Author: Dan Feldman

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Byron Scott: Lakers had ‘verbal altercation’ on bench in loss to Nuggets


Kobe Bryant got a day off because he was “really angry.”

Apparently, he’s not the only Laker in a foul mood lately.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:

Near the end of the Lakers’ 120-109 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at Staples Center, Lakers coach Byron Scott said there was “a little bit of a verbal altercation.”

“That’s good,” Scott said after practiced on Wednesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. They tell me that they care. I want to see more fight in our guys. We want to try to stop the bleeding as soon as possible.”

Scott declined to name any players, other than saying that Kobe Bryant was not involved in the altercation. Lakers forward Julius Randle added he was in the game when the incident happened from the bench.

This probably isn’t a big deal. Scott certainly doesn’t think it is, or he wouldn’t have disclosed it to the media.

But I also don’t trust Scott, who still hasn’t reached his players, to read the pulse of this team.

The Lakers aren’t just 0-4. They’re a miserable 0-4.

Most teams are still optimistic at this point in the season. The internal griping usually comes later.

Maybe Scott is right that the Lakers are just getting their competitive juices flowing. But I’d be worried that they’re going downhill fast.

SVG defends accusation on Andre Drummond extension: What about Kawhi Leonard?

Andre Drummond, Kawhi Leonard

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – An anonymous NBA executive accused the Pistons and Andre Drummond of circumventing league rules by forgoing a contract extension, a move that could give Detroit an extra $13 million in cap space next summer while still giving Drummond a max contract.

“I don’t remember reading any of those things about Kawhi Leonard last year coming off being the NBA Finals MVP, and they didn’t extend him,” Pistons president/coach Stan Van Gundy said. “…Washington’s doing it with Beal. Look, it’s more common not to do them then do them. So, I don’t know why the criticism.”

Van Gundy is right. The Spurs clearly did this with Leonard, and the Wizards are gaining a similar advantage with Bradley Beal.

The key question: Did the Pistons promise to give Drummond a max deal next summer? That would seemingly violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Van Gundy said the league asked about negotiations to ensure everything was on the up and up.

“You can’t have a deal into the future,” Van Gundy said. “So, that’s why what we said was exactly what happened. With Andre’s consent, the decision was made to delay negotiations until next summer.  Look, I don’t think it’s that surprising.”

Bottom line: We don’t know what the Spurs promised Leonard or the Pistons promised Drummond. It seems a little silly to give teams such incentive and ability to break a rule, but I’m not sure there’s a way to handle this.

A simple solution would be to have a player’s cap number in the offseason prior to the first season of a contract extension count as what his cap hold would’ve been without an extension. The players would love that, because it would free teams to spend more. But for the same reason, owners would be reluctant.

As is, we have little choice but to trust teams and players without evidence to the contrary. It’s perfectly reasonable that Drummond – without an explicit promise – trusts the Pistons to pay him next summer and wants better teammates.

It’d also be reasonable that he wanted a promise from management before forgoing $120 million guaranteed.

There are plenty of cases that look fishy. This is only one. If you want to question the Pistons and Drummond, question the rest, too.

According to Van Gundy, the NBA already did – and presumably walked away satisfied.

Nets getting their own D-League affiliate


The Nets have looked like a D-League team this season.

Soon, they’ll have an actual D-League team to make them look better by comparison.

Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:

After spending two years without an affiliate, the Nets will resume control of one next season, sources said. An official announcement will come Friday.

Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark let the cat out of the bag Thursday morning at the groundbreaking of the renovation of Nassau Coliseum, saying there would be a “major announcement” about professional basketball coming to the Coliseum in the future.

That would be a new D-League affiliate for the Nets, which will begin play next season at Barclays Center before transitioning to its new home at the renovated Coliseum beginning with the 2017-18 season.

With the Bulls, Hornets and maybe Hawks, this will leave just seven or eight NBA teams without a D-League affiliate. Eventually, that list will shrink to zero. We’re clearly headed to each team having its own affiliate.

The Nets’ location choice is interesting. Perhaps, their trying to carve into the Knicks’ fan base on Long Island.

Dario Saric insists he’ll sign with 76ers next summer

Dario Saric

Dario Saric signed a contract before the 2014 NBA draft that would seemingly keep him in Europe at least two more seasons.

Since, Saric – the No. 12 pick in 2014 whose rights are held by the 76ers – has been linked to jumping stateside two years ago and last year. Obviously, neither happened.

Saric has always said he’d most likely join the NBA in 2016, but this is the most definitive he has been.

Saric, via Vecernji list:

I am in constant contact with the Sixers, they wanted me as soon as possible, but I have a contract with Efes.

But in the summer I will still go because I have a way out in the contract.

I still have doubts for one major reason: If Saric waits another year, he’ll no longer be tied to the restrictive rookie scale. He’d be free to negotiate any contract in 2017.

Next summer, his only option will be a four-year $10,749,666 deal with $4,740,840 guaranteed, two team options and the likely fate of restricted free agency if he completes the contract. If he accepts those terms, it’d be great for the 76ers, not so great for Saric.

Philadelphia should be encouraged Saric is speaking so emphatically about signing next summer, but he also talked – though not nearly as resolutely – about signing the last two years. I need to see more proof before becoming totally convinced he’ll be a 76er next season.

Report: Nuggets signing Kostas Papanikolaou, waiving Erick Green

Blake Griffin, Kostas Papanikolaou
Leave a comment

The Nuggets didn’t want to pay Kostas Papanikolaou $4,797,664 this season.

But getting him for a lesser amount?


Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Erick Green, who has played just seven minutes this season, will get his $100,000 guarantee. My guess is he clears waivers. He’s a score-first point guard who doesn’t score well enough to justify his lack of distributing skills.

Papanikolaou is a more intriguing player – a versatile forward who must shoot better than he did as a Rockets rookie last season. It’s no lock he’ll become a viable NBA rotation player, but Denver clearly valued him as more than just a throw-in in the Ty Lawson trade. After the Nuggets waived him, Papanikolaou could’ve signed anywhere, but he clearly liked something about Denver’s offer.

This is a minor move, but a swap in the right direction for the Nuggets.