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: You knowit was a great night in the NBA when our choices this morning are a triple-double game or a player scoring 47 points in 48 minutes. The triple-double performance? That came courtesy of Denver’s do-it-all star Andre Iguodala, who led the way in the Nuggets’ win over the Spurs. The 47-point effort — with eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals thrown in for good measure — came from Kobe Bryant in a close win against the Blazers. Which one do we pick? As great as Iguodala’s performance was, we’ve got to give it up for Bryant. It was a classic will-the-Lakers-to-a-win performance from the Black Mamba as he is doing everything he can down the stretch to make sure the Lakers keep hold of that No. 8 seed out West.
Deron Williams looks ready for the playoffs to start.
Williams was spectacular against the Celtics last night, finishing with 29 points and 12 assists as the Nets came away with a 101-93 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 18,624 inside TD Garden.
With the win, the Nets moved closer to wrapping up fourth place in the Eastern Conference and clinching homecourt advantage in the first round. They own a 3 ¹/₂ -game edge over idle Chicago with four games left to play in the regular season.
Williams even was able to make Avery Bradley, one of the league’s elite on-ball defenders, look silly. Bradley, Boston’s starting point guard, managed to play just 10 minutes after Williams saddled him with four fouls, and none of Bradley’s teammates fared much better.
It’s the kind of virtuoso performance the Nets have come to expect from Williams in recent weeks, as he continued his dramatic resurgence since the All-Star break. Williams came into last night’s game averaging 22.5 points and 7.8 assists a night.
He did a large portion of his damage in the second quarter, when the Nets took control of the game for good after the two teams traded baskets for much of the first quarter.
Williams finished with 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting and four assists in the second quarter alone, including a pair of slick passes to Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson, respectively, for buckets in the final minutes of the half to send the Nets into the locker room with a 53-43 lead, an advantage they basically maintained for the rest of the game.
Davis hurt vs. Kings; Hornets hope for best — Our own Scott Howard-Cooper was on the scene last night in Sacramento for a game between the lottery-bound Hornets and Kings. What should have been a good late-season assessment game for two young clubs took a nasty turn in the fourth quarter when the Hornets’ prized rookie, Anthony Davis, went down with a knee injury. The Hornets were a bit ambiguous in how Davis is doing, but are hoping for the best with his health:
But that gave way to the uncertainty of the centerpiece, Davis, limping out of the locker room and headed for the flight back to New Orleans and a likely MRI exam on his left knee.
The initial diagnosis was a sprain, the result of Sacramento’s Marcus Thornton landing hard on Davis’ knee when Davis was on the court after challenging a Thornton drive under the basket in the fourth quarter of the 121-110 Kings victory. Davis, walking under his own power, left the arena with security and was not talking.
“I think he’s OK,” coach Monty Williams said. “I don’t want to jump the gun. I didn’t see the play yet, but he said Marcus landed on his knee. He said he’s a little sore. I’m just glad it wasn’t a buckle or a ligament or anything like that. We don’t know that for sure. But usually when somebody lands on it, it could be a contusion. It’s probably more scary than anything else. We’ve got to let the doctors check him out and make sure. He’s walking around. He’s got ice on it.”
Williams added that “I’m pretty sure we’ll rush him right over to our people” after the team lands in New Orleans to get an MRI.
Gortat healing up, eying return — It has been more than a month since the Suns have had the services of center Marcin Gortat, who has been out since severely spraining his foot in a game against the Raptors. But the Phoenix big man has been working out hard and has plans to get in at least one more game before the end of the season, writes Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic:
Suns center Marcin Gortat has been all over the place on a possible return but has narrowed down the scenarios to the possibility of a comeback for the Suns home finale against Houston. He is with the team on the road for the first time since suffering a right foot sprain March 6.
“I’ve really been lifting hard,” Gortat said. “I started taking true jump shots. I’m coming back fast. I just need a little more time. I need to get in basketball shape. My jumper is so messed up. I don’t have a feel for the ball much. I’ll be back. I don’t know if it’s this year or next year. I’ll try to go against Houston at home on Monday. I need practice to see how I feel. I’d love to play. But if there is a little thing that doesn’t feel right, I’m not going to play. There’s no reason for me to risk it.”
Gortat acknowledged that he would receive a Nike contract bonus with one more appearance but he said the statistical portions of that bonus are now unattainable. Gortat averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 61 games this season.
ICYMI of the night: Chris Anderson, formerly of the Nuggets, has just been getting victimized by his old teammates. The latest to slam on him? None other than Washington’s Nene … :
DALLAS – Now that J.J. Redick is gone from Orlando, and likely for good, he reflected Tuesday night on his six-plus seasons, all but this one spent with Dwight Howard, and how close the Magic seemed to a dominant run.
Orlando traded the 3-point sharpshooter to the Milwaukee Bucks at last week’s trade deadline. All that’s left of the 2008-09 Finals team that lost in five games to Los Angeles Lakers is Jameer Nelson and the suspended Hedo Turkoglu (who left as a free agent in ’09 and returned in a trade in ’10).
“I can remember being in my third year in the NBA and playing in The Finals,” Redick said Tuesday after scoring 14 points in the Bucks’ 95-90 win over the Mavericks. “You look at Dwight’s contract situation, you look at Rashard’s contract situation, Jameer’s contract situation, we had a chance to re-sign Turk, so you’d think maybe the team would have kept its core together. And you think you’re going to be back in The Finals the next year and the year after that, and it’s frustrating in that sense because I thought we would be back at some point, and we weren’t.
