Marc Gasol is one of the best players who will be available as an unrestricted free agent this summer, at least technically.
Like most All-Star free agents, the likelihood of Gasol leaving his current situation — especially when considering it’s a winning one — is minimal, at best.
The Grizzlies can offer an extra year of guaranteed salary on a max deal than can any other team, and that alone may be enough for Gasol to re-sign. But when adding in the fact that Memphis is capable of competing with the league’s elite as currently constructed, there would seem to be little incentive for him to attempt to sign anywhere else.
From Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops:
… a little birdie who knows of what he speaks tells me Gasol has already ruled out playing for the New York Knicks. It’s nothing personal with Phil Jackson or that consummate New Yorker, Jim Dolan (gag). It’s a matter of money. He can get a five-year deal to stay in Memphis, where he attended high school. After taxes, that will be worth more than twice what he would get from New York.
The Knicks, of course — just like the Lakers — are a big market team that will try to use that platform as a way to lure players in free agency this summer.
But the top-tier guys, which include players like LaMarcus Aldridge of the Blazers, have little reason to bolt their current situations. As long as a max deal is on the table, the elite guys should remain where they are.
Teams like the Knicks and the Lakers, due to being lottery clubs in such dire circumstances from a win-loss standpoint, are going to need to overpay guys in free agency to jump-start their respective rebuilding process. That means doling out max deals to guys who may not receive them elsewhere; Goran Dragic of the Heat and Draymond Green of the Warriors are just two names that may fit that description.
James Harden was fouled on a drive to the basket in the closing seconds of Houston’s loss to the Grizzlies on Wednesday.
The referees didn’t call it at the time, but we all saw it with our own eyes, and the league admitted as much in its officiating report that was released the very next day.
As you might imagine, coming clean after the fact does little to correct what happened, at least in the players’ eyes.
From Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle:
When asked if it meant anything that the league admitted their error, Harden said, “It’s still a loss.”
Forward Trevor Ariza added that he and his teammates got “nothing” from the announcement.
“We appreciate the acknowledgment, but it still puts us in the losing column,” forward Josh Smith said. “You never know what the outcome of that game would have been with the call.”
This reaction will be consistent with players, because if they get blatantly hosed on a particular late-game call that might have swung things in their favor, there’s little to be gained by the league confirming as much a day later, when there is no available recourse.
The attempt at transparency is a positive one with these reports overall, and the goal is that they will lead to better and more consistent officiating when games are on the line. Just don’t expect the players to be somehow grateful for the revisionist history.
LeBron James was kicked in the groin by James Harden on Sunday, and then was grabbed around the neck and brought to the floor by Jonas Valanciunas two games later.
Somewhat predictably, he’s growing tired of the excessively physical plays being made against him.
LeBron has long talked about how non-basketball plays were the ones he’s had the most disdain for, and that once again was a familiar refrain after the win over the Raptors. But he also mentioned something else, which hinted at something that could resemble retaliation.
From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
After being the recipient of a second flagrant foul in his past three games,Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James said he might have to take matters into his own hands in the future.
“Maybe I got to protect myself a little bit more, too,” James said after the Cavs’ 120-112 win over the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. …
“I don’t want to get too much involved in it because I don’t want to cry about it because it’s not like I’m not able to get back up, but it’s a lot of plays that are just not basketball plays. …But the referees, they take care of it. They decide what [type of foul] it is or not. That’s what we got rules for. And for me, I need to maintain my focus and understand how important the game is, but at the same time, protect myself as well.”
It isn’t on James to do something to fight back that could get him ejected or suspended; for his opponents, that would be the best outcome possible.
But his teammates could certainly step in and issue a well-timed hard foul in these situations, just to send an important message that James will in fact be protected out there on a consistent basis.
When the Nuggets parted ways with head coach Brian Shaw somewhat suddenly on Tuesday, David West of the Pacers immediately came to his defense.
Shaw was an assistant coach for two years in Indiana before landing the Nuggets job, and still has the loyalty of his former players.
West said Shaw being fired was ‘bullsh-t,’ because there were ‘no grownups’ in place on the Nuggets roster. While there were multiple factors that contributed to Shaw’s demise, at least one of the players in Denver was willing to publicly agree with what West had to say.
From Chris Tomasson of The Denver Post:
“I saw it,” Chandler said before Wednesday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center. “I mean, it’s probably true, but he’s entitled to his own opinion. I’m not saying we’re immature. We just need to be professionals all the time. … Winning games, I mean, is on the players and coaches, so it probably did (contribute to losses).”
The lack of veteran leadership on the Nuggets roster isn’t exactly a secret, so Chandler coming out and saying this shouldn’t be interpreted as his hammering his current teammates.
But the admission does speak to a legitimate problem in the locker room — one that Shaw was evidently ill-equipped to handle in just his second season as an NBA head coach.
With Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler both sidelined due to injury, the Bulls need someone to take charge and attempt to initiate the offense.
Tony Snell got the start Thursday night against the Thunder, and at least on this particular play, he tried — but with Serge Ibaka waiting for him right at the rim, his attempt was one that failed rather miserably.