Author: Kurt Helin

Steve Nash

Report: Lakers will try to shop Steve Nash’s $9.7 million expiring contract. Good luck with that.


Under the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, expiring contracts had a real value, teams with them could dump them for young players, picks and things to help speed a rebuild (and give the team that took them on future flexibility). However, under the new CBA things are different — shorter contract lengths, the amnesty that let teams dump a bad contract, the stretch provision, plus a different philosophy on assets from younger GMs have made expiring deals far less valuable.

Which means the report from Marc Stein of ESPN that the Lakers are going to shop Steve Nash’s expiring deal may be true but likely end up fruitless. But they will try.

As reported last month when Nash was ruled out for the 2014-15 season because of recurring nerve issues with his back, Lakers officials are planning to explore the trade market for potential deals between now and the February trade deadline with Nash’s $9.7 million expiring contract.

It’s worth a shot, but don’t hold your breath on it working out.

If a team takes on Nash’s salary, they are going to want a sweetner — they are going to want a pick or a player, not to give one of quality back to the Lakers.

Make no mistake, Lakers have put themselves in a position to try and be a player in the trade market as we move through the season and toward the deadline. Why do you think they gave Jordan Hill a $9 million salary this season (with a team option for next year)? His play? No. Because then he’s a more valuable trade chip. With Nash and Hill, the Lakers have plenty of salary to move (any player not named Kobe could be moved in the right deal).

However the trade deadline has been slow the past couple years, a trend likely to continue this season. The new crop of GMs is less likely to make big mid-season deals unless pressured and they are not just going to absorb big contracts. And who is out there and likely to be moved? Rajon Rondo’s name comes up but there is a risk as he will be a free agent next season, plus the Celtics’ price is high. There are a number of guys who can or will be free agents next summer (Marc Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Kawhi Leonard) that their teams plan to re-sign, not move.

But the Lakers are going to pay Nash anyway, might as well try and move the deal.

After review, NBA removes one assist, one rebound from LeBron’s stats Monday, costing him triple double

LeBron James

So LeBron James’ line for Monday night’s Cavaliers win was 32 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Which doesn’t exactly suck.

But it’s also not the triple double that the official Cavaliers statistician gave him.

The NBA reviewed LeBron’s statistics from the game — the NBA office does this for all games and makes a few adjustments a season — and found that one assist and one rebound credited to him should not have been awarded, a league spokesman confirmed to ProBasketballTalk.

This was first pointed out by user Timi093 on the reddit NBA page.

At 3:34 of the third quarter Derrick Rose drives and misses a shot, LeBron leaps for the rebound and tips the ball to Tristan Thompson, who passes it ahead to Kyrie Irving at halfcourt, he then drives the rest of the way and hits a twisting layup. Here is the play.

LeBron was officially credited with an assist on that play. Frankly there shouldn’t have been any assist, but if you want to argue Tristan Thompson deserves one for the outlet pass we can debate it. There is no way LeBron deserves an assist.

In addition, with 6:03 left in the fourth quarter, LeBron was credited with an offensive rebound that actually was pulled down by Mike Miller. The league changed that as well. I can see how the scorekeepers made a mistake as Miller and LeBron look so much alike.

None of this changes the Cavaliers offense looked the best it has all season in the second half of that game when LeBron, Irving and Kevin Love combined for 61 of the Cavaliers 67 points.

Derrick Rose is honest: He rests games to protect his body long term

Derrick Rose

What Derrick Rose has matured. He has perspective. What he’s doing is right.

Some fans will jump on him — some Bulls fans are all to quick to jump on him — because we have this perspective that all athletes should be gladiators who wear their scars with pride and play through as much pain as they can tolerate. Most fans call for that while sitting on their couch, or at a bar stool.

Derrick Rose returned from ankle sprains on Monday night, after taking a little extra time off to make sure he was 100 percent, and he looked good in his return (24 points, 7 assists). But his critics want to call him soft or brittle for taking too long to get back on the court.

Rose was honest speaking to Nick Friedell of ESPN — he’s thinking long-term with his injuries and not playing through sprained ankles and the like as he did in his early years. By long-term I don’t mean the playoffs, I mean the stuff that really matters.

If you think there’s something wrong with that perspective, well, there’s something wrong with you.

Rose is a person, an entertainer gifted enough athletically and willing to put in the work to become an NBA player. An MVP. That has provided him a very comfortable lifestyle and a lot of fame. But that alone should not define him — there are things that are more important. He is not there to sacrifice his body for our entertainment (any more than anyone else who chooses to play a professional sport does).

Good on Rose for being honest when he had to know there would be backlash. He’s smart and mature enough to know that backlash is misguided.

And he knows those same people will be on his bandwagon if he’s healthy come the playoffs and the Bulls are a threat to win it all.

Kenneth Faried is “good” with Brian Shaw now, but Nuggets still struggling to mesh

Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets

The start of their relationship was rocky.

Kenneth Faried’s frenetic energy fit beautifully with George Karl’s up-and-down, more unscripted offense. His raw athleticism was prized. Then last season in came Brian Shaw as coach and he wanted more traditional things out of Faried, who didn’t have a polished post game or midrange face up game that any team feared.

“Before, last year, we’d butt heads because certain philosophies he was going with I didn’t want to obey them or abide by them. I wanted to do my own thing and play more minutes. I was frustrated,” Faried told ProBasketballTalk. “But as the season went on, it sucked because guys went down, but we had to come together and click in order for us to win the number of games we won last year.

“It helped a lot going into this year, with me coming back from (Team) USA and the things I did there, he has even more confidence in me and plays me more minutes and make sure I’m on the court to help the team and make an impact.”

They’re good now, Faried and Shaw. They are on the same page.

The problem is the 1-5 Nuggets are not. Faried is frustrated, all the Nuggets are. Denver has talented players and the core of a team that won more than 50 games two years ago — himself, Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari and others — but they have a bottom 10 offense and defense in the early going.

Faried attributes the slow start to a hangover from all the injuries.

“Guys coming back from injuries, it’s tough right now,” Faried said of the reason behind the slow start. “We’re basically just trying to mesh and come together, and that kind of makes it difficult when guys can’t play full time. And some guys just have to sit out because of soreness.

“In the games, some guys haven’t played with other guys in a while, so we’re just trying to get it together. Training camp helped a little but it didn’t help to make us just ‘okay, all right, we’re clicking.’ Even the team that won the title isn’t meshing right now (the Spurs). It’s early, it happens, but it will sooner or later.”

Where Faried has always connected is with fans — Denver Nuggets fans loved the Manimal. This summer, Team USA fans jumped on that bandwagon as Faried became a key part of the USA’s gold medal run at the World Championships. So with that growing fan base Faried joined with American Express and on their “Home Court Advantage” series that tells you more about the players. You can see one of Faried’s videos above where he has to defend some of his Instagram posts. And he really can’t.

“I do connect with the fans,” Faried said. “All the fans want to see is you play hard and give effort. If you can’t win the game you’re giving effort to win the game, you’re not just laying down and dying. That’s why I think the fans like me so much and then respect me, because I’m a player that gives effort, and I appeal to the fans with highlight dunks and blocks, making highlight plays but being solid…

“Home Court Advantage is showing them what I do, where I grew up, and just me being me.”

Faried connected with some frustrated fans in Detroit earlier this year when he talked about the Nuggets plans to let Josh Smith just fire away and shoot the Pistons out of the game with ill-advised jumpers. Smith responded by calling Faried a clown.

“I believe (the controversy) just took off out of nowhere,” Faried said. “I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful or anything. Josh is a star, he’s a great player, I was just saying what our scheme was, we were just going with our scheme, and I think the media took it as I was disrespecting Josh or I think I’m better than him. I don’t think I’m better than nobody, I just believe in myself.”

Nuggets fans believe in him, and now so does Shaw.

Kobe could set record for most missed shots in NBA history tonight

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers

Unlucky 13.

When Kobe Bryant misses 13 more shots — which could happen Tuesday night against a strong Memphis defense — he will pass Celtics’ legend John Havlicek’s NBA record of 13,417 missed shots. (For the record, Kobe has done it in 19 fewer games.) Nobody in NBA history will have had more shots clank off the rim.

The fact that within a week he will own that record one way or another speaks to everything Kobe. The good and the bad intermingled and inseparable. And the fact that you know he doesn’t care about that number.

You don’t get this kind of record without having a long career in which coaches and a franchise want the ball in your hands — and that doesn’t happen if you’re not elite. Everybody near the top of this list is in the Hall of Fame (Kobe will be). Kobe will go down as one of the greatest Lakers of all time, one of the game’s great players of all time. For most of his 19 seasons the Lakers have trusted Kobe to take any shot he thought he could make — and Kobe’s supreme confidence means he thought he could make some high difficulty shots.

And he did. His aggressive style and fearlessness — combined with fundamentally sound footwork and form honed over countless hours in the gym — have made him a must-watch player. He filled Staples Center and won titles not because he could just take those shots but make them.

But that confidence doesn’t always lead to the best shot choices, which leads to misses. So far this young season Kobe has taken 35.2 percent of his shots as long twos (16 feet out to the arc) and while he’s hit an impressive 46 percent of those, that is still a lot of misses. There’s a reason it’s the shot the advanced stats crowd wants teams to avoid, but Kobe goes there. This is not a new trend, for his career, Kobe has taken 28.2 percent of his shots as long twos, a higher percentage than anywhere else on the court.

This record is a bit of a Rorschach test — what you think of Kobe missing that many shots really speaks to what you think of Kobe more than the record itself. If you think Kobe is an inefficient ball hog this confirms your suspicions. If you believe Kobe is a great player who was usually always the best scoring option on any team he was on, this record is just the waste byproduct of his drive and willingness to take on the offensive load.

As always with Kobe, the answers are not simple, and not located on either extreme. This record will just be part of a complex and fascinating legacy for Bryant.