Lopez injury limits Orlando’s Dwight Howard trade options


The foot injury to Nets center Brook Lopez has not left the Dwight Howard trade stuck in the mud.

It was already there.

Orlando has put the breaks on the process — they are not ready to trade Howard. Maybe they think they can convince him to stay, maybe they think the offers improve closer to the deadline. Until the Magic are ready to deal, everyone is just spinning their wheels and kicking up mud.

But when the Magic do decide is time, they will find their options limited.

The Nets were one of the three teams Dwight Howard said he would sign an extension with if traded. (The Lakers and the Mavericks are the others.) The Nets were considered the frontrunner because Howard wanted to be there and because of a package of picks and players — with Lopez at the heart of it.

But is that going to happen now? There are a lot of questions.

Do the Magic still want Lopez as a centerpiece? Foot issues can linger and it sounds like the Nets want to rush Lopez back — they are saying four-to-six weeks for an injury that takes months to heal. Look at Roddy Beaubois in Dallas, he had this same injury, was out more than five months and was not the same player when he returned.

Can the Nets get other teams involved? Check out this tweet from ESPN’s Marc Stein.

In last week’s proposal, Nets offered five first-round picks and recruited Blazers to send Gerald Wallace to Magic. They need more help now

Are the Lakers in the driver’s seat? Maybe. They are offering Andrew Bynum and maybe Pau Gasol too (depends on who you ask). If the Magic decide to deal tomorrow the Lakers have the best package of guys they can ship out ready to play. But this goes back to the first thing we said — until the Magic decide deal, nobody is really in the best position to make a trade.

The Nets have one other concern — Deron Williams. The Nets are going to suck this season. Even with Williams and Lopez (who have them 20 points a game last season, Lopez is a borderline All-Star) the Nets might not have made he playoffs. Now they are certainly headed for the lottery.

What if Williams isn’t coming back, do the Nets need to trade him? Do they need to just give up on trading for a star and rebuild through the draft? Can the sell that to Brooklyn?

If Howard and Williams become free agents next summer, Mark Cuban and the Mavericks will be sitting right there with a lot of cap space.

Lots of questions. The only thing we know is that with Lopez injured the Nets will not like whatever answers the find.

League executives, players wince watching this Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant
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Over the last few days, we’ve written in more detail about Kobe Bryant‘s shooting troubles. He’s jacking up threes his fastest pace ever, he can’t create space to get off clean shots, he’s hitting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three. There are flashes of vintage Kobe, but they are fleeting (and mostly because poor shot choices are falling). Byron Scott is still in Kobe’s corner, saying they just need to get the veteran better looks.

However, talk to people around the league about Kobe and you hear some variation of the phrase “hard to watch.” After 20 seasons, more than 55,000 minutes on the court, and coming off two major injuries, Kobe clearly is not the same player everyone admired for so long.

Over at the Los Angeles Times Mike Bresnahan and Broderick Turner got a number of sources to wince about Kobe for a story — except nobody wanted their name attached to attacking a legend of the game.

“Man, I don’t want to see Kobe go out like this, looking this bad and not able to do what he once could do,” said a retired guard who faced Bryant. “He doesn’t have anything else to prove to anybody. He was one of the greatest. I know he’s owed that $25 million, but he should just walk away now. He ain’t got it anymore.”

“He’s one of the few players in NBA history to have gotten everything possible out of his body. Now his body has nothing left to give,” (an Eastern Conference executive) said. “But that’s life in the NBA, in professional sports. At some point, the body just can’t do it anymore and Kobe’s body can’t do it anymore.”

One West scout said Bryant looked “disinterested” at times. A current player in the West went a step further.

“Yeah, I’ve seen him play and it’s disgusting,” he said. “He’s one of the best of all time. But he really hasn’t played that much in the last two or three years. He’s got nothing left. It’s sad to watch because he used to be so great, and I mean great.”

Kobe is not going to walk away mid-season, and nobody wants an injury to force him out of the game.

But it’s hard to see how anything is going to dramatically change. Kobe may shoot a little better than his current but it’s not likely going to change in a meaningful way. Which will just make things hard to watch for a full season.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.