Derek Fisher, Eric Bledsoe

Derek Fisher to start at point guard for Mavericks

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Derek Fisher was signed by the Dallas Mavericks this week, after beginning the season without a spot on an NBA roster. Fisher finished last year as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but found himself without a job to start the year while reportedly looking to catch on with a contender.

Since no offers from good teams were rolling in, Fisher chose to get in the game anywhere he could, rather than remaining unemployed.

Not only will he get a chance to impart some of his veteran leadership to the team’s younger players, but he’ll get to do so while holding down the starting point guard spot beginning with his first game with the team on Saturday.

From Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com:

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a bit nicer welcoming gift for the five-time NBA champion: a starting job. Carlisle, who tends to treat his starting lineup as if it were a state secret, said Fisher “probably” would be the starting point guard in Saturday night’s game against the Detroit Pistons and beyond.

The Mavs are counting on Fisher to fill some of the void — poise, leadership and strength at point guard — left by Kidd’s surprising departure this past summer.

“For a guy who’s been sitting out, he’s obviously been working hard and taking care of himself,” Carlisle said. ” . . . He did a good job today and he’s going to help us.”

Translated, the signing, along with Fisher being awarded the starting job from his first day in Dallas, means that the Darren Collison experiment is over — at least for the time being.

Collison’s numbers are right in line with his career averages, so his play hasn’t been necessarily a surprise. Where he’s disappointed Carlisle, however, is on the defensive end of the floor, and with his inability to comprehensively run the offense to his head coach’s satisfaction, he’s going to see a lesser role for a while while coming off the bench.

Fisher isn’t likely to help defensively of course, but he’s at least well-versed in how to play within the concept of his team’s defensive schemes. His ability to see the floor and initiate the offense should be an improvement for Dallas, and will give Collison the ability to play off the ball some when the two are used together at times in a portion of the team’s lineups.

Blazers C Meyers Leonard dunks on Celtics’ Mickey twice in five minutes (VIDEO)

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Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is an athletic young guy who has made a name for himself as a fade man off the pick-and-roll. But against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Leonard decided to roll to the hoop instead, and it sort of worked out.

Unless you’re Jordan Mickey, in which case it didn’t.

The first poster dunk came during the final minute of the first quarter in Boston, where the Blazers were running a sideline out of bounds play.

Via Twitter:

The second came at 9:51 in the second quarter, with Leonard again rolling to the rack on a play with Allen Crabbe. Mickey again wound up as the help man, and again found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel.

We’ll just forgive that off arm for now.

Jabari Parker held out of Bucks lineup vs. Heat for breaking team rule

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MIAMI (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday night at Miami after breaking a team rule.

Parker will play coming off the bench, coach Jason Kidd said.

Kidd declined to elaborate on the move, which came after the Bucks held a long players-only meeting following a loss Friday at Orlando. The meeting got heated at times, and Parker said he wasn’t well received when he expressed his point of view.

Parker has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Thon Maker, making his first career start.

Gregg Popovich on Trump: “Can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth” (VIDEO)

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Today across the country many hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump, his misogyny as demonstrated in prior comments made about women, and policies he’s promised to put in place to weaken women’s health including defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Affordable Care Act. Gregg Popovich, no stranger to speaking his mind about Trump, was asked about the marches today and how he felt about the former reality TV star’s first hours in office.

Popovich responded for around four minutes, spanning a wide breadth of topics including Trump’s maturity level, respect for the presidential office, and Trump’s cabinet members waffling on implied meaning when he insulted a handicapped reporter in November of 2015.

Via Cleveland.com:

I wish that he was more — had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying ‘I’m going to include everybody.” He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it, but so far we’ve got a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes of his mouth.

Popovich also expressed his frustration with Trump’s insecurities, referencing his need to discuss the size of the inauguration crowd from Friday — reported widely by major news outlets in both text and video/photographic evidence — as far smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.

“I’d just feel better if somebody was in that position that showed the maturity, psychological, and emotional level of somebody that was his age,” said Popovich, adding, “It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist, and make fun of handicap people.”

It’s an interesting period in American history to be sure. Things are at such a fever pitch after Trump’s election that whether people like it or not — and no doubt many won’t like Popovich’s comments or this article about it — the lines between diversion and real life, including politics, has begun to blur.

It’s great to see that coaches and players in the NBA are able to speak their minds about topics openly like this, perhaps surprisingly so when you consider the amount of money involved for the league and teams.

If you’d like to read the full comments you can do so here:

Ricky Rubio will miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio has left the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons and will miss at least the next game on Sunday against Denver.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says he expects Rubio to get back into town late Sunday and rejoin the team for practice on Monday.

Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night because of tightness in his left hip. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101.

Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the season, with the belief that Thibodeau would prefer a point guard who shoots better from the perimeter. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists.