He can’t help himself. It would be pretty hard to get on Pau Gasol for his play the first week of the season — he was named Western Conference Player of the Week for good reason. Averaged 25 and 10 on 52 percent shooting and threw in five dimes a game just for fun.
But there was Phil Jackson yesterday, needle in hand, poking Gasol as his brother Marc and the Memphis Grizzlies come to town, all recorded by the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s been very hard on him,” Jackson said of past battles in the post between the brothers. “A lot of times we say we traded the wrong guy and tell him that Marc is a tougher, more powerful player than he is. [Marc] doesn’t have the shooting touch yet, but his defense, his rebounding is very good. He gets a kick out of playing against Pau. He’s actually a little more physical than Pau is. I like to bring it to [Pau’s] awareness.”
Jackson is pretty good about knowing who he can needle. Some guys take it better than others. Pau is about as mature and confident in himself as any player there is. Jackson’s comments roll off like water on a duck’s back.
“I don’t think he believes that, but obviously he’s always picking,” said Gasol. “He’s always trying to have a good time, and we have fun playing around with each other.”
Jackson’s needling always comes with a message. In this case: Tonight you need to toughen up. But did anyone doubt Pau already knew that? Still, Jackson can’t help himself.
It’s been one of the most interesting questions of the offseason — how will Chris Paul and James Harden share the ball and control of the Rockets?
In particular, how will they do it in Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo system that made Harden an MVP candidate and is not the calculated, surgical style that CP3 uses to carve defenses up?
Mike D’Antoni isn’t too worried about it. In an interview with our old friend Matt Moore of CBS Sports, the 2017 NBA Coach of the Year said the greats figure out how to work things out.
Team USA is an interesting example. Mike Krzyzewski wants to play fast (the USA is far more athletic than any team they face, they should take advantage of that) but he gives his players freedom within that outline to do what works. D’Antoni sounds like he wants to give Paul and Harden some space to figure out how to play together, what works for them. (The advantage is Team USA plays inferior opponents, often vastly inferior, and that will not be the same case for the Rockets in the NBA.)
Do the same rules apply if/when Carmelo Anthony gets traded to Houston? Probably.
D’Antoni is rightfully high on the Rockets’ offensive potential.
The real question is on the other end of the court. The Rockets were a middle of the pack defensive team last season (18th in points allowed per possession), but they have added quality defenders in Paul, P.J. Tucker, and Luc Mbah a Moute. Can the Rockets become a top-10 defensive team, one with players who can match up with Golden State? Because we know the Warriors are going to finish the season top three on both ends of the court.
It’s going to be a fascinating season in Houston.
Back in 2015, brothers Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — both then playing for the Suns — were investigated and eventually charged with felony aggravated assault joining three other men to allegedly beat up Erik Hood at a recreational basketball tournament in the Phoenix area (hood ended up in the hospital with a broken nose and other injuries). The motivation allegedly had been Hood sending “inappropriate” text messages to the Morris brothers’ mother. From the start, both brothers have denied any involvement.
Next week, the brothers will get their day in court. The Boston Globe has the details (Marcus now plays for the Celtics, Markieff for the Wizards).
Celtics forward Marcus Morris and his brother Markieff, each facing aggravated assault charges stemming from an incident in 2015, will get their day in court on Aug. 28 in Arizona.
Often cases like this are pled down to a lesser charge that the defendant accepts, and that usually happens close to trial. However, it is unclear if the Morris twins would be willing to do that — any admission of guilt would likely come with some level of suspension from the NBA in addition to whatever punishment is ordered by the court. If convicted of a felony, each Morris brother would face a minimum 10-game suspension from the NBA.
If the Morris twins were not involved, they are right to fight this. Either way, it will head to court next week.
Shortly before the draft, Lonzo Ball was asked in a televised interview to pitch LeBron James on joining the Lakers – and did.
A couple months and a tampering investigation into the Lakers later, Ball learned his lesson.
Rohan Nadkarni’s questions were all in good fun, and he couldn’t trick Ball into tampering, anyway. The NBA has essentially decided it won’t punish players for tampering with each other.
Ask Ball an honest LeBron question, and he’ll give an honest answer.
Will the Bulls and Dwyane Wade reach a buyout?
Apparently, not only do people close to LeBron James believe it’ll happen, they have a read on Wade’s destination.
Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:
As of right now, people close to James are fairly confident that, at some point this year, Dwyane Wade is going to end up on the Cavs.
Earlier in the podcast, Vardon even listed the only five people he believes reports should source as close to LeBron:
- Rich Paul
- Maverick Carter
- Savanah James
- Adam Mendelsohn
So, that something about the proximity of this information to LeBron. Given Wade’s friendship with LeBron, Vardon’s sources could have inside information on Wade’s plan.
But hold your horses on Wade to Cleveland.
Though they could buy him out sooner, the Bulls are incentivized to keep Wade past the trade deadline. His $23.8 million expiring contract could prove useful in a trade. If no trade comes up and Chicago is out of the playoff race, as expected, a buyout would make far more sense. Now, eliminating that trade chip and sticking a large amount of dead salary on the books would be problematic for the Bulls – unless Wade cuts them a big discount. He doesn’t sound inclined to do that.
Even if Wade gets bought out, he has been rumored to follow LeBron to Cleveland for years. It obviously hasn’t happened yet. Wade’s friendship with LeBron is the primary lure – but it also might push Wade to signal a desire to team up while he can’t commit then go a different direction when push comes to shove. It can be hard to tell friends no.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade ends up with the Cavaliers. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if this is just wishful thinking by people close to LeBron.