Fred Katz: The NBA’s Christmas schedule is out. Thunder play the Rockets. Here’s the full schedule:
December 13, 2017 | 11:34 am EST Update
If the team came to him with a trade, Gasol would accept it. “If they think it is best, I would do anything for this franchise,” Gasol says. Wallace and other higher-ups are adamant that is unlikely, even as the losses mount. That seems stubborn, and there is almost certainly a scenario — perhaps Conley getting reinjured, or taking longer than expected to return — where Memphis tests the market. But even in that doomsday sequence, the Grizzlies may even prefer to hold their stars out here and there in some selective tankery, nab a high draft pick, and reload for another run at 45-plus wins.
It is not bad enough for Gasol to ask out. It may never be. “I have a responsibility to this city,” Gasol says. “I’m not gonna quit, no matter what.” What if Memphis fell 30 games under .500? Gasol shakes his head. “I would want to see how we got there — what the process is,” Gasol says. “But as long as [owner] Robert [Pera] wants me here, my teammates want me here, they think I’m part of the solution — and not part of the problem — that’s all I need.” (Gasol still denies he asked for Fizdale to be fired, though the tension between them was real, sources say.)
Stefan Bondy: Knicks have to do something about their center situation by the deadline. They have four centers taking up roughly 40 percent of the cap space. In the last two games Hornacek had them all on the bench in the fourth quarter because, like the rest of the NBA, he went small.
There’s also the possibility Los Angeles moves him before the trade deadline to a team that’s looking to make a playoff push, but that feels unlikely for a few reasons. To start, whichever team traded for Caldwell-Pope would only receive his non-Bird Rights. Long story short, that means they’d likely need cap space to re-sign him over the summer, as the exception only allows four year deals up to 120 percent of the previous season’s salary with a five percent annual increase. Crazier things have happened, but it’s highly unlikely Caldwell-Pope’s market value won’t be higher, strengthening the likelihood of him being a mid-season rental more than a long-term investment. He also has a 15 percent trade kicker.
Caldwell-Pope is now on the Los Angeles Lakers, where he signed a one-year, $17.7 million deal. It feels like an uncomfortable stasis for a player in his fifth season, enduring his second contract year in a row. But the 24-year-old has yet to test the shortcomings of his game for the sake of his own individual growth or production, at the cost of his team’s success. Instead, he’s solely focused on finding ways to move L.A.’s needle in a positive way. His teammates respect that, understand how important he is, and recognize the partnership could end sooner than anyone wants it to. “If I put myself in his shoes, it’d just be tough to embrace everybody and kind of get into the whole team aspect knowing that next summer is another free agent year,” Lakers forward Larry Nance Jr. told VICE Sports. “But he’s done a terrific job of being selfless and looking out for others.”
“When we made this deal, me and my agent, we discussed it multiple times,” Caldwell-Pope told VICE Sports. “We knew the risk we were taking. Nine times out of 10 I’d like to bet on myself. That’s what we did. It’s a one-year deal, and so far this season it’s been going well.” This is far from basketball purgatory, but it’s also not an obvious home. Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have a lot of time to fit in; for reasons we’ll get into later on, it’s more likely than not he’ll be in a different city next season. “There’s no benefit [to a one-year deal]. I’m up again next year,” he said. “I could be here, or be wherever I land.”
Adam Zagoria: I’m told by a source close to the situation that reports that Michael Porter Jr. could return in 4 weeks for Mizzou are inaccurate. No timetable on a return, but he is going through the rehab process. pic.twitter.com/R8vh43hZWr