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.
News of the morning
KG open to move to Clips? | Hawks determined to move J-Smoove? | Buss kept Kobe from moving | Kings not likely to deal | Lin ‘thankful’ he wasn’t an All-Star | Sixers hope for Wall-like comeback for Bynum |
Celtics still open to moving Garnett? — Just 10 days ago, Kevin Garnett was quite vocal in his displeasure of any trade talk and backed up his desire to remain with the Celtics during All-Star weekend, going as far as to say he’s going to “live and die in green.” ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports, though, that the Celtics are trying to possibly get their star forward to open up to a trade to the Clippers:
According to one theory in circulation on the personnel grapevine, Celtics officials could be moved this week to try to make the case to Garnett that waiving his no-trade provision to accept that long-rumored trade to the Los Angeles Clippers would be the best thing not only for himself but for the long-term health of the franchise. Combine that approach with the expected lobbying from the L.A. side by good buddy Chauncey Billups, as the theory goes, and maybe Garnett will ultimately relent and consent to a swap.
Have to add three follow-up caveats here, though:
1. After spending a solid 15 minutes in the same room with Garnett in Houston as part of ESPN Radio’s All-Star Weekend team, I became convinced that KG isn’t waiving that no-trade clause. For anyone or any team. My impression is that it’s going to take more lobbying than anyone out there can muster.
2. Broussard reported late Monday night on “SportsCenter” that Billups has already warned the Clippers that Garnett’s position appears to be firm … and that Garnett spelled out the exact same thing to Chris Paul last summer when Paul informed KG that the Clippers wanted to pursue him via trade.
3. Even if Garnett did wind up with the Clippers this week, after all the bluster against the idea, I still struggle to picture the Celtics telling Pierce that they’re going to send him to the Hawks for the good of Boston’s long-term health. The deal might make sense for Atlanta — since Pierce’s $5 million buyout for next season would extend the Hawks’ window of flexibility and create a new set of options — but it still looks like as an impossible sell in Boston.
I’ve always thought Rajon Rondo, not Pierce or Garnett, would be the first member of Boston’s star trio to be dealt. There simply might not be a shake-up move available to the Celtics at this deadline now that Rondo has been lost to a season-ending knee injury.
There’s more on that subject.
The Clippers, according one source close to the situation, would not be willing to surrender both Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan to Boston even if Garnett was willing to waive his no-trade clause.
Is that posturing? An absolute stance?
We’ll find out for sure between now and the deadline, but the source insisted that the Clippers feel that a Bledsoe-and-Jordan combo is too much to surrender for a 36-year-old who isn’t sure how much longer he’ll be playing.
Report: Hawks driven to deal Smith soon — Hawks star Josh Smith has seen his name in the trade rumors almost as much as his childhood friend, Dwight Howard. So far, we’ve had talks of Smith going to San Antonio, to Brooklyn, to Phoenix (though not as likely) and some other places, too. Add a couple more teams to the mix, as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein and Chris Broussard report. The Nets and Suns are hot after Smith, but now the Bucks, Wizards and the Celtics are reportedly entering the fray, too, with some big names being tossed about to land the Hawks’ versatile forward:
The Atlanta Hawks have convinced numerous teams that they’re definitely trading Josh Smith this week, largely because they see the unpredictable lefty as a virtual lock to leave them in free agency this summer.
One team close to the situation consulted Monday night predicted that the Nets would ultimately land Smith via a three-way trade after ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported Feb. 11 that Smith is a prime Brooklyn Nets trade target.
Another team pinpointed the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks as the strongest contenders to win the Smith sweepstakes. The big worry for both of those teams, though, is whether they could really risk trading for Smith when convincing him to re-sign for the long term is likely to be a serious challenge in either city. Especially with Smith said to be angling for a max deal … and with nobody confusing the Suns or the Bucks with Mikhail Prokohorov‘s Nets.
Broussard, furthermore, tweeted early Tuesday that the Washington Wizards have made anyone on the roster available for Smith, apart from John Wall, Bradley Beal or Nene.
Which brings us to the Boston Celtics.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com on Monday that the Boston Celtics have, indeed, registered their interest on the Smith front, with the caveat that they also remain highly interested in the Clippers’ Eric Bledsoe.
Yet a Boston deal for Smith, sources said, would almost certainly have to be built around Paul Pierce, because Kevin Garnett isn’t waiving his no-trade clause to go to the Atlanta Hawks if he’s not willing to waive it to go to the Clipperland. And the prospect of Celtics front-office chief Danny Ainge exiling Pierce to the Hawks for Smith, after everything Pierce has done to restore the Celtics to glory over the past half-decade, is still hard to imagine.
