By Ben Golliver
• If a bloody nose and a concussion wasn't enough, Lakers forward/center Pau Gasol found himself the subject of a sappy, lamentative song begging NBA GMs to trade for him. The song was created by YouTube user BallerballFilms.
• The Timberwolves are mired in more bad injury news after this week's revelation that Kevin Love broke his right hand again. GM David Kahn announced Monday that Love will miss "a number of weeks". The Timberwolves' creative response to the "Oh no, not another bad season" vibe that was sure to develop: offering a playoff guarantee to season ticket holders. Jon Krawcyznski of the Associated Press with the details.
The Wolves are promising anyone who renews their season ticket or purchases a new one for next season a 10 percent discount if the team does not make the playoffs this year. The Wolves are currently in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot out of the playoff field.
''It's sort of a part pledge, part challenge,'' Timberwolves chief marketing officer Ted Johnson said.
''It's just the next chapter in that process,'' Johnson said. ''We were very open and honest with our fans when we didn't think we were going to be as competitive and we were asking their patience to bide their time and join the journey with us. Now that the expectations have changed we're willing to put skin in the game. We know our expectations of ourselves will be to challenge for that (playoff) spot.''
• Nate Taylor of The New York Times talks with Knicks center Tyson Chandler about his tap-out offensive rebounding strategy.
A majority of Chandler’s highlights this season have come on alley-oop dunks off pick-and-roll plays. But Chandler said he enjoyed tapping the ball out to an open teammate just as much as dunking because he knows the play is an important weapon for a Knicks team that features a number of strong shooters.
“It’s been something that I’ve kind of just fell into over the course of my career,” Chandler said. “I’ve done it in the past, but now I think me and my teammates are starting to get a rhythm on it. I’m starting to know where they are on the floor. It’s an effective play.”
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports that Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi has requested a trade.
Dropped out of the Cleveland Cavaliers' rotation, forward Omri Casspi, the NBA's first Israeli-born player, has requested a trade, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant has been making calls on possible deals for Casspi, but nothing has materialized. The request for a trade was made through Casspi's representatives with Creative Arts Agency (CAA), sources said.
• Justin Verrier of TrueHoop offers 10 things to know about the Warriors, positing that Golden State will get its first All-Star since Latrell Sprewell. The only question: Stephen Curry or David Lee?
Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin are almost assured fan-determined starter spots, and Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are safe bets as reserves. But with Kevin Love and Dirk Nowitzki dinged up and Steve Nash and Pau Gasol mired in Lakers muck, and as long as Lin fans don't unseat CP3 in the starting lineup, the final three bench spots are more open than usual in the star-studded West. The coaches, as they tend to do, will surely want to reward the Warriors for their fast start by sending one of their two key players to Houston, and Curry seems a more likely candidate than Lee given the former’s more flashy offensive game and noticeable leap forward this season.
The guess here? Curry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka get the final spots.
• David Aldridge of NBA.com reports Bucks management has informed guard Brandon Jennings, set to become a restricted free agent next summer, they will match any offers made to him. He also writes this is almost certainly coach Scott Skiles' last season in Milwaukee.
• Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com (Insider) wonders whether we should have seen the Rockets' surprising season coming.
In hindsight, maybe the Rockets' run should have been more predictable. From the outside, it looked like Houston was headed for a rebuilding season after dumping veterans Goran Dragic, Courtney Lee, Kyle Lowry and Luis Scola during the summer while pursuing young talent. The opportunity to acquire James Harden days before opening night shifted focus, and rookies Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas and the suspended Royce White have barely played. But the Rockets hardly have sold out their youth movement, favoring second-year big men Marcus Morrisand Greg Smith, who have played well off the bench.
Using Houston's actual rotation (including more minutes for starters) for the team's preseason projection in my SCHOENE system would have pushed the Rockets from 29.6 wins to 37.5 -- still shy of their 48-win pace, but good enough to put them in the playoff discussion. Credit the rest of the difference to Houston's efficient shot distribution and the rapid development of young players such as Chandler Parsons, which is a testament to Kevin McHale and the rest of the Rockets' coaching staff.
Houston is sixth in the West and showing no signs of fading; in fact, the Rockets rank fifth in schedule-adjusted point differential since Dec. 1. No wonder the Hollinger Playoff Odds now give them the fourth-best postseason chance in the conference.
• Sixers center Andrew Bynum tells CSNPhilly.com that he's not yet running. Transcript via Pro Basketball Talk.
“I come in, I get on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Right now it is all walking, a fast-paced walk,” Bynum explained. “Then I get on the bike and do a bunch of leg stuff with no weights, just all body-weight stuff, just trying to get that cartilage to grind up more and then the better I feel, the more we add.”
• Matt Watson has video of Pistons center Andre Drummond battling with a light saber on Detroit Bad Boys.
• Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports a new wrinkle to the ongoing Royce White saga. White was suspended over the weekend.
According to a person with knowledge of the talks between White and the team, White has refused to play or practice until the Rockets agree in writing to an addendum to his contract that he has written. That kind of addition to a player contract would conflict with the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the players’ association.
Though White has not publicly specified the conditions he would need to practice or play, he has indicated through his tweets he wants players to be able to choose the doctors who would then be given the authority to determine players’ work environment and expectations. If the Rockets agreed to that in writing, it would violate the CBA.
The Rockets have told White and his agent, Andrew Vye, that they want to work with him on a plan he can accept. They have maintained in conversations with White that they have worked with doctors who do not insist, as White has maintained in statements and on Twitter, that doctors should have authority to determine White’s work requirements.
• Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau gave the Heat plenty of love in a recent radio interview. Transcript on Deadspin.com.
"I still think they're great defensively, and that organization has been built that way. … When you look at a guy like LeBron, he can guard every position on the floor as well, so he's unique. When you have somebody like that, it allows you to do things like that. And I think winning the championship, that experience helps them. And with the addition of Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, to me, when I watch them play, they look pretty strong."