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#pounditSaturday, April 10, 2021


Dennis Schroder hardballing Lakers in contract extension talks?

Dennis Schroder

Dennis Schroder and the Los Angeles Lakers appear to be in quite the staring contest over his contract situation.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Tuesday that the Lakers guard turned down extension offers from the team in the range of four years and $80 million. Steins adds that the Lakers considered trading Schroder at the deadline due to the gap in their contract talks. No trade ultimately materialized however, and Schroder will be a free agent after the season.

This seems to be a bit of hardballing on Schroder’s part. The Lakers traded for him last offseason. That means that they also acquired Schroder’s Bird rights, which allow them to go over the salary cap to re-sign him. It also means that it will be difficult for the Lakers to replace Schroder if he leaves.

The 27-year-old Schroder has held down the Lakers’ backcourt this season as a full-time starter. But his averages of 15.4 points and 4.9 assists per game still mark a regression from his peak production of years past.

We recently heard that the Lakers are willing to spend big to keep Schroder. This may be a case of him leveraging his position in order to secure the bag.

Jazz team plane makes emergency landing after frightening incident

The Utah Jazz are safe after a frightening incident on Tuesday involving their team plane.

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop reports that the Jazz team flight to Memphis experienced engine failure after hitting a flock of birds shortly following takeoff. Abbott notes that the team is safe but rattled.

Spencer Burt of FOX 13 in Salt Lake City adds that the pilot of the flight made an emergency landing back at the Salt Lake City International Airport where they had just taken off from. The left engine was shut down, but there were no injuries as a result of the incident.

Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appeared to express gratitude on Twitter after the safe emergency landing.

The Jazz defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Monday night. They are next scheduled to face the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday night. Utah’s 35-11 record is currently the best in the NBA.

Michael Rapaport accuses Kevin Durant of threatening him on Instagram

Kevin Durant

Some major New York beef may be brewing between Kevin Durant and Michael Rapaport.

The outspoken actor and comedian Rapaport took to social media on Tuesday to accuse the Brooklyn Nets star of threatening him on Instagram. Rapaport posted screenshots of a direct message exchange, allegedly with Durant, where the former NBA MVP supposedly challenged him to a fight.

“I receive threats and disgusting messages DAILY, but never in my wildest dreams did I think @KDTrey5 would be among them,” Rapaport wrote. “The Snake himself is now threatening me, bringing up my wife and wants to fight. This is supposed to be America’s sweetheart right #ImDaRealMVP”

The root of the beef appears to be some criticisms that Rapaport has levied against Durant over the last few months. You can see Rapaport’s post here, but be warned that it has some very bad language and personal attacks.

It is hard to determine if the Instagram exchange is genuine, as the alleged comments from Durant are extremely vile and over the top. But we do know Durant often fires back at trolls on social media, even if they are no-names.

As for Rapaport, he has been doing his best to make a name for himself as a sports pundit. He also just saw a defamation suit that he had filed against Barstool Sports get dismissed. Meanwhile, Durant would not be the only NBA star that Rapaport has rubbed the wrong way.

Lakers could buy out Marc Gasol?

Marc Gasol

You would think that Marc Gasol came from a laundromat with how washed he has looked this season. Now the Los Angeles Lakers may be trying to cut their losses on him.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported Tuesday that some rival executives speculate the Lakers could buy out the three-time All-Star big man.

Gasol, 36, is having a disappointing year with 4.8 points and 3.9 rebounds a game as the Lakers’ starting center. The team just signed Andre Drummond, who will presumably supplant Gasol in the starting lineup. Montrezl Harrell can also play as a small ball 5, as can Anthony Davis whenever he returns from injury. That would appear to leave Gasol as the odd man out in the frontcourt rotation.

