Kobe Bryant says he’s not recruiting Kevin Durant to Lakers. Yet?


Kevin Durant doesn’t become a free agent until 2016, but the recruitment process begins much earlier, especially because the NBA doesn’t consider players talking to each other to be colluding.

Chandler Parsons gave the Rockets a few-weeks head start on Dwight Howard, who ultimately chose Houston (because of Parsons, according to Parsons). Joakim Noah began recruiting Carmelo Anthony months before Melo become a free agent, and that nearly lured Melo to Chicago (though Melo re-signing with the Knicks might have worked out for the Bulls).

Imagine how early players should be pitching Durant, whose stature rises above even Howard and Melo. It’s not too early even now.

But Kobe Bryant isn’t quite ready to jump into the fray.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

while Bryant said he hasn’t yet recruited Durant, who is set to become a free agent in 2016, Bryant didn’t rule out trying to lure last season’s MVP to the Lakers either.

“I don’t think it’s a discussion that you have in terms of coming here. But I think it’s more of an understanding how to play with each other.”

Said Bryant, “If the opportunity came up, then that’s the time to have that discussion.”

Kobe isn’t even sure he’ll still be playing when Durant could sign with the Lakers, so I understand why this wouldn’t be Kobe’s focus. Besides, it’s unclear Kobe’s involvement would help, though Durant insists it would.

As long as he wants to remain with the Lakers, Kobe’s best chance of winning another title is a star or two signing with them, and Durant is a star among stars. The odds of getting Durant to Los Angeles are long, but if Kobe wants to team up with him, Kobe should at least start dropping pro-Lakers hints now.

Report: Mavericks targeting Jermaine O’Neal to replace Brandan Wright


Trading for Rajon Rondo definitely increases the Mavericks’ upside.

But the deal carries real risk. Brandan Wright has played extremely well in a limited role behind Tyson Chandler. Regardless of whether that’s a credit to Wright or his surroundings, he’s a key reason the Mavericks are the NBA’s only team whose 10 most-used lineups have each outscored opponents.

Not only did Wright provide useful game-to-game depth, he served as insurance if 32-year-old Chandler – who missed 27 games last season – got injured.

So where do the Mavericks turn from here? Perhaps to free agent Jermaine O’Neal, who lives near Dallas and is deciding whether he wants to still play.

Tim Cato of Mavs Moneyball:


Marc Stein of ESPN:


O’Neal played very well for the Warriors last season, averaging 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game. At 36, there’s always a risk his production falls off a cliff, and he can’t regularly play major minutes.

But the Mavericks don’t need him to do too much. Just play behind Chandler, maybe even splitting the role with Greg Smith until the playoffs get closer. There’s no free agent better for this than O’Neal, and Dallas already spent key trade assets to get Rondo.

The Mavericks should feel good about landing Rondo. You don’t turn down a player of his caliber because you’re worried it will downgrade your team at backup center. But if they can add O’Neal, they should feel much more comfortable with the deal.

Report: Mavericks “confident” they can re-sign Rajon Rondo


Dallas is taking some risks bringing in Rajon Rondo in a blockbuster trade with Boston. For one, they already have the best offense in the NBA this season, one predicated on good shooters and good ball movement, and now they are going to take the ball out of Monta Ellis’ capable hands and put it in Rondo’s. They are betting Rondo can still defend like old Rondo if he wants to. From where I sit those are smart, solid bets to make.

But the biggest risk is Rondo is a free agent next summer. He could walk.

Word had already leaked that Dallas was one of a couple teams where he’d seriously consider re-signing after the season if they traded for him. Owner Mark Cuban is too smart to pull the trigger on this kind of deal unless he has word he can keep his man. With that, this report from Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com shouldn’t be a surprise. But it is worth noting.

If things go south this season Rondo can still walk, and likely would.

Dallas will have some work to do to keep the band together next summer. Rondo is a free agent, Tyson Chandler is a free agent and Monta Ellis can and likely will opt out. Dallas has the advantage of having Bird rights and the ability to really spend on those guys, but there will be vultures looking to poach.

Dallas moves into title contender status with addition of Rajon Rondo


This says everything about the Western Conference:

Dallas just pulled off a brilliant trade for Rajon Rondo, one that improves their defense and gives them a big upgrade at the point guard spot. Yet the best you can say about them now is “this makes them one of the five or six teams that could make the Finals out of the conference.”

