Atlantic Notes: Bass, Faverani, Calderon, Sixers

November 23 at 12:50pm CST By Arthur Hill

The CelticsBrandon Bass may have increased his trade chances with a strong start to the season, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Bass is earning $6.9MM in the final season of his contract, and should be appealing to a contending team between now and the trade deadline. “If there’s a team competing for a championship and they could steal him, that’d be big,” said Rajon Rondo“He’s one of the best mid-range shooters in the league.”

There’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Bulpett also reports that Vitor Faverani is holding out hope of playing for the Celtics this season after two surgical procedures to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Faverani originally had the knee worked on in March, then went through a second procedure five weeks ago. “The bad thing is that I worked really hard all summer, and I got injured one more time,” he said. “I just have to recover. That’s my life. That’s all I can do right now.”
  • The Celtics assigned James Young to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League. This is his second stint with the Red Claws, after appearing in one game last week. He has played in three games for the Celtics, averaging 3.0 points in 3.9 minutes.
  • Carmleo Anthony expects the Knicks to improve now that Jose Calderon is back on the court, according to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Anthony praised Calderon’s understanding of the game, and said scorers always love playing with skilled point guards. “His IQ out there on the basketball court, I think is very high,” Anthony said. “That’s something that, at that position, we’ve been missing.” Calderon, who came to the Knicks in an offseason trade with the Mavericks, missed the first 13 games of the season with a strained calf.
  • Fans of the winless Sixers shouldn’t expect a turnaround any time soon, opines Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He said Philadelphia is committed to its strategy of trying to improve by getting high draft picks, even though it hasn’t landed the team an obvious franchise player so far.

And-Ones: Oden, McCants, Giddens, Anderson

November 23 at 12:17pm CST By Arthur Hill

Greg Oden attended the Cavaliers game Saturday, but has no immediate plans for an NBA comeback, tweets Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Oden, the first player selected in the 2007 NBA draft, said he has other priorities. “I have to deal with other stuff first,” he said. “Life stuff.” Oden allegedly punched his ex-girlfriend in the face during a recent fight and was charged with felony battery, misdemeanor domestic battery and misdemeanor battery resulting in serious bodily injury.

Other players were on the move this weekend:

  • Free agent Rashad McCants will continue his career in Lebanon, notes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. McCants, a college star at North Carolina, played four years in the NBA with the Timberwolves and Kings. He has not been in the league since the 2008/09 season. He played last season in Brazil.
  • J.R. Giddens, a first-round pick by the Celtics in the 2008 NBA draft, has landed a free agent deal in Argentina, tweets David Pick of Basketball Insiders and Eurobasket. Giddens spent two seasons in the NBA with the Celtics and Knicks. He has also played in Poland, Greece, Italy and Puerto Rico.
  • The Spurs announced that rookie Kyle Anderson has been assigned to the Austin Spurs of the D-League. A first-round pick out of UCLA in this year’s draft, Anderson has seen limited playing time in San Antonio, averaging 1.0 points and 2.8 rebounds in six games.

Western Notes: Howard, Saunders, Thunder

November 23 at 10:19am CST By Arthur Hill

The Rockets’ Dwight Howard is out indefinitely after undergoing platelet-rich plasma therapy on his strained right knee, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. Coach Kevin McHale said there is no timetable for the center to return after going through the PRP therapy that Kobe Bryant experimented with in 2013. “It feels a lot better,” Howard said after the treatment. “I had to get a shot in it to clear some of the stuff out of it. I’m trying to do whatever I can to get back on the floor.”

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Wolves’ Flip Saunders has been putting in late hours trying to find a replacement for the injured Kevin Martin, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Martin is out indefinitely after breaking his right wrist Wednesday, adding to an injury list that already includes Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Ronny Turiaf. Saunders, who serves as team president and coach, has been talking to agents and looking at D-League prospects for potential roster help.
  • The injury news is better in Oklahoma City, where Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook participated in practice Saturday, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman. The Thunder stars were limited to a few non-contact drills, but coach Scott Brooks was encouraged. “They looked good,”  Brooks said. “They’ve been with the group the whole time, but (Saturday) was the first day they’ve actually participated in some of the drills.” Durant, the league’s reigning MVP, had surgery on his right foot. Westbrook has a surgically repaired right hand. Both are scheduled to have their medical progress evaluated this week.
  • Kobe Bryant’s refusal to demand a trade from the Lakers undermines his public image as a cut-throat competitor, opines Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Powell notes that the woeful Lakers were in a similar situation a decade ago, and Bryant responded by threatening to sign with the Clippers if the talent around him didn’t improve. This time, Powell says, Bryant “agreed to serve as the conductor” on a train wreck in exchange for a two-year, $48MM contract extension that runs through next season.

