Missed a game last night? Wondering what the latest news around the NBA is this morning? The Morning Shootaround is here to try to meet those needs and keep you up on what’s happened around the league since the day turned.
The one recap to watch: The triple-OT classic between the streaking Nuggets and equally hot Celtics is pretty hard to pass up … as is the Lakers-Heat showdown in Miami that saw LeBron James showing off all his MVP-type skills. But we’ve got to go with the Clippers-Knicks game as our must-see today. It’s impressive to see what this fully stocked L.A. team can do. The boost that Grant Hill gave off the bench — particularly in the fourth quarter — was special. Chris Paul was back to his usual MVP-contending self, Blake Griffin was soaring in from here and there, the Raymond-Felton-to-Tyson-Chandler alley-oop was working … all around, a good one to rewatch.
News of the morning
Nets chasing Hawks’ Smith | Suns getting active in talks | Shumpert in trade rumors? | Redick thinks he’s staying put | Rockets, Harden have long-term view | Nets fall apart against Spurs | Miller questions ‘star-less’ system
Report: Nets in pursuit of Hawks’ Smith — As our man David Aldridge reported on Friday, the Hawks are open to trade offers for star forward Josh Smith. Obviously, trade talks for Smith have picked up over the weekend, with the Nets being the rumored frontrunners. ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard — who also had news of the Nets’ interest in Bobcats guard Ben Gordon over the weekend — has more on Brooklyn’s pursuit of Atlanta’s star:
The Brooklyn Nets are aggressively pursuing a trade for Atlanta Hawks star forward Josh Smith, league sources told ESPN.
The two teams are engaged in discussions, but one source said while “there has been lots of talk, nothing is close yet.”
As the NBA’s Feb. 21 trade deadline nears, Brooklyn is proving to be one of the most active teams in the league. As reported by ESPN.com on Friday, sources said the Nets also are talking with the Charlotte Bobcats about a Kris Humphries-for-Ben Gordon trade.
While the Nets certainly want Gordon, sources said acquiring Smith is their higher priority. A trade for Smith would seemingly kill a deal for Gordon, because Humphries is one of the players being discussed with Atlanta.
The Nets are willing to give up Humphries and second-year shooting guard MarShon Brooks for Smith. But it almost certainly will take more than a Humphries-Brooks combination to pry Smith away from Atlanta, and one source said the Hawks want Brooklyn’s first-round pick.
Some scenarios that have been discussed include the Hawks’ Anthony Morrow, who played the past two seasons with the Nets, returning to the club.
ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Saturday that the Hawks want a young center in return for Smith.
The Nets may have to get a third team involved to pull off a trade for Smith.
Smith will become a free agent this summer, and Atlanta is deciding whether to trade him before the deadline. One source close to the situation estimated there is a 60 percent chance the Hawks will move him.
Suns in midst of many trade talks? — As we mention below, the Suns might be interested in working out a deal to acquire Knicks swingman Iman Shumpert, but that might not be the only deal on the table. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports that Phoenix has also been linked to potential trades with Utah and its star big man, Al Jefferson:
The trade deadline is 11 days away, but the Suns already are linked to talks with New York and Utah. Multiple media outlets reported the Suns have ongoing interest in Iman Shumpert, a guard they considered drafting in 2011 when they took Markieff Morris and Shumpert went 17th to New York.
Swingman Jared Dudley is mentioned as a possible swap target, but the Suns would have to get more salary in return to satisfy trade rules because Dudley makes $4.25 million annually through 2014-15. The possibility of a pick going to New York also was reported, but the Suns covet their first-round picks, especially if the Lakers miss the playoffs and the Suns wind up with two lottery picks.
The Suns would have to be concerned with Shumpert’s left knee. He was out from late April to mid-January with a torn anterior-cruciate ligament. Shumpert, 22, was living up to billing as a perimeter defender with a 6-foot-5, 220-pound body to play both guard spots, but he has been a 39 percent shooter.
