While the Phoenix Suns' reported interest in the Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol appears to be real, it might be a little while before any trade comes to pass. Gasol is currently sidelined with a strained groin, and the Suns would like to wait and see how he looks when he returns from the injury, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein:
Sources told ESPN.com that, while there is substantive interest on both sides, it's believed Suns officials want to see how Gasol recovers from a strained groin before deciding whether to take talks to the next level.
Gasol carried the undermanned Lakers in January despite playing with an injured toe and groin to re-establish his status as one of the more skilled big men in the game after a slow start to the season. The Lakers expect a more robust market to develop for him in advance of the trade deadline, sources said. The Lakers are also comfortable with keeping Gasol beyond the deadline to maintain as much financial flexibility for free agency this summer and beyond, sources said.
Gasol did not accompany the Lakers on their three-game road trip, so the earliest he could come back is this coming Sunday. The team does not believe the injury to be serious. The big man received a PRP injection in his groin on Monday, via his Instagram page:
The trade deadline is Feb. 20, and Los Angeles is reportedly asking for draft picks and/or young players in exchange for Gasol, rather than simply the financial relief that would come with absorbing Emeka Okafor's contract.
Tom Thibodeau, Gar Forman respond to Carlos Boozer's comments
After Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer spoke out about his lack of fourth-quarter minutes on Monday, there was bound to be a response from head coach Tom Thibodeau. When the subject was brought up with the coach, Thibodeau said that he hadn't seen Boozer's quotes, then was quick to point to the numbers and to effusively praise backup big man Taj Gibson, via CSN Chicago's Aggrey Sam:
"Those, they're tough decisions. I have two guys that are deserving of being starters. Both guys are critical for our team. So I'm asking Taj to sacrifice not starting. In some cases, Carlos has to sacrifice not finishing. For us to achieve what we want to achieve, both guys have to play very well for us. […]
"You also have to look at what Taj is doing. Obviously Taj is our best defender at that position - but what you can't overlook is Taj is also our most efficient scorer in the fourth quarter. You're looking at a guy that's shooting 49 percent for the season in the fourth. The last five games, he's shooting 58 percent. He's averaging over seven points per game [in the fourth quarter] in the last five [games], so he's been playing at a very, very high level and when you look at the field-goal percentage, you're looking at a guy that's shooting 49 percent in the fourth quarter for the season. Now, only Mike Dunleavy is shooting [better]; he's shooting 50 [percent] in the fourth. And then, when you look at plus-minus for the season, after the Luol trade, our best plus-minus guy for the season is Taj."
Bulls general manager Gar Forman also had to address the issue, speaking from a community event on Monday night, via CSN Chicago:
"I'm disappointed that Carlos didn't keep that in-house," Forman said. "I think we've seen Tom does a terrific job managing guys' roles, managing their minutes. In that situation, Taj has played very, very well."
Boozer played seven scoreless minutes in the fourth quarter on Monday against the Sacramento Kings, more than any starter, but the game was out of hand early in the period and the Bulls lost by a score of 99-70.
Joakim Noah apologizes for outburst directed at refs
Chicago center Joakim Noah lost his cool to say the least against the Kings, cursing out each referee individually upon getting ejected. After the game, he told reporters he was frustrated with the game but should not have reacted like that, via the Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Crowley:
"I'm really disappointed,'' Noah said after the game. "I shouldn't have acted that way. I apologize, I'm sorry to all three referees out there. They're out there trying to do their jobs and I should never have said the things that I said. I hope they accept my apology and I hope I can move on from this.''
Hilariously, Thibodeau did not see why Noah's barrage of f-bombs could result in hearing from the league office, via Crowley:
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau didn't think Noah's behavior warranted anything drastic.
"For what?'' Thibodeau responded, when asked if he was concerned Noah could be suspended. "No.''
Rodney Stuckey says Pistons are not on the same page
"It seems like every year there's new players who you're trying to get accustomed to," Stuckey told USA TODAY Sports by phone recently. "It's just trying to figure each other out and all being on the same page. I really don't think right now ..."
He pauses ever so slightly.
"We're not on the same page," he continued. "It's difficult to try to go out there and try to win games and win games consistently."
While the comments might sound controversial, Stuckey is merely stating the obvious. The Pistons start three post players and have several shoot-first guards in the rotation, so this was always going to be a difficult balance. Detroit has lost 14 of its last 20 games and is 19-28 on the season, on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Pistons are struggling on the floor, but at least Stuckey said the team isn't having the same problems it did last year, via Amick:
"Sometimes people just don't see eye to eye with one another, and I'm not just talking about me," he said. "I'm talking for a lot of people from last year. I'm talking for my whole team. Sometimes people just don't see eye to eye with one another. I'll keep it at that. Last year was mentally tough for a lot of people, and when your mental game's not right then it throws everything else off. That's how it was.
"I know our record is not what it should be (now), but we're definitely in a better place."
Derrick Williams' mom texted him about botched dunk
In case you missed Kings forward Derrick Williams failing to complete an alley-oop to himself against the Bulls on Monday, enjoy:
The play occurred when Sacramento was ahead by 28 points with about three minutes left in the game, so Chicago was, naturally, not too pleased with Williams' attempt at showboating, as evidenced by the reaction on the Bulls bench. Post-game, Williams wasn't taking it too seriously:
You know it's bad when your mom text you "what was that!?" Lmao great team win tho #ShaqtinAFool— Derrick Williams (@RealDwill7) February 4, 2014
Kings head coach Michael Malone removed Williams from the game after the ill-fated dunk attempt, and he was classy about it afterward, via the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones:
"Derrick's a good kid so there's nothing malicious in that but I don't want to disrespect the Bulls," Malone said. "I don't want to disrespect (Bulls coach) Tom Thibodeau, I have too much respect for him. At that point in the game when you're up big, just lay the ball in. Derrick wasn't trying to showboat or disrespect anybody but I told our guys, be good to the game."
The funniest quotes on the matter came from inside Sacramento's locker room, from Williams himself and teammate DeMarcus Cousins:
"I didn't know what I wanted to do," Williams said of the kind of dunk he was attempting.
"The hardest part was trying to find something to say to him after making that play," said DeMarcus Cousins. "I don't know. You're going to have to ask D-Will about that."