Dan Feldman

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 09:  Dwight Howard #8 of the Atlanta Hawks sits on the front row with fans after being charged with a foul against the Chicago Bulls at Philips Arena on November 9, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Dwight Howard: I told my mom as a prank I signed with Jazz, and it brought her to tears

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Dwight Howard cried at his introductory press conference with his hometown Hawks, but those weren’t the first tears shed by a member of his family over his free agency.

Howard, via The Doug Gottlieb Show:

I played a prank on my mom. I wanted to see her reaction. So, I told her, I said, “Mom, I just got this big contract, 150 million.” And she was all, “Oh my god. From who?” I said, “Utah Jazz.” And she started crying. And I said, “Mom, I’m sorry, I was just joking. I’m coming home to Atlanta.” Then, she was super happy, and my family was super excited. This city has been great.

Because Howard has never won in the playoffs (he led a team to the NBA Finals) nor improved (his defense and post moves are way more refined), we’re required to treat this as another example of Howard being unfocused and too concerned with cracking jokes.

It’s too bad we can’t laugh at this, because it’d be pretty funny.

Nuggets guard Gary Harris could miss four weeks

DENVER, CO - MARCH 02:  Gary Harris #14 of the Denver Nuggets controls the ball against Jordan Clarkson #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Pepsi Center on March 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 117-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Gary Harris missed the start of the season due to injury.

Just as the Nuggets are getting their starting shooting guard integrated, they’re losing him again.

Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post:

Denver plays 15 games over the next four weeks. The Nuggets are just 3-7, but they’ve played seven road games and lost at home once in overtime and once to the Warriors. The upcoming stretch is key to them showing whether they’re better than their record.

Will Barton started for Harris to begin the year, but he’s also banged up. Jamal Murray could also start at shooting guard. Either is fine, but removing them from the bench depletes the reserves. Maybe Nikola Jokic moving to the bench, to break up an ill-fitting partnership with Jusuf Nurkic, will make this more workable than when Harris missed the first few games.

Marcin Gortat on Wizards: ‘I think we’ve got one of the worst benches in the league right now’

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 11: Marcin Gortat #13 of the Washington Wizards reacts after committing a foul against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half at Verizon Center on November 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The Wizards are 2-7, and they’ve gone from vague finger-pointing to specific finger-pointing.

Starting center Marcin Gortat, via J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

I think right now, as far as I know, I think we’ve got one of the worst benches in the league right now.

There is some truth to that.

When not using its main lineup – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Gortat – Washington has been outscored by 4.9 points per 48 minutes. That’d rank 25th among teams in the league. Trey Burke leads players currently in the Wizards’ bench rotation in PER – with a well-below-average 11.4.

But it’s not as if the starters are collectively carrying their weight, either. They’ve been outscored, too (though by 2.3 points per 48 minutes).

Even if the starters had been excelling, Gortat’s comment’s probably wouldn’t go over well in the locker room or in the front office that assembled this roster.

Washington coach Scott Brooks, via Michael:

“I addressed it with March and we addressed it in front of the team. We move on,” Brooks said after Monday’s practice. “We learn from it because you don’t want to linger. And you don’t want that to happen again. We have a good group of guys who understand we all make mistakes at times and we have to move on.”

Help could be on the way once Ian Mahinmi gets healthy.

He might even send Gortat to the bench.

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t like Phil Jackson talking about LeBron James now, let alone using word ‘posse’

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks and the Eastern Conference helps up LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Eastern Conference during the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2015 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Following the lead of his manager – Maverick Carter, who criticized Phil Jackson’s use of the word “posse” to describe LeBron James‘ friends and business partners – LeBron indicated he lost respect for the Knicks president.

The Cavaliers superstar elaborated why.

LeBron, via Rick Noland of The Chronicle:

“To use that label, if you go and read the definition of the word ‘posse,’ it’s not what I’ve built over my career,” James said Tuesday morning at a team shootaround prior to a game against the Toronto Raptors. “It’s not what I stand for. It’s not what my family stands for. I believe the only reason he used that word is because he sees young African Americans trying to make a difference.”

“From the beginning, two years in, I felt like I wanted to put my guys in a position of power and give those guys an opportunity to better themselves,” 14th-year pro James said. “In the beginning, we were highly criticized and I was highly criticized about what I wanted to do to help some guys around me become very successful in business.

“It just sucks that now at this point, having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that’s done so many great business (deals), that the title for African Americans is the word ‘posse.'”

That left Knicks star Carmelo Anthony – who is a close friend of LeBron and has a complicated relationship with Jackson – to address the controversy.

Mike Vorkunov:

I basically agree with Anthony here. I don’t know what Jackson meant, and I can’t read his mind. I tend to think Jackson didn’t intend to used coded racism to demean LeBron and his business partners and friends, but I don’t know.

Still, using code words to divide us by race, intentionally or not, is problematic. Yes, “posse” has benign definitions. The question: Would Jackson have used same term if LeBron and/or his business partners were white? Screaming “racist” as Jackson is not the answer. But neither is ignoring the division perpetuated by people who don’t consider the effects of their language.

On a smaller scale, Jackson putting his foot in his mouth only adds another misstep in his quest to fix the Knicks. You can see why that would bother Anthony, whose clock is ticking.

Iman Shumpert says amazed facial expression wasn’t about podium moving

President Barack Obama accepts a team basketball jersey from Cleveland Cavaliers team members Kevin Love, left, as the president honored the 2016 NBA Champions Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
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Iman Shumpert‘s jaw literally dropped when, with the Cavaliers visiting the White House, President Barack Obama had his podium moved:

But Shumpert says he wasn’t stunned simply by the podium being moved.

Shumpert, via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

“No,” Shumpert said when asked whether he was amazed that the podium moved. “The fact he said ‘team’ and they sprinted over there. I didn’t care that the podium moved, they moved fast. He said, ‘Hey team!’ And they was gone. Dude was gone. I thought it was cool.”

OK then.