Lamar Odom, Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen

Lamar Odom says he won’t have any emotions when facing his former team (the Mavericks)

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The Lakers traded Lamar Odom to the Mavericks before last season began, but after Odom had just finished his best all-around year in 12 NBA seasons.

Odom took home the Sixth Man of the Year trophy in 2011, and yet L.A. had no problem dealing him to a Western Conference rival in exchange for nothing more than salary cap space at the time, although the trade exception the Lakers received in the deal was used in helping them acquire Steve Nash.

It turns out that the Lakers knew what the Mavericks found out in Odom’s short time with them, which was the fact that Odom had mentally checked out from basketball after dealing with some personal and emotional issues before the lockout-shortened season began.

Things ended in Dallas with Odom and the team parting ways before the season ended, one which was tumultuous, to say the least. Now, with Odom set to face his former team for the first time on Wednesday, he’s not exactly feeling sentimentally about the matchup.

From Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

When asked after practice whether he had any emotions about playing Dallas, Odom said, “Naw.”

Why?

“It was a blur, man,” Odom replied. “I wasn’t there either, like mentally.”

“The people are nice,” Odom said of Dallas. “Great fans.

“Sometimes we make pit stops in some places. I remember the people and the city. Basketball just wasn’t there for me at that time.”

Odom said he even doesn’t have any hard feelings toward Dallas owner Mark Cuban, who called out Odom several times before sending the forward home. “I respect everybody over there,” Odom said.

Odom’s comments are perfect, because he has no reason to be upset with a Dallas organization that showed nothing but patience in dealing with him. He admits he wasn’t in a position mentally to play basketball last season, so slamming the Mavericks for the way things ended there simply wouldn’t make any sense.

It’s doubtful that Cuban or Rick Carlisle feel the same way about Odom, given the way things went down. But he’ll be nothing more than afterthought for the Mavericks on Wednesday when they head into Los Angeles to face the Clippers.

Gregg Popovich pins Spurs’ effort problems on players: ‘I don’t remember playing tonight’ (video)

San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gives instructions against the Detroit Pistons in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game in Auburn Hills, Mich., Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Spurs fell behind by 18 and eventually lost to the Bulls, 95-91, last night – which begged the question:

Does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich bear any responsibility for his team’s lack of early intensity?

Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:

Popovich:

I don’t remember playing tonight. I didn’t play. Guys get a lot of money to be ready to play. No Knute Rockne speeches. It’s your job. If you’re a plumber and you don’t do your job, you don’t get any work. I don’t think a plumber needs a pep talk. If a doctor botches operations, he’s not a doctor anymore. If you’re a basketball player, you come ready. It’s called maturity. It’s your job.

Like it or not, motivation is part of an NBA coach’s job.

But that’s also precisely what Popovich is doing.

His credentials dwarf any other coach’s. He can play to his own ego and absolve himself of responsibility – and players will seek to please him. His years of success have earned him the ability to motivate this way, a method no other coach could use without alienating his team.

Donatas Motiejunas signing four-year, $35 million contract with Rockets

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets is helped to his feet by teammates James Harden #13 and Patrick Beverley #2 of the Houston Rockets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Once the Rockets let Donatas Motiejunas back into free agency, this was only a matter of time.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This sounds remarkably similar to the salaries and incentives set in the original offer sheet from the Nets. But remember, the Rockets didn’t match some of those bonuses that Brooklyn would have been bound to.

So, why not hold Motiejunas to what became a four-year, $31 million offer sheet once matched? Houston got something in return – a later trigger date on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ 2017-18 salary. Originally, that decision had to be made March 1 – which would’ve meant dropping Motiejunas from the team this season to prevent his salary from counting next season. Now, the Rockets can make that call in July, after this season is complete.

The following two Julys, Houston will also have a choice on guaranteeing Motiejunas’ upcoming salary or dropping him.

Essentially, Motiejunas is signing the most lucrative Hinkie Special in NBA history. If he plays well and stays healthy, the Rockets have Motiejunas at an affordable rate. If he struggles or his back injuries flare up, they can drop him with little to no penalty.

After they backed themselves into this corner, Motiejunas and his agent, B.J. Armstrong, didn’t do so bad. Considering the similarity between this contract and the Nets’ original offer sheet, it seems Houston helped Armstrong save face after a bungled free agency (which is easier to accept when you’re adding a talented reserve to a formidable team).

But for how little is guaranteed and how much control the Rockets hold over the next four years, wouldn’t Motiejunas have been better off accepting the $4,433,683 qualifying offer?

Report: Rockets return Donatas Motiejunas to restricted free agency, working on new contract with him

Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The Rockets had Donatas Motiejunas in a bind.

He was beholden to them on a four-year, $31 million deal and unable to sign with other teams. Motiejunas’ choices: Report for a physical or wait in limbo.

But apparently Houston has allowed him out of that constraint.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

This means Motiejunas can’t sign with the Nets, who signed him to the original offer sheet, for one year.

I bet it also means Motiejunas and Houston have agreed to a new contract. Otherwise, why release him from the offer sheet? The Rockets would be giving up a tremendous amount of leverage out of the goodness of their hearts – unless this is just a prelude to a new deal with Houston.

John Wall pushes down Jusuf Nurkic from behind in retaliation (video)

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John Wall didn’t like how Jusuf Nurkic bumped him, so Wall shoved the Nuggets center from behind and sent him to the floor.

An overreaction to the bump? Probably. Wall got hit with a technical foul.

But I’m mostly just impressed Wall was strong enough to push over Nurkic.