More from Redick in his own words:
Q: How close did you feel the team was to being a dominant force in the Eastern Conference?
A: We were very close. I think the big decision was what to do with Hedo. We didn’t necessarily want to give him a five-year deal and he had options out there, two five-year deals in excess of $50 million with Portland and Toronto. He made his decision and it was a good decision for him. As a player you have to strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of your small window to make a living. We made the trade for Vince [Carter] and for whatever reason we just couldn’t get over the top and beat the Celtics the next year. The following season we had a bunch of injuries and sicknesses early on and got off to a little bit of a slow start, and we made two separate blockbuster trades (Carter, Mikael Pietrus and Marcin Gortat to Phoenix for Jason Richardson, Turkoglu, Earl Clark anda first-round pick; andRashard Lewis to Washington for Gilbert Arenas).
And, to me, that was the turning point. We never really got back to elite status after that.
Q: How did things begin to devolve with Dwight Howard’s ongoing situation?
A: Dating back to a year and a half, two years ago is when things started to get a little hectic in Orlando. It definitely changed the makeup of the organization and the franchise. And obviously, when you have a player of Dwight’s caliber you’re in contention to win a championship. When you lose a player like that there’s a strong possibility you’re going to have to rebuild and it might get a little ugly.
Q: It’s been a little ugly in Los Angeles. The Lakers are essentially backed into the same corner as the Magic were, waiting with bated breath for Howard to make a decision, one he says he won’t make until this summer. He says he doesn’t want another circus, but isn’t he creating another one by being non-committal?
A: I think he’s non-commital, I guess, for a reason. I’m not sure what that reason is, but if he wanted to explore his free agency he could have done it last summer. I’m not sure why he opted in [last year] because he wanted out of Orlando. I’m not really sure.
Q: You dealt with weeks of speculation about where you would be traded or if you would be traded at all. Now that you are with the Bucks, a team that appears, at worst, locked into the No. 8 seed and headed to the playoffs, is there a sense of relief?
A: Yeah, there’s definitely a feeling of relief. My feeling on just being traded in general is it’s part of the business. I’m a guy who just believes in making the best out of any situation. You can’t always change or control your circumstances, but you can change your perspective and your attitude. So no matter where I went, if I had stayed in Orlando, I would have made the most of it.
ATLANTA –Josh Smith walked through the door to the Atlanta Hawks’ practice court, flashed a quick smile and walked to the opposite end of the floor just minutes before he and his teammates took to the floor.
That means as of this morning he is still a member of the Hawks. How long that lasts, however, remains to be seen. The Hawks are sorting through the offers they have on the table for Smith and still trying to decide if they are indeed going to move the nine-year veteran before today’s 3 p.m. trade deadline.
After the Hawks’ home loss to the Heat Wednesday night, Smith said he’ll just be glad to have the deadline behind him, no matter what happens.
“I think it will be a relief for all the questions I keep answering,” he said. “Whether it happens or not, I’m going to still play hard. This organization gave me so much over the years. They gave me a chance to (live) my dream, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has refused to talk about any trade speculation, particularly anything regarding Smith. But Ferry, according to sources, is weighing options that include trading Smith within the conference (to either Milwaukee or Brooklyn) or to a Western Conference team, which is the Hawks’ preferred move.
The one wild card in the equation is Boston, which, according to a source, is willing to include Paul Pierce in a potential deal. But the Hawks have been lukewarm on the idea of getting Pierce, who has played his entire career in Boston, and his $15 million salary next season. Using Rajon Rondo in a deal to get Smith would make no sense for Boston, if they are interested in keeping the Hawks’ free-agent-to-be this summer. Rondo and Smith are good friends and played together at Oak Hill Academy as high school seniors.
The Phoenix Suns remain an option in the Western Conference, according to sources, and posses some of the assets (draft picks and players like Marcin Gortat) that could interest the Hawks.
But the Hawks’ main objective is the preservation of the cap space they created by trading Joe Johnson (to Brooklyn) and Marvin Williams (to Utah) last summer. With plans to pursue other free agents, like Dwight Howard, the Hawks won’t do anything to hinder that process today.
There is still a chance that the Hawks hold on to Smith and ride out the remainder of this season with their roster intact. And if they did that, the two sides would simply part ways amicably this summer.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat is in the second to last year of his contract, but that hasn’t stopped the big man from making his way into the trade deadline crosshairs this season.
Gortat’s name has surfaced in a report from Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic regarding the Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder. The rumored deal would have the Suns sending Gortat and P.J. Tucker to the Thunder for Kendrick Perkins, Jeremy Lamb and a first round draft pick.
Coro came back later and clarified his earlier report, via Twitter:
I mentioned All-Star break talk of a Perkins/Lamb/pick-Gortat/Tucker swap. Apparently, that was a league rumor but not actual team talks.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) February 20, 2013
But Gortat’s name keeps coming up for a reason. Plenty of teams would be interested in a productive big man, with a reasonable contract (one more year at $7.72 million), who can play in any system and play any style.
Toss in the $6.4 million in salary cap room the Suns can work with, and there’s a reason they’ve been mentioned as potential trade deadline players, even as perhaps the third team in a three-team deal.
