Roy Hibbert on Pacers’ locker room: ‘Some selfish dudes in here’

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Every single team in the NBA has a player who believes he doesn’t get enough shots because his teammates hog the ball. You usually don’t hear about it, because those players know complaining publicly will harm the team. Only when is the grievance is so strong do players speak up.

But not getting shots isn’t the only way those players reach that level of unhappiness. Winning cures all ills, and when teams lose, players are less likely to suppress their complaints.

Take the Pacers, who’ve lost four of five and nine of 15.

Roy Hibbert, via David Aldridge of NBA.com:

“Some selfish dudes in here,” Roy Hibbert muttered Friday night, after getting eight shots in the Pacers’ loss to the Wizards. “Some selfish dudes. I’m tired of talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a month.”

“We play hard, but we’ve got to move the ball,” Hibbert said. “Is it obvious, or what? I don’t know whatever our assist ratio, or whatever it is, is in the league, but it probably isn’t up there. I’m really trying hard not to spaz out right now, but I don’t know. We’ve been talking about it for a month. I’m not handling the rock. I don’t know. I’ve made suggestions before and we do it for, like, one game, and then we revert back to what we are. I don’t know. I’m not the one to answer that question. It directly affects me and the bigs. We’re just out there and it makes us look bad.”

Whom is Hibbert talking about?

Let’s narrow the suspects to Indiana’s other four starters – George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George and David West. Hibbert has played 61 percent of his minutes with all four at once and at least 79 percent with each individually.

I think we can eliminate West, a power forward. After all, Hibbert said the selfishness adversely affects the bigs.

For a baseline, here’s how each team’s starting point guards, shooting guards and small forwards rank in assists per shot:

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This measure seems to excuse Stephenson, who ranks fourth among starting shooting guards in assists per shot.

What about Paul George? He leads the Pacers in shots by a wide margin, but he’s assisted Hibbert more this season than anyone else this season. Hibbert also recently gave George permission to freelance. Hibbert, via Candace Bucker of IndyStar (hat tip: Jared Wade of 8 Points, 9 Seconds):

“We’ve fallen in love with the jump shot for a while,” Hibbert said. “People feel like they have it going and they want to do it themselves sometimes. That’s just how it works. I feel like two guys that I have 100 percent trust in doing that is Paul and David. I feel like they should have carte blanche on whatever they want to do in terms of attacking the paint and (put) the ball’s in their hands because they’ve earned my respect.”

That leaves George Hill, who ranks lower than Stephenson and George among starters at his position in assists per shot. Hibbert has not, to my knowledge, publically endorsed Hill not passing, either. Also Hill has assisted Hibbert just 30 times this season – few than George (45), Stephenson (43) and even West (42) have. But Hill has also taken the fewer shots than any other Indiana starter.

In the Pacers’ offense, Hill takes a smaller role than a typical point guard. He doesn’t dominate the ball, so his ability to hijack the offense is limited.

And that’s the rub. Roles vary across the league, and it’s difficult to say from the outside who is supposed to pass to Hibbert more – or at least whom he thinks should.

Hibbert knows, and Frank Vogel knows. And the purportedly selfish player(s) probably know.

As much as it’s important the solve the issue, it’s more important they reach a place where Hibbert isn’t so unhappy that he’s complaining publicly.

It’s probably a chicken-or-the-egg argument whether better offensive balance would make the Pacers win or vice versa. Either way, they need one or the other to happen soon before this in-fighting worsens.

Report: Lakers eager to use LeBron James at center flanked by top four young players

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Why did the Lakers, after securing LeBron James, sign Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson? Their explanation leaves plenty to be desired.

What will the Lakers do with Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma now that none of those four are being traded for Kawhi Leonard? Their plan there is far more intriguing.

Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report:

“We may not see this on day one, but the coaching staff is eager to see our version of the [Warriors’] Death Lineup with Lonzo [Ball], Josh Hart, Brandon Ingram, [Kyle] Kuzma and LeBron,” a second Lakers executive said.

