In the middle of a breakout season with the Indiana Pacers, shooting guard Lance Stephenson clearly expected to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team. Since discovering his snubbing by coaches and fans on Thursday, he's been rather vocal about his displeasure with the whole thing.
Stephenson apparently feels a bit disrespected (via New York Daily News):
"I already had a chip on my shoulder and it made me even worse," Stephenson said about not making the Eastern Conference reserves. "Now I'm going to kill everybody who is in front of me."
In the first game after the announcement, Stephenson recorded a triple-double in a loss to Phoenix. He's one of the league's better perimeter defenders and has averaged 14.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists as the Pacers' starting shooting guard.
With the Raptors' DeMar DeRozan and the Nets' Joe Johnson both getting selected ahead of Stephenson, he has some reason to be upset. It might be a close call with the former, but Stephenson has been a noticeably better all-around player than Johnson this season.
Spurs sign Brown
After sitting out the first half of the season, veteran guard Shannon Brown signed with the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. In order to free up roster space for the 10-day contract, the team released shooting guard Othyus Jeffers from his short-term deal.
Brown was a rotation player for the Phoenix Suns the previous two seasons, but was traded to the Washington Wizards along with Marcin Gortat and others before the season. The team immediately waived him, allowing Brown to hit free agency and select his next destination. Already set with his $3.5 million salary, he waited for the right situation to come along.
Pounding the Rock likes the addition:
Unlike Jeffers, I think Brown clearly belongs in an NBA roster. He is by no means a sixth man on a good team, but as a fourth or fifth guard, he could be very useful to squads looking for a scoring punch and some decent defense. With the Spurs already having a glut of natural point guards, Brown could flourish as he won't be asked to be something he is not.
With the Spurs battling injuries to Danny Green and Manu Ginobili in recent days, Brown gives Gregg Popovich a veteran guard who can handle the ball and score a little bit. He averaged 10.5 points and 2.5 rebounds in 59 games with Phoenix last season.
Jeffers appeared in four games with San Antonio, averaging 1.8 points in 8.5 minutes per game.
Deng not happy in Cleveland?
It appears adjusting to a new franchise hasn't gone well for veteran forward Luol Deng. After nine-plus years with the Chicago Bulls, many of them spent under coach Tom Thibodeau, Deng "has seen how a team mired in losing since LeBron James left town wrongly caters to its young star players," according to the New York Daily News.
This isn't the first time we've heard of turmoil in Cleveland this season, where the losses are piling up and coach Mike Brown seems to be struggling to command the locker room. A players-only meeting early in the season did little to help things, and the same can be said of the Andrew Bynum trade.
Bringing in Deng, a respected former All-Star, was supposed to alleviate some of the tension. That hasn't happened yet, though, and apparently he's not happy with the environment. The Daily News says he told a close friend, "The stuff going on in practice would never be tolerated by the coaching staff or the front office back in Chicago. It's a mess."
Obviously we should take this kind of story with a grain of salt since Deng isn't the sort of player who will pout or publicly create problems. Rather, expect him to keep working hard and remain a role model for everyone else on the team. But that doesn't mean he's not frustrated, which could play into his upcoming plans as a free agent this summer.
Pau Gasol to miss at least one week
Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol will miss at least one week after an MRI revealed a strained right groin on Saturday.
INJURY UPDATE: Pau Gasol's MRI revealed a strained right groin. He is out a minimum of a week & will be re-evaluated next weekend.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 1, 2014
Gasol played 33 minutes in the Lakers' loss to Cleveland on Friday, but apparently suffered the minor injury in the process. He's played well this season, averaging 17 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.5 blocks per game for the struggling Lakers.
Tracy McGrady, baseball player?
Chalk this up in the "Stories you thought you'd only hear about Michael Jordan" category of NBA news. During Friday's ESPN NBA broadcast, Jeff Van Gundy said Tracy McGrady is considering an attempt at professional baseball with his NBA days firmly in the rear-view mirror.
It's not quite the MJ scenario, where Jordan left basketball arguably at the height of his powers, but this wouldn't be the first time a high-profile basketball star has taken his skills to the diamond. However, Van Gundy said McGrady wants to play pitcher and can throw over 90 miles per hour, which, if true, is quite frankly pretty amazing.
Part of Van Gundy's comments, via the Houston Chronicle:
"Speaking real quickly of McGrady, I think he’s going to play independent league baseball as a pitcher this year. In the independent league, I’m being serious. I’ve heard from sources in Houston — seriously — that he’s throwing over 90 miles per hour."
Like Van Gundy, yes, we're really serious about all this. T-Mac wants on the mound.