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 NBA got back to regular-season work after All-Star weekend in Houston and there were plenty of choice matchups to pick from. Bucks vs. Nets was a nice way to get things rolling, especially given Joe Johnson‘s display of clutch-itude in both the fourth quarter and OT. There was a great East vs. West matchup in the Mile High City as the Nuggets took on the Celtics, with Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson powering Denver to the win. But we’ll go with a good matchup between two teams scrambling to solidify their playoff footing: the Warriors visiting the Jazz. Multi-faceted forward Gordon Hawyard was back in the action after a 10-game absence due to a shoulder injury while Utah’s big men combo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson shook off the trade rumors surrounding them to lead the Jazz to a win and move them into a tie with the Warriors for No. 6 in the West.
Celtics expected to make some kind of deal — Celtics boss Danny Ainge has steadfastly denied that he’s looking to tinker with Boston’s makeup or trade franchise stalwarts like Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo or Paul Pierce. But rival GMs are saying just the opposite (in what may be a smokescreen act) and think the Celtics are priming themselves for a deal of some kind. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald has more:
As Danny Ainge downplayed the possibility the Celtics will be involved in a transaction before tomorrow’s NBA trade deadline, general managers and personnel people around the league are saying quite the opposite.
They’ll be stunned if the Celts don’t make a deal of some sort.
“They’re too active,” said one. “They’ve been putting a lot of different things out there, and you’d have to think at least one of them is going to come through.”
If the Celtics do pull off a trade, it’s likely something beyond what’s already in the public domain, and many of those talks were dead on arrival.
For example, the Celts did have a brief discussion with the Lakers, but word is Mitch Kupchak said flatly they are not going to deal Dwight Howard, stating that he is part of their future. It’s possible that outlook could change, but with Rajon Rondo rehabbing from ACL surgery, the Celts wouldn’t have enough to get in on such talks.
The Clippers remain a good target, with Eric Bledsoe an intriguing talent.
“An awesome athlete, but not really a pure point guard,” said one personnel guy. “He could be a Russell Westbrook type if he keeps developing.”
The Hawks’ Josh Smith talk seems a bit of a mystery from the Celtics’ standpoint. To begin with, it would be hard to put together the right package to get him. And it’s even more doubtful they would be willing to part with the kind of things Atlanta is looking for.
Start with the fact Smith almost certainly won’t be signing a three-year extension right after a trade when he can wait until summer and get a longer deal as a free agent. So there’s no guarantee a team trading for him has him beyond the next few months. Then there are the questions of just how much Smith is worth relative to what he can contribute.
“If you could get him to just do the things he does really well and stick to that, I think he’d be one of the best players in this league,” said one ranking team official. “But you get the whole package with Josh. You can probably absorb most of that on a really good team, but is he the kind of guy you’re going to go to in your halfcourt offense in the fourth quarter of a Game 7? For the kind of money you’re going to be paying him, you have to think about that.”
Jennings ‘untouchable’ for now — Just six days ago, Bucks guard Brandon Jennings reportedly had expressed frustration with the front office and had “irreconcilable differences” with team brass. But Jennings quickly reversed field on that story and, although he didn’t commit to a long-term future with the Bucks, seemingly patched things up. Maybe that has led to the news reported by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Jennings has become ‘untouchable’. More details here:
The Milwaukee Bucks continue to discuss Josh Smith trade scenarios with the Atlanta Hawks in advance of Thursday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.
But those discussions, sources say, also serve as a strong indication of the rising likelihood that Brandon Jennings will not be moved this week.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday that Monta Ellis is the primary player Atlanta is targeting in its discussion with Milwaukee. Sources say that the Hawks, furthermore, want Milwaukee to add at least one expiring contract to the equation with Ellis and possibly take on some salary.
ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard, meanwhile, reported Wednesday morning on “SportsCenter” that Smith would be interested in playing with both Jennings and Ellis if he wound up in Milwaukee, leading the Bucks to try Wednesday to make the deal without surrendering Ellis.
Yet amid all of those talks, sources say, Jennings has moved alongside Larry Sanders and John Henson on the Bucks’ list of near-untouchables.
The Dallas Mavericks were at the forefront of the list of teams hoping that the Bucks would make Jennings available this week, but Milwaukee appears intent on taking its chances in the offseason, knowing that Jennings will be a restricted free agent and thus unable to leave town unless the Bucks decline to match an offer sheet he receives.
Millsap, Jefferson shrug off trade chatter — As our own Fran Blinebury pointed out yesterday in this space, Jazz GM Dennis Lindsay could end up being active on trade deadline day … especially considering Utah’s bevy of big men. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson are the names most teams would want to acquire and that duo is used to hearing their names bandied about in trade talks over the years. While no solid suitor has emerged (we’ve seen talk of Jefferson-to-San Antonio here and there), the Jazz’s veteran big man duo isn’t letting the talk affect their game. Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News has more:
When asked about trade rumors after returning from the All-Star break, Jazz players and coach Tyrone Corbin all shrugged off any talk about the subject.
“I’ve been in this league a long time. This is my ninth year and Paul’s seventh. We’re used to this,’’ said Jefferson.
“You don’t react. You just let it go,’’ added Millsap. “You can’t do anything about it because you don’t really know for sure. If it don’t come from (the Jazz’s) mouths it’s probably not true.’’
Millsap’s name has come up in trade rumors for years, and the Jazz forward says he’s used to it by now, saying he takes it as a compliment that he’s a wanted player. One of the latest rumors has him going to the L.A. Clippers for point guard Eric Bledsoe and others.That trade would potentially affect Mo Williams, the team’s current starting point guard, who has been sitting out with an injured thumb for more than a month.
Corbin was blunt in talking about trade speculation.
