Dan Feldman

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Report: Lakers shut down healthy Timofey Mozgov for rest of season

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Timofey Mozgov has sat for 12 of the Lakers’ last 14 games, and he played just 26 combined minutes in the other two. He was even inactive for Los Angeles’ last two games.

Now, the Lakers are deemphasizing him even further.

ESPN:

The Los Angeles Lakers have shut down center Timofey Mozgov, who is healthy, to take a stronger look at the team’s younger players for the rest of the season, a source told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears.

Just three years and $48 million left on Mozgov’s contract.

And as long as we’re at it, three years and $54 million left on Luol Deng‘s contract. Deng has also fallen from the rotation and became a regular inactive before Mozgov. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s also completely shut down soon.

The Lakers are better off playing their young players, Brandon Ingram over Deng and Ivica Zubac and Tarik Black over Mozgov. Not only will that help the youngsters develop, they’re less equipped to help the team win now. The Lakers are especially incentivized to tank, because they keep their first-round pick in a loaded 2017 draft only if it lands in the top three. Otherwise, it goes to the 76ers – and the Lakers’ 2019 first-rounder goes to the Magic.

Though the right strategy now, this is also a reminder of the misguided Jim Buss era. The Lakers are paying Mozgov and Deng a lot of money, and neither is contributing on the court given the Lakers’ obvious objectives. Even if the Lakers try to win during the next three years, Mozgov and Deng could age past helping that cause.

There isn’t much hope in this situation, but maximizing it involves keeping Mozgov and Deng healthy and developing higher-upside, younger players.

Shutting down Mozgov is, sadly and predictably, the optimal move at this point.

Former NBA player Cliff Robinson says he suffered ‘minor brain hemorrhage’

AP Photo/John Swart
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Cliff Robinson – who played for the Trail Blazers, Suns, Pistons, Warriors and Nets in an underrated 18-year career – has been hospitalized with a previously undisclosed illness.

Robinson in a statement, via the Trail Blazers:

“I want Trail Blazers fans and friends to know I’m doing well and in the process of getting better.  My family and I appreciate the prayers and well-wishes for my recovery.  I had an unfortunate incident with a minor brain hemorrhage which means I’ll be in rehabilitation for a while.  But I’m excited about trying to get past this speed bump.  I’m improving every day.”

I have a hard time comprehending the idea of a “minor” brain hemorrhage, but hopefully this truly is and Robinson recovers fully and quickly.

Scout: Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo ignore Fred Hoiberg’s plays

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There’s a perception Fred Hoiberg watches helplessly as Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo run roughshod over the coach, the Bulls organization and even sometimes each other.

Is this more evidence of that or just confirmation bias?

Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:

Yet the belief persists in front office circles that Butler is no fan of Hoiberg. In fact, a scout with a rival team told Bleacher Report he’s witnessed persistent episodes when Butler, Rondo and Wade have ignored plays Hoiberg has called.

“When Fred would call plays on the sideline, Rondo would just flat-out blow him off,” said the scout, who spoke with Bleacher Report on the condition of anonymity. “Wade does it, too. Butler does it, too. … That becomes infectious.”

We went through this with LeBron James and David Blatt a couple years ago. Good players – especially seasoned veterans like Butler, Wade and Rondo – often have the freedom to change play calls. NBA games are fast and chaotic, and there isn’t time to run every audible by the coach or even stop get the play in the first place.

That said, there are limits. Rondo reportedly overruled too many of Rick Carlisle’s plays, leading to problems when he played for the Mavericks. On the other hand, Hoiberg grants at least Wade immense authority.

Do Butler, Wade and Rondo improvise too often? Do they bypass Hoiberg in a way that undermines his standing with other players?

I don’t know, and I doubt the scout does for certain, either.

DeMarcus Cousins ‘not at all’ upset by late benching in Pelicans’ win over Hornets

AP Photo/Bob Leverone
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DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis have not yet meshed on the court, and that was painfully obvious in the Pelicans’ game against the Hornets on Saturday. Here’s how New Orleans fared by which of its star bigs were on the court:

  • Both: -5
  • Just Cousins: -5
  • Just Davis: +13

The Pelicans rallied for a 125-122 overtime win by sitting Cousins for the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter and all of overtime.

Cousins:

Was it frustrating? Not at all. The team was in a good rhythm. They were playing a good stretch of basketball. So, I wasn’t mad at all. Pulled out a good win. I’m not mad at all.

This is probably too little, too late for the Pelicans, who are 5.5 games and four teams out of playoff position. The priority should be developing chemistry between Cousins and Davis for next season.

But that needn’t be the only concern. Winning now and establishing optimism also matters, and Saturday, with Davis thriving (46 points and 21 rebounds), was the perfect opportunity to lean toward the present.

Credit Cousins for buying in. His attitude is under the microscope, and this is a good example of how he’ll react to playing for a winner. Getting benched would likely be so easily tolerated only with a victory.

The key, though, is winning more next season and avoiding the stressors that had Cousins and the Kings aggravating each other.

Is this a Ben McLemore 3-pointer?

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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The NBA has built a replay center and plans to better leverage technology to get more calls right. The league’s officiating – from on-court refereeing to in-game reviews to post-game accountability – has come a long way.

This is not a shining example of the progress.

From the official Twitter account of the league office:

The most important thing to note is that Ben McLemore‘s shot was actually ruled a 2-pointer. I’m not sure why this tweet suggests otherwise, but the details of the tweet – not the actual scorekeeping – are the error.

The most enjoyable thing to note is how silly this tweet looks.