Josh Smith

Maurice Cheeks says Josh Smith will remain Detroit Pistons starting small forward

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When the Detroit Pistons tipped off against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, Josh Smith was on the bench. This, naturally, raised all kinds of questions.

Why wasn’t Smith starting against his former team? Had Maurice Cheeks given up on the Pistons’ big frontcourt of Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond after just 11 games? Was this a reaction to the team’s poor start?

The questions didn’t exactly stop once the game got going, as Kyle Singler, Smith’s replacement in the starting unit, dropped 22 points and seemed to mesh much better with the starters.

Meanwhile, Smith continued his struggles this year with an 0-for-7 scoreless night in just 20 minutes.

Was this enough to start a small forward controversy? It doesn’t appear so.

As it turns out, Smith came off the bench for disciplinary reasons, not “basketball reasons”, as David Stern would say.

While this may calm some nerves in Detroit, the Pistons are still 4-8. The defense is a disaster, and the offense remains starved for space. There are major issues here, and lineup changes of some sort will likely need to happen at some point if things don’t turn up soon.

That change probably won’t be moving Smith, who signed a 4-year, $54 million dollar deal this offseason, to the bench in favor of Singler. But moving him back to power forward? That might not be a bad idea. Smith is attempting 5.2 three-pointers a game, and he’s posting the lowest true shooting percentage and PER of his entire career. He’s just not a perimeter threat.

We’ll see what Cheeks does to try and turn this thing around, or we’ll see if Joe Dumars gets active on the trade market. But for right now, at least, it appears Smith will remain the starting small forward.

Lou Williams hits halfcourt buzzer-beater (video)

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Yeah, the Lakers lost to the Rockets, 134-95, Wednesday. But consider how lopsided that margin would’ve been without Lou Williams‘ halfcourt buzzer-beater.

And if this headline looks familiar, it is.

LeBron James, Cavaliers do water-bottle challenge on bench during blowout win over Knicks (video)

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, left, and Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson entertain themselves by flipping a water bottle trying to get it to land on it's flat bottom during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 126-94, and most starters left the game for the bench at the end of the fourth quarter. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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LeBron James did his part – scoring 25 points (on just 10 shots!), dishing seven assists and grabbing six rebounds – to give the Cavaliers an insurmountable lead over the Knicks through three quarters. So, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

As Cleveland put the finishing touches on its 126-94 win, boredom set it. LeBron and a few of his teammates tried to flip a water bottle and have it land upright on the floor. LeBron even dove onto the court to pull the bottle back in after an errant flip!

No, Phil Jackson should not have used the word “posse” to describe LeBron’s business associates and friends. But this is the most disrespectful thing I’ve ever seen – and I love it.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.