“It’s rumors and we don’t deal with rumors,’’ he said. “We are who we are and everybody here is part of our family. We’ll continue progressing in the way that we have and we expect everybody to respond accordingly.’’
Jefferson has been traded twice in his career, but he knows if the Jazz are involved, it’s unlikely anyone will know about it in advance.
“The one thing about the Utah Jazz is they’re a very professional team,’’ he said. “When a trade comes nobody’s going to know until it actually happens. They’ve been consistent with that. They’re just rumors.’’
Colangelo downplaying Bargnani deal — Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo already pulled off one significant remodel of his team this season by sending Ed Davis to Memphis and Jose Calderon to Detroit as part of the three-team trade that put Rudy Gay in Raptors red. The next name expected to be on the trade block is former No. 1 overall pick Andrea Bargnani, but Colangelo may be cooling on the prospect of trading the outside-shooting big man. Sam Amick of USA Today caught up with Colangelo and talked with him about Bargnani, Colangelo’s future in Toronto and more:
Colangelo, who came to Toronto from Phoenix in 2006 and has been attempting a massive rebuilding effort ever since Chris Bosh left for Miami in the summer of 2010, is in the final year of his contract. In an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday, Colangelo said he has no discussions with ownership about his updated status and remains hopeful that he’ll be around past this summer. The Raptors – who are 5-2 since Gay came on board and 21-32 overall after their horrific 4-19 start – play at Washington Tuesday and have a reunion game with the Grizzlies in Toronto on Wednesday night.
While Colangelo could make more moves before the Thursday trade deadline to help his team and improve his case even more, he downplayed the once-widely-held notion that center Andrea Bargnani would be traded before then. He called that situation “fluid” and said “there just may not have been enough runway prior to the deadline to get something” because Bargnani recently came back from injury.
On Bargnani, how he’s fitting in better now with Gay and the likelihood that he could be traded…
“We began this year with Bargnani as our No. 1 scoring option. He’s now No. 3 because Rudy has arrived and DeMar (DeRozan) has emerged. Now Bargnani is No. 3. There’s talk about possibly moving him – and again we’ve talked about it, not for talent reasons but because maybe sometimes a change of scenery is the best thing for somebody. But sometimes a change of scenery can happen just by redecorating the room.
“All of a sudden the outlook and the presence of a guy like Andrea is entirely different now. He’s not relied on as a No. 1 guy. He has never been paid like a No. 1 option, but people wanted to criticize that he couldn’t handle that role. I’ve always felt like he’s been slotted in salary-wise as a No. 2 or No. 3. Maybe he’s kind of fitting in nicely now.
“If a trade doesn’t occur before the deadline, or even this summer, maybe it’s because we figured out that with the evolution of the team he is the right guy to be a part of this team. He’s been through the hard part. This may be the easiest part ahead of him.
On his future in Toronto …
“There’s been no discussion (about his future since the trade). I certainly haven’t brought it up. I think that we’re, right now, transitioning with an ownership change of our own.
“I’ve proven that, despite all the things that have been happening with the rebuilding of this team simultaneous to the uncertainty with my contract, I always made the right long-term strategic decision with respect to the transactions that were being made or draft picks that were being made. Case in point was drafting (Jonas) Valanciunas (fifth overall in 2011) knowing that he was not going to be here for a year, and that when he did arrive that he’d be 20 and would still be considered a project. But you have to carry out your job with integrity and do the right thing for the organization. That’s what I’ve been hired to do and that’s what I’m doing. Whether or not that pays off for me long-term, with an extension or just even my option year being picked up (for the 2013-14 season), time will tell. But you can’t lose sight of what the job is.” (more…)
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.
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 Coroof 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:
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: Because there were only two games on the schedule — and one of ‘em was an absolute blowout — we gotta go with Mavericks-Warriors today. Andrew Bogut made his presence felt with a game-saving block on Brandan Wright, Harrison Barnes was swooping and scoring, Klay Thompson was draining shots and … it was the Warriors being the Warriors and doing all of this while star guard Steph Curry (ankle) sat out for a second straight game.
Much ado about ‘nothing’ in OKC — With 8 minutes, 57 seconds left in the third quarter, OKC’s rout of Memphis was definitely on. The Thunder had a 25-point lead — 65-40 — and Thunder All-Star guard Russell Westbrook went to work on the left block. He was called for a 5-second violation and, as the ball was changing hands to the Grizz, Westbrook engaged in an argument with guard Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha’s man had come to double team Westbrook, leaving Sefolosha open at the 3-point line. But Westbrook continued backing down his man despite the defense.
Westbrook and Sefolosha argued, then Westbrook punched the ball to the court, catching it with both hands before handing it to the official. Westbrook played roughly another minute before being pulled for Reggie Jackson. Westbrook then sat on the bench and had an animated discussion with assistant coach Maurice Cheeks before leaving the court in a huff and heading to the OKC locker room. He returned to the bench and played a bit more in the fourth quarter.
After the game, both coach Scott Brooks and Westbrook addressed the outburst, with Westbrook talking to TNT’s Craig Sager. Both men blew off the incident as ‘nothing’, as USA Today’s Adi Joseph and The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel report:
Russell Westbrook sometimes loses his temper.
Russell Westbrook never explains why he lost his temper.
The Oklahoma City Thunder point guard went off without any good explanation during Thursday’s 106-89 win against the Memphis Grizzlies. He had been called for a five-second violation while posting up Grizzlies guard Jerryd Bayless, and apparently he pinned the violation on teammate Thabo Sefolosha.