Cavaliers Notes: Kirilenko, James, Blatt

November 23 at 8:50am CST By Arthur Hill

In need of an athletic defender on the wing, the Cavaliers are keeping an eye on Andrei Kirilenko‘s situation with the Nets, reports Chris Haynes of Northeast Ohio Media Group. Kirilenko was rumored this week to be involved in a possible trade to the Sixers, who are expected to waive him if the deal goes through.  He is making more than $3.3MM this season and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • LeBron James told Joe Vardon of Northeast Ohio Media Group he is accepting blame for the Cavaliers‘ slow start, and that was before Saturday’s 17-point loss to the Raptors“I can sustain my effort as well, as close to 48 minutes as possible, and the guys that feed off me,” James said.  “I’ve been kind of waiting around a little bit to see what may happen, sometimes it’s been good, sometimes it hasn’t been good.” James was expected to make the Cavs instant contenders after he left the Heat to join the team as a free agent during the summer, but Cleveland has struggled to a 5-7 start.
  • James also took a hit from Chris Fedor of Northeast Ohio Media Media Group, who said the best player in the NBA hasn’t performed like it during the Cavaliers‘ four-game losing streak. Fedor faults James for poor play and bad body language and says as team leader James needs to set a better example for his impressionable teammates.
  • Saturday night’s collapse offered more proof that the Cavaliers are “fragile,” opines Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio. That was James’ assessment of the team, and Amico wholeheartedly agrees, pointing out the inexperience of rookie head coach David Blatt, a weak bench that was outscored 51-19 by the Raptors’ reserves and a consistently poor defensive effort.

Western Notes: Lakers, Parsons, Thunder, Ibaka

November 22 at 10:37pm CST By Chris Crouse

The Lakers are not making any immediate roster moves after holding free agent workouts this week, according to David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Los Angeles brought in Roscoe Smith for a tryout yesterday. Smith joined Gal Mekel, Jordan Hamilton, Dwight Buycks, Quincy Miller and Tyrus Thomas as players who are candidates for a roster spot on the team. The 3-10 Lakers will host the Nuggets on Sunday after giving up 140 points to the Mavs on Friday night.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • The Mavs and Rockets squared off in Houston tonight and Chandler Parsons reflects on his relationship with his old team, writes Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle.  “This was home for me for three years so I have no hard feelings toward them,” Parsons said. “It obviously got a little ugly during free agency but (Rockets general manager) Daryl (Morey) told me it was gonna, so it didn’t surprise anyone. That’s just how it goes and it’s business and at the end of the day, my friendship with these guys will stay the same.”  The stellar play of Parsons has been key to the Mavs offense, which is scoring a league-best 111.3 points per game this season.
  • The injuries to the Thunder this season could help the team in the long run, opines Benjamin Hoffman of the New York Times. Hoffman looks at the 1996/97 season, when the Spurs lost David Robinson to an injury and ended up with the top pick in the 1997 draft, as a potential blueprint for what Oklahoma City could strive for this year. Entering Saturday, the Thunder own a record of 3-11, which is second worst in the league. While this strategy might be tempting, Hoffman notes that more likely than not, the next top pick isn’t another player of Tim Duncan‘s caliber.
  • The rash of injuries to the Thunder have allowed Serge Ibaka to include the three-point shot in his game more frequently, and this new wrinkle isn’t going anywhere once the team’s stars return, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. “I think it continues,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “He doesn’t necessarily have to live out there and shoot 10 a game. But three or four a game is a good number for him.” Ibaka is shooting 38.3% on 60 attempts from behind the arc in 14 games this year, which already ties his career high.
  • The Lakers have assigned Jordan Clarkson and Xavier Henry to the D-League, the team announced. The pair went to the D-League for a one-day assignment a week ago.

