Three times on Friday and Saturday I heard a reporter try to broach the topic of trade demands and where he might play in the future with Dwight Howard, and every time he has responded that he is not talking about anything past All-Star Weekend.
“The situation we are in right now is All-Star Weekend. That’s the only thing that matters right now,” Howard said Friday. “This is for the fans and we’re going to enjoy ourselves. All that stuff can go on after the All-Star break.”
But everyone else is talking about Howard and with that Deron Williams.
Will those two play together? If so, does it happen in Brooklyn? If the Nets don’t move Williams that means they think they can get Howard, either in a trade or via free agency this summer.
Then there is Dallas. Interesting note here by Mitch Lawrence in the New York Daily News.
Williams privately told members of the Mavs last June during their Finals celebration that he would love to go back home and be a part of team with Dirk Nowitzki. But he said Friday he wants to continue to be a Net. So until further notice, the Nets think they still have a good shot to move into Brooklyn with Williams and Howard.
If the Mavericks can find a taker for Shawn Williams contract, they can amnesty Brendan Haywood and they would have the money next summer to pair Williams and Howard with Dirk Nowitzki. The rest of the roster would look like last year’s Miami Heat — which is to say, poor after the big three — but they could do it.
Really, it all comes back to Orlando. Will they move Howard? They don’t want to, but if they realize he is gone after this season and they cannot resign him — right now they still think they can keep him — and the offers that come in near the deadline improve, well, we could have another blockbuster on our hands.
On Monday, that speculation will start to pick up a lot of steam heading to the March 15 trade deadline.
Damian Lillard took a well-deserved victory lap after his buzzer-beating 3-pointer sunk Russell Westbrook – who seemingly took a shot at Lillard last year – and the Thunder.
Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts had fun at Westbrook’s expense, too.
Westbrook has repeatedly answered questions from Berry Tramel of The Oklahoma with, “Next question.” Though Westbrook shifted to variants of “not sure” after the last couple games of the series, he still didn’t meaningfully answer Tramel’s questions.
Stotts interjected himself into Westbrook’s feud with Tramel before Game 3.
Clay Horning of The Norman Transcript:
Also, when former Sooner standout Terry Stotts, who is head coach of the Trail Blazers, entered the pregame interview room on Friday, the first thing he said was, “Go ahead, I’ll answer your question, Berry.”
Then, Stotts really laid it on thick after Game 5 last night, as shown in the above video. He specifically called on Tramel to ask a question then joked how badly he wanted to answer with “next question.”
Stotts landed on the hot seat after Portland got swept in the first round last year. He kept his job and did a fantastic work with the Trail Blazers this year. It’s great to see him enjoying himself.
I also can’t help but wonder how Westbrook feels about Stotts.
In the second quarter of the Raptors’ close-out win against the Magic, Kyle Lowry injured his finger, apparently dislocating the ring finger on his right hand, his shooting hand.
However, it’s the playoffs, he was back in the game quickly and he will certainly be ready to go Saturday when Toronto begins a second-round showdown against Philadelphia. Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN has the details.
Lowry jammed the finger while deflecting a ball in the second quarter. During the subsequent timeout, the Raptors’ medical staff attended to Lowry’s hand on the bench. He returned to play but went back to the locker room with 2:41 remaining in the first half.
Lowry, who was wearing a splint on the finger during the postgame news conference, started the second half for the Raptors and finished with 14 points, 9 assists and 4 rebounds in 26 minutes.
“It popped out, but it’s fine,” Lowry said. “I popped it back in. Got a couple days to get it back and recover, and hopefully it will be better by Game 1. Well, it will be better by Game 1.”
It needs to be because the Raptors can’t have another 0-of-7 shooting start from him, which is what they got in an ugly Game 1 loss to Orlando. The 76ers are not the Magic, Toronto can’t have another dreadful start in Game 1 and dig themselves a hole at home.
Lowry’s shooting and playmaking will be a big part of that next series.
Last summer, Jaren Jackson Jr. did some workouts with Kevin Garnett before embarking on his rookie campaign. It made sense for a lanky 6’11” rookie who can score in the post or step out and shoot threes to work with Garnett. There’s a similarity to the style of their games.
This summer Jackson wants to go back to that well, he told David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
Specifically, Jackson said he wants to improve his “motor” and his ball-handling and his shooting mechanics entering year two.
And he hopes to work on some of those skills with Garnett over the coming months. Jackson and Garnett spent time together last summer and again in February when Garnett visited Memphis to feature Jackson game for his “Area 21” segment on TNT.
The veteran Conley had some ideas for that workout and what Jackson needs to add to his game.
“I think for him, working out of the post, like mid-post, being able to jab and shoot off the glass, basically like Kevin Garnett would do,” Conley said.
Jackson had an impressive rookie season, averaging 13.8 points a game, shooting 35.9 percent from three, playing good rim-protecting defense, and he fit well with veteran point guard Mike Conley (and Marc Gasol, before the Grizzlies traded him). Despite being shut down with a thigh bruise after 58 games, Jackson is almost a lock for All-Rookie First Team.
He showed the potential to be a future All-Star and the cornerstone of the Grizzlies franchise into the future. Most importantly, he seems willing to put in the work to get there.
Among the questions and frustrations with the Lakers this past season — and there were many, most of them much more significant than this — were questions about the construction of the coaching staff under Luke Walton. Brian Shaw was the lead assistant, a former NBA head coach with plenty of experience, but there were questions about the experience on the rest of the staff.
Throw in the uncertainty circling Walton right now after a sexual assault allegation against him, it makes sense to have a veteran coach right next to Walton on the bench in Sacramento. That may be Jeff Hornacek, Sam Amick of The Athletic reports.
According to sources, Walton and Kings general manager Vlade Divac met with former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek in Sacramento about the possibility of him being the team’s lead assistant coach.
Amick’s primary point is that as of right now the Kings and Walton are moving ahead as if their working relationship will continue. They are lining up assistant coaches and taking the other steps expected this time of year for a new coach.
Both the Sacramento Kings and NBA are investigating the allegations of sexual assault against Walton, put forward in a lawsuit by a former female reporter for the Lakers’ regional sports network. Kelli Tennant, the accuser, conducted a press conference to state her case on Tuesday. Walton, through his attorney, has denied the allegations.