Now Sefolosha’s cut to the basket was ill-timed, but Westbrook got steaming mad in the moment. Coach Scott Brooks pulled him from the game, leaving him to stew even more.
“I decided to take Russell out because we needed to calm down,” Brooks said. “Russell went in the back. It was nothing. He just had to regroup. … It was nothing that has not happened before — not just with him, with all of our guys.”
Did we mention this happened while the Thunder had an 18-point lead?
Westbrook sat down next to assistant coach Maurice Cheeks and then left the floor entirely, heading to the locker room with a towel on his head.
After the game, Westbrook blew it off.
“Nothing, just a little miscommunication,” he said, via Daily Thunder’s Royce Young.
Little-known fact: Miscommunication is not a word, according to most dictionaries. Also, it’s not a valid excuse for that kind of tantrum.
But Westbrook takes a lot of heat for his play, as many critics think he shoots too often even as he has emerged as one of the best players in the NBA. He’s got a lot of steam to blow off, so sometimes it flies in undeserving directions.
“I’ll control it like a man,” Westbrook said. “Like I did.”
Peter Pan was back in business Thursday night. You know. Russell Westbrook. The mischievous boy who can fly and who never grows up.
Westbrook barked at the genteel Thabo Sefolosha, took a shot so wild Scotty Brooks was forced to substitute, blew his stack while being counseled by Mo Cheeks, knocked over a chair and stormed off the court to the comfort of a Chesapeake Arena tunnel.
At the time, Westbrook was playing an excellent game and the Thunder led Memphis by 20 points.
The Thunder produced a 106-89 rout of the Grizzlies that was overshadowed by Peter Pan.
And maybe the basketball world will be better off if we accept what Westbrook is. Part hot hand, part hothead. Uncorrallable, not just by NBA opponents, but by Thunder brass.
“There’s no question he was frustrated with himself,” Brooks said. “Russell’s an emotional guy … not trying to downplay that. He has to be able to control his frustration. But that’s part of it.”
Kevin Durant defended Westbrook but also said the squad “talked it out” in the locker room and didn’t let it fester. That’s good.
“Russell is such an emotional player,” Durant said. “I knew he’d be back. That’s how he is. We want everybody to be themselves.”
That’s good. I like that. That’s the best advice the Thunder can receive.
Quit trying to change Russell Westbrook. Don’t even defend him. Just accept him for who he is. The boy who can fly and never grows up.
Report: Suns pursuing Hawks’ Smith — Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld.com reports that several teams are interested in trading for Hawks forward Josh Smith before the Feb. 21 deadline, with the Suns trying to work their way to the front of the list. After parting with Steve Nash over the summer in a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers, the Suns have tried to rebuild themselves around Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Michael Beasley and others, but are the second-worst team in the Western Conference at 16-30 and are looking to make a move to set up their future:
The Suns are pursuing Josh Smith, according to multiple league sources. Phoenix will try to acquire Smith before the deadline or, if that fails, through a sign-and-trade deal next offseason.
The Suns are very interested in Smith and have had exploratory talks with the Atlanta Hawks about the 27-year-old forward. Phoenix views Smith as a franchise player who can be one of the cornerstones of the team for years to come. The Suns have been searching for a face of the franchise since Steve Nash’s departure last summer, and Smith could be exactly that. If the Hawks decide it’s time to part ways with Smith, the Suns will be one of the teams on the phone.
Phoenix has attractive assets, particularly Marcin Gortat, who could play alongside Al Horford and give the Hawks one of the best frontcourts in the Eastern Conference. They also have Jared Dudley and Michael Beasley as well as the expiring contracts of Wes Johnson, Shannon Brown (whose 2013-14 salary is non-guaranteed), Sebastian Telfair and Jermaine O’Neal. Phoenix also has several first-round picks – their own pick and two additional first-round picks that they acquired in the Nash trade with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Johnson trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Luis Scola could also be involved in the trade, but only if the deal is a sign-and-trade since he can’t be traded until July 1 due to the fact that he was signed by the Suns after being amnestied by the Houston Rockets.
Smith and his agent, Wallace Prather, are expected to meet with the Hawks at some point this week to discuss the forward’s future in Atlanta. The two sides met after Smith’s one-game suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team,” but Smith’s camp didn’t demand a trade. It’s unclear if Smith and Prather will ask for a trade during this next meeting, although many people in NBA circles believe that Smith’s days in Atlanta could be numbered. In recent weeks, more teams have been calling the Hawks and inquiring about Smith, especially since his public comments about being “a max contract player.”
While the Suns will express interest in Smith, they aren’t the only team that will make a run at the star forward. The Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats and Dallas Mavericks have also been mentioned as potential suitors for Smith.
A few hours after Kennedy posted his story, John Gambadoro, sports talk host for 620 KTAR in Phoenix, tweeted that the report was bogus:
The stories about the Suns being interested in Josh Smith are ridiculous, there is zero interest there -ZERO!— John Gambadoro (@Gambo620) February 01, 2013
You just have to love trade rumor season …
Ainge, Celts ‘open’ to offers — Celtics basketball boss Danny Ainge isn’t putting specific names out, but did tell WEEI’s Big Show on Thursday afternoon that he is willing to consider trades to improve Boston. The name that’s being bandied about as a possible piece that could net the kind of assets Boston wants is Paul Pierce, but Ainge sounded at best lukewarm on trading the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Ainge isn’t looking for a point guard to replace the injured Rajon Rondo. Gary Dzen of Boston.com has more:
“We are open and listening, but we don’t feel pressure to do anything,” said Ainge. “Whether we win every game or whether we struggle, I think it all depends on what opportunities are presented. We want to make some change to help improve our team.”
