Marcin Gortat kind of gets lost when people talk about the Suns. He had some really great years next to Steve Nash (related, everyone has really great years next to Steve Nash). With all the changes to the Suns, the focus is always on the new players like Goran Dragic (who’s actually an old player for the Suns), Luis Scola, and Michael Beasley. But Gortat has been really effective since being freed from behind Dwight Howard in Orlando.
And now he has a nickname worthy of… well… er… uh…
From the Arizona Republic:
“I’m 100 percent sure I’ve become a better player and hopefully I show it this season,” Gortat said. “I’m in incredible shape. I’m definitely missing a few pounds because I didn’t have enough time to get in the weight room. But we’ve got the new nickname ‘Polish Gazelle.’ Trust me, I can outrun everybody, even point guards.”
Now, maybe it’s just because I’m from Arkansas and any sort of deer-like animal is treated not so much with a sense of fear as, you know, “Dang, that would make for a nice supper in some chili” but I’ve never associated gazelles with being fearsome. I get what he’s going for there, and good for him to adapt to the new NBA of needing big men to be as fast as they are strong. But seriously, don’t start putting that thing on t-shirts. That’s just a merchandising red mark waiting to happen.
Turner has had a strong defensive season in the paint so far for the Pacers, a big step for him. He’s sixth among centers in ESPN’s defensive real plus/minus stat (which has its flaws but is a good snapshot).
Washington learned that the hard way.
Report: Houston kicking tires on J.R. Smith trade with Cavaliers
The Houston Rockets desperately need help on the wing (among other things, but wing is the personnel focus). The Rockets would also like to have less salary on the books next season, giving them some flexibility and lowering the tax bill.
J.R. Smith fits both of those bills, so Houston and GM Daryl Morey are at least taking a look at a potential trade, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.
The Rockets have expressed exploratory interest in acquiring JR Smith, according to league sources. Smith is currently on hiatus from the Cavaliers as Cleveland seeks a new home for the veteran shooting guard via trade
While there is some logic to this, we are a long way from it being a reality. Smith does not exactly have a positive trade value, at least as a player right now.
Smith was part of the rotation that helped the LeBron-led Cavaliers reach the NBA Finals last season, but he will be best remembered for the Game 1 blunder in the Finals that deflated the Cavs. Without the playmaking of LeBron, Smith struggled to start this season, shooting 34 percent for the Cavaliers in limited minutes, before going on hiatus from the team. That said, in a better situation where he was asked to play a small and specific role, maybe he could still help.
Smith is guaranteed $18.59 million this season but only $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed.
Houston seems a logical fit. Money wise, a Brandon Knight for Smith trade works, but the Rockets will have to throw in picks or other sweeteners to get the Cavaliers interested. Cleveland also likely will be patient, hoping that as the deadline gets closer there is a little bidding war for Smith.
Still, the Rockets are active on the trade market (as always), and they need wings, so this is worth keeping an eye on.
Lakers’ Rajon Rondo has fluid drained from hand slowing his recovery from surgery
Rajon Rondo has been out more than three weeks following surgery to repair the third metacarpal bone in his shooting hand (his right hand), and while there has been no official timeline he was expected back in the next week or two. He’s been out on the court before recent Lakers’ games getting in some work.
But he has now hit a bit of a setback, Lakers’ coach Luke Walton said on Wednesday. Here is what Walton said, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
“There’s a little bit of swelling,” Walton said at Lakers shootaround on Monday in advance of his team’s game against the Miami Heat. “We’re going to shut him down for a few days then get back out after it again.”
It’s not clear when Rondo will return. He was averaging 8.5 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds a game before the injury.
The Lakers have gone 8-4 since Rondo went to the bench with his fractured hand. Without the veteran point guard, LeBron James has had the ball in his hands more as a playmaker (to Magic Johnson’s frustration at times), paired with Lonzo Ball (who has started to show some real chemistry with LeBron). The Lakers offense hasn’t been particularly good in these past dozen games, bottom 10 in the league, but they have balanced that with a top 7 defense. The Lakers are getting wins thanks to that defense and enough LeBron shot creation to get it done.
The Lakers are going to have to keep getting it done and now without Brandon Ingram, too, who is expected to miss a few more games with a sprained ankle.