D’Antoni again benched Gasol in final minutes. Again Gasol didn’t like it.

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The pattern at the end of the Lakers win over the Bobcats was unmistakable — Pau Gasol would sub for Dwight Howard, then a few minutes later Howard would sub for Gasol.

There’s a reason for that — lineups with both Gasol and Howard were -22. Against the Bobcats. Mike D’Antoni isn’t stupid, he saw what wasn’t working and went away from it.

But that meant someone sat late — Pau Gasol was in the game for the key hack-a-Dwight time before the final two minutes, but as has happened before this season Howard was on the floor and Gasol was on the bench in the key final minutes. This time the Lakers held on for the win.

After the game D’Antoni tried to play this off as happened because Gasol is getting back into shape following missing eight games with knee tendonitis. Sure. But Gasol was not too happy about it, as Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reported after the game on Sulia.

“When the game is on the line, I need to be on the court. That’s what I get paid to do.”

Gasol also said: “Hopefully, that won’t happen too often.”

It should happen every time the Howard and Gasol are -22 when matched up against Byron Mullens and Bismack Biyombo.

So far, in a very small sample size, the Lakers have struggled in Mike D’Antoni’s system when those two are on the floor together. And the Lakers have to figure it out because they can’t sit one of their best players in the final minutes of games if they are going to get near their potential.

D’Antoni said they would after the game and said they would tinker to make it work with those two on the court together. I hope there are more detailed plans in there somewhere. Because it not, this could become a bigger issue going forward.

Despite revoked passport, Enes Kanter says Thunder have arranged his travel to Mexico City, Toronto

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Thunder center Enes Kanter – who had passport revoked by Turkey – lacked documentation to travel for a December game against the Nets in Mexico City and a March game against the Raptors in Toronto.

Apparently, that issue has been resolved.

Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman:

Kanter said on Sunday that the team has worked out an arrangement to allow him to travel to games in Toronto and Mexico City even without a passport.

It always seemed highly likely Kanter would get to Toronto and Mexico City. He’s a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company.

Report: Carmelo Anthony’s camp ‘cautiously optimistic’ Knicks will trade him by Monday

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In July, Carmelo Anthony was reportedly confident he’d be traded to the Rockets.

That optimism always seemed misguided. A couple months later, with Anthony still on the Knicks, it looks downright foolish.

Yet…

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Anthony’s camp is cautiously optimistic that a deal will be struck before Monday, and trying not to think about the potential media circus that will take place if Carmelo is still with the Knicks.

It’s more likely Anthony’s confidants are hopeful than optimistic. If they’re actually optimistic, they’re very likely to be disappointed.

If Anthony hasn’t been traded by now, what will change between now and Monday? Houston still must find a taker for Ryan Anderson, and that’s no easy task – not without relinquishing sweeteners more valuable than Anthony. I suppose Anthony could waive his no-trade clause for additional teams, but it’s late for a deal to come together.

Hopefully for Anthony, his advisors aren’t pinning everything on a longshot trade and are helping him craft answers to the numerous questions he’ll face at media day next week – likely in New York.

Rick Pitino predicts NBA draft will accept high schoolers within two years

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Once an advocate of increasing the age minimum and a willing accepter of one-and-done, NBA commissioner Adam Silver sounded more open about allowing high school players to declare for the NBA draft.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement left the issue open, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino predicts change is coming – relatively soon.

Pitino, via ESPN:

When I was at Kentucky, I had seven high school basketball players, told me they were coming, and instead, they went to the pros out of high school. And by the way, I think that rule is going to change back to that. I think high school players are going to be able to go pro again.

I think the commissioner is probably going to do it within two years.

Does Pitino know something? With decades of experience in the NBA and college, he could have many contacts with inside information. It’s certainly imperative for devising a recruiting strategy to know how this rule will change.

It’s also possible Pitino saw Silver’s comments, like any outsider could have, and is making a relatively blind guess.

But the possibility of inside information makes his comments more intriguing.

Warriors executive: Golden State rejected richer jersey-ad offers

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The Warriors are charging $60 million over three years for their jersey ads – about double what any other NBA team is getting.

Golden State chief marketing officer Chip Bowers, via Darren Rovell of ESPN:

“We actually had multiple finalists,” Warriors chief marketing officer Chip Bowers said. “This was not the biggest deal that we were offered.”

Bowers said the team felt it was important for the deal to be with a worldwide brand.

Light years ahead.