Eastern Notes: McDaniels, Sixers, Cavs, Pistons

November 22 at 8:43pm CST By Chris Crouse

With the Sixers season already taking a turn for the worse, rookie K.J. McDaniels needs to play more, argues Tom Moore of Calkins Media. McDaniels, who signed an unusual deal for a second-round draft pick that keeps him under contract for only one season, is averaging 9.3 points per game while playing only 22.6 minutes per game. If McDaniels continues to show potential, he could end up with a more lucrative deal than most players with his experience and draft status. If that is the case, his success may pave the way for other second-round picks to emulate his strategy of signing just a one-year deal, though that is just my speculation.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers do not have a timetable for when the team’s turnaround will begin, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team began this season with a record of 0-12. Pompey compares the club to the 2007 SuperSonics, who lost their first eight games on their way to 20-62 record. The main difference between the two teams is that the Sonics had Kevin Durant during his rookie season, while the Sixers currently lack so much talent that many suggest the top team in college could beat them.
  • Kevin Love hasn’t looked like the superstar who many people hailed him as last summer, writes Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group. Kawakami also cites the Cavs’ current need for an additional wing defender as further evidence that the team shouldn’t have traded Andrew Wiggins. While Wiggins isn’t totally developed as an NBA player, defense is one of his specialties. Cleveland is reportedly one of the teams looking to add Wolves defensive specialist Corey Brewer to its roster.
  • If the Pistons attempt to trade any of their players this season, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings make the most sense as candidates due to their large contracts, opines David Mayo of MLive.com in his weekly mailbag. Although trading one or both of these players would financially benefit the team long term, Detroit has no financial urgency to move either contract as the team will be comfortably under the NBA’s salary cap this offseason. Mayo suggests that while the team may have the financial flexibility to re-sign Greg Monroe, it is unlikely he stays since he already turned down a substantial offer from the Pistons and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Celtics Notes: Green, Rondo, Lee, Bass

November 22 at 6:43pm CST By Chris Crouse

Earlier in the month, Hoops Rumors’ own Chuck Myron broke down the Celtics’ offseason moves. While Boston added some nice pieces, no acquisition moved the needle in the win column as the team started the season with a 4-7 record. It hasn’t been all bad this season as the team owns the fourth best offense in the league, scoring 106.2 points per game.

Here’s more from Boston:

  • Jeff Green‘s frustration with the Celtics’ losing is at an all-time high, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com. “I’m tired of losing,” Green said. “[Friday] we let them get whatever they wanted, so we deserved to lose.”  The forward can opt out of his current deal at season’s end and become a free agent. Blakely adds that the market for Green is as strong “if not stronger” than it is for fellow teammate Rajon Rondo, according to talks with a league executive. Green is averaging 18.4 points per game and is sporting a player efficiency rating of 16.5.
  • Courtney Lee liked playing for the Celtics but understood why he was traded to the Grizzlies, writes Blakely in a separate piece. “I enjoyed my time in Boston,” Lee said. “The organization, my teammates, coaching staff; everybody was top-notch. It just didn’t work.” Lee signed in Boston while the team had title aspirations but a year later, the Celtics traded Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets to begin their rebuilding efforts. Lee, who most would describe as a complementary player, is thriving as a catch-and-shoot wing in the Grizzlies offense. “Just square up, lick my fingers and knock down shots,” Lee said. “It works for me.”
  • Brandon Bass is still familiarizing himself with his new role of coming off the bench for the Celtics, writes Blakely in another piece. “I’m adjusting,” Bass told Comcast SportsNet’s Abby Chin. “I’ve been a starter and I’ve come off the bench in the past … I’m adjusting.” Although he would love to start, he understands the importance of making a positive impact when he gets in the game. “It’s important for the guys off the bench to lift the starters each and every night; try to contribute in a major way each and every night,” Bass said. The power forward has begun the season on a positive note, averaging 8.4 PPG and with a player efficiency rating of 16.35.

Cavs Notes: Love, James, Miller, Blatt

November 22 at 4:44pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Kevin Love has had to sacrifice his game the most out of any player on the Cavs thus far this season, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Love is playing the same 36 minutes a game as a year ago, but is taking five fewer shots each contest, notes Pluto. This is something that Chris Bosh, LeBron’s former teammate with the Heat, predicted would happen prior to the season, and it has been a struggle for Love to find his place and playing rhythm as a result, Pluto adds.

