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Kawhi Leonard 1 Stephen Curry 0

Golden State lose their first game on the way to a 9-73 season.:tongue:  San Antonio 129 Golden State 100 and it could have been worse but San Antonio turned it off in the 2nd half of the 4th quarter.

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The Atlanta Hawks have reached an agreement with point guard Dennis Schroder on a four-year extension.

The 23-year-old guard announced the deal on Twitter:

GLAD TO BE HERE 4 MORE YEARS WITH THE @atlhawks !!!! LOVE THE FANS , PPL , COACHES , ORGANIZATION & MY TEAMMATES !!! ATLANTA IS HOME !!!! 💯💯 pic.twitter.com/JfcoTipO8e

— Dennis Schröder (@DennisMike93) October 26, 2016
ESPN's Marc Stein reports that Schroder's contract will pay him $70 million over the next four seasons.

The Hawks made their intentions clear when they moved starting point guard Jeff Teague this summer for a first-round pick. Schroder was to be promoted from backup to Atlanta's lead guard of the future.

Schroder profiles as a lightning-quick playmaker, who is excellent getting to the basket and involving his teammates. His jump shot is inconsistent and he struggles with turnovers on account of wildness, but the talent is clearly there.

The young German put up averages of 11 points and 4.4 assists in 20.3 minutes per game last season.

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I'm eager to watch the Timberwolves tonight. The team last played a playoff game in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen were still playing that season and a kid who'd just finished kindergarten at the time graduated from high school earlier this year. After all the heartbreak and false hopes, it looks like they have a team in place to go for a #8 seed and make some noise in the coming seasons. Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be considered one of the biggest young stars in the NBA by this time next year as opposed to just a guy coming off a hot rookie season.

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Dikembe Mutombo began his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets in 1991, and on Saturday night the franchise became the second team to retire his number (the Atlanta Hawks did so last season).

Related: Nuggets hold finger-wag inspired giveaway on Mutombo night

After introducing the big man by his true name - Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo - the Nuggets presented the NBA's second all-time leading shot blocker with a portrait of his biggest moment in Denver.

The painting captures his reaction after the Nuggets shocked the No. 1 seed Seattle SuperSonics in the first round of the 1994 playoffs - the first time a No. 8 seed had pulled off that sort of upset.

Then, Mutombo's No. 55 was raised to the rafters of the Pepsi Center.

At 5,280 feet, #MtMutombo rises...

Forever. #Nuggets pic.twitter.com/CNkcriRVMS

— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 30, 2016

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tamalie wrote: I'm eager to watch the Timberwolves tonight. The team last played a playoff game in the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen were still playing that season and a kid who'd just finished kindergarten at the time graduated from high school earlier this year. After all the heartbreak and false hopes, it looks like they have a team in place to go for a #8 seed and make some noise in the coming seasons. Karl-Anthony Towns is going to be considered one of the biggest young stars in the NBA by this time next year as opposed to just a guy coming off a hot rookie season.Their  starting 5 can compete  but the bench is lacking.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded forward Ersan Ilyasova to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forward Jerami Grant, sources have told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Thunder had been pursuing a trade for Grant for months, Wojnarowski reports.

The 76ers will also receive a heavily protected first-round draft pick from the Thunder in the bargain. The pick is protected from slots 1 through 20, and, since the Thunder already owe a 2018 first-rounder to the Utah Jazz, cannot be conveyed until 2020. If it isn't conveyed that year, it will turn into two second-rounders, The Vertical's Bobby Marks reports.

On top of acquiring a player they've long been after, the Thunder will get out from under Ilyasova's $8.4-million contract. They take back Grant's non-guaranteed deal, which is worth just under $1 million this season, and comes with a team option for 2017-18 at $1.05 million. Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Under former general manager Sam Hinkie, Ilyasova likely would've already already been waived by now, but the Sixers intend to keep him as a stretch-four who can play alongside Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.

In Grant, the Thunder get an affordable piece with scads of athleticism and decent upside. Ilyasova was never going to be part of their long-term plan, and with an extra, laughably cheap year of Grant's services, they'll get a chance to see how he fits in with the new core they've locked up for the foreseeable future.

Grant, 22, averaged 9.7 points, 4.7, 1.8 assists, and 1.6 blocks in 77 games for the Sixers last season, taking steps toward refining his raw, unharnessed ability. He still hasn't shown much potential as a shooter, which could be an issue for a Thunder team already sorely wanting for floor-spacers.

Ilyasova - who came over as part of the offseason trade that sent out Serge Ibaka - provided that spacing in theory, but shot just 37.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep in three games with the Thunder, and they didn't appear to have much use for him otherwise.

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Chicago Bulls point guard Michael Carter-Williams will be sidelined for the next three-to-four weeks, after suffering a bone bruise in his left knee along with a left wrist sprain on Monday night, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports.

Carter-Williams, who was acquired by the Bulls just before the start of the regular season in exchange for Tony Snell, suffered the injury in the first half of Chicago's blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Through his first three games as a Bull, he's averaged four points, three rebounds, and 2.7 assists, while shooting 26.7 percent from the field.

Carter-Williams also dealt with a left knee injury last season - albeit a comparatively minor one - which sidelined him for four games before hip surgery shut him down. He's struggled to stay on the floor since being drafted in 2013, missing 56 games across three seasons.

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After two and a half years of on-again, off-again speculation, Ray Allen has finally made it official.

The future Hall-of-Fame shooting guard announced in a Players' Tribune essay Tuesday that he is retiring from the game "as a man who is completely at peace with himself."

Over the course of what was, until his announcement, merely a long hiatus, Allen dropped plenty of hints about his sustained fitness level and his ability (or even desire) to play again in the NBA. The possibility of a return seemed to grow increasingly remote as the weeks turned to months and the months to years - he hadn't suited up since his Miami Heat lost the 2014 Finals - but he always left the door open. As recently as this past August, he was talking about which teams he could see himself playing for.

"I've been waiting to see if the opportunity presented itself where I think I could fit," he said.

In the end, he decided that he'd given enough to basketball, and basketball had given enough to (and demanded enough of) him.

"Basketball will take you far away from that school yard," he wrote in his essay, framed as a letter to his younger self. "You will become far more than just a basketball player. You'll get to act in movies. You'll travel the world. You will become a husband, and the father of five amazing children.

"Now, the most important question in your life isn't, 'Who am I supposed to be?' or even, 'What do I have to do to win another championship?'

"It's, 'Daddy, guess what happened in math class today?'

"That's the reward that awaits you at the end of your journey."

Allen retires as the NBA's all-time leader in total 3-pointers made. He ranks seventh in career free-throw percentage, 22nd in scoring, 19th in games played, and 14th in minutes. He was a 10-time All-Star, a two-time All-NBAer, and a two-time champion.

He'll be remembered for a good many things, but none more than his picturesque jump shot - with his ridiculous body control and his cat-quick release - and the indelible moment in the dying seconds of Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, when those preternatural skills came together at just the right time, in just the right place, to produce one of the great plays the NBA has ever seen.

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It wasn't their prettiest effort, but the Toronto Raptors were able to pull off their second win of the season thanks to the strong performance of DeMar DeRozan on Monday night.

The 6-foot-7 shooting guard dominated offensively for the third straight game, becoming the first player in franchise history to start a season with three consecutive 30-point games. He also became the first player since Kobe Bryant in 2005 to start the season with three straight games of 30 points or more without a three-pointer, according to Elias Sports.

DeRozan would finish the night with 33 points on 13-of-23 shooting, adding in five rebounds, one assist, and one steal in the 105-102 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

With Kyle Lowry off to a slow shooting start, DeRozan has anchored the Raptors' offense in the early going, averaging 35 points on 53.8 percent shooting.

After taking exception to his SI player ranking last month, DeRozan has certainly proved his doubters wrong during the first week of the season. Should he continue his hot pace going forward, the USC product would be a strong candidate to be named an All-Star for the third time in his career.

DeRozan will attempt to build off of his strong week Wednesday, when he'll go up against Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center.

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The Golden State Warriors managed to eke out a 106-100 victory Sunday in the valley against the Phoenix Suns, though head coach Steve Kerr knows his players are frustrated at the team's getting-to-know-you phase.

"We were frustrated in the first half. You guys can all see it. This is not coming easily," Kerr said, according to ESPN.com's Chris Haynes. "We have a new team and a lot of different faces, but even for the returning guys, it's a different mix."

Though Golden State won Sunday, Phoenix converted the Warriors' 16 turnovers into 25 points. Additionally, the team's previous win came against an injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans squad.

Outside of Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the team shot 32 percent from the field.

Kerr said he's calling more plays than usual to enforce a sense of continuity, but the lack of cohesive play is evident.

"We're not clicking and everybody can see that," he said.

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The Charlotte Hornets have agreed to a four-year, $56-million extension with Cody Zeller, league sources tell The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Zeller is coming off his best season as a pro, averaging career highs in points (8.7) and rebounds (6.2), while shooting 52.9 percent from the field.

The 24-year-old is the eighth player to sign a rookie-scale extension this summer, joining C.J. McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dennis Schroder, Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gobert, and Gorgui Dieng.

With center Roy Hibbert currently out with a knee injury, Zeller will have plenty of opportunity to prove his worth in the coming weeks.

Through three games in 2016-17, Zeller is averaging 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds on 61.1 percent shooting.

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lobo316 wrote: The Oklahoma City Thunder have traded forward Ersan Ilyasova to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forward Jerami Grant, sources have told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Thunder had been pursuing a trade for Grant for months, Wojnarowski reports.

The 76ers will also receive a heavily protected first-round draft pick from the Thunder in the bargain. The pick is protected from slots 1 through 20, and, since the Thunder already owe a 2018 first-rounder to the Utah Jazz, cannot be conveyed until 2020. If it isn't conveyed that year, it will turn into two second-rounders, The Vertical's Bobby Marks reports.

On top of acquiring a player they've long been after, the Thunder will get out from under Ilyasova's $8.4-million contract. They take back Grant's non-guaranteed deal, which is worth just under $1 million this season, and comes with a team option for 2017-18 at $1.05 million. Ilyasova will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.

Under former general manager Sam Hinkie, Ilyasova likely would've already already been waived by now, but the Sixers intend to keep him as a stretch-four who can play alongside Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.

In Grant, the Thunder get an affordable piece with scads of athleticism and decent upside. Ilyasova was never going to be part of their long-term plan, and with an extra, laughably cheap year of Grant's services, they'll get a chance to see how he fits in with the new core they've locked up for the foreseeable future.

Grant, 22, averaged 9.7 points, 4.7, 1.8 assists, and 1.6 blocks in 77 games for the Sixers last season, taking steps toward refining his raw, unharnessed ability. He still hasn't shown much potential as a shooter, which could be an issue for a Thunder team already sorely wanting for floor-spacers.

Ilyasova - who came over as part of the offseason trade that sent out Serge Ibaka - provided that spacing in theory, but shot just 37.5 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep in three games with the Thunder, and they didn't appear to have much use for him otherwise.

Horrible deal for the Sixers if it doesn't become a 1st rounder. The kid is talented and a bull in the china shop type of player. I saw the shot at Hinkie at the new guy getting waived already. Hinkie would turned Grant in 2 1st rounders.

Last edited on Wed Nov 2nd, 2016 12:42 am by freebirdsforever2001

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lobo316 wrote: Chicago Bulls point guard Michael Carter-Williams will be sidelined for the next three-to-four weeks, after suffering a bone bruise in his left knee along with a left wrist sprain on Monday night, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports.

Carter-Williams, who was acquired by the Bulls just before the start of the regular season in exchange for Tony Snell, suffered the injury in the first half of Chicago's blowout win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Through his first three games as a Bull, he's averaged four points, three rebounds, and 2.7 assists, while shooting 26.7 percent from the field.

Carter-Williams also dealt with a left knee injury last season - albeit a comparatively minor one - which sidelined him for four games before hip surgery shut him down. He's struggled to stay on the floor since being drafted in 2013, missing 56 games across three seasons.

And people laughed when the great Sam Hinkie traded him for basically a top 5/10 pick. In Hinkie we trust.

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The oldest player in the league is still chugging along, and he's still setting records.

Vince Carter became the 24th player in NBA history to score 24,000 career points in the Memphis Grizzlies' lopsided loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old came off the bench for the Grizzlies to score five points. Carter's tally now sits at exactly 24,000 points.

Carter's next milestone would be to surpass Allen Iverson for 23rd in all-time scoring. At his current average of 7.8 points per game, Carter would need roughly 50 games to equal The Answer.

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While one hyped NBA reunion sees the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Golden State Warriors Thursday, another one on Friday has Derrick Rose (and Joakim Noah) returning to Chicago as a member of the New York Knicks.

Rose isn't expecting a unanimous standing ovation, either.

"That would be a dream, but I know I'm going to get some boos here and there," Rose said, according to ESPN's Ian Begley. "It's all a part of the game ... It's not going to affect the way that I play and how bad I want to win that game."

Rose didn't really leave his hometown Bulls on bad terms, rather than get traded after injuries had cursed most of his previous five seasons. A Chicago hoops prodigy since childhood, he's still revered by many in the city and elsewhere - although his civil sexual assault case this past offseason didn't help his public image.

He said he holds nothing against the Bulls - who drafted Rose first overall in 2008 - for moving on from him.

"There's no bad blood there at all," Rose said. "I totally understand the business of this game ... I never felt that way about getting traded or me coming to this team. I always took it as a blessing that I had the opportunity to come in this (New York) market, this franchise, and to be able to create a culture here."

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Washington Wizards big man Marcin Gortat might regret publicizing his thoughts on Wednesday's home opener right about now.

After Washington started the season 0-2, Gortat proclaimed Wednesday's game against the Toronto Raptors a "must-win." "We can't dig a hole and start the season 0-3," Gortat told reporters, according to The Washington Post's Candace Buckner.

And yet that's exactly what the Wizards have done following a 113-103 loss.

Washington built a 12-point first-quarter lead that quickly evaporated, and battled back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to even the game midway through the final frame, but were outscored 21-11 over the game's final 6:20.

Gortat posted 15 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal in the loss.


Since Washington swept Toronto in the first round of the 2015 postseason, the franchises have gone in opposite directions. The Raptors won a franchise-record 56 games last season before advancing to the Eastern Conference final, while the Wizards finished 41-41 and missed the playoffs. In addition, Toronto has won all five meetings since their humiliating 2015 playoff exit.

If Wednesday's game was internally viewed as a must-win - a label rarely reserved for November basketball - it'll be interesting to see how tense the Wizards are heading into Friday's contest against the division-rival Hawks, especially considering Washington's desire to start the season well following last year's disappointment.

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The Toronto Raptors are among teams that have expressed interest in Philadelphia 76ers big man Nerlens Noel, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Noel is widely known to be on the trading block despite being sidelined after minor knee surgery. The Raptors are in need of an upgrade at power forward with Jared Sullinger injured, but sources tell Stein their preference is for the status quo of rookies Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl to fill the void.

So far, that has worked for the most part.

Noel has been part of a logjam in the Philly frontcourt for two seasons now, which is further exacerbated with the emergence of Joel Embiid. A defensive stud, Noel's drawbacks come from his injury history and limited offensive game.

Noel will become a restricted free agent next summer.

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Cm Punk Throwing Shots At Bandwagon Fan Lebron James pic.twitter.com/gHSGZ2touV

— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) November 4, 2016
Despite cheering on the Cleveland Indians in the World Series, LeBron James hasn't abandoned his New York Yankees fandom.

That didn't stop UFC fighter CM Punk from going in on the Cavaliers star during the Chicago Cubs' victory parade Friday, though.

"Let's talk about LeBron James for a second here," said Punk, who's a Cubs fan. "He's a guy who was criticized because, maybe six months ago, he's at an Indians game and he's wearing a New York Yankees hat. Proudly. Takes it off his head and he shows everybody. Like, I don't know what he's thinking."

Punk then suggested James may have jinxed the Indians by giving the Golden State Warriors a hard time for blowing a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals:

Cm Punk Say Lebron James Jinx The Cleveland Indians For Going Hard At Warriors Losing 3-1 Lead pic.twitter.com/VXWY8hPKxV

— Gustavo Vega (@iamvega1982) November 4, 2016

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The modern-day master of mid-range shot equaled a feat by the original mid-range maestro.

DeMar DeRozan scored 34 points against the Miami Heat on Friday for his fifth-straight 30-plus-point outing to start the season. That matches a feat last accomplished by Michael Jordan in 1986.

Like DeRozan, Jordan happened to be a shooting guard who thrived in both the post and mid-range area - the so-called dead zone in today's era of pace-and-space offenses. Jordan is obviously in a class of his own, and the similarities end there with regards to their styles, but for the moment, DeRozan's throwback game has worked beautifully.

DeRozan, who leads the league in scoring at nearly 36 per contest, put forth yet another efficient outing on Friday. He hit 14-of-26 from the field and drained all six of his free throws while also adding four rebounds and four assists.

The 26-year-old also came up huge down the stretch. He made or assisted on the last four baskets for the Raptors as they closed out the Heat to improve to 4-1 this season.

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The New Orleans Pelicans will waive the injured Lance Stephenson in order to bring aboard a healthy body in free-agent guard Archie Goodwin, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

The development comes following a report that Stephenson will miss a significant amount of time with a groin injury.

The Pelicans will sign the 22-year-old Goodwin to a two-year contract, according to Charania, which is double the length of Stephenson's deal inked back in September. In fact, only $100,000 of Stephenson's contract with New Orleans is reported to be guaranteed.

The Pelicans, like last season, have been ravaged by injuries in the early going. They could still potentially qualify for the NBA's hardship exception, which allows a 16th player on the roster - something they did last year at the earliest point in NBA history, when they added Jimmer Fredette on Nov. 10.

Goodwin was waived by the Phoenix Suns out of training camp last month, and has averaged 6.2 points and 1.2 assists across 150 career NBA games at both guard spots.

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DeMar DeRozan failed to reach 30 points in a game for the first time this season as the Toronto Raptors fell 96-91 to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night.

The 6-foot-7 shooting guard finished the contest with 23 points on 7-of-20 shooting, adding four rebounds and three assists in the defeat. It was the second time this season that the USC product failed to shoot over 50 percent in a game.

DeRozan entered Sunday's contest scoring at a ridiculous pace, becoming the first player since Michael Jordan to start a season with five straight 30-point games following his 34-point explosion on Friday night.

Even after Sunday's performance, DeRozan should be a strong candidate to take home Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, totaling 130 points over four contests.

The Raptors will look to bounce back on Wednesday when they take on Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and George Hill of the Utah Jazz have been named NBA Players of the Week in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively.

James put up a near-triple double over three undefeated games, at 24.7 points, 11.3 assists, and 9.3 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors currently leads the league in scoring with 33.7 points per game, but had an average outing in Sunday's loss to the Sacramento Kings.

Hill has been the early-season catalyst for the Jazz, leading the team in scoring, assists, and steals during Gordon Hayward's absence. He had 23 points and nine assists in Sunday's win over the New York Knicks, injuring his thumb in the process.

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The King moved past The Dream.

LeBron James surpassed Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th all time in NBA scoring with an early transition layup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

It took Olajuwon 18 seasons to put up 26,946 points, on an average of 21.8 per game. James, meanwhile, holds a career scoring average of 27.2, in the midst of his 14th year.

With Olajuwon in the rearview mirror, James can set sights on another Houston Rockets great in Elvin Hayes, who has 27,131 points to his name. At his current pace, it should take James around 15 games to move into ninth on the list.

Should James stay healthy, it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see him soar into seventh past Moses Malone (27,409) and Shaquille O'Neal (28,596).

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban's barring of ESPN reporters Marc Stein and Tim MacMahon extends to all ESPN.com writers wishing to cover the team's home games, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Art Garcia.

It emerged late Sunday that Stein and MacMahon - both Dallas-based national NBA multi-platform journalists for ESPN - had seen their season credentials revoked. Cuban engaged with critics of the decision on Twitter, but only offered a vague suggestion of an issue with the sports media giant:

@TimCowlishaw @LandryLocker you are right about your business acumen . There is no shifting. Feel free to ask ESPN mgmt what the issue is

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) November 7, 2016
The situation is sure to invite awkwardness. The holder of the Mavs' radio broadcast rights is in fact ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM. Furthermore, the NBA has a longstanding national television contract - believed to be worth $2.7 billion per year - with ESPN/ABC.

Garcia reported Sunday that Cuban said of the ESPN writers, "they're not banned from the building. They can still buy a ticket."

It's likely at this point the league gets involved with the dispute.

"We are in communication with both ESPN and Mark Cuban about this matter," NBA spokesman Michael Bass said.

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Donyell Marshall had a good run, but Steph Curry no longer has to share the NBA's single-game 3-point throne.

On Monday night, the Golden State Warriors point guard broke an NBA record he always seemed destined to break, nailing 13 3-pointers against the New Orleans Pelicans to best the single-game mark he previously shared with Marshall and Kobe Bryant. Curry equaled their record in memorable fashion last season.

Curry's historic night was made all the more incredible because it came immediately after one of the worst shooting performances of his career, a game in which he went 0-for-10 from long range to end a 157-game streak with at least one 3-ball.

Curry went into the fourth quarter sitting on 10 made threes, and he stayed there until just three-and-a-half minutes remained in regulation. Then he canned three straight triples on three straight possessions to make it a baker's dozen, each more difficult than the one before.

Curry finished 13-of-17 from distance and 16-of-26 from the field overall for a game-high 46 points, and the Warriors needed nearly all of them. For all the reigning MVP's theatrics, the Pelicans managed to keep things uncomfortably close until Curry's final onslaught put things out of reach.

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The Washington Wizards came into this season hoping to wash out the bitter taste of a disappointing 2015-16 campaign, but six games in, they only seem to have squirmed their way deeper into the quicksand.

A 114-106 defeat at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Monday night dropped the Wizards to 1-5, and had shooting guard Bradley Beal looking to diagnose his team's mystifying struggles.

"We did not expect it to be like this," Beal told reporters after the game, according to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

"We got to get our toughness back, our identity back. We're playing with no toughness, no swag. We got to pick each other up. We've got to get something going."

If there's a silver lining for the Wizards it's that they've been right there going into the fourth quarter of every game. But time after time, they've collapsed in crunch time, their offense growing harried and their defense coming apart at the seams. They took a 95-94 lead with six-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation Monday, and then the Rockets went on a 12-0 run in the span of three minutes and the Wizards never threatened again.

The game ended on an ugly note, with a decidedly frustrated John Wall getting ejected for allegedly hurling vulgarities at an official.

"By this point everybody got to look themselves in the mirror and come back and go to the drawing board (to see) what we got to do to get wins and get stops," said Otto Porter.

"We don’t want to be 1-5 right now," said Beal, who, after the Wizards' 0-3 start, said he felt they should've been 3-0.

"Everybody's frustrated. Everybody's mad."

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It's just seven games into the NBA season, but there's trouble brewing in the Hoosier State.

After surrendering 122 points in a blowout road loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night, the Indiana Pacers were left staring in the mirror, and their star player didn't much like what he saw.

"We're just not tied together," Paul George told reporters after the game, according to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star. "We're allowing the home teams to have the advantage of being home."

The Pacers got behind early and never made any kind of serious push. They took their last lead 90 seconds into the game. They allowed Charlotte to score 43 points in the first quarter, as many as any team has scored in any quarter so far this season. They couldn't keep the Hornets off the line, or out of the paint. They couldn't stop turning the ball over. They got their tails beat in almost every conceivable way.

"We're all out of whack," George said. "There's no trust, there's no chemistry, there's no belief. We're kind of just lifeless right now."

The Pacers have been one of the league's most confounding, Jekyll-and-Hyde outfits early this season. Their drubbing at the hands of the Hornets came on the heels of an impressive 17-point win over the Chicago Bulls, which itself followed an 18-point loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. They came into Monday's game ranked 27th in the NBA in defensive efficiency, after finishing third last season.

George may have a point about "allowing the home teams to have the advantage of being home," truism be damned. On home soil this season, the Pacers are 3-0, outscoring opponents by an average of 11 points per game. On the road they're now 0-4, with an average margin of defeat of 16.5.

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young knows his team needs to figure things out before the schedule gets even tougher on them.

"We obviously know we're better at home, but on the road we have to get some of these games," Young said. "The crazy thing is we haven't really played the toughest teams. When those teams come around, they're not going to play around with us."

Fortunately for the Pacers, nine of their next 11 games will be played in Indiana. But at some point, they'll need to find a cure for their homesickness.

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With a few rare exceptions, the NBA populace typically leans Democrat, which partially explains why the predominant response to Republican nominee Donald Trump winning the 2016 presidential election has been one of disappointment.

Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan tried to couch his thoughts on the election when approached by reporters Wednesday, but he couldn't hold back.

"Ah, I'm not about to speak on that, hell nah," DeRozan said according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun, before adding that, "It's a mockery. It's a joke."

DeRozan's head coach Dwane Casey, a lifelong Democrat, was also disappointed but ultimately supported the will of the American populace.

"I'm disappointed but I'm also an American. I respect the position of the presidency and whoever it is I'm going to support it," Casey said.

"But disappointed being a Democrat and being for the other side, but at the end of the day, like we asked when Barack Obama was elected, let's pull behind the president and hopefully that's what we are going to do as a nation."

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It's no secret the majority of the NBA didn't get the result it hoped for in Tuesday's presidential election. The fallout was naturally a hot topic at league practices and shootarounds Wednesday, and Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy offered a blunt assessment.

"We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus," Van Gundy said, according to MLive's Aaron McMann. "I don't think anybody can deny (Donald Trump) is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic."

The reaction of NBA players to Trump's election as the nation's 45th president has been near-universally negative. Trump will take office Jan. 20 for a four-year term. Van Gundy is known for his plain outspokenness, and hasn't been afraid to wade into political waters before.

"It's just, we have said - and my daughters, the three of them - our society has said, 'No, we think you should be second-class citizens. We want you to be second-class citizens'," Van Gundy continued. "And we embrace a guy who is openly misogynist as a our leader. I don't know how we get past that."

The coach then took aim at so-called evangelical Christians - who polled at 81 percent in favor of Trump, according to The Washington Post - as well as "red state" residents.

"I'm not a religious guy, but what the hell Bible are they reading? ... there are a lot of different groups we can be upset at. But you're Christians," he said. "You're supposed to be - at least you pride yourself on being the moral compass of our society - and you said, 'Yeah, the guy can talk about women like that. I'm fine with that.'

"He can disparage every ethnic group, and 'I'm fine with that'. It's embarrassing. I have been ashamed of a lot of things that have happened in this country, but I can't say I've ever been ashamed of our country until today.

"I'm going to walk into (Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix) and realize that - especially in this state - most of these people voted for the guy. Like, (expletive), I don't have any respect for that. I don't."

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James Harden is as confident as ever.

He's thriving in his new role running the Houston Rockets' fourth-ranked offense as a "points guard" and is currently first in the league in assists and second in scoring.

Asked by Michael Lee of The Vertical who's the best player at his position, Harden responded:

"Best point guard or best player?"

Either one.

"I am," the 27-year-old replied.

He's easily one of the best players when it comes to creating scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates. He's averaging 31.6 points on a career-high true shooting percentage of 66.5 percent, while also contributing 12.7 assists, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.

The veteran's put up robust numbers before, however. Despite the fact that nobody scored more points than him last year, Harden didn't make any of the three All-NBA teams because the Rockets were mediocre, squeaking into the playoffs at .500 and bowing out in the first round.

Team success also factors into the MVP race, so with all those aspects in mind, Harden's priority is to do whatever he can to ensure his squad racks up Ws.

"I just want to win. I don't really think about doing all that other stuff," he said.

The organization made some moves over the offseason in hopes of helping his cause. They added a head coach in Mike D'Antoni - who's known for crafting offenses centered on pace and ball movement - and players like Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon, who can knock down shots off Harden's drive and kicks.

Related: D'Antoni excited to coach Harden: His game is 'just like, wow'

Seven games into 2016-17, the four-time All-Star's already noticing a difference in Houston's chemistry and offense.

"A lot more space. A lot more opportunity for me to get to the basket, for me to find guys," he said. "Previously, it was a little bit more crowded. You've got to respect our shooters and you've got to be able to find them and know where they are at all times, or you're going to pay for it."

There are two ends of the court, though, so in order for Harden to truly be considered the game's top player, he must be able to stop his opponents. Though he has the physical tools to be a good defender, that's long been the glaring weakness in his game. It's a challenge of mentality and effort that he's committed to overcome.

"Just being locked in," Harden said. "It's my job to go out there and play both ends of the floor at a high level. We're all going to make mistakes, but we have each other's backs and we compete."

Related: Harden promises improved defense: 'I'm more than capable'

The 4-3 Rockets are currently 27th in defensive efficiency. Fortunately, they have some time to get it together, and if Harden is as good as he says he is, he'll help make that happen.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are set to visit President Obama at the White House on Thursday, but NBA analyst Jalen Rose thinks these types of visits will see fewer players participating during the upcoming Donald Trump presidency.

“While personal politics in general can be a divisive topic. And for Donald Trump, during his candidacy, he became a polarizing candidate, which included along the way, insulting a lot of people," Rose said, via Sports Illustrated. "So those same people today as American citizens have to digest that he’s going to be the next president of the United States. How it’s going to affect sports?

"Unlike Tom Brady, when his team won the championship, and he chose not to go to the White House, saying it was a scheduling conflict when Barack Obama was in office. What we’re going to see in professional sports - NBA and NFL - mark my words, there will be players that decline the opportunity to visit the White House under his presidency.”

Both the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos accepted invitations to visit the White House. The Chicago Cubs, who just won the World Series earlier this month, haven't announced plans to make the trip, though President Obama tweeted an invitation.

The refusal to attend a White House meeting wouldn't be entirely new. Several athletes and managers have refused to go in past presidencies, whether or not they've cited political differences or "scheduling conflicts." Former St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols and manager Tony LaRussa, who both participated in Tea Party events, did not travel with the Cardinals to visit Obama after winning the World Series in 2011.

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The Denver Nuggets have a bone to pick with the NBA.

Though it's unlikely to amount to more than a symbolic gesture, the Nuggets have filed an official protest with the league over their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday, in which the league admitted to the officials having wrongly awarded possession to the Grizzlies before they scored the game-winning bucket at the buzzer.

The Grizzlies, trailing by one point, got to inbound with 0.7 seconds left, after a replay review seemed to confirm the on-court call that the ball had gone out of bounds off the hand of Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay. The NBA's Last-Two-Minute Report would later indicate otherwise, but the Grizzlies took advantage of the mistake, winning the game on an alley-oop layup by Marc Gasol.

Thing is, the Nuggets shouldn't necessarily have been in the precarious position they found themselves in, anyway. With 12 seconds left, Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was stripped of the ball, and though the refs swallowed their whistles, the report showed Conley had been fouled Gary Harris.

Even if that hadn't been the case, the Nuggets would be hard-pressed to reverse the game's outcome. According to research gathered by USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt in 2014, the NBA has upheld just three protests, with over 30 having been filed since 1952.

The most recent protest to be upheld was filed in 2008, when the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat replayed the final 51.9 seconds of a game in which the official scorer had incorrectly ruled that Heat center Shaquille O'Neal had fouled out.

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Kevin Durant's streak of consecutive 20-point games came to an end during Thursday's victory over the Denver Nuggets, as Durant finished with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Had the contest been more competitive, there's little doubt Durant would have reached the 20-point mark for a 73rd straight game, but Steve Kerr wisely pulled KD with the Golden State Warriors up 112-86 and only 5:50 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The 72-game streak, which Durant extended 24 hours earlier in a win over the Dallas Mavericks, tied Michael Jordan for the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history.

Only Wilt Chamberlain (twice) and Oscar Robertson have produced longer runs, with Chamberlain holding the record of 126 games from 1961-63.

Prior to Thursday, Durant's last game with less than 20 points came on Nov. 10, 2015, while he was still a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

That was the lone game out of the 72 Durant appeared in last season that failed to see him reach the 20-point plateau, though he was held below 20 a couple of times during the 2016 postseason.

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Steve Kerr -- "this is my rant" -- for 2+ minutes on the presidential election: "Maybe we should've seen this coming" pic.twitter.com/MJOcSdXxHH

— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) November 10, 2016
Following in the footsteps of fiery comments from Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr also took his turn Wednesday to rant about his disappointment with Tuesday's election.

Kerr spoke without stopping for two minutes about what, in his opinion, was a farcical election that saw Republican nominee Donald Trump snatch a shocking victory over Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

"Maybe we should have seen it coming over the last 10 years," Kerr said. "You look at society, you look at what's popular, people are getting paid millions of dollars to go on TV and scream at each other, whether it's in sports or politics or entertainment. I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics.

"Then all of a sudden you're faced with reality. The man who is going to lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words. That's a tough one. That's a tough one.

"I wish (Trump) well. I hope he's a good president. I have no idea what kind of president he will be because he hasn't said anything about what he is going to do. We don't know.

"But it's tough when you want there to be some respect and dignity and there hasn't been. And then you walk into a room with your daughter and your wife, who have basically been insulted by his comments and they're distraught.

"Then you walk in and see the faces of your players, most of them who have been insulted directly as minorities. It's sorta shocking. It really is. We talked about it as a team this morning. I don't know what else to say - the whole process has left all of us disgusted and disappointed. I thought we were better than this.

"I thought 'The Jerry Springer Show' was 'The Jerry Springer Show.' But watching the last debate, Trump would make a crack at Clinton, and fans in the stands would say, 'OOHHH, NO HE DIDN'T!' Like, yeah, he did. This is the presidential election, it's not 'The Jerry Springer Show.'

"I'm sorry. This is my rant," Kerr concluded. "I'm disappointed in the lack of respect and dignity that is involved. That's the way it goes."

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WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross' passion for Oklahoma Sooners football is widely known in the world of wrestling, but he also has a soft spot for NBA basketball - and the local Oklahoma City Thunder.

The major offseason talking point in the area was whether or not former league Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant was going to sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent, which he ultimately did when he took his talents to the Bay Area to join the Golden State Warriors.

Talking with theScore on Friday about his one-man show "Ringside with Jim Ross" which takes place on Nov. 20 in Toronto, Ross mentioned how Durant's departure to the enemy Warriors wasn't much of a surprise to him or anyone in the OKC community.

"I don't think anyone was totally shocked. That doesn't say that we're happy that he left," Ross said. "It's like getting jilted by your significant other. He was here, and he was the face of the franchise. I met him a couple of times. He's a nice guy, and big wrestling fan. He'd come down to the O.U. basketball games from time to time, and I'd chat with him and say hello. We felt badly that he left, but it wasn't a total shock."

The Thunder have started off the 2016-17 regular season strong with a 6-3 record sans Durant, although a majority of their wins have come against several of the league's bottom feeders. Nevertheless, Ross is optimistic about the team's chances moving forward, especially if they can reach the postseason.

"Can we win the West? I don't know if we're going to win the West this year," Ross said. "Can we get into the playoffs? I think so. Once you're in the playoffs, everything starts all over. It's a succession of seven-game series' with your adversary. You win or you go home. If we can get into the playoffs with some momentum, and these young guys come together as a unit, we can give people some problems. Especially when you have a healthy (Russell) Westbrook, who's a conundrum to anyone he plays."

The Warriors already own a convincing 122-96 win over the Thunder on Nov. 3. The two parties will meet three more times this season, with Ross - who holds no ill will toward Durant and his decision - hoping for a much more positive result for the Thunder.

"Hopefully he'll (Durant) do well. I'm not a hater," he added. "I don't have enough fuel in my tank to use part of it for hate and issues. I hope he does well. But, at the same time, I hope we beat their ass every time we play them."

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A wave of peaceful protests have broken out across cities in the United States in response to Donald Trump being named the 45th president-elect.

In Portland, however, anti-Trump protests have been accompanied by property damage and violence, and that isn't the way to protest, says Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.

