A roundup of the latest news and notes from around the NBA on Tuesday evening:
Just as he did on Saturday, Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld.com answered some questions Sunday morning from his Twitter followers. Here are the highlights:
- Kyler does not expect the Lakers to trade Pau Gasol, noting that his hefty salary makes it difficult to find a fit. He says the Lakers are not interested in taking back another similar-sized contract for Gasol, and would prefer to break his cap hit into smaller pieces.
- Kyler says that, although former Blazers head coach Nate McMillan makes sense as an assistant coach for the Lakers, there is no incentive for him to take the job due to the Lakers' struggles and his enjoyment of spending time with his family (link).
- Kyler expects Magic guard J.J. Redick to get a contract similar to the four-year, $36MM deal Ryan Anderson signed with the Hornets. He does not think the Blazers would be a fit for Redick, given the presence of Wesley Matthews.
- Kyler doesn't think the Grizzlies will trade any of their key players unless the return helps them win now.
A home win last night over the Kings ensured that the Trail Blazers surpassed the Jazz and Timberwolves in the Western standings, making them the eighth seed in the conference. It's still very early in the season, but Portland has outperformed most expectations so far, and now the team will have to decide whether its performance will affect the way it approaches roster moves as the trade deadline approaches. Jason Quick of the Oregonian has the latest updates on that front, so let's round up the highlights….
- After a veteran reporter told Quick that he'd heard the Blazers are shopping LaMarcus Aldridge, the Oregonian scribe asked Blazers GM Neil Olshey directly whether that was the case. "It was as if I had told Olshey the best joke he had ever heard," says Quick, who adds that the Blazers haven't made a single call about Aldridge, though they did field one exploratory inquiry from another team.
- Olshey has identified a handful of core players in Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard, and Wesley Matthews, and it would be a huge surprise if any of those guys were moved. "The players on our roster who are no-brainers are not going anywhere," Olshey said, referring to that core.
- Of those four players, Matthews represents the most likely candidate to be dealt, but the Blazers GM has come to value the guard more than his stats suggest and wants him around during the rebuild, making a trade very unlikely.
- The Blazers may still make a move before February 21st, but it's unlikely to be a deal that "moves the needle."
- Quick speculates that Portland's top trade candidate could be J.J. Hickson, who has been outperforming his one-year, $4MM contract so far. The Blazers may want to get something in return for him before he hits free agency next July.
- Portland is expected to pursue a center and shooting guard in free agency or the draft next summer, when the team should be working with eight figures in cap space.
Back in August, when we asked Hoops Rumors readers for their Rookie of the Year pick, over 44% of about 1,050 voters selected Anthony Davis, making him the top choice by far. Davis is off to a promising start, averaging a double-double in five preseason games and making a strong impression on Hornets coach Monty Williams.
"He’s just a coach’s dream," Williams said, according to Bill Ingram of HoopsWorld. "He handles the situations with wisdom that’s beyond his years. He listens, he’s humble, and yet he still has an edge…. He’s going to be pretty special if he continues to work and allow himself to be coached the way he has so far. He’s just an amazing kid."
Here are a few more of today's notes from around the Western Conference:
- A number of recent reports have linked Jerome Jordan to teams in China, but for now Jordan is still hoping to make the Grizzlies' regular season roster, writes Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I know my agent has been talking to a bunch of teams. You know, as a worst-case scenario," Jordan said. "I don't know if there's a deal, per se, in China. But it's about making it in the NBA this year. I'm about trying to make it in the league and establish myself. I want to be around a long time."
- The Lakers are expected to waive second-round pick Darius Johnson-Odom soon, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
- Making an educated guess, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic predicts that Luke Zeller and Diante Garrett will earn spots on the Suns, and explains his reasoning.
- Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News wonders if two players under contract with the Spurs, Wesley Witherspoon and JaMychal Green, will be released soon to join San Antonio's D-League affiliate.
- Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts says he expects to keep Nolan Smith as the team's backup point guard over Coby Karl, as Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com tweets. Karl himself indicated this week that he's bracing for news of his release.
- ESPN.com's John Hollinger (Insider link) wouldn't be surprised if the Blazers consider moving Wesley Matthews at this season's trade deadline.
The latest rumors surrounding the Portland Trail Blazers, who make their preseason debut Wednesday against the Los Angeles Lakers:
Jeremy Lin's bandwagon is getting mighty crowded after the Harvard grad outscored Kobe Bryant 38-34 in a 92-85 win for the Knicks over the Lakers tonight. HoopsWorld writer Alex Kennedy tweets that the locker room chatter suggests Lin, a restricted free-agent at season's end, could get a contract on par with Wesley Matthews, who inked a five-year, $34MM contract with the Blazers after his impressive rookie season in Utah. But as Brian Cronin of KnickerBlogger.net points out, Lin will be limited to receiving the full mid-level exception. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the mid-level exception is four years, starting at $5MM a year with annual raises of 4.5%.
Notes from elsewhere in the Atlantic Division:
- Peter Vecsey of the New York Post delved into the past to reveal how the Nets nearly drafted Bryant in 1996.
- Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni believes Lin and Carmelo Anthony will fit together just fine when Melo returns from injury, reports Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday. The coach believes it will be similar to the way Chauncey Billups and Anthony meshed with both the Nuggets and the Knicks.
- The Nets made a $12,000 investment in DeShawn Stevenson's knees. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports that the team paid for Stevenson to get the same blood-spinning treatment Kobe Bryant received. Stephenson, who paid for the other half of the $24,000 procedure, says his arthritic knees feel as healthy as they have since 2004. Stephenson also said that Knicks point guard Baron Davis had the same treatment as well.
- Brook Lopez, who's been out since training camp with a broken foot, is on his way back for the Nets. He's set to practice this week, Andy Vasquez writes on NorthJersey.com.
- James Johnson tells Raptors announcer Matt Devlin that the absense of Andrea Bargnani, who could be out until after the All-Star Break, is affecting the play of the rest of the team. His comments are at the four-minute mark of this video on Raptors.com.