A buyout might not be too difficult, as Gasol is making just $2.6 million this season and $2.7 million next season. He also has an NBA championship ring already, meaning that he might not be too opposed to leaving the defending champion Lakers for better playing time elsewhere. We do know of one rival team who seems to be looking for more size.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Photo: Chensiyuan/Wikimedia via cc-by-sa 4.0

Josh Hart has profane message for Eric Bledsoe haters

Eric Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe has had a tough first season with the New Orleans Pelicans, and Josh Hart is tired of the criticism his teammate has faced amid the struggles.

Bledsoe has seen his role increase as of late, but he is still averaging just 11.4 points, 3.8 assists and 3.4 rebounds per game. After the 31-year-old scored 13 points in a 115-109 win over the Boston Celtics on Monday night, Hart told the media that Bledsoe’s critics can “shut the f— up, because we believe in him,” according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez.

Hart then retweeted his own quote on Tuesday and wrote “That’s my guy” with two heart emojis.

Bledsoe came to New Orleans as part of a deal that sent Jrue Holiday to the Milwaukee Bucks. He was on the trade block prior to the deadline, but the Pelicans were unable to move him. That mostly has to do with the fact that Bledsoe is signed through the 2022-23 season and owed more than $40 million.

The Pelicans are 21-25, but they remain in the playoff hunt. They decided not to trade Lonzo Ball at the deadline, and Ball seems like he is optimistic about what the team is building. Hart’s animated defense of Bledsoe is a sign that Stan Van Gundy has quickly created a solid locker room foundation in New Orleans.

LeBron James recruiting Steph Curry to Lakers?

LeBron James

Stephen Curry still has another year-plus remaining on his current contract, and he is eligible to sign another max extension this offseason. If for some reason he decides he wants to leave the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James is reportedly ready to pounce.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his “Hoop Collective” podcast this week that LeBron wants Curry to play for the Los Angeles Lakers. The recruiting has apparently already begun.

“Steph is eligible for a contract extension this summer, and LeBron started recruiting him at the All-Star break,” Windhorst said, via NBA Central.

Breathe, Warriors fans.

It’s hard to envision Curry in another uniform, but people probably said the same about LeBron in his first go-around with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While nothing would shock us given the current NBA landscape, the idea of Curry joining LeBron in L.A. seems pretty farfetched.

The Warriors have had some bad injury luck over the past two years, but they’re hovering around .500 this season even without Klay Thompson. Curry has already won three NBA championships, so his legacy is intact no matter what he does. He’ll also earn just under $46 million next season and is eligible to sign a four-year extension worth roughly $215 million. There are plenty of reasons for him to not leave Golden State.

Windhorst’s report combined with the recent tweet LeBron sent about Curry is enough to send NBA fans into a frenzy, but we wouldn’t count on LeBron and Steph ever teaming up.

Lakers fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

Geno Auriemma has funny response for LeBron after controversial UConn win

Geno Auriemma

UConn advanced to the Women’s Final Four once again on Monday night with a win over Baylor, but there was some controversy surrounding the ending of the game. The Huskies appeared to get away with a foul on a game-winning shot attempt from Baylor. As you might expect, Geno Auriemma is offering no apologies.

Baylor was trailing 68-67 with five seconds left when DiJonai Carrington appeared to be fouled by two UConn players. There was no whistle.

Many people were upset by the no-call. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey told reporters after the game to write about the play however they saw it, but she added that, “One kid hits her in the face, and one kid hits her on the elbow.” LeBron James was watching the game and tweeted about the play.

Even Auriemma’s daughter tweeted that she thought a foul should have been called. The Hall of Fame coach was asked about that and LeBron’s take, and he joked that LeBron has never forfeited a game because of a bad call or no-call.

Auriemma noted that bad calls go both ways, and he’s right. Had that happened earlier in the game, no one would have made a big fuss about it. That’s just the way the game goes sometimes.

Either way, UConn is headed to its 13th consecutive Final Four. You don’t put together a streak like that without a little luck along the way.

Heat could still pursue Kyle Lowry in free agency?

Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry escaped from the Miami Heat’s clutches at the trade deadline buzzer, but the team may be hot on his trail once again this summer.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported Monday that the Heat could pivot back to the Toronto Raptors veteran if things do not work out with new acquisition Victor Oladipo. Both guards will be free agents in the offseason.

