Court Vision: Grizzlies float Rudy Gay in trade talks?
By Ben Golliver
• The Point Forward’s New Year’s resolution for the Grizzlies was to begin picturing life without Rudy Gay. Zach Lowe of Grantland.com examines the trade possibilities.
Memphis, over the last few weeks, has made it known in preliminary talks with other teams that Rudy Gay could be available via trade, according to sources around the league. Memphis also has a brand-new ownership and a revamped front office; John Hollinger and Jason Levien are in, longtime personnel gurus the Barones are out, and Chris Wallace’s current level of power as holdover GM is unclear. They can also cite their exciting 2011 playoff run without Gay, though that run involved a superhuman performance from Zach Randolph, a very good matchup in San Antonio, and a much deeper wing core with actual shooters.
Trading Gay will be hard. He makes a ton of money, and the Grizzlies, flush with productive big men, will almost certainly need to find another perimeter player in order to placate fans and (in theory) maintain their 5 percenter status. Memphis isn’t necessarily shopping Gay at this point, since they’re already very good and could cut salary in other ways; there’s a long, long way to go before the trade deadline on February 21 — and before Memphis becomes a multi-year tax team.
The very best Gay deals would accomplish all of these things — get Memphis under this year’s tax line, keep them at about their current level within the league’s hierarchy, and clean up the future cap sheet a bit.
• Back in November, the Nets were off to a hot start and Andray Blatche had some tough words for the Wizards, his former team. With Brooklyn visiting Washington on Friday, he took a more dignified approach, the Washington Examiner reports.
“I have no feeling at all for it,” Blatche said prior to shootaround with the Brooklyn Nets on the Verizon Center main court Friday morning. “It’s another game. It’s a regular game for me. No emotional ties or nothing. I’m just going to go out and play.”
“To be honest with you, they can boo as loud as they want,” Blatche said. “They supposed to now because I don’t play for them so that’s not going to affect me at all.”
• The Washington Post reports that Blatche’s former teammate, Trevor Booker, is expecting a lot of boos.
“Probably a lot of boos,” he said. “I heard they got extra security over on his bench, just in case somebody wants to throw stuff. So I don’t know how true that is.”
Booker then joked, “I hope he makes it out alive.”
• Be sure to check out Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix’s latest Big Board, with UNLV’s Anthony Bennett at No. 6.
Bennett, 19, has surged into the top-10 behind several explosive offensive performances. Bennett has put up 20-plus points in three of his last four games and more than held his own against North Carolina’s James McAdoo on Dec. 29. On the season, Bennett is averaging 19.4 points and 9 rebounds. “This kid is always on the attack,” said a Western Conference exec. “He has a little Bernard King in him. He’s a little small for a power forward but he is a stud.”
• Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports writes that Clippers guard Chauncey Billups doesn’t believe his team’s recent winning streak got as much notice as it could have from the media.
“We got everybody’s attention,” Billups said of the Clippers’ 17-game winning streak. “Did [the media] blow it out like it was the Lakers or Heat? Probably not. But that’s what happens.
“We’re in the process of trying to gain respect in the league and gain the vision that we are an elite team so those are the things we have to go through.”
“One thing throughout this streak, I don’t think Vinny got enough credit for leading the team in this stretch,” Billups said. “He has a tough job this year because he has to manage all of this, all these expectations, all these good players.
• James Herbert takes a deep dive into the background of Blazers guard Damian Lillard at Hardwood Paroxysm.
“Sometimes in timeouts when we go to the bench I just sit there and I’ll close my eyes,” Damian Lillard said.
With his eyes closed, he does breathing techniques taught to him by strength and conditioning coach Anthony Eggleton of Advanced Sports Training Institute (ASTI). The two met when Lillard was in eighth grade through his AAU coach, Raymond Young of the Oakland Rebels.
“It definitely helps me just calm myself,” said the Portland Trail Blazers’ riveting rookie, sounding much wiser than his 22 years. “It helps me relax and stay in the moment and keep my focus.”