LeBron at center is a dangerous weapon. The Cavaliers showed it more during the 2017 playoffs – to positive effect.

But LeBron isn’t Draymond Green, who makes Golden State’s Death/Hamptons Five Lineup function. Green possesses a unique combination of rim protection and – through his ball-handling and especially passing – ability to get into offense quickly. LeBron isn’t as good at protecting the paint, and though he’s lethal in transition when he wants to be, he’ll be fighting years of slow-down habits.

I also wonder how much LeBron embraces the physical toll of playing center. The Lakers have only JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac and Mo Wagner at the position. Are they banking on LeBron playing there a significant amount during the regular season?

LeBron would likely accept the role more enthusiastically in the playoffs. But Ball, Hart, Ingram and Kuzma will be tested – at least initially – by the heightened level of play. I’d be wary of overly relying on that lineup.

But this is the best way for the Lakers to get talent on the floor and overcome spacing concerns. I’m absolutely excited to see it in action. Whatever concerns I have about it are only multiplied with other potential Lakers lineups.

Report: Nuggets lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. undergoes another back surgery

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Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery in November, missed nearly his entire freshman season at Missouri then slipped to No. 14 in the draft amid injury concerns.

The Nuggets have been noncommittal about their plans for Porter, but they’ve given an eyebrow-raising update.

Nuggets release:

Michael Porter Jr. has undergone surgery of the lumbar spine at The Carrell Clinic in Dallas, Tex. The Procedure was performed by Dr. Andrew Dossett. There is no timetable for his return to basketball participation.

Porter is a talented forward with the length and skill to make a major impact as a scorer.

But, as this latest surgery underscores, drafting him carried terrifying risk. Denver will have to bear that for a while.

Report: Dirk Nowitzki to re-sign with Mavericks for $5 million

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Dirk Nowitzki is set to play his 20th season – breaking Kobe Bryant’s record for most seasons with a single franchise and tying Kevin Garnett, Robert Parish and Kevin Willis for most seasons in the NBA.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks declined Nowitzki’s $5 million team option, but he was never signing elsewhere. He was either going to retire or play for Dallas.

Once he decided to return, the only question was money.

The Mavericks declined Nowitzki’s option to maximize their flexibility for upgrades, namely signing DeAndre Jordan. Once Yogi Ferrell agreed to an absurdly team-friendly contract, Dallas had enough cap space left to give Nowitzki his team-option amount. If necessary, he would have taken the $4,449,000 room exception.

Nowitzki has had a great career, and this could be his farewell tour. But he also remains a helpful rotation-level player. Though he’s a defensive liability, his outside shooting as a big goes a long way toward floor spacing.

Report: Mavericks re-signing Yogi Ferrell for less than qualifying-offer salary with second year unguaranteed

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The Mavericks expected Yogi Ferrell to accept his qualifying offer.

Turns out, they’ll keep him on an even more team-friendly deal than the one he could have unilaterally signed.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

This is an awful deal for Ferrell.

As reported, he’ll earn between $2,548,077 and $2,760,417 next season. That range is less than his qualifying offer – which would have paid him a fully guaranteed $2,919,204 next season.

That reduction is acceptable if Ferrell got something in exchange – but he gave Dallas the concession by adding an unguaranteed second year. If he plays well, the Mavericks will keep him at a cheap salary. If he doesn’t, they’ll waive him for no cost. They have all the control.

The promise of the backup shooting guard job is probably just lip service. Teams don’t stick by that if the player struggles. If he produces, he would have gotten the job anyway.

Dallas has plenty of point guard types – Dennis Smith Jr., Luka Doncic, J.J Barea, Jalen Brunson and Ferrell. Rick Carlisle uses two of them simultaneously often enough that Ferrell should land in the rotation. But it’s far from a lock.

With this deal, Ferrell is taking all the risk and the Mavericks are getting all the upside.