Morning Shootaround — March 30


VIDEO: Highlights from game played on March 29

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Morey confident Rockets win it all this season | Report: Mullin mulling St. John’s job offer | Lakers’ Davis unhappy about sideline stint | Report: Magic ready to extend Hennigan’s contract

No. 1: Morey confident Rockets win it all this season — The MVP and a NBA title? It could happen this season in Houston. James Harden is working on snagging that Maurice Podoloff Trophy. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey insists his team is working on the latter, sounding extremely confident that his bunch, with Dwight Howard back in the mix. Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com has more:

Morey’s team is currently the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with nine games remaining in the regular season. In order to reach the NBA Finals, the Rockets will have to overcome several health issues.

Forwards Terrence Jones (lung) and Donatas Motiejunas (lower back pain) have been out recently, and Morey expects them to return before the end of the regular season.

Starting center Dwight Howard has played the past three games under a minutes restriction after missing nearly eight weeks with swelling in his right knee. Howard will not play in Monday’s game at the Toronto Raptors.

Starting point guard Patrick Beverley has a torn ligament in his left wrist and is contemplating surgery. Morey said the team will make a final determination on Beverley’s status on Monday, but if they don’t have him, it won’t deter the team’s goal of trying to win a championship.

“We think we can win the title with or without Beverley,” Morey said on ESPN Radio’s Basketball Insiders show. “Obviously it gets more challenging without Beverley; he’s the key to our ability to guard a lot of these very good point guards in the West.”

Morey said the Golden State Warriors, who own the NBA’s best record and swept the season series against the Rockets this season, should be the favorites to win the title.

“We won’t go in as the favorite,” Morey said. “I think Golden State, deservedly so, gets to be called the favorite. They’ve had a very historic season. I think the Golden State training staff hasn’t been talked about enough this year. That team has been healthy and really that showcased everyone in Golden State. Coach [Steve] Kerr has done a great job. We won’t go in as the favorite. We do feel like we can beat anybody in a seven-game series, and we’re pretty excited to get going with the playoffs.”

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No. 2: Report: Mullin mulling St. John’s job offer — It worked for Steve Kerr, transitioning from the front office (with a stop between as a TNT analyst). Making the transition from the front office to the bench could work for Chris Mullin, who has a job offer on the table from his alma mater, St. John’s. A decision could come at any minute, according to Jeff Goodman and Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com as Mullin chews on the idea of replacing Steve Lavin:

Mullin, 51, is one of the greatest players in St. John’s history, winning the Big East Player of the Year award three times in the 1980s. He was drafted seventh overall in the 1985 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors, playing in five straight All-Star Games from 1989 to 1993. Mullin is also a two-time Olympic Gold medalist and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.

Since retiring, Mullin has spent time in the front offices of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings.

Mullin would replace Steve Lavin, who parted ways with St. John’s on Friday after five seasons. The Red Storm made two NCAA tournament appearances and two NIT appearances in Lavin’s tenure.

St. John’s was 21-12 this past season, getting knocked out in the round of 64 by San Diego State. The Red Storm lose four seniors, while Rysheed Jordan and Chris Obekpa are considering the NBA draft. Top-50 recruit Brandon Sampson also reopened his recruitment after Lavin and the program parted ways.

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No. 3: Ed Davis unhappy about sideline stint — The Los Angeles Lakers have an unhappy camper in forward Ed Davis, who is frustrated with his turn on the bench under coach Byron Scott. The season is winding down for the Lakers, of course, but as Mike Bresnahan explains in the Los Angeles Times, the complaint has been filed:

It was Ed Davis’ turn to “rest” for a game, and he wasn’t thrilled about it.

“Honestly, I don’t like it,” the Lakers forward said Sunday before the Lakers lost to Brooklyn, 107-99. “I didn’t ask to sit out or anything. I wanted to play 82 games this year. But, you know, it’s not my decision.”

Veteran big men Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer started sitting games last week so the Lakers could, in Coach Byron Scott’s view, evaluate some of their younger post players.

