Author: Dan Feldman

Charlie Villanueva ejected for grabbing Russell Westbrook’s neck (video)

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Russell Westbrook wasn’t the only one ejected from the Thunder’s win over the Mavericks last night.

Charlie Villanueva also got tossed for putting his hand around Westbrook’s neck during the first Westbrook-J.J. Barea incident. Villanueva didn’t calm down, either, continuing to go after players.

Westbrook, Barea and Serge Ibaka also picked up technical fouls.

Amir Johnson swats away Robin Lopez’s shoe during stoppage (video)

Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson (90) blocks a shot by New York Knicks center Robin Lopez during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Oct. 16, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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Amir Johnson isn’t some rookie who doesn’t know what do when a player’s shoe falls off.

Johnson is a seasoned veteran. He swats it away.

Lakers trainer wants Kobe Bryant to rest 1-2 weeks, Byron Scott doesn’t envision that

<> during the fourth quarter at TD Garden on December 30, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Lakers defeat the Celtics 112-104. 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.
Getty Images
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Kobe Bryant missed a game with a strained right Achilles tendon. Then, he returned for last night’s Lakers-Pelicans game only to leave in the first half when his right Achilles became sore.

How is Lakers coach Byron Scott handling his hobbled 37-year-old star?

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

I understand and respect Kobe’s desire to play as much as possible before he retires. But if he keeps pressing now, he faces significant risk of a setback that costs him far more than a week or two.

Goran Dragic out at least three games, sent back to Miami for MRI

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 06: Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat drives during a game against the New York Knicks at American Airlines Arena on January 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida. 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. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Heat guard Goran Dragic was just starting to find his scoring touch after a rough start to the season. He has averaged 15 points on 54% shooting, including 50% on 3-pointers, in his last 10 games.

But now he’s sidelined.

Dragic will miss the Clippers tonight, Nuggets on Friday and Thunder on Sunday.

He missed only one other game due to injury this season, and Beno Udrih started in his place. But Tyler Johnson was also out for that game, a loss to the Pistons, so it’s unclear how Miami will handle its point guards now.

My guess is Udrih starts. It’s a small sample (26 minutes), but the Heat have dominated (137.9 offensive rating/104.1 defensive rating/+33.8 net rating) when he has played with their other starters (Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside). That would also allow Johnson to play more with the other reserves, with whom he has developed a chemistry.

Either way, Dragic is a significant loss. Miami’s point guard depth is now merely enough to tread water.

If Dragic’s injury weren’t enough, Hassan Whiteside isn’t certain to play at Denver tonight:

Report: Nets have approached Tom Thibodeau about coaching them

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The Nets reportedly have a strong candidate for their next general manager, Bryan Colangelo.

Do they also have a top coaching target?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

I’m dubious of any reports on the Nets’ next coach until they hire a general manager. Although it isn’t always the case, when a team has both jobs vacant, it picks the general manager first and allows him to choose the coach.

But Mikhail Prokhorov does things his own way. And even if the Nets owner doesn’t hire a coach first, any potential general manager will pitch his plans for a coach. Likely, the general manager will have already talked to potential coaches before presenting Brooklyn with the idea. Perhaps, the Colangelo and Thibodeau rumors are leaking in tandem.

Thibodeau might be the coach most qualified to lead the talent-and-draft-pick-strapped Nets through the next few years. When the Bulls were depleted by injuries, he still had them playing hard and defending sharply. That style can turn a bad team into a decent one.

There are still major questions about Thibodeau, namely his interpersonal skills and willingness to rest players. But barring a miracle free agent signing or two, Brooklyn is facing a major talent deficit in the years ahead.

Perhaps, this partnership could help both sides repair their images.