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Three Things to Know: Grizzlies sit frustrated Gasol in fourth, lose 8th straight

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Memphis has lost eight in a row, and benching Marc Gasol in fourth didn’t end that streak.
After today’s game — where Brooklyn beat Memphis 98-88 — the Nets and Grizzlies have the exact same record, 7-12. Let’s give the scrappy Nets credit — they are doing it without Jeremy Lin and now D’Angelo Russell. You have to be impressed with the way they compete (unless you’re a Cavaliers fan).

However, the wheels have come off in Memphis — they have lost eight in a row, Mike Conley is still out with a sore Achilles, and on Sunday Chandler Parsons went to the locker room after tweaking his knee in the first half and did not return due to “knee tightness.” Then, trying to ride the hot hands off the bench, coach David Fizdale sat his best player — Marc Gasol — for the entire fourth. So now Memphis’ best player is pissed off (and not in a good way).

David Fizdale is frustrated and grasping for answers — Gasol has been part of the problem as he has struggled to carry the offense in the wake of all the injuries around him, shooting 39.4 percent in his last 10 games, and he’s not the defender he once was. But is benching him and straining that relationship the right move? (Gasol handled it calmly and well postgame.) I don’t see how it is — struggling or not, Gasol is still their best player. With Conley sidelined, they need Gasol (and a better version of Gasol).

What they really need is more help around Gasol and Conley. The Grizzlies offense has been bottom 10 all season, they get a lot of shots at the rim but only one NBA team takes a higher percentage of its shots from the midrange, and the Grizzlies still are not a good three-point shooting team (32.3 percent as a team, 29th in the league). Bottom line, they don’t have enough shooting. Tell me if you’ve heard that before. Fizdale doesn’t have the piece he needs.

Their defense got them off to that 5-1 start and had the team afloat early, but in the last eight games that has come apart, too — 24th in the NBA over that stretch. Opponents are shooting well against them, getting to the line a lot, and getting the offensive rebound on 24.5 percent of their misses in the last eight games.

It’s too early to hit the panic button him Memphis, in a West with a lot of teams stumbling they are still just 1.5 games out of the playoffs. However, if the season continues like and other teams start calling to test the availability of Gasol and Conley, the Grizzlies have to listen to trade proposals. Not pull the trigger (depends on the offer), but listen and start to consider it is time to rebuild. The time for that is coming in Memphis, and the team’s play lately means that time may be sooner rather than later.

2) Tony Parker will be back with the Spurs Monday. Parker himself confirmed it on Sunday.

This is certainly good news for the 12-7 Spurs, adding depth to an already quality point guard core of Patty Mills and Dejounte Murray — and the Spurs have been better with Murray on the court this season (Mills has struggled with his shot, with a true shooting percentage of 47.9 this season). However, don’t think of this as season altering, Parker isn’t quite that guy anymore — last season his PER and True Shooting Percentage were below league average (and the rest of the starters played better with Mills than him). Still, it is good news in San Antonio. Gregg Popovich has more options now, and that could mean less Mills.

3) Derrick Rose is still not back with the Cavaliers, but he is talking to them. Derrick Rose’s existential crisis continues — does he want to battle through yet another injury, this time a sprained ankle, and get back on the court, or walk away — but meanwhile the Cavaliers have won seven in a row without him and their defense has improved.

The main revelation on Sunday was that this was not Rose going AWOL (as had been seen in New York), he’s in communication with the team. There still is no timetable for his return.

I still expect him to be back — he still has $80 million or so owed him by Adidas, if he walks away he leaves that on the table. As the kids say today, Rose is his own cat (okay, kids in the 1950s said that, not so much anymore), and he can be unpredictable. He is not money driven like some players… but $80 million? Still, see him returning. Now, whether another team will pick him up after this season is another question (probably, but it’s far from certain), but the question on this season should be about the timeline.

 

Portland, NBA community react to passing of Paul Allen

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For 30 years, Paul Allen has owned the Portland Trail Blazers. In that time the team made the NBA Finals a couple of times, was a model of consistency making the playoffs 23 times, and providing a city unforgettable memories filled with some of the biggest personalities and best players in the game.

