Lakers not moving Gasol after Nash trade. Nor should they.

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Once Lakers fans realized that they had not imbibed so much on the Fourth of July that they hallucinated their team had signed Steve Nash… well, first they went and got another drink.

But not long after another question came up:

Do we keep Pau Gasol or still try to trade him?

Lakers management has already answered that, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Pau or Bynum trade the next shoe to drop after Nash? Not so fast. Source tells me Lakers intend to keep core intact to play with Nash

Now, even if you were going to trade him that is what you would say, trying to keep value up. We know for sure Gasol does not want to be traded, he said so a Twitcam video chat. (Hat tip to Marca and Hoopshype for the info.)

“It would be a huge honor to play along side Steve. Obviously, I’ve know him for many years now and he has been one of the lead point guards in the league for as long as I can remember and as long as I played in the league. It would be a true pleasure to play with Steve and he is one of the best point guards ever to play the game and still has a lot of juice in him.”

The Lakers shouldn’t trade Gasol. Not yet anyway, see how this works out. (Note, that in no ways applies to a Dwight Howard deal. That you still do.)

First, with Nash at the point having two large bodies in the paint to block shots and deter drives is a good thing. The Lakers got better with the Nash trade but their perimeter defense didn’t.

On offense, Nash’s ability to hit the three will space the floor in a way the Lakers desperately need — last season and in the playoffs teams collapsed on the Lakers and dared the to win with jump shots. Second, Nash and Gasol on the pick-and-pop could be a deadly combination (the Lakers need more point guard pick-and-roll in their offense now, with Gasol and Bynum).

Basically, the Lakers offense, which was good before, has the potential to be a real force of nature. Now, they need some creativity from Mike Brown and his staff. And they need time to adjust and get used to one another. The Lakers had a good pick-and-roll point guard in Ramon Sessions last year but would go away from him for long stretches of Kobecentric offense last year. There needs to be a balance.

And all of that takes time to work out. All we are saying, is the Lakers should give that a chance.

Russell Westbrook threw it down all over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

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A rough night for the Thunder will not stop the Russell Westbrook highlights.

The Thunder had another poor game and fell to a Hornets. Westbrook tried to push the team back, but the Thunder defense that has kept them in games all season was not good enough against Charlotte, and the OKC offense was once again up and down.

Westbrook had 30 points on 22 shots on the night, and none of them were as impressive as this transition throwdown on Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Jahlil Okafor excited about fresh start with Nets

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jahlil Okafor finally got the fresh start he wanted.

Okafor was the consensus No. 1 high school player in his class, won a national championship at Duke, and averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in his rookie campaign for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then things changed drastically.

Okafor struggled with injuries and a logjam at his position in his second season.

“When I first got drafted there, we already had Nerlens (Noel) there, Joel (Embiid) was there, so we’re trying to have three starting centers on the same team,” Okafor said Monday at his introductory news conference with his new team, the Brooklyn Nets.

“It just never really was the right fit.”

The 76ers traded Okafor along with seldom-used guard Nik Stauskas and two draft picks to the Nets on Thursday. Philadelphia got forward Trevor Booker from Brooklyn.

Okafor also had off-court problems during his time in Philadelphia. He got a speeding ticket for driving 108 miles per hour and was suspended by the 76ers for two games after in an altercation outside of a Boston nightclub with a heckler.

“Speeding obviously is illegal,” Okafor said. “I know that’s not what you’re supposed to do. I guess you just learn how the page can turn on you and how everything can flip. I can’t really say I learned anything, because you know going in that’s not right. You just learn from your mistakes, but (it was) a tough thing that I went through, I got past, and I’m looking to better times now.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft, joins D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick in the same draft class, on the Nets.

“We’re just very excited to get on the court together,” Okafor said. “You never would’ve thought the number two and number three picks would be playing on the same team a few years after, but like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m really excited.”

Russell also had problems on and off the court with the team that drafted him. He was criticized for recording a video of former Lakers teammate Nick Young that aired sordid details about Young’s private life. The Lakers gave up on Russell and drafted Lonzo Ball as his replacement.

“I feel like we’re similar in that we have a lot to prove,” Okafor said. “I know he’s working his (butt) off as well. Right now he’s rehabbing, trying to get back on the court. I think we both have a chip on our shoulder and we have a lot to prove. We’re definitely similar in that regard.”

Okafor understands he has areas to improve, mainly defense and rebounding.

“I’m not a perfect player,” Okafor said. “I’m 21. There are things that I need to work on, that I have worked on and that I’ll continue to work on.”

He’s excited about fulfilling his potential with a new team.

“I feel really motivated right now, but I’ve always been motivated,” Okafor said. “This is the first time where people are against me in a sense because I’ve always been the hyped-up guy. It’s something new for me to experience, so I’m glad that I am experiencing it.”

 

Report: Celtics’ Marcus Morris to miss “extended time” to let knee heal

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Marcus Morris missed the Celtics’ first eight games of the season in an effort to get healthy. Upon his return he’s been solid, first as a starter, then coming off the bench, but his left knee continued to be an issue.

Morris was out Sunday when the Celtics beat the Pistons, and he’s going to miss more time trying to get a troublesome left knee right, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

How much time is “extended time?” Probably at least a couple of weeks.

Morris has averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds a game this season, with a true shooting percentage of 52.5, which is right around the league average.

This could mean more run for rookie forwards Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis, both of whom have played well in limited minutes.

Tristan Thompson expected to return to Cavaliers Tuesday, come off bench

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson could play for the first time since Nov. 1 on Tuesday against Atlanta.

Thompson has been sidelined with a strained left calf. The team initially said Thompson would be out for up to four weeks, but he said Monday that timeline was inaccurate and that his injury was more serious. Thompson did not divulge any other details about the injury.

Coach Tyronn Lue says Thompson will not start when he returns, meaning Kevin Love will remain at center. Thompson says he’s fine with a reserve role and made it clear he’s willing to do whatever Lue needs.

The Cavaliers have won 14 of 15 and their defense has improved dramatically over the past month.

Thompson says he’ll have the same mindset on the floor as always and “just be myself. Being myself has worked out pretty well for me.”