Sam Smith’s NBA news and notes | 11.25.2013

-- The field seems to be narrowing for LeBron James. Back to Cleveland? Who wouldn’t want a piece of that dysfunction? Everyone seems to deny it for now, though Ohio media was full of speculation last week that Dion Waiters beat up Kyrie Irving in a team meeting. Talk about clearing your air. So say it didn’t happen. That so many writers covering the team would consider it also tells you something. Coach Mike Brown has changed starting lineups almost every game, not that the performances are giving him any reason not to. Many losses have been of the blowout, home fans booing type, which suggest the players may be tuning out. They probably should worry more about keeping Kyrie Irving. So the Knicks and Nets are a combined 6-19. Forget them. You assume James would blow off Dallas as every big free agent has the last few years. Join Kobe with the Lakers? There’s always L.A. speculation. LeBron and Kobe. Sounds like never, but we never thought he’d go to Miami to join Wade. LeBron’s free agency doesn’t seem like it’s going to be much like 2010 if he does opt out. Now as for Carmelo Anthony...

-- Coach of the first month has to be between Portland’s Terry Stotts for their 12-2 start and Phoenix’s Jeff Hornacek for winning more games at 7-6 than many had them winning by All-Star break. Hornacek has been impressive stepping into his first head job with authority, being demanding of players and honest in assessments. The west suburban Lyons Township product whose father was a baseball and basketball coach at St. Joseph’s in Westchester is proving to be a natural. ... Jason Kidd brought in Mirza Teletovic, Toko Shengelia, Mason Plumlee and Alan Anderson Sunday trailing by 12 in the fourth quarter against the Pistons. They cut into the deficit, though it went back up when he returned Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce with about four minutes left. So, no, Kidd even unprepared, is hardly fully to fault for that 3-10 Brooklyn start. ... J.R. Smith said it’s time to panic after one loss, Carmelo Anthony wondered why there weren’t adjustments after another. The 3-9 Knicks head west to play Portland, the Clippers and Denver this week. Said Toronto’s Steve Novak: “Having been there, I can imagine what it’s like. I’m happy to be a Raptor right now.” What better free agent recruiting tool for the Knicks than that?

-- Kids and Brandon Jennings say the darndest things. Jennings got off his typical two of 10 Sunday in the win over Brooklyn and he’s now 36 percent on the season. So he explained: “I feel like I’m just shooting when people are telling me it’s time for me to shoot. I gotta want to shoot. I’m so into passing that I kind of forget I can score sometimes.” Jennings is the team’s runaway leader in shots attempted per game. The Bulls are in Detroit Wednesday, and the Pistons are improved, if also quite wacky. Look, they hired Rasheed Wallace to work with young players. Yes, that’s your NBA role model. Anyway, Josh Smith was benched the other day after skipping the team flight home from Atlanta. So he missed practice and explained he stayed in Atlanta because his dad had the flu. ... The Bobcats giveaway is half price pizza if the team scores 90 points. That’s either bad pizza or bad offense. Well, it is Papa John’s. ... Orlando’s Glen Davis returned from his latest misadventures to get 20 points in a narrow Orlando loss to Miami Saturday. So he’s playing some, but there’s quite a roster of former big names like Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Kris Humphries who are basically sitting around waiting for their contracts to expire. ... Don’t tell me John Wall can shoot. Last two games: 68 points, three of four threes, 15 of 18 free throws, 25 of 39 overall shooting and, well, 11 turnovers. But in Washington they call 5-8 a hot start.

-- Dwyane Wade has had some Dwyane Wade games, 27 Saturday over Orlando, 29 over the Clippers earlier this month in his fourth straight 20-plus game. But the Orlando game came after taking two games off to rest after a one of seven in 23 minutes the previous game. It’s tough to see how he sustains in the playoffs, and will LeBron sign on for that? Of course, Kobe is working on being as unhealthy. ... The Spurs could probably move one contract and then they’d have cap room. How about LeBron with Pop and those guys? ... Back in the Western Conference and back in the top 10 in scoring, Monta Ellis may finally make an All-Star team averaging 23.6 for the Mavs. But James Harden and Kevin Martin also are in the top 10 with Russell Westbrook coming fast. ... Jamal Crawford said he’s anxious to see the complete return of Derrick Rose, except perhaps to defend, as Crawford said he finds Rose the fastest guard in the league. ... The Pelicans Anthony Davis is 20th in scoring, fifth in rebounding, second in blocks and eighth in steals, arguably already one of the game’s most versatile players. ... Ty Corbin put Enes Kanter and Alec Burks back on the bench to shake up the offense and the Jazz scored 73 points Sunday in a loss to the Thunder with Russell Westbrook resting and the Jazz with 30 fourth quarter points and no starter in double figures. Gordon Hayward is now eight for 38 in his last three games and considered a major free agent target of the Suns and Celtics.

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