O’Connor notes that Lowry’s preference, if he had been traded, was to go to the Heat. This is because of his close friendship with Miami star Jimmy Butler, his former USA Basketball teammate.

The Heat may have some big money to spend on the upcoming free agent market. In addition to Oladipo, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson are on expiring contracts. Two other newcomers, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica, are also on one-year deals. Meanwhile, both Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala carry team options for next season.

We know the 35-year-old Lowry came very close to landing with the Heat. Having just made the Finals last season led by Butler, another star who is in his 30s, Miami is a win-now team. That could be the perfect situation for Lowry as he gets closer to the end of his NBA career.

Photo: Chensiyuan/Wikimedia via CC-by-S.A. 4.0

Blake Griffin fires back at critics of Nets

Blake Griffin

With so many flavors out there, Blake Griffin finds it funny that people are being salty.

The new Nets big man pushed back this week at the negative reaction to him and LaMarcus Aldridge both signing with Brooklyn after receiving contract buyouts from their previous teams.

“It’s kind of funny to me, because for the last couple years all I’ve heard is how bad I am,” Griffin said, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “You sign with this team and everybody’s like, “That’s not fair!” People say whatever they want. I don’t put a whole lot of value in other people’s opinions.

“I trust the people I trust. If I don’t go to you for advice, then I’m probably not going to take your criticism,” he added. “So I have that circle of people. I have that group of people that I trust, real basketball people. That’s who I listen to. I just think it’s funny, I guess you could say that it’s amusing. I can’t speak for LaMarcus, I don’t know what people have been saying about him. That’s how I felt when I came here. I was hearing how bad I was, and now people care for some reason.”

The Nets’ latest signings to complement their superstar-studded core of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden generated major backlash. Cries of “the rich get richer” abounded, and many pointed to the moves as a prime example of the inequities that small-market teams face at the hands of juggernauts based in New York and Los Angeles.

It is true that Griffin and Aldridge are both having career-worst seasons or close to it. Both had also largely been written off before they signed with the Nets. But even if they are no longer the All-Stars that they once were, they will still be very valuable role players that Brooklyn essentially got for free. That is where the root of the criticism lies, not in the belief that Griffin and Aldridge will somehow return to being 20-and-10 players for the Nets.

Regardless, Griffin seems to be basking in all of the hatred. After all, he did do this in his first game with the Nets.

Vanessa Bryant trying to dismiss her mother Sofia’s lifetime support lawsuit

Vanessa Bryant

Vanessa Bryant is trying to get a lawsuit her mother Sofia Laine (nee Urbieta) filed against her dismissed.

Sofia Laine filed a lawsuit against the Bryants last year in which she contends she was promised lifetime financial support by late NBA icon Kobe Bryant (details here).

“Kobe Bryant repeatedly promised to take care of plaintiff financially for life in exchange for her services as a nanny and caretaker for the Bryants’ children,” the lawsuit said.

Vanessa Bryant’s legal team filed a 43-page motion in Orange County Superior Court to have the case dismissed. In the motion, they tried to use Sofia’s own past arguments as evidence to get the case dismissed.

In 2004, Sofia had a spousal support case with her ex-husband, Stephen Laine. Sofia argued then that she needed the spousal support because she was not receiving financial support from Vanessa and Kobe. In 2008, Stephen sought to have his payments lowered during the recession. Again, Sofia argued she was not receiving support from Vanessa and Kobe. Her argument worked, and the spousal support was not adjusted.

It’s been well over 10 years since then, so a lot could have changed. But it’s pretty rich that Sofia’s own past arguments to win financial battles in court are now being used against her for the same type of case. Keep in mind that Vanessa explicitly said she and Kobe financially supported Sophia for 20 years.

The drama between Vanessa and Sophia has been ongoing over the last year. Vanessa issued this scathing response to an interview her mom conducted last year.