After former Magic center and Dwight Howard backup Marcin Gortat was traded to the Phoenix Suns last season, he ended up taking the starting center job from the incumbent Robin Lopez. It didn’t take long at all.
In a recent Q+A at a kids’ basketball camp (hat tip to SB Nation’s Seth Pollack), Gortat talked about his feelings towards Lopez:
Marcin said that on his first day in Phoenix he asked Robin if practice started on the court or with a video session. Robin told Marcin that he didn’t know so Gortat went to the gym while Lopez went to watch video. According to Gortat, a coach came to get him and asked why he was late and Marcin said that he had asked Robin and was told he didn’t know where practice was starting. The coach said everyone knew where they were supposed to be. Marcin took that as a sign of where things stood between himself and Lopez.
Gortat went on to talk about the opportunity that Lopez had to earn and keep the starting job.
“This guy (Lopez) had such a big chance, such a big opportunity, to play in the best league. When I was Orlando, playing behind Dwight (Howard), I was praying to get a chance to play and he (Lopez) has had this chance for two years and he didn’t take.
So I thought, when you don’t want it, there will be 50 persons behind you, waiting to take this chance, and then I came by and I took (it). Sorry, that’s business, that’s life.”
(In an email, Lopez said that he didn’t send Gortat to the wrong place maliciously, but rather simply didn’t know whether the practice would start in the video room or the court that day.)
According to basketballvalue.com, Lopez wasn’t exactly doing everything he could to prove his worth both before and after the Gortat trade, as he had a team-low -8.09 adjusted plus-minus last season. We’ll see if this center battle gets genuinely nasty next season. Or if the Suns decide they need to ship one of them out of town.
After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.
Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.
They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.
Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.
The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.
76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.
The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.
LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.
“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”
LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.
But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.
The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.
It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.
Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.
So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.
Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.
Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.
Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.