"I think it's very unfortunate that people have done some of the things they have done during the protest. A lot of harm and damage has been done," Lillard told ESPN's Chris Haynes on Saturday.

"I do understand their frustration, and I commend people wanting to come together for some kind of change. Tearing apart your own city just isn't the place to begin, and also making your own city less of a safe place isn't the answer."

Incidents of vandalism and assault prompted police to take action against crowds by using flash bangs and tear gas. A male protester was shot on Friday, although his injuries aren't considered life-threatening.

"For someone to be shot on the bridge lets you know it has gone too far," Lillard said. "That could have been a kid out there or any person catching a stray bullet."

Lillard added that Oregon voted heavily against Trump, which only makes violence all the more senseless.

"Especially when the majority of the people here voted for Hillary. So if this is an anti-Trump rally, then you're probably harming the people that you side with in most cases. So again I share the same worry, but I don't think this is the solution."

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DeMar DeRozan crossed another team off his hit list Friday night, pouring in 34 points - including 10 big ones in the final five minutes - to help the Toronto Raptors put away the Charlotte Hornets.

That's now seven 30-plus-point outings in the first eight games of the season for DeRozan, a feat that hasn't been accomplished in 30 years. The last guy to do it? None other than Hornets owner Michael Jordan, whose team could do nothing to stem the tide down the stretch.

With Michael Kidd-Gilchrist sidelined, DeRozan took advantage of his smaller (and, in the case of rookie Treveon Graham, inexperienced) defenders, either shooting over them or posting them up or power-stepping his way to the rim. The Hornets had built a 10-point fourth-quarter lead on the strength of an incredible 18-0 run, but the Raptors clawed their way back, and then let DeRozan take over late.

After sitting for the first six minutes of the final frame, he re-entered with the Raptors trailing by four, and promptly knocked down five jumpers - each of them at least partially contested - including a pair of 20-foot daggers in the final minute. The last one, off a ridiculous pirouetting pullup, put the Raptors up seven with under 30 seconds to play, and they held on for a 113-111 win.

DeRozan is now averaging 34.1 points, the most through the first eight games of a season since - you guessed it - Michael Jordan in 1989. As part of another running theme, he did it all without hitting a three. Of his 273 points so far this season, only six have come from beyond the arc.

His late-game heroics helped the Raptors overcome a searing performance from Hornets point guard Kemba Walker, who had no such compunction about bombing away from deep. He dropped 40 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field and 7-of-12 from 3-point range. The Raptors had a similarly impossible time stopping Walker, who hit Steph Curry-like threes off the bounce no matter how little airspace they gave him. When Raptors bigs lunged out to challenge his shot off screens, Walker scooted past them and scored at the rim.

Alas, he didn't get quite enough help, and his remarkable effort went for naught. The Raptors, who'd lost nine of their previous 10 games in Charlotte, pulled level with the Hornets and Atlanta Hawks at 6-2, good for second in the Eastern Conference.

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Chosen with the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, few players have struggled to live up to their hype more than former NBA center Greg Oden.

With injuries holding him back, Oden played in just 105 games throughout his brief career, averaging eight points and 6.2 rebounds on 57.4 percent shooting.

"I'll be remembered as the biggest bust in NBA history," Oden told ESPN's Outside the Lines. "But I can't do nothing about that."

Oden will best be remembered as the player chosen ahead of Kevin Durant, making the Portland Trail Blazers' decision even harder to swallow.

While still only 28 years of age, Oden reiterated that his playing days are over as he continues to battle multiple knee injuries.

"Don't get me wrong," Oden said. "If I was healthy, I would love to continue playing, but I'm not healthy."

With his basketball career officially over, Oden opted to enroll as a sophomore at Ohio State University, taking classes in the sports industry program.

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While admitting he was disappointed with Tuesday's result, TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley urged U.S. citizens to give Donald Trump a chance as president-elect.

"I was in shock, I'm not gonna lie. I was totally surprised at the election results," Barkley said on TNT's "Inside the NBA" on Thursday. "That being said, we've got to move on. I was disappointed because my candidate didn't win, No. 1. But like I said, it's over now. (Trump) is going to be the president of the United States. We've got to respect the office, and we have to give him a chance. That's the bottom line."

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers echoed similar sentiments earlier this week, saying he believes in the American system.

"Somebody always loses an election. We've been fortunate that we've won the last couple with President Obama. We didn't win this one," Barkley added. "But like I said, I respect the office of the president of the United States, and we have to give him a chance.

"Everything he's said in the past, that's water under the bridge. We have to give him a chance, and we have to support him because he's the president of the United States of America."

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Michael Jordan, Rick Barry, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, World B. Free, Tiny Archibald ... and DeMar DeRozan.

The Toronto Raptors' - or, on this night, the Toronto Huskies' - All-Star shooting guard has been tearing through opposing squads on offense to open the 2016-17 regular season. In Saturday's 118-107 victory over the visiting New York Knicks, DeRozan placed himself among an esteemed group of legends when he exceeded the 300-point mark through his first nine games of the season with a 33-point performance.

After competing on the road Friday against the Charlotte Hornets, the scapegoat of a back-to-back was available if the 27-year-old struggled to shoot the rock against New York. Rather than allow fatigue to settle in, though, DeRozan once again carried Toronto's offense by dropping over 30 points for the eighth time in nine outings.

The last player to accomplish that feat was Michael Jordan in 1986-87.

While it's easy to heap praise onto DeRozan, he alone did not fend off a game Knicks squad at the Air Canada Centre - five other Raptors scored in double figures. Norman Powell dropped 19 points in the starting lineup in a resting DeMarre Carroll's stead, while Terrence Ross and Patrick Patterson had 11 and 10 off the bench, respectively.

It's unreasonable to think DeRozan can maintain this torrid pace for the entirety of the season, but for now, his sensational run has the 6ix buzzing in anticipation to see just how long he can keep it going.

With the next two games a back-to-back against the Golden State Warriors and reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, Raptors fans can only hope DeRozan has at least two more outbursts left in the tank.

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Marcin Gortat isn't interested in making friends with his Wizards teammates.

The Polish center did not hold back when asked about the performance of Washington's bench this season, believing that they may be one of the worst second units in the entire NBA.

"I think right now, as far as I know, I think we've got one of the worst benches in the league right now," Gortat told Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

While Gortat's assessment was certainly harsh, it wasn't that far off. Washington's bench currently ranks just 23rd in net rating and dead-last in points per game. However, the Wizards' starters haven't fared much better, sitting 19th in net rating themselves.

After last season's disappointing campaign, general manager Ernie Grunfeld worked hard to revamp Washington's second unit this summer, bringing in Trey Burke, Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson, and Jason Smith. So far, none of those players are averaging more than 5.3 points per game, playing a large factor in the team's 2-7 start.

"We can't get used to it. We can't get comfortable with that. We've got to do something about that right now. It's not fun anymore," Gortat said.

The Wizards and their second unit will have plenty of time to work out their issues, as they don't play again until Wednesday night.

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It appears the Sacramento Kings may prefer to keep Willie Cauley-Stein after all.

While recent reports have suggested otherwise, the Kings apparently view their young big man as one of the best defenders on the team and intend to keep him going forward, according to James Ham of CSN Bay Area.

With DeMarcus Cousins getting the bulk of the minutes at center, the 23-year-old has struggled to carve out a defined role under new head coach Dave Joerger. Cauley-Stein has appeared in just 13.8 minutes per game this season, averaging 4.7 points and 1.8 rebounds, while shooting an impressive 57.6 percent from the field.

"Just trying to figure out where you fit in with our team, we've got a lot of vets and I'm still young, so it's different," Cauley-Stein told Ham. "You've got to try and gain everyone's trust again with new coaches and new players."

After a slow start to the season, Cauley-Stein has seen an improvement in his play over the last week, averaging 6.3 points on 75 percent shooting over the past three games.

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Andrew Wiggins is blossoming right in front of our eyes.

The third-year forward added a masterpiece 47-point performance on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers in a continuation of his breakout campaign.

Wiggins hit 14-of-21 from the field and made 17-of-22 from the line to shatter his previous career-high of 36 that he set in Tuesday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

To put his 47 points into perspective, it matches Kevin Garnett's career high. Only three players (Mo Williams, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer) have scored more in a Timberwolves uniform.

Or put it another way: Wiggins single-handedly matched the combined scoring total of the Lakers' starting five.

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A minimum of three NBA teams - the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, and Memphis Grizzlies - have chosen to stop staying at Donald Trump-branded hotels while on road trips, according to ESPN's Marc Stein and Zach Lowe.

The Trump luxury hotels in question are located in New York and Chicago. Another Eastern Conference team plans to terminate its contract with the Trump SoHo in Lower Manhattan by next season, according to the report. Seven other unnamed teams told ESPN they plan to stay at Trump-branded properties this season.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been an outspoken critic of the president-elect and many of the policies Trump campaigned on. Trump seemed to be aware of the blowback to his election win when he told "60 Minutes" over the weekend that he's not concerned about negative impact on his corporate brand.

"Who cares? This is big league stuff," Trump said, according to CNN. "We're going to save our country. I don't care about hotel occupancy. It's peanuts compared to what we're doing."

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The San Antonio Spurs are wasting no time in honoring their franchise's greatest player.

Tim Duncan will have his No. 21 retired on Dec. 18 when the Spurs take on the New Orleans Pelicans at the AT&T Center.

The 15-time All-Star stepped away from the game earlier this year after 19 seasons with the silver and black. The 40-year-old finished his career as the franchise leader in games, minutes, points, field goals, rebounds, blocks, win shares, and VORP.

The 6-foot-11 big man carried the Spurs to five championships during his time in San Antonio, while also collecting 15 All-NBA selections, two MVPs, three Finals MVPs, and over 1,000 regular season wins.

Duncan will become the eighth Spur to have his number retired, joining David Robinson, George Gervin, Sean Elliott, Bruce Bowen, Avery Johnson, Johnny Moore, and Paul Silas.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to play it safe with their four-time league Most Valuable Player on Wednesday night.

LeBron James will sit out the second game of a back-to-back and his first of the season when the Cavs take on the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, according to ESPN's Chris Haynes.

Cleveland is coming off an impressive 121-117 victory over the visiting Toronto Raptors on Tuesday in a rematch of last season's Eastern Conference finals. James barely missed out on his second triple-double of the year, playing 38 minutes and scoring 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting, along with nine rebounds and 14 assists.

The reigning NBA champions sit atop the East with a 9-1 record and are riding a three-game winning streak after suffering their first defeat against the Atlanta Hawks last Tuesday night.

Their second loss could very well come against the Pacers: The Cavs were just 1-5 during the 2015-16 campaign when James didn't suit up.

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich continued his public criticism of president-elect Donald Trump Wednesday, referring specifically to the controversial appointment of former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon as future White House chief strategist.

"I think that's very troublesome to many of us," Popovich said, according to the Washington Post's Tim Bontemps. "It would be great if (Trump) made some statements to all of the groups he disparaged, to bring us all together, and to allay fears, because there are a lot of fearful people, and for good reason. But rather than doing that, he inflamed it even more with that appointment. It’s kind of ironic."

Under Bannon's leadership, Breitbart News shifted its focus to a more "alt-right" approach, a philosophy that has traditionally been tolerant of racist, anti-semitic, and homophobic viewpoints.

Popovich - a former U.S. Air Force officer who once considered a career in the CIA - again lambasted Trump for using racially divisive politics during his bitter election campaign against Hillary Clinton.

"I wonder sometimes if he made all those statements, he certainly whipped up the fear mongering and emotion in that base ... he's pretty good at that," Popovich said. "You can't believe anything that comes out of his mouth. It changes day to day, depending on the situation, and what he needs at the moment."

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The memory of the Greatest of All Time will live on for generations to come thanks in part to the generosity of LeBron James.

James will pledge $2.5 million to support a Muhammad Ali exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

The exhibit will be called "Muhammad Ali: A Force for Change."

"Muhammad Ali is such a cornerstone of me as an athlete because of what he represented not only in the ring as a champion but more outside the ring — what he stood for, what he spoke for, his demeanor," James told Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today Sports.

"I think of him every day. Without his passion and goals and morals, I don’t know if I’d be sitting here today talking to you about it."

Ali died at the age of 74 this summer following a 32-year battle with Parkinson's disease.

James remembers Ali not just for his unrivaled importance within the boxing ring, but also for Ali's impact on the African-American community.

"The reason why he's the GOAT is not because of what he did in the ring, which was unbelievable," James said in June.

"It's what he did outside of the ring, what he believed in, what he stood for, along with Jim Brown and Oscar Robertson, Lew Alcindor - obviously, who became Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) - Bill Russell, Jackie Robinson. Those guys stood for something. He's part of the reason why African-Americans today can do what we do in the sports world. We're free. They allow us to have access to anything we want. It's because of what they stood for, and Muhammad Ali was definitely the pioneer for that."

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Given how dominant he's been early in the 2016-17 season, it's hard to blame Jimmy Butler for thinking highly of himself.

The 6-foot-7 shooting guard has made it clear where he thinks he ranks among the game's elite, repeatedly telling teammates that he's "the best (bleeping) player in the world," according to Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago.

"I'm not gonna tell you exactly what I say but I think you know what I'm talking about," Butler said. "I don't talk about it in public. But between these guys, they know how I feel, they know the way I go about the game and how I love it and how I love being better. I place myself where I place it and I hope my game continues to speak."

After earning All-Star appearances in back-to-back seasons, Butler has been even better in 2016-17, posting career highs in points per game (24.5), rebounds per game (6.1), field-goal percentage (48.8), and 3-point percentage (44.7). The 27-year-old's advanced metrics have been even more impressive, as he ranks third in the NBA in win shares, and fourth in both value over replacement player (VORP) and offensive rating.

"Yeah, if I go at the game with the same mentality, like Dwyane (Wade) told me, every time you step on the floor, you gotta have the mentality that you're the best player out there," Butler said. "You gotta be out there to prove that point every single night, every single day in practice. That's what I'm working to be. I want to be the first guy in the gym, the last guy to leave, studying film and having a killer mentality."

Butler's hot play has been the main reason for the Bulls' strong start. Chicago ranks fifth in the East with a 7-4 record.

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The NBA world has finally seen the end of bumbling ex-Clippers owner and documented racist Donald Sterling.

The deposed owner of the Los Angeles franchise reached an agreement to settle his lawsuit against the NBA on Friday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Donald is pleased with the outcome and is looking forward to focusing on future endeavors," Sterling's lawyer wrote to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times.

Sterling's lawsuit alleged that the NBA engaged in a conspiracy that forced him to sell the club. That motion was dismissed by a federal judge in March, and while Sterling wanted to appeal that decision, his firm missed a deadline to file an opening brief in October.

Current owner Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers for $2 billion after an audiotape emerged in 2014 of Sterling making overtly racist remarks. The NBA subsequently banned Sterling for life.

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Count Toronto Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson among the scores of NBA personalities that were displeased with the election results.
Patterson sported a "I hate Donald Trump" sweater in a Snapchat released Thursday.




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With Friday's victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs has moved into seventh place on the NBA's all-time regular season coaching wins list with 1,099 victories, surpassing Larry Brown.

Popovich now sits 56 wins behind Phil Jackson for sixth place, something he could conceivably reach this season, but more likely next. Jackson is 20 victories behind fifth-place George Karl.

Unlike all the names in the top six, Popovich has logged each victory of his career with one franchise. The former Spurs' general manager took over the coaching reins of the team on Dec. 10, 1996, and has been there ever since.



In addition to the regular-season wins, Popovich ranks third all-time in playoff victories with 158 - behind Riley and Jackson.






COACH               REGULAR-SEASON WINS


Don Nelson                       1335


Lenny Wilkens                   1332


Jerry Sloan                       1221


Pat Riley                          1210


George Karl                      1175


Phil Jackson                     1155


Gregg Popovich                1099

Last edited on Sun Nov 20th, 2016 06:16 am by lobo316

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lobo316 wrote: Count Toronto Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson among the scores of NBA personalities that were displeased with the election results.
Patterson sported a "I hate Donald Trump" sweater in a Snapchat released Thursday.

 

Some people need to grow outta this bullshit. He ran a fare election and won. He has yet to take office and he's already the worst president in history with no track record. They should be blaming Hillary and the DNC for fucking over Bernie Sanders instead.

Last edited on Sun Nov 20th, 2016 07:33 am by Mysterious

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Mysterious wrote: lobo316 wrote: Count Toronto Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson among the scores of NBA personalities that were displeased with the election results.
Patterson sported a "I hate Donald Trump" sweater in a Snapchat released Thursday.

 

Some people need to grow outta this bullshit. He ran a fare election and won. He has yet to take office and he's already the worst president in history with no track record. They should be blaming Hillary and the DNC for fucking over Bernie Sanders instead.


A number of players hate Trump, but the thing that gets me is the number of coaches who are anti-Trump. These are old white guys. What's their problem ?

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lobo316 wrote: Mysterious wrote: lobo316 wrote: Count Toronto Raptors power forward Patrick Patterson among the scores of NBA personalities that were displeased with the election results.
Patterson sported a "I hate Donald Trump" sweater in a Snapchat released Thursday.

 

Some people need to grow outta this bullshit. He ran a fare election and won. He has yet to take office and he's already the worst president in history with no track record. They should be blaming Hillary and the DNC for fucking over Bernie Sanders instead.


A number of players hate Trump, but the thing that gets me is the number of coaches who are anti-Trump. These are old white guys. What's their problem ?

It's so their players don't turn against them .

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The Miami Heat announced plans to retire Shaquille O'Neal's No. 32 on Dec. 22 when the Los Angeles Lakers visit American Airlines Arena.

The Hall of Fame center will become the 12th player in NBA history to have his jersey retired by multiple franchises. The No. 34 that O'Neal wore with the Lakers was retired in 2013.

O'Neal helped power the Heat to their first-ever championship in 2006, but he only spent parts of four seasons - spanning 205 games - during his uneven spell in South Beach.

Nevertheless, despite his short stay, Heat president and former coach Pat Riley explained in September that bringing on O'Neal - more than uniting the Big Three - was his biggest coup while controlling the Heat.

"I'll say this, and I mean this," Riley said, "Shaq's acquisition was bigger than any acquisition that we ever made, including the Big Three.

"The seminal moment," Riley says, "to really make us really, really legitimate. (O'Neal) turned our franchise around. He gave us real legitimacy."

O'Neal averaged 19.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks during his time with the Heat.

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Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans have been named NBA Player of the Week in the Eastern and Western conference, respectively.

Butler averaged 27.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in three games, scoring 40 points in a win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

Davis, meanwhile, averaged close to 34 points and 14 rebounds in the three games he played in, carrying the Pelicans to victory in all three. He also registered three blocks per contest.

Davis now leads the NBA in scoring at 31.7 points per game.

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Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey was apoplectic following the officials' decision to wave off Terrence Ross' game-tying 3-pointer against theSacramento Kings Sunday.



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With the apparent press conference today, the Detroit Pistons will announce they will be moving to the new "Little Caesar's Arena" (hate that name) starting with the 2017/2018 season.

There's talk of demolishing the Palace, built in 1988.

It's amazing how these stadiums can just pop up and be knocked down so easily!!

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chrob61 wrote: With the apparent press conference today, the Detroit Pistons will announce they will be moving to the new "Little Caesar's Arena" (hate that name) starting with the 2017/2018 season.

There's talk of demolishing the Palace, built in 1988.

It's amazing how these stadiums can just pop up and be knocked down so easily!!

Does Detroit even have the money to demolish the Palace? If they do, Ron Artest should be the one allowed to detonate the place.

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freebirdsforever2001 wrote: chrob61 wrote: With the apparent press conference today, the Detroit Pistons will announce they will be moving to the new "Little Caesar's Arena" (hate that name) starting with the 2017/2018 season.

There's talk of demolishing the Palace, built in 1988.

It's amazing how these stadiums can just pop up and be knocked down so easily!!

Does Detroit even have the money to demolish the Palace? If they do, Ron Artest should be the one allowed to detonate the place.

Didn't they recently do some upgrades to the Palace.

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Mysterious wrote: freebirdsforever2001 wrote: chrob61 wrote: With the apparent press conference today, the Detroit Pistons will announce they will be moving to the new "Little Caesar's Arena" (hate that name) starting with the 2017/2018 season.

There's talk of demolishing the Palace, built in 1988.

It's amazing how these stadiums can just pop up and be knocked down so easily!!

Does Detroit even have the money to demolish the Palace? If they do, Ron Artest should be the one allowed to detonate the place.

Didn't they recently do some upgrades to the Palace.

I'm sure they'll scrape up the money somewhere- no I don't know if updates were made recently to the Palace.   I'll miss that 15 minute drive from my house though!

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The Palace of Auburn Hills is located in the distant suburbs from Detroit. It isn't on the city itself to demolish it. Auburn Hills is pretty prosperous. There were big renovations to the Palace in the 2010-15 range on a gradual basis at a cost of around $110,000,000. It's on a piece of land that will be fairly valuable for a non residential development, be that a shopping center or large scale business that needs lots of room.

The curious part to me is the Pistons will go from being an owner to a tenant and from getting revenue on every event at the building to just getting revenue on its own games. Metro Detroit (not just Detroit proper) is absolutely big enough and well off enough to support two major arenas. I'd love to know the long term revenue difference between staying put and going downtown along with what the sale of the Palace will garner.

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Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell will miss a minimum of two weeks after receiving platelet-rich plasma treatment for his left knee, the team announced Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Russell was initially ruled out for two games after the issue had bothered him for a week or so. At the time, Lakers coach Luke Walton acknowledged the No. 2 pick of the 2015 draft might have to be shut down temporarily.

Platelet-rich plasma treatment (PRP) is a procedure in which an athlete's own platelets are drawn, spun in a centrifuge, and re-injected into the affected area. NBAers like Dwight Howard have used it in the past.

The Lakers said Russell will be re-evaluated in one week.

The 20-year-old leads the Lakers in assists (4.8), and is second in scoring (16.1).

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The Golden State Warriors not only continue to make the extra pass, they're absolutely killing the extra pass.

The Dubs set a new franchise record with 47 assists in Wednesday's 149-106 beatdown of the Los Angeles Lakers - the most in an NBA game since the Phoenix Suns dropped 47 dimes on Nov. 29, 1991.

Now 13-2, the @warriors beat the @Lakers 149-106. Their win streak is up to 9 games thanks to a strong night from Curry (31p/9a). pic.twitter.com/XOxAvKyz2c

— NBA (@NBA) November 24, 2016
The Warriors' 47 helpers were on 53 field goals, an 88.7 percent assist rate.

Draymond Green led the way with 11 dimes, Stephen Curry had nine, while Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala had five apiece. David West and Patrick McCaw even added four each.

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New Orleans Pelicans forward Dante Cunningham will miss 4-6 weeks of action due to a fractured right fibula, the team announced Thursday.

Cunningham departed the Pelicans' 117-96 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday after playing 12 minutes. He'd started the past eight games for New Orleans at small forward, averaging 5.6 points with career highs in 3-point attempts per contest (2.6) and 3-point percentage (41).

It's a noticeable blow for a team that has won four straight, and is still awaiting the return of Tyreke Evans from injury. Cunningham's absence likely moves Solomon Hill back into the starting lineup.

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Twelve-year NBA sharpshooter Kevin Martin didn't land a contract anywhere over the summer, so on Friday he announced his retirement from playing.

"There are so many ways to announce your after-professional career plans. My family and close friends have known since June of the direction I wanted my life to go," Martin wrote in an advertisement in his hometown newspaper, the Zanesville (OH) Times Recorder.

Martin, 33, also said that his foundation will donate $100,000 to youth initiatives in Zanesville as a thank you to the community.

A first-round pick by the Sacramento Kings in 2004, Martin may be best remembered as one of the key players moved from the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the still-debated 2012 James Harden trade.

Despite that footnote, Martin was an effective player for most of his career, averaging 17.4 points on 38.4 percent 3-point shooting in 714 career games with five teams. He played 16 games with the San Antonio Spurs last season after accepting a buyout from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Big THANKS! @KingJames here's our teams reaction after they learned about the shoes u sent. #comeoutofnowhere #priceless #WeAreNorth pic.twitter.com/LQHaDLlbnV

— SMN Athletics (@SMNathletics) November 22, 2016
The Shawnee Mission North boys basketball team in Kansas got quite the surprise Tuesday afternoon after learning that LeBron James had gifted each of them with a pair of his new Soldier 10 shoes.

James also included a note with the shoes congratulating the team on winning their first state title in 63 years, which read:

Indians,

It took 63 years.
Now what's it gonna take to do it again?
The squad is new, but the prize ain't changed.
You got what it takes to stay at the top.
Don't just believe it.
Expect it.
I'll be watching.

-LeBron

Big SO to @KingJames and @Nike for the classy recognition and shoes for the team! @Smnboysbball so surprised! #Thankful #comeoutofnowhere pic.twitter.com/VOEDT1I1Lp

— SMN Athletics (@SMNathletics) November 22, 2016

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With "DNP-Rest" becoming more common in box scores these days, the NBA has a request for teams:

If you're going to rest your guys, don't make fans from other cities suffer.

That's the message from commissioner Adam Silver out of sympathy for people who go to games expecting to see the visiting team's stars, only to find them sitting out while perfectly healthy.

There were no doubt some folks in Indiana were upset last week when Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James sat out against the Pacers.

"I get for those disappointed fans," Silver said recently on SiriusXM NBA Radio. "Part of me would prefer that if you're going to rest a player, rest him for the home fans, because they get to see that player all the time."

That's merely a recommendation, though, rather than a rule the NBA has or plans to enforce because it's more complicated than that, with coaches often considering matchups when resting their men.

"I'm super reluctant to start telling these great coaches how they should manage minutes of players. I think it puts us in an untenable position to try to set rules that say you can't rest a guy," the commissioner explained.

After all, the 82-game schedule takes its toll on players, and some are older or coming off of injuries (or both), so they'll inevitably take some nights off to recuperate.

Silver admitted it's a problem the NBA (and other sports leagues) don't have a solution for.

For its part, the Association has tried to soften the blow of the intense slate by reducing the number of back-to-back sets and occasions when teams take the floor for four games in five nights, Silver noted. The rest is up to the clubs.

"We ultimately have to rely on the good faith of our teams and our players as to what appropriate rest is," he said, before adding that contests will still be competitive despite hoopers resting, given the quality of players and roster depth in today's game.

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The Phoenix Suns are playing for the future, yet their present struggles could be enough to force management to make a move, rather than remain at a standstill.

One name continuously brought up as being on the chopping block is point guard Brandon Knight, despite general manager Ryan McDonough recently saying during a Phoenix sports radio appearance that he isn't actively trying to trade him.

Even so, several league executives are of the belief that Knight will be made available at some point before February's trade deadline, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The 24-year-old was recently inserted back into Earl Watson's starting lineup following a "minor head injury" to T.J. Warren that will keep him on the shelf for at least the next couple of weeks. Knight is averaging 10.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.3 dimes in 26.9 minutes in his last three appearances as a starter.

His numbers as a whole on the year leave a lot to be desired, as he's currently putting up some of his worst offensive stats since he entered the league back in 2011. His shots aren't dropping (38.4 percent from the field, 31.4 percent from 3-point range), he's extremely turnover prone (3 turnovers per 36 minutes), and Phoenix performs much better defensively when he doesn't play (6.1 fewer points per 100 possessions).

The core of Warren, Devin Booker, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len, Marquese Chriss, and Dragan Bender seems pretty much set, with Knight on the outside looking in. His production has fallen off in his second full season with the organization, and unless he miraculously starts showing management enough upside to warrant sticking around, he'll be an easy target for rival teams looking to acquire some backcourt depth.

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There is zero reason to care about the NBA until the Cavaliers-Warriors finals

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While it could realistically be having a negative effect on his starting center's free-throw percentage, Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown remains in full support of the team's new "Trust the Process" chant.

"I do (like it)," Brown told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "I do. You know, I think we need something like that in this city and I'm not frowning upon that. We want to have some fun."


Sixers fans have quickly made the chant a staple of home games, breaking out in unison every time Joel Embiid steps to the free-throw line.

"We're not going to veer to the right or the left. And when the crowd gets going with 'the process' and Joel anoints himself 'Trust the process,' there's a side of it, I say, 'Good for the crowd, good for Joel,' and none of us are going to take ourselves too serious."

Embiid has been one of the team's lone bright spots in an otherwise disappointing start to the season, averaging a ridiculous 28.3 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.8 blocks, and 2.0 assists per 36 minutes.

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DeMarcus Cousins climbed the Sacramento Kings' record books Sunday night.

With his 37 points in a win over the Brooklyn Nets, the All-Star center passed Chris Webber for third place on the franchise's all-time scoring list in the Sacramento era.

In 6 1/2 years in Sacramento, Webber accrued 8,843 points. "Boogie" sits in third with 8,847 career points, behind Peja Stojakovic (9,498) and Mitch Richmond (12,070). Oscar Robertson, who played with the franchise when it was in Cincinnati as the Royals, owns the all-time franchise record with 22,009.

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A pair of Kevins - Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Durant of the Golden State Warriors - have been named NBA Players of the Week for games played Nov. 21-27.

Love helped lead the Cavs to a 3-0 record over that stretch, averaging 30.7 points and 9.7 rebounds to go along with 65.5 percent 3-point shooting. He scored 34 points in the first quarter of Wednesday's win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the highest-scoring output ever in an NBA first quarter.

Meanwhile, Durant helped the Warriors to a 4-0 week with averages of 24.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.8 blocks to claim the weekly Western Conference honor. He registered a career-high six swats in Saturday's victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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LeBron James was among the concerned Ohioans Monday morning reacting to news of violence on the Ohio State campus in Columbus.

Praying for all students on @OhioState campus!! Please find safely asap!! 🙏.

— LeBron James (@KingJames) November 28, 2016
James and his Cavs' teammates had just been on campus Saturday for the Buckeye football team's victory over Michigan.

Others, including Ohio State alumni, also sent their prayers.

#PrayersforOSU

— Mike Conley (@mconley11) November 28, 2016
Praying for the Ohio state university. Please be safe.

— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) November 28, 2016
We are all Buckeyes. Our thoughts are with all of @OhioState and Columbus today.

— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 28, 2016

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The Golden State Warriors continue to clear legal hurdles in their journey across the I-80 from Oakland to San Francisco.

The California Appeals Court upheld a previous ruling that the Environmental Impact Report for the Warriors' proposed arena in downtown San Francisco met all required standards, according to Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area.

Golden State was facing a lawsuit from the Mission Bay Alliance (a coalition of UC San Francisco stakeholders, donors, faculty, and physicians), which has steadfastly opposed plans to break ground at the proposed Chase Center.

The MBA's primary concern is Chase Center restricting access to the UCSF Medical Center.

"Our legal team is reviewing the ruling and considering options," the MBA said in a statement Tuesday. "We believe that the proposed Warriors' arena is incompatible with the Mission Bay South neighborhood and would result in blocked access to UCSF hospitals, dangerous air pollution, and traffic gridlock throughout the community."

The Warriors, meanwhile, were thrilled with the ruling.

"We're very pleased by the Appellate Court's ruling. We engaged in an extensive public planning process and we were approved by every board, agency, and regulatory body we went before," Warriors president and COO Rick Welts said in a statement.

"Now our project has been upheld by the trial court, and the court of appeals. This decision clears the path for us to build a new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venue and bring the Warriors back home to San Francisco. We look forward to breaking ground soon."

The Warriors plan to ditch Oakland and open the Chase Center in 2019.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers were overjoyed to visit President Barack Obama before he left office following eight years in charge. Should the reigning champions repeat, however, the team would be decidedly split on paying president-elect Donald Trump the same courtesy of a trip through the White House.

Iman Shumpert, for one, would not be visiting.

"I'm not going to the White House," Shumpert told Karizza Sanchez of Complex.

"I can't get caught up in the racial, sexist bulls--- he's got going on. That's his personal thing, ya dig? But I just don't think he can make anything shake like that. He not finna start no civil war out here.

"I do think he's crazy - straight up. I think he did that stuff to get people to think he's willing to shake it up. But did I vote for him? No. The other stuff that comes with him, I can't get with. But now that he's here, I’m not finna drag my feet. I gotta work here, at least until the offseason, if I wanna go get a crib in the Islands."

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Iman Shumpert is getting the trash talk started early.

Having split the last two championships between them, a healthy rivalry has formed between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, and all signs point toward the same two teams being in The Finals next June.

Draymond Green already said in October that he looks forward to "annihilating" the Cavaliers, and Shumpert responded in an wide-spanning interview with Karizza Sanchez of Complex.

"We supposed to hate them, and they supposed to hate us," Shumpert said of Green's chirp. "It's OK. They supposed to take cheap shots at us. They're gonna hate us, fam.

"That's what sports is. It's great. I love every bit of it. I'm glad he said that 'cause we gon' bust they ass, too. You need to type that up: We gon' bust your ass. Period."

Expect more than words to be exchanged if the two sides meet this summer.

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Last night JR Smith of the Cavs walked over to the Bucks bench to greet Jason Terry. As the two exchanged pleasantries, the ref whistled for play to resume, the ball was inbounded, and then Tony Snell caught the pass and dunked it home for an easy basket. Snell was the player Smith should have been guarding. A clearly embarrassed and ski mask wearing JR Smith told a reporter after the game that he didn't even know he was in the game (evidently thinking he was being subbed). The exasperated reporter wasn't even sure how to follow that up.

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One more thing. After Snell got the dunk. A player on the Bucks bench sarcastically went over to also greet Jason Terry.

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Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Nick Young will miss two-to-four weeks after being diagnosed with a strained calf muscle in his right leg, the team announced.

Young's ailment initially looked far worse, as he exited Monday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans with the non-contact injury while grabbing his leg. He stayed down for quite some time before being helped off the court by teammates.

Instead, Young ducks a major injury and will be able to return to the Lakers within a month to continue a career year that's seen him average 13.3 points per game while playing surprisingly stellar defense and shooting 42 percent from deep.

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Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has been fined $15,000 by the NBA for directing verbal abuse towards a game official, as well as not leaving the court in a timely manner following his ejection from Tuesday's overtime loss against the Brooklyn Nets, the league announced Thursday.
A trap play by the Clippers in the first overtime period with 18.6 seconds remaining and the team trailing by two on the scoreboard was whistled for a foul by referee Lauren Holtkamp.


Rivers was then assessed a technical foul by official Ken Mauer, which sent Rivers into a frenzy, resulting in his players and assistants needing to restrain him. He eventually picked up a second technical for arguing the first one.
Rivers believed Mauer thought he was yelling at Holtkamp, when, in actuality, all he was trying to do was discuss why the call was made, although him crossing the half-court line didn't help his cause.


Los Angeles went on to lose the game in the second extra period, 127-122.








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Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook have been named the Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Month for games played in October and November.

James has led Cleveland to the best record (13-3) and point differential (7.5) in the Eastern Conference, while averaging 23.5 points and career highs in both rebounds (8.1) and assists (9.3).

The Cavs, for all their world-beating prowess early this season, have actually been outscored by nearly seven points per 100 possessions when James is on the bench. When he's on the floor, they outscore opponents by 12.4 points per 100. They rebound better, share the ball more, turn it over less, play faster, and shoot a dramatically higher percentage.

James' selflessness and otherworldly passing has contributed to career-best scoring rates for teammates Kyrie Irving and Channing Frye, as well as the second-highest scoring rate of Kevin Love's career.

Westbrook, meanwhile, is the first player in 55 years to enter the month of December averaging a triple-double. And he's not just scraping by, either. He's averaging 31.2 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 11.3 assists, keeping the Thunder afloat while using a preposterous 41 percent of their offensive possessions. Westbrook has recorded triple-doubles in each of his last four games, and has registered nine total on the season - as many as the rest of the league combined.