At least for me.
Buss’ legacy helped Kobe stick with Lakers — With legendary Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss dying yesterday at 80, a dark cloud hangs over the NBA this morning (and likely will for several days) as the league mourns not only one of its most successful owners, but one who shaped the vision for several other franchises. Our own Scott Howard-Cooper has a great look at Buss and how he turned Los Angeles, which was not an NBA hotbed when Buss bought the team in 1979, into a hoops town. One of the hallmarks of Buss’ stint as an owner was his ability to build the Lakers into a contender two separate times — once with the Magic Johnson-led group of the 1980s and again in the 2000s with the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal-led group. But once O’Neal was dealt to the Miami Heat in 2004 and Bryant was left with a less-than-stellar team in L.A., Buss faced the challenge of not just building a new contender, but keeping Bryant from forcing his way out of L.A. As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports, a near-trade for Bryant in 2007 helped Kobe realize just how good of an owner Buss was:
After all the anger and angst and fury of the immediate post-Shaq era had inspired Kobe Bryant to make a trade demand, Jerry Buss finally called his superstar guard to the owner’s home in the Los Angeles hills on an autumn evening in 2007.
The Los Angeles Lakers had found a trade for Bryant, but Buss warned him that it wasn’t to one of his selected destinations.
“Detroit,” Buss said.
The Lakers had agreed to a deal to send Bryant to the Pistons and needed Bryant’s approval to waive his no-trade clause. The package included a combination of Detroit’s core players and draft picks, sources say. Buss and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak needed an answer soon, because they refused to let the issue linger into training camp.
Looking back, Bryant isn’t sure it would’ve mattered whether it was Detroit or Chicago, Dallas or New York. In that moment, in Buss’ house in the hills, it washed over Bryant how much staying a Laker for life meant to him, how no matter how dire the state of the franchise seemed, that Buss had a history of restoring the Lakers to championship contention.
“It hit me that I didn’t really want to walk out on Dr. Buss,” Bryant told Yahoo! Sports on Monday.
Months later, Kupchak honored Buss’ faith and made the trade for Pau Gasol. Soon, the Lakers were back in the NBA Finals three straight years and winning two more titles. Soon, Bryant was back to understanding the inevitable essence of Jerry Buss’ prowess: In the end, the old man was a force of nature.
Now, the Lakers understand that relying upon Bryant as the franchise player is coming to an end in the next couple of years, and Dwight Howard must be convinced to stay and be the cornerstone for the future.Buss had been seriously ill, less connected to the franchise in the past year, but you’d have to believe at a different time in his ownership that he would’ve forged a relationship with Howard that would’ve made it impossible for him to leave. Those days are done; Jim Buss isn’t Jerry. No one will ever be Jerry Buss again.
In that meeting in the fall of 2007, near the start of training camp, Buss presented Bryant with a scenario of Bryant’s own request: a trade out of Los Angeles, out of the franchise that drafted and groomed him and taught him to be a champion.
Even now, Kobe Bryant still thinks about that time in his life when he was too impatient, when he failed to give Buss’ own history and greatness its proper due. Whatever the owner had told him that night about a trade – Detroit or Chicago, Dallas or wherever – it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
For all Bryant’s impatience, there was still such an immense part of him that was comforted in the company of the Los Angeles Lakers’ patriarch. True for Bryant, true for all of them.
No one walks away from the Lakers, from Buss, and does so without a deep, lingering regret. These were the Showtime Lakers, and they would be again with Bryant and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. In his 17th season, Bryant’s belief that he’ll never wear another uniform is unwavering.
Jerry Buss gave Bryant the gift of Jerry West trading for him on draft day in ’96, of Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson, of five NBA championships that perhaps wouldn’t have been available anywhere else.
All these years later, Kobe Bryant is blessed to know that he never walked out on Dr. Buss, that he’ll share something with the late, great owner forever: Lakers for life – and beyond.
Even more on Jerry Buss’ passing — Rather than detail every story around the web paying tribute to Buss, here’s a tidy roundup of some of the best we’ve seen that are worth your time:
- Ken Berger of CBSSports.com — On where the Lakers go from here
- Lee Jenkins of SportsIllustrated.com – On the Lakers still being run like a family business
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register — On the future of the Lakers’ front office after Buss’ death
- Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times — On how Buss impacted the life of Magic Johnson
- Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — On the early years of Buss’ tenure in Los Angeles
- Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News — On Buss understanding the need for small markets to succeed
- Howard Beck of The New York Times — On how Buss was the owner who made the NBA cool (more…)