Report: At the moment, Lakers no longer considering trading Pau gasol

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Pau Gasol was off to a slow start this season, and after he and coach Mike D’Antoni traded jabs through the media about both his role and his performance, the Lakers had reportedly started to weigh their options by making Gasol available in trade long before the Feb. 20 deadline had begun to approach.

Even before Gasol’s comments and lackluster play to this point in the season, logic dictated that L.A. would consider dealing him at some point if the right offer was in place. Gasol will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and if it’s evident that he isn’t a fit in D’Antoni’s system, it makes sense to try to get some assets in return for a player who will almost assuredly return to All-Star form at his next destination.

At the moment, however, Gasol is safe in Los Angeles. After strong play over his last couple of games, along with some comments that no doubt were intended to make amends, the team has backed off of exploratory trade talks involving Gasol for now.

From Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPN Los Angeles:

The Los Angeles Lakers have decided — at least for now – that they’re better off keeping four-time All-Star center Pau Gasol, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Lakers, after weighing the idea of making Gasol available before the NBA’s annual trade deadline in February, are encouraged by the way Gasol has played over the last three games as well as his efforts to make amends for his recent public spat with coach Mike D’Antoni. …

Sources maintain that the Lakers would be reluctant to surrender any of that hard-fought flexibility in a potential deal for Gasol or any other player. Yet it’s believed that the Lakers would consider taking back some salary that bleeds into the 2014-15 season — but not beyond — if they could acquire a player who could significantly help them in the short term or other trade assets to help them reload around Bryant.

That’s one of the things that gets tricky when thinking about dealing Gasol. The Lakers would likely have to take back a significant amount of salary in any deal that sent him out of town, and that would cut into the team’s ability to be a true player in free agency this coming summer.

In order to deal Gasol, the Lakers would need to get players back who could increase their chances of winning now — not a championship, necessarily, but enough to do some damage in the playoffs in a very deep Western Conference.

There aren’t any deals out there to be had that would improve L.A. in this way, and with Gasol playing better and toning down the inflammatory public comments, the team will be content to stand pat for now, while likely revisiting their options as the trade deadline moves closer over the next couple of months.

Joel Embiid calls out Karl Anthony-Towns’ defense during Instagram trash talk

AP Foto/Hannah Foslien
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Joel Embiid often gloats on Instagram after 76ers wins.

Of course he did after Philadelphia beat Minnesota on Tuesday, specifically calling attention to this move on Karl-Anthony Towns (and this 76ers fan custom):

Embiid:

Euro stepping our way through Minnesota and we ended up raising the cat last night #TheProcess

A post shared by Joel "The Process" Embiid (@joelembiid) on

Towns commented:

That caption was as trash as your picture quality

Embiid replied:

Better quality than your defense

Embiid insisted it’s all in good fun.

Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

https://twitter.com/JCameratoNBCS/status/941395953113804800

I’m not sure Towns is having as much fun as Towns. But I know this:

Embiid had a valid point.

Salah Mejri kicks at Patty Mills as Mavericks and Spurs leave court for halftime (video)

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Mavericks center Salah Mejri has a history of agitating, including against the Spurs.

Two years ago, Mejri dunked while Dallas got blown out by San Antonio and yapped at the Spurs bench – drawing laughter from Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. Last season, Mejri had Trevor Ariza and other Rockets trying to confront him after reportedly saying something about Ariza’s family.

In the Mavericks’ win over the Spurs on Tuesday, Mejri got into it with Patty Mills.

Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com:

Mejri and Rudy Gay received double technical fouls, and Mejri went to the bench. Everything could have cooled down at halftime, but Mejri escalated tension

Watch the full sequence above, but the key moment:

giphy (2)

That’ll probably draw a fine.

NBA introducing 2-for-1 All-Star voting days

AP Photo/Chris Carlson
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The NBA changed its All-Star format this season from East vs. West to captain-picked teams (though still naming players equally from each conference).

That apparently wasn’t a big enough overhaul.

After including media and player votes last year, the league is making All-Star starter selection even more complex.

NBA release:

NBA All-Star Voting 2018 presented by Verizon will tip off with an early voting period exclusively on the NBA App and NBA.com beginning Thursday, Dec. 21 at 1 p.m. ET.

Voting via all other channels, including Amazon Alexa for the first time, will launch on Monday, Dec. 25 at 11 a.m.

Additionally, new for this season, five “2-for-1 Days” will allow fans to have their votes count twice on Dec. 31, Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 12 and Jan. 15 when voting through the NBA App and NBA.com, along with Sina Weibo and Tencent in China.  All “2-for-1 Days” will be designated 12 a.m. – 11:59 p.m. ET.

TNT will reveal the All-Star Game starters, including the two captains, on Thursday, Jan. 18 during TNT NBA Tip-Off

The network will announce the reserves, as selected by NBA head coaches, on Tuesday, Jan. 23 during TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET. 

The team rosters for NBA All-Star Game 2018 in Los Angeles will be revealed on Thursday, Jan. 25 during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off at 7 p.m. ET.

I suppose this is to drum up interest on otherwise quiet voting days. After all, this is really just about the NBA selling itself.

But the All-Star voting process has always left something to be desired. I don’t see how this changes that.

Report: Lakers ‘longshot’ to sign LeBron James

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Preeminent NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski called it “likelyLeBron James would sign with the Lakers or Clippers next summer. The Clippers have since been somewhat debunked as a LeBron destination. There’s circumstantial evidence linking LeBron to Los Angeles.

Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

So imagining James’ last act coming in purple and gold isn’t without basis. But as of now, it’s also a longshot, according to league sources.

Shelburne and Windhorst are highly credible. I doubt they’d report this without connected sources.

LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, and manager, Maverick Carter, have recently publicly downplayed the importance of Los Angeles to LeBron. That felt like a coordinated attack on the LeBron-Lakers rumors, and this fits as a continuation.

But why wage that campaign? To keep the Cavaliers focused while LeBron still plays for them, even if he might leave after the season? To lower expectations among the Lakers’ massive fan base, so as not alienate those people (potential customers of the many LeBron-connected brands) when LeBron inevitably signs elsewhere? Both could be true, but there’s obviously a difference between each driving LeBron’s camp.