Atlanta Hawks v Detroit Pistons

Report: Greg Monroe ‘doesn’t really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons’

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Not unlike Eric Bledsoe, Greg Monroe is stuck.

The Pistons’ restricted free agent is seeking a max contract – as he should – but this late in free agency, the market seems to have dried up. It’s difficult to see any team extending him a large offer sheet, giving Detroit a ton of leverage in negotiations.

So like Bledsoe and/or his representatives did, Monroe and/or his representatives expressed his unhappiness with his current team to gain a bit of power at the bargaining table. In Monroe’s case, it was demanding a trade of Josh Smith.

That might have been nothing but a ploy, but at least one plugged-in reporter says the request were in line with Monroe’s true feelings.

Adrian Wojnarowski on Aime Mukendi Jr.’s AIMEzing Words podcast at about the 10:40 mark (hat tip: Sean Corp of Detroit Bad Boys):

Greg Monroe, Detroit has tried to help him with some sign-and-trade possibilities around the league. Monroe doesn’t really have a great interest in going back and playing with the Pistons. But if they’re going to move him in a sign and trade, they’ve got to get value for him. And they’ve got to get back some significant players, some significant talent, to compensate for that loss. They haven’t been able to find a deal for him.

They’ve talked with Atlanta. I believe they talked to Phoenix for a while. Those are two off the top of my head that they had conversations with and there was interest. Portland had some interest early on, but those teams moved on, and they realized – again, they could have signed Monroe to an offer sheet, but Detroit would have likely matched it, and they weren’t just going to let him leave for nothing.

Monroe, Smith and Andre Drummond have played terribly together, and Monroe had often been the one left marginalized and agitated. With Smith under contract for three more years and reportedly unlikely to be traded, I can see why Monroe wants to move on.

But that that trio was created and elevated by the previous regime.

Stan Van Gundy has tried to sell Monroe on a vision that includes Monroe and Drummond excelling together. At least that’s the line Van Gundy sells publicly.

I actually believe Monroe and Drummond could thrive together – with three shooters also on the court, and that means no Smith. But if Smith isn’t going to be traded, the Pistons would be wise to explore Monroe sign-and-trade that return value.

Interest from the Hawks, Trail Blazers and Suns is no secret. Portland already signed Chris Kaman, which, as Wojnarowski said, likely ended interest in Monroe. But Atlanta and Phoenix, especially with Bledsoe unsigned, still make some sense.

In the end, it’s difficult to see a team offering Monroe a contract he deems worthy AND surrendering assets Detroit deems worthy. The most likely scenario is Monroe returning to the Pistons.

He might not like playing with Smith, and maybe this turns into a Nene-like delayed sign-and-trade. Or maybe the Pistons eventually trade Smith.

Either way, Monroe could be playing for a team that suits him soon enough. But if he wants to get paid rather than take the one-year qualifying offer, he’ll likely have to sign with the Pistons – or sign an offer sheet they’d match – first.

Nerlens Noel uses length for ridiculous reverse jam

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Nerlens Noel‘s 7’4″ wingspan can come in handy at times.

Such as when driving on Brook Lopez, and getting forced under the basket, he can just reach around the Nets’ center for the impressive dunk.

Noel finished the game with 18 points, Jahlil Okafor had 22, and the Sixers picked up a win against the Nets 103-98.

Kobe Bryant’s 25 points not enough to upset Spurs

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have watched helplessly as Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has tormented them for the better part of the past two decades.

Bryant did so again in his final appearance in San Antonio, but the Spurs were able to enjoy this one.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a throwback performance by Bryant to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home.

“I thought it was great,” San Antonio point guard Tony Parker said. “It was a great game, fans were into it. It felt a little bit like the old days in the playoffs, Spurs and the Lakers.”

Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs’ 37th straight home victory dating back to last season was surprisingly difficult.

Bryant had 16 of his 25 points in the third quarter, going 3 for 6 on 3-pointers in guiding the Lakers to an 81-79 lead entering the fourth.

“I watched him growing up,” said Lakers guard and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson, who finished with 21 points and four assists. “I watched him kill the Spurs.”

San Antonio has trailed for only two minutes in the fourth quarter at home this season, but the Lakers led for all but 23 seconds in the opening seven minutes of the period.

Bryant finished 9 for 28 from the field, but was 7 for 18 in a dynamic second half that electrified a pro-Bryant crowd.

“It’s like watching Michael (Jordan),” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “I was just watching. It was great. It was great. We made some mistakes. He took advantage of it. He’s fantastic.”

After rising to drain a 3-pointer with Leonard squarely in his face contesting the attempt, Bryant turned to an injured Tim Duncan on the bench and shrugged his shoulders.

“He was like, `No way,’ and I was like `Dude,’ ” Bryant said. “What could I do? I miss the easy ones and make some B.S. like that. I don’t even know what to tell you. It was Tim’s version of a yell, so it was a strong whisper.”

The Lakers trailed 101-99 lead after trading 3-pointers following Bryant’s improbable shot, but the Spurs’ were able to hold Los Angeles to just three points in the final 2 minutes.

“Missed defensive assignments,” said Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell, who had 12 points. “They executed their offense to perfection. We were young and that’s an excuse I could give you.”

Bryant had a sore right shoulder, but he was not about to miss one last game against his fiercest rivals. He has faced the Spurs 90 times in the regular season and postseason, his most against any opponent.

TIP-INS

Lakers: The Spurs honored Bryant with a 3-minute video. The Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all paid tribute to Bryant’s competitiveness along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Bryant walked over to the Spurs’ bench prior to tipoff and hugged Popovich, sharing a few words with San Antonio’s longtime coach.

Spurs: San Antonio’s 12-game lead in the Southwest is the largest ever since the division was formed in 2004-2005. … In addition to Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs were also without Matt Bonner. The reserve forward suffered a left calf strain Friday against Dallas, which was just his 20th game of the season. … Pop star Selena Gomez sat courtside, wearing a Tony Parker jersey.

 

Spurs honor Kobe Bryant in his last game in San Antonio (VIDEO)

LOS ANGELES - MARCH 30:  Kobe Bryant #8 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands next to Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs on March 30, 2006 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Spurs won 96-85. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Kobe Bryant farewell tour has gone all around the NBA, but some stops are more emotional than others. His final trip to San Antonio certainly qualifies — the Spurs and Lakers have played each other in the playoffs eight times in his career, including twice in the Western Conference Finals (the Lakers won both times). The only player who has rivaled Bryant’s longevity is Tim Duncan, and the Lakers and Spurs were the two most dominant teams of the 2000s, winning nine of the 12 championships from 1999 to 2010 between them.

So, of course, the Spurs had an elaborate tribute video planned for Bryant. The video ran two and a half minutes and featured narration from Gregg Popovich, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Watch it below:

Report: Clippers’ Austin Rivers has broken hand, out 4-6 weeks

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29:  Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup past D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 105-93 win at Staples Center on January 29, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Clippers are without Blake Griffin for the next few weeks as he recovers from a broken hand stemming from an altercation with an equipment manager. Now, the Clippers have lost backup point guard Austin Rivers to the exact same injury, albeit not in the same circumstances, obviously.

The loss of Rivers isn’t as devastating as the loss of Griffin, but given the Clippers’ lack of depth, it’s certainly not ideal. Now, Chris Paul‘s only backup is Pablo Prigioni.