“Anytime you’re on a team that’s a losing team and they’ve got a lot of draft picks, it’s going to be up in discussions,” said Dudley, who had not heard from his agent. “In the NBA, 90 percent of the rumors don’t come true. It comes with territory and doesn’t faze me at all.”
Dudley said he takes the buzz about him to be a compliment, including the Suns’ interest in Rudy Gay.
“When my name came up before, I was a throw-in,” Dudley said. “Now, I think I’ve worked on my game where I could be a good piece or asset for the Suns or any team.”
The Suns also have shown interest in a bigger splash for Utah’s Al Jefferson or Gordon Hayward. Dudley could be a part of either of those deals with center Marcin Gortat likely needed to make one work for Jefferson, a 28-year-old power forward who makes $14 million and is averaging 17.4 points and 9.5 rebounds. Hayward, a 22-year-old swingman, is averaging 13.5 points in a reserve role.
“We all realize this is a business,” Suns interim head coach Lindsey Hunter said. “I was a player once, and I was traded a couple times. It’s nothing personal. It’s just business, and I think guys understand that now.”
Shumpert finds self in trade rumors — After a dozen games in New York’s lineup following an extensive rehab stint following ACL surgery, ESPNNewYork.com’s Ian Bagley reports that the Knicks are listening to offers for Shumpert (one of which includes a swap of him for Phoenix’s Jared Dudley), but a move may not be likely. Still, this is the second season in Shumpert’s two-year NBA career that he is in the midst of trade rumors:
The New York Knicks are listening to trade offers for Iman Shumpert, but a team source said a deal that would send the second-year guard to the Phoenix Suns for Jared Dudley as part of a multiplayer package is “unlikely at this point.”
“I don’t really care,” Shumpert said following Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. “I’ve just got to play ball. I can’t control it anyway. There’s nothing to worry about — something I can’t control.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson downplayed the situation when asked about it Sunday.
“Those are just trade rumors,” he said.
The Suns have shown interest in acquiring Shumpert, a league source confirmed.
The Suns’ interest in Shumpert and their willingness to include Dudley in a deal was first reported by Yahoo! Sports on Saturday night.
The Knicks have been monitoring the trade market for a shooter in recent weeks, but there is a faction in the organization opposed to giving up Shumpert, who is widely viewed as one of the top young perimeter defenders in the league.
One team source characterized the Knicks’ listening to the Suns’ offer as the team performing its due diligence as the trade deadline nears.
Still, the same team source said not everyone in the organization is convinced of Shumpert’s long-term value to the Knicks.
This is not the first time the Suns have shown interest in Shumpert. Phoenix requested the Knicks include him in a sign-and-trade package for then-Suns guard Steve Nash last summer.
The Knicks enter play Sunday in first place in the Atlantic Division, four games ahead of Brooklyn. They are 1½ games behind first-place Miami in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks are the oldest team in the league, and coach Mike Woodson and general manager Glen Grunwald have said they are dealing with a finite window to compete for an NBA title.
Dudley could help them offensively. He is a career 40 percent 3-point shooter and is averaging 11.8 points in 29.8 minutes this season.
Redick doesn’t anticipate deal — Orlando’s J.J. Redick isn’t just a longtime fan favorite there, but has also made the eighth-most 3-pointers in the NBA this season (115) and is shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range for the second straight season. That makes him a valuable trade chip for Orlando — and for teams looking for 3-point shooting — but the ex-Duke star tells the Orlando Sentinel’s Brian Schmitz he isn’t worrying about being dealt:
Magic SG J.J. Redick told the Sentinel after Sunday’s win that the club has told him they “are not actively trying to move me.”
Various teams, however, are actively trying to land him.
A fan favorite, J.J. followers might see the fact that the Magic aren’t pushing Redick out the door as a good sign.
But the NBA trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 21, meaning other clubs have plenty of time to present a trade offer to the Magic.
If the Magic have decided they can’t afford to keep Redick – J.J. makes $6 million in the final year of his contract and starter Arron Afflalo will be over $7 mil the next three seasons — they need some kind of compensation. They might want a favorable draft choice or a young promising player.