Like the Cavs without James, the Thunder have been a complete disaster when Westbrook isn't on the floor, getting outscored by 14.1 points per 100 possessions. Westbrook's one-man demolition derby has allowed them to carve out a respectable 12-8 record (good for fifth in the West) nonetheless.

Other nominees for the award were:

In the East - Irving, Love, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler, Hassan Whiteside, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and DeMar DeRozan.

In the West - Kevin Durant, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, DeMarcus Cousins, and Kawhi Leonard.

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Denver Nuggets shooting guard Jamal Murray have been named the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month for October and November.

The @Sixers' @JoelEmbiid & @Nuggets' @BeMore27 named @Kia #NBA Rookies of the Month for October/November! #KiaNBAROM pic.twitter.com/qqOj0CE0CR

— NBA (@NBA) December 1, 2016
Embiid is averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks, and 1.5 assists while shooting 48 percent from the field and 50 percent from long range in his first 12 NBA games.

"The Process" has impressed despite being on a restriction of 22 minutes per game - which has just been bumped up to 28 - after missing the last two campaigns while recovering from foot surgeries. He's been a beacon of hope for the 4-14 Sixers.

Embiid leads both Philly and all rookies in points, free throws, rebounds, and blocks. His PER of 23.75 ranks first among first-year players, and 23rd in the NBA.

Meanwhile, Murray is second in rookie scoring with 10.4 points per contest for the 7-11 Nuggets. It took him five games to make his first basket in the pros, but since then, the Canadian's scored in double figures in half the outings he's suited up in, including a four-game stretch last week that saw him put up 21 points a night.

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The Toronto Raptors' 128-84 victory over a reeling Atlanta Hawks squad Saturday marked the team's biggest margin of victory in franchise history. The 44-point win surpassed the previous record of 42, set most recently against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 21, 2014.

With the victory, Toronto pulled into a virtual tie for first place in the Eastern Conference, just a few percentage points behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. That should make Monday's home showdown against those very Cavs - losers of three in a row - all the more interesting.

Related: Poeltl rubs salt in Hawks' wounds with monster and-1 dunk

DeMar DeRozan led the Raps with 21 points Saturday, and is now only six away from 10,000 for his career.

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His current pace may appear to be unsustainable, but Russell Westbrook is showing zero signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The 6-foot-3 guard collected his fifth straight triple-double in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday evening, joining Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to do so. More impressively is the rate at which he's recording them, as four of his league-high 10 triple-doubles have come prior to the end of the third quarter.

While one might argue that Westbrook is simply stat chasing at this point, it would be hard to criticize the 28-year-old, as the Thunder have gone a perfect 5-0 during his ridiculous streak.

With five straight triple-doubles, Westbrook now sits four away from tying Wilt Chamberlain's record for the longest streak in NBA history.

Westbrook finished Sunday's contest with 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 12 assists in the 101-92 victory. The five-time All-Star also accumulated double-digit turnovers (10), becoming the first player since Jason Kidd in 2000 to do so during a triple-double performance.

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Basketball fans around the globe will soon be treated to a special documentary on arguably the greatest rivalry in NBA history.

In honor of the 30-year anniversary of the 1987 Finals, ESPN will be airing a two-part "30 for 30" on the storied rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, according to Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch.

The film will mainly focus on the games themselves, but will also examine the cultural and social impact of the rivalry.

The documentary will be executive produced by Emmy-winning producer and director Jonathan Hock, whose previous work includes "The Best That Never Was" and "Unguarded."

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The honeymoon phase is definitely over for the reigning champions.

After losing their last three games to the Bulls, Clippers, and Bucks, Tyronn Lue subjected the Cleveland Cavaliers to a lengthy film session before practice Sunday morning.

The focus was defense - Lue showed about 80 clips of the team's negligent defense from its losing streak.

"We're an older team, we don't have the best one-on-one defenders," Lue told Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. "We've got to be better as far as scheme-wise helping our teammates, recovering, making the multiple effort.

"We had kind of gotten away from that so today we showed them so film, for the guys it was good for them to see it. They were pretty embarrassed by it, and then today we went to work on it."

The Cavaliers have proven capable of locking down opponents, but in their last six games, they've given up an average of 111 points. By defensive rating, Cleveland ranks 19th league-wide and 11th in the East.

The drop-off in defense has also allowed the surging Toronto Raptors, who the Cavaliers play Monday, to move into a tie for first in the East through the quarter mark of the season.

LeBron James backed up Lue and said the team had a "hell of a practice" after the film session.

"The process is what should drive you," James said. "For me, it's part of my motivation is the process and every day you have to work it. Like I said, last year is last year. We had an unbelievable accomplishment, but that's in the past now. You have to be able to motivate yourself."

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Cleveland Cavaliers veteran James Jones knows exactly when he's going to call it career, telling the Beacon Journal's Jason Lloyd that he plans on retiring at the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign.

"I know playing 15 years is a number where I can look back and I can be like, ‘I accomplished something,'" Jones said. "Fourteen vs. 15 may not be much, but to be able to say I played 15 years, that’s enough for me to hang ‘em up."

In an ideal world, the Cavaliers would put a three-peat together to cap off Jones' career, although the 36-year-old understands such a milestone is easier said than done.

"After winning it last summer I felt great. I can continue to play, I love the game a lot. But at some point, you have to know," he added. "And watching guys who continue to play this game at a high level near the end of their careers, I just wanted to make sure when I did go out I knew when I was going out, so I don’t have to leave anything in the tank. And if I didn’t have enough left in the tank to get there, it’d make it easy for me before that time comes to hang it up."

Jones already has three titles on his resume, developing a reputation over the years for being a follower of LeBron James in order to capture rings, especially considering that he doesn't hit the floor all that often.

While his minutes are few and far between, Jones remains a highly respected figure within the Cavaliers organization, and someone the team's stars have always appreciated having around.

There's still plenty of time for him to change his mind about retiring, though.

"This is what I’m thinking today," Jones said. "This is my thought right now. This is my plan."

He's currently averaging just 2.8 points in 10 appearances for the reigning champs, totaling 50 minutes of court time.

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LeBron James didn't look particularly thrilled walking into Friday's Cleveland Cavaliers-Chicago Bulls contest in a full Cubs uniform, and he certainly wasn't happy at all after the Cavs dropped a 111-105 decision - their third straight loss.

"The honeymoon stage is over," James said after the game, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "There's your headline ... we got to man up. Everybody."

With Cleveland's defeat and the Toronto Raptors' win Friday, the Raps are now only half a game behind them for top spot in the Eastern Conference. It's the Cavs' first three-game losing streak in exactly one year, when they dropped a trio of games between Dec. 1-5, 2015.


The current losses have not been particularly close ones for Cleveland either, coming with margins of 17, 19, and six points respectively. James himself had his worst game of the still-young campaign in Thursday's defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, shooting 5-of-14 from the floor - including 0-for-2 from deep - with a season-low 16 points.

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Rajon Rondo was handed a one-game suspension by the Chicago Bulls on Monday for conduct detrimental to the team.

He shared a "heated exchange" with a Bulls assistant during their loss to the Dallas Mavericks, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Rondo reportedly later apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions.

Rondo will serve his suspension Monday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

The notoriously tough-minded veteran is experiencing an up-and-down first season with the Bulls, as reflected by his performance over the weekend. He posted a triple-double in Friday's win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, then recorded two points and two assists in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks the following night.

Rondo holds averages of 8.2 points. 6.7 rebounds, and 7.2 assists on the season while posting an abysmal true shooting percentage of 43.6.

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Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks were named Players of the Week on Monday for their respective conferences.

These two also won both Player of the Week awards in February 2015.

Westbrook led OKC to a perfect 3-0 week while continuing his torrid triple-double pace by reaching that benchmark in every outing. He posted 30 points, 16 rebounds, and 12.3 assists on the week - numbers not too far off his seasonal averages.

Antetokounmpo similarly led the Bucks to a 3-0 mark while stuffing the boxscore. The Greek Freak averaged 24.3 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists to go along with 3.7 steals per game. He also set career highs in points (34) and blocks (five).

Other nominees for the honor included: Isaiah Thomas, Sean Kilpatrick, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Kevin Durant, Troy Daniels, Marc Gasol, Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, Serge Ibaka, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, and Gordon Hayward.

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DeMar DeRozan began this NBA season en fuego, and while he's cooled a bit since, he's still smoldering about the perceived lack of respect he got from various media outlets' preseason player rankings.

"I think it's B.S." DeRozan told ESPN's Brian Windhorst. "I'm willing to line up against anyone in the league, and it will be toe-to-toe until the end. I believe I've proved that."

The eighth-year swingman's consternation mostly comes from Sports Illustrated placing him 46th in its annual list of NBA player rankings. Additionally, The Washington Post ranked him 45th, ESPN 30th, and theScore 28th.

"Whoever came up with that is stupid in my opinion," DeRozan said in September, coining the hashtag #proveem. "I guarantee you a lot of the players that are ranked ahead of me know that they're no better than me."

Despite some off-nights lately - especially against the Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and Los Angeles Lakers - DeRozan is averaging career highs in points (27.9), rebounds (5.3), assists (4.3), true shooting percentage (56.3), and PER (25.6).

The two-time All-Star is well-known for his offseason and practice work ethic, much of it modeled on that of his idol Kobe Bryant. He admitted to ESPN that being slighted after such commitment hurts.

"You put in so much work, it's almost sickening," he said. "I watch everything, I read everything. I've always been a guy who wants to prove somebody wrong.

"I wouldn't rub it in anyone's face, but that's my gratification. I've seen so many guys' work ethic, and I know it doesn't come close to what I'm putting myself through. When you see those rankings, it makes you want to go out and prove it."

The major knock on DeRozan is, for all his improvements since he entered the NBA, he's failed to add a consistent 3-point shot - something almost unheard of at the two-guard spot in today's game.

Given his Kobe-esque style, however, he doesn't seem to be too concerned about it.

"When I get to be Kyle (Lowry)'s age I can shoot threes," DeRozan joked. "When I'm 33, maybe I can be the next Kyle Korver."

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis Grizzlies have signed guard Toney Douglas under the NBA's hardship rule.

The Grizzlies announced the move Monday, a week after Mike Conley broke several bones in the vertebrae of his lower back. Conley will not have surgery but is expected to miss at least six weeks.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Douglas has started 65 of his career 370 games during a seven-year career with the New York Knicks, Houston, Sacramento, Golden State, Miami, and New Orleans. He played 10 of his 15 postseason games in Miami with Memphis coach David Fizdale.

Douglas was the 29th pick overall by the Lakers in 2009 out of Florida State.

Conley joined Chandler Parsons, James Ennis, and Brandan Wright on the Grizzlies' lengthy injury list.

Memphis plays at New Orleans on Monday night.

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ATLANTA - The slumping Atlanta Hawks have benched guard Kyle Korver.

Coach Mike Budenholzer announced before Monday night's game against Oklahoma City that Thabo Sefolosha will take Korver's place in the starting lineup. The move was not unexpected with the Hawks having lost nine of 10 games, including the last six in a row, to fall under to 10-11.

Atlanta hasn't even been competitive in several of its losses, dropping the last two to Detroit and Toronto by an average of 40 points.

Korver is averaging just 8.5 points per game and has struggled to get open looks at the basket. He is averaging only seven shots a game, by far the fewest of any starter.

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Count New York Knicks center Joakim Noah among the NBAers who likely won't be patronizing Donald Trump-branded hotels in the future.

Upon being informed that, in a show of opposition to the president-elect, LeBron James and several other Cleveland Cavaliers would not stay at the Trump SoHo hotel when they visit the Knicks this week, Noah backed the protest. He told reporters he would "probably not" stay at Trump hotels either, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

Noah has long been a vocal advocate for enhancing gun restrictions, which is just one reason he likely opposes Trump and the Republican Party. This is what he tweeted on election night:

How!!!!!

— Joakim Noah (@JoakimNoah) November 9, 2016
"I think it's just a comfort level, you know," Noah said Tuesday. "Stick to your principles. Whoever you are. Trump is our president. But that doesn't mean we have to stay at his hotel."

The Cavs' protest followed the lead of the Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks, and Memphis Grizzlies, all of whom reportedly instituted organizational mandates to avoid staying at Trump-branded hotels on road trips this season.

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Nobody is safe from Draymond Green's scissor kicks.

Continuing a trend he set during the playoffs, Green punted two players in consecutive games last week, claiming the head of James Harden and the hand of Marquese Chriss.

Lauren Miles hoped her husband C.J. Miles' groin would be spared from Green's carnage on Monday.

just prayin Draymond doesn't kick my husband in the nuts. we wanna have kids one day.

— LSM (@iamlaurenmiles) December 6, 2016
Fortunately for the Miles family, Green's legs came nowhere near the family jewels. But the Indiana Pacers weren't so lucky - they collectively got kicked in the teeth courtesy of a 60-point explosion by Klay Thompson.

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In a sea of monotony, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich stands out as a unique thinker in the coaching ranks.

Not only does Popovich coach his teams to 50-plus wins each season, he drills players to become conscious and caring global citizens who can make a positive impact beyond the hardwood.

Popovich even admitted during a conference at Sam Houston High School that winning the title is secondary.

"Win the championship? I don’t know, but it’s not a priority in my life," Popovich espoused, as detailed by Dave Zirin of The Nation. "I’d be much happier if I knew that my players were going to make society better, who had good families and who took care of the people around them. I’d get more satisfaction out of that than a title.

"I would love to win another championship, and we’ll work our butts off to try and do that. But we have to want more than success in our jobs. That’s why we’re here."

There would be blowback for any other coach if they were to proclaim that championships wasn't the end goal. But with five rings to fill a fist, Popovich has nothing left to prove on the hardwood but he can make a difference in players' lives.

There are so many things more important than sports, and while that's the industry Popovich works and excels in, his priorities are clear. That he operates in this way, while also being transparent about it, is both refreshing and admirable.

"We’re here so you’ll understand that you can overcome obstacles by being prepared and if you educate the hell out of yourself. If you become respectful, disciplined people in this world, you can fight anything. If you join with each other and you believe in yourself and each other, that’s what matters. That’s what we want to relay to you all: that we believe that about you or we wouldn’t be here."

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While it was unquestionably the right move for his team's long-term health, Steve Kerr still received plenty of flak for sitting Klay Thompson during the shooting guard's 60-point explosion on Monday.

Well aware of the criticism, the Golden State Warriors bench boss chose to poke fun at the situation Tuesday, joking that he was the only reason Klay failed to reach 80 points.

"They said (former North Carolina coach) Dean Smith was the only guy who could hold MJ under 20," Kerr told Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News. "I'm the only guy who can hold Klay under 80."

Thompson looked unstoppable versus the Indiana Pacers, going a staggering 21-of-33 from the field in just 29 minutes of action. His 60 points were a record for any player who's logged less than 30 minutes in the shot clock era.

Given how quickly he reached 60, it's entirely possible Klay could've scored 20 more points in the fourth to reach 80 - a feat only accomplished by two players in NBA history (Wilt Chamberlain and Kobe Bryant).

Although Thompson likely would've preferred to stay in, he most certainly realizes the importance of rest after the Warriors' collapse during last year's Finals.

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After generating a great degree of backlash for his infamous "posse" comment last month - referring to LeBron James' business associates - Phil Jackson has finally shared his thoughts on the controversial situation.

The Zen Master attempted to make amends in a Tuesday interview, admitting that while he doesn't understand the harm in using the term, he never should've criticized James in the first place.

"We are not supposed to discuss other teams' players in this position that I have here. So I violated one of the tenets," Jackson said on CBS Sports Network's "We Need To Talk."

The obvious thing is, the word (posse) itself carries connotation. And I just don’t understand that part of it, the word. So I guess word choice could be something I could regret. But talking about other teams' players, that’s out of the box."


Even though LeBron publicly stated that he won't be communicating with Jackson anytime soon, the New York Knicks president remains under the impression that things are fine between the two.

"It’s water under the bridge," Jackson said. "I don’t think there was anybody hurt or harmed in this situation. I think LeBron’s friend obviously had an issue with it. We just let it go. It’s not enough to talk about it."

LeBron's Cavaliers will face the Knicks on Wednesday in a game that will certainly mean a little more to the four-time MVP.

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John Wall is doing everything he can to carry the Washington Wizards, but he can't win games by himself.

The All-Star poured in a career-high 52 points Tuesday night, but it was all for naught as his club fell 124-116 to the Orlando Magic.

That's the most points scored this season by the Magic, whose 29th-ranked offense was averaging just 93.2 points entering the matchup in D.C.

Sure, Washington's defense was a problem. But the bigger issue, according to Wall - the only Wizard player to speak with the media postgame - was the overall lack of effort put forth by his teammates.

"Not even defensive effort, just playing hard," he said, as quoted by Chase Hughes of CSN.

"Our job is to wake up and just play hard. Before you made it to the NBA or got a college scholarship, you played hard every day to get to where you wanted to. To still be talking about playing hard, that's something that you should be able to do after just waking up. Everybody has a job and they have to go work hard.

"Our job is to come here and play hard and compete. That's the easiest thing that you should do without any contracts or any money, just come in and play basketball."

Related: Beal sums up Wizards' early struggles: 'No toughness, no swag'

Despite featuring a talented backcourt tandem in Wall and Bradley Beal with a decent supporting cast, the Wizards have disappointed so far in 2016-17. They're among the worst in the league at scoring, rebounding, and sharing the ball, and sit at 7-13.

There are several issues - including chemistry concerns - and Wall doesn't know how to solve them.

"If I had the answer we wouldn't be in this situation, to be honest," he admitted.

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New York Knicks president Phil Jackson believes Carmelo Anthony is playing the same role Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan did for his previous teams, but he thinks Anthony sometimes needs to dish the ball off faster.

"Carmelo a lot of times wants to hold the ball longer than ... we have a rule: If you hold a pass two seconds, you benefit the defense," Jackson told CBS Sports' "We Need To Talk" in a wide-ranging discussion that also covered his controversy with LeBron James and marijuana use.

"So (Anthony) has a little bit of a tendency to hold it for three, four, five seconds, and then everybody comes to a stop," Jackson added. "That is one of the things we work with. But he's adjusted."

Jackson was framing his answer to yet another question about whether Anthony fits into the triangle offense.

"He can play that role that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant played," Jackson said. "It's a perfect spot for him to be in that isolated position on the weak side, because it's an overload offense and there's a weak-side man that always has an advantage if the ball is swung."


It's worth pointing out that the Knicks have been running far less triangle sets under new coach Jeff Hornacek, due in part to the continued emergence of 7-foot-3 stretch big Kristaps Porzingis. By Hornacek's own admission according to ESPN's Ian Begley, the Knicks run the triangle "nowhere near 50 percent" of the time.

At this point, Jackson has become so synonymous with the venerable offense that he can't escape questions about it - even if his team isn't employing it that often. He did concede, however, that the system - like any other - is only as good as those using it.

"It's always a little bit of a pie-in-your-face type of thing to say that (the triangle offense) has been the reason for winning," Jackson said. "The reason for winning, obviously, is good players. And when good players want to play together and they join in a form or a format to play together, then really good things happen."

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Derrick Rose left Tuesday's game against the Miami Heat after suffering back spasms, and didn't return.

The New York Knicks point guard exited midway through the third quarter with his team leading by a point. They fared just fine without him, pulling off the 114-103 victory in South Beach.

This isn't the first time Rose has dealt with back problems. His long and well-documented history of injuries included back spasms in 2012 as a member of the Chicago Bulls.

The 28-year-old signed with New York this past summer following his healthiest campaign in four years. He's suited up in every game so far this season for the Knicks, who've now won four games in a row and are tied for third in the East with a 12-9 record.

The former NBA MVP finished with 10 points, three assists, two steals, and two rebounds in 25 minutes.

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Former NBA commissioner David Stern took issue Tuesday with the longtime characterization of his actions in cancelling a 2011 trade that would have sent Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of the would-be deal.

"I'm going to correct your language," Stern told a group at the Sports Business Radio Road Show, as transcribed by SI's Ben Golliver. "What 'cancellation'? The (Hornets) GM was not authorized to make that trade. And acting on behalf of our owners, we decided not to make it. I was an owner rep. There was nothing to void."

Related: 5 years later, the Chris Paul blockbuster trade that wasn't

The issue was complicated by the fact the NBA owned the financially troubled Hornets franchise at that time. Beyond the response to the trade from other owners that he'd receive as league commissioner, Stern also had to make a decision as an owner of the team.

"When you're the commissioner and you have two teams that are ticked off at you, as in the Lakers and Houston, the GMs without wanting to be attributed, spend their time trashing you, the wrong impression can be granted," Stern said. "It was one of the few times I decided to just go radio silent and let it play out, and I got killed."

The Paul episode - alongside his handling of the Seattle SuperSonics' move to become the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008 - are two black marks on Stern's record late in his career.

His statement that Pelicans general manager Dell Demps was not authorized to trade Paul to the Lakers also contradicts what Demps said at the time -Demps indicated he was free to trade the point guard.

"There was never a trade," Stern stressed. "It was never approved by me as the owner rep."

Much of the criticism stemmed from the fact the league had put itself into such a position with the New Orleans franchise, although it was also known that several owners didn't want the Lakers stacked with a talent like Paul. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert - who had been jilted by LeBron James' departure the previous year - sent Stern an email the day of the trade urging him to veto it.

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The Memphis Grizzlies have signed general manager Chris Wallace, executive vice president of basketball operations John Hollinger, and executive vice president of player personnel Ed Stefanski to multi-year contract extensions, the team announced Thursday.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Wallace has served as the team's general manager since 2007, establishing a formidable core of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, Tony Allen, and Chandler Parsons during his time in Memphis.

Memphis has experienced some of the franchise's best years under Wallace, making its first Western Conference finals in 2013, and currently owns the league's third-longest active postseason streak after reaching the playoffs in each of the last six seasons.

The Grizzlies hired Hollinger in 2012 after he spent eight years as an NBA columnist for ESPN, while Stefanski was brought over in 2014 after spending the previous two seasons with the Toronto Raptors.

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A few short hours after waiving guard Yogi Ferrell, the Brooklyn Nets have filled his vacant roster spot by signing free-agent point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, the team announced Thursday.

The deal is partially guaranteed for three years, sources told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowksi.

Dinwiddie, drafted 38th overall by the Detroit Pistons out of Colorado in 2014, has averaged 4.4 points and 2.7 assists, with an unsightly .314/.173/.746 shooting line across 46 career NBA games.

He's spent this season with the Windy City Bulls, Chicago's D-League affiliate, averaging 19.4 points, 8.1 assists, and 2.2 steals through nine games.

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Power forward Donatas Motiejunas signed a four-year, $35-million deal with the Houston Rockets, league sources told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Houston will reportedly pay Motiejunas $8.3 million this season, and will own team options in each of the next three seasons.

The Rockets initially pulled their offer sheet to the 7-foot power forward Friday after he refused to submit to a physical earlier in the week. Motiejunas will take a physical before officially signing his new deal, according to Wojnarowski.

The 25-year-old will be eligible to be traded 90 days from now, according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports.

Motiejunas averaged 6.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 1.1 assists on 43.9 percent shooting in 37 games for Houston last season.

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The New Orleans Pelicans have waived small forward Anthony Brown, the team announced Friday.

The Pelicans signed the 24-year-old in November.

Brown averaged 3.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 0.7 assists on 34.1 percent shooting and 25 percent from deep in nine games this season.

With their roster now down to 14 players, it appears likely the Pelicans will make a subsequent move in the near future.

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The Boston Celtics are interested in trading for Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Reports earlier in the week suggested the Mavericks would look to unload Bogut if their playoff hopes continue to fade, and the Celtics are a logical fit, given their lack of size and rebounding up front. However, Boston would need to unload a big contract on the Mavericks in order to absorb Bogut's $11-million salary.

It's unclear who the Celtics would look to deal, but big man Tyler Zeller could be an option given his struggles to see the court of late.

Bogut is expected to miss the next two weeks with a knee bruise, so it's unlikely that the Celtics will look to acquire him prior to his return.

The 7-footer is averaging 3.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 0.9 blocks in 16 games for the Mavericks this season.

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lobo316 wrote: The Boston Celtics are interested in trading for Dallas Mavericks center Andrew Bogut, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Reports earlier in the week suggested the Mavericks would look to unload Bogut if their playoff hopes continue to fade....
Playoff hopes? They are the shittiest  team in the NBA.

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One night after moving into ninth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, Cleveland Cavaliers star and four-time league Most Valuable Player LeBron James joined an illustrious club that only he can say he's a member of.

With his fourth assist of the opening quarter Saturday night against the Charlotte Hornets, James became the first frontcourt player ever to record 7,000 assists for a career.

Perhaps more notably, The King is now the only player to have scored at least 27,000 points, grabbed 7,000 rebounds, and dished out 7,000 assists, and it took him a little over 1,000 games to do it.

Congrats to @KingJames on becoming the FIRST player in @NBAHistory with 27,000 points, 7,000 rebounds & 7,000 assists! #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/oTn84b8qLW

— NBA (@NBA) December 11, 2016
James entered Saturday's matchup averaging 24.1 points on 50.4 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, and a career-best 9.1 assists in 36.5 minutes.

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The National Basketball Association's stance on the use of marijuana as an alternative pain regiment has been brought back to the forefront recently after Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr admitted to using it to treat his back pain following surgery.

During Friday's NBA Countdown panel, former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups revealed that some of his former teammates would dabble in weed prior to games, which he had no problem with since it had a positive impact on their performance.

"I actually wanted them to smoke, they played better like that," he said. "Big-time anxiety, a lot of things that can be affected, that it brought them down a little bit, helped them focus in a little bit on the game plan. I needed them to do that. I would rather them do that sometimes than drink."

Billups suited up for the Denver Nuggets for a second stint from 2008 through 2011. Medicinal marijuana was legalized by the state of Colorado in 2000, and then for recreational use 12 years later.

Players can be fined $25,000 by the league for testing positive on a second drug test, with a third positive resulting in a five-game suspension. Frankly, Billups would prefer if there were no punishments at all, and for the NBA to embrace the fact that marijuana is safer than other harsher means to dealing with pain.

"For medicinal use, I think we absolutely need to have that conversation," Billups added. "The Players Association, they need to talk about that with the NBA, because there's a lot of science behind it … because we've been through a ton of injuries. I've seen a piece on Jason Williams, who was the No. 2 pick in the draft, that talked about him being addicted to oxycontin and pain pills, and it would have been much better and much easier thing to have marijuana as a relief."

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The Charlotte Hornets are revered as one of the more stout defensive teams in all of basketball, holding opponents to just 100.5 points per 100 possessions, good enough for fifth overall in the Association.

Analytics go out the door when LeBron James is staring you down, though, and on Saturday night at the Q, nothing the Hornets could muster up on the defensive end was strong enough to put a dent in The King's armor.

James' season high prior to his Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the Hornets was the 34 he dropped on the Toronto Raptors less than a week ago on Dec. 5. Looking back, that performance pales in comparison to the level of dominance he displayed in Charlotte.

In 42 minutes of action, the four-time league Most Valuable Player barely missed out on his fourth triple-double of the season, scoring 44 points on an incredibly efficient 17-of-24 shooting from the field, including five makes from behind the arc in a 116-105 win. He also added nine rebounds and 10 dimes, one of which put him over the 7,000-assist mark for his career to make him the first frontcourt player ever to reach that milestone.

Related: LeBron becomes 1st player with 27K points, 7K rebounds, 7K assists

It was James' first 40-point outing during the regular season since Feb. 26, 2015 when he put up 42 against the Golden State Warriors.

As the game clock expired against the Hornets, James dribbled the basketball towards the scorers table and proceeded to spin it on his fingertip as if he were trying out for the Harlem Globetrotters before walking off the floor like a boss.

Afterwards, head coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged that Kyrie Irving (11 points on 4-of-13 shooting) didn't have his legs under him tonight, which he figured would be the case earlier in the day.

James told him he would pick the team up if Irving wasn't in top form, and, lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.

Long live The King.

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LeBron James continues his irrepressible ascent into rarefied NBA air.

With his 26th and 27th points Friday night against his former team, the Miami Heat, James surged past Elvin Hayes and into ninth place on the league's all-time scoring list.

With THIS BASKET @KingJames passed Elvin Hayes for 9th on the #NBA All-Time Scoring List! #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/lXpnltfcU0

— NBA (@NBA) December 10, 2016
He finished the Cavaliers' 114-84 win with 27,315 career regular-season points.

James started the season sitting in 11th all-time. He passed Hakeem Olajuwon - who was drafted by the Houston Rockets the year they lost Hayes to retirement - back in November.

He now has yet another Rockets legend in Moses Malone directly in his sights.

RANK PLAYER                   POINTS

7       Shaquille O'Neal       28596

8       Moses Malone          27409

9       LeBron James          27315

It's only a matter of time until he climbs another rung.

Last edited on Sun Dec 11th, 2016 08:24 am by lobo316

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Russell Westbrook's seven-game triple-double streak - the longest any NBA player had put together in nearly three decades - came to an end Sunday night, two games shy of Wilt Chamberlain's all-time record.

Instead, Westbrook had to settle for 37 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals, the game-winning driving layup, and an incredible game-clinching jump ball in a 99-96 comeback victory over the Boston Celtics.

Related: Westbrook beats Celtics with game-winning layup, jump ball

After the emotional teeter-totter of a game, falling short of an eighth straight triple-double was the last thing on Westbrook's mind.

"I don't care about that streak, man, I'm just happy we won," Westbrook said in his on-court interview.

"That's a small part of my game. I'm just happy we won tonight."

Not all his teammates agreed.

Steven Adams on Westbrook's triple-double streak ending: "Useless. Only seven?"

— Royce Young (@royceyoung) December 12, 2016
Oftentimes the wins and the triple-doubles go hand in hand. The Thunder amazingly went 18-0 last season when Westbrook reached the statistical benchmark, and they're 9-3 in such games this season.

Triple-double or no, the Thunder have now won seven of their last eight games, turning things around after a stretch that saw them drop seven of nine.

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies have been named NBA Players of the Week for the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively, for games played between Dec. 5-11, the league announced on Monday.

This is James' third award of the 2016-17 regular season and 56th of his career. It's Gasol's first of the year.

The Cavaliers went a perfect 4-0 with victories over the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Hornets, with James averaging a league-best 32 points on 58.5 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds, eight assists, and 2.2 steals.

The King passed Elvin Hayes for ninth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, scored a season-high 44 points against the Hornets, and became the only player to ever have at least 27,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, and 7,000 assists for his career.

Not to be outdone, the Grizzlies also went undefeated during that span, including an impressive 110-89 win over the powerhouse Golden State Warriors at the FedExForum on Saturday sans Mike Conley, Vince Carter, and Chandler Parsons. Leading the way was Gasol with his 27.3 points, 10 boards, and 5.3 dimes over four games.

Other nominees for the award included: Paul Milsap, Nicolas Batum, Klay Thompson, James Harden, Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, and John Wall.

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Karl-Anthony Towns is emerging as a transcendent talent for the Minnesota Timberwolves. God forbid anything were to happen to him, though, since the frontcourt depth behind him on head coach Tom Thibodeau's second unit is essentially non-existent.

The organization is currently looking to acquire frontcourt talent via a trade, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.

Minnesota possesses the lowest-scoring bench mob in the entire Association, averaging 22.5 points per game. The two primary backup centers in Cole Aldrich and Jordan Hill are contributing a combined five points and 5.9 rebounds, while Nemanja Bjelica and Adreian Payne aren't providing much relief either as the backup fours.

In typical Thibodeau fashion, three of his players (Towns, Zach LaVine, and Andrew Wiggins) rank in the top 18 in minutes, and while running his players into the ground with heavy playing time seems to be his mantra, having the right pieces behind them would alleviate some of the pressure they carry to stay on the court.

That issue is especially true in the frontcourt, as Gorgui Dieng - who is paired with Towns in the starting lineup - is extremely limited as a scorer, with his role primarily being a rim-protector who can also hit the glass.

The Timberwolves improved to 7-18 on the season Tuesday night with a 99-94 win over the Chicago Bulls, ending their four-game losing streak.

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New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose left Tuesday's 113-111 overtime loss against the Phoenix Suns with back spasms, and did not return.

Rose exited the contest after playing just nine minutes and was re-evaluated at halftime.

He has dealt with back problems before, and most recently suffered the same ailment a week ago versus the Miami Heat. He missed the next two games before returning to action Sunday, and raved about his new club's medical staff.

Despite telling reporters over the weekend there's "nothing wrong" with his back, something appears to be wrong.

The Knicks hope it isn't serious, as their starter at the one-spot has helped propel them to third in the East. Rose is averaging 17 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds in 32 minutes per outing while shooting 46.5 percent from the field.

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The Big Fundamental wasn't a showy player, but he got the job done.

Tim Duncan was known for his quiet, calm, and collected demeanor, so it was no surprise that when he decided to call it quits last offseason, he announced his retirement with little fanfare.

The San Antonio Spurs won five titles over 19 years during the Duncan Era, and will retire No. 21 in his honor Sunday.

Manu Ginobili, who played alongside Duncan for the last 14 seasons, reflected on the 40-year-old's greatness.

"I think the most remarkable thing about Tim is the quality of player he was on the court, and how he wanted to be recognized just as a player," the shooting guard told Lorne Chan of Spurs.com.

"There was no ego, there was no chest-thumping, it was about playing and helping teammates. We represented the community that way, and we hear it a lot, that they enjoy not only the buckets and the championships, but how we conducted ourselves and reacted to wins and losses."

Even without all the chest-bumping, dancing, and other boastful displays that are so prevalent in sports today, Duncan dominated and will go down as one of the best big men in NBA history. He's a two-time league MVP and three-time Finals MVP, and earned All-Defensive, All-NBA, and All-Star nods 15 times each.

He let this actions do the talking, and they spoke about greatness.

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Even as he's racked them up at a rate not seen in over 50 years, Russell Westbrook has continued to insist triple-doubles aren't important to him.
Still, it's hard to ignore the fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder tend to win nearly every time he records one. They're 27-3 in such games the past two seasons, and went 6-1 during his recent seven-game run of triple-doubles.
On Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz, Westbrook was held triple-double-less for the third consecutive game, and the Thunder lost their second straight. The loss owed more to the Jazz shooting over 58 percent from the field (56.5 percent from deep) while the Thunder shot 36.6 percent (Westbrook shot 7-of-25), but because of the intersection of outcomes, he was asked about it after the game.
His response was predictably prickly.
"Honestly, man, people and this triple-double thing is kind of getting on my nerves, really," Westbrook told reporters, according to Brett Dawson of NewsOK. "People think if I don't get it, it's like a big thing. When I do get it, it's a thing. If y'all just let me play - if I get it, I get it. If I don't, I don't care. It is what it is. I really don't care. For the hundredth time. I don't care. All I care about is winning, honestly. All the numbers s--- don't mean nothing to me."
That would seem to definitively put an end to the subject, but given that Westbrook is still averaging a triple-double - something that hasn't been done over a full season since Oscar Robertson in 1961-62 - something tells us it won't be the last we (or Westbrook) hear about it.






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The pain is real pic.twitter.com/xL97ifoSjS
— 3 Shades of Blue (@3Shadesofblue) December 15, 2016
This fan should probably call the NBA about a refund.
The Cleveland Cavaliers elected to rest all three of their stars for Wednesday's visit to the Memphis Grizzlies, which left the likes of James Jones starting in place of LeBron James.
That, obviously, is not what this fan paid $800 to see.
Hopefully, with the new collective bargaining agreement extending the regular season to reduce stress points in the schedule, there won't be as many cases of teams resting their stars on the road.






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MIAMI - Washington Wizards guard John Wall didn't even need to see the details of the tentative collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players before drawing his conclusion.

''It's a lot better than having a lockout,'' Wall said.

