Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting Staff

Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting after embarrassing loss | The Rondo enigma | Motiejunas not happy with contract discrepancy | Lessons learned on the Thibs Tour

No. 1: Warriors teach Clippers a lesson — Wednesday’s marquee between the Warriors and Clippers was decided pretty quickly. The Western Conference champs led by 20 by the end of the first quarter and cruised from there. It was a humbling night for the team that started the season 14-2 and had the league’s No. 1 defense entering the game. And former Warrior Marreese Speights believes it should be a lesson in sacrifice for his new team, as Bill Oram writes in the Orange County Register:

Even with the addition of Kevin Durant, and the departure of most of the bench and starters Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes, Speights said the Warriors held on to their identity. Maybe even improved it.

“It’s the same thing,” he said. “(They) move the ball really well, they get everybody involved, they play good team defense. And they capitalize off our mistakes. We turned the ball over a lot in the first quarter and they capitalized.

Speights, who scored 15 points off the bench in the blowout, watched as his head coach and the Clippers two biggest stars received technical fouls. He saw how the Clippers lost their composure and committed 10 turnovers – in the first quarter.

What is the difference between a team that is trying to become great and one that already is?

“First we need to start really just leaving the refs alone,” Speights said. “Guys just got to sacrifice, do some other things than scoring, do some other things than your personal goals. Just try something new.”


No. 2: Mavs hold team meeting after embarrassing loss — At 4-17, the Dallas Mavericks sit in last place in the Western Conference. Dirk Nowitzki has played in only five of their 21 games and they rank ahead of only the Philadelphia 76ers in offensive efficiency. It’s been a rough season in Dallas and it hit a new low on Wednesday with a 31-point loss at home to the 8-13 Sacramento Kings. Such an embarrassing performance was cause for reflection, as Brad Townsend writes in the Dallas Morning News:

Rick Carlisle took no questions after the Mavericks’ 120-89 home loss to Sacramento on Wednesday night. He simply made a statement, which last 31.5 seconds.

Apparently, he was saving most of his words for his players. After the game, the Mavericks locker room was open to media for about 15 minutes. Two players, Harrison Barnes and Wes Matthews, spoke to reporters, who then were ushered out.

As reporters exited, the locker room began to fill with players and assistant coaches. The 4-17 Mavericks obviously were about to commence a team meeting.

“What’s difficult right now is efforts like tonight,” Barnes said before reporters were ushered out. “We just didn’t compete at the level that we just needed to be competitive.

“I mean, it was a disservice to us as teammates. It was a disservice to the coaching staff who put in work. It was a disservice to fans who came here tonight.”


No. 3: The Rondo enigma — Rajon Rondo’s team suspension for Monday’s game vs. Portland was nothing new. Neither was the reason for the suspension: a run-in with a coach (Bulls assistant Jim Boylen). It seems that, along with Rondo’s talent, comes a hard head and somebody who won’t hesitate to speak his mind. The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson breaks down the enigma that is the Chicago point guard:

No career can be neatly summarized by a few incidents. Just as Rondo is a four-time All-Star and NBA champion, he has been suspended at each of his four NBA stops.

No personality can be captured by a couple of comments. Just as Rondo doesn’t shy from the premise he sometimes can’t help himself if he sees something awry, his behind-the-scenes commitment to teammates often goes underpublicized.

But Rondo’s comment about weeding out nine unnecessary comments for one nugget of wisdom sheds some light on his philosophical approach. And the following comment, from a March 2015 postgame interview with Mavericks beat writers, adds more:

“There’s not one coach I’ve played with that I haven’t got into it with and I think all of our relationships are fine,” Rondo said. “I like to test where the coaches are at.”


No. 4: Motiejunas not happy with contract discrepancy — When restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas signed an offer shoot with the Brooklyn Nets, he knew that the Houston Rockets could match it and that he would be back under contract with his former team. The Rockets did indeed match the deal, so why isn’t Motiejunas in Houston right now? Apparently, it’s because the terms of the contract with Houston aren’t the same as they would have been with Brooklyn. ESPN’s Calvin Watkins has the latest on the dispute:

Restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas won’t report to the Houston Rockets because of a difference of nearly $6 million from the offer sheet he signed with the Brooklyn Nets, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Last week, Motiejunas signed a four-year, $37 million offer sheet with the Nets. The Rockets on Monday opted to match that offer. However, based on the CBA, the Rockets only had to match the principle terms of the offer sheet, which came to $31 million.

The $6 million difference was to be paid to Motiejunas via incentive clauses if he played for the Nets.

After the Rockets matched the offer sheet, Motiejunas had two days to report for his physical, which his agent B.J. Armstrong told the team he would not do.


No. 5: Lessons learned on the Thibs Tour — After he was fired by the Chicago Bulls in May of 2015, Tom Thibodeau didn’t tour Europe. He went back to training camp, and didn’t stop touring the league. Scott Cacciola of the New York Times spoke with Thibodeau and other coaches about the practice of the unemployed guys visiting the employed guys, as well as the lessons that are passed on from coach to coach:

It was a year ago, and Tom Thibodeau was still coping with the reality that he was newly unemployed when his phone began to ring.

“People know you’re not doing anything, so they’re like, ‘Come spend a few days with us,'” Thibodeau said. “You can tell they feel bad for you.”

Many of those invitations came from fellow members of the N.B.A. coaching fraternity, and Thibodeau was glad to accept their offers. In fact, not long after his five-season run as coach of the Chicago Bulls came to an unceremonious end when he was fired in May 2015, Thibodeau set about deciding how he wanted to spend his time away from coaching.

He knew he needed to recharge and reflect, he said. He figured the best way to do that would actually be to cram as much basketball into his life as humanly possible.

“I thought it would be a great opportunity to treat it like a college professor taking a sabbatical,” he said.


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Wizards aren’t the team they want to be … The Lakers are getting a little healthier … Dave Joerger likes the steps that his Kings are taking … DeMarre Carroll likes to shop … Larry Bird talks wrist strength and pre-game workouts in a Q & A … and TNT’s Kevin Harlan looks back at his days calling games for the Timberwolves.