Allen passed away Monday, losing his battle to cancer. He was just 65 years old.

It has led to an outpouring from the entire NBA community, especially around Portland.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Russell Westbrook listed as out for season opener vs. Warriors

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No Russell Westbrook. No Andre Roberson. Maybe no Steven Adams.

This is not what the NBA had in mind when they sent Oklahoma City to Golden State for the second game of the NBA’s opening night doubleheader on national television. But, that’s the reality due to injury.

Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery on right knee back on Sept. 12 and it was expected to be re-evaluated around the start of the season. However, with the marathon of the NBA season about to start no way the Thunder were never going to rush him back, national television and the Warriors or not. While it’s less than ideal, getting it dealt with and missing training camp and a few games is better than to risk something worse during the season (or miss a month of the season in a Western Conference where there is little margin for error because of the depth of quality teams).

The Thunder called it “maintenance,” but this is Westbrook’s fourth surgery on that knee, although it’s the first in more than four years. His issues with this knee date back to the 2013 playoffs when Patrick Beverley crashed into it and tore the meniscus.

Westbrook is about to turn 30, has some heavy-usage miles on that body, and just signed a five-year, $205 million contract extension.

Alvin Gentry: Pelicans wouldn’t trade Anthony Davis for anyone – ‘not even Beyonce’

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Pelicans star Anthony Davis said he’s the best player in the NBA.

His coach, Alvin Gentry, agreed then expanded.

Gentry:

If you don’t want to call him the best player, I call him the most valuable. Because if you can trade him for anybody, then he is the most valuable guy. Not that we would ever consider that. Don’t you guys take some kind of spin and put it on top. There is no one in the league that we would trade him for. There is no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. If we wouldn’t trade him for her, then he’s probably untouchable.

I’d trade Davis for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who’s also in the MVP race, even younger and locked up an extra season.

LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden are better, older and locked up for longer than Davis. I’d probably trade Davis for LeBron or Curry, though not Harden.

Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum are worse, younger but also locked up for longer than Davis. I probably wouldn’t trade Davis for any of them, though the additional team control makes it worth considering.

Really, Davis is already at the point – as few as two years from unrestricted free agency – trade speculation hits high gear. The possibility of him leaving New Orleans high and dry in 2020 is too great to ignore.

As far as Davis for Beyonce… I guess it depends on your priorities.

Paul Allen, long-time owner of Portland Trail Blazers, dies after battle with cancer

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This is a painful loss, not just for the Portland Trail Blazers, but for the NBA.

Paul Allen, who made his money as one of the founders of Microsoft and went on to start Vulcan enterprises, which owns the Trail Blazers as well as the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, has passed away from his battle with cancer. He was just 65 years old.

“Paul Allen was the ultimate trail blazer – in business, philanthropy and in sports,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. “As one of the longest-tenured owners in the NBA, Paul brought a sense of discovery and vision to every league matter large and small.  He was generous with his time on committee work, and his expertise helped lay the foundation for the league’s growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies.  He was a valued voice who challenged assumptions and conventional wisdom and one we will deeply miss as we start a new season without him.  Our condolences go to his family, friends and the entire Trail Blazers organization.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, Allen had announced his non-Hodgkins lymphoma had returned. It was his third round with the disease, but it was not known that it was already at a life-threatening stage.

After his first battle with the disease, Allen left Microsoft to pursue other interests, which included philanthropy and owning the Trail Blazers and Seahawks. Allen bought the Trail Blazers in 1988 for $70 million from real estate developer Larry Weinberg. Forbes currently estimates the value of the franchise at $1.3 billion.

It is possible this will lead to a sale of the Trail Blazers in not too distant future.

(Do not think this means another owner can swoop in like a vulture and move the team. Aside the fact Commissioner Adam Silver and the league would push back against moving a healthy franchise, the Blazers’ lease at the Moda runs through 2025, with explicit language to keep the team in Portland through 2023 at least.)

Allen’s sister, Ms. Jody Allen, released the following statement:

“Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.”

Our thoughts and condolences go out to Allen’s family and friends.