Pistons owner says he expects playoffs next year; quiet on Dumars, Frank

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It’s not hard to see some serious potential in Detroit — rookie Andre Drummond is the real deal and paired with Greg Monroe could form the best front line in basketball in a couple years. Add in some young backcourt guys like Brandon Knight and Kyle Singler who could have a role, and you’ve got the start of something.

Pistons owner Tom Gores wants to go from the start closer to the finish line fast — he expects the Pistons to make the playoffs next season.

Actually, he expected to make the playoffs this season and is disappointed, which means the jobs of GM Joe Dumars and coach Lawrence Frank are not safe. Here is his quote directly, via MLive.com

“I think both of them, including ownership, has to be accountable for the year,” Gores said. “We have to be accountable for the results of this year.

“I expected to be in the playoffs. So I’m disappointed by that. When I said that last year, I meant it. I’m very excited about what we have going. We have a lot of room financially. In basketball operations, we’ve set ourselves up. So I’m very excited about the future. But I’m not content about how we performed this year…

“We want to win a championship, we want to get into the playoffs,” he said. “We want to do all of those things. This is an extra important year. We are prepared to spend and we are prepared to do what we have to do to get this franchise forward. And make no mistake, we want to win.”

The Pistons only have $35 million on the books for next season (and that figure can be lowered if they buy out Rodney Stuckey). That will leave them about $25 million under the new salary cap, and while some of that money likely goes to re-signing Jose Calderon the Pistons will have money to chase free agents.

We’ll see who he has doing the chasing. When asked directly about Frank he simply dodged the question, other than to say any decisions would be made soon after the season ended.

However, Gores also needs to be a little bit patient — you don’t want to be the team that spends the money just because they have it. This summer’s free agent class has some unreachable guys for Detroit (Chris Paul) and some guys you don’t want to overspend on (Josh Smith). It’s better to hold that powder until the summer of 2014 (a deeper free agent class) and get someone good than to spend it just because you can.

But make no mistake, the Pistons are ready to spend.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.

Stephen Curry says he’d want in on potential Panthers ownership

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The Carolina Panthers are up for sale. Owner Jerry Richardson said he would sell the team late on Sunday following an announcement by the NFL that Richardson was under investigation for “workplace misconduct”. The NFL’s investigation and Richardson’s decision to sell was preceded by a report from SI saying Richardson had paid out settlements amid sexual harassment and racial slur claims.

Enter Sean Combs and Stephen Curry.

Combs — that’s Diddy, you to and me — has previously voiced his interest in being involved with the NFL, and after seeing that Richardson would be selling the team, jumped at the chance to boost his profile. Combs tweeted that he wanted to buy the team, and that’s when Curry joined in.

Via Twitter:

Naturally, Curry is from Charlotte and went to both high school and eventually college in the area, playing at Davidson. He’s an avid Panthers fan and has been on the sideline for the team publicly many times over the years.

Curry being part of an ownership group for the Panthers would be pretty wild. Perhaps Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan would like to join in? It seems like they would have the liquidity and credit availability between the three of them to get the team.

Then again, the asking price for the Panthers could be north of $2 billion. The last team to be sold was the Buffalo Bills in 2014 for $1.4 billion. In September, Forbes released a valuation for the Panthers that put them at $2.3 billion.

Might need to get a few others involved in this one.

Watch Raptors fans give Vince Carter a standing ovation in Toronto (VIDEO)

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Vince Carter is 40 years old and playing in what could possibly be his final NBA season. The Sacramento Kings guard started his career with the Toronto Raptors, and on Sunday he played what could possibly be his final game at the Air Canada Centre.

And so, when Carter was subbed out late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the folks in Toronto did what came naturally: they cheered.

The whole thing was pretty great to watch, and a real testament to how Carter is viewed by fans in Toronto.

Via Twitter:

Carter scored just four points in 25 minutes for Sacramento, going 2-of-5 from the field while adding three blocks, two assists, a rebound and a steal.

The Raptors got the win over the Kings, 108-93.