“He’s definitely worthy of consideration,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “When you have a team that is fourth in the East, you usually get one or two All Stars who go. Our guys, we don’t have 25-points-a-game guys on our team, but David (West) and Paul are certainly playing at All-Star levels right now.”
Vogel added, “Paul George is becoming a beast of a player on both ends of the court. He’s probably the best wing defender in the NBA.”
• The back-and-forth between Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva and Kings guard Isaiah Thomas continues, after Villanueva was ejected and later fined $25,000 for a flagrant foul 2 on Thomas. Thomas called Villanueva a “dirty player,” a label that didn’t sit well, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“Dirty player? Not at all,” Villanueva said. “He saw an open lane, I tried to block the ball and he’s 4-foot-11, a 100 pounds wet so he looks bad. I’m not a dirty player. I didn’t try to hurt him at all.”
“He has less than 100 games? I didn’t even know that. He was a rookie last year? I didn’t even know that. Shows how much I know about him,” Villanueva added. “I’m definitely not a dirty player. I know a lot of people that would testify to that.”
• On Wednesday, we noted that Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire was looking to pass the buck on his poor defensive reputation, stating that he had never been taught defense by his coaches prior to Mike Woodson. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, who coached Stoudemire in both Phoenix and New York, has responded. Via the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s mind-boggling. I mean, come on,” D’Antoni said Friday. “He threw Frank Johnson, myself, Alvin Gentry and actually Mike Woodson … was he saving the good stuff? Because he [Woodson] coached him eight months and he was the defensive coach. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“If he’s learning, great,” D’Antoni said. “That would be super. It just boggles the mind.”
• The spunkiest bench player in the NBA is Warriors rookie Kent Bazemore. Dan Devine of Yahoo’s Ball Don’t Lie has the video evidence.
• Knicks blog Posting and Toasting, one of our regular stops here in Court Vision, got some nice love from the New York Times.
Full Circle is a congenially bonkers sports-and-beer bar on Grand Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the menu features 60 or so canned beers, 5 on draft, no bottles, a modest liquor selection, free soft pretzels and hot dogs, and nothing else. The house sport is brewskee ball — the bar is owned by the creators of the first national brewskee ball league, and the décor is given over entirely to brewskee paraphernalia — but on Thursday night Full Circle belonged to the Knicks.
It is where the women and men of Posting & Toasting, an online community of Knicks bloggers, statistics geeks and wits, gathered for their first in-person meeting of the N.B.A. season, to see their slumping Knickerbockers play the red-hot San Antonio Spurs at Madison Square Garden.
• The never-ending Royce White saga in Houston, which saw the rookie turn down a D-League assignment last week, saw White give a radio interview this week, in which his tone was reflective. Henry Abbott of ESPN.com with more.
“The reality is that it is not Houston’s fault,” White said on SiriusXM’s “Off the Dribble” show. “As much as we always want to try and blame one side or the other … they’ve been thrown into a position now where they’re forced to make things up as they go because a protocol has not been put in place for mental health up until this point.”
Nevertheless, the former Iowa State standout is not seeking a trade.
“I don’t really think going to another team is something that would be better,” White told the show. “And it’s not something that I want to do. I want to play for Houston. I love the city of Houston. Since I’ve been here, the fans have been nothing but supportive — that I’ve met in person. Twitter has been different. The fans that I’ve met in person have been supportive. The community here is great. I have a lot of friends that work in the organization, in the building, that aren’t even related to practice or the game, so to speak. So I have no intention or desire to play for another team.”
• Ken Berger of CBSSports.com has the latest on a probe into the National Basketball Players Association, including one note that’s particularly interesting.
The law firm also will make recommendations for addressing what it found to be a lack of player involvement in union practices and business. Among the procedural changes to be recommended will be that each team must have at least one player representative and an alternate, and that no player without a current NBA contract will be permitted to serve on the executive committee, CBSSports.com has learned. Of the nine current members of the executive committee, only four – Chris Paul, James Jones, Matt Bonner and Roger Mason — are in the NBA.
• Remember, NBPA president Derek Fisher was released by the Mavericks earlier this month after not signing with any team last summer.