Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz, Game 6

Where is all the trade chatter?

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It’s 10 days until the NBA trade deadline, and usually right now the chatter among NBA teams about potential deals is ramping up to a huge wave fans everywhere just try to ride.

This season, it’s a ripple in a pond.

Mark Cuban said this is a pretty standard year. “Relative to other years in terms of trade talk, I don’t think it’s really any different,’’ he said. But it feels different, quieter. Sure, teams tend to wait until the last second, but there is usually a lot of chatter, a lot of rumors.

This season there is the big ‘Melodrama, and in the coming days we will finally have some answer to what is next for Carmelo Anthony. Frankly, that can’t come soon enough.

But after that… not much. Not exactly crickets as there are guys being shopped — Antawn Jamison, O.J. Mayo, Andre Miller — but there is not a lot of chatter.

Part of it is the usual “contending team looks to add key veteran” market is non-existent. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said he was serious about making a move, but unless he wants to ship Andrew Bynum out he doesn’t have any assets a team is looking for (older players under big, long contracts are not attractive).

Orlando? Already made their big move. Boston? Maybe a small deal to provide depth with Marquis Daniels out, but nothing serious. Miami? They would love a big but have no trade assets anybody wants. Spurs? They’re doing just fine, thank you very much. Chicago? They’d love a two guard but it’s going to have to be a really good deal to make it happen.

Sean Deveney at The Sporting News taps into the other issue putting a damper on trade talks.

But what’s really strangling this year’s trade market is the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement, for which commissioner David Stern has put just about everything on the table — franchise player tags, a hard salary cap, a severe rollback in players’ salaries. What often happens at the deadline is one struggling team with a high-priced star deals that contract away for an expiring contract and either young players or draft picks. That sort of deal figures to be hard to come by in this environment.

Most front-office executives remain tight-lipped about the new CBA. But there’s no question it’s having an impact on how teams are viewing their trade possibilities. “It’s really not the time to be giving up draft picks, which are one of the few things that you can figure on as far as being valuable assets,” one general manager told Sporting News. “There’s a lot of risk in just not knowing how things will shake out. You never know, things could change in the next week, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of teams are looking to pull the trigger right now.”

And most GMs by their nature seem risk averse (you’d be that way two if everything you did at your job were second-guessed in public forums the way a GM’s choices are). So this year may be quieter. Or, maybe Cuban is right and we’re all wrong. Again.

Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott
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Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”

Boston police now probing fight involving 76ers center Okafor

Jahlil Okafor

BOSTON (AP) — Boston police say a man has come forward saying he’s the victim in a fight involving Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor that was recorded and posted online.

Authorities say a man filed a police report Friday saying the fight outside a nightclub left him with stitches over his eye.

Police say the alleged victim reported the fight began after some of his female friends refused the advances of two men, including one believed to be Okafor. The man told police Okafor punched him and knocked him to the ground.

Okafor says he’s embarrassed about the scuffle and is dealing with the team and league on possible discipline.

The confrontation happened early Thursday morning after the 76ers fell to 0-16 on the season. The Sixers rookie said he was being heckled.

Previously, the police had said they were not investigating the incident.

Durant, Westbrook throw shade at Reggie Jackson after Thunder beat Pistons

Reggie Jackson
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Reggie Jackson‘s exit from Oklahoma City a year ago was not smooth or pretty. He wanted a bigger stage, he wanted out, and he let everyone know it. “We felt like everybody wanted to be here except for one guy,” Kevin Durant said after the trade that sent Jackson to Detroit.

The Pistons and Jackson were back in Oklahoma City Friday night. The fans let Jackson know they didn’t appreciate his words with plenty of boos. After the game, when asked about Jackson both Durant and Russell Westbrook threw shade at Jackson, as reported by Royce Young at Daily KD didn’t even mention Jackson among Detroit’s best players.

“Steven (Adams) did a great job on their best player and Andre (Roberson) did a great job on their second best player in (Kentavious Caldwell) Pope and Russ did his job,” Durant said…

“Who?” Westbrook said, after very clearly hearing who he was asked about.

Reggie Jackson.

“What happened?”

Those comments were more aggressive toward Jackson than the Thunder players seemed to be during the game, where he was treated as an afterthought.

Jackson has played well for Detroit this season — averaging 19.1 points and 5.9 assists per game, with a PER of 20.3 and real chemistry with Andre Drummond — but he was held in check against the Thunder. Spending much of the night battling foul trouble, Jackson had 15 points on 16 shots on the night.

Durant was the stud for the Thunder, with 34 points and 13 rebounds, and the Thunder won comfortably 103-87.



Report: League considering crediting Luke Walton with coaching wins

Luke Walton

It’s about to get a little awkward at the NBA’s New York headquarters. It’s time to vote for the Coach of the Month and in the West this is any easy answer: Luke Walton of the Golden State Warriors.

Except he is officially 0-0 as a coach this season. Walton is the interim, and under the NBA’s rules the regular coach gets credit while away. So Steve Kerr is 16-0 — which Kerr thinks is ridiculous — and the league is about to vote a guy who has zero official wins as coach of the month.

So the league is thinking about making a change, reports Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group.

A source confirmed Friday that the league is looking into the long-held custom of wins not being credited to interim coaches, but rather to coaches on leave such as the Warriors’ Steve Kerr.

Changing the policy does raise some questions. Is this retroactive to former interim coaches? Is there a minimum number of games the interim has to serve before it counts? (I don’t know if you want to count games for an interim who does one or two games for a suspended coach, but does he start to get credit at five games? 10?)

That said, the league should do it. Walton and other long-term interims deserve credit.

Walton continues to say “whatever” in so many words.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Walton said of the possibility of having wins on his record as the league reviewed the Warriors’ extenuating circumstances. “It really doesn’t…I’m good either way.”

But Walton could be the first ever NBA coach of the month who has not officially won a game.