Author: Brett Pollakoff

Memphis Grizzlies v Boston Celtics

Report: Marc Gasol would be Spurs’ ‘top target’ if Duncan and Ginobili retire


It hasn’t been forever since the Spurs have had a winning core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker in place; it only feels like it.

San Antonio has been the league’s most consistent franchise for going on 18 years now, but two of the three players that have been in place for much of the team’s recent success — Duncan and Ginobili — are in the final years of their respective contracts, and could very well choose retirement at the conclusion of this season.

If that happens, the Spurs aren’t going to pursue a long rebuild through the draft. They’re instead expected to go hard after one of the top unrestricted free agents that will hit the market this summer.

From Sean Deveney of Sporting News (via Triangle Offense):

For much of the year, a rumor has simmered that the Spurs are girding for the retirements of both Duncan and Ginobili, and, according to league sources, are prepared to chase hard after one of the top free agents on the market this summer: Grizzlies center Marc Gasol.

“It depends on what Tim and Manu and everyone there does,” one Western Conference executive told Sporting News. “But if they’re going, the Spurs are not going to step back and rebuild, no one thinks that. The understanding is Gasol would be their top target.” …

“They tend to fly under the radar on this kind of thing, then pop up and make the George Hill trade or almost get Jason Kidd,” one general manager said. “With their situation, you’d expect that to be the case again. If it is not Gasol, it will be a trade for a draft pick, something on draft night, it will be someone you’re not expecting. It’s not an organization that has gotten where it is without being prepared.”

Gasol is unlikely to leave Memphis, mainly because he’s already playing for a playoff team with the Grizzlies, and can earn more money via an extra year on a max-level deal by simply staying where he is.

But things haven’t been great for the Grizzlies in the second half of the season, and given the strength of the teams in the Western Conference, a first round playoff exit isn’t completely out of the question.

If Gasol believes that the winning nature of his current situation may be fading, he could consider other options. And few would be more attractive than the Spurs, given their rich history of continued success.

Joakim Noah admits minutes restriction is ‘frustrating,’ but says he doesn’t want to be a distraction

Joakim Noah

Joakim Noah is currently on a minutes restriction, which had him sitting the last half of the fourth quarter during a recent close loss to the Thunder.

While it can be frustrating at times, Noah is on board for now, mainly because he doesn’t want to be the focus of a controversy that could cause problems for the team during the final month of the regular season.

From Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

Being caught in the middle of a controversy between his coach and the front office doesn’t sit well with Joakim Noah, who had to sit the last half of the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 32-minute restriction placed on him by management to coach Tom Thibodeau has added another layer to the growing speculation about the relationship between the two parties, leading to more endless speculation about the future. …

“I don’t want to be a distraction,” he said. “We’ll figure it out internally and do what’s best for the team.

“It’s frustrating but I think I’m not the only one who’s frustrated. It’s part of the grind but I’m trying to stay focused on what’s important. I’m not trying to get caught up in any noise.”

Noah added that he will talk to the decision-makers — presumably those on the team’s medical staff and in the front office — should they want the restriction to remain in place once the postseason begins.

It doesn’t make much sense for the Bulls to overextend Noah (or any of their players) for the remainder of the regular season, especially when considering how banged-up the team is with Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler already sidelined with injuries.

The concern is getting everyone as healthy as possible for the playoffs, and something tells me that by then, the issue with Noah and his minutes restriction will have been all worked out.

Kevin Love to return for Cavaliers after two-game absence, says rest ‘had nothing to do with’ prior back issues

Kevin Love
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Kevin Love has missed the last two games for the Cavaliers simply due to rest, but some were concerned that the back issues he dealt with earlier in the season were the real reason why.

Love insists that’s not the case.

Speaking to reporters at shootaround in advance of his return to the lineup for Wednesday night’s contest against the Nets, Love said the time off came as a result of a request from his head coach.

From Brian Windhorst of

“Me resting had nothing to do with my back,” Love said Wednesday morning. “Coach (David Blatt) had approached me. I was playing heavy minutes and he came to me and asked if I’d sit a game or two and that’s all it was.” …

Blatt previously said Love came to him to ask for rest. Love said Wednesday it was Blatt who came to him with the idea. Either way, Love said he thinks his five days off will have a positive effect.

“I feel good. Anytime you take a couple days and a couple games in this part of the season, you come back feeling a little bit better,” Love said. “Everybody is focusing on their health; everyone wants to have a full roster come playoff time. This is my first experience going through it.”

Love, of course, has never been on a team that’s made the playoffs, which was a primary reason for forcing a trade from the Timberwolves this past summer after playing there for his first six NBA seasons.

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The Cavaliers have 13 games left in the regular season, which is a good chunk of time to see if they can figure out ways to better incorporate Love into the offense, instead of having him play a stretch-four role that doesn’t come close to maximizing his abilities.

Michael Jordan announced his first return to NBA 20 years ago today with two-word statement

Chicago Bulls v Indiana Pacers

Michael Jordan initially retired from basketball after playing nine seasons and winning three NBA titles, but thankfully for fans of the game, his first stint away didn’t last too long.

Jordan skipped all of the 1994 season and most of the next one to pursue a minor league baseball career, before ultimately getting the itch to resume his professional basketball one, this time with the Bulls for four more seasons.

It’s 20 years to the day that Jordan announced his return, and he did so with nothing more than a simple two-word statement.



Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report has a look at how this came to pass:

After about two weeks of practicing at the Bulls’ Berto Center—the team’s training facility—Jordan wanted to get Falk and Polk’s input on a major decision he was leaning toward: returning to the NBA after retiring in 1993 and playing minor league baseball for a little more than a year. …

That same day, Jordan shared the news with Jackson and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Falk, who’s now the CEO of F.A.M.E., privately called former NBA commissioner David Stern and Dick Ebersol, who was the chairman of NBC Sports. Then Falk took about four attempts to write a press release officially announcing Jordan’s return, trying to put into words how his client had a change of heart and missed the game.

But Jordan wasn’t comfortable with the different drafts, and at that moment, he took matters into his own hands. He thought of a way to keep to his style of being simple and straight to the point:

“I’m Back.”

“He felt that it didn’t require an explanation or a justification,” said Falk, who faxed the final press release to media outlets. “I thought I was a pretty good writer, written a lot of things, but he said, ‘Let me do this.’ So he sat down at the table and thought about it for a couple of minutes and he wrote, ‘I’m Back.’ He said, ‘OK, that’s it.’ It was classic Michael Jordan. It was elegant in simplicity, it communicated how he felt, it said it all.”

Jordan’s first game back was in Indiana against the Pacers the very next day, and it was a rough one — he finished with 19 points on 7-of-28 shooting, in a game his team lost by seven points.

It didn’t take Jordan long to regain his groove, though. He dropped 55 points in a win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden just four games later.

Somewhat fittingly, the Bulls face the Pacers tonight — and you can stream it live if you happen to be a CSN Chicago subscriber.

Stan Van Gundy blows through postgame handshake, Grizzlies’ coach looks confused (VIDEO)

Detroit Pistons Introduce Stan Van Gundy

The Grizzlies blew a 17-point lead and lost to a Pistons team that had dropped 10 straight on Tuesday, but you’d think the outcome was reversed when seeing the odd postgame interaction between the two teams’ respective head coaches.

Dave Joerger was initially all smiles, and looked ready to congratulate Van Gundy on his crew ending the losing streak. But Stan didn’t seem to have time for idle chit chat, and blew through the handshake, which left Joerger seemingly a bit confused.

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