Teams are interested in Roger Mason for who he's been, but is that who he'll be next season?

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rmason.jpgWhen the San Antonio Spurs picked up Roger Mason Jr. two years ago in free agency, it was an absolute steal.

Mason seemed like an ideal fit alongside the Spurs’ big three; as a knock-down shooter who could fill in at either guard spot and handle the ball a bit, Roger fit the Spurs’ needs of skill specialization and positional versatility brilliantly. He thrived in his first year with the Spurs, and was worth every penny of his $3.5 million salary in averaging 11.8 points per game and 42.1% shooting from three.

However, on the second year of his deal, Mason’s production fell off a cliff.

Surgery on his shooting hand had a fair bit to do with that, but it remains to be seen whether Roger can really bounce back. His three-point shooting percentage plummeted to 33.3%, he was buried in the rotation behind the healthy Tony Parker and an emerging George Hill, which made him very much an afterthought in San Antonio’s ’09-’10 season.

Roger only vaguely resembled the clutch shooter the Spurs had relied on just a year prior, causing San Antonio to lose their interest in playing him, much less re-signing him.

Other teams, however, apparently have enough faith in Mason’s ability to rebound (not literally) to give him a call, even if San Antonio doesn’t seem too interested. According to Marcus J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers are all interested in Mason, and Jason Quick of the Oregonian reported that the Blazers, too, have expressed interest.

The Blazers are the odd team of the bunch, but the others make a bit of sense. As Chicago, Miami, New York, and L.A. look to surround their higher profile talent with low-salary players, guys like Mason are immensely valuable. All of those teams will need perimeter shooting to complement their newly-signed stars, and Roger’s ability to at least pretend to be a point guard will definitely come in handy. Minimum salary guys are typically energy players or specialists, and Mason could be a relatively cheap way to bridge the gap between the team’s elite players and the bargain bin finds.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.