Dan Feldman

Russell Westbrook and Jonas Valanciunas scuffle over who gets to hold dead ball (video)

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Russell Westbrook and Jonas Valanciunas didn’t want to share.

So, they each got their own technical foul.

Marc Gasol: I’m too old to throw away a season

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The Grizzlies made clear firing David Fizdale was about trying to salvage the season.

It’s not working.

Memphis, 7-12 when it dropped Fizdale, has gone just 3-12 since. Mike Conley is still injured. Making the playoffs is the longest of longshots.

Should the Grizzlies embrace tanking?

Marc Gasol, whose voice carries weight in Memphis, gave a pointed answer.

Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal:

Ask Gasol about the notion of intentionally losing and it all sounds like gibberish.

“My job is not allowing that to happen,” Gasol said. “My job is not allowing anyone to throw away the season. Because at 32, 33 next month, I don’t have a season to throw away. I don’t have those. I don’t have that luxury. I’m not 23, 24, where I can just say, `Well, next year it’s going to be better.’ I have that sense of urgency and desire to win… I hope that during the next five, six weeks before the break that the situation has completely changed, turned around, and we are a much more consistent team going forward.”

Gasol’s viewpoint is totally reasonable. His time as a star is running out, and he shouldn’t tolerate wasting it.

But I’m not sure what he can do at this point. He’s been trying to win all season, and the Grizzlies have the NBA’s third-worst record.

This is why a trade makes sense. Send Gasol to a team capable of winning now, and allow Memphis to rebuild.

Of course, the Grizzlies have resisted that path.

Maybe they’d be more open to moving veterans like Tyreke Evans, James Ennis and Brandan Wright rather than Gasol, a local icon. But Gasol is preemptively voicing his dissatisfaction with that strategy. He already chafed at Memphis letting Zach Randolph and Tony Allen walk last summer. Gasol wouldn’t like more selling now.

Unless the the Grizzlies make a surprising turnaround, Gasol is headed toward a thrown-away season. Will he quietly accept it? Will his criticism grow louder? Will he get traded?

Gasol’s understandable impatience with losing sets up critical questions in Memphis..

Report: Owner Paul Allen investigating whether Trail Blazers’ problem is roster or coaching

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Of the five teams with payrolls over the luxury-tax line – Warriors, Cavaliers, Thunder, Wizards and Trail Blazers – Portland has the worst record. The Trail Blazers are barely on pace reverse a three-year run of declining records – from 54-28 to 51-31 to 44-38 to 41-41 to 17-16.

That could be bad news for president Neil Olshey and coach Terry Stotts.

John Canzano of The Oregonian:

The lieutenants who work at owner Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Inc. mothership have been analyzing data and asking important questions. Two NBA front-office sources said they were contacted in the last 10 days by the Vulcans and asked whether they thought Trail Blazers struggles were due to a broken roster or poor coaching.

“Paul is getting antsy,” one of the league sources said, “he thinks they should be winning more.”

Stotts is earning about $5 million annually on a contract that runs through 2020. Olshey’s deal runs through 2021. Both have done fine, though unspectacular, jobs.

But Allen has shown a willing to spend. I understand why he wouldn’t be content with just fine.

Allen’s financial commitment would probably extend to ousting Olshey and/or Stotts if the owner deems it helpful. Allen has a particularly quick trigger on firing front-office chiefs, and Olshey has already lasted longer than most of his predecessors.

The Trail Blazers are still paying for their 2016 signings. Olshey is hamstrung by his previous mistakes, and there’s only so much Stotts can do with this roster.

Still, Portland is a likely playoff team. Firing Stotts threatens to upend that without providing much more upside this season. Firing Olshey before the trade deadline would carry more logical timing, but his résumé suggests maybe he should get an opportunity to clean up his own mess.

There’s no easy answer here – just an “antsy” owner. Even if Stotts and Olshey survive the season, this could foretell an offseason shakeup.

Klay Thompson says he’ll do 3-point contest if an All-Star: ‘I’ve got to win another one’

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Ten different players have won the last 10 3-point contests.

The 2016 champion, Klay Thompson, wants to change that.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Thompson is interested in winning another 3-point-contest title, breaking a tie with Warriors teammate Stephen Curry at one apiece. But Thompson isn’t necessarily so interested that he’d go to Los Angeles if he can just get a break.

Because he participated in the last two 3-point contests and isn’t the defending champion, Thompson can’t be required by the NBA to compete this year unless he’s an All-Star. If he’s an All-Star, the league can require him to participate in one All-Star Saturday Night event (other than the dunk contest), and the 3-point contest would be the obvious choice.

Will Thompson be an All-Star? Four-to-six Western Conference guards will make it. James Harden and Stephen Curry are locks, and Thompson will compete with Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Jimmy Butler (who might qualify in the frontcourt) for the remaining spots.

Derrick Rose says he isn’t depressed, didn’t come close to retiring

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Derrick Rose left the Cavaliers for a couple weeks while he reportedly considered retirement. He returned to the team, though he’s still injured.

Rose, in a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Did you come close to retiring?

No. No. That’s stupid. I don’t want to even talk about that. But I’m just happy that LeBron understood.

What keeps you from walking away?

I’m in love with the game. The love of the game. I still am a winner. I still love learning the game. Where else can you learn more than from Golden State or [Cleveland]? LeBron has been to the Finals eight times and seven straight years. I played against him a lot of times. I’ve learned so much from him and the whole team. It’s just a fun experience being around this team.

“Be patient. I’m good. I’m just taking my time,” Rose said. “You don’t have to worry about me. I’m not depressed. I’m good. A lot of people think I’m depressed because of what I’m going through. It’s the total opposite. I learned from my mistakes three or four years ago when I put myself into a shell.

Rose obviously doesn’t want to open up, and that’s his prerogative. But he can’t make us suddenly forget he left the Cavs for an extended period this season and went AWOL on the Knicks last season. That’s atypical behavior, and it raises question – that Rose isn’t answering.