Or they could demand that one of their bad contracts needs to be packaged in any Redick trade — a tough sell if the Magic are parting ways.
Redick can ultimately control his destiny and destination after if he’s dealt. He can be rented for the rest of the season, but he can become a free agent this summer.
Some teams trading for him, such as the Milwaukee Bucks – who have been linked in rumors to Redick – likely will see if they can afford to sign him longterm first.
Along with the Bucks, the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics have reportedly shown interest.
Redick has heard the scuttlebutt. He prefers to stay in Orlando and didn’t seem too concerned when I spoke with him after the club’s win over Portland.
Rockets, Harden taking the long view — Behind first-time All-Star guard James Harden, the Rockets find themselves this morning at No. 8 in the West, 1/2 game behind Utah for No. 7. That puts Houston squarely in the playoff picture, mostly thanks to Harden’s breakout campaign. Now Houston is hoping that Harden’s play, combined with a decent playoff showing, will help entice some marquee free agents to look their way come the offseason, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
The Rockets considered landing Harden, 23, the most significant step in their rebuilding but far from the final move necessary to build a contender.
His success in his first season as a go-to scorer and offensive focal point has been key to their 28-24 record and will bring him his first All-Star Game appearance Feb. 17.
The Rockets hope his play will just be the start of his contributions, to be followed by a role as a compelling draw for their next star.
It is a job he welcomes as much as handling the ball in pick-and-roll.
“I hope so,” Harden said. “I’ve built some friendships these last couple years, this summer and throughout the time playing. They know what kind of person I am, how hard-working I am, knowing I want to win. I hope that becomes a factor of wanting to come to Houston and trying to win championships.”
When it comes to discussing his recruiting efforts, he was considerably more reticent.
James Harden might have the All-Star power to attract a complement or two, but the Rockets would have to show the willingness to make the deal.
Asked if he had begun making his sales pitch, or at least laying the groundwork for next summer, he said he has chatted with “a couple guys.”
Asked who has received his initial recruiting attention, Harden smiled broadly and said, “A couple guys.”
The Rockets can create enough salary-cap room to sign Dwight Howard or another max-contract player (Chris Paul will be a free agent, but even more likely to remain in Los Angeles) and with that in mind expect to be cautious about using cap space at the trade deadline than they have ever been with Morey as general manager.
Several players who could become free agents could be moved at the deadline, but Morey is more likely to wait for summer free agency when Howard, Andrew Bynum, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala and David West could hit the market.
“I think it’s pretty well established to win a title you need great players and need more than one,” Morey said. “Having a great player like James and with him showing what he can do, puts us in a good light in our situation in Houston.”Not only has he been on big stages early in his career … he’s been around the other great players.”
Less than two weeks before the trade deadline, Morey reiterated he will be more cautious this season. Though he would make a short-term move such as last season’s acquisition of Marcus Camby, he said he would not do it at the cost of long-term options unless it also suits that goal.
“Except if something unexpected comes along, someone signed that is very good and wants to be moved, we plan to keep our flexibility as an available destination for whatever free agent is available in July,” Morey said.
Nets hear it from home crowd — Losing to the Spurs with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker is an almost understandable defeat for most any team in the league. Losing to that squad when Duncan and Ginobili rest is a little tougher to swallow. Such was the case for the Nets on Sunday as the Parker-led Spurs demolished the fully stocked Nets by 25 points and Brooklyn’s crew drew the ire of the hometown crowd, writes Howard Beck of the New York Times:
The fade was gradual and then instant — a few harmless missteps, followed by a sudden, spectacular free fall. Tony Parker charged. The Nets stumbled and wheezed. And the Barclays Center soundtrack morphed from the warm, familiar “Brook-lyn” chant to something more wrathful: “Booooo.”
The Nets have had an extended honeymoon in this maiden season in Brooklyn, but the fans finally lost their patience Sunday night, screaming their displeasure as the San Antonio Spurs, playing without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, drilled the home team, 111-86.