Such was the sentiment around much of the NBA on Wednesday night, when it was announced that the sides reached an agreement in principle on a new labor deal. All that remains before at least six more years of guaranteed NBA labor peace are ratification votes by owners and players, which are likely to be no more than formalities.

Basic details include increases in values of rookie-scale contracts and exceptions, with a 45 percent increase in minimum salaries across the board in the first year of the new agreement. The rookie deals will be proportionate to the salary cap, either rising or falling as that does. The average salary is expected to hit $8.5 million next season and rise to $10 million by 2020-21.

There's never been more money in basketball, and neither side wanted that disrupted. So on Wednesday, one day before the deadline for either side to opt out of the current deal, negotiations were wrapped up and the sort of strife that caused some seasons to be shortened in the past was avoided without drama or fanfare.

It was announced simply, in a short statement. And then 10 games went on as scheduled, just as they will now for years to come.

''The game is going great for both the owners and players,'' Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade said. ''We talked about having a real partnership in the last labor negotiations. These are definitely signs that things are going in the right direction.''

Three people briefed on the terms said the proposed deal is for seven seasons, with an opt-out possible after six. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because neither side released specific details.

If the deal is ratified, the season will start a week earlier, preseason games would be capped at six and one of the most dreaded elements of the schedule - the four-games-in-five-days stretches - may be eliminated. The deadline for opting out is now Jan. 13, with the NBA saying that's ''in order to give both sides enough time to review the terms of the agreement and vote to ratify.''

''I think all players wanted to shorten the preseason,'' Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said.

Most players who were in games on Wednesday didn't find out until afterward about the announcement from the NBA and National Basketball Players Association. Many were not surprised that an arrangement was reached, although some said they expected the sides might have to extend the opt-out deadline to continue working toward a deal.

That's not necessary now.

The last major hurdle was a group licensing agreement. Among the four major U.S. pro sports leagues, the NBA was the only one that controlled its players' marketing rights for sponsorships and media. Upon approval of this deal, that control will now shift to the players.

''Great for the league,'' Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ''You kind of felt it was going that way. Everyone is doing well. The league is doing well. That is just absolutely wonderful news.''

Even while the news was widely perceived as good, the deal isn't done.

There's been no vote, nothing's been signed, and that left some not wanting to celebrate quite yet. San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich declined to comment on the proposed deal, and Spurs guard Danny Green kept his reaction on the cautious side.

''We're all hoping for the best,'' Green said, ''and I think a good outcome is coming.''

Both sides expressed optimism throughout this process, pointing to the league's skyrocketing revenue and salaries - thanks to a massive new television deal - and rising TV ratings. The last lockout lasted 161 days and shortened the 2011-12 season.

''It's good,'' Oklahoma City Thunder star Russell Westbrook said. ''Better than last time.''

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The NBA and NBPA have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement to be signed Wednesday night, and the "one-and-done" rule relating to college players will remain intact, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

For those opposed to the rule, there's still a beacon of hope, as neither the league nor the players association is committed to keeping the rule intact for the CBA's duration.

The rule, which states teams can't draft players straight out of high school, has seen top young talent attend college, or play professionally in Europe, for one season before heading to the NBA draft.

While it ensures the best high schoolers play college basketball for at least one season, many critics have argued that freshman aren't really student-athletes, as most leave school immediately after the season ends.

It's placed an added importance on recruiting, which can directly lead to a one-year turnaround thanks to an influx of talent. Duke lost their opening round matchup to Mercer in the 2014 NCAA tournament, but rebounded the next season to win the championship led by three one-and-done freshman, Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, and Justise Winslow.

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This should probably have it's own thread, but I just read on Yahoo sports that Craig Sager passed away today at 65.

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The long, drawn out saga involving Donatas Motiejunas and the Houston Rockets has come to an end, with the team officially renouncing his rights on Thursday and making the Lithuanian big man an unrestricted free agent.

After enjoying a career year in 2014-15, Motiejunas was hampered by a herniated disc last season that required surgery, and was eventually dealt to Detroit at the trade deadline, only for the Pistons to rescind the deal after Motiejunas failed a physical.

The 26-year-old became a restricted free agent this past summer after awkwardly finishing last season with the Rockets, and went unsigned until the Brooklyn Nets inked him to an offer sheet earlier this month. Houston then matched the Nets' offer, and renegotiated a reported four-year, $35-million extension with Motiejunas.

The 2011 20th overall pick was then expected to be in Mike D'Antoni's lineup on Dec. 10 against Dallas, but was held out pending more medical information, which was the last update on the situation before Thursday.

While there are obvious questions to be answered surrounding Motiejunas' health, he should still attract interest on the open market, especially without the looming possibility of the Rockets matching any offers for his services.

In four seasons with Houston, Motiejunas averaged 7.8 points and four rebounds on an effective field-goal percentage of 51.3 in 19 minutes per game. During the 2014-15 campaign - the only season in which he cracked the 70-game mark - Motiejunas averaged 12 points and 5.9 rebounds (mostly as a starter), and knocked down 36.8 percent of his 3-point attempts.

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Stephen Curry, in his final year of a veritable bargain contract at $12.1-million this season, is expected to reap the biggest windfall from the new NBA collective bargaining agreement and its reported caveat that rewards veteran players.

Under the new terms, the Golden State Warriors could sign Curry to a five-year max contract worth an NBA-record $207 million, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein.

The designated veteran player provision would reportedly enable an elite group of stars to receive up to 35 percent of their team's salary cap. Should Curry opt to stay with the Warriors - viewed as highly likely - he would qualify, given his years of service and two MVP awards.

The new salary cap environment may not be all in favor of the Warriors, however. Kevin Durant is expected to opt out of his 1-and-1 contract after the season, and, because he only has one season of service the Warriors, he would not own his Bird Rights and any new contract Golden State signed him to would count against the cap.

As a result, Durant wouldn't qualify for a second veteran player provision either, and the Warriors' other stars - Draymond Green and Klay Thompson - are locked up on contracts through at least 2019.

While both Curry and Durant are expected by most observers to stay with the Warriors, the situation could make it tougher for the team to retain other free agents like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

Ironically, it's believed that Durant's defection from the Oklahoma City Thunder was the impetus for the new provision, as non-marquee market owners continue to look for pot-sweeteners to keep superstars.

Curry signed his existing four-year, $44-million contract extension in the summer of 2013, before the Warriors became a true title contender and there were legitimate questions about his long-term durability.

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Jerryd Bayless' debut season in Philadelphia is over before it even really began.

The veteran guard, who played only three games for the 76ers after signing a three-year contract with the team this past summer, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season after undergoing left wrist surgery.

In a team statement, Sixers president and general manager Bryan Colangelo credited Bayless for "his committed and professional approach in making every effort to avoid this outcome."

Bayless missed the first 13 games of the season recovering from a torn ligament in his wrist, suited up for three straight games in late November, and was then sidelined again following a Nov. 25 loss in which he logged nearly 26 minutes of action.

In parts of nine seasons with Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Boston, Memphis, Toronto, New Orleans, and Portland, the 28-year-old is averaging 8.6 points, 2.9 assists, and 2.1 rebounds in 21 minutes per game.

Bayless has two years and more than $17.5 million remaining on his contract after this season.

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The Memphis Grizzlies could soon welcome back some players who've been out with injuries.

The team waived Toney Douglas on Thursday, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Memphis signed the 30-year-old point guard last week under the league's hardship rule after starter Mike Conley suffered a vertebrae fracture that will sideline him for six weeks.

Waiving the veteran frees up space on the roster to accommodate the eventual return of three injured players, as Wojnarowski notes.

In addition to Conley, Chandler Parsons, James Ennis, and Brandan Wright have been recovering from various ailments. The former three could reportedly return as soon as Friday versus the Sacramento Kings.

Despite being decimated with injuries, the Grizz have managed to stay afloat. They have won seven of their last eight games and sit fifth in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Douglas suited up in six games for Memphis and averaged 5.8 points, 2.7 assists, and 2.7 rebounds in 18 minutes per outing.

He came up particularly clutch against the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring the last six points for the Grizzlies, including the game-winning free throws.

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The Detroit Pistons didn't need to get steamrolled by 45 points to decide it was time for the nuclear option.

After losing 105-90 to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, marking their third double-digit loss to a sub-.500 opponent in their last four games, the Pistons held a player-led meeting, spearheaded by forward Marcus Morris.

"I did a lot of the talking," Morris said of the meeting, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. "I said at the end of the meeting that we have to make a decision. Everybody go home tonight and decide on what you want to do. Do you want to be a winning team or do you want to continue to get embarrassed? Are you going to play for the next man beside you or are you going to play for yourself?"

The Pistons' recent swoon includes an 18-point home loss to the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers, with only a win over the equally moribund Dallas Mavericks sparing them from a four-game losing streak.

The stretch has coincided with the return of starting point guard Reggie Jackson, and both Morris and head coach Stan Van Gundy suggested the team is struggling to reacclimate to Jackson. Van Gundy suggested it's hindering them at both ends of the floor.

"Our offensive frustration is affecting us at the defensive end and we're losing heart a little bit," he told reporters after the meeting, according to Ellis. "That's concerning. The offense has not been moving the way it should. The ball is not moving. I got to look at play calls and the whole thing.

"We went through stretches where Reggie made some plays in the third quarter and we were scoring, but again, what happens is, we're scoring, but we're trading baskets. Part of it is, we got guys upset they're not touching the ball and everything else so they're not as engaged in the game on the defensive end of the floor."

Morris didn't specifically mention Jackson, but loudly echoed the sentiment that more ball movement and selfless play will lead to better results both offensively and defensively.

"If you have a guy wide open, he has to get the ball," Morris said. "It builds guys' confidence. It makes the game funner. That's just how it is. Of course some dudes are going to get more shots than other dudes. That's how the game goes. Guys are not going to respond well when they don't get the ball when they're open. That's just basketball. That's just the right way. The Spurs, Golden State, Cleveland, the top-tier teams play the right way. You never win if you don't play the right way. That's just the bottom line."

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Though they're currently clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, the Portland Trail Blazers have yet to find their footing this season, and they were once again left to pick themselves up off the mat after being flattened by the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

In the locker room after the season-worst 45-point defeat, point guard Damian Lillard challenged his demoralized team to show some fight.

"Man, it's OK to turn the ball over, it's OK to make mistakes, but we have to play with some damn heart and compete out there," he told ESPN's Chris Haynes, reciting the dressing-down he'd given his teammates immediately after the game.

"This isn't about what the coaches are doing, this is on us. We have to take responsibility for what's going on. This s--- is ridiculous. We've got the talent; we've just got to put it together consistently."

After a feel-good season in which they short-circuited the rebuilding process and blew past every projection, and an offseason in which the front office poured a ton of money into mid-tier talent, the Blazers are struggling under the weight of their own expectations. Lillard's backcourt mate C.J. McCollum says that while the team hasn't yet resorted to a players-only meeting, that option is visible on the horizon.

"I think we're getting close to that point," McCollum told Haynes. "Dame talked to the guys today, but it's more about us as players. And the coaches, they're not playing. They're not responsible for losing by 40 or winning by 40. It's the players' job."

Swingman Allen Crabbe, who like McCollum received a huge raise in the offseason, agreed with his teammate's assessment.

"I feel like guys are speaking out more about how our play is unacceptable and how we have to step up more, so I mean a (players-only meeting) may come, may happen soon," Crabbe said. "It's going to come to a point where everybody is going to be fed up with it. We're pretty fed up with it now. I mean, it's frustrating going to games and just getting beat like this and not even giving ourselves a chance. We've got to figure it out."

Players-only meeting or not, Lillard is very much expecting things to turn around for him and his team at some point this season.

"I'm a soldier," he said. "I feel like if I die, I can come back to life and win."

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The Detroit Pistons didn't need to get steamrolled by 45 points to decide it was time for the nuclear option.

After losing 105-90 to the Indiana Pacers on Saturday night, marking their third double-digit loss to a sub-.500 opponent in their last four games, the Pistons held a player-led meeting, spearheaded by forward Marcus Morris.

"I did a lot of the talking," Morris said of the meeting, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. "I said at the end of the meeting that we have to make a decision. Everybody go home tonight and decide on what you want to do. Do you want to be a winning team or do you want to continue to get embarrassed? Are you going to play for the next man beside you or are you going to play for yourself?"

The Pistons' recent swoon includes an 18-point home loss to the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers, with only a win over the equally moribund Dallas Mavericks sparing them from a four-game losing streak.

The stretch has coincided with the return of starting point guard Reggie Jackson, and both Morris and head coach Stan Van Gundy suggested the team is struggling to reacclimate to Jackson. Van Gundy suggested it's hindering them at both ends of the floor.

"Our offensive frustration is affecting us at the defensive end and we're losing heart a little bit," he told reporters after the meeting, according to Ellis. "That's concerning. The offense has not been moving the way it should. The ball is not moving. I got to look at play calls and the whole thing.

"We went through stretches where Reggie made some plays in the third quarter and we were scoring, but again, what happens is, we're scoring, but we're trading baskets. Part of it is, we got guys upset they're not touching the ball and everything else so they're not as engaged in the game on the defensive end of the floor."

Morris didn't specifically mention Jackson, but loudly echoed the sentiment that more ball movement and selfless play will lead to better results both offensively and defensively.

"If you have a guy wide open, he has to get the ball," Morris said. "It builds guys' confidence. It makes the game funner. That's just how it is. Of course some dudes are going to get more shots than other dudes. That's how the game goes. Guys are not going to respond well when they don't get the ball when they're open. That's just basketball. That's just the right way. The Spurs, Golden State, Cleveland, the top-tier teams play the right way. You never win if you don't play the right way. That's just the bottom line."

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Beginning with the 2017 NBA All-Star Game, the starters for both the Eastern and Western Conferences will not solely be determined by fan voting, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.

Fans will account for 50 percent of the votes, while NBA players and the media will account for 25 percent each.

Unlike head coaches - who will maintain their power in selecting the reserves for each roster - players will reportedly have the opportunity to vote in their teammates as All-Stars, filling out one full ballot each.

The starting lineups will maintain its positionless format of having two backcourt and three frontcourt spots.

Voting will get underway at 11 a.m. ET on Christmas Day before the scheduled slate of games.

The annual exhibition game will take place on February 19, 2017 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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"Thank you, San Antonio. Thank you."

Tim Duncan expresses his gratitude to fans before his jersey is retired. https://t.co/C24fl0mc5M

— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 19, 2016
The San Antonio Spurs officially retired No. 21 in honor of Tim Duncan.

Following Sunday's win over the New Orleans Pelicans, the club celebrated the recently retired big man's legacy, which includes five championships, three Finals MVPs, and two league MVPs over the span of 19 years.

Former teammates Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, as well as head coach Gregg Popovich, were among those who spoke about the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer.

TD returned the favor by thanking them, management, his family, and fans before flexing his self-deprecating humor.

He also shared this video message:

"It gave me back more than I could have ever excepted." - Tim Duncan on the game he loves#ThankYouTD pic.twitter.com/a5KdHMslQd

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 19, 2016
To the surprise of no one, Duncan singled out the Spurs coach.

"Thank you coach Pop for being more than a coach," he said. "For being like a father to me, thank you."

The duo embraced and walked off together at the conclusion of the event.

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Blake Griffin will undergo an arthroscopic procedure to remove "loose bodies" from his right knee on Tuesday and is expected to miss three-to-six weeks, the Los Angeles Clippers announced Monday.

News of the surgery broke late Sunday, not long after the power forward played 38 minutes in a 117-110 loss to the Washington Wizards. Griffin had only missed two games so far this season, after an assortment of maladies cost him 62 of a possible 164 contests over the previous two seasons.

Griffin's right knee has been bothering him for a few weeks, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. It is not the same knee Griffin injured in 2009, when he broke his left kneecap in a preseason game and was lost for his entire rookie campaign.

The team's stated timeline puts a return at anywhere between the middle and end of January. Griffin is the Clippers' leading scorer and second-leading rebounder at 21.2 points and 8.8 boards per game.

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DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and James Harden of the Houston Rockets were named NBA Players of the Week (Dec. 12-18) for the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively, the league announced Monday.

This is the second Player of the Week honor for DeRozan this season, and the third of his career. It's also Harden's second nod of the campaign.

The Raptors finished the week with a 3-1 record, including victories over the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, and, most recently, the Orlando Magic in a 30-point blowout Sunday night. DeRozan was next to unstoppable on offense, lighting up teams to the tune of a league-best 31.5 points on sizzling 60.5 percent shooting. He also contributed averages of 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists while getting to the free-throw line nine times per game in 32.2 minutes.

Houston went a perfect 4-0, thanks in large part to Harden's near triple-double averages of 27 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. He did log two triple-doubles in wins over the Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans, giving him six on the season.

Other nominees for the award included: Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), Blake Griffin and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz), as well as John Wall and Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards).

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Stout Denver Nuggets point guard Jameer Nelson hasn't lasted 13 years in the NBA because of a traditional basketball body. Yet he's not afraid to point out that younger teammate Nikola Jokic isn't the world's most elite athlete either.

"Jokic an athlete? He's a good player," Nelson said, according to BSN Denver's T.J. McBride. "I'm old and fat and I can jump higher than Jokic ... off one foot."

Nelson's good-humored shade is no shock. The 21-year-old Jokic certainly isn't the best-conditioned center in the NBA, but that doesn't mean he's just a lumbering big. His passing skills have been compared to past greats like Vlade Divac, and he currently ranks fourth among regular NBA centers in assist percentage, per NBA stats.

Jokic looking like Pistol Pete. (I typed the comment before the announcer said it lol #GreatMinds) #Nuggets pic.twitter.com/BFtENR8vFp

— Bell Bibs DeVoe (@MBibs) December 16, 2016
Nuggets coach Mike Malone has praised Jokic's facilitator skills while admitting concern with his conditioning - which indirectly leads to foul trouble.

"When people get tired, they make mental mistakes," Malone told reporters on Sunday. "(Jokic is) such an integral part of who we want to be, that he has to be more disciplined."

Malone reiterated that the center's playmaking abilities stem from his younger days as an overweight pointman. "He will tell you, he used to be a fat point guard," he said.

Sounds a bit like Nelson.

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The new NBA All-Star voting process is cutting the fans' power in half (50 percent) and spreading it out to include both the league's players (25 percent) and select members of the media (25 percent)

While Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving is appreciative of the talent themselves finally having a say in who gets slotted into the starting lineups, he doesn't feel the changes are perfect, preferring the media were left out of the decision-making altogether.

"It is what it is, honestly," Irving said following Monday's practice, according to Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. "I guess they're trying to fix the deserving factor maybe. Leaving it up to the players, that's good as well. Leaving it up to the fans, that's good as well. But the other 25 percent I think they need to throw out."

The problem with having the media involved is that a bias towards the players they cover on a regular basis could play a large part in who they vote for. Then again, that same level of bias will probably be shown by the players, and will definitely be there from the fans.

"They just do. They just do," Irving said of the media playing favorites. "Everyone is going to be biased anyway, so it's cool."

Irving failed to crack the roster for the first time in his career last season, with his absence for the first 24 games due to injury greatly hindering his standing at the time.

Voting gets underway on Christmas Day, with the starters being revealed on Jan. 19. The All-Star Game itself takes place on Feb. 19 in New Orleans.

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The Detroit Pistons called a player-led meeting after Saturday's loss to the Indiana Pacers - their third defeat in four games. It apparently didn't help.

On Monday night, the Pistons went out and were promptly destroyed 113-82 by the Chicago Bulls - a team that had been in a slump of its own. Naturally, Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy wasn't in the mood for cliches afterward.

Pistons LIVE Postgame - 12.19.16 - Stan Van Gundy pic.twitter.com/O3zqo2b19K

— FOX Sports Detroit (@FOXSportsDet) December 20, 2016
"Team meeting my ass," the coach told reporters. "That stuff means nothing. It's what you do on the court."

That wasn't much on Monday for the Pistons. Detroit shot 41 percent as a team, including a putrid 13 percent from deep. Their leading scorer was reserve forward Jon Leuer with 16 points, and point guard Reggie Jackson continued to struggle since his return from injury, dishing out only three assists.

Defense remains a major issue, too. The Pistons have given up an average of 113 points in their last three contests.

"On Friday night we were the No. 2 defensive team in the league," Van Gundy said. "And now we have three games where we can't stop anybody."

He's correct. Through the season's first 27 games, the Pistons had a defensive rating of 100.4, good for second in the NBA. In the three games since Friday, they've given up 123.7 points per 100 possessions.

"It was a disgusting performance," Van Gundy added. "By me included."

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Houston Rockets center Clint Capela has a broken fibula and is expected to miss approximately six weeks, FOX 26's Mark Berman reported Monday.

Capela left Saturday's win over the Minnesota Timberwolves after banging knees with Karl-Anthony Towns. He underwent the MRI on Monday.

The 22-year-old Swiss native has been more than solid for Houston in his first year as a regular starter, averaging just under 12 points and eight rebounds on 64 percent shooting from the floor. As the replacement for Dwight Howard, he is also the team's leading shot blocker.

Capela - through his interior presence and catching lobs from James Harden - has been a key part of the Rockets' offensive attack, one that ranks fifth in the NBA in points per possession, per Basketball-Reference. Houston was in third place in the Western Conference going into Monday's games.

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Labor contracts, like life, are apparently subject to rules.

Among the prohibited activities listed in the new NBA collective bargaining agreement is the use of hoverboards, jetskis, fireworks, and firearms, according to Basketball Insiders' Eric Pincus.

Teams banning players from risky off-court activities for insurance purposes is nothing new, but including it in the language of the new agreement means the rules would apply to all players in the NBA.

J.R. Smith began popularizing hover devices around the league in 2015, but the Cleveland Cavaliers banned them from the arena soon after. In the NFL, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul severely disfigured his right hand as the result of a 2015 Fourth of July fireworks accident.


The most noteworthy reported changes in the new CBA - from a financial perspective - are the designated veteran player provision, and the so-called "over-36" rule. Lesser items include things such as free League Pass for players, according to CBAFAQ's Larry Coon.

The league and the National Basketball Players' Association agreed to terms on a new CBA last week. It is expected to be ratified by both sides by Jan. 13.

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The National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players Association project the league's salary cap to hit $120 million with a $143-million tax threshold in 2020, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

The cap is currently at $94.14 million, which will rise to $103 million next year.

This influx of cash stems from the league's expensive national television deals, which boosted the cap by over $24 million from last season.

Both the NBA and players union reached a tentative agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement on Dec. 14, with the deal lasting seven years.


The players' share of basketball-related income is expected to continue to be somewhere between 49 and 51 percent.

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Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins could not be contained on Tuesday night, collecting a season-high 55 points in the team's 126-121 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Cousins' size and skill proved too much for the Blazers to handle as he consistently overpowered weaker Portland defenders throughout the contest.

The two-time All-Star is now just the third active player with multiple 55-plus-point games in his career, joining LeBron James (three) and Kyrie Irving (two).

The big man's night was almost cut short with under a minute remaining in the contest after his second technical foul of the evening was shockingly rescinded.

Cousins joins Klay Thompson, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis as the only players to net at least 50 in a game this season.

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PEAK BOOGIE: DeMarcus Cousins scores 54th point, spits mouthguard, gets ejected, sprints to locker room, gets un-ejected! (full sequence) pic.twitter.com/kNQ7TRQCOs

— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) December 21, 2016
This was one of the most bizarre sequences in NBA history.

DeMarcus Cousins celebrated effusively after putting his Sacramento Kings up two with only 35 seconds left in the fourth. As part of that celebration, Cousins appeared to spit his mouthpiece at the opposing bench.

Having seen this unfold right before his eyes, Portland Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts pointed out the infraction to the refs who promptly slapped Cousins with his second technical foul of the night.

A bewildered Cousins then ripped off his headband before storming off into the tunnels of the Golden 1 Center without even shooting the subsequent free throw from his and-1.

Curiously, the officials convened to discuss the play and decided to reverse the ejection. That allowed Cousins to return for his free throw, which he promptly drained for his 55th point of the night. On the ensuing defensive stand, Cousins got the block on Damian Lillard which effectively sealed the win.

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The Memphis Grizzlies had no answer for Isaiah Thomas on Tuesday.

The 5-foot-9 point guard put together a masterful offensive performance, erupting for a career-high 44 points on just 16 field-goal attempts in the Boston Celtics' 112-109 overtime victory.

"I’m a killer; I’m a killer," Thomas told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England following the contest. "My team needed me to score."

While his defensive play leaves a lot to be desired, Thomas' contributions on the other end of the floor has a played a large part in his team's ninth-rated offense this season. The 27-year-old leads the team in a number of statistical categories, including points and assists per game and usage rate.

Thomas has been on fire following a four-game absence earlier this month, leading the Celtics to three consecutive victories to push them to third in a crowded Eastern Conference.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers' worst fears concerning J.R. Smith's injured right thumb have become a reality.

The eccentric 31-year-old shooting guard will need to undergo surgery, the team announced Wednesday.

He's considered out indefinitely.

Smith hurt his thumb during Tuesday's narrow 114-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center. X-rays taken after the game were inconclusive, with further tests Wednesday revealing the extent of the damage.

The 2016-17 campaign has been rough for the 13-year veteran. He's barely converting one-third of his shot attempts at just 33.7 percent, and his player efficiency rating has plummeted to a measly eight.

His absence should lead to more minutes for the likes of Iman Shumpert and DeAndre Liggins, with Mike Dunleavy perhaps getting extended run off the bench after being mostly an afterthought for the past month.

Should Smith miss a substantial number of games, the Cavaliers will be required to lean even more heavily on their big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. The roster depth simply isn't there, with a second unit producing just 28.6 points per game (27th in NBA). With the team's fifth-leading scorer out of the equation, head coach Tyronn Lue has his work cut out for him in juggling playing time so as to avoid running his stars into the ground.

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Even the strongest, top-tier teams in the NBA are prone to putting up a lousy performance from time to time - it's just the way the cookie crumbles.

In the case of the middle-of-the-pack Chicago Bulls (14-13), they put up a giant stinker against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 16, getting blown out on their home floor 95-69. To top it all off, Bulls fans at the United Center openly booed their team's play in what was their worst defeat of the season to date.

All guard Dwyane Wade wants for Christmas is for those fans to remember that the campaign runs 82 games, and piling on the team when things look bleak perhaps isn't the most appropriate way to handle things.

"I'm an honest guy. I was very disappointed our fans booed us," Wade told reporters on Wednesday, according to CSN Chicago's Vincent Goodwill. "We're trying to figure it out. We win home games against Cleveland, San Antonio. And then we get our butts kicked against Milwaukee. I don't think we deserved to get booed.

"We're out here trying. I'd like to see more patience and support from everybody. Like I said at the beginning of the year, we're not winning a championship today. We're not winning a championship tomorrow. We got stages and levels to get to where we want to get to. And everyone gotta understand that."

Chicago did manage to bounce back on Monday by beating the Detroit Pistons by 31, with Wade scoring 13 points and dishing out five assists in 22 minutes of action.

The team will look to string together back-to-back wins on the final night of their three-game homestand on Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.

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For the second time in as many games, Russell Westbrook exceeded 40 points, finishing with 42 in the Oklahoma City Thunder's 121-110 victory Wednesday.

The five-time All-Star also chipped in 10 rebounds, seven assists, and a steal, flirting with a triple-double for the umpteenth time this season.

Unlike the previous contest, he was able to deliver in the clutch, hitting a dagger three late in the fourth to put the Thunder up double digits.

With his backcourt mate out with a wrist injury, Westbrook has elevated his offensive game to a new level, averaging 33 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists in the six games Victor Oladipo has sat.
He joins Anthony Davis as just the second player this season to notch back-to-back 40-point performances.

Last edited on Thu Dec 22nd, 2016 06:13 pm by lobo316

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Two of the greatest players from the past decade could soon join the 2017 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class.

Tracy McGrady and Ben Wallace headline the list of first-time nominees for this year's class along with 14-year NBA veteran Muggsy Bogues.

McGrady accumulated more than 18,000 points and 5,000 rebounds over his 15-year career, spending time with the Toronto Raptors, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, and Atlanta Hawks. The seven-time All-Star won back-to-back scoring titles with Orlando, asserting himself as one of NBA's most feared offensive players.

While far from a threat on the offensive end, Wallace is largely considered one of the greatest defensive forces of his generation. The longtime Detroit Pistons big man took home four Defensive Player of the Year honors, averaging 9.6 rebounds and two blocks over 1088 career games.

Kevin Johnson, Tim Hardaway, and Chris Webber lead the list of holdovers.

krazykid18

 

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damn why did George Karl go at Melo like that

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The grass has most definitely been cut.

Kenyon Martin became the latest player to refute claims from former head coach George Karl in his upcoming book. In an excerpt released Wednesday, Karl wrote specifically of Martin and Carmelo Anthony.

"Kenyon and Carmelo carried two big burdens: All that money and no father to show them how to act like a man," he wrote.

Martin responded Thursday with a furious Twitter tirade:

The Nerve of an AWFUL AND COWARD ASS COACH. More to come

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
I didn't have a father going up. We all know that. What's George Karl excuse for being a terrible person

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
Everyone that's played for that awful person and coach can't stand the ground he walks on

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
Having a lot of wins doesn't make you a good coach. He was blessed with great talent

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
Since we were so bad as players. Tell him to forfeit those Denver wins

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
George Karl is selfish,unhappy,missable,,cowardly person. No wonder he's be fired every place he has coached

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
The book he is writing is full of lies and deceit. By far the worst coach that ever played for

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
Talking bout Melo didn't like defense. Hell he never coached defense. How does that work

— Kenyon Martin Sr. (@KenyonMartinSr) December 22, 2016
In addition to pot shots levied at Martin and Anthony, Karl also took J.R. Smith to task for supposedly having a "huge sense of entitlement" among other unsavory claims.

Smith, too, responded on Twitter - as did former teammate Reggie Evans:

Still trying to be relevant. Sad just sad.

— JR Smith (@TheRealJRSmith) December 22, 2016
Karl has a penchant for wearing out his welcome and drawing the ire of players. The most recent example played out in Sacramento, where the 65-year-old got on the wrong side of DeMarcus Cousins.

The discontent among former players runs so deep there's even a code - that of being a snake in the grass - specifically cited whenever Karl's name arises for the wrong reasons.

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After starting for a Finals team during his rookie campaign, Courtney Lee quickly saw his life turn upside down, as he was traded to the then-New Jersey Nets just a week later.

While his role was expanded, Lee struggled to adapt to life on a losing team, having little impact on a Nets squad that won just 12 games all season.

"(It was) tough. I went from sugar to shit, man," he told Leo Sepkowitz of slamonline.com. "Cream of the crop to the bottom. Going to the NBA Finals to 12-70. Fans wasn't showing up, and when they did show up, they had paper bags on they face like, 'We're horrible.'"

Five teams later, Lee finally appears to have found a home, inking a four-year, $50-million deal with the New York Knicks this summer.

He's found success as the team's starting shooting guard, and the Knicks have quickly gone from lottery team to playoff hopeful, sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 15-13 record.

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Carmelo Anthony went high after George Karl went low.

In an excerpt released from his upcoming book, "Furious George," Karl ripped Anthony for everything from not applying himself on defense to attacking his leadership, and, most egregiously, for not having a "father to show (him) how to act like a man."

Anthony offered no comment when pressed about Karl's attacks before Thursday's game, and showed tremendous class when pressed again after.

"I just hope he finds happiness in whatever he's doing," he told ESPN's Ian Begley.

Anthony's teammates did most of the speaking on his behalf. J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Wilson Chandler, and Reggie Evans have all denounced Karl's accounts since the excerpts emerged.

Thursday goes down as just the latest episode in a long string of discontent from Karl's former players. No less than five players - with the most recent example being DeMarcus Cousins - have called Karl a "snake in the grass" for the way he undercuts players.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers could be without shooting guard J.R. Smith for nearly all of what's left of the regular season.

Smith underwent surgery to repair his fractured right thumb Friday, and is expected to miss the next 12-14 weeks, the team announced.

Before suffering the injury during the Cavs' win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday, Smith had been slumping badly in the first season of his new four-year, $57-million deal with Cleveland. He's averaged 8.6 points and 1.2 assists, while shooting a career-low 33.7 percent from the field with a career-worst 8.0 PER.

For all his struggles, though, his 3-point shooting has remained a valuable weapon for the Cavs, and they've still been better with him on the floor than on the bench. Without him, their wing rotation looks dangerously thin, with Iman Shumpert, Mike Dunleavy, and DeAndre Liggins left to patch up the hole.

Should Smith's recovery take the full 14 weeks, he'll be back sometime at the end of March or beginning of April, about two weeks before the start of the playoffs.

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The Detroit Pistons are set to honor one of the franchises' most beloved and iconic players just after the All-Star break this season.

In a halftime ceremony during their Feb. 26 game against the Boston Celtics, the Pistons will raise Richard Hamilton's No. 32 jersey to the rafters at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the team announced Friday.

The trade that brought Hamilton to Detroit from Washington in 2002 kicked off one of the most successful runs for any franchise in any decade. Over the next six years, the Pistons won between 50 and 63 games and made the Eastern Conference finals each season. They made the NBA Finals twice, and won the whole shebang in 2004.

Hamilton played in all but 29 games during that stretch.

Though the team's well had run dry by the end of his nine-year tenure, Hamilton continued to produce, ultimately cementing himself as a top-two shooting guard in franchise history. For 631 games, he worked his darting, off-screen, catch-and-shoot, mid-range magic, in his trademark facemask, averaging 18.4 points and 3.8 assists with a .455/.354/.852 shooting line. He made three All-Star teams and finished sixth all-time in Pistons scoring.

He was arguably even better in the playoffs, where he played a franchise-record 120 games and averaged 20.6 points in 40 minutes a game.

"Detroit is where I celebrated the greatest achievements in my pro basketball career and to be recognized by the organization in this way, I'm honored," Hamilton wrote on Instagram. "I look forward to sharing this experience with all the fans who supported me throughout my years as a Piston and look forward to celebrating in The Palace one final time. Yessirrr."

Yessir.

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Dirk Nowitzki will be a sight for the Dallas Mavericks' sore eyes Friday night, as he suits up for the first time in 14 games and just the sixth time all season.

Nowitzki, who has been dealing with an Achilles strain since opening night, told reporters he went through a successful workout Thursday and will return on a minutes limit as the Mavs visit the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News.

"The Achilles responded really well to all the stuff we did," Nowitzki said. "But nothing is like replicating the games. We'll ease into it and play some spot minutes here and there and increase the workload as we go along. But I'm really happy. It hasn't been great for a long, long time. Hopefully we're over the worst and not looking back from here."

The 38-year-old is hoping his return to game action lasts longer than his last one did. Nowitzki came back prematurely in late November, and played just two games before having to shut it back down.

"I'm excited to be back and hopefully stay back this time," he said. "I don't want to keep being in and out of the lineup all season."

Thanks to the nagging injury, Nowitzki has yet to find any kind of rhythm on the court, averaging 12.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 35.8 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from 3-point range. The Mavs have yet to win a game he's played in.

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For the second time in his career, Russell Westbrook has scored more than 40 points in three straight games. Westbrook's 45 Friday against the Boston Celtics led the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 117-112 victory, and he also recorded his second triple-double in four contests.
Westbrook is now only one triple-double behind Wilt Chamberlain for the second-most career 40-point triple-doubles all time, according to Elias and ESPN. He last scored 40 in three straight in March 2015.
The Thunder have won three of their last four games, with Westbrook's poor shot selection - despite a 46-point outing - helping cost the loss to the Atlanta Hawks. On Friday in Boston, he had one of his best nights of the season from beyond the arc, hitting 5-of-8 treys - including the dagger with under a minute left.

Last edited on Sat Dec 24th, 2016 08:45 am by lobo316

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With so much NBA season left to play, Giannis Antetokounmpo collecting a new career high in points Friday night against the Washington Wizards might just be the beginning.