The player who would seem to have the most value on the open market is Paul Pierce. He’s a veteran who can help a contending team win now, and only $4 million of his $15.3 million contract for next season is guaranteed. Ainge said he has not received any offers for Pierce, but he said that he would inform his veteran forward of any potential trade discussions.
“Nothing has been talked about with Paul,” said Ainge. “Nothing is close to being done. I too would like to see Paul retire as a Celtic.That would be great. We’re all attached to Paul. He’s been great for the city, the franchise, and he’s been a true pro. Having said that, if something came up I would talk to Paul. My job is to do what’s in the best interest of our team, regardless of my personal ties or my personal feelings with the players.”
Ainge was also adamant that he was not currently in the market to pick up another point guard to replace Rajon Rondo.
“Not right now,” he said. “There’s a lot of reasons why we’re not just jumping out and doing something.There really is nobody that you can find to replace Rondo, either through a trade or free agent acquisition, at this time of year. We like the guys — Barbosa’s been dying for a chance to play, and Jason Terry, and Avery Bradley at the point. I think all those guys are looking for an opportunity.”
The Celtics have won their last two games with Rondo, and talk radio was filled Thursday with fans calling in suggesting that the team might be better without its All-Star point guard. Ainge quickly shot down notion.
“He single-handedly carries us every night, and I don’t know how people don’t see that,” said Ainge. “It’s silly. He’s a great, great player, and he’s proven that time and time again. The guy’s been MVP of probably four or five series over the last five years. He’s been the best player in a series against LeBron James. He’s been the best player in a series against Derrick Rose. He’s been the best player in three games in a Finals series. The guy has done too many good things. The question is, ‘Are the pieces right around him?’”
Ainge sounded relatively happy with his current team. He did not sound like a GM looking to make drastic changes for this season.
“I think I’ve been pretty consistent on this team the last couple of years,”he said. “I said I like the individuals. Obviously I don’t like 20-23, which we were when Rondo got hurt. I didn’t like any part of that.
“But what I particularly said is I like what these guys are made of, especially our core guys. When it comes down to playoff basketball, I know what they’re made of, and I know that they have the gear to take it to another level.”
Pistons thinking of keeping Calderon? — Don’t think of Jose Calderon landing in Detroit as a rental situation for the Pistons. Our man Vince Ellis at the Detroit Free Press reports that the Pistons have always liked Calderon’s game and see him as a long-term helper in their rebuilding efforts, particularly in developing the skills of rookie big man Andre Drummond and second-year point guard Brandon Knight. Here’s more on why Calderon intrigues Detroit:
Calderon traveled to Detroit on Thursday and likely will take his physical this morning. It’s not clear when he will suit up for the Pistons — the process can be tricky since he is a Spaniard now playing in the U.S. instead of in Canada. He will talk to the media today after a team shoot-around.
“We’ve always had a high value on Jose,” coach Lawrence Frank said after the Pistons’ loss at Indy on Wednesday. “He’s a tremendous competitor. He’s a guy who has been top five in the league in assists for the past four or five years. It gives us flexibility moving forward.”
The financial ramifications of the deal for the Pistons are obvious — Calderon’s $10.5 million comes off the books after this season.
If they do nothing else through the Feb. 21 deadline, Charlie Villanueva picks up his $8.5-million option for next season, and they decide to keep Rodney Stuckey for the full $8.5 million for next season, the Pistons will be roughly $20 million-$23 million under the cap. If they decide to invoke the amnesty clause on Villanueva during a weeklong window in July and cut Stuckey (they would owe him $4 million) before the June 30 deadline, the total could move to roughly $30 million-$35 million.
But don’t discount the Pistons trying to keep Calderon — at a reasonable price.
A Pistons source said the team is open to trying to re-sign Calderon over the summer, adding that the team thinks his playmaking skill would be a major boon to rookie center Andre Drummond.
Calderon was very good at setting up Toronto big men, playing a major role in helping former Piston Amir Johnson and young big Ed Davis, who was sent to the Grizzlies in the trade.
Nash losing a step in L.A.? — The Lakers did well with Kobe Bryant serving as the primary playmaker/assist man in L.A.’s offense for three games. That’s all well and good, but what about that future Hall of Fame point guard the Lakers signed in the offseason? Steve Nash has hardly had the ball at all, a change for someone used to directing an offense — particularly coach Mike D’Antoni‘s — for the entire game. The always-solid Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register delves deeper into why L.A. might be turning away from Nash (and toward Kobe) as the season wears on:
Bryant has more assists than any of the other four players left above him on the all-time scoring chart. He has been passing a lot more than you’ve noticed over the years.
So it’s not exactly brand-new, though he is now concentrating more on passing, for sure. It is increasing team energy while draining less of Bryant’s energy, it should be noted — but the Lakers’ loss in Phoenix on Wednesday night showed that trying to balance this approach with his natural inclination of shoot down the stretch is his newest toughest challenge.
Meanwhile, Steve Nash has some stuff to figure out, too.
As in, what has happened to him?
There is one viable excuse. Nash’s way is to take a break from basketball in the offseason. It’s why he was able to say on the first day of training camp: “I feel as good as I’ve ever felt.” But the tradeoff for that freshness is basketball rust, which has been exacerbated by Nash’s leg injury taking him off the court for 21/2 more months.
