me if they actually missed the playoffs, then they look good but not good enough for me to think title contenders, and with the injuries happening to them now and the games in between each seed, I think it’s a possibility that them missing the playoffs still WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME. The Mavs are the biggest pretenders to me out of the west

    • kobefanjay says:

      pretenders? They have a living legend , a defensive player of the year and a point guard who has won a championship and the second best coach after Pop….plus 2 more stars. Also losing in the first round in the West will not prove anything as the matchups are historically close…

  9. DAVID JAMES says:

    IF HE STAYS HEALTHY THEY COUD REACH THE NBA FINALS!!!

    • teg says:

      the Mavs? Stoudemire is not going to help there. defense still a big issue and he doesn’t make their bench any better. their bench is a joke to me

      • Tazitup says:

        U sound like a hater dude, bulls fan here..so no bias. U defo dont like them already, they picked up rondo n chandler 4 defense. Have beat plenty of the good teams in the west n east. Im just a realist, i dont do that hate stuff. Stop drinkin the haterade, that sh!+ aint good 4 ur health man. 😉

      • Noogin876 says:

        They will get Jermaine O’Neal.