Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Wednesday And-1 links: Bobcats say they are not shopping Kidd-Gilchrist


Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points almost as much as we love draft rumors…

• It’s time for a lesson in the semantics of being an NBA general manager. Word leaked out this week that the Bobcats were throwing in the towel and shopping around Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It didn’t take long for the Bobcats to say that talk is crazy, of course they would do no such thing. Here are the exact words of GM Rich Cho: “No! We’re not shopping him. We get calls on all our players. My job to take calls.” To an NBA GM shopping means calling up another GM and saying “what would you give me for X?” But you are not shopping the guy if you put out the word you are listening to offers then let other people call you, then you are just taking calls. The practical difference? Nil. Still can’t believe the Bobcats would move him.

• Kidd-Gilchrist remains just a steady jump shot away from being a serious impact player (that is one ugly jumper he has). Not so coincidentally, the Bobcats have hired Mark Price as a shooting coach.

• You can vote for what suit Nerlens Noel will wear to the draft.

• Trey Burke’s fashion sense is clearly pretty good as he has already gotten a GQ feature.

• The Lakers picked up the option year and will keep Jodie Meeks for one more season. Robert Sacre also will be back with the team, while Chris Duhon and Devin Ebanks will need to look for a new squad. The Lakers want to keep Earl Clark, but it depends on what he gets offered on the free agent market.

• Of more importance to the Lakers, Kobe Bryant’s Achilles is good enough that he is able to walk without his walking boot.

• Here is a look at the family dynamics that mean Phil Jackson will not coach the Lakers.

• Iman Shumpert says the goal for the Knicks next season is 60 wins. Six wins is not that big a jump, but I’m not sure where those wins come from.

• The night Miami won the NBA title they racked up a$100,000 champagne bill. If the Spurs had won, they might have racked up a $100 Shiner Bock tab.

• In case you can’t get enough LeBron James love, here is another post on his accomplishments and status.

• During the Finals Spike Lee tried to shoot a mini “He Got Game” version, all done before a Heat game. He got shot down.

• Heat owner Micky Arison has been booted from his role as CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. It’s been a rough PR year for Carnival.

• Rudy Gay has reportedly added about 15 pounds of muscle. Does that make his jump shot more consistent?

• New Kings coach Mike Miller has hired his father as an assistant.

• Serge Ibaka is not expected to compete for Spain at EuroBasket this summer.

• However, Timofey Mozgov will compete for Russia in that tournament.

• Don’t expect to see Bradley Beal playing for the Wizards at Summer League.

• Craig Brackins is hoping for another shot in the NBA.

• Watch new Nets coach Jason Kidd throw out the frist pitch at a Yankee’s game. Not bad.

• Not only are NBA teams heading overseas this preseason, one of the Europe’s best is coming here: CSKA Moscow will play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct 7 (remember during the lockout Andrei Kirilenko went and played for CSKA, where Minnesota teammate Alexey Shved also played  at the time). Two nights later CSKA will visit San Antonio to face the Spurs.

Byron Scott doesn’t see reason D’Angelo Russell should play more in fourth

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The Lakers’ clear top priority for this season should be simple: develop their young stars.

Julius Randle is a beast with the ball in his hands, but a one-handed beast who needs to work on his right hand. D'Angelo Russell has shown flashes but is trying to adapt to the speed and style of the NBA game. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. can be pieces on a good team, eventually. The Lakers need to build that foundation.

Which is why coach Byron Scott sitting Russell in the fourth quarter of games, even blowouts, is perplexing. As were his responses when asked about it after the Lakers’ lastest blowout loss, Tuesday night to the Golden state Warriors. So Scott, is there value in playing Russell in blowouts to get him more time on the court? Mark Medina of the LA Daily News had the answer.

“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”

That would be 32-year-old Marcelo Huertas, who played the fourth quarter Tuesday while Russell sat.

This is not Gregg Popovich resting his stars to keep them fresh for the playoffs here. We are talking about a 19-year-old rookie point guard whose game is based on court vision, anticipation, and angles, a guy who has to learn how to apply those in a league where everybody is long and fast. He needs time on the court to adapt. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes. A lot of them. That’s what rookies do. If you coach them up, they learn from those mistakes and make fewer each time out. It’s a sometimes painful process, but it’s how rookies learn.

Except in Byron Scott’s world where they get benched. Because that will teach them. Meanwhile Kobe can do whatever he wants, because he was once great and that gives him carte blanche.

Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay apologizes for verbal spat with coach

Emmanuel Mudiay, Michael Malone
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Nuggets’ coach Mike Malone was willing to get into it with just about anyone Tuesday night. He had a few words with Blake Griffin.

And he had a few words with his rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay — and Mudiay gave it right back. Then got benched. Later the rookie realized he should be a little more deferential to the guy who controls his minutes, and apologized. Malone played it down. Everything is fine in Denver (well, except for the four straight losses). Here are the quotes, via Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post.