And with teammates unfamiliar with how, when and where to set picks for him to go where he wants, Nash has looked nothing like the old master and commander of the pick and roll.
In both the opening night loss to Dallas (seven points, four assists) under Mike Brown and the most recent loss to Phoenix (11 points, two assists) under Mike D’Antoni, Nash was basically Derek Fisher out there.
Nash was slow, trying to keep up on defense and generally not doing that much.
Nash has gone from D’Antoni’s oft-declared unequivocal savior while mending the leg fracture — “Steve’ll fix that” … “Steve’ll get that to happen” … “Steve’ll make me look like an offensive genius again” (well, maybe just paraphrasing on the last one) — to the guy D’Antoni in recent days consistently references as “39 years old.”
That’s D’Antoni’s capsule explanation — even though Nash doesn’t turn 39 for another week — for why Bryant is running the offense now, not Nash. D’Antoni says Nash will still carry the load at times, but Bryant can help him this way, and blah-blah-blah.
C’mon. If Nash was still Nash, D’Antoni of all people would never take the keys away and hand them to Bryant.
Nash has no distinct role and doesn’t have the sort of personality to demand one.
In the fourth quarter in Phoenix on his homecoming night, Nash had one assist (hardly a classic one considering it came on a Bryant 22-footer). He took one shot, a missed 21-footer with 5:21 to play. He was such a nonfactor that he didn’t even have any turnovers as the Lakers blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead.
“I think I can help,” Nash said afterward. “I definitely think that I can score and set up my teammates and especially in the fourth quarter take some pressure off Kobe. Those are things we’ve still go to work out and find that balance.”
Nash’s idea of saving his legs for the fourth to carve up a defense unaccustomed to defending him is a great one … except it’s pretty much impossible to envision Bryant standing off to the side at crunch time. That’s the time Bryant wants the ball more, not less.
So Nash’s search will go on. He has the sweetest attitude of anyone, but Nash must find something for himself. Whether it’s making five 3-pointers every night or seizing a pick-and-roll time with Gasol early each game to play his old way, the guy who has made so many role players look so good in his career needs to find a role of his own.
Bynum has a tune-up of sorts — Andrew Bynum went to New York to get Synvisc shots from his physician, Dr. David Altchek. Synvisc, a joint lubricant that can provide up to six months of knee pain relief per injection, is expected to help Bynum continue on his road to finally getting on the court for the Sixers this season. As he’s said all along, Bynum hopes to play before the All-Star break, but the Sixers are (of course) taking a cautious approach with him. PhillyBurbs.com’s Tom Moore provides details:
This is the third consecutive season in which Bynum has had two sets of Synvisc injections, with the second typically coming right before the all-star break. He got the first ones this season in late September.
A 76ers spokesman said Bynum, who is recovering from bone bruises in both knees, is expected to return to rehab and working out as soon as Sunday. Bynum has said he hopes to make his Sixers debut soon after the Feb. 14-19 all-star break, but there is still no official timetable.
The 7-foot, 300-pound Bynum has been running on the anti-gravity treadmill, as well as doing basketball shooting, low-post and agility drills for the past 10 days.
GM Tony DiLeo said earlier this week that Bynum could practice with the team as early as the first week of February, which begins Monday. It’s unclear if he’ll still be able to practice next week.
Coach Doug Collins cautioned against expecting too much too fast from Bynum, noting he hasn’t appeared in an NBA game in more than eight months.
“The one thing we have to understand is, he’s not all of a sudden just going to jump into a 5-on-5 scrimmage,” Collins said after Thursday’s team practice. “He’s done nothing laterally or impact-wise. For us to run him out there and he’s going to play 37 minutes would not be feasible because he would have a setback with that.
“Hopefully, he’ll be able to start playing a little 1-on-1 in the post and then build up with that.”
Collins also said the Sixers don’t plan to change their offense “if and when” Bynum can play.
Changes just beginning in Toronto — Given the comments of Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo to our NBA TV crew on Wednesday night (see the interview here) and what he’s telling the media in Raptor-ville, there might be more moves on the horizon north of the border. Damien Cox of the Toronto Star opines that, given Toronto’s current roster makeup, there has to be more coming down the pike:
Then again, let’s all list together the great trades made by Colangelo as GM of the Raps.
You go first.
Maybe Colangelo took the broad hint delivered by the Bell/Rogers unholy ownership alliance and figured the walls were closing in on him if he didn’t make something happen soon.
But really, he knew that at the beginning of the season, no? And he did try to land Steve Nash last summer, going so far as to work the Landry Fields signing to make the entire process come together.
So getting Gay wasn’t a winter impulse. Colangelo’s been working on winning now for a while. It’s just that getting Gay cost a lot, more than just money. There are those who believe Ed Davis will prove to be the best player in this deal, and we’ll see about that. Trading a youngster just as he’s hitting his stride has been, of course, a Leaf trademark for decades.
But if Colangelo is right and Gay blossoms in Toronto, part of the reasoning will have been that for the Raps, getting this kind of player is only possible through trade. Free agents, notable ones, just aren’t going to sign in the Great White North, at least not with an also-ran.
Gay may become the front-court scoring threat who combines with DeMar DeRozan for a true one-two punch. But how does that fit around the youngster, Jonas Valanciunas, who’s a bit of a project still? Meanwhile, Colangelo seems committed to dealing Andrea Bargnani, and now it doesn’t make sense to do that for futures, does it?