The Milwaukee Bucks' Greek Freak stood at the line in the fourth quarter to 'MVP' chants from the crowd, and left the game to a standing ovation at home after finishing with 39 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.

The M-V-P chants have begun for @Giannis_An34!!#OwnTheFuture

— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 24, 2016
Antetokounmpo bested his previous career high of 34, which he's done twice, most recently against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 29.

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for winking ????????????




Richard Jefferson, at the ripe age of 36, shocked the world by dunking all over Kevin Durant, then topped it off with a hard stare and a wink.

But because the officials hate fun, Jefferson was assessed a tech for taunting on the play.

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If you thought the sport of basketball - by nature of its reduced reliance on sheer muscle power compared to its cousins in football and baseball - was immune to steroid accusations, then you've never read a book by George Karl.

In the longtime NBA head coach's new tome, "Furious George: My Forty Years Surviving NBA Divas, Clueless GMs, and Poor Shot Selection," he asserts that the league has a problem with performance-enhancing drugs.

"(The NBA has a more) thorough drug-testing program than the NFL or MLB, which we always brag about," Karl writes in the book, as transcribed by PBT's Dan Feldman. "But we've still got a drug issue, though a different one than thirty years ago.

"And this one bothers me more than the dumbasses who got in trouble with recreational drugs. I'm talking about performance-enhancing drugs - like steroids, human growth hormone, and so on. It’s obvious some of our players are doping. How are some guys getting older - yet thinner and fitter? How are they recovering from injuries so fast?"

Karl has already raised the ire of some of his former players with other passages from the book, including the suggestion that Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin couldn't act like men because they grew up in fatherless households.

He adds that he finds it mysterious that modern-day players travel to Europe during the summer.

"Why the hell are they going to Germany in the offseason? I doubt it’s for the sauerkraut," he writes, without citing a specific player. "More likely it's for the newest, hard-to-detect blood boosters and PEDs they have in Europe. Unfortunately, drug testing always seems to be a couple steps behind drug hiding. Lance Armstrong never failed a drug test. I think we want the best athletes to succeed, not the biggest, richest cheaters employing the best scientists."

The idea that wealthy athletes seek out high-tech treatments that may push the boundaries of the rules certainly isn't a new theory, but it does allow Karl to continue his burning of bridges. He was fired by the Sacramento Kings last spring after butting heads with another star player in DeMarcus Cousins.

The 64-year-old Karl remains in fifth place all time with 1,175 NBA head coaching victories, 35 wins behind Pat Riley.

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Another game, another triple-double for Russell Westbrook.

For the umpteenth time this season, the All-NBA point guard completely demolished his opponent's defense, finishing with 29 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 assists in a 106-94 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday. Westbrook collected his triple-double in just under 24 minutes of action, the sixth time he's accomplished the feat in just three quarters.

With his 15th triple-double of 2016-17, the Thunder point guard is now on pace to finish with 38 by season's end. Boston Celtics great Bob Cousy ranks ninth all-time with 33 triple-doubles for his entire career.

Most importantly, Westbrook's terrific individual play ended in an Oklahoma City win - something that has quickly become a trend for the Thunder this season.

Westbrook sits sixth all-time with 52 triple-doubles - 30 more than the Heat have accumulated in their entire franchise's history.

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The last-two-minute report from the Golden State Warriors' Christmas Day loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers absolved Kevin Durant to some degree, conceding that he hadn't fallen of his own volition on the game-ending play and should've drawn a foul call.

Durant, however, isn't much interested in absolution, and instead of railing against the blown call, he stuck up for the league's referees in the face of the reports that often damn them.

"The refs didn't lose us the game. We lost that game," he told reporters Tuesday. "I think it's bull---- the NBA throws the refs under the bus like that."

The reports have been the subject of some controversy from players, coaches, and officials alike, and Durant - citing hypocrisy and cherry-picking - made it clear he'd prefer the league did away with them.

"You can't fine us for when we go out there and criticize them and then throw them under the bus for the two-minute report," he said. "What about the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter? I think it's bull---. They should get rid of them. Refs don't deserve that."

Safe to assume Durant won't be calling the referee-complaint hotline any time soon.

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Phil Jackson is officially a single man in New York City.

After 17 years together, Jackson and Los Angeles Lakers part-owner Jeanie Buss have decided to end their engagement together.

"With mutual love and respect, we have decided to end our engagement," Jackson said in a statement on Twitter. "With the nature of our professional obligations and the geographic distance between us, sustaining the relationship has been difficult. We have shared many wonderful moments though the years, and we expect to remain supportive of each other in the future."

Jeanie is the daughter of the late Jerry Buss who brought Jackson to Los Angeles back in 1999.

After spending years in Los Angeles as the Lakers head coach, Jackson moved across the country in 2014 after accepting a job as the New York Knicks' president.

It appears the couple have ended their engagement on good terms:

Nothing but love and respect for this man. @PhilJackson11 https://t.co/jlgNhnZvOA

— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) December 28, 2016
The love of my life is the Los Angeles Lakers. I love Phil & will always. It's not fair to him or Lakers to not have my undivided attention

— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) December 28, 2016

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Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins laid out his All-Star case with the simplest argument possible.

Cousins has already declared himself the league's most dominant big man, but the All-NBA center took things one step further by saying he'd be the best even with the handicap of rocking some sandals.

Hey @NBA_Reddit, @boogiecousins has a message for you. #NBAVote pic.twitter.com/EgjVsPZceD

— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 27, 2016
Cousins has averaged 34.2 points per game over his last five contests, so who would doubt him?

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I think Cousins has 1 year after this on his contract with the Kings. Guess which team can change first round draft picks with the Kings the year after Cousins most likely leaves?

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is never short on confidence, and when taking into account his sensational numbers as the clear favorite to capture 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year honors, it's easy to understand why he holds himself in such high regard.

Following the Sacramento Kings' narrow 102-100 victory over Philly on Monday night, All-Star DeMarcus Cousins was complementary of Embiid's performance, saying how he's well on his way to being the best big man in the Association ... only after Boogie retires, though.

Well, Embiid doesn't feel he needs to wait that long to knock Cousins off his self-assigned pedestal.

"I don't think I'm going to have to wait until he retires to be the best in the league," Embiid said following Wednesday's practice at Vivint Smart Home Arena, according to Philly.com's Keith Pompey.

Embiid was the Sixers' most productive player on Monday, scoring 25 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and blocking two shots on 47.1 percent shooting in just 28 minutes of action. As efficient as he was, Cousins was simply that much better, ending with a line of 30 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, two blocks, and two makes from behind the arc.

The two powerhouses even engaged in an impromptu butt-slapping competition in the middle of play, going back and forth multiple times in what was merely a friendly interaction.

"I didn't understand the (turnover) call, and I was just laughing," Embiid said. "He just slapped my butt. I was just like 'Why is he slapping my butt?' I went back at him - not to look like a punk, just to show him I ain't going for that.

"It's all fun. Basketball is about having fun."

Embiid currently averages more than double the points per game of the second-leading scorer among rookie players (Dario Saric, 9.2) at 18.7. He also leads rookies in rebounds (7.4), blocks (2.38), and double-doubles (six).

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The Toronto Raptors are among the best teams in the NBA, but they're not treated like it.

The clear No. 2 team in the East apparently weren't good enough to play on Christmas Day. In fact, the NBA's lone Canadian franchise was afforded only six nationally televised games all year (17th).

DeMar DeRozan thinks it's absurd how little love Toronto gets, especially given what the club accomplished last year.

"We went six games with the NBA champions. We won a franchise record in games. We accomplished so much. And it seems we still don't get our just due, like it was an accident," the All-Star shooting guard recently told David Aldridge of NBA.com.

"We've been getting better every single year. And I think that's been our motivation every time we go out there and play, no matter who we play against. We are a team that should be respected like all the other top teams in the league."

The Raptors are proving so far this season that their 56-win campaign last year wasn't a fluke. At 22-8, they're currently on pace for an even higher win total, and boast the highest offensive rating not only in the league right now, but of all time.


It's worth noting, though, that three of their eight losses came at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who ousted them in the Eastern Conference finals en route to winning their first title. Those contests were close, as DeRozan pointed out, having each been decided by four points or less. He said the Cavs are great because they're able to execute down the stretch, and that's the next step for his Raps.

"That's our next development of being a team like Cleveland, understanding that last possession, how great you've got to execute, how bad you may need a stop. We're getting there," DeRozan said.

On an individual level, the 27-year-old is having his best season yet after winning an Olympic gold medal in Rio over the summer. He's averaging 27.5 points, 5.3 boards, 4.1 assists, and 1.3 steals - all career highs. He's also 15 points away from passing Chris Bosh as Toronto's all-time scoring leader.

"I don't believe it," DeRozan said. "A lot of things I've accomplished in this organization has been unbelievable. To be that one on top, and from here on, people are going to be trying to chase that spot. ... I played with Chris. To be able to pass him, it's definitely a blessing. Just to have your name ahead of a franchise, leading a franchise in something, it's unbelievable, man."

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No. 11 is going up in the rafters at Toyota Center.

The Houston Rockets are set to honor Yao Ming by retiring his jersey during halftime against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 3.

The team previously announced it would have the ceremony on Feb. 2, but had to move it as a result of TV obligations. At the time, the humble 36-year-old said he was honored, but it was happening "too soon."

In September, Yao was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame alongside Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson. In his speech, the Shanghai native declared: "I'm a Texan, and a Houston Rocket for life."

The 7-foot-6 center averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.6 assisted over eight seasons in Houston. He dominated while he was on the court, but unfortunately injuries cut his career short.

The former first overall pick will be the sixth player to have his number retired by the Rockets, joining Clyde Drexler, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Rudy Tomjanovich.

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Predicting a 19-year-old's potential future in the NBA is never an easy thing, not even when you're a former Hall of Famer or Executive of the Year.

Celtics legend, and current President of the Indiana Pacers, Larry Bird, has had quite the successful history drafting good players at lower draft positions.

He drafted Danny Granger with the 17th pick in the 2005 NBA draft, Paul George 10th in 2010, and Kawhi Leonard at 15 in 2011 - all of which turned out to be All-Stars. Finding talent later in the draft has never been an issue for the three-time NBA MVP, but one player he admits he did miss out on is DeAndre Jordan.

Jordan - who was drafted by the Clippers with the 35th overall pick in 2008 - didn't have a believer in in the Pacers' front-office boss back then.

"When he came in here to work out the first time, I couldn’t believe the kid was even thinking about coming out," Bird told David Aldridge of NBA.com. "He was tall, he could run and he could jump. But basketball (skills)? Had none."

Those skills took a while to develop - like many young big men in the NBA - but he still managed to make an impact quite early on. He has never shot under 60-percent from the field in his career, and has led the entire league in that category each of the past four seasons.

The Texas A&M product didn't have a lot to offer on the offensive end as a rookie, but his defense and athleticism was what impressed the Clippers. Those same attributes are responsible for vaulting him into All-NBA status the past two seasons, and continue to blow the 2012 NBA Executive of the Year away.

"I thought there’s no way in hell this kid will ever make it in this league. And I don’t know who got with him, or what he did, but to watch him play and perform on a nightly basis the way he does is just breathtaking to me," Bird continued. "After everything I’ve seen, I always go back to that. It’s pretty amazing. And this wasn’t this year; this happened five years ago. And just watching him, he was in here the other night and I thought, boy, I’m so proud of that kid. It’s amazing."

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Paul George's comments about referees are once again costing him.

On Wednesday, the NBA fined the Indiana Pacers small forward and head coach Nate McMillan for publicly criticizing the officiating in Monday's loss to the Chicago Bulls.

In the Pacers' 90-85 defeat in the Windy City, George and Co. attempted just 10 free-throws versus 28 for the home club. After the game, the All-Star vented to the press, saying it's "getting repetitive" how many calls refs are missing that wind up hurting his smaller-market team.

"Since I've been in this jersey we've always fought this battle," George told reporters. "Ever since I've been playing, ever since I've been in this jersey we've fought this battle. Maybe the league has teams they like so they can give them the benefit of the doubt. We're the little brother of the league."

Those comments cost him $15,000. He's been fined multiple times over his seven seasons for speaking out against officiating.

Meanwhile, McMillan was slapped with a $10,000 fee for demanding more respect for his squad from the folks calling the game.

"Call it fair," he said, as quoted by Nat Newell of IndyStar. "I'm not talking about superstar treatment."

The bench boss also backed his star player, George, saying: "He's not getting any - any - calls. I think it's ridiculous that he plays 39 minutes and shoots one free throw."

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While some players are crusading on behalf of NBA officials, calling for the league to do away with its controversial last-two-minute reports, some front offices are reportedly pushing in the opposite direction.

There are teams that want the reports extended to cover entire games, rather than just the final two minutes of those in which the score is close, according to The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowksi.

"There's an internal push for more transparency of calls," Wojnarowski reports.

The referees union, meanwhile, has been lobbying for the reports to be squashed entirely, and were reportedly thrilled when Kevin Durant went to bat for them this week when asked about the non-call (ruled in the L2M report to have been incorrect) that sealed the Warriors' loss to the Cavaliers on Christmas Day.

The league has stood by the decision to release the reports, calling them necessary for "protecting the integrity of our game." But given the resources that would be required to pore over 48 minutes worth of game tape for every game every night, it seems unlikely either side will get what it wants in the near future.

The new CBA, however, will reportedly offer players an opportunity to criticize officials privately.

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Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr knows he has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to his stacked roster.

Kerr's lineup boasts four players who made the All-NBA team last season between Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson. He hopes to see all four represented in New Orleans come February.

"I have no idea how it’ll play out but I know all four of our guys are very deserving," Kerr told Connor Letourneau of SF Gate.

"They’re all All-Star players. But when you ask that question, and you’re going to answer it practically, then you have to say, ‘OK, then who’s not going to make it?’ I don’t even know."

Sending four representatives from one team wouldn't be anything new. The Atlanta Hawks had four All-Stars in 2015 when they took the league by storm. Back in 2006, the Detroit Pistons similarly had four players named to the contest.

A stacked Western Conference, however, might throw a wrench into the Warriors' plans this year.

Curry and Durant figure to be shoo-ins for the game, if not outright starters, given they share a duopoly over the last three MVP awards. Thompson also figures to be a lock, since he made the last two All-Star games.

The player most likely to miss the cut is Green, who lacks the inflated box score tallies that typically rate highly with fans and coaches alike. Green is an indispensable piece for the Warriors on both ends of the floor, but his averages of 10.7 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists aren't as eye-catching as other bigs in the West.

All-Star starters will be decided by a mix of fan, media, and player voting. Coaches will decide the reserves for their respective conferences.

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lobo316 wrote: for winking ????????????




Richard Jefferson, at the ripe age of 36, shocked the world by dunking all over Kevin Durant, then topped it off with a hard stare and a wink.

But because the officials hate fun, Jefferson was assessed a tech for taunting on the play.



It took a while, but the NBA did eventually make things right with the Cleveland Cavaliers' elder statesman.
The NBA rescinded a technical foul assessed to Richard Jefferson for winking after he posterized Kevin Durant on Christmas Day, reports Cavaliers broadcaster Fred McLeod.
Durant promptly drained the technical foul shot, but Jefferson got the best of him minutes later as he got away with fouling Durant on the Warriors' last possession, which the league retroactively admitted to on their last-two-minute report.


The NBA should take it one step further by implementing a rule that stipulates a 36-year-old can celebrate however he sees fit following a dunk.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers lost backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova to free agency in the offseason, and though it was far from a debilitating loss in the big picture, the Cavs had to find a way to fill his unique role.

"What Delly gave us was grit," LeBron James told reporters Wednesday, according to Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon. "Delly gave us a grit like, 'I don't care what y'all say, I'm out on this floor to defend, I'm out on this floor to make plays and no matter what y'all say that I can't accomplish, I'm gonna try to overachieve that.'"

Perhaps it's fitting that the Cavs have found Dellavedova's spiritual replacement in the unlikeliest of places. They plucked DeAndre Liggins - a former 53rd overall pick who'd played just one NBA game in the past three years - from the D-League, and watched him take up Delly's all-effort, true-grit mantle.

"We lost that in Delly and rightfully so for the first part of the season, first few weeks we was missing that," James said. "Liggs gives us that. He gives us that pit bull out on the floor that's like, 'I'm here to just work. I'm going to make you work every single possession. I know you don't know my name yet, I know you don't know my game yet or what I'm about, but I'm going to make you work.'

"We've got that in Liggs. And that's huge for our team."

Liggins' role also became markedly more important when J.R. Smith broke his thumb, dealing a blow to the Cavs' wing rotation. He has started the past four games and eight of the last 11, and though he's struggled with his shot and generally been an offensive zero, he's defended tenaciously. The Cavs have been 10 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor.

"He's been doing more than maybe what he thought he was capable of doing, maybe what we all thought he was capable of doing, and that's being a great complement to Kyrie (Irving)," James said.

"It's been a diamond in the rough for us and we're happy to have him."

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DeMar DeRozan continues to rewrite the Toronto Raptors' history books.

With a floater in the second quarter of Wednesday's game at Golden State - his 14th and 15th points of the game - DeRozan became the franchise's all-time leading scorer, eclipsing Chris Bosh's mark of 10,275 points as a Raptor.

DeRozan finished with 29 points against the Warriors, bringing his career total to 10,290.

DeRozan joins LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Mike Conley as the only active players who are franchise scoring leaders, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Wednesday marked DeRozan's 552nd game with the Raptors since being selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2009 draft. Bosh played 509 games with the NBA's lone remaining Canadian franchise.

DeRozan is averaging 18.6 points per game for his career, with the 27-year-old enjoying a banner year in the wake of signing a lucrative five-year contract extension with the Raptors this past summer.

The two-time All-Star, who famously proclaimed "I am Toronto" in the news conference to announce his re-signing, is averaging 27.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.4 steals on a True Shooting Percentage of 55.6 this season - all career-highs.

DeRozan, who earlier this month surpassed Bosh for all-time field goals made as a Raptor and overtook Morris Peterson for games played, is also closing in on Bosh's team record for minutes played, leaving Wednesday's loss only 62 minutes behind the former Toronto big man.

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Just because Michael Jordan is widely seen as the greatest basketball player to ever lace them up, LeBron James doesn't need to be like Mike.

James - who turns 32 on Friday - is nearing the age that Air Jordan was when he returned to the game of basketball after his year-and-a-half hiatus from the court to play semi-professional baseball. Jordan went on to win three straight titles and two league MVP awards after the age of 33, maintaining - some would argue - an even higher level of play than he had before he left the game initially.

Reporters inquired about whether or not LeBron has studied Jordan to see how he was able to prolong the skill and athleticism that he had prior to leaving the game in 1993.

"No I haven't," James told reporters on Thursday. "He was much more of a scorer. At that point he did a lot of post work (later into his thirties). Our games are just different. His body is different, my body is different than his. You recognize the dominance that someone had at that age, but there's no similarities in our game, at all."

There are certain comparisons to be made between the two all-time greats' games, but the fadeaway jumper - which Jordan made famous - is one that LeBron sees as especially distinct.

"Nah it's different," the 2016 Finals MVP continued. "He has much more lift in his fadeaway than mine, and he was able to (use it as a) go-to move.

"Our games are completely different."

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George Karl did a lot of talking in his new book, "Furious George," and it's generating more chatter than he expected.

The former NBA coach said Thursday on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" that he was surprised by the negative response, particularly regarding his comments about Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith.

"Yeah," Karl said. "There's no question. Surprised. I guess there's no question we all want to be liked a little bit, but the backlash is interesting. And a couple of things I learned from, I think, too. I think the big thing is ... I probably should have studied. I didn't know, I probably should have studied what I was writing a little bit more than I did."

Martin criticized Karl for excerpts from the book that referred to him growing up without a father, though Karl said in the ESPN appearance that he wanted to honor "superstar single mothers" who raised NBA players, and the excerpts didn't come out exactly as he said them.

"I said it poorly and I'm sorry that I said it poorly and I'm sorry for the reaction," Karl said. "Because I know Kenyon. The one thing I love about Kenyon Martin: he is a good father."

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Westbrook on his ejection tonight: "It's crazy, especially being ejected like that, when I didn't do nothing." pic.twitter.com/DZPUUUVwen

— Fred Katz (@FredKatz) December 30, 2016
No one was more confused by Russell Westbrook's third-quarter ejection than the man himself.

"It's crazy, man," Westbrook told reporters following the contest. "Especially to be ejected like that, when I didn't do nothing. Especially for me, because I feel like I don't get the benefit of the doubt most of the time with refs."

The triple-double machine picked up back-to-back techs after arguing with officials. His Oklahoma City Thunder would go on to lose 114-80.

Following the game, referee Jason Phillips offered the following explanation for the ejection:

“There’s a shot that’s taken just prior to a foul being called on Oklahoma City in which Russell is very adamant that the ball does not hit the rim and the shot clock should not have reset. Officials in the game had no doubt that the ball hit the rim and therefore we allowed play to continue. As we line up for the free throws, Russell continues to complain that the ball did not hit the rim. He was adamant about that. At that point it’s not a reviewable matter so it’s not something we can look at replay on, but we explained to him – Brian Forte explained to him: ‘We’re good, we’ve got to let it go, we can’t go review it anyway, but I hear what you’re saying. We’ve got to move on.’ He continues to complain about it, so then he is issued the first technical foul.

“After being issued the first technical foul, he continues to complain about the ball not hitting the rim and then even proceeds to use some profanity during the conversation also. So at that point he’s issued the second technical foul which results in an automatic ejection.”

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PHOENIX - Toronto forward Patrick Patterson left the Raptors' game against Phoenix in the first half Thursday with a strained left knee, and the team said he would not return.

Patterson played 8 + minutes and missed all three shots he attempted. He appeared to get hurt near the end of the first quarter when he was slow to get back to the foul line for free throws at the other end of the court, walking gingerly.

The 6-foot-9 forward played 33 minutes Wednesday night at Golden State. He's averaging 7.8 points and 5.6 rebounds.

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It's been an up and down marriage between the Phoenix Suns and Brandon Knight since the trade that brought the former Milwaukee Buck out west.

After playing nine minutes Thursday in a win over the Raptors, all signs are pointing to a likely trade involving the six-year pro, who could be one of the bigger names moved between now and the Feb. 23 trade deadline, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

This comes as no surprise because of Knight's ever-diminishing role on the young Suns squad. He hasn't surpassed the 30-minute mark in a game since Nov. 30, and is only averaging 23.5 minutes this season - a far cry from the 36-minute average he had last year.

With second-year phenom Devin Booker hitting threes on the wing, and Eric Bledsoe leading the charge on both ends, the Suns backcourt is pretty much set for the future. Knight - a year after signing a 5-year, $70-million deal - seems to be the one on the outside looking in.

The Kings have made it abundantly clear they're looking to add a scoring guard to take some pressure off DeMarcus Cousins and they've been pursuing a trade for Knight since the summer, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.

In 33 games this season, the 25-year-old is averaging 13.1 points on 40-percent shooting, with 2.7 assists and 2.7 rebounds over 23.5 minutes for the 10-23 Suns.

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The Chicago Bulls failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008 last season, and are now mired in mediocrity once again with a 16-17 record following Friday's 10-point road loss to the Indiana Pacers.

The scapegoat here may turn out to be second-year head coach Fred Hoiberg, who's reportedly on the hot seat due to his team's tepid play, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The higher-ups in the organization reportedly believe he doesn't have a firm grasp of his veteran-heavy roster, and that the players aren't responding to him as well as they had hoped when they snagged him away from his gig at Iowa State in 2015.

What could save his job, though, is management's reported reluctance to pay Hoiberg a significant chunk of the guaranteed money he's owed on his five-year contract worth nearly $25 million.

With the loss to Indiana, Chicago is now 6-10 in the month of December, bolstering the 29th-worst offense of 101.2 points per 100 possessions during that span.

The ultimate low point came on Dec. 13 when the Bulls owned a 21-point lead against former coach Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves, but wound up losing by five on their home floor.

The last time all coaches in the Association went an entire season without getting fired was in 1970-71 when there were just 17 teams, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

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Battling a number of injuries, the New York Knicks were simply no match for James Harden and the Houston Rockets on Saturday night.

The 6-foot-5 guard exploded for the best offensive performance of his career, finishing with a career-high 53 points, 17 assists, and 16 rebounds in the 129-122 victory. He's now the first player in league history with at least 50 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists in a single contest.

Harden also tied Wilt Chamberlain for the most points in a triple-double performance.

While Harden managed to score in a number of ways, he was particularly hot from deep, finishing with a career-high nine 3-pointers.

This deserve endless RTs James Harden #nbavote pic.twitter.com/08R92RQiH3

— Rockets_feed (@rockets_feed) January 1, 2017
With averages of 26.8 points, 11.7 assists, and 8.6 rebounds in December, Harden has made a strong case for Player of the Month honors, and is right in the thick of the MVP race.

After a slow start to the season, the Rockets have been red-hot under Harden's leadership, going 15-2 during the last month of play.

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If Russell Westbrook was going to play basketball on New Year's Eve, then there was only one way for him to logically end 2016. The Oklahoma City Thunder star went for 17 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds to record his 31st regular-season triple-double of the calendar year.

The Thunder thumped the injury-riddled Los Angeles Clippers 114-88, with Oklahoma City moving to 13-3 this season when Westbrook hits double-digits in points, dimes, and boards. The 31 triple-doubles are second all-time in a calendar year to Oscar Robertson.

Robertson, of course, is the last NBA player to average a triple-double over the course of a season - the mark Westbrook is currently chasing - accomplishing the feat in 1961-62.

The Thunder are entering a tough part of their schedule as 2017 dawns, however, with the team hitting the road for 12 of their 14 games in January.

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Taken with the 36th pick in this year's draft, it's safe to say that the Milwaukee Bucks got themselves a steal in Malcolm Brogdon.

The 24-year-old erupted for his best game as a pro on Saturday night, finishing with 15 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds to become the first rookie this season to record a triple-double.

Record your first Triple Double...we got an ICE BATH for you Malcolm Brogdon!! #OwnTheFuture pic.twitter.com/V54qe66o3W

— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) January 1, 2017
Despite being taken in the second round, Brogdon has quickly shown his worth over the first two-plus months of the season, sitting fifth among rookies in points per game (8.3), and second in assists per game (3.6).

Should Brogdon continue his strong play into the new year, he'll make a strong case for a spot on the All-Rookie team by season's end.

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As the Chicago Bulls continue to lose, there's turmoil in their locker room. After being benched for the entirety of Chicago's 116-96 New Year's Eve loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, point guard Rajon Rondo told reporters that he had a meeting planned with general manager Gar Forman.

Rondo didn't rule out asking for a trade or buyout, according to The Athletic's Sean Highkin.

As expected, coach Fred Hoiberg didn't start Rondo on Saturday, inserting Michael Carter-Williams into the lineup. However, perhaps unexpectedly, the veteran remained glued to the pine throughout the game, even when Hoiberg emptied his bench late in the Bucks' rout.

The 30-year-old Rondo said Hoiberg told him he looks slow-footed.

"He told me that I've been looking slow the last five games," he said, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell.

Hoiberg, who benched Rondo in the second half of Friday's loss to Indiana, prefers an up-tempo system. Rondo rejects the opinion.

"I disagree," he said, according to the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson. "But that's part of it. He's the head coach. And we're going to go with that."

The Bulls have now lost eight of 10 and are tied for ninth in the Eastern Conference. The eight losses have come by an average of 14 points.

If Rondo demands a trade, it's debatable there will be much of a market for him in the league, especially if he insists on starting. The mercurial 11-year veteran is at career lows in scoring, field-goal percentage, and PER.

"I'm Rajon Rondo," he told reporters. "It is what it is."

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It's only been one day, but 2017 is already looking like it will be a good year for C.J. McCollum.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was feeling it in Sunday night's victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, dropping a career-high 43 points in the 95-89 win. He also chipped in five rebounds, three assists, three steals, and one block.

The 2016 Most Improved Player has taken his game to a new level with Damian Lillard out with an ankle injury, scoring 20 points or more in each of his last four contests.

@CJMcCollum 👀... Lol ur crazy

— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) January 2, 2017
Still sitting at just 15-21 on the season, the Blazers will need more performances like Sunday's from McCollum if they hope to reach the postseason.

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METAIRIE, La. - The New Orleans Pelicans have waived veteran wing player Reggie Williams.

The 6-foot-6 Williams, an eight-year veteran who also has played for Golden State, Charlotte, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, joined the Pelicans on Dec. 10. He played in five games for New Orleans, averaging five points and 1.2 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game.

The move announced Sunday reduces New Orleans' roster to 14 players.

The Pelicans, who've won four straight and five of their past six games, play Monday night in Cleveland.

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James Harden of the Houston Rockets and John Wall of the Washington Wizards have been named NBA Western and Eastern Conference Players of the Week, respectively.

Harden led Houston to a 4-0 week, capping it with a career-high 53 points on New Year's Eve against the New York Knicks. In the four contests, he averaged 37.3 points, 12.5 assists, and 9.8 rebounds.

In the Knicks game, Harden became the first player in NBA history to have at least 50 points, 15 assists, and 15 rebounds in a game, and he tied Wilt Chamberlain's record for the most points in a triple-double.

Wall logged a season-high 16 assists in Washington's Dec. 26 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, and averaged 24.3 points, 13 dimes, and 2.7 steals in three games.

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Kyle Lowry scored 41 points on 16 shots in Sunday's 123-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Like his backcourt mate and close friend DeMar DeRozan, Lowry is having a career year. Neither has ever shot better from the floor or averaged more points in their NBA careers, a combined 19 seasons.

Like DeRozan last year, Lowry will enter unrestricted free agency this coming summer. While there's little reason to believe the catalyst of the Raptors has any desire to go elsewhere, the true decision rests with the organization. A five-year max contract worth about $150 million for a 31-year-old point guard comes with a warning label, no matter how many games Lowry didn't play in earlier in his career.

That's not to say the Raptors shouldn't reward arguably the best player in franchise history; they absolutely should, and more than likely will. What it says is the window on this Raptors' core is not a gaping one.

At an average age of 26.1, Toronto is smack dab in the median of the league, 15th out of 30. Most of the key players are above the average though: Lowry turns 31 in March, DeRozan is 27, DeMarre Carroll is 30, and Patrick Patterson - also a free agent this summer - turns 28 in March.

So, how does adding Paul Millsap, who turns 32 in February, help?

Well, it wouldn't be done with the future in mind, but the present. This is probably not a team built to win with a 34-year-old Lowry running the point in 2020, it's a squad built to try and win the Eastern Conference now. Outside of themselves, the only real obstruction to that goal is LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Does adding Millsap move the needle enough to beat the Cavs in a best-of-seven series? Maybe not. But does the addition of one of the East's elite power forwards notably enhance their odds? Of course it does.

Outside of his less-than-optimal age, Millsap is the closest consensus there is to a perfect addition for the Raptors' rotation; a reliable rebounder who can score high and low, a mobile defender, and a spark for small lineups.

Clearly, the Raptors shouldn't overpay for Millsap. Reports are now circulating he could be available; predictable given the question marks surrounding the Atlanta Hawks' roster and his impending free agency. The re-emergence of Terrence Ross on what is now a bargain contract - as well as the idea that Norm Powell could replace his minutes - would likely be central to any Toronto offer, although it's anyone's guess if Atlanta would be interested.

The Raptors also currently hold two first-round picks this June. Cory Joseph - who Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer helped develop with the San Antonio Spurs - could be of interest in Atlanta. While some may be amenable to moving Jonas Valanciunas in a deal for Millsap, the Raps might balk at that given their often-exposed center's still-young age.

Which brings us to Millsap's unrestricted free-agent status in July. There's always a risk in trading for a free-agent-to-be at midseason; at worst, you get a rental player. In Millsap's case, the Raptors would land his Bird rights in a deal, allowing them to offer him a maximum contract up to five years in length.

The problem once again: Millsap will be 32 in February, and locking him up along with Lowry and perhaps even Patterson would push the Raptors well into the luxury tax. Assuming they sucked that up, the core of Lowry, DeRozan, and Millsap would probably have another two seasons at best of Finals capability.

So the question comes back to: Is it worth it?

Is it worth taking the best shot available now, or holding off? The argument can be made the Raptors' window could basically be the same either way. Does the play of Ross this season erase the memory of inconsistencies past? These are things for Masai Ujiri to think about, assuming there's even a serious interest.

There's one more thing to consider, however.

If Millsap was available for the right price, would the Raptors do their best to compete? In something that longtime Southern Ontario sports fans could talk themselves into finding alarming, the Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur said on a recent "Lowe Post" podcast with ESPN's Zach Lowe that "there isn't a lot of organizational pressure," for the Raptors to go out and get better.

Ujiri's reputation as a smart, shrewd negotiator aside, the collective above him is Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment - a multi-billion dollar business that's not new to the accusation that their teams' on-field success isn't priority No. 1. The competitive turnarounds of MLSE's properties in recent years (three straight division titles for the Raptors, Toronto FC's MLS Cup appearance, and a presumably competent rebuild for the Maple Leafs) can be credited in large part to former CEO Tim Leiweke, who left the company in 2015.

The Raptors make a lot of money for MLSE. Playing into June could further that. There's absolutely no assurance Millsap gets them there, but sometimes teams have to take a swing.

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As the saying goes, "Kyle Lowry Over Everything."

Once again, the Toronto Raptors' engine carried his team to victory, dropping a season-high 41 points in a 123-114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. While solid the entire game, Lowry was particularly dominant in the fourth quarter, dropping 20 in the final frame.

Even more impressive was Lowry's efficiency, as he needed only 16 shots to eclipse 40 points.

"It's about winning at the end of the day," Lowry told TSN's Jack Armstrong following the contest. "Whatever it takes, I'm going to do."

The 6-foot-1 point guard has been a commanding presence of late following a slow start to the season. Lowry is coming off a December in which he averaged 24.4 points, 7.1 assists, and 4.4 rebounds on 54 percent shooting from the field and 50.4 percent from deep.

After collecting All-NBA honors in 2015-16, Lowry is putting up even better numbers this season, and looks like a shoe-in for his third straight All-Star game.

Lowry chipped in eight rebounds, seven assists, and six threes in the victory.

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Rajon Rondo may be headed to his fifth team in three seasons.

The point guard hasn't seen the floor at all over the Chicago Bulls' last six quarters, and if the trend continues, he could force his way out. He told reporters this weekend he'd "absolutely" request a trade if coach Fred Hoiberg continues to keep him out of the rotation, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

In Saturday's 116-96 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, Hoiberg opted to start Michael Carter-Williams at the one-spot and had Jerian Grant running the point off the bench, while Rondo received a DNP-CD after drawing starts in all 29 of his prior contests.

The 30-year-old informed general manager Gar Forman and executive VP John Paxson of his desire to play - in the Windy City or elsewhere - when they met following the game to discuss his future with the team. However, Johnson's sources indicated the Bulls aren't planning to trade or buy out Rondo, whom they signed this summer to a two-year deal worth $27 million.

The veteran guard endured a tension-filled stint with the Sacramento Kings last season, and had a public falling-out with coach Rick Carlisle on the Dallas Mavericks the year before. This time around, he vowed to stay professional.

Despite benching Rondo and telling him he's looked slow in recent contests, Hoiberg reportedly doesn't have a problem with the four-time All-Star, and may insert him into the second unit. If the former NBA champion is still out of the rotation ahead of February's trade deadline, though, the Bulls are expected to attempt to move him.

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Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart and center Tyler Zeller were both admitted to New England Baptist Hospital Sunday night due to a stomach illness and sinus issue, respectively.

Head coach Brad Steven says both players picked up minor infections.