Here’s more from Cleveland:

  • The Cavs need to get a good look at Mike Miller in order to see if the veteran can still be productive, Pluto opines. Miller is only averaging 1.1 points per game and logging 11.1 minutes per night, which isn’t a smart return for a player the team inked to a two-year, $5.5MM deal this past summer.
  • With Cleveland’s defense currently ranked 23rd in the league in points allowed (102 per game), GM David Griffin would prefer to use his $5,285,816 trade exception for a big man, rather than a shooting guard such as the Wolves’ Corey Brewer, Pluto reports.
  • Despite the Cavs assembling a superstar laden roster this season, there isn’t the same animosity directed at this Cleveland squad as the vitriol that was thrown towards the Heat’s “Big Three,” Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun writes. Much of this has to do with LeBron James returning home rather than leaving it, as well as a number of talented players on the Cavs roster being in place before James’ arrival, Ganter adds.
  • Despite the extremely small sample size of 11 games, this year’s Cavs squad doesn’t look like they enjoy playing together, and there appears to be a distinct lack of communication on the team, something that could end up costing head coach David Blatt his job, Chris Haynes of The Northeast Ohio Media Group opines.

And-Ones: Mudiay, Gordon, Parsons

November 22 at 2:43pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Emmanuel Mudiay, a surefire lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft, has denied reports that he’ll leave China prior to the end of the CBA season in order to boost his draft stock, Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv reports. Unnamed NBA sources were quoted as saying that Mudiay could opt to leave China early to keep his draft stock high if he’s playing well there, which would keep an aura of mystique around him similar to what surrounded Dante Exum last year, notes Zagoria. “This is all rumors, it’s completely false,” Mudiay said. “The media are the ones that like to come out with these things, but it’s not the reality.” Mudiay is currently projected as the No. 2 overall pick next year by Draft Express.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • In his weekly mailbag column, Nakia Hogan of The Times-Picayune addressed the possibility of the Pelicans dealing Eric Gordon. New Orleans still views Gordon as a key piece of the team and value continuity as they try to build a contender around Anthony Davis, notes Hogan. But Hogan also adds the caveat that if a deal came about that would make the franchise immediately better and help their future cap situation, then moving Gordon would be considered.
  • Hogan also believes that New Orleans should think twice about considering a deal for the NetsAndrei Kirilenko, despite the Pelicans‘ need for depth at small forward. The Times-Picayune scribe cites Kirilenko’s possible off the court issues, as well as his ineffectiveness when he has played this season, as reasons New Orleans should pass on the Russian veteran.
  • In advance of Chandler Parsons‘ first visit to Houston since signing with the Mavs, the Rockets James Harden went on record saying the team was better off with Trevor Ariza, who replaced Parsons in Houston, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com reports. “His [Ariza's] leadership, his defensive abilities, his shot-making — all three of those things are something that we were lacking last year,” said Harden. “[Ariza] brings that ability to the table this year.” The Rockets’ significant improvement on the defensive end certainly lends credence to Harden’s statement, notes MacMahon, with Houston lowering their points allowed per 100 possessions to 94.3, down from last season’s number of 103.1.

Western Notes: Bryant, Cousins, Cuban

November 22 at 12:43pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Kobe Bryant has been criticized for the Lakers‘ current woes because of his two-year, $48.5MM contract extension, which, despite Bryant granting the team a small discount, is looked at as a huge reason that Los Angeles is likely headed for the draft lottery for a second straight year, Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. Speaking about his contract, Bryant said, “Did I take a discount? Yeah. Did I take as big a discount as some of you fans would want me to? No. Is it a big enough discount to help us be a contender? Yeah.”

Here’s more from out west:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said the discount his star Dirk Nowitzki accepted when re-signing with the team made a huge impact in helping shape their roster, and Cuban took a not so subtle poke at Bryant, Holmes adds. “To me, it’s not about money, it’s about winning,” Cuban said. “Different players have different attitudes. Could a player make $24 million in the NBA’s current punitive financial climate [as Bryant does this season] and legitimately say they’re interested in winning? Yeah, of course, as long as you can convince everybody else that you need to come play for the minimum.”
  • Bryant also weighed in on the fans who think players should take less so franchises can build winning teams, Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. “It’s the popular thing to do — the player takes less, blah blah, blah, blah,” Bryant said. “I think it’s a big coup for the owners to put players in situations where public perception puts pressure on them to take less money, because if you don’t, then you get criticized for it. It’s absolutely brilliant. But I’m not going for it. I know that the new head of the players association [Michele Roberts] ain’t going for it either.
  • DeMarcus Cousins credits his increased maturity this season to his time spent with Team USA this past summer, Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders writes. The Kings‘ center said, “It [playing in the FIBA tournament] helped out a lot. I’d say the biggest thing is learning how to sacrifice for your team.  Doing the small things to help the team.  That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve taken away.  I mean, I played with an incredible group of guys, a very talented group of guys.  So, me playing the way I usually play, it wasn’t really needed for the team.”