Feels like there’s another shoe to drop here.
Clearly, the Raps now want to win, just as the Jays now want to win, as the Argos felt they had to try to win. The sensible path for the Leafs is to show some patience, but there’s been no indication from MLSE ownership that Nonis has permission to do it nice and slow.
A town that had Mats Sundin, Chris Bosh and Roy Halladay, then watched them all leave town, is getting some names back.
Just (trying) to win, baby.
ICYMI of the night: There are veteran tricks, and then there is what Vince Carter pulled on the unsuspecting Warriors last night …:
The time is now to trade for Hornets’ rookie Anthony Davis, who is averaging only 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 25.3 minutes in seven games this month.
Has Davis hit the rookie wall?
Davis hasn’t admitted to that cliché and he probably never will, but the stats say otherwise. His points have declined from 15.0 to 14.0 to 9.4 in November, December, and January, respectively. And his blocks have declined from 2.4 to 1.8 to 1.3 in the same months.
Also contributing to Davis’ decline is the return of Eric Gordon, who made his season debut on Dec. 29, perfectly coinciding with Davis’ drop in numbers this January. Gordon, as expected, is taking 15.3 field goal attempts per game, causing Davis’ FGA’s to dip from 11.6 in November and December down to 8.6 in January.
I trust Hornets’ head coach Monty Williams to figure out a way to make it work, such that Gordon gets his, while Davis gets his. Also, I trust in the incredible talents of Davis, who is simply too gifted to average 9 and 6 for the rest of the season.
Davis’ best month was November, when he averaged 15 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks in 28.2 minutes, and he should return to that level once he gets a second wind.
Sunday’s game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden was a start, as Davis had 13 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes.
You have to give to get in fantasy hoops, so here are a few big men you might want to dangle as trade bait for Davis: Kevin Garnett (14.8 points, 7.0 rebounds), Marcin Gortat (11.5 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks); Paul Millsap (14.9 points, 7.7 rebounds).
I realize the holidays are over and you’re all shopped out, but you don’t have to leave the house to go fantasy shopping. So what are you waiting for?
Rick Kamla is an anchor on NBA TV. You can follow him on Twitter at @NBATVRick.
Coach Alvin Gentry is signaling another round of lineup changes for the Suns. Fair enough. They’re 7-13, have lost five in a row, including to the Pistons (by 40!) and Raptors, Gentry is searching for anything close to a good fit after a summer roster renovation, and this season in Phoenix is for developing rather than the playoffs. So search away.
But a possible demotion for Marcin Gortat? Now we’re talking signs of trouble.
Gortat was the biggest certainty of the entire roster at the start of camp, a double-double man in 2011-12 in his first full season there, one of the underrated centers of the game, a sign of consistency on a team slowly moving forward without Steve Nash and Grant Hill. Gortat and Luis Scola, one of the main newcomers, were supposed to be the tandem of veteran bigs who would keep the transitioning Suns in telescope range of respectability. Among several looming problems in Phoenix, center wasn’t one of them.
Except there was Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic noting Friday that Gortat was a candidate to be pulled from the starting lineup along with small forward Michael Beasley, an obvious choice at 37.4 percent from the field. If so, this goes well beyond the planned hunting for the right lineup combination.
But, wrote Coro:
Lineup moves might not be isolated to the Beasley situation. After a sensational start, Gortat’s play has dropped off drastically to the point that veteran Jermaine O’Neal went from rotation fringe to a departure from the team for his aunt’s death to playing crunch-time minutes instead of Gortat. Against Dallas, Gortat made an alleyoop on the Suns’ first play and then missed all seven of his other shots. The Suns rallied without a center (Jermaine O’Neal after taking an eye poke), as Luis Scola and Markieff Morris teamed for 28 points and 26 rebounds.
Gentry already made one set of moves earlier, putting Morris in for Scola at power forward and Shannon Brown for Jared Dudley at shooting guard. Now Gortat is at 11.3 points and 8.2 rebounds in 31.1 minutes, while shooting 52.2 percent, and the Suns are looking at the possibility of turning over the entire front court before the season is a quarter old.
Gentry is saying, according to the Republic, that it is “more than likely” Beasley will be going to the bench, as soon as Saturday against the Clippers and probably in favor of P.J. Tucker, if Tucker is ready after spraining his right knee Thursday. If an accompanying switch comes at center, the options are not as clear. The Suns could go with O’Neal or try to keep playing small with the Scola-Morris pairing that worked well the last game.
HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – This is the time of year for positive spin around the NBA. No matter what moves your team made in July, it’s going to have a positive outlook on the near or distant future.
The Phoenix Suns are one of those teams that’s looking long-term … for the most part. Franchise icon Steve Nash is gone, along with Grant Hill. The Suns have added some mid-level free agents and trade acquisitions, but it will be tough for them to compete in an improved Western Conference.
Suns general manager Lance Blanks sees the Suns as a team in transition, but he’s not not up for going the Orlando Magic route by completely bottoming out for the next two or three years, as Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports…
The roster has changed, but the commitment to a wide-open, entertaining playing style remains — and the front office has done it all with an aim toward returning the team to a sustainable elite status.
“The first goal was to be able to put a team out there that would handle the next era of the organization — the rigors and challenges,” Blanks said. “A transition like that is not always seamless. We wanted to make sure we had people to weather the ups and downs of entering the next era and also find guys whose career paths and trajectories fit the future of the organization. Just about every guy is a fresh-start guy.”