But Davis, 25, is one of those younger post players. And now he’s being held out.

A side note: The Lakers (19-53) hold the NBA’s fourth-worst record and could lose their first-round draft pick if they fall below the fifth spot on lottery night.

Hill returned to action Sunday after “resting” for three games, but a perfectly healthy Davis was sidelined. He had 16 points and 14 rebounds when the Lakers played Brooklyn last month at Staples Center.

Scott didn’t give a specific reason for the lineup shuffle, suggesting it was simply time for a different big-man rotation.

Davis wasn’t spitting venom. He’s too good-natured for that. But he wasn’t exactly embracing the change, either.

“Like I said, I wanted to play all 82,” he said. “I’m going to support the guys and be there, stay professional and stay ready.”

Davis is essentially in a contract year, acknowledging Sunday he would decline a player option worth $1.1 million next season, a no-brainer for him. He was averaging 8.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 71 games and expected to earn closer to the league average of $5.5 million when he hit the free-agent market in July.

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No. 4: Report: Magic ready to extend Hennigan’s contract — Any doubts about the direction the Orlando Magic basketball operation is headed in could soon be answered with the extension of the contract for general manager Rob Hennigan. Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel has the details:

The DeVos family and CEO Alex Martins are pleased with the job Hennigan has done since Hennigan was hired in June 2012.

Martins, who would not comment for this article, likes to maintain continuity in key leadership positions. Martins also believes it’s dangerous to have a key executive work in the final season of a contract because uncertainty about job status can prompt an executive to make risky decisions for short-term gains.

When the team originally hired Hennigan, it signed him to a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth year. Last May, the team exercised its option for the 2015-16 season.

Extension talks between the Magic and Hennigan or Hennigan’s agent likely will occur after this season ends on April 15.

Hennigan, who would not comment for this piece, is believed to want to remain with the team for the long term.

When Hennigan was hired, he arrived in the midst of a crisis: Dwight Howard, then one of the NBA’s top players, was demanding to be traded and was entering the final year of his deal.

Hennigan traded Howard. But in making that move, Hennigan declined a Los Angeles Lakers offer that would have sent All-Star center Andrew Bynum, a player who had serious knee problems and a problematic attitude, to the Magic.

Instead, the Magic agreed to a four-team deal in which they also jettisoned Jason Richardson, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark and received young center Nikola Vucevic, rookie swingman Maurice Harkless, shooting guard Arron Afflalo, power forward Al Harrington, combo forward Josh McRoberts, a first-round draft pick in 2014 and conditional future draft picks.

Vucevic, now 24, turned out to have more value than most observers realized. Although questions persist on whether he can become an All-Star, he has developed into one of the top rebounders in the NBA and one of the league’s most gifted scoring centers.

The decision not to acquire Bynum turned out to be a masterful move. If the Magic had acquired him, it would have been an unmitigated disaster for the franchise. Because of knee problems, Bynum missed the entire 2012-13 season and is now out of the league.

When Hennigan took over, the Magic embarked on a total rebuild — a massive reconstruction project in which the team angled for the best possible draft picks in 2013 and in 2014.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The hottest player on the free-agent market this summer could and probably should be San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, who will no doubt draw interest from a parade of teams, including the Boston Celtics … The Bulls are getting back to normal on defense, which is a good thing with the playoffs looming … The Trail Blazers earned a day off with a win over the Denver Nuggets … Jeff Taylor moves into a starting role for the Charlotte Hornets at a crucial time in the team’s late-season playoff push … Suns blow the lead and, perhaps, their playoff chances

3 Comments

  1. harriethehawk says:

    Let’s Go Hawks! Let’s Go Hawks! Let’s Go Hawks!

    …..Who cares what Ed Davis and the Fakers think! Bottomfeeders!

  2. en. says:

    Can’t wait to see warriors get knocked out the finals and all there season be a dam waste lmao

  3. the warriors or grizzlies will reach the NBA finals vs the Hawks or the Bulls