Memphis Grizzlies v Sacramento Kings

Report: Orlando interested in Zach Randolph; but there are issues

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Let’s start this rumor report off with the red flags — this comes from long-time rumormonger Sam Smith of Bulls.com, who reports this without saying he got this from a source (thanks Pinstriped Post). Nobody else is reporting this. So please sprinkle liberally with salt.

That said, there is some logic to the idea.

The Magic want some front court help and the Memphis Grizzlies have Zach Randolph in the last year of a deal, and Smith says the Magic are want to talk trade.

The logic is the Magic need some front court help since shipping out Marcin Gortat, and Randolph is an offensive and rebounding machine. For Memphis, they have both Randolph and Marc Gasol coming up as free agents this summer and it will be hard to pay both without paying a luxury tax (or whatever spending punishments will be in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement). This way the Grizzlies could get some talent back rather than just letting Randolph walk at the season’s end.

That’s about where it stops making sense.

For one, Randolph is a defensive liability that would drive Stan Van Gundy crazy. Or, crazier. But since the last round of trades defense has been the bigger problem and inconsistency for the Magic and this trade would not address that in the least. It would make the Magic defense worse.

Next, Randolph will make $17.7 million this season. Smith said the trade would involve “players and picks.” The Magic could do this trade straight up if Memphis would take on Gilbert Arenas, but the Grizzlies are trying to shed some salary, not take on three seasons after this one.

Maybe Jason Richardson and his $14.4 million expiring deal could be the core of a deal. But how does that make the Grizzlies better? Depends on what else can be thrown in. Memphis is in the fight for one of the final playoff seeds in the West (and the playoff game money that would bring in), if they are going to virtually abandon that by trading Randolph you have to give them some quality pieces back. Orlando wants to win a title so they are not giving up a lot of quality.

This seems like a real stretch. But you can see enough logic to make you think the sides would talk it through.

Report: LeBron James might not play for Team USA in 2016 Olympics because Kobe Bryant won’t

Kobe Bryant (L) and team mate Lebron James of the U.S. sit on the bench during the game against France during their men's Group A basketball match at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the Basketball arena July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar
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LeBron James admires Kobe Bryant.

How much?

Kobe pulling his name from 2016 Olympic consideration (perhaps an informed preemptive gesture just before the roster finalists were announced) might keep LeBron off Team USA.

Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report:

Bryant not pursuing a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team this summer is a very real reason James might also not join the team, according to NBA sources.

James is that disappointed the Rio Olympics will not serve as the final, ultimate celebration of Bryant’s career—and more so that James won’t have the priceless honor of being Bryant’s co-star teammate when it ends.

I don’t buy this.

Kobe said during the 2012 Olympics those would be his final Olympics. Two weeks later, LeBron said he wanted to play in 2016.

Did playing with Kobe on Team USA become more important to LeBron over the last few years?

I suppose it’s possible. Many got behind sending Kobe to Rio as a sendoff into retirement. Perhaps, LeBron got attached to the idea and became bitter once it fell through.

I just have a hard time believing LeBron would tie his decision so strongly to another player. Remember, he left one of his best friends, Dwyane Wade, in Miami to sign with the Cavaliers. Would Kobe’s presence really dictate LeBron’s outlook?

LeBron has been mum on his plans for Team USA. I’m sure the length of Cleveland’s playoff run and the toll it takes on his body will factor. He might not yet know what he’ll do.

The ball is in his court, which can be challenging. There has been backlash from media and fans against players who turn down Team USA, and LeBron could be trying to avoid that.

I trust Ding was told LeBron felt this way, but nobody – including me, including Ding – can know what’s in LeBron’s head. But this report strikes me as LeBron setting up the ability to attribute his absence to Kobe’s rather than facing the full brunt of reaction that comes to turning down Team USA.

Did the Clippers reenact Paul Pierce being stabbed during pregame introductions? (video)

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The Clippers got hyped for Paul Pierce‘s potential last game in Boston by… reenacting the time Pierce got stabbed there? If not, it sure looks like it.

Mock fighting is the norm for the Clippers’ pregame, but I haven’t seen a single player targeted like this. Whatever gets you pumped, I guess.

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.