"Marcus, he has the bug that has been going around, the GI (gastro-intestinal) bug," Stevens told Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. "And then Tyler’s had an ear infection and some sinusitis for a while. He was really feeling under the weather yesterday, more so than even in the past couple of weeks, and he’s been battling for a while now. Hopefully those guys get discharged soon and are able to join us ASAP."

Smart played 34 minutes in Friday's win over the Miami Heat, shooting only 1-for-7 from the floor. Zeller didn't appear in that game.

The Celtics have been fighting their share of injuries this season, with Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley, and Kelly OIynyk all missing time at some point.

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James Harden of the Houston Rockets and John Wall of the Washington Wizards have been named NBA Players of the Month for December in the Western and Eastern Conference, respectively.

The same duo were named Players of the Week on Monday.

Harden had five triple-doubles in December, ranking fourth league-wide in scoring and first in assists, as he continues his quest to become the first player to lead the league in both since Nate Archibald in 1972-73.

He also scored a career-high 53 points on New Year's Eve, becoming the first player in NBA history to have at least 50 points, 15 assists, and 15 rebounds in a game - while tying Wilt Chamberlain's record for the most points in a triple-double.

Wall led the Eastern Conference in assists and steals during the month, and scored a career-high 52 points on Dec. 6. He beat out Isaiah Thomas for the honor, which may not sit well with the Boston Celtics guard. On Monday, Thomas told reporters he deserved the honor. "Hell yeah," he said. "I should definitely get that award."

Thomas led the conference in scoring at 30.3 points per game in December.

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Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid and New Orleans Pelicans guard Buddy Hield have been named the Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month for December.

It's the second monthly honor in as many months for Embiid to start his career, and the first for Hield, who has come on strong after a sluggish first few weeks.

Embiid led all rookies in points (19.8), rebounds (6.8), and blocks (2.4) per game for the second straight month, as he saw his minutes scaled up to an average of 27.3 after starting the year on a tight restriction.

Hield finished the month second among freshmen in scoring at 10.6 per game, and shot a blistering 47.8 percent from 3-point range to rank 12th among all players with at least 20 attempts. He's really seemed to find his stroke in the past four games, in particular, averaging 15.8 points while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 55 percent from deep as the Pelicans have gotten themselves back in the playoff race.

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Like most rookies, Nikola Jokic had to revamp his diet and conditioning program when he entered the NBA last season.

Jokic was once a doughy seven-footer, but the Serbian sensation looks much sleeker of late. Sacrifices were necessary in order for Jokic to thrive. For one, he had to ditch his dependency on Coca-Cola.

As revealed to ESPN's Zach Lowe:

Lowe: Is it true you used to drink a gallon of Coca-Cola every day?

Jokic: Yeah. Maybe three liters or so. It was a lot.

How early in the morning did you take your first hit?

Never in the morning, because we had practices in the morning, and I could never drink before. But after practice, it was glass after glass. I couldn't stop.

Ever dabble now, or have you totally kicked it?

I haven't had any in the last one-and-a-half years. On my flight to come to Denver, I had my last Coke ever.

Any withdrawal headaches?

No. Nothing. It was easy. It felt really good, actually. It was good to know I didn't need it.

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Paul Millsap's name has recently popped up in trade rumors, but that doesn't mean the 10-year veteran is intent on leaving Atlanta anytime soon.

"Everybody knows where my heart is and where I want to be," Millsap told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That would be here."

After signing a two-year deal with the Hawks in 2013, Millsap has arguably become the team's best player, averaging 17.3 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks in 259 career games.

With three All-Star appearances and one All-Defensive team honors, Atlanta is certain to have plenty of suitors should they choose to shop Millsap. While no team has been recently linked to the 31-year-old, both the Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors have reportedly expressed interest in the past.


While Atlanta is reportedly afraid of losing Millsap for nothing this summer, the Hawks sit close to the top of the Eastern Conference, giving them less incentive to move the 6-foot-8 power forward.

Although he has a player option for 2017-18, reports have indicated Millsap is intent on opting out this summer, making him one of the top unrestricted free agents on the market.

The Louisiana Tech product is averaging 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.9 blocks in 31 games this season.

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Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors and Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets were named NBA Coaches of the Month for December in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively.

D'Antoni guided the Rockets to an NBA-best 15-2 record in the final month of 2016, leading the league in point differential (12.9). The master of the fast-paced offense oversaw a team that made an NBA-high 16.4 3-pointers per game during December, paced by Western Conference Player of the Month James Harden.

Casey's Raptors went 10-4 in the month, setting franchise records for largest margin of victory (44 points over the Atlanta Hawks on Dec. 3) and consecutive road wins (seven, with the first two coming in November).

Going into Wednesday's action, the Raptors and Rockets are the No. 2 and 3 teams, respectively, this season in offensive rating, and Nos. 3 and 4 in Net Rating, according to NBA Stats.

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The Philadelphia 76ers are waiving swingman Hollis Thompson, a source told Philly Mag's Derek Bodner.

Thompson, 25, is in the fourth and final year of a partially guaranteed deal that would've become fully guaranteed for the remainder of this season on Jan. 10. He's currently posting career lows in points (5.5), rebounds (2.7), minutes (18.1), free-throw rate (12.6 percent), and true shooting (51 percent).

He is, however, a career 38.9-percent 3-point shooter (his 36.6 percent mark this season, while a personal worst, is still above average), and could be a beneficial scrap-heap pickup for a team lacking depth on the wing.

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The Atlanta Hawks will soon honor one of their all-time greats at Philips Arena.

The date and details have yet to be finalized, but the Hawks will retire Pete Maravich's No. 44 jersey, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitutional.

Drafted with the No. 3 pick in 1970, "Pistol Pete" spent the first four years of his career with the Hawks, averaging 24.3 points, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals during his time in the ATL.

Atlanta will be the third NBA team to honor Maravich, joining the Utah Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans.

The Hall of Famer will join Bob Pettit, Lou Hudson, Dominique Wilkins, and Dikembe Mutombo as the only Hawks to have their jersey retired.

Maravich died in 1988 at the age of 40 after experiencing heart failure while playing pick-up basketball.

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Chris Bosh still is unclear about what his future holds, and while mentioning how he's getting a ''taste of retirement'' stopped short of saying he will no longer pursue an NBA career.

Bosh has been sidelined since last February because of complications related to blood clots. He's still technically a member of the Miami Heat, though has not been around the team in any official capacity since he failed a physical in September and was not permitted to resume on-court activities.

Bosh, speaking at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, was asked how he's spent time away from the court.

''For me, I kind of just follow my passions and follow what I love to do and use my free time to kind of answer those questions and go through my bad moods and maybe a little light case of depression,'' Bosh said. ''Really, to search for what I'm looking for. And I've come to some interesting conclusions. It's all about following my heart and what made me happy.''

Bosh did not specifically mention whether he will or will not try to play again, nor did he mention his health status. It's expected that the Heat will waive him sometime after February, after the 1-year anniversary of his last game appearance passes. The $76 million that Bosh is owed for this and the next two seasons remains guaranteed, but he would no longer be taking up a massive amount of Miami's salary-cap space.

Bosh was speaking on a panel alongside St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler and Golden State Warriors guard Draymond Green. The panel, titled ''Life Off The Court,'' was moderated by Maverick Carter, the CEO of SpringHill Entertainment and the business partner of Bosh's former Miami teammate LeBron James.

Bosh said he went to the CES event to meet with people and leverage some business relationships.

''I don't know what's going to come out of it,'' Bosh said. ''But we're here.''

Bosh had his 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons cut short at the All-Star break after the discovery of blood clots. He missed the last 30 games of the 2014-15 season because of the first known occurrence of the clot issue, and the last 43 games - including playoffs - last season after a second separate situation.

Bosh said ''there's still a lot of things'' that he has to figure out.

''I'm still learning more about myself and my situation, and really off the court how to function there because I'm kind of getting the taste of retirement now,'' Bosh said. ''Just trying to navigate those waters because it gets a little complicated sometimes. ... Hoping one day that the stars align and I figure some things out and things kind of just go my way and I'll be able to do what I want to do. I don't know what that is yet.''

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If there's one thing on LeBron James' wish list for 2017, it's a new point guard.

"That was obvious from Day 1, first day of training camp," James told Joe Vardon of cleveland.com. "We don't have a reliable, veteran backup point guard."

The Cavs have failed to find an able replacement after losing Matthew Dellavedova to free agency last summer, relying upon Kay Felder and Jordan McRae to fill the role. While the pair have tried their best, neither has made much of an impact through the first 34 games of the season.

"Kay's in the process of learning on the fly," James said. "He's a rookie and is going to have his mistakes and things of that nature. It's tough on him because we're a franchise trying to win a championship. He has to have a fast-track mind. But we don't have a backup point guard."

Mario Chalmers - an ex-teammate of LeBron's - is currently a free agent, and could be a potential target should Cleveland free up a roster spot. Rajon Rondo is another point guard who is likely to be available, but his issues with coaching staff over the past several seasons could make him a poor fit.

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The big-man renaissance of the 1990s and early-2000s is long gone, making way for the age of the guard.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey knows this, but he still wants more from center Jonas Valanciunas, and he's not afraid to bench him if he doesn't get it. That's demonstrated by the fact that the 24-year-old Lithuanian has only played 30 minutes or more in a game twice since Nov. 25 against the Milwaukee Bucks - an 18-game span.

"If your big guys don't dominate, you have to go small," Casey told ESPN's Zach Lowe. "I tell Jonas (Valanciunas): 'Oh, you want to play more? Then dominate. I don't want to see fadeaways over 6-8 guys. Get to the rim. Get every offensive rebound. If not, you're coming out.'"

Players like Valanciunas, who don't offer much outside of low-post scoring and rebounding, are somewhat of a dying breed. The reliance on 3-point shooting and smaller lineups has created mismatches for teams like the Bucks and Warriors, who like to run out smaller, faster lineups.

Marc Gasol and Brook Lopez have embraced the new age of outside shooting, while still being able to defend the paint, whereas players like Nikola Vucevic and Greg Monroe have been sent to the bench for not being active on both sides of the ball. Casey is clearly hoping Valanciunas can join the former group.

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Kyle Korver watched from the bench Thursday night as his Atlanta Hawks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, after learning, just before tipoff, that he'd been traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

In strictly basketball terms, Korver has every reason to be thrilled about the move. He's headed to the reigning champs and overwhelming Eastern Conference favorites, with a great chance to make his first Finals appearance and win a ring in the twilight of his career.

On a personal level, though, Korver was understandably emotional about moving on from the place that's been his NBA home - and the site of his greatest career accomplishments - since 2012.

"Definitely mixed emotions," Korver told reporters after the game. "There's a lot of heart ties to Atlanta, for a lot of reasons. A lot of friendships, relationships. It's where I had my best basketball career, honestly. It's where I had all my kids. So, it's hard to leave that behind.

"Obviously it's a great opportunity for me, to go to Cleveland, so I'm very excited about that part. But there's a lot of relationships I care a lot about here that I'm gonna miss."

"From a basketball perspective, it's a great, great fit for me," he added. "And I know that."

Meanwhile, the news was no easier to digest for Korver's longtime teammates.

Trades are a part of the business of basketball but the Hawks postgame locker room was as emotional as I've seen.

— Chris Vivlamore (@CVivlamoreAJC) January 6, 2017
Paul Millsap, who's played with Korver for parts of seven seasons between the Hawks and the Utah Jazz, is rumored to be on the block, too. But Millsap wasn't interested in talking about his own tenuous situation after the game.

"Today's not about me," he said, according to ESPN's Justin Verrier. "Today's about Kyle. It's about Kyle leaving. Kyle going to the Cleveland Cavaliers. I'm not a selfish guy, so it's not about me. It's not about what's happening to me next. It's about cherishing the time that Kyle has been here, cherishing him being a great teammate."

Korver played 332 games for the Hawks, averaging 10.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists while shooting 46.2 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from 3-point range - all his highest marks with any of his four NBA teams.

He made his lone All-Star team in 2014-15, when he helped the Hawks to a franchise-best 60-22 season and their first-ever conference finals berth.

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At last year's trade deadline, the Cleveland Cavaliers made what seemed like an innocuous move by nabbing aging stretch big Channing Frye. It proved to be anything but.

As the beneficiary of countless LeBron James kickouts and open looks out of the pick-and-pop, Frye went haywire in the postseason, shooting 56.5 percent from 3-point range and stretching opposing Eastern Conference bigs past their breaking point as the Cavs blitzed to the Finals and eventually won the title.

The Cavs probably didn't need Frye. He scored just two total points in the Finals, after all, and Cleveland assuredly still would've won the East without him. But he offered them an important bit of insurance. He helped them sweep the Atlanta Hawks and detroit Pistons, and comfortably bury the Raptors, when those series might've been just slightly more difficult otherwise. In a season that came down to a Game 7 decided by four points, every little edge mattered.

This season, even as they lap the East field again, the Cavs just went out and got another sharpshooter - a wing this time - to put that much more distance between themselves and the rest of the conference. And let's be clear, adding Kyle Korver is far from an innocuous move. It's a considerably more impactful one than the Frye trade. He may be pushing 36, but Korver is about as perfect a complementary piece as this version of the Cavs could ask for: a marauding space-hunter who was born to catch and shoot; a guy with a liquid quick release, who flies off screens, never stops moving, and generally thrives away from the ball. Korver's a headache to keep track of on his own, but running alongside Cleveland's deadly offensive brigade, he might as well be a shadow.

The Cavs finally found their identity midway through last season, and they've since taken off (stylistically and substantively) by embracing their most logical strategy: surrounding LeBron with shooters, and letting them bomb away. They've been both more accurate and more prolific from distance than even the Golden State Warriors this season. Only the historically trigger-happy Houston Rockets are launching more 3-pointers, and only the San Antonio Spurs are shooting them at a better clip. (Perhaps they'd have gotten to this point sooner if they'd been able to acquire Frye and Korver when they first dreamed of it: as long ago as 2008, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.)

Even with J.R. Smith injured (and ineffective before that), the Cavs are shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc as a team. They're shooting 40.8 percent on catch-and-shoot threes, a mark that only figures to improve with the addition of Korver - who's shooting 43.7 percent on such shots in a system that likely isn't generating near as many open looks as Cleveland's will. He's going to make the offense - already a pick-your-poison nightmare - functionally unstoppable. (How does one defend, say, a LeBron-Kevin Love pick-and-roll/pop that's flanked by Korver, Frye, and Kyrie Irving? Your best option might honestly be to just let LeBron rumble down the lane for a dunk. At least then you're only giving up two points.)

In short, the Cavs have effectively filled Smith's role with a supercharged version of him, and somehow all they had to surrender in the bargain was a protected 2019 first-round pick and a broken-down Mike Dunleavy. (They're only allowed to trade that pick thanks to a bit of sly genius from GM David Griffin, who crafted a separate deal with the Portland Trail Blazers in which the Cavs sent out their 2017 first-rounder in exchange for having their 2018 pick returned). Given their roster, cap situation, and the options available, that's nothing short of a heist.

The Cavs were probably going to win the East with or without Korver, but there's never any downside to improving your odds. Besides, they have bigger fish to fry, and while repeating as champs will take some serious doing, they just gave themselves a significant boost.

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Don't blame Russell Westbrook for the Oklahoma City Thunder's loss to the Houston Rockets.

Westbrook dropped 49 points - including eight triples - and tallied eight rebounds and five assists in 38 minutes to account for nearly half of OKC's points. However, that wasn't enough to overcome a team effort from the Rockets, who saw six players finish with double digits in scoring.

The Thunder, on the other hand, only had four players in double digits.

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Backup point guard Mo Williams will be included in a deal sending former All-Star shooting guard Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers, sources told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal.

The reported deal would also send Mike Dunleavy and a 2019 protected first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks.

In order to make room for both players, seldom-used forward Ryan Kelly is expected to be waived by Atlanta, according to Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Williams has yet to play in an NBA game this season after undergoing knee surgery in October. The 34-year-old averaged 8.2 points, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per game for the Cavaliers last season.

With Korver gone, the Hawks are reportedly listening to offers for three-time All-Star Paul Millsap.

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Atlanta Hawks GM Wes Wilcox made offensive remarks while speaking before season-ticket holders at an event on Dec. 7, according to Deadspin.
In an attempt to calm a crowd upset by the state of the franchise, Wilcox made a poor attempt at levity with a racially charged joke, as retold by Hawks fan Clarenton Crawford and another fan who attended the event:
"I know you guys may be angry with me, but I'm used to it because I have a black wife and three mixed kids, so I'm used to people being angry and argumentative," Wilcox said.
Wilcox issued an apology through a statement to Deadspin:
"At an early December chalk talk, I made a self-deprecating comment at my own expense regarding my family, which is multi-racial. This joke offended Mr. Crawford and his wife and for that, I apologize."
Crawford pursued the matter further with Hawks CEO Steve Koonin. The two shared an email exchange that eventually led to a sit-down between Crawford, Koonin, and Hawks senior VP Nzinga Shaw. Koonin offered his apologies on behalf of Wilcox, while Shaw, who also serves as the Hawks' chief diversity and inclusion officer, said Wilcox was placed in counseling.
Two years ago, former Hawks general manager Danny Ferry was let go afterissuing racist remarks regarding then-free agent Luol Deng and other fellow Africans. The ensuing investigation into Ferry's comments revealed that former Hawks team owner Bruce Levenson stated in an email to his staff that he valued white fans more than black fans.
Both Ferry and Levenson are no longer with the franchise.










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The Denver Nuggets have waived small forward Alonzo Gee, the team announced Friday.

Gee played in 13 games for the Nuggets this season after signing with the team back in mid-November, averaging 0.8 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.5 assists on just 21.4 percent shooting.

The 29-year-old veteran has spent time with six teams over his eight-year career, averaging 6.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.1 assists over 417 career games.

The Nuggets' roster now stands at 14 players, meaning a subsequent move is likely.

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The NBA is looking into a unique way to get fans to tune in.

While nothing is imminent, commissioner Adam Silver said fans may one day be able to pay for just the final five minutes of a basketball game in an effort to increase viewership.

"Certainly we’re going from a place where it was one price for an entire season of games. Now just in the last two years, we’ve made single games available," Silver told Diamond Leung of SportTechie. "But I think you’re going to get to the point where somebody wants to watch the last five minutes of the game, and they go click, they’ll pay a set price for five minutes as opposed to what they would pay for two hours of the game."

Silver is aware that the average fan likely isn't willing to watch an entire game, but may be more inclined to tune in during a close contest or career performance.

"I think it’s going to be a lot easier to watch games on mobile devices," Silver said.

"I think you’re going to hit the point where for example … you’re on a Twitter feed or you get an alert. I think there will be a lot more sophisticated alerts, and you’ll see 'I know Sue Bird, I like Sue Bird, Sue Bird’s going for a record-setting game.' And then you’re going to go click, and then you’re going to get the game."

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It's difficult to put into words just how important Russell Westbrook is to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as his ungodly numbers and string of triple-doubles have kept the team right in the thick of things in the Western Conference sans former MVP Kevin Durant.

For the 17th time this season - and 54th time in his career - the 28-year-old point guard put up a triple-double in a 121-106 win over the visiting Denver Nuggets on Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

In 35 minutes of action, Westbrook scored a game-high 32 points on 10-of-20 shooting with seven makes from behind the arc. He also grabbed an absurd 17 rebounds, handed out 11 assists, and stole the ball on three occasions.

This assist gives Russ his 17th triple-double of the season!

Oh, and just by the way, he has 7 👌s... pic.twitter.com/z22lUXzroJ

— NBA (@NBA) January 8, 2017
To put into perspective just how sensational his production has been, Westbrook's 17th triple-double is one fewer than he had over the entire 2015-16 campaign, and we're not even halfway through this season.

He also has as many triple-doubles as James Harden, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green ... combined.

Oklahoma City is now 32-3 over the last two seasons when Westbrook finishes with a triple-double.

Westbrook has now tied Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson (1988-89) for the 10th-most triple-doubles in a single season. He still has a ways to go if he wants to catch record-holder Oscar Robertson's 41, though, a feat accomplished in the 1961-62 season.

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Call it a ploy to drive up offers, or a genuine about-face turn from the Atlanta Hawks, but power forward Paul Millsap is no longer on the trade market.

Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox is phoning teams across the league informing interested suitors that Millsap, the three-time All-Star, is no longer available, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

The Hawks are apparently determined to push for the playoffs - a week after gifting veteran sharpshooter Kyle Korver to the Cleveland Cavaliers for future assets which hinted at the start of a long-awaited rebuild in Atlanta.

However, the Hawks have since found their stride, having won six-straight over the last two weeks. That run has them in fourth within an Eastern Conference landscape defined, as always, by mediocrity. Should the Hawks keep everyone together, a 10th-straight playoff appearance wouldn't be out of the question.

The Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors were reportedly interested in Millsap when the news broke that the Hawks would entertain offers on the 31-year-old. Millsap is expected to opt out of his $20-million player option for 2017-18 and test free agency this summer. It stood to reason that the Hawks would consider recouping some value for Millsap if they didn't feel confident about retaining him.

Millsap is averaging 17.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists this season despite shooting a career-worst 43.8 percent from the field.

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Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry and Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler have been named Players of the Week for their respective conferences.

Curry is coming off of one of his best stretches of the season, averaging 31.8 points, 5.5 assists, and 4.5 rebounds during the Warriors' 3-1 week. While not nearly as dominant as last season, the two-time MVP has provided plenty of offense for Golden State in 2016-17, and is a major reason why it sits atop the NBA with a 32-6 record.

After ending 2016 by slipping below .500, Butler led the Bulls to a bounce-back week, going 3-0 to start the new year. The Marquette product was completely dominant, averaging 38 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists for the week that was highlighted by his 50-point performance against the Charlotte Hornets.

It is the ninth Player of the Week honor of Curry's career, and Butler's third.

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The Brooklyn Nets have waived former power forward Anthony Bennett, the team announced Monday.

Brooklyn is signing free-agent forward Quincy Acy to a 10-day contract to fill Bennett's roster spot, league sources tell ESPN's Marc Stein.

Drafted with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, Bennett has struggled to live up to the hype during his young NBA career, bouncing around four teams in four seasons.

The 23-year-old averaged five points and 3.4 rebounds on 41.3 percent shooting in 23 games for the Nets this season.

Acy began the year with the Dallas Mavericks before being waived in November. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 225 career games.

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After mysteriously missing Monday night's contest against the New Orleans Pelicans, Derrick Rose's future in the Big Apple is now in serious doubt.

Not only is Rose's short-term future up in the air, but the chances of him landing a lucrative contract extension with the New York Knicks this summer are now in jeopardy, league sources tell The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

There is also a possibility that Rose will face suspension for his actions, according to Wojnarowski.

The Knicks have yet to officially announce why Rose was absent, but reports have indicated that being away from his son has taken its toll on the 28-year-old.

While his counting stats remain solid, Rose has been a liability on the other end of the floor this season, and is one of the main reasons why New York sits just 26th in defensive efficiency.

It's still unclear whether Rose will be back in time for Wednesday's bout with the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Derrick Rose has been found.

The New York Knicks point guard was spotted at practice a day after missing Monday's contest against the New Orleans Pelicans for unknown reasons, ESPN's Ian Begley reports.

While Rose has yet to reveal the reason for his absence, reports have indicated that being away from his son had taken a toll on him. A separate report determined that the 28-year-old was upset after being benched in the fourth quarter of Friday's contest.

Rose has yet to face any punishment for his actions, but could reportedly be suspended by the Knicks.

The former MVP is averaging 17.3 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.9 rebounds for New York this season.

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After seemingly burning every bridge he may have had left in the NBA, George Karl has started seeing the error of his ways, and wants to apologize.

Karl went in on some notable current and former NBA players in his new book, namely: Carmelo Anthony, Damian Lillard, and Kenyon Martin. The 65-year-old former head coach was quoted as saying Anthony was a "user of people," the Trail Blazers team struggles are mainly due to Lillard, and Martin's issues on and off the court were due to him having "no father to show (him) how to act."

Karl appeared on the NBA A to Z podcast with USA Today's Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgit to help clear the air, and repent for some things he may have taken too far.

“I think the one thing is (the) fatherhood (comments)," Karl told Amick and Zillgit. "Fatherhood is very important to me, and I made that a target. It seems like that was the one thing, and I said it poorly, I wrote it poorly, it's read poorly in the book."

However, Karl goes on later to say that it wasn't only the fatherhood comments that he feels bad about.

"And my whole thing is the one thing I regret probably most is some of the mothers (being offended). Kenyon Martin’s mother is one of the great mothers, superstar mothers of the NBA, and I would never want to take anything away from some of the special families and also special mothers."

Getting another head coaching job in the NBA is extremely unlikely for the fifth all-time leader in wins by a bench boss, but Karl is more than willing to sit down with some of the player's mentioned to find some common ground.

“I think for me, whenever the storm settles a little bit, I think that’s a possibility that hopefully maybe Kenyon and whoever else, J.R. (Smith), Melo, whoever other people who feel that we should have a one-on-one conversation, I would be totally and completely open to that."

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Kevin Garnett is keeping himself busy in retirement.

In addition to working as a broadcaster for TNT, the 15-time All-Star will be working as a consultant for the Los Angeles Clippers, according to Brad Turner of the LA Times. Garnett will specifically work with the Clippers' bigs.

While he never played with the Clippers, Garnett has strong ties to the organization, having played for head coach Doc Rivers during his days with the Boston Celtics.

DJ working out with KG at practice pic.twitter.com/0k3tx7y5We

— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) January 10, 2017
Garnett has appeared in more than one NBA gym since retiring from basketball last fall, spending time with Milwaukee Bucks youngsters Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker, and Khris Middleton in December.

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The days of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh rolling through the Association on their "Heatles" world tour are a thing of the past, with center Hassan Whiteside taking over the mantle as the face of the Miami Heat.

The team's ongoing struggles (11-29 record, 14th in Eastern Conference) are bringing into question who's considered untouchable and who's at risk of being sent packing in potential trades, though.

As far as the 7-foot Whiteside is concerned, a Heat spokesperson said Tuesday night prior to Miami's 107-95 loss to the Golden State Warriors that the team isn't actively looking to move him, according to the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro.

"I never really pay attention to (trade rumors)," Whiteside said an hour before tipoff. "If I pay attention to it I wouldn't be back in the league. There's all kinds of rumors. A lot of people said a lot of things so I wouldn't get back in the league. So, I don't pay it no mind."

The 27-year-old added that he feels the organization is committed to turning things around, and that he was fully aware of how rough things were going to be upon signing his four-year, $98-million contract, knowing the state of Miami's ever-changing roster.

"These guys care about winning and losing," he added. "I knew it was going to be a big change when we've got nine new guys coming to the team. It's a whole new team. Those guys they care about winning. It could always be worse.

"I just try to come out here and do the most I can for whatever that is - to try to affect the team in a positive way."

Whiteside currently leads the league in rebounding with 14.4 boards per game, while also averaging 17.7 points and 2.2 rejections. His 26 double-doubles also rank fifth overall.

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For all the dysfunction that's dogged the Sacramento Kings since they drafted DeMarcus Cousins in 2010, it appears he has no intention of skipping town any time soon.

Though he can become a free agent after next season, Cousins intends to sign a five-year max extension with the Kings this summer, a source told CSN's James Ham.

The two sides have "tossed around numbers," Ham reports, and will reach an agreement "barring a late change in direction by either side."

Tossing around numbers seems like a pointless exercise, given that Cousins is virtually guaranteed to get the max and thus have his contract dictated by the league's salary cap and not the Kings.

The NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, which will kick in at the conclusion of this season, includes a provision that allows teams to offer a designated incumbent player a super-max deal. That includes being able to offer an additional year on an extension, and up to 35 percent of the team's cap in the first year of the deal, regardless of service time.

Under the outgoing CBA, all players had to accrue at least 10 years of service time to be eligible to earn 35 percent of the cap, but Cousins - currently in his seventh season - can make that much as the Kings' designated player, provided he meets certain performance-based criteria. The cap is projected to rise to $103 million next season, and a super-max extension would net Cousins an estimated $207 million.

The 26-year-old big man is averaging a career-high 28.1 points this season, along with 9.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks, plus an impressive 37.2 percent mark from 3-point range on nearly five attempts per game. He's also had his seemingly annual spate of off-court issues, including a confrontation with a local reporter. He's leading the league in technical fouls for the second straight season, and is on pace to both shatter his personal record and earn an automatic suspension by the All-Star break.

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The Brodie is on quite the roll this season - even by his standards.

Russell Westbrook recorded 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists in Wednesday's 103-95 win over the Memphis Grizzlies for his 18th triple-double, matching his total from last season.

Even more impressive, the Oklahoma City Thunder star needed just 40 games to reach the mark - half the number of contests it took him a year ago.

There's another one! Russ matches his total number of trip-dubs all of last season. #NBAVOTE Russell Westbrook pic.twitter.com/nleNSTbSxP

— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) January 12, 2017
In his go-around without Kevin Durant, Westbrook is averaging a league-leading 31.2 points to go along with 10.4 assists, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per outing for the Thunder, who are currently tied for the fifth seed in the West.

With 55 career triple-doubles, he's on pace to surpass Larry Bird's 59 for fifth all time well before the campaign ends.

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It's time to play the game, and it's time to trust the process.

Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid has turned himself into a social media phenomenon as of late with his campaign to get himself named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, using every strategy in the book to help garner fan support.

While he's certainly doing well enough on his own, some added assistance came in the form of 14-time WWE World Champion Triple H on Thursday evening, who tweeted out a vote for the Rookie of the Year favorite.

To play the game you gotta go through The Process ... #NBAVote https://t.co/PzD3Qa46H6

— Triple H (@TripleH) January 13, 2017
Embiid tagged "The Game" and the sports-entertainment promotion in a photo of him putting his hands around T.J. McConnell's neck in celebration following his game-winning turnaround jumper against the New York Knicks. The rookie wrote that he learned how to do that by watching Triple H wrestle before asking if WWE is "ready for the process."

"Last night with Triple H, that was amazing," Embiid said Friday of the vote, according to CSN Philly's Jessica Camerato.

Following the second return of votes, Embiid finds himself ranked fourth in voting in the East frontcourt behind LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Kevin Love with 457,300 votes.

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LeBron James wants the Cavaliers to pick up a "reliable, veteran backup point guard" and GM David Griffin wants to give his superstar what he desires - but it isn't that easy.

The Cavs have struggled to find a replacement for Matthew Dellavedova, who left the defending champs in the off-season for a much heartier paycheck from the Milwaukee Bucks. Cleveland has been forced to run out rookie Kay Felder and second-year guard Jordan McRae as the primary backups to Kyrie Irving, which isn't exactly reassuring for a team hoping for a long playoff run.

Griffin is doing what he can to give the King what he wants, but with so many squads still in the hunt for the playoffs, teams are wary of trading an asset.

“It’s very difficult right now to make trades,” Griffin told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal. “There’s so many teams that are still in it in both conferences in terms of those final playoff spots, that they’re really aren’t teams that identify themselves as sellers right now. And the teams that are identified as sellers probably didn’t have what fit us real well, so I think there are far fewer opportunities right now to make trades than there have been in the past for our team, just in terms of fit."

Griffin has a reputation for mid-season pickups that help enhance the rotation for the Cavaliers, most recently adding sharpshooter Kyle Korver, and in the past adding J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Channing Frye - all essential parts of the Cavs' core - during the season.

With such a small amount of games separating the fringe playoff teams from the bottom dwellers in each conference, many will hold on to their assets until they can see exactly where they stand once the season progresses further.

The Cavs are pretty much set in the first spot in the Eastern Conference, so Griffin has time to wait out the market.

“Maybe some teams that are still playing for right now may end up being in a situation where they start to set the deck for the future,” Griffin continued. “We need more teams to be out of the playoff picture to really be able to get business done.”

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Carmelo Anthony's heart remains committed to the Big Apple, even with his New York Knicks looking like anything but a lock to qualify for the playoffs as they hover below the .500 mark at 18-22.

With a no-trade clause in his contract, the 32-year-old scoring forward holds all of the power when it comes to his future with the franchise. However, if he were to decide that enough's enough, there are reportedly only two teams in the Association that Anthony would willingly waive the clause for.

It's of the understanding that Anthony would accept being dealt to either the reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers or the Los Angeles Clippers, according to FanRag Sports' Charlie Rosen, a good friend of team president Phil Jackson.


Anthony remains locked up through the end of the 2017-18 regular season, with a player option worth nearly $28 million in 2018-19. New York has gone the last three years without a postseason appearance, yet even in their current state of mediocrity, the team finds itself only two games back of the Charlotte Hornets for the eighth seed.

Cleveland has hit a bit of a January dry spell at 3-3 over its last six games, yet that's not nearly bad enough to sound the alarm and make a blockbuster move for someone of Anthony's ability. The same can be said for the Clippers, who have been in desperate need of a small forward for quite some time, but are riding a hot six-game winning streak without the services of Blake Griffin.

Anthony sits 20th in the league in points per game at 22.1, while also contributing 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 0.9 steals in 33.4 minutes per game.

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The NBA Coach of the Year award is voted on by a panel of media members and sports writers on an annual basis, and that formula isn't slated to change.

Beginning this season, though, the league will introduce and recognize a new award that allows coaches to honor one of their own at the end of the regular season, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.

The award will be called the Michael H. Goldberg Coach of the Year - named after the longtime executive director of the National Basketball Coaches Association - and will be voted on by all 30 head coaches.

The NBA Players Association has voted on its own year-end awards for the past two years, and now the league's coaches will do the same in the form of this tribute to Goldberg, who started as executive director six years after the Coaches Association was founded in 1980.

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The future of the National Basketball Association in Mexico has the potential to go beyond just a few special appearances during the regular season, which is how current commissioner Adam Silver sees things unfolding in the future.

"It ultimately may make sense to bring more teams, rather than just have two teams play each other for a single event, to maybe bring multiple teams and have some sort of midseason tournament, some sort of round-robin tournament," Silver said Saturday.

"That's one of the things that he's (deputy commissioner Mark Tatum) been looking at, together with his colleagues, to see whether there's something new and different we should be doing with our format given the long regular season."

The league is coming off a successful two-game stint in Mexico City, culminating Saturday night when the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs played in front of a record sellout crowd of 20,532 fans. Phoenix fell to the Dallas Mavericks on Jan. 12 at the Mexico City Arena.


This isn't the first time Silver has entertained the idea of a midseason tournament, as it was back in 2014 when the Board of Governors and competition committee discussed bringing one to Las Vegas stemming from the popularity of Summer League.

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From the amount of money he could potentially earn on a new deal to the fact that he's on the most stacked roster in all of basketball, there aren't many reasons why reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry would even entertain the idea of leaving the Golden State Warriors this summer.

"I can't," Curry said to the Mercury News' Tim Kawakami on Saturday when asked if he could fathom signing with another franchise when he hits free agency. "Like I've said from Day 1 when I was first asked about free agency, this is a perfect place to play. Bay Area fans are amazing, our organization's amazing, we've put together an amazing team that's competing for championships every year.

"There's really no reason that I can see right now that would draw me elsewhere."

By meeting the criteria for the league's designated player extension under the new collective bargaining agreement, Curry has put himself in a position to cash in big time with the Warriors on a potential deal worth approximately $209 million over five years - the largest in NBA history. In comparison, other teams could only offer a max at four years and roughly $133 million.

Being on the team that originally drafted him, along with his MVP wins and All-NBA Team nods, allow The Chef to be eligible.

"I know it's on the horizon," Curry said of negotiations. "It's something that I hope to get done this summer.

"It sounds crazy, but I haven't really thought about what that means yet, just because it's so much time between now and then. So much to accomplish."

Surprisingly enough, the 28-year-old guard has never been the highest-paid player on the Warriors. He signed a four-year, $44-million extension back in 2012, and is currently competing in its final year with a salary of just over $12 million.