As the Spurs completed a dominating second half, outscoring the Nets, 60-29, the angry voices began to boom.
“Deserved,” the Nets’ Deron Williams said. “These people pay money to come see us play, and play better than that.”
They were the first sustained boos the Nets had heard since arriving in Brooklyn. But then, this was as listless and demoralizing as any loss the Nets have had. They failed to take advantage of the Spurs’ depleted lineup, failed to hold an 8-point lead in the third quarter and utterly failed to contain Parker, who carved up their defense for 29 points and 11 assists.
The Spurs pushed their league-best record to 40-12, while the Nets continued to fade, slipping to 29-22. The Nets have lost six of their last nine games, all but one by double digits, and their psyche has never looked more fragile.
There have been more Nets trade rumors — including Ben Gordon and Josh Smith — in recent days than Nets victories.
From Coach P. J. Carlesimo to every starter, the Nets bemoaned an inability to fight through trouble, to keep their heads, to respond constructively and to play with a singular purpose. In the aftermath, there were hints of a fractured locker room.
“We got to understand that this is a team game,” Gerald Wallace said. He added: “You’re allowed to get mad. But instead of going your own individual way, we got to pull together as a team, buckle down. And that’s when we got to tighten up our defense a little bit more, instead of going into five different guys out on the court.”
The Nets have enough fight, “but the fight right now is in the wrong direction,” Wallace said. “Everybody is wanting to fight individually, instead of pulling together as a team. And that’s fighting as the Brooklyn Nets.”
Nuggets’ Miller questions star-less system — We didn’t address Andre Miller in this space on Friday, but he might mentioning now. On the heels of Denver’s rout of Chicago at home on Friday, the Nuggets’ veteran guard voiced that he’s looking for more minutes than what he’s getting with Denver. After last night’s triple-OT defeat in Boston, Miller was talking again — although this time taking issue with the Nuggets’ overall roster gameplan than with his own minutes. Coach George Karl has spent the entire season preaching how his team can win without a bona fide superstar, but Miller doesn’t seem to agree with that philosophy, as Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post reports:
Last May, Nuggets guard Andre Miller said this in an interview with The Denver Post on the subject of whether any team could win big in the NBA without a superstar.
“The question is, can you win without a superstar? This is a superstar’s league, and you can’t win without a superstar.”
Miller recently repeated those words in another report. It’s what he’s always believed, and why not? The NBA hasn’t shown him, or anyone else, anything different.
But coach George Karl believes it can be done, and he’s out to prove it this season with the Nuggets, who don’t have a superstar or even an all-star.
Miller’s comments got back to Karl, who was asked what he thought about them. Karl shook his head.
“Andre and I got to have a talk in Toronto,” said Karl, a mini-chuckle present at the end of the sentence. “The only thing it comes down to is 10 or 15 superstars. I think (Andre) Iguodala and Ty (Lawson) and Gallo (Danilo Gallinari) and Andre Miller and Kenneth Faried are in the next 40 players on that list.
“As I said, the best team is who wins the NBA championship 90 percent of the time, it’s not who has the most talented team.”
But throughout January and into February, the Nuggets, if not yet counted as serious contenders in the Western Conference, have at the very least moved into the category of dangerous — the team you don’t want to face come playoff time.
That was underscored by Boston coach Doc Rivers.
“They run. They play together,” Rivers said of the Nuggets. “I love watching them. I tell George that all the time.
“They’re agenda-less when you watch them play. Nobody cares. They have six guys (scoring) in double figures. That’s what you see when you watch them play.
“They’re a very difficult team to load on. We load on a couple guys a game. (With the Nuggets) you’re sitting there picking which guy we do that to. It’s just hard with them.”
ICYMI of the night: We love some nice big man passing around these parts and, surprisingly, some of the best dimes of the night were found in the Blazers-Magic game. First, we had Nicolas Batum going five-hole on Andrew Nicholson to get the ball to J.J. Hickson for a dunk. But the winner of the night was this pretty behind-the-back number from Gustavo Ayon to Nicholson: