<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>


Swaggy P… er, Nick Young targeting Tuesday return to Lakers lineup


The Lakers desperately need a defensive stopper, a game changer on that end of the court, where they are the worst team in the NBA this young season.

Nick Young isn’t that — but he will make the games far more entertaining. And maybe win a couple by just helping the Lakers pure outscore the other team.

Young is targeting a Tuesday return to the Lakers, from Lakers sideline reporter (and new father of twins) Mike Trudell.

That would be in Atlanta against the Hawks, the start of a three-game Lakers’ road trip.

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The Lakers are hard to watch right now, we need reasons to tune in. A potential Swaggy P show is a good reason — if Kobe Bryant likes teammates who are fearless and will take the shot, he’ll love Young. How much he loves Young after he takes a couple shots when Kobe thinks he has a better one remains to be seen.

This is good news, the league is more fun to watch with Swaggy P in it.

Thibodeau on Rose: Mild hamstring strain, is day-to-day

Derrick Rose

There was a time, back in 2011, when Derrick Rose was considered one of the toughest players in the league. Now it seems most fans think he’s more fragile and scared than Glass Joe.

After some poorly phrased and timed comments about thinking about his future — ones that angered some former players — Rose tweaked his hamstring at the end of the Bulls win over the Raptors Thursday night.

So what’s his status for Saturday? Here’s coach Tom Thibodeau via KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

While Rose isn’t pushing management to get back on the court, the Bulls have essentially wrapped him in bubble wrap this season and encouraged him to make sure he is fully healthy before he plays. Why race him back for a pre-Thanksgiving game against the Pacers? When you need him healthy and playing through pain is April, not before you started your Christmas shopping.

Charles Barkley on Derrick Rose’s career comments: “That was stupid”

TNT Tip Off

“When I sit out it’s not because of this year. I’m thinking about long term. I’m thinking about after I’m done with basketball. Having graduations to go to, having meetings to go to, I don’t want to be in my meetings all sore. Or be at my son’s graduation all sore just because of something I did in the past. (I’m) just learning and being smart.”

There are times Derrick Rose is just tone deaf to the world and reaction around him. Every professional athlete has the same questions at some point, “what am I sacrificing physically to play this game?” You’d need to be an idiot not to, usually phrasing their thoughts along the lines of “Will I be able to play with my kid in the backyard someday?” Then almost all make the choice to keep playing — because of the money, because they love the game, because of the fame, because they are competitive. Rose came off as concerned about the trivial (meetings?) and like he didn’t feel he owes the Bulls, the NBA and worst of all the fans of Chicago anything despite the large checks he gets. I don’t think he really believes he doesn’t owe anyone anything — and when he’s played he hasn’t held back this year — but he can be tone deaf to the reaction of what he says.

And on Inside the NBA Charles Barkley had a reaction:

“He’s a great player and a great kid…but that was stupid. We’re so blessed. I limp around but I go home to a big ol’ mansion,” Barkley said. “There are people that work harder than Derrick Rose that go home to a shack. There are consequences for what we do for a living. We’ve got the best life in the world. I’m a poor black kid from Leeds, Alabama, who grew up in the projects and I don’t mind limping around [now]. When I go home, I have a big ol’ house. I’ve got good sheets; I don’t know the thread count, but they’re good sheets. I’ve got a big car and I never have to worry about bills. Derrick Rose is making $20 million dollars a year and he’s got a couple of bad knees. There are pros and cons of what we do for a living.”

That sentiment has been echoed by other pro athletes, I was on NBC Sports Radio’s McNabb and Malone show and former NFL quarterback Mark Malone felt the same way. So did Shaquille O’Neal.

“I was taught that if you could walk, you could play,” said Shaq without irony (this is the guy who wanted to get surgery on “company time” not during the summer when he played). “You see how Kevin McHale walks now, how Phil Jackson walks now, how Charles [Barkley] and I walk…but it was worth it. When you make comments like that, it makes you look soft…but he can only be himself. If that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”

Joakim Noah has defended Rose, not what he said but his commitment to the team and franchise. Kenny Smith injected this into the discussion.

“I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because an MVP can’t have a low threshold of pain. It’s impossible.”

Rose was interviewed by Rachel Nichols before the game, saying people took his words out of context but not disowning or backing away from them.

“I was just worrying about myself and worrying about my future like every player in the league does. I’ll probably just think different. It’s only my seventh year but further into my career and my life, just trying to plan things out. I think people took that out of context but it is what it is. I was being myself and that’s all I can be. I couldn’t care less.”

Clippers’ perimeter defense an issue that is not going away

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers

It’s been a hot topic around Southern California and the league: What is going on with the 4-3 Clippers? They haven’t looked like contenders, and they haven’t looked like the dangerous team they were at the end of the playoffs last year.

Critics can talk about execution down the stretch, and the Clippers certainly lacked that in their loss to the Spurs Monday. They can talk about the team playing flat and without energy, and that is certainly true for long stretches. They can talk about poor offensive execution, and the Clippers are down 5.4 points per 100 possessions on offense from their league high last season. They can talk about Blake Griffin taking too many jumpers, although on Monday he made a point of getting back inside. All of that is true.

But none of that is the Clippers’ biggest problem.

The most concerning issue is their perimeter defense — and there’s no easy fix for this leak.

Monday night in the Clippers latest loss, the Spurs stepped away from their title-winning motion offense as much as they have any night in recent memory because they knew that Jamal Crawford couldn’t handle Kawhi Leonard on the perimeter. Gregg Popovich said he called Leonard’s number more than he has at any time in the Finals MVP’s young career and Leonard responded with 26 points. It was key to the Spurs winning the game.

When it quickly became clear Crawford was in way over his head, DeAndre Jordan started coming over early to the strong side to help cut off those drives, but that set off a series of slow or missed Clippers’ defensive rotations that left key Spurs open for good looks — if San Antonio hadn’t shot 9-of-36 on uncontested shots in this game, it would have been another ugly loss for the Clippers. Most nights it would have been.

And Doc Rivers knows it. Postgame he was asked if the open looks the Spurs got and the loss showed the danger of trying to play J.J. Redick and Crawford together so much. His response?


Rivers felt he had to insert Crawford into the starting lineup because Matt Barnes is shooting 31 percent from three this season and isn’t spacing the floor. And Crawford does help the offense — the Clippers eFG% jumps from 46.1 to 53.1 percent when he is on the floor, and the Clippers score 9.1 points more per 100 possessions than when Crawford sits. What may be more worrying is the Clippers defense is better when he is on the court too, despite how teams just line up to go at him.

“We don’t have that one guy. I’m not going to tell Matt, ‘I need you to go stop LeBron.’ I’m not going to tell Chris that or J.J. or Jamal or Reggie [Bullock],” Rivers said after the game. “It’s going to have to be a team effort, and we knew that coming into the season….

“It’s not anything I’m going to lose sleep over. It would be great. I would be a lot smarter coaching-wise if we had something like that, but we don’t. We have what we have.”

So far the team effort Rivers needs has fallen well short.

What the Clippers would love to do is trade for that defensive stopper on the wing. Good luck. The entire league wants one of those. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports said Thursday on the Clippers flagship radio station in Los Angeles The Beast 980 the team had called around the league looking to trade for a wing, but came up empty. The bigger problem was even if a quality wing defender were available the Clippers don’t have another player to trade that wouldn’t just create another hole in the roster and another problem. They are not rich with trade assets.

Of course, it’s not all on the wings. Sure, Crawford and Redick (and Barnes the way he played) have not stayed in front of their men, but the Clippers were counting on DeAndre Jordan to clean up a lot of those messes, yet opposing teams are shooting 63.7 percent inside 5 feet of the rim against the Clippers, the second highest percentage in the league (only the Suns are worse). They have not had great rim protection.

But if they dream of playing with the Spurs or the other elite teams in the West, they are going to need better perimeter defense. One way or another. It’s just not going to be a simple fix.

Andre Iguodala goes coast-to-coast for monster dunk on Nets

Brooklyn Nets v Golden State Warriors
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Rule No. 1 of transition defense: Stop the ball.

Nobody got in Andre Iguodala’s way on this play Thursday night and so he went coast-to-coast for a monster dunk.

The Warriors won 107-99, but it wasn’t a big night for Iguodala who had five points on eight shots in 32 minutes. The Nets players kept getting between him and the basket, expect on this play.