Collins says Iguodala not being shopped; pair to meet

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Doug Collin’s is doing what a lot of NBA coaches are doing right now — flying all over the country, racking up healthy cell phone minutes talking to the players on their roster. They talk about offseason workouts, parts of their game to focus on.

Because starting next Friday — when the lockout almost certainly begins — they will not be able to have that contact.

The most interesting meeting for the 76ers coach will be on the mean streets of Los Angeles… with Andre Iguodala. (Well, the streets are not going to be that mean wherever they meet, but you get the idea.) Collins told Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer the team wants to bring Iggy back, not trade him.

“We want Dre,” Collins said after the press conference on Friday for draft choices Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen at PCOM. “We want him back. He got nicked up last year and was hurt and we think Dre is one of the reasons we are a good defensive team.”

Collins will tell Iguodala that all the pre-draft trade rumors didn’t come from under the Sixers bunker.

“Nobody is out there shopping Dre,” Collins said.

Well, define shopping. Maybe the Sixers are not actively calling other general managers, but when their phone rings with other GMs calling about Iguodala they are not shooting the idea down. They are willingly exploring it. The problem is that nobody really wants to make a deal involving a big contract right now, not until they see the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Well, that problem and the fact that the Sixers likely would not get equal value back in an Iggy trade.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said a lot of the Iguodala for Lamar Odom rumors were actually agent driven. No doubt somewhat true. But if Iggy’s agent knows his client wants out, it would be in the agent’s best interest to help line up a deal that is good for his client.

I’d love to be a fly on the wall for Collins’ meeting with Iguodala. Is it frosty, or is Iguodala completely good with coming back to the Sixers next season? Either way, you know Iggy is one guy working on his game. He will come back better next season. The question is only where.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.