First Cup: Monday
January, 6, 2014
By Nick Borges
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies agreed Sunday to trade reserve guard Jerryd Bayless to the Boston Celtics for guard Courtney Lee, a source confirmed to The Commercial Appeal. The deal is expected to be completed Monday with both players serving as the key components of a larger transaction, according to the source. Moving on from Bayless should come as no surprise. Griz management was not thrilled when Bayless exercised his player option last summer. Bayless also underwhelmed this season. He’s shooting 37 percent overall and just 28.8 percent from three-point range, and still struggles to proficiently play point guard. Lee, meanwhile, used to be represented by Griz CEO Jason Levien and director of player personnel Stu Lash when they worked as agents. The front office clearly has confidence that Lee can help the Grizzlies’ need for perimeter shooting long term.
- A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: The postseason is not on the must-do list for the Boston Celtics, and for good reason. Miami and Indiana are so far ahead of the rest of the teams in the East, getting into the playoffs to face one of them is pointless. Boston is right in making getting their financial house in order, a priority this season. After all, Boston's last title didn't come about because they intentionally went about losing games - also known as "tanking" -- in order to land a bona fide stud in the draft. Instead, they simply played guys who weren't as good as their opponents, and thus the losses came about while the players learned how to compete and thus, became more attractive pieces to trade. Boston is following the same script now, except they are going to have draft picks and more cap flexibility than they had before the 2007 draft day trade for Ray Allen and later that summer, the trade for Kevin Garnett from Minnesota. So as much as the idea of dumping a good player because of his salary doesn't sound all that appealing, just remember this. This isn't about Courtney Lee. This isn't about 'Riggin for Wiggins' either. This is about building a team that will compete for a title sooner rather than later, and unloading Lee's salary is part of that process. Period.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Time is winding down on the options regarding Andrew Bynum, but no deal was struck Sunday as the Cavs continue negotiating with the Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz and others over a possible trade. Any team that acquires Bynum must waive him by Tuesday in order for him to clear waivers in time to have his salary removed from their cap, but any players the Cavs acquire will have to first pass a physical unless the team agrees to waive it. ESPN.com reported the Cavs and Lakers were hopeful of completing a deal Sunday for Pau Gasol, but that didn’t happen. Gasol played for the Lakers on Sunday night while the two sides continue negotiating. The Lakers are insisting on assets beyond luxury tax relief, but thus far Cavs General Manager Chris Grant hasn’t budged. The Cavs are offering tax relief and little else. One source described the talks as stalled late Sunday night, but another source said talks have been off and on throughout the negotiations. No deal is considered dead until 5 p.m. Tuesday, when the deadline is reached for Bynum to be waived for cap relief. Bynum’s agent, David Lee, said Sunday he has been told nothing by the Cavs. Wherever Bynum is traded, his stay will be brief.
- Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: Because the Nuggets haven't always paid attention to detail, they play inconsistent basketball. One area gets shored up and another breaks down. Three players are positioned correctly on defense but two are not, effectively sabotaging the whole enterprise. But this past week, the Denver players essentially said they want to dedicate themselves to improvement. They played winning basketball before — and they want to get back to that place. This season hasn't been smooth for them or the coaching staff. Players want to know where they stand at all times — especially those in this generation. They will question everything more than previous generations, but if you're true to them, they will run through a wall for you. "I like responsibilities," said Nuggets guard Evan Fournier. "I want to be great in this league." In three days of storm clouds hanging over the Denver franchise, this was the best, most under-reported news of the week: The players care. They really do.
- Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: The Pacers may be situated in the middle of America, but the team has a following in the Far East. A representative from the website chinapacers.com asked Vogel a submitted question during pregame. “Hello, China Pacers,” greeted Vogel, who often receives emails from the editor of the site. The question: “So, when you started coaching for (the) Pacers three years ago, were you expecting yourself to be the coach for the All-Star team?” Indiana started the day with the best record in the conference, as well as the league, and that would assure Vogel a spot on the Eastern All-Star sideline. “Mmm. No. I wasn’t,” Vogel said. “I was obviously hopeful that the team would have a high level of success and hopefully we can continue to have that level of success to where I could coach the All-Star." ... "I don’t think it’s clinched yet,” Vogel said, stopping in mid-thought. “Still have a ways to go. I didn’t see that but I was hopeful, I knew we had a bright future. This team is capable of that kind of success."
- Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Reggie Jackson came out on fire. He scored the Thunder’s first 11 points and had it all working, his 3-pointer, his pull-up and his drives. He looked like a completely different player than the past few outings. Good sign. Jackson scored a career-high 27 points on 9-for-12 shooting in 31 minutes. In his previous five games, he averaged 11.3 points on 36.5 percent shooting. The best part of Jackson’s night in my eyes: free throw attempts. He got to the line nine times, a career high. He made six of them, which is uncharacteristic. But getting there more frequently is something the team really needs from him in the absence of Russell Westbrook. Speaking of Westbrook. He addressed the media before the game. Here’s what he said about his third surgery in eight months. Most notable is his quote about timelines for recovery. “I don’t pay no attention to none of those projections, man,” he said. No way he’s sidelined through the All-Star break. Back to Jackson. With just over three minutes remaining in the first half, Jackson had 16 points on 5-for-6 shooting. The other four starters had 15 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
- Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: Midway through an explosive third quarter Sunday, the Verizon Center Jumbotron malfunctioned and stopped showing the game's score. The Warriors might have been responsible for breaking the scoreboard with a 30-5 third-quarter run, and then they broke a franchise record by closing out a 112-96 laugher over the Wizards. The Warriors (23-13) have won five consecutive road games on a single trip for the first time in franchise history, and have games against Milwaukee on Tuesday and Brooklyn on Wednesday to try to tie the Bucks' 7-0 roadie in 1972-73 as the best in NBA history. Having won nine straight games for the sixth time in franchise history and for the first time in a single season since they won 10 in a row in December 1975, the Warriors moved into a tie with the Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Dwyane Wade decided Sunday he was ready to play both ends of back-to-back games. After opting to play in Saturday's victory over the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center, Wade said he saw no need to therefore sit out Sunday's game against the Toronto Raptors at AmericanAirlines Arena. "I just want to be able to go," he said of Sunday's start. "I got a good workout in. It felt OK. There's no guarantees. But there's got to come a point where I feel comfortable with trying it. So I thought this would be a good time." Wade underwent July shock-wave knee therapy, a process that is believed to take six months for full regeneration. "It's getting better," he said. "I feel like it's less sore now in the beginning of January than it was in the beginning of December. So, it's all about continuing to progress. So hopefully it's better as the months go on." ... The Heat are 4-4 in his absence this season.
- Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News: There’s plenty of things Kendall Marshall has digested before morphing from a Development League castoff to the Lakers’ starting point guard. Beyond mastering Mike D’Antoni’s playbook and adapting to the NBA, Marshall has also discovered that Bryant remains hard to impress. A day after posting 20 points and 15 assists in the Lakers’ win Friday over Utah in his first start donning purple and gold, Marshall tweeted at Bryant with a hashtag, “follow back?” No luck. “I thought maybe if I tweeted him, he’d respond,” Marshall said. “I figured it was something that would be kind of funny. I like to show my personality to fans.” But this isn’t the case of Bryant taking the same stance to Marshall as he did to Dwight Howard, who was instantly unfollowed the moment he left the Lakers this offseason for the Houston Rockets. “It’s hard for me to check on the mentions,” Bryant said. “I didn’t know that happened. Now that I know, I’ll follow him."
- Daniel O'Leary of the New York Daily News: J.R. Smith's perplexing second full season with the Knicks continues. Smith admitted to making a "low basketball IQ" play when he launched an ill-advised 3-pointer at the end of the Knicks' loss in Houston Saturday. But the stunt he pulled Sunday night in a 92-80 win over Dallas could be classified as just plain old low IQ. For reasons known only to himself - or perhaps no reason at all - the erratic shooting guard decided to untie the left sneaker of Mavericks forward Shawn Marion just before Dirk Nowitzki let go of a free throw attempt in the second quarter. It appeared Smith gained no advantage on the play and Marion noticed but didn't seem to care. Nowitzki made the free throw. Smith finished with seven points and seven rebounds while shooting 3 for 8 in the game.