"One thing my pops always told me is you never count another man's money. It's what you've got and how you take care of it," Curry added. "And if I'm complaining about $44 million over four years, then I've got other issues in my life."

While his numbers have taken a dip since the arrival of four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant, Curry is still playing at an extremely high level and remains one of the key reasons why the 34-6 Warriors are where they are in the standings. He's averaging 24.7 points on 46.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.8 percent from deep, along with 5.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 33.6 minutes per game.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Russell Westbrook had 36 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for his 20th triple-double of the season and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Sacramento Kings 122-118 on Sunday night.

Westbrook had 18 triple-doubles last season. He entered Sunday averaging a triple-double and is trying to match Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson as the only NBA player to average a triple-double for a full season.

Enes Kanter had 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder. Victor Oladipo had 17 of his 23 points in the first half and Alex Abrines had 13 points. Oklahoma City had dropped three of its previous four games.

DeMarcus Cousins had 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Kings, who have lost two straight and five of six. Rudy Gay had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Darren Collison had 21 points.

The Kings committed 22 turnovers that led to 23 points after having 21 giveaways in a loss Friday to the Cavaliers. They are now 1-5 on this homestand.

The Kings battled back and twice cut the lead to three points in the final 25 seconds, but Abrines and Oladipo each made two free throws and Westbrook had a steal and layup to fend off Sacramento.

Westbrook made a pair of 3-pointers and had seven points in an 80-second span to put the Thunder up by 15 just past the midway point in the fourth.

After a subpar first half where he missed frequent shots and committed five turnovers, Westbrook got going in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and helping the Thunder take an 88-79 lead into the fourth.

The Thunder have 15 road games in January. They had dropped five of the previous six games away from home and are currently on a six-game road trip.

Thunder starting center Steven Adams took a fall early in the third quarter and eventually headed to the locker room. He was evaluated for a concussion and didn't return.

TIP INS

Thunder: Domantas Sabonis missed all four 3-point attempts and has now misfired on 22 of 23 attempts.

Kings: Entering the game, Cousins had a career shooting percentage of 38.6 percent against the Thunder, his lowest versus any team. He was 4 of 11 in the first half. ... Sacramento's first-half problems continue. They had 15 turnovers and trailed 59-46.

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It's hard not to blame the Detroit Pistons' struggles this season on head coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, who's now in his third year with the organization.

While not completely out of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference, Detroit finds itself 2.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls with a 19-24 record after winning 44 games a year ago. Van Gundy would appear to be an easy scapegoat, but as owner Tom Gores sees things, any issues the Pistons have aren't a result of a lack of effort on SVG's part.

"We've got a bump in the road, and that's what success is about - you have to work through it. It's all about having rough times and your ability to work through," Gores said, according to The Associated Press. "I never worry about Stan, because he wants to win. He's the hardest worker I've ever seen in my life. I believe in him as a man and I believe in him as a strong person."

Detroit recently ended its three-game losing skid at the Staples Center with a 102-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday. It was the team's first in the building in seven attempts dating back to 2008, with Van Gundy just happy to get a win for his owner in that neck of the woods.

"Every one of us in this organization knows we've got a great owner, and we know we haven't delivered a win here since he's owned the team,'" Van Gundy said. "That felt almost better than breaking the (three-game losing) streak."

As far as this year goes, Gores is confident Van Gundy can salvage the season.

"(Gores') thing was not to overreact to six weeks out of what has been a two-and-half-year process," he added. "It was good to sit down and talk through things and get his perspective on things."

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Evan Fournier is back on the shelf with foot problems.

The Orlando Magic shooting guard has a bruised right heel and will be out for the foreseeable future, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

Fournier apparently re-aggravated a previous heel injury, which forced him to miss about two weeks around the new year. He suited up for five games upon returning, but indicated he's at just "60 percent," and will take more time off to recover from the pain.

The French swingman is averaging career highs in points (17), assists (3.3), and rebounds (3.1) this season for the 17-25 Magic.

Jodie Meeks started Saturday's loss to the Utah Jazz in place of Fournier, and figures to fill in for the time being.

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DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors (East) and Gordon Hayward of the Utah Jazz (West) have been named NBA Players of the Week for games played between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15, the league announced Monday.

This is the third time this season DeRozan has won Player of the Week honors (Nov. 7-13, Dec. 12-18), making him the first player in franchise history to accomplish that feat. Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, and Kyle Lowry never won more than two.

Toronto went 3-0 this past week, with all of its victories coming against teams in the Atlantic Division. DeRozan averaged 30.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while shooting 51.5 percent from the field and knocking down 21-of-24 at the charity stripe.

Utah mirrored the Raptors' perfect record, picking up quality wins against the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Hayward is the 15th player in Jazz history to win the award, and the second this season (George Hill, Nov. 7-13).

The 26-year-old was red-hot shooting the rock over his three appearances, converting 73.5 percent of his attempts for 23.7 points, and adding six rebounds, four dimes, and 1.7 steals per game.

Other nominees were Isaiah Thomas (Boston Celtics), DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), and Jonas Valanciunas (Raptors).

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For Carmelo Anthony, there's no place like home.

The All-Star forward met with New York Knicks president Phil Jackson on Tuesday and reaffirmed his desire to remain with the team, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

The two had a "calm, business-like" meeting in which Jackson asked the NYC native if he wants to remain a Knick. Not only does Melo want to stay put, but he also wants to win in New York, according to a source of Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

Anthony's contract runs through 2018-19 and includes a no-trade clause, which the 32-year-old was adamant on having so he couldn't be forced out of his hometown. Despite a report from last week that the 14-year vet would welcome a trade to the Los Angeles Clippers or Cleveland Cavaliers, sources of the New York Daily News indicate he has no intention of waiving the clause or donning any other uniform.

Related: Wade doesn't see Melo waiving no-trade clause

The Knicks, who've sputtered to a 18-24 record after a promising start to the campaign, have been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. FanRag Sports' Charlie Rosen, who's a friend of Jackson's, wrote last week that the Zen Master has unflattering opinions about Melo and hinted toward a future in the Big Apple without the star.

Jackson told Anthony in Tuesday's meeting the criticisms in the story don't reflect his beliefs, per The Vertical's sources.

Following yet another heartbreaking defeat Monday - this time to the Atlanta Hawks, 108-107 - Anthony responded to Rosen's claims saying he doesn't need to prove his loyalty to the Knicks.

"I think I've proven that," he said. "I don't have to speak on that. I think I've proven that over the years, day in and day out."

He's standing by that.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves are actively shopping point guard Ricky Rubio, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Shabazz Muhammad has been attached to Rubio as a sweetener in several trade offers around the league.

Minnesota is seeking another option at the point to bridge the eventual transition to promising lead guard Kris Dunn, who was selected fifth overall last summer.

The Sacramento Kings have shown interest in Rubio, but there hasn't yet been traction on a deal between the two sides, Wojnarowski notes. Minnesota is hoping for a better return than what Sacramento has to offer.

The 26-year-old Rubio is a gifted passer and solid defender, but he needs the ball in order to be most effective. It's been difficult to get Rubio touches when the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Karl-Anthony Towns also demand the rock.

The development of Minnesota's prospects has taken precedence over Rubio, which in turn has led to career-worst numbers for the Spaniard. Rubio is averaging 7.6 points and 7.9 assists per game while shooting an abysmal 37.3 percent from the floor and 24.7 percent from deep.

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hornets coach Steve Clifford points to one factor when explaining his team's five-game losing streak - a lack of defense.

Charlotte went 0-5 on its recent road trip, surrendering an uncharacteristic 109.6 points per game during that span. The Hornets return home Wednesday night to face the Portland Trail Blazers, part of a stretch of five-game home stand which Clifford hopes will help turn things around.

But Charlotte's fourth-year coach said nothing will get better until the Hornets start playing better man-to-man defense.

''It starts with our ability to guard our guy,'' Clifford said. ''When you get blown by a lot on the perimeter where you are constantly in need of help, then you are going to give up threes - and that's what is happening.''

The Hornets raced to a 14-9 start this season and were third-best in the league in points allowed through 23 games.

Since then, things have steadily fallen apart, culminating with Charlotte giving up at least 100 points in eight straight games. The Hornets have since dropped to 12th overall in points allowed.

The Hornets have fallen to 20-21 on the season and are on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture. It hasn't helped that Nic Batum and Cody Zeller have been in and out of the lineup with injury problems, but Charlotte's struggles on the road - where it has lost 11 of its last 13 - is concerning.

Zeller said the Hornets spent Wednesday morning watching cutups of defensive miscues over the last five road games.

''All four years I have been here it starts with defense,'' Zeller said. ''That is what coach Clifford preaches.''

The 7-foot center said it is mostly simple things that can be corrected.

''There are sets that we know are coming - and we just aren't defending them right,'' Zelller said. ''We are making too many mistakes.''

Added guard Marco Belinelli: ''We need to speak a lot more on the court and help each other.''

Getting the defensive mistakes fix won't be easy.

After Portland, the Hornets host Toronto, Brooklyn, Washington and Golden State. All five teams rank in the top 14 in the league in scoring offense, with the Warriors being No. 1 overall and Raptors No. 3.

A year ago, Hornets general manager Rich Cho pulled off a quality late-season trade, landing ''three and D'' guard Courtney Lee. He proved to be the driving force on the team's playoff run and played well in the postseason.

The problem was Lee did so well it made it impossible for the Hornets to re-sign him. Charlotte re-signed Batum and Marvin Williams, and let Lee walk in free agency. He signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the New York Knicks.

The Hornets figured with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist returning this year from a shoulder injury they would be fine defensively, but the struggles are mounting.

Clifford wouldn't discuss whether the team needs to make a similar trade before the NBA deadline.

As for the offense, Clifford likes what he sees.

Kemba Walker, a first-time All-Star candidate, is in the midst of the most productive season of his career, averaging 23 points per game while shooting 41.3 percent from 3-point range.

''I mean he's having a great year,'' Clifford said. ''He's worked really hard and it's paying off for him.''

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The Denver Nuggets earned a victory Tuesday night that moved them into eighth in the Western Conference, and followed that with a roster shake-up.

The Nuggets will acquire point guard Mo Williams and cash in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks, according to a report from The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. In return, the Hawks will receive the rights to Cenk Akyol, a Turkish shooting guard Atlanta originally selected in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft.

Williams' time in Denver won't last long, as he will be immediately waived, with his $2.2-million salary getting the Nuggets closer toward the NBA's salary cap floor, Wojnarowski reports.

The 34-year-old Williams has yet to play this season after undergoing left knee surgery. He was traded to the Hawks along with Mike Dunleavy and a future first-round pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers for Kyle Korver on Jan. 7. Williams averaged 8.2 points and 2.4 assists in 41 games for the Cavs last season.

The Hawks are expected to sign veteran point guard Gary Neal to a 10-day contract in order to fill the empty roster spot.

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The National Basketball Association plans on reviewing Golden State Warriors center Zaza Pachulia's flagrant-1 foul on Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder from Wednesday night at Oracle Arena, league sources told ESPN's Marc Stein.

Also under review will be Westbrook's comments following his team's 21-point loss where he swore revenge on the near 7-footer by saying he was going to "get his ass back."

The foul in question came during the dying seconds of the second quarter when Westbrook attempted to dribble around a screen by his teammate Enes Kanter. Pachulia followed his assignment to the top of the perimeter and set a hard pick right into the five-time All-Star, sending him to the floor.

To make matters worse, Pachulia - who was second in Western Conference frontcourt voting as of the second returns - stood over his fallen adversary to pour salt in his wounds.


The two teams play again on Feb. 11 at Chesapeake Energy Arena, and if Westbrook is looking to get into it with the giant Georgian, Pachulia hopes he'll "bring it on."

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LeBron James has high praise for the San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich.

"I think he's the greatest coach of all time," James told Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star has a long history with the Spurs franchise that dates back to a decade ago when The King met Popovich's Spurs in James' first NBA Finals. Pop and company got the better of the 22-year-old James and the Cavs that season, sweeping them in four games, while holding him to 35 percent shooting. Since then, the two have met twice more on the world's biggest basketball stage and have split the results. James and his Miami Heat got the best of Tim Duncan and crew in 2013, then one year later, the Spurs dismantled the Heat en route to Popovich's fifth title in six chances.

The sustainability of success, and the ability to adapt are two things James finds most impressive about the NBA's longest tenured coach.

"To be able to do what he's done where the basketball has changed so much and he's been able to have a growth mindset and change with the game (is impressive)," James said. "We went from a league where it was inside out, where every time you came down it was throw it to the big, and then it goes to every time down pick-and-roll, and then it goes to every time down shoot a three.

"Pop has been able to adjust every single time and still, for some odd reason, keep those guys under the radar. I don't understand it."

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Despite averaging a triple-double through the first half of the season, Russell Westbrook was not named as a starter in next month's All-Star Game.

Although Westbrook finished with the same weighted score as starters Steph Curry and James Harden, his fan vote total was lower than both, causing him to narrowly miss out on starting.

Under the new system, fans account for just 50 percent of the votes, but are also treated as the tie-breaker. DeMar DeRozan edged out Isaiah Thomas in the East under the same rule.

While he may not be starting, all hope is not lost for Westbrook, as there's a very high chance that he will be voted as a reserve by coaches.

The 28-year-old guard is in the midst of his best statistical season as a pro, averaging 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists, and 1.5 steals.

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San Antonio Spurs veteran Pau Gasol suffered a fracture to the fourth metacarpal of his non-shooting hand prior to Thursday's game and is out indefinitely, the team said.

Bizarrely, Gasol suffered the injury during team warmups, possibly in a layup line.

@docktora @JMcDonald_SAEN this picture appears to tell us the story... pic.twitter.com/RwU31QQ0F1

— Lance (@LanceHusman) January 20, 2017
The 36-year-old has seen a slight minutes reduction in his first year in San Antonio, but has started all 39 games he's played in as the replacement for Tim Duncan.

He's been fairly efficient when he's touched the ball too, averaging 11.7 points on 51 percent shooting - including 46.5 percent from deep.

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The new voting system implemented this season in NBA All-Star balloting was ultimately meant to even out the field away from a pure popularity contest. By including players and select media in a weighted vote, the idea was that the more deserving players would get the nods.

Yet as Thursday's announcements demonstrated, there are still stars who get snubbed.

Russell Westbrook

The most egregious snub, by far. As of Thursday, Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double through 44 games, something no player has done over the course of a season since Oscar Robertson during the presidential administration of John F. Kennedy. He also presently has the highest PER in the NBA at 29.6.

Related: How Westbrook missed out on being voted an All-Star starter

Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry was the more-deserving Toronto Raptor than his backcourt partner DeMar DeRozan. The East starter the past two seasons, he now takes a backseat to DeRozan and Kyrie Irving, and that's wrong. Lowry is currently the best point guard in the Eastern Conference, and is the best player on the Raptors. DeRozan's scoring numbers this season tend to overshadow that.

Isaiah Thomas

Boston's diminutive star has been on a roll, averaging a league-leading 32.3 points per game in January and lights-out 46.3 percent 3-point shooting. He also tops the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring, just ahead of Westbrook. As it stands, Thomas ended up in a tie with DeRozan but lost the spot in fan voting.

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Steph Curry getting a starting spot was a given. Russell Westbrook losing out to James Harden can be explained by Harden being a charismatic and popular player and by the Rockets still being the most popular team in China due to the Yao Ming connection. That fan bloc casts votes disproportionately for Houston Rockets players. Westbrook also didn't get carried by the Kevin Durant wave now that the latter is with the Warriors. Westbrook clearly deserves the spot and if a West starter gets hurt, he will presumably get into that lineup.

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Whats the big deal? Westbrook is on team just not starting. He may get more playing than both Harden and Curry. Its just gonna be interesting when Westbrook and Durant is on court at same time. Things weren't too friendly between the two a few days ago.

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Carmelo Anthony could be on the way out of the Big Apple after all.

The New York Knicks forward has a no-trade clause in his contract, and has long maintained he has no intention of waiving it, despite rumors he'd welcome a move to the Los Angeles Clippers or Cleveland Cavaliers. However, it turns out he would be open to leaving if the club wants to move in a different direction.

"I have the power, but still I would talk to (front office execs)," the 32-year-old told Newsday's Al Iannazzone this week. "We would be in communication if they feel like they want to go in a different direction, they want to start rebuilding for the future. If they tell me they want to scrap this whole thing, yeah, I have to consider it."


Melo made a point to say he's happy in his hometown of NYC, and doesn't want to go. He reportedly met with team president Phil Jackson earlier this week and reiterated his loyalty to the club, saying he wants to stay and win with the Knicks.

"Everything I've built myself on has been about winning. I want to win here in New York," he said.

The problem is, the team isn't winning. Since ranking third in the East in early December, the Knicks are in a free fall, dropping 15-of-20 and well out of the playoff picture. Anthony, who shouldered the blame for the team's losing streak, doesn't want to leave his teammates in a tough spot.

"There's a part of me that also would feel like I'm being selfish to the guys that are on the team right now, in the midst of us losing to just try to figure a way to escape from everything," he said. "For me personally, it would be more of something I would really have to think about and consider. Put it all on the table and figure it out."

The team declined to comment, but a league source told Iannazzone that New York wants Anthony "as long as it's mutual."

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Russell Westbrook has more important things to worry about than starting in the All-Star Game.

Despite averaging an insane triple-double and willing his team to a spot in the Western Conference playoff race, the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard wasn't named a starter for February's showcase in New Orleans. He appeared disappointed the following day, but said he just needs to move on from the snub and continue to do what he's been doing.

"It is what it is," he told reporters Friday. "It's the nature of the business, the game. Just play. I don't play for All-Star nods, All-Star bids. I play to win championships and every night I compete at a high level and you know, it'll work out. Just continue to do what I'm doing, and play the game the right way and everything else will work out."

Related: How Westbrook missed out on being voted an All-Star starter

What he's doing is putting up 30.6 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.4 assists per game for the 25-19 Thunder in his first season as the undisputed leader of the club. One of the top candidates for league MVP, Russ finished in the top West point guard spot, per player and media ranking. However, he had the same weighted score as Stephen Curry, who won the tiebreaker on the strength of fan voting.

Of course, the 28-year-old is still expected to earn his sixth All-Star nod, but as a reserve. He got his first start last year in the exhibition in Toronto, and took home his second straight ASG MVP award.


As much as he appreciates participating in the event, he's more focused on achieving something else.

"It's a great honor. Being an All-Star is something you don't take for granted, but like I said, for me, I don't play to play in the All-Star (Game). There's guys that may play to play in the All-Star (Game), but I don't play to do that. I play to become a better player and play to win the championship," Westbrook said.

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The most egregious snub of this year's All-Star starters was easily Russell Westbrook being left off the Western Conference squad, but second place may have to go to the league's fourth-leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas.

Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan were chosen as the Eastern Conference All-Star starters in the backcourt, edging out Thomas and Dwyane Wade who finished third and fourth. However, with the weighted average being instilled into voting this year, Thomas actually tied DeRozan as far as placing among the guards went. Toronto's top scorer won the deciding tiebreaker through fan vote only, which DeRozan had roughly 40,000 more votes than the Celtics point guard.

"King of the Fourth" as he's becoming known around the league, was hoping to get the starting nod, but he's not going to let it get to him.

"I was disappointed, but those guys deserve it as well," Thomas told ESPN's Chris Forsberg. "I did everything I can in my control to put me in position to be a starter so I can't really worry about the things I can't control. It's not the end of the world."

Thomas has been an absolute dynamo for the 26-16 Celtics, and is arguably the main reason the team finds themselves in sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference. He's posting a career-high 28.7 points per game, as well as career-high shooting splits of 46/38/91, to go along with leading the NBA in fourth quarter points per contest with 10.1.


The case could be made for both Thomas, and Toronto's other guard, Kyle Lowry as the more deserving players to start, but just like it used to, it all came down to who the fans wanted to see.

"I guess it was (the fan vote)," Thomas continued. "I didn't really look at what the reasoning was, but I mean, it is what it is. I'll use it as motivation, I'll keep going. I've got to get better, that's all I took out of that. I'm not where I wan't to be."

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Russell Westbrook is having an historical season. He's on course for averaging a triple double for the season, something that has been done just once before in was then a very different NBA and is something that was considered highly unlikely to ever happen again. I think he's worthy of an All Star Game starting spot.

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The Toronto Raptors are starting to fall apart.

Not only have the Raptors lost three-straight for the first time since 2015, their two All-Stars hit the showers early in Sunday's 115-103 embarrassment at the hands of the Phoenix Suns.

DeMar DeRozan left for the locker room with an apparent ankle injury after stepping on Jonas Valanciunas' foot, while Kyle Lowry picked up a flagrant-2 for smacking Brandon Knight across the head.

Lowry told reporters after the game that the foul wasn't intentional and that he apologized to Knight for the play.

Both players have shouldered a tremendous burden for the Raptors this season, but fatigue and frustration is starting to take its toll. Lowry picked up a technical foul prior to his ejection, while DeRozan also took his turn jawing at officials following several of his wayward fourth-quarter heaves.

Meanwhile, the Raptors were in the midst of a fourth-quarter meltdown.

Having led for nearly all of the first three quarters, the Raptors folded in crunch time and allowed the Suns to win the final frame by a 33-18 edge.

To make matters worse, several fans at Air Canada Centre were ejected late in the fourth for throwing objects at the Suns' bench. Nobody was hurt, but security personnel were summoned and the game endured a short delay.

The loss on Sunday was Toronto's eighth in their last 14 games. Its grip over the second seed in the East following a hot start is suddenly tenuous as the Boston Celtics are starting to close the gap.

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These aren't your father's Lakers, or even your older sibling's Lakers.

The once mighty Los Angeles Lakers hit a new low on Sunday as they set a franchise low in a 122-73 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Losing by 49 points to the Mavericks - who have twice as many losses as wins on the season - goes down as the worst loss in Lakers history.

Some of the lowlights for Los Angeles:

Lou Williams (15) and Jordan Clarkson (10) led the team in scoring. No other player finished in double-digits
No. 2 overall draft pick Brandon Ingram finished as a minus-45 in 36 minutes
Fellow rookie Ivica Zubac was a minus-29 in 19 minutes
The Lakers were outscored in every quarter, including by a ghastly 38-11 margin in the second
Lopsided losses are the new norm in Los Angeles since their fall from grace in 2012. The previous record for futility - a 48-point spanking by the Utah Jazz - was matched last season by largely the same roster.

To add insult to utter embarrassment, Sunday's loss marked the 11th anniversary of Kobe Bryant's 81-point game. Bryant's former teammates playing the role of the Toronto Raptors was a strange way to celebrate.

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The Chicago Bulls may be looking to upgrade their roster in hopes of making a playoff push.

The team has been shopping embattled point guard Rajon Rondo and power forward Nikola Mirotic, sources told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

However, neither player is attracting the return sought by general manager Gar Forman and the front office, which an unnamed source says "tends to overvalue its assets."

It's not exactly surprising that Rondo's trade value is low. The former All-Star lost his starting gig in December and racked up some DNP-CDs before telling the media he'll "absolutely" ask to be moved if he remains in coach Fred Hoiberg's doghouse.

He's got some burn off the bench since then, but overall his run in the Windy City isn't what he signed up for. He's averaging just 6.6. points on 35.9 percent shooting to go along with 6.7 assists and 5.7 boards.

Perhaps even more damaging than the veteran guard's on-court production is his reputation as a controversial locker-room presence. The 30-year-old left Sacramento and Dallas on unpleasant terms before signing with the Bulls last summer.

Meanwhile, following a promising sophomore season, Mirotic has regressed. The big man's numbers are mostly down from 2015-16 - particularly his scoring efficiency: He's putting up just 9.3 points on 38.7 percent shooting from the field and 31.1 percent from long range. His defense hasn't gotten any better, either.

Jimmy Butler, who was recently named an All-Star starter, has reportedly expressed his displeasure with his supporting cast. The Bulls, who are currently eighth in the wide-open East, would be wise to try to keep their best player happy. The trade deadline is Feb. 23.

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Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard have been named the NBA Players of the Week for games played between Jan. 16 and Jan. 22, the league announced Monday.

The #NBA Players of the Week! @JoelEmbiid of the @Sixers @kawhileonard of the @spurs pic.twitter.com/7hZanYi3Bp

— NBA (@NBA) January 23, 2017
Fans have grown accustomed to Embiid dominating his rookie class, but now he's hanging with the big boys. The 22-year-old put up 22 points, 10.3 boards, and 3.7 blocks per game over the week, with his team going undefeated with him in the lineup. His brilliance at both ends of the court, and delightful tomfoolery on social media, even earned enough fan votes to start in the All-Star Game.

Leonard, meanwhile, averaged a conference-leading 36.3 points per game to go along with six rebounds and 4.7 assists for the No. 2 Spurs, who went 3-0. The DPOY contender's week was highlighted by his career-high 41 points in San Antonio's 118-115 victory over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. He's scored 30-plus points in six straight contests.

Other candidates:

Eastern Conference: Dennis Schroder, Isaiah Thomas, Kemba Walker, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris

Western Conference: Kevin Durant, Goran Dragic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Eric Bledsoe, Rudy Gobert

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The Toronto Raptors are hurting.

The team announced Monday shooting guard DeMar DeRozan will miss the next two games with a right ankle sprain and will reevaluated at week's end.

After being the only Raptor to suit up in every game this season, DeRozan suffered the ailment in Sunday's loss to the Phoenix Suns. He's been ruled out of the team's upcoming back-to-back set, with Toronto hosting the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday before heading to Memphis to face the Grizzlies on Wednesday.

This injury comes at a bad time for the Raps, who are mired in a three-game losing skid and at risk of falling below the No. 2 seed for the first time all season, with the Boston Celtics suddenly just 1.5 games back.

Deebo leads the club with a career-high 27.9 points to go along with 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.2 steals per outing. He was named an All-Star starter last week, and hasn't missed time yet this season.

Injuries have been piling up lately for Toronto, with Patrick Patterson, Lucas Nogueira, DeMarre Carroll, and Jared Sullinger all spending some time on the sidelines. The Raptors are now fifth in the NBA in games missed due to injury.

Terrence Ross and Norman Powell are expected to pick up extra minutes at the two-spot in DeRozan's absence.

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Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry had his suburban Philadelphia home robbed as part of a multi-million dollar jewelry burglary ring, police sources told Joe Holden from CBS Philadelphia.

Lowry declined comment on the story through the Raptors organization.

The ring reportedly focused on high-end homes in the Delaware Valley last summer. Lowry, a Philly native and Villanova product, was in the region last week when his Raps fell Wednesday to the 76ers, 94-89.

Lowry has had a rough week on the floor. In three straight defeats he's shot under 36 percent, picking up technicals in two straight games and being ejected after a flagrant-2 in Sunday's loss to the Phoenix Suns.

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Make that five triple-doubles in the last six games for Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who continued his historic statistical tear through the Association Monday night on the road against the Utah Jazz in a narrow 97-95 win.

In 36 minutes, the five-time All-Star scored a game-high 38 points on 11-of-29 shooting, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 10 dimes for his league-leading 22nd triple-double. Only two other players have more than four (James Harden, LeBron James).

Related - Watch: Westbrook sinks game-winning jumper to lift Thunder over Jazz

It was also the 59th of his ongoing nine-year career, tying him with Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird for fifth all time.

It took Bird 897 games in Celtic green to post his 59 triple-doubles, while Westbrook only suited up for his 632nd with the Thunder at Vivint Smart Home Arena.


RANK     PLAYER        TRIPLE-DOUBLES

1       Oscar Robertson       181


2       Magic Johnson         138


3      Jason Kidd                107


4      Wilt Chamberlain        78


T-5   Russell Westbrook      59


T-5   Larry Bird                  59


7      LeBron James            46


8     Fat Lever                   43


9     Bob Cousy                 33


10   John Havlicek             31

Last edited on Tue Jan 24th, 2017 07:30 pm by lobo316

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How the Chicago Bulls finish the season could have a significant impact on Dwyane Wade's future with the team.

While Wade remains loyal to his home-town squad for the time being, the 35-year-old admits that he will re-evaluate his decision to exercise his player option should the Bulls continue down the path of mediocrity.

"I wouldn't lie to you and say no," Wade told ESPN's Nick Friedell. "Of course. I can't play this game forever. I just turned 35 and I have a number in my head how long I want to play. At the end of the day you want to be in a situation where it's a competitor situation, whatever the case may be. It's tough in this league as well because a lot of that also depends on how much money you're willing to make. It depends on what city you're willing to be in. So it's a lot of variables to that, but no question about it, what happens throughout this year, as I go into my summer, I'll definitely take a look at it. I take my career seriously and where I am and where I want to be. And I will do the same thing this summer."

While a little less than half the season still remains, Wade is aware that the standings typically don't change much from now until April, and is beginning to worry that the Bulls may not improve much going forward.

"I'm 35," Wade said. "I do get concerned. Of course."

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If the Buss family is looking for help, they can always turn to a familiar five-time champion.

Co-owner Jeanie Buss met with Magic Johnson last week as part of her search for advice on the struggling Lakers. Should that search come to the recently retired superstar, Kobe Bryant would be more than happy to help.

"I’m always around behind the scenes for Jeanie, Jimmy, and the entire Buss family if they need assistance or if it be to reach out or call for advice and things of that nature," Bryant told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio.

"Now, being front and center about it, it’s not something that is really my cup of tea. I’d rather be behind the scenes and focus on the content I’m creating because that’s where my passion truly lies, but the Buss family knows that I’m always a phone call away."

Having caught "a handful of games" this season, Bryant preached patience for the Baby Lakers who are learning to crawl before making any kind of playoff run.

"I think (head coach) Luke (Walton) is doing a fine job," Bryant said. "It's tough because you have to teach players how to play within a structure, and within that structure you have a myriad of options that you must be able to recognize and take advantage of. If one player is taking advantage of them, the other four on the floor must understand where their opportunity is and they can read and react accordingly.

"It's very difficult to teach that to a group of young guys so fast, so I think patience is the key word here."

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Zaza Pachulia has been slapped with a fine for slapping.
The Golden State Warriors center was fined $15,000 on Wednesday for whacking Miami Heat forward Luke Babbitt in the face during Monday's 105-102 loss in South Beach.
Pachulia was assessed a flagrant-1 foul for this hit on Babbitt's head:
Zaza starting to get cocky, straight up slaps Luke Babbitt while running up court pic.twitter.com/NvfHaNvfR8
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 24, 2017
The slap came in retaliation to Babbitt dipping his shoulder into the Georgian big man, for which the 27-year-old received a tech.
Pachulia finished with six points, nine rebounds, two steals, and two assists as the Dubs dropped just their seventh game of 2016-17.






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The New York Knicks want to move on from Carmelo Anthony, but the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't taking the bait.

The Knicks pushed for a swap of Carmelo Anthony for Kevin Love but Cleveland have shut down those talks, sources told ESPN's Chris Haynes and Marc Stein.

Anthony is arguably more accomplished, but Love is enjoying his best season to date with the Cavaliers and made strong contributions to their championship run last summer. Love also happens to be younger and on a cheaper contract.


As it stands, Anthony has a full no-trade clause plus a trade kicker and has repeatedly stated his wishes to remain in New York. Evidently, Knicks president Phil Jackson has other ideas for his aging superstar.

The two have butted heads repeatedly this season as Jackson has lobbed a series of passive-aggressive barbs at Anthony through the media, culminating in weeks of tension and finally a meeting between the two mainstays.



Anthony is a close friend of LeBron James, who has been lobbying Cleveland's office to acquire another playmaker in recent months. Anthony would fit that bill, but shedding a vital piece in Love might be too steep of a price to pay.

The 28-year-old Love is averaging 20.5 points and 10.9 rebounds while shooting 37.4 percent from deep as the third option in Cleveland. Anthony, five years Love's senior, is averaging 22.6 points and six rebounds on 37.1 percent shooting with the struggling Knicks.

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It's unclear whether Chris Bosh will ultimately attempt another NBA comeback following repeated episodes of blood clotting.

The future Hall of Fame power forward has no current plan to play this season, and remains unsure if he even wants to return to the court at all, sources told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Jackson also noted that while Bosh sought out the NBPA for assistance last season, there has been no such push this time around. He hasn't even returned several check-in phone calls from the union.

The Chicago Bulls are reportedly interested should Bosh attempt another comeback, and Jackson said that the notion of reuniting with a fellow member of the "Big Three" - in Dwyane Wade - would "appeal" to Bosh.

Meanwhile, a decision is looming for the Miami Heat on Feb. 9, which marks the one-year anniversary of Bosh's last game. The team can apply for Bosh to medically retire, and then remove him from its salary cap sheet (while still paying his contract) should an independent panel of doctors deem Bosh's condition to be life-threatening.

However, should Bosh sign elsewhere after getting released by the Heat and make 25 appearances before season's end, his salary would go back on Miami's books. The Heat may look to delay Bosh's release to a later date to avoid the mark.

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Remember when LeBron James was taking the basketball world by storm as a young pup out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School over a decade ago?

Yep. We're all really old now.

For the first time in his illustrious career, James will be heading to the All-Star Game as the oldest player on either team.

The reserves for both the Eastern and Western Conference squads were unveiled on Thursday, with Marc Gasol, Kyle Lowry, and Paul Millsap the only other players joining James that are over the age of 30.

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LeBron James' recent rant concerning the makeup of the reigning NBA champions, its lack of a backup point guard, and how much the team relies on him and his All-Star teammates (Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love) was a huge topic of discussion during Thursday's "Inside the NBA" on TNT.

Charles Barkley took exception to The King not only making his grievances public, but the fact that he has any at all.

"Inappropriate. Whiny. All of the above," Barkley said, describing James' comments. "The Cleveland Cavaliers, they have given him everything he wanted. They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted (Iman) Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver.

"He's the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don't wanna compete? He is an amazing player. They're the defending champs."

Related - David Griffin: LeBron's comments inappropriate from teammate perspective

The former Round Mound of Rebound got heated with Shaquille O'Neal over their respective opinions, especially when Barkley implied that he James have plenty of help as is. O'Neal chimed in by acknowledging how difficult it is to repeat as a champion, and that all James wants is improvement considering all 29 other teams are gunning for his and Cleveland's head.

The Cavaliers are on a three-game losing streak and have lost four of their last five games. Nonetheless, they still own a three-game lead over the Toronto Raptors for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

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Doc Rivers would do just about anything to acquire another star player, even if it means parting ways with one of his family members.

While the Los Angeles Clippers president and head coach said he'd prefer to keep his roster intact, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of moving his son, Austin Rivers, in a potential trade.

"We're going to do whatever it takes," Rivers told ESPN's Rachel Nichols. "Listen, I would trade anyone. You would have to be willing to do that, so - and he would be one of them, and any of them would be one. But I don't want to trade any of our guys. I like our team. Having said that, if you think you can make your team better. That's my job."

Reports have recently surfaced indicating that the Clippers have discussed a trade with the New York Knicks for nine-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony. Rivers didn't confirm the reports, but he did say that other teams have contacted Los Angeles.

"Well, we're not talking to anyone, people are talking to us - I guess I can say that," Rivers said. "Listen, we love our team. We believe we are good enough right now. Having said that, my job is to look at this team and see if we can get better. And if we can, we'll do it."

Doc has spent the last two-plus seasons coaching Austin after acquiring him back in 2015 in a three-team deal involving the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns.

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Rajon Rondo's future in Chicago remains in limbo.

The Bulls were so angered by Rondo's recent Instagram post that they strongly considered buying out the remainder of the point guard's contract, sources tell Joe Cowley of The Chicago-Sun Times.

Rondo created a stir on Thursday when he put teammates Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade on blast, questioning their leadership abilities in a now-infamous social media post. All three players have since been fined.