Said Mudiay: “It’s just both of us being competitors. It probably was my fault, I could have been doing a lot more. So I kind of put the blame on myself. I’ve got nothing against Coach, I respect him. He’s a great person, and I have all the respect in the world for him.

“Me and him are both competitive. We want to win. We hate losing. We’re on a four-game losing streak, something like that. It’s just us trying to win. At the same time, it’s over with. It’s on to the next game. It’s been like that my whole life. He’s just trying to challenge me, which I accept.”

“There is frustration on our end, having lost four games in a row now,” Malone said. “Just trying to find way to get a win. Winning is a great cure-all for anybody, like it was for (the Clippers) tonight, coming in having lost three in a row. So this is a very competitive game, guys are out there working hard trying to do their best, and sometimes emotions get involved. By no means is there an issue with Emmanuel or anybody else on this team. We are together, we are unified and we’re going to continue to fight to stay together to get this thing turned around.”


These kinds of little flare-ups are a common part of the NBA season — if the Nuggets were not frustrated after losing four straight, it would be a bigger concern. That Mudiay pushed back is some fire I want to see from a rookie.

Mudiay is learning, his turnovers are down of late (although they flared up against Golden State). His shooting is still an issue, and his decision making has a ways to go, but there is progress.  Which is all you can ask of a rookie. And it helps to have a coach who will push him. (And play him in the fourth quarter — Byron Scott, we’re looking at you.)

Rockets conduct “mini training camp” to try and right ship

J.B. Bickerstaff
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One of the reasons Kevin McHale was fired and J.B. Bickerstaff hired last week was the Rockets’ schedule — it got softer, and there were a couple longish breaks (for the NBA) where he could schedule practices and install changes. It gave Bickerstaff a fighting chance for success.

One of those breaks was the past few days. Houston had three days between games after they lost to New York Sunday, Wednesday night against Memphis is the next time they take the court. Bickerstaff used the time to have a “mini training camp” and try to return the team to some basics, he told the Houston Chronicle.

“Our attitude has changed over the past week and a half,” Bickerstaff said. “We’ve taken a more serious approach in what we’re doing. Guys are more disciplined in what we’re doing and they were hungry for that. As a group, we brought them together. That was the first thing they were calling for, some more discipline, more structure and more rules.”


“It was a hard practice,” Jason Terry said. “It was attention to detail. There were consequences for not paying attention to detail. Just getting back to our roots, that’s defense first, executing on offense and making the extra pass. We got to put the work in if we want to get the results. Though we thought we were doing that before, we weren’t doing that enough, obviously. It was good to see. It felt great. Today was a day, mentally we got better.

“The next step is winning basketball games. I believe in this group. If we do the things we practiced the last two days, we were going to put ourselves in great position to win. We’ll have to get that results, but I think we’ll have that opportunity.”

We will see if that carries over Wednesday night. Memphis has been playing better of late as well; this will be a tough test.

The bigger question is can Houston’s leaders — Terry, James Harden, Dwight Howard — make sure this improved foundation carries over a week from now? Then a month from now? Bickerstaff can talk discipline all he wants, he can tweak the rotations — finally separating Harden and Ty Lawson more — and sit guys playing poorly, but if the leaders in the locker room are not the ones keeping everyone in line everything will fall apart. You think Tim Duncan would have allowed the Rockets’ mindless, sloppy start in San Antonio? (Or Tony Parker? Or David West? Or a lot of guys in that locker room?)

There is so much talent on the Houston roster it’s still hard to imagine they don’t get it together and become a playoff team in the West. But whether they are a playoff team to truly fear remains to be seen.

Frank Vogel says Paul George is best two-way player in game

Paul George, John Wall

The moniker of the “best two-way player” sounds more like something an agent made up to gain a little leverage contract negotiations. It’s a nebulous concept. It’s an intentional dig at whomever is perceived as a better player, suggesting they don’t play enough defense.

But it’s part of the NBA lexicon now, and Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel thinks he has the best two-way player in the game in the resurgent Paul George. Tuesday night George dropped 40 points on Wizards and Vogel said this after the game, via the Washington Post.

“It’s tough to quantify in words,” Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said. “I mean, he just does so much. He’s capable of going for 40, carrying the offensive load and being the best defensive player on either team. He’s a special player, and the best two-way player in the game. We’re a different team with him out there.”

Paul George’s return to an elite level of play is one of the best stories of this young NBA season — for nine straight games now he has scored at least 25 points, he has pushed the Pacers to a 9-5 record with a top 10 NBA offense and defense. Tuesday night John Wall talked about how George’s improved jumper has made him a far more dangerous, more difficult to guard player. And he’s still a lock-down defender.

But George is not the best two-way player in the game — that’s Stephen Curry. George does not have the offensive impact that Curry brings to the Warriors, plus Curry has developed into a solid NBA defender. Curry gets steals, plays smart, and is a positive on defense, plus he’s the best offensive player in the league right now.

That doesn’t make the return of Paul George any less fun, any less good for the game. It’s great to see George back. Whatever you want to call him.