Lakers say stop calling Pau Gasol soft

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Them’s fightin’ words to the Lakers.

Well, at least verbal fighting.

A couple people have taken swings at Pau Gasol and used the soft word recently, as ESPNLosAngeles.com reports, starting with the Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire.

“He’s still soft,” Stoudemire said with a grin and a shrug. “But, he’s a good player, you know what I mean? But he also has help down there. He has help down there in Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, those 7-footers down there. So he’s got some supporting cast.”

Last month, Oklahoma City center Kendrick Perkins took a similar shot at the Lakers’ starting power forward.

“I don’t like Pau Gasol or Phil Jackson,” Perkins told ESPN the Magazine. “Phil is arrogant. Pau is soft. Kobe tries to bring out his toughness, but he’s still soft.”

The Lakers fired back.

First came Andrew Bynum taking a shot at Stoudemire via twitter:

The NBA is a weird place! How can a man that plays 0 defense call a 2 time champion soft?

Then other Lakers players chimed in.

“Pau got moves. He don’t have to be hard. That’s why he got us,” said a shirtless (Ron) Artest as he flexed his chest and arm muscles.

“How are you soft and average 10 rebounds?” chimed in (Lamar) Odom….

Artest didn’t let the moment pass without throwing a zinger back at Stoudemire.

“Amare posed on the front of [a magazine] butt naked!” Artest said. “OK, is that tough?”

Gasol is not soft. He’s also not a true center — he’s a power forward, and maybe the best one in the league. But he’s not some kind of classic, Patrick Ewing back-to-the-basket center (and he’s European) so some people made the leap to him being soft. But the man defended Dwight Howard to a standstill when the Lakers won their title two years ago. He has banged bodies with Kevin Garnett in the finals and got a ring out of it. That’s not his nature, but he can do it.

Gasol isn’t soft. He’s just one of the best big men in the game.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.