Byron Scott is not happy with JJ Hickson in Cleveland

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There is always a silver lining. One of the little ones in Cleveland was that JJ Hickson was finally going to get the run and recognition he deserved. No shadow of LeBron, new coach with a running system, this was going to be Hickson’s coming out party.

But while Hickson is putting up 14.3 points per game on 47.5 percent shooting, coach Byron Scott sees far too many mental lapses in the team’s new Princeton-style offense, as he told the Akron Beacon Journal

”He’s one we’re counting on to play a major role in what we’re doing. Right now, from an offensive standpoint, he’s not understanding what we’re trying to do,” Scott said. ”That’s disappointing, especially as much as we go through it every day.”

‘I’m not very confident that he’ll have it down pat,” Scott said. ”But it won’t be because of a lack of effort on our end.

”It’s just lack of focus. He wants to do it, but sometimes he’s 22 years old and he comes to practice and he’s not focused. This is a job and something you have to take seriously. There’s nobody in that locker room that has an excuse because they have a video playbook and they have a playbook. They can go home and watch it on DVD, go home and open the book up and we’re always available. So there’s really no excuse. He has to get a little better and take it more seriously.”

Scott has moved from the positive encouragement model — “it’s his job to lose” — to the kick him through the media model. He’s gone to the Phil Jackson school.

For Hickson, this new system seems like a radical change from how he played his whole life. Which is not a shock, when you look at the high school, AAU and college systems. The floor spreading and balance, the cuts that are taught at a young age to European players are not learned here. Here we get our best player the ball and get out of the way. So you put in an offense with those movement/balance principles and it is hard for some to learn and adjust.

Scott needs to find a way to get through, because at the end of the day he needs Hickson. Talent wins in this league, and Hickson has that. He is a great athlete who can excel, especially when the Cavaliers run.

But he’s got to be working within the system, too.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.