Report: Omer Asik changes course (somewhat), ready to play for Rockets

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Omer Asik, who requested a trade from the Rockets last week, has missed both of Houston’s games since his request became public.

Asik has not hidden his desire to leave the Rockets since they signed Dwight Howard and this was just taking the process a step further. Forcing a trade is not a pleasant process, and there will be messiness like this along the way.

At least we get this gem from Houston coach Kevin McHale when he explained why Asik missed the last game. CSN Houston:

When asked if Asik was under the weather, McHale slowly said, “Yes, he is under the weather.”

And Larry Sanders is out simply because of a thumb injury. This has been a great year for technically true, but completely misleading, excuses for players missing games.

McHale can reportedly stop his amusing reasoning now, though. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

In the team’s daily meeting Thursday in New York, coach Kevin McHale spoke about players stepping up to contribute in any way possible after a tough overtime loss in Philadelphia in which Asik played just four minutes, according to an individual with knowledge of the meeting. Several players, particularly Pat Beverley and Chandler Parsons, spoke. At one point, McHale asked center Greg Smith if he was ready. Smith said he was, and McHale then asked Asik if he was ready to play that night.

According to the person familiar with the conversation, Asik said he would not be ready to play that night and soon met with his agent.

McHale, general manager Daryl Morey and several players have spoken with Asik in the days since the meeting, with Asik indicating he intended to return to practice.

Asik returning is best for all parties involved.

If Asik wants to get traded, he’ll need to remain in game shape and show other teams what he can do.

For the Rockets, who seem intent on trading him, Asik playing will increase his value. Plus, in the meantime, he’s a capable player who can definitely help playing behind Howard (and maybe even with Howard, though that hasn’t gone well so far this season).

Asik missing two games has made clear how far he’ll go to get a trade, and the Rockets have to recognize that. Now, it’s time for Asik to play and to give Morey a chance to find a deal.

Akron store already selling “Stay Home 23” shirts, hats as LeBron decision looms

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We’ve seen this movie before.

There is all sorts of buzz around the league that LeBron James has one foot out the door in Cleveland. While people around LeBron denied he the rumor he is “100 percent” leaving, good luck finding any league source who thinks he is staying put next summer. Nothing is set in stone, his options — including staying — remain open, but we’ve all been down this road before.

The hometown fans are going to do their part to urge LeBron to stay.

Fan sentiment has some pull with LeBron (he came back to win the city a title). However, what matters more is a sense of a plan to keep the Cavaliers as title contenders for the coming years — and that is more than just Dan Gilbert paying the tax. The Cavs did nothing this summer that got them closer to beating Golden State, and while they swung for the fences with Paul George, what they really needed was wing defenders and athletes, and they didn’t get those either. Luc Mbah a Moute signed a one-year deal for the minimum somewhere else. Instead, Cleveland overpaid Kyle Korver.

Despite all that, the Cavs remain the team to beat in the East. If Cleveland gets to the Finals — LeBron’s eighth in a row — and they win or make it close, he may see staying as his best option. A season can be a lifetime in the NBA in terms of shifting attitudes. Still, I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Marshall Plumlee gets camp invite, partially guaranteed contract from Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers have 14 fully guaranteed contracts on their roster, plus a partial guarantee for DeAndre Liggins (who likely is on the roster opening day). They also are pretty much set at center with DeAndre Jordan and Willie Reed (plus when they go small they can play Blake Griffin there, something I wish they’d do a little more).

That said, Doc Rivers — just a coach now — needs bodies for camp, so in comes former Duke star and Knick Marshall Plumlee, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Plumlee played in 21 games for the Knicks last season, logging a total of 190 minutes. He bounced between New York and the D-League Westchester Knicks, when down he averaged 12.3 points and 9.8 rebounds a game.

He’s not making the Clippers’ squad (barring injury), but he could show well and get noticed by other teams. Over the course of a season, there will be a need for bigs as guys go down injured, Plumlee is getting a chance to show how his game has developed. And he makes some money in the process.

Kawhi Leonard is smiling, and that confuses Manu Ginobili (PHOTO)

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Much like Kevin Durant, it appears that Kawhi Leonard is having a great summer.

In fact, this appears to be the Summer of Kawhi Smiling. Which, according to one of his longtime teammates, is a bit confusing.

When the Spurs posted a photo of Leonard with a big old grin on his face to their Twitter feed recently, San Antonio legend Manu Ginobili responded asking the team whether something was up.

Specifically, Ginobili said that he had seen more photos of Leonard smiling in the past two days then he had in six seasons as a teammate.

Via Twitter:

You can leave an anonymous tip about why Kawhi Leonard is smiling so much by contacting the produce manager at your local H-E-B.

Kobe is the Lakers’ all-time leader in steals (and other trivia rookies don’t know)

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“He played 20 years … I mean, yeah I guess.”

That’s what Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball had to say in this video after learning that Kobe Bryant was the all-time leader in steals for his franchise. You have to hand it to him, it is a little surprising. Even more surprising is that Bryant has 220 more than Magic Johnson at No. 2.

In a video posted to YouTube by Complex on Saturday, rookies tried to answer questions similar to the one Ball pondered over, like what team drafted their head coach, who the NBA all-time leading scorer is, and what day the first game of the season starts on.

A lot of the responses were pretty funny, including the guys getting wrong what year Adam Silver became NBA commissioner. Poor David Stern has already been forgotten about!

Meanwhile, Ball looked the sharpest. He’s going to come in handy when the Lakers play pub trivia.