However, at least now they are in that conversation now.

Thursday Dallas traded Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, a future first (heavily protected) and a future second round pick to Boston for Rajon Rondo. The deal became official Thursday night.

It was a smart move by Dallas, the kind of aggressive move you should expect from a Mark Cuban team.

Dallas has been one of the teams in the West that was very good — they are 19-8, which is a 58 win pace for the season — and yet was clearly a notch below the elite in the conference. They were 0-5 against the rest of the West’s Top 7 and even Dirk Nowitzki admitted they didn’t really look like contenders.

Rondo can change that.

I can hear the critics now — but he can’t shoot! The Mavericks just traded for a point guard who can’t consistently knock down jumpers and three pointers. You go under the pick on Rondo, you let him shoot (except from the left elbow. Here’s his shot chart for this season.


All of that is moot — Dallas doesn’t need him to shoot.

This situation is a lot more like the 2008 Celtics for Rondo — he has three guys around him who can shoot and space the floor, including a 7-footer who will draw other bigs out of the paint. Like with those contending Celtics all he needs to do is draw in the defense and set them up, and that’s what Rondo does well. He is a fantastic ball handler who can get in the lane but when he does he looks to pass first — now he has legit options.

Look at it this way: Rondo leads the league in assists setting up Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger, what is he going to look like setting up Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons? Plus he loves to probe and pass off the pick-and-roll, and now he gets great picks and a good roll-man in Tyson Chandler with real shooters spreading the floor for him. All this makes Rondo just that much more dangerous on offense. He’ll get points but he doesn’t have to carry the scoring load, just orchestrate those who can. And he’ll be getting play designs from the best Xs and Os coach in the game in Rick Carlisle (with all due respect to that guy in San Antonio).

Dallas already has the best offense in the NBA this season — that’s not the end of the court Rondo really helps the most.

Rondo is also a massive defensive upgrade over Nelson. Rondo is long, athletic and a fantastic on-ball defender that gives Dallas a real stopper on the perimeter. Pair that with Chandler as a rim protector and Dallas will move from its current 20th in the league defensively closer to the top 10.

Is it enough? Who knows in the West. Golden State is legit (if Andrew Bogut is healthy). Memphis is legit. The Spurs will likely be back to being the Spurs by the playoffs. The Oklahoma City Thunder are themselves again. The Clippers have holes but also boatloads of talent at key spots and are in the mix if they defend.

Now Dallas can sit down at the big-boy table, too — Rondo puts them there. They have a chance.

As a Mavericks fan, that’s all you can ask.

Phil Jackson takes to Twitter to defend Knicks trading Tyson Chandler to Mavericks


Once Phil Jackson was installed as president of basketball operations for the Knicks, his first major player personnel move was sending Tyson Chandler out of town.

The trade, consummated with the Dallas Mavericks over the summer, sent Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas, in exchange for Samuel Dalembert, Jose Calderon, Wayne Ellington, Shane Larkin and two 2014 second-round draft picks.

One writer recently declared the deal to be a resounding win for the Mavericks, but once Jackson saw the article come across his Twitter feed, he couldn’t resist defending his decision.

@sheridanhoops negative, I’m okay with the Dallas deal. Tyson fits there and our 3 players, Jose, Sam, and Shane are on the court.

our season got off to a rocky start-injuries-Tyson could not have changed the outcome. Trades are judged in 4-5 year terms.

remember how Pop et al complained about the Pau trade? How does that trade look now? Just relax…and be patient.

The Pau Gasol trade from Memphis to Los Angeles was outrageous at the time, and remains so to this day. It resulted in two championships for the Lakers, and while Pau is now in Chicago, the Lakers are a lottery team and Marc Gasol (included in the deal) has emerged as one of the game’s best big men in Memphis, the Lakers remain its winners — at least until Memphis wins one or more championships with Marc leading the way.

Dalembert has been relatively brutal in New York, and Larkin, while pressed into action as a starter due to injuries in the early portion of the season, still has plenty of developing to do in order to become a useful NBA talent. Calderon may be a legitimate piece, but the results of those picks will ultimately determine whether or not the Knicks did OK in this deal — and as Jackson intimated, we’re a long way away from seeing how things may ultimately play out.