Dan Feldman

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Report: Lakers shutting down Luol Deng, too


The Lakers are reportedly shutting down Timofey Mozgov for the rest of the season.

The unsurprising next shoe to drop: Luol Deng.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Los Angeles Lakers have effectively shut down healthy veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov for the rest of the season to give the majority of playing time over the final 15 games to the team’s younger players, sources told ESPN.

Rather than play sporadically, sources told ESPN that Deng and Mozgov were comfortable with the decision to shut it down for the rest of the season after meeting individually with coach Luke Walton over the past few weeks.

While sources said the Lakers could revisit the situation with either player before the end of the season, the plan right now is for both to remain inactive.

When the Lakers wanted to win earlier the season, Deng and Mozgov contributed little. Now the Lakers want to lose, Deng and Mozgov have no place on the active roster.

Will Deng and Mozgov ever actually help the Lakers achieve the team’s active objectives?

Eventually, the Lakers will shift from tanking into trying to win. But, by then, Mozgov (30) and Deng (31) could have aged past reasonable production – generously granting that they haven’t already.

And that’s ignoring the opportunity cost of Deng (three years and $54 million left on his contract after this season) and Mozgov (three years and $48 million). The Lakers could have surely spent that money better.

At this point, a reasonable hope is that Deng or Mozgov help even a moderate amount at any point.

Larry Sanders made Cavaliers debut due to ball-boy relayed permission, lack of suit

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The Cavaliers signed Larry Sanders with the intent of him playing the D-League and hopefully being ready for the playoffs.

But thanks to him being ill-prepared for the NBA’s dress code and Cleveland crushing the Pistons, Sanders played in his first NBA game since 2014 last night.

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

He was going to sit on the bench Tuesday and Thursday for Cleveland’s home games in uniform, Lue said, because Sanders didn’t have a suit jacket with him.

Tyronn Lue sent a ball boy into the stands to go find general manager David Griffin and ask him Sanders could play at the end of a blowout.

“I had to get permission,” Lue explained. “I really just wanted to introduce him to the crowd and have him get in, give him a chance to have a standing ovation. I thought it was good for him. When you go through what he’s went through, and you have a chance to get back in the NBA on a pretty good team, I thought it was cool.”

Considering everything Sanders has been through, such a zany debut with the Cavs is only fitting.

Report: Hornets’ Nicolas Batum undergoing brain scan due to ‘excruciating’ migraines

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The Hornets – 3.5 games and three teams out – are fading in the playoff race.

Now comes potentially even worse news for Charlotte forward Nicolas Batum.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum is scheduled to undergo a CT scan on his brain Wednesday as he deals with extreme migraine headaches, a league source tells ESPN.

The source said the migraines were described as “excruciating” and that it’s “a scary period” for Batum, a nine-year veteran.

Batum signed a five-year, $120 million contract last summer. So, at least he has some financial security.

But, with a brain issue, there are bigger concerns.

LaMarcus Aldridge‘s heart condition sent a scare into everyone a few days ago, and he’s already cleared to return. Hopefully, Batum resolves this as quickly.

Cavaliers expect Kevin Love to return during upcoming road trip

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin anticipates forward Kevin Love will return during the team’s trip that begins Saturday.

Love had surgery on his left knee Feb. 14. The defending NBA champions are 7-6 since he was injured and have been plagued by defensive and rebounding issues without the four-time All-Star.

Love is having his best season since joining the Cavaliers in 2014, averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds. Cleveland was outrebounded 52-38 in Sunday’s loss to Houston.

Griffin said Love participated in 3-on-3 drills Tuesday and the team will monitor how he responds before deciding on the next step. The nine-year veteran posted a photo of his uniform hanging in his locker before the Cavaliers’ game against the Detroit Pistons.

Cleveland, which had lost four of five, begins a four-game trip Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavaliers lead Boston by two games for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Celtics plan to sign Ante Zizic next summer

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With the No. 23 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, the Celtics nabbed the No. 13 player on my board: Ante Zizic.

Zizic remained in Europe another year, and his stock has only risen. While rest of his draft class has collectively underwhelmed, by most accounts, he has progressed well.

“I am ready for the NBA,” Zizic told Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

Apparently, Boston agrees.

Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge, via Himmelsbach:

“July 1 just has to roll over on the calendar, and we’ll sign him,” Ainge said. “He wants to be here, and we want him here.”

Zizic will receive the (newly increased) rookie scale for the No. 23 pick in 2017.

The Celtics badly need his rebounding, but the 20-year-old might not be polished enough to handle other aspects of the NBA. At best, Zizic will offer a tradeoff in style with Al Horford and Kelly Olynyk (who will be a restricted free agent).

Long-term, I like Zizic’s potential. He plays with relentless energy, and he moves his 6-foot-11 frame well. I just wouldn’t count on him to make major contributions as a rookie, a high bar for anyone.