Posts Tagged ‘Portland Trailblazers’

Morning Shootaround — Jan. 5


VIDEO: The Daily Zap for games played Jan. 4

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Bynum-Gasol talk heats up | Rivers shoots down Griffin-‘Melo rumor | Sanders, Neal have postgame beef

No. 1: Bynum trade keys on Sunday — The on-then-off trade talks involving the L.A. Lakers’ Pau Gasol and their former big man Andrew Bynum, now on the outs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, might just be on again. And by on, we mean heating up big-time Sunday, since that represents the best last day to cross all t’s and dot all i’s by the end of business Tuesday. Trades of this nature typically take 48 hours to be finalized with NBA headquarters, and Jan. 7 is the date by which Bynum’s contract calls for another $6 million guaranteed for the balance of the season. The Cavaliers would prefer not to throw good money after bad, of course, and the Lakers are focused on the luxury-tax benefits of acquiring and then shedding Bynum to reduce payroll. ESPN.com reported the revival of talks that previously were said to be squelched, and USA Today offered a little more context of a deal that – despite the big names involved – is about as sexy as an investor culling stock losers from his portfolio with the IRS in mind:

The Los Angeles Lakers big man once again is the subject of trade talks, this time with the possibility that he’d swap spots with former teammate Andrew Bynum in a possible deal that is of very little relevance to this particular season when it comes to the competitive landscape. This is about failed ventures on both sides and mutually-beneficial attempts to fix bad teams.

… [According] to a person with knowledge of the talks between the two teams, the only asset Cleveland has offered as of Saturday night is a second-round pick, and that won’t be enough to get this deal done.

… By getting rid of Gasol in exchange for Bynum, the Lakers would escape the luxury tax territory this season while creating some badly-needed distance between them and the ‘repeater’ billing that is followed by such a huge, well, bill. …

… Whether it’s a first-round pick that the Lakers are pushing for or a young player who could be part of their cloudy future, the point of it all is that they want something besides the savings to hang their collective hat on. It’s a staring contest in that regard: the Cavs are well aware that the financial factor looms largest for the Lakers, and the Lakers are banking on Cleveland not wanting to cut Bynum for nothing in return and realizing that Gasol on a team that entered the season with playoff expectations but is now 11-22 would be a huge boon.

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VIDEO: Doc sounds off on trade rumors

No. 2: Rivers disses favorite sports network — So stupid. A non-story. And “that network.” If anyone had any doubts about how L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers felt about speculation on ESPN’s various outlets about a Carmelo Anthony-for-Blake Griffin trade, Rivers removed them prior to his team’s game against the Spurs in San Antonio Saturday. In fact, while Rivers always is quick with the comic line about “Doc” merely being a nickname, he deftly performed a little-known surgical process, a rumorectomy, for the assembled media who were poking and prodding, as noted by Broderick Turner of the L.A. Times. Let’s all remember, too, how Rivers reacted to comments by ESPN basketball guy Bill Simmons‘ analysis of the coach’s departure (“quit on” was the pivotal phrase) from the Boston Celtics last summer:

Rivers said the Clippers aren’t engaged in talks to trade Griffin for Anthony and aren’t going to trade their All-Star power forward.

“My whole issue with any of that … is that that network to me reports a story that they created and then they do reports on it for the next two days, on a story that they created,” Rivers said. “But it’s stupid.”

The ESPN report, which was attributed to unidentified league sources, said the Knicks have discussed proposing an Anthony-for-Griffin trade with the Clippers, and that Clippers management has discussed such a deal internally. But the report said the teams haven’t spoken to each other about a possible trade.

With Chris Paul out three to five weeks because of a separated right shoulder he suffered Friday night at Dallas, Griffin becomes even more key for the Clippers.
Griffin leads the Clippers in scoring (22.1) and minutes played (36.6), and he is second in rebounding (10.6) and assists (3.1).

Griffin, 24, is in the first year of a five-year, $95-million contract that pays him $16.4 million this season.

Rivers said he didn’t talk to Griffin about the ESPN report.

“I didn’t say a word about it,” said Rivers, who is also the Clippers’ vice president of basketball operations and has the last word on trades. “I just thought it was such a non-story.”

