NBA Saturday: Lakers Eyeing Gilbert Arenas
The Los Angeles Lakers have expressed interest in Gilbert Arenas, according to sources close to the situation. The 30-year-old is an unrestricted free agent after being amnestied by the Orlando Magic last month. No signing is imminent, but the Lakers have reached out to the veteran point guard.
League sources say that Arenas would love to join the Lakers. He grew up in Los Angeles and is interested in playing for his hometown team. He believes that he can contribute in Los Angeles’ backcourt, which currently features an aging Derek Fisher, injured Steve Blake and inexperienced Darius Morris. Arenas and Blake played together for two years with the Washington Wizards.
Arenas spent the summer working out in Orlando, losing 20 pounds as he prepared for the upcoming season. The weight loss should prevent further issues with his surgically repaired knee, which was a cause for concern during his brief stint with the Magic. The three-time All-Star is healthy and looking forward to proving that he can still play at a high level if put in the right situation.
In Orlando, Arenas struggled to come off of the bench behind Jameer Nelson. Stan Van Gundy had Arenas on a short leash and would often pull him from games if he made a single mistake. However, he did have the opportunity to start 16 games last year and he was extremely productive. As a starter with the Magic, Arenas averaged 17 points, six assists and 2.5 steals. He averaged similar numbers – 17.3 points, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals – in 21 games with the Wizards prior to last December’s trade.
Off the court, Arenas wasn’t a handful or distraction for the Magic. His teammates enjoyed his company, especially Dwight Howard. The two spent a lot of time together over the offseason and during the lockout. In November, Arenas played in Howard’s charity basketball game, which ended up being the point guard’s final game alongside his Magic teammates.
At this point in his career, Arenas would likely sign for the pro-rated veteran’s minimum. He’s a low-risk, high-reward addition and the Lakers seem to be weighing all of their options when it comes to improving their backcourt. Los Angeles currently has 15 players on their roster, which means they’ll have to waive someone if they decide to sign Arenas.
Bass Hopes to Remain in Boston: Brandon Bass had no idea he was going to be traded to the Boston Celtics. It’s rare for a player to be completely caught off guard by a deal, but Bass was blindsided by the move. He spent the offseason working out with teammates in Orlando and hadn’t heard his name mentioned in any trade scenarios.
“I was very surprised, extremely surprised,” Bass told HOOPSWORLD. “I didn’t hear any rumors or anything, it just happened. I was very surprised. I was on the way back from a doctor’s appointment with my newborn daughter and, earlier that morning, my agent had called me and left me a message to call him as soon as possible. I called him back and he said, ‘Brandon, you have been traded to the Boston Celtics. Here’s Danny Ainge.’ It was just like that. I didn’t even have time to think about it, I just had to take it in and adjust.”
Bass had just gotten comfortable with the Magic, moving into the starting lineup during the previous season and carving out his role on the team. He had grown close with his teammates and saw a future in Orlando.
After two-year stints with the New Orleans Hornets, Dallas Mavericks and Orlando Magic, Bass wants to find a home. The power forward can opt-out of the final year of his contract after this season, but he’s tired of adjusting to new surroundings and hopes to stay in Boston long-term.
“I want to finish my career in Boston, if I can,” Bass said. “I want to be here for many, many years. You just want to be a part of something like this. This is history. I want to be a part of this team’s history. I want to make somewhere my home rather than playing somewhere for two years and then leaving.”
“I’m enjoying it here,” Bass added. “I like my teammates a lot, I like the coaching staff and I like the tradition in Boston.”
Bass has received positive feedback from Ainge as well as head coach Doc Rivers.
“When I first talked to Danny, he said he was excited to have me and he loved how hard I play,” Bass said. “Doc was the same way, he told me to just come here and play my game. It’s kind of a similar style to Orlando and Dallas so I’m comfortable with it.”
The 26-year-old is learning a lot from his Hall-of-Fame-bound teammates. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have made his transition easier and the trio has made a habit of pulling Bass aside during games and practices to offer helpful advice and positive reinforcement.
“It’s been great and I’ve been learning a lot from them,” Bass said. “I’m grateful to be playing with this group.”
Bass may not have seen the change of scenery coming, but he couldn’t be happier in Boston.
Odom Getting Comfortable in Dallas: Since being acquired by the Dallas Mavericks last month, Lamar Odom has struggled. He is averaging career-lows across the board: 7.7 points, 1.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds, .4 steals, .3 blocks, .329 field goal percentage and .589 free throw percentage. While Odom was a significant contributor for the Los Angeles Lakers, he has largely been a non-factor for the Mavericks.
However, that changed on Friday night against the Utah Jazz. Odom started in place of Dirk Nowitzki and helped lead the Mavericks to a 116-101 win, finishing with a season-high 19 points and 5 rebounds.
“Odom played his best game of the year,” Rick Carlisle said. “He’s doing what we’re asking him to do; just keep playing basketball, keep staying aggressive. I thought his all-around game was tremendous; he defended, he made plays on offense. He made some really high basketball-IQ plays, getting fouled at the three the one time. Not many guys have a feel for doing that when the shot clock is running down. He was terrific, and we needed every single guy, every single guy.”
“This doesn’t surprise me,” Carlisle added. “This was coming and he’s been very determined. There’s been some bad luck along the way, but you’ve just got to stay at it. Our crowd really likes him. They like him because of what he’s done with the Lakers for all of those years. I love him as a guy. It’s taken a while for him to get a feel for everything. This is an important night, and now he knows what it’s about.”
Not only was Odom scoring, he was also playing aggressive defense and contributing when the ball wasn’t in his hands. Overall, he played a very efficient game.
“It’s not all about making shots,” Odom said. “It’s about making the right play, making stops, making defensive plays. Tonight, I played a better all-around game.”
Even though Odom has struggled out of the gate, his teammates still believe in him. They know what he’s capable of after years of playing against him and they hope to see more games like this one.
“I know it was an adjustment when I first came to Dallas, but the more he plays and the more he gets used to us, the better he’s going to be,” Jason Terry said. “When you have an All-Star player like Lamar, once it clicks in for him he’ll be right back playing at a high level. Tonight was a great example of that. He was in rhythm, he found things coming easy to him and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Odom is still adjusting in Dallas, but this performance should give him some confidence going forward.
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