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No. 3: Bucks’ Sanders, Neal squabble in locker roomBad things happen with bad teams, and based on the unseemly scene in the visitors’ locker room in Phoenix late Saturday, you could probably guess without a glimpse at the standings that the Milwaukee Bucks (7-26) lug around the NBA’s worst record. After a 116-100 loss at US Airways Center, Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders and Gary Neal got into what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel termed a “bitter argument,” with Neal “going” where few in the fraternity of millionaire athletes dare to go: attacking Sanders’ new contract extension (which doesn’t even kick in till next season). “I earned my money. Why don’t you try it?” Neal said postgame in earshot of reporters, after Sanders questioned his attitude. Anyone paying attention to the Bucks this season could make a case that no one there – from the front office down – has been earning his salary, based on the results. Sanders’ notorious and YouTubed nightclub incident cost him 25 games with a hand injury, while Neal has underperformed and been criticized for selfish play since arriving as a free agent from San Antonio. Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel was there to chronicle some of the dreary ugliness:

It was the latest meltdown for a Bucks team that dropped to a 7-26 record as it lost for the second time in three games on its western swing.

And there were plenty of problems during the game as the Bucks committed a season-high 26 turnovers leading to 38 points by the Suns (20-12).

Bucks teammates did their best to downplay what was an ugly scene in the visitors’ locker room.

“Oh no, we’re good,” Bucks guard O.J. Mayo said. “A little team bonding, that’s all. A little kumbaya, man.

“It’s all good. When things aren’t going well, that’s when the real men reveal their true colors. Are you a grinder? Are you going to roll your sleeves up and get it done?

“People handle it different ways. We’re searching [for] ‘what do we need to do to get it going.’ “

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The downside of tanking (well, one more of the many downsides): Promising young players have to endure hard times. Pricey veterans often get shed by teams focused on the future, but a young desirable such as Philadelphia’s Thaddeus Young winds up waiting for the 76ers’ plan to kick into action. … Veteran big man Kurt Thomas would like to get back in, yet at age 41, even he is turning up his nose at his old team in New York. … We’ll leave the digit jokes to you, but can report that Portland’s Nicolas Batum has broken the middle finger on his non-shooting (left) hand. He might not miss any time. … Veteran Hedo Turkoglu, who has played just one more game than Derrick Rose since the end of the 2011-12 season, might be on the Lakers’ radar. Turkoglu, 34, was waived Friday by Orlando, with the Magic saving half of his $12 million by shedding him now. Turkoglu reportedly is eschewing opportunities in Europe for a chance to stay in the NBA.

Blogtable: Biggest Draft Boost




Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 36: Dwight in Houston | Lakers without Howard | Big Draft boost


Is there a team you think will be markedly better this year because of last week’s Draft?

Trey Burke (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Trey Burke (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Utah. Not only did the Jazz fill a serious need at point guard, they got the best one in the draft and a guy who seems eager now to play with a chip on his shoulder. Trey Burke didn’t like being bandied around on draft night – picked by Minnesota, swapped out for the Nos. 14 and 21 picks. I can see him playing cranky (and focused) when he faces some of those teams that passed on him.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: The Wizards.  They’re building on a healthy John Wall and a strong finish to last season and then added a perfect fit on the front line in Otto Porter.  This should finally be the season the Wizards live up to the hope and take a big step forward in the Eastern Conference.  Playoffs?  Yes.  Home-court? OK, let’s not get too carried away.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The Trail Blazers. As unusual it is to say that about a team that did not add a starter, Portland got substantially better in the area that needed improvement: depth. It added three players who not only will make the roster but should be in the rotation, including two from the second round. That’s a very good night.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: No. I don’t think any of the guys drafted will make that much of an impact next season. I believe Cleveland will be markedly better, but more because they hired a coach that will fix their defensive issues and because the young guys they already have will improve. The Pelicans got an All-Star point guard for their pick, but I don’t think that Jrue Holiday is that big of an upgrade over Greivis Vasquez.

John Wall (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)

John Wall (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE)


Sekou Smith, NBA.com
: That word you used, markedly, is a bit strong for the Draft. Even when you draft well, as Portland did last season by snagging the best rookie in the class (Damian Lillard), it doesn’t raise your bottom the line the way it does when you get a transcendent talent like say LeBron James or Derrick Rose. But if there is a team that has a chance to see an immediate up tick in its fortunes based strictly off of the work done in last week’s Draft, I think it’s the Washington Wizards. By grabbing Otto Porter with the No. 3 pick, I think the Wizards just might have added the final piece to help them escape the lottery and move into the mix for a playoff bid in an Eastern Conference that will see some shifting due to trades, free agency and the general turnover we see from year to year.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: No. But I think there are some teams that will be improved from where they were last year, like Utah and Cleveland, and possibly even Orlando. I just don’t see any of the guys from this year’s Draft as make or break franchise players.

Pawel Weszka, NBA Africa: I don’t think we will see a sudden revelation from the draft last week, but I expect some of the players making an impact from day one. If Victor Oladipo’s enthusiasm transforms into his performance on the court, we should see some positive sparks in Orlando during the regular season. Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng should make the Wolves better while Tim Hardaway Jr., once he gets stronger, may be just what Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks need.