The 6-foot-1 guard has seen little court time since his benching last month, playing less than 20 minutes in each of his last four contests. The Bulls are reportedly looking to shop Rondo prior to next month's trade deadline, but could have a difficult time finding a suitable partner given his poor play and history.

Should the Bulls choose to buy out Rondo, they'd have to eat the remainder of his 2016-17 contract as well as $3 million of next year's salary.

The Kentucky product is averaging 6.4 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.4 rebounds on just 36.4 percent shooting in 38 games this season.

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Are you feeling old yet?

LeBron James, who turned 32 in December, will be the oldest player at the All-Star Game next month.

"First of all, obviously it sucks not having my guys there that I've spent so many All-Star weekends with - CP, Melo, D-Wade, and C-Bosh," he said, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "I've spent so many All-Stars with the past couple ... almost a decade, actually. For me personally, it's an honor to be able to represent this franchise, represent my family. Like I said, I'm doing something right. I just want to try to continue that."

The Cleveland Cavaliers' star will front the East's starting lineup, which includes 22-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, 27-year-olds DeMar DeRozan and Jimmy Butler, and James' own point guard, 24-year-old Kyrie Irving.

At 32, James is by no means old, and with his 13th All-Star nod - all consecutive and all starts - in 14 seasons, the King is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. He's also the leading scorer in All-Star Game history (291 points).

Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade, who James mentioned he'll miss this year, finished fifth and fourth respectively in their own voting categories.

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James Harden of the Houston Rockets isn't putting up triple-doubles at the rate of Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook (really, who is?), but he's doing so with an efficiency on offense that we've never seen before, even from Westbrook.

For the second time this season, Harden posted a triple-double with 50 or more points in a 123-118 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on the road Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

In 39 minutes of action, the All-Star guard scored 51 points on 16-of-28 shooting from the field, 6-of-11 from behind the arc, and 13-of-14 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out 13 assists for his 14th triple-double of the 2016-17 campaign and 24th of his career.

Never before in league history has anyone ever dropped at least 50 in a game and recorded a triple-double on two separate occasions in the same season. Five of his 14 triple-doubles were also with 40 or more points, which ties the legendary Oscar Robertson (1963-64) for the record.

what on earth pic.twitter.com/PWxJLx5z0y

— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) January 28, 2017
Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon held the franchise record for career triple-doubles with 14, which, as mentioned before, just so happens to be as many as Harden has through 50 games.

In 16 appearances since he put up his first 50-point triple-double on New Year's Eve, Harden has averaged 31.8 points, 11.1 assists, and 8.9 rebounds.

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Bulls get booed off the court after losing to the Miami Heat in their home court pic.twitter.com/DPn6d6JMfw

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 28, 2017
Things don't appear to be getting better anytime soon in Chicago.

After dropping seven of their last 11 contests, the Bulls heard it from the United Center crowd, getting booed off the floor on Friday night.

While it's been an overall rocky season for Chicago, things have gotten worse in the Windy City over the past few days after Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler questioned their teammates' desire to win following a recent defeat.

Although there's still time to turn things around, things won't get any easier for the Bulls, who will soon embark on a six-game West Coast road trip.

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LeBron James reached another milestone on Friday night.

With his first assist of the evening, the four-time MVP passed Terry Porter for 14th on the NBA's all-time assist list.

He now has 7,161 assists for his career.

Despite spending the majority of his minutes at small forward, LeBron has turned himself into one of the league's most gifted passers since being drafted in 2003, averaging seven assists throughout his well-documented career.

Should he continue at his current pace, LeBron should pass Lenny Wilkins and Maurice Cheeks by season's end.

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Little did we know that "The Process" in the City of Brotherly Love included chanting "MVP" at multiple players during the 2016-17 regular season.

Joel Embiid was shown love from the Philadelphia faithful at the start of the campaign, and Friday night against the Houston Rockets, it was point guard T.J. McConnell's turn to be serenaded at the Wells Fargo Center.

Everyone in and around the 76ers organization is happy as a clam these days, so who are we to poke fun at it?

MVP chants for everyone!

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The NBA has reached out to the U.S. State Department to determine the implications that president Donald Trump's immigration ban will have on the league.

"We have reached out to the State Department and are in the process of gathering information to understand how this executive order would apply to players in our league who are from one of the impacted countries," NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said in a statement Saturday. "The NBA is a global league and we are proud to attract the very best players from around the world."

The league has a number of programs and events held in several of the banned countries, including Basketball Without Borders, which recruits and develops young talent throughout the world.

There was concern among NBA circles on Friday that Sudanese Milwaukee Bucks big man Thon Maker would not be able to re-enter the country after traveling to Toronto. However, Maker had no issue clearing customs since he owns an Australian passport, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY Sports.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Luol Deng, who was born in Sudan but is a British citizen, is another player who could be affected under the new ban.

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Ahmad is battling brain cancer & was told he has 4 months to live. His wish was to meet @StephenCurry30. @ShoeCity & myself made it happen pic.twitter.com/UaXlAfWyUG

— stokeyproject (@thestokeyproj) January 27, 2017
A young fan's wish of meeting Stephen Curry came true Wednesday night.

Ahmad Cobb, a second grader from Greenville, N.C., battling brain cancer, got to spend some time chatting with Curry courtside prior to the Golden State Warriors' 113-103 win over the Charlotte Hornets. It's something neither will likely forget.

Me my guy Ahmad. He's the real warrior! #PluckCancer pic.twitter.com/avG7VpFmPY

— stokeyproject (@thestokeyproj) January 27, 2017

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The Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers played a fourth quarter on Saturday night, as NBA rules dictate, but they really didn't need to.

By the end of three quarters, the Warriors had built a ridiculous 117-74 lead, led by Stephen Curry's 43 points, nine rebounds, and six assists on 15-of-23 shooting in just under 29 minutes of action. The two-time, reigning MVP was also a plus-42 in his 28:57 of floor time.


Curry outscored the Clippers 25-23 in the third quarter, with the Warriors outscoring L.A. 86-52 over the second and third periods en route to a 144-98 destruction.

The Warriors own three of the NBA's six 40-plus-point victories this season, and three of the league's six 140-point outbursts.

None of Golden State's four All-Stars were required for a single second of the fourth quarter, as Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson all logged less than 30 minutes.

The Warriors, who have won eight straight in the Pacific Division rivalry and were playing a Clippers team missing Chris Paul, entered as 13-point favorites, but their utter domination on national television was jarring nonetheless.

Golden State improved to a league-best 40-7 with the win, becoming the first team in history to reach 40 wins in less than 50 games in three consecutive seasons, according to Elias Sports.

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With a layup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, LeBron James became the first-ever Cleveland Cavaliers player to score 20,000 points for the franchise.

Points number 20,000 for LeBron James for the @cavs!#DefendTheLand pic.twitter.com/qkakgj1kzs

— NBA (@NBA) January 29, 2017
James is, by far, the Cavs' all-time leading scorer, but he also notched 7,919 points as a member of the Miami Heat. Coming into Sunday, James was 683 points behind Shaquille O'Neal for seventh in NBA history.

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Serge Ibaka's future with the Orlando Magic is anyone's guess.

Magic general manager Rob Hennigan declared his intentions to retain Ibaka long term last week, but a report from Sean Deveney of the Sporting News suggests that the team is hoping to move Ibaka before he leaves in free agency.

According to Deveney, the Magic are looking to salvage their losses after dealing away Victor Oladipo, the No. 11 pick (used on Domantas Sabonis), and Ersan Ilyasova to acquire Ibaka last summer.

A source says the Magic want a young player and a pick, or perhaps even two picks, to wrestle away Ibaka.

The Toronto Raptors were interested in Ibaka last summer near the time of the draft, but they balked at the asking price from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Instead it was the Magic who ponied up for the 27-year-old, but that deal has not translated to any significant difference in the standings for the floundering Magic.

Ibaka is averaging 14.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks while shooting 38.2 percent from deep.

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Here comes yet another potential trade partner for Phil Jackson in his quest to dump ageing star Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony holds a full no-trade clause so he controls his future, but the 33-year-old is apparently would make an exception to join the Boston Celtics, sources told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

There's some question as to whether the interest is mutual. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge rejected advances from the Knicks, sources told Washburn, although head coach Brad Stevens would be open to coaching Anthony.

The Knicks have also approached the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers about Anthony. So far there is little traction on any potential deal as the Clippers and Cavs are reluctant to surrender their top players in any trade.

Jackson wants Anthony gone to spark a new era of Knicks basketball centered around Kristaps Porzingis, but Anthony has maintained that he would like to stay in New York. However, that stance has softened in recent weeks as Anthony concedes he may be open to leaving were Jackson to implement a full-scale rebuilding project.

Anthony is averaging 22.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists for a Knicks team that continues to spiral out of the playoff picture. He has two more years remaining on his contract for roughly $27 million, in addition to a 15 percent trade kicker that would be triggered should he be moved.

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Count Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry among those in the NBA family who are unhappy with President Donald Trump's travel ban.

Lowry was firm in his opposition towards the ban imposed by Trump on citizens of seven primarily Muslim nations, when speaking to reporters during shootaround Monday.

"I think it's bullshit. I think it's absolute bullshit. Our country is the home of the free. For (the ban) to happen, I think it's bullshit. I'm not getting into it too deeply, but personally I think it's bullshit," Lowry said.

"I bleed red, white, and blue. I was born and raised there. I have always been taught to treat everyone the same. It’s a difficult time for my country right now and it’s sad," Lowry added according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri was similarly baffled by the developments south of the border.

"I think it's just ridiculous what's going on out there ... I just don't get it. This is mind-boggling," Ujiri said, according to TSN's Josh Lewenberg.

"I'm a prime example of what opportunity is. Canada gave me opportunity. America gave me opportunity. That's what this world is about," he added.

Lowry and Ujiri joined Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, Detroit Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, along with Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as those in the NBA community vocally in opposition of the ban.

Protests have broken out in airports across the United States since Trump signed the ban into effect through an executive order last Friday. Opponents of the statue argue that the ban violates the fifth amendment right to due process, while the preference of Christians over Muslims in Trump's order violates the first amendment right to freedom of religion.

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Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy was the latest NBA voice to condemn President Donald Trump's travel ban against seven predominantly Muslim countries Monday, comparing it to the seeds of the some of the lowest moments in human history.

"It's really starting to get really scary stuff," Van Gundy said, according to CSN New England's A. Sherrod Blakely. "We're getting back to the days of putting Japanese in relocation camps and Hitler registering the Jews. That's where we're headed."

During last year's election campaign, Trump did not explicitly rule out a database for Muslim U.S. citizens, creating a controversy that some felt echoed Nazi registration of Jewish people in the 1930s, or the government internment of Japanese-American and -Canadian citizens during the Second World War.


On Sunday, another NBA critic of Trump, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, said that the administration could end up breeding further hatred of U.S. policy with the ban.

"I would just say that as someone whose family member was a victim of terrorism, having lost my father, if we're trying to combat terrorism by banishing people from coming to this country, by ... really going against the principles of what our country is about and creating fear, it's the wrong way to go about it," Kerr said.

Kerr's father, Malcolm, was an American professor at a Lebanese university when he was shot dead by suspected extremists in 1984.

Van Gundy is no stranger to criticizing Trump either, previously calling him "brazenly racist and misogynistic."

"It's just fear-mongering and playing to a certain base of people that have some built-in prejudices that just aren't fair," Van Gundy said.

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Dion Waiters of the Miami Heat and DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings have been named NBA Players of the Week in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively.

While Waiters only ranked 27th in scoring between Jan. 23-29, he beat both the Golden State Warriors and Brooklyn Nets in consecutive contests with game-winning 3-pointers. He shot 48.2 percent over four games, all Heat victories.

Cousins led the Kings to a 3-1 week, averaging 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, and six assists. The big man was also reportedly cleared Monday of any wrongdoing in a New York brawl involving teammate Matt Barnes.

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The Philadelphia 76ers will sign point guard Chasson Randle to a three-year deal, sources told The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Randle, whose second 10-day contract with the Sixers expired Monday, will have trigger guarantees in the deal next season and in year three, according to the report.

The Stanford grad has averaged four points in four games for Philadelphia, shooting 50 percent from the field.

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After a Hall of Fame playing career, Charles Barkley has carved out a niche as a popular broadcaster with a penchant for outspoken, unapologetic takes. His criticism last week of LeBron James for being "whiny" prompted a tame response from James, but on Monday night the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar responded with brute force.

"He's a hater," James told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. "What makes what he says credible? Because he's on TV?"

LeBron then ratcheted things up even further.

I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that. I'm not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, 'I'm not a role model.' I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying. All I've done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.

Barkley, who channels the "back in my day" take better than anyone in sports media, has needled James repeatedly over the years, from saying he doesn't belong among the best 5 NBA players of all time to poking fun at the 32-year-old's receding hairline.


Beyond making note of Barkley's run-ins with authorities in the 1990s, James suggested he's still forced to work in media for the money, and issued a challenge to bring the criticism face-to-face.

"I know he wanted to retire a long time ago, but he can't," James said. "He's stuck up on that stage every week ... and if this makes him want to talk to me, the schedule's out there. He knows every road arena I'll be in. Don't just come up to me at All-Star and shake my hand and smile."

According to McMenamin, James then exited the locker room with a parting thought.

"I'm tired of biting my tongue," he said. "There's a new sheriff in town."

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Don't sleep on the Dallas Mavericks, even though they've been one of the worst teams in the NBA.

Dallas followed up a surprising win Sunday versus the San Antonio Spurs with a 104-97 victory over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

#MFW when you beat the Spurs and the Cavs back-to-back... pic.twitter.com/WVNBCBkXAW

— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) January 31, 2017
Head coach Rick Carlisle conceded his club isn't great, but it's better than its 18-30 record suggests.

"We're a shit team, but we're an underrated shit team. That's about as accurately as I can put it," he told reporters postgame, as quoted by SB Nation's Tim Cato.

Told of his bench boss' assessment, Wesley Matthews didn't disagree.

"Quote me, I want Rick to know he's included in this shit too," he said while smiling.

After a brutal start to the campaign that saw the 2011 champs fall to the bottom of the standings, the Mavs have gotten healthier and won seven of their last 10. Dirk Nowitzki, who's battled injuries all season, is pumped about the successful back-to-back set.

"That's the reason why I still play, because I love to compete," said the 38-year-old, who hasn't given up hope of his club making a serious playoff push.

Monday's win represents the first time the Mavs have taken down LeBron James since defeating his Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals. Dallas also earns the distinction of being the team that pushed the Cavs to 8-9 in January, marking James' first sub-.500 month since December 2007, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Not bad for a bottom-dweller.

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With a win over the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, the Philadelphia 76ers wrapped up their January slate of games, winning 10 of them.

The number is only significant for the East's 13th-place team (18-29) because last season they won 10 games - in the entire season.

The Sixers owned a 10-72 record last year, the second-worst mark in franchise history. Their only worse campaign came in 1972-73, when they managed a measly 9-73 record.

By comparison, the league-leading Golden State Warriors (41-7) won 12 games in January, while LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers won seven to open 2017.

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Stephen Jackson had some self-made problems during his 14-year NBA career, but he was also widely considered an exemplary teammate. Now three years removed from playing, he says he occasionally smoked marijuana before games.

"I just gotta be real ... a couple games where I smoked before games and had great games," Jackson told actor Michael Rapaport's I Am Rapaport Stereo Podcast. "It's been some games where I smoked before the game and was on the bench after three minutes sitting on the sideline, (saying) 'please calm down. This high has to calm down.' I done shot three shots that went over the backboard, like, I'm going to be honest, like, 'Ahh, I gotta calm down.'"

Jackson - who played for eight teams from 2000-14, and was a key part of the 2007 Golden State Warriors squad that shocked the No. 1 Dallas Mavericks as an eighth seed - added that then-Dubs coach Don Nelson knew about the marijuana use.

"We're in Utah, and the drug test people are around ... to get our last drug test so we can smoke, right?" he said. "Don Nelson, we talked about weed all the time. He was cool with talking about weed. We got our last test in Utah, right? So me and Baron (Davis) are coming out the locker room just screaming, excited with our last pink slip saying we could smoke for the rest of the season, and Don Nelson hauls ass down there giving us high-fives, like, 'Yeah, we can smoke now!'

"It was cool, the fact that he knows what's going on off the court with his players, which was great, man. We enjoyed it. That's why we were a great team."

Jackson averaged 15.1 points over 858 games, winning an NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. He's often remembered, however, for his involvement in 2004's "Malice at the Palace," and an arrest for firing a gun outside an Indianapolis bar in 2006.

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The Banana Boat crew is sticking together in its defiance of Charles Barkley.

Dwyane Wade doubled down on scathing comments made by LeBron James about the "Inside the NBA" panelist and Hall of Famer. Like James, he didn't hold anything back.

"I like the fact that LeBron called him out and told him about himself a little bit. Humble yourself. LeBron is who he is. We all have flaws. But when your flaws are a little bit more, you should should shut up," Wade said, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

"When you have a history, when you can go and Google your history, you better be a little careful with what you say. Sometimes, when guys get a microphone in front of their face, they just talk and talk and talk and forget about their history. We all make that mistake, but especially that guy on TV. He acting like he just walks on water."

James laid out similar talking points when he slammed Barkley.

"I'm not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that. I'm not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, 'I'm not a role model,'" James said.

"I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying. All I've done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that."

Barkley has criticized James many times throughout his career. The comment that apparently broke the camel's back was him calling James "whiny," and questioning him for "not wanting to compete."

Charles Barkley gets visibly angry about LeBron James wanting more players pic.twitter.com/l16WUXvalz

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) January 27, 2017
Wade wants to see the day when players have the last say against Barkley's accusations.

"I'm glad LeBron finally said something and stood up for himself from that standpoint. He said there's a new sheriff in town. So I'm excited to see what's next."

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are interested in acquiring Carmelo Anthony, but will not give up Kevin Love in that potential swap, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

The Knicks, however, remain fixated on prying Love from Cleveland.

Knicks president Phil Jackson is determined to move Anthony in hopes of sparking a rebuild centered around sophomore Kristaps Porzingis. However, since Anthony has a full no-trade clause, discussions have only taken place between Jackson and Anthony's preferred destinations.

The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers were also approached as potential landing spots for Anthony.

Anthony and LeBron James are known to be great friends, and the two would presumably welcome a chance to join forces. However, it's unclear if Anthony would green-light a move away from New York, where his wife and child are entrenched.

"That's more about what I care about, my family," Anthony told Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. "My son being comfortable in New York at an age now where he's really getting an opportunity to understand being in New York and having a home there and having friends there.

"My wife working there and having opportunities there. … I think about that more so than my decision for my career," Melo said. "At the end of the day, it will come down to my decision. But I think more about my decision and what they're going to have to go through if anything would happen."

Anthony has two seasons remaining on his contract beyond this season worth $54.2 million.

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Scott Brooks of the Washington Wizards and Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors were named NBA Coaches of the Month for January, the league announced Wednesday.

Kerr oversaw a Warriors squad that compiled the NBA's best record (12-2) in the first month of 2017, running up a point differential of 14.1. Kerr also took Western Conference honors in November.

Brooks' Wizards registered a 12-4 record in January - best in the East - going 7-0 at the Verizon Center and extending its home winning streak to 15 games, tied for the second-longest run in franchise history. Brooks is in his first year at the helm in Washington after seven years with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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The Chicago Bulls' issues go deeper than their struggles to put up quality efforts night in and night out.

After last week's media firestorm surrounding the issues between Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and the rest of the Bulls, reports show the team disconnect goes well beyond players on the court.

Butler, along with a handful of other Bulls, are reportedly concerned about a front office spy in the locker room, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times. Butler has apparently warned incoming players that if they don't want general manager Gar Forman to get wind of concerns or complaints, they're best to keep them to themselves around assistant coaches - specifically Randy Brown.

There is a widespread belief in the organization that management tries to gain as much information about players they can to potentially use down the line when an inevitable break up occurs.

“They did it with (Luol Deng), they did it with (Joakim Noah), and Derrick (Rose),’’ a source told Cowley. “That’s how they operate.’’

This comes in the wake of a story from ESPN's Ryan Russillo, who told the "Mike and Mike" radio show about Butler's immense distrust for the Bulls front office, which dates back to the summer of 2014 when he turned down a four-year, $44-million contract offer.

“(A member of the) front office went to Jimmy Butler and said ‘if you don’t sign this extension, we’re going to play Tony Snell over you. We are going to give you his minutes and that’s going to drop your minutes and numbers down,’” Russillo said.

Butler essentially bet on himself, and won, playing well enough to force the Bulls to give him a max deal of five years, $95 million in the summer of 2015.

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Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors that reigning back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry is quite the marksman from behind the arc.

The Chef lit up the Hornets with six buckets from the perimeter in the first quarter alone, tying Rashard Lewis for 12th on the all-time 3-pointers made list.

When he knocked down his seventh later on, Curry took sole possession of 12th place as he continued his ascension towards career leader Ray Allen.

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Wednesday in the Mile High City against the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies veteran Vince Carter hit a 3-point-shooting milestone that only four other NBA players have reached.

With his second make from behind the arc with 2:35 remaining in the opening half, Carter became the fifth player to knock down 2,000 career 3-pointers.

The ageless Vince Carter becomes the 5th player to reach 2000 made 3 pt field goals! pic.twitter.com/nzFpTWA8He

— NBA (@NBA) February 2, 2017


The 19-year pro - who turned 40 years old Jan. 26 - will soon have more company in the 2,000 3-pointers club, as Jamal Crawford of the Los Angeles Clippers and Kyle Korver of the Cleveland Cavaliers aren't far off.

Entering Wednesday, Carter was averaging eight points and 3.2 rebounds in 24.2 minutes as a reserve, while shooting 34.9 percent from deep with 1.4 makes per game.

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For the umpteenth time this season, the Boston Celtics escaped with a victory thanks to the fourth-quarter dominance of Isaiah Thomas.

The All-Star point guard erupted for 19 fourth-quarter points Wednesday in a win over the Toronto Raptors, finishing with a game-high 44. Thomas also chipped in seven assists and four rebounds in the 109-104 victory.

With few players on the roster who can create their own shot, head coach Brad Stevens has relied heavily on Thomas during the final 12 minutes of games this season. The 5-foot-9 guard is now averaging 10.5 points in the fourth quarter - more than any player in 20 years.


While Thomas remains a defensive liability, his scoring has more than made up for his struggles on the other end of the floor this season, and is a large reason why the Celtics sit second in the Eastern Conference.

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DALLAS - Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban questioned the effectiveness of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven countries, citing the ''hypocrisy'' of limiting immigration from some countries while not including others.

''I understand safety,'' Cuban said. ''We all want to be safer. No one wants to be unsafe. But the hypocrisy of it all - only seven countries. Now, if it had been all terrorist-hosting countries, but seven countries? That's like locking your door with the best security ever invented and leaving all your windows open. It just makes no sense.''

Cuban spoke of the struggles of his grandparents coming to America to escape persecution in Nazi-occupied Austria and in Stalinist Russia, and the challenges they initially faced as immigrants here.

''You don't condemn an entire country based on the mistakes of a few,'' Cuban said. ''We're a country of hopes and dreams and the American Way. The wider we take that, the safer I believe we'll be. It's not that I don't understand. We're all terrified of terrorism. We're all terrified the next event could be near us or someone close to us. But it's the old sports analogy: Character isn't revealed when things are going well. Character is revealed when you're under stress and being challenged. We'll see what the character of this country is.''

Cuban also said he was proud of the response from some of the NBA's top players and coaches, including Toronto guard Kyle Lowry and coaches Gregg Popovich and Steve Kerr, who criticized the order. He cited the league's work in developing nations through Basketball Without Borders and its players' willingness to take stands on social issues.

''That's who we are,'' Cuban said. ''We've always tried to help those who were less fortunate. We're community driven. Our players take big steps in community organizations. We take big steps as a league. And of course we're going to have fans to say stay out of politics.

''And, for 16 years, I did, but we all have our own reasons and as American citizens, we can never forget it's country first, basketball second.''

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The NBA named its Players of the Month for January.

Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas took home honors in the East, while Golden State Warriors teammates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant shared honors out West.

#StephenCurry & #KevinDurant of the @warriors and #IsaiahThomas of the @celtics named @Kia NBA Players of the Month for January! #KiaPOTM pic.twitter.com/XPR1FKNRmv

— NBA (@NBA) February 2, 2017
Thomas averaged a league-best 32.9 points per game in January along with 6.9 assists to lead the Celtics to a 10-4 record. That run, coupled with some turbulence from the Toronto Raptors, allowed Boston to climb into second in the East. The Celtics are now quickly closing in on the floundering Cleveland Cavaliers for first place.

Curry and Durant, meanwhile, led the Warriors to a 12-2 record, good for tops across the NBA. Curry averaged 27.8 points while Durant tailed him closely at 27.4 points. Both players were also named starters for the Western Conference in the 2017 All-Star Game.

Other players who received consideration included Atlanta’s Paul Millsap, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Houston’s James Harden, Indiana’s Paul George, Miami’s Goran Dragic, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, Portland’s CJ McCollum, San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry.

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Magic Johnson is returning to the Los Angeles Lakers organization to assist co-owner Jeanie Buss in "all areas of basketball and business," the team announced Thursday.

"We are thrilled and honored to add Magic's expertise and abilities, and I look forward to working alongside him," Jeanie Buss said of Johnson.

His role with the franchise will span across all departments of Lakers management.

Johnson's duties will include, but not be limited to, advising ownership on all business and basketball matters, collaborating with coaches, evaluating and mentoring players, assessing future franchise needs, and helping ownership to determine the best path for growth and success. Johnson will spend time at Lakers offices in El Segundo and will report directly to Jeanie Buss.

The news comes weeks after Johnson was spotted having dinner with Jeanie Buss at the Staples Center.

Watching the @Lakers game with @JeanieBuss! #Lakeshow pic.twitter.com/4q9mBiHlcE

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 18, 2017
Johnson was once a minority owner of the Lakers, and held the title of vice-president, but he sold his shares in 2010.

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Shaq and Charles Barkley gotta go and fight each other already 😂 pic.twitter.com/Fgcl0haFhr

— gifdsports (@gifdsports) February 3, 2017
Things got heated between Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley in the TNT studio Thursday night.

After Barkley stood by his earlier criticism of LeBron James, O'Neal said he would've had the same reaction as the Cleveland Cavaliers star. He then took it one step further by saying he would've punched Barkley in the face.

Barkley responded by joking that O'Neal isn't a good fighter, but Shaq clearly wasn't having it.

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AUSTIN, Texas - Texas knows how to throw a party, and for the Super Bowl in Houston, a new 29-story luxury hotel with a rooftop pool shaped like a meandering ''lazy river'' is the kind of glitzy welcome mat that keeps big events coming back. But that status may soon be put to the test.

Undaunted by the NCAA and NBA punishing North Carolina over bathroom laws that target transgender persons, powerful Texas Republican lawmakers are pushing to pass similar measures by June, and in doing so are daring leagues to boycott some of the biggest cities and stadiums in the U.S.

The stakes are bigger than Texas: other GOP-controlled states that watched the economic fallout in North Carolina could grow newly emboldened if sports executives decide that Texas is essentially too big to bail. Conservatives lawmakers have filed measures in almost a dozen states that would require people to use bathrooms or facilities that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. LGBT advocates condemn the measures as discriminatory.

As the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons settled in Houston this week, the NFL issued a statement embracing ''tolerance and inclusiveness'' without comment on Texas' bill or whether it could jeopardize future Super Bowls in Texas. The NCAA, which has 14 championship events booked in the state between now and 2019, declined comment.

''Texas wins an outsize number of these events. These really are good facilities. It's a location that's fairly centralized,'' said Daniel Rascher, president of California-based SportsEconomics, which performs impact studies and financial analyses surrounding major sporting events. ''If a determined organization wanted to go elsewhere they would do it, but it is the state that would be the most difficult to avoid.''

Since 2004, Texas has hosted more combined Super Bowls (three), NBA All-Star Games (three) and NCAA men's Final Fours (five) than any other state. San Antonio is scheduled to host another Final Four in 2018, and Dallas is hosting the women's NCAA Final Four in April. The Dallas Cowboys' $1.2 billion, 100,000-seat stadium will also host one of college football's playoff games in 2018.

The lack of public comment so far from the NFL and others may be rooted in hopes of the bill fizzling out before reaching Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Abbott has taken a neutral stance and made no mention of bathrooms while laying out his legislative agenda this week. GOP House Speaker Joe Straus has been more forceful, condemning the proposal as an economic backlash waiting to happen.

But the bill has a powerful backer in Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate and is popular with social conservatives who drive Texas politics. He called warnings from the Texas Association of Business, the state's dominant business lobby, ''fear-mongering'' and has pointed to the Super Bowl kicking off in Houston as proof that sports will stick around.

Houston passed an ordinance expanding gay and transgender rights, but voters in 2015 repealed it after Patrick rallied conservatives in the nation's fourth-largest city behind a ''No men in women's bathroom'' campaign. The NFL made clear at the time the repeal wouldn't affect its Houston Super Bowl plans that were two years away, and the NCAA still held the Final Four in Houston last year.

''It's much harder for the NBA or NFL or anyone else to walk away from the great state of Texas. No doubt about it,'' said Republican state Sen. Don Huffines, a wealthy Dallas developer. ''They're going to be missing something if they don't do business in the state of Texas. They are politicizing this issue. Not the legislature.''

Landing big games isn't just a point of pride for Texas but a legislative priority. Texas has doled out more than $235 million in state dollars over the past decade through a major events fund that helps cities attract marquee events. Rascher said Arizona is the only other state with a similar piggybank dedicated to wooing selection committees and sports league executives.

The NCAA last year made special note of ways North Carolina's law differed from other states in deciding to relocate seven championships elsewhere. The Texas bill excludes some of those factors, including invalidating local equal-rights ordinances, although there is separate legislation that could have similar effects.

North Carolina's new Democratic governor is pushing his Republican-controlled Legislature on a vote to repeal its law.

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After waiving center Anderson Varejao on Friday, the Golden State Warriors plan to use their open roster spot to sign point guard Briante Weber to a 10-day contract, sources tell The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Varejao has played sparingly for the Warriors this season, averaging just 1.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 14 games. The 6-foot-10 Brazilian was re-signed by the Warriors this summer after seeing regular minutes in last year's playoffs.

Weber spent time with the Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies last season, averaging 4.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, and three assists in seven combined contests. The 24-year-old was named D-League Player of the Month for January, averaging 21 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and 3.6 steals for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Weber will shore up the Warriors' point guard depth as they wait for Shaun Livingston to return from a back injury.

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The Los Angeles Lakers may sit just 14th in the Western Conference with a 17-35 record, but if you ask their new adviser, they're not that far away from contending.

Magic Johnson - who was named as an adviser to part-owner Jeanie Buss on Thursday - says that despite the team's poor record, the Lakers are just one superstar away from competing with the NBA's powerhouses.

"We're a superstar away from competing against (the Warriors and Spurs)," Johnson said in an interview with Spectrum Sportsnet. "One guy changes our landscape, because we have everything we need now, except that one guy to make everybody better.

"That's why I joined. If I felt we were far away and it was going to be a waste of my time, I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have taken this role. I know that we have the pieces in place and we will continue to get better."

Johnson spent 13 seasons with the franchise as a player, collecting five titles, three MVPs, three Finals MVPs, and 12 All-Star appearances during his time in Los Angeles. He later became a minority owner of the Lakers and held the title of vice president before selling his stake in Oct. 2010.

"One thing about this organization is we always come back," Johnson said. "And we will come back again. … I'm here to say that we're ready to take that step."

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Atlanta Hawks small forward Taurean Prince and Miami Heat forward James Johnson have each been fined $25,000 for their roles in an altercation during Wednesday's game.
The incident occurred in the fourth quarter of the contest after Prince sentHassan Whiteside to the floor with a hard foul. Johnson quickly escalated the situation by shoving Prince in retaliation.
Taurean Prince fouled Hassan Whiteside HARD but you know James Johnson was gonna have his backDon't mess with James Johnson...pic.twitter.com/vaj1Dklz2q
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) February 2, 2017
Both players were assessed Flagrant 2s for their actions and ejected from the game.
Fortunately for Johnson, he won't have to worry about his wallet being any lighter, as Whiteside has already offered to pay for his fine.








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An already frustrating season for the Minnesota Timberwolves has been dealt a significant blow.

Shooting guard Zach LaVine will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL in his left knee, the team announced Saturday. LaVine suffered the injury - which was initially diagnosed as a contusion - when he collided with Andre Drummond midair during Friday's loss to the Detroit Pistons.

The 21-year-old was in the midst of a breakout season, averaging 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and three assists with a .459/.387/.836 shooting line in 47 games. He was tied with teammate Andrew Wiggins for third in the NBA at 37.2 minutes per game. He's missed just eight games in his three-year career.

The Wolves don't have many shooting guard options to slide into the starting lineup, though they could conceivably bump Wiggins down to the two and start reserve forward Shabazz Muhammad, who's often their first guy off the bench.

Minnesota had begun to turn things around after a miserable start, with an 8-5 record in their past 13 games.

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The day was Feb. 4, 2012, and the New York Knicks looked destined for another abysmal season.

After dropping its last two contests - one to the rival Boston Celtics - New York sat near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, owning a record of just 8-15.

That night, head coach Mike D'Antoni made a seemingly insignificant change to his lineup, handing the backup point guard duties to the seldom-used Jeremy Lin.

To say the decision worked out well would be a massive understatement, as the 6-foot-3 guard pulled off one of the most improbable runs in NBA history during the coming weeks, and took an entire country by storm.

On Feb. 4, 2012, "Linsanity" was born.

It took a few minutes for Lin to assert himself after entering the game near the end of the first quarter, but his performance that night was nothing short of spectacular.

The Harvard product would finish the contest with a game-high 25 points, adding seven assists, five rebounds, and two steals in a 99-92 Knicks victory.

As he continued to dominate in the coming weeks, fans across North America took notice, with then-President Barack Obama even admitting he caught Jeremy Lin fever.

Lin would go on to average 20.9 points and 8.4 assists in February, leading the Knicks to a 10-2 record from Feb. 4 on.

He suited up for the franchise for the last time the following month, as a partially torn meniscus in his left knee brought his season to a halt. He signed a three-year deal with the Rockets that summer, ending his time in the Big Apple.

While it didn't last as long as many had hoped, Lin was able to do something no one had done in years - bring the basketball world's focus back to New York.

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MIAMI - Dion Waiters is quick to point out that he has learned plenty in a short time from Miami coach Erik Spoelstra and the assistants on the Heat staff.

But he's had other teachers as well - and their lessons are paying off now.

Waiters has been sensational for Miami during its 10-game winning streak, one that has vaulted the Heat right back into the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. And part of his surge, he said, is because of the lessons he learned when he was a teammate in Cleveland and Oklahoma City of stars like LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and most especially, Kevin Durant.

''I had the opportunity to be around some of the greats,'' Waiters said. ''You know, Bron, Russ, KD - every day with KD, before and after practice, working out together, we did everything together. I was a sponge, basically, soaking all that up. And seeing how hard he works every day, even in the position he was in, every day was the same thing, just being consistent.''

So now Waiters has a routine of his own, sticking to it diligently the same way that Durant has.

It's working. Waiters is averaging 21.5 points and 4.8 assists on 51 percent shooting - 53 percent from 3-point range - during the streak. And Miami started the year 11-30, but is 10-0 since in a staggering turnaround.

''It's just about being consistent, man,'' Waiters said. ''Just having fun, most importantly. It's a hell of a ride. Even what we went through in the beginning of the year, we learned. Everybody probably doubted us, counted us out. When you win, it puts a perspective on everything else. Everybody's quote-unquote now seeing how good we can be. But we're not getting caught up in the hype.''

The Heat start a four-game road trip in Minnesota on Monday.

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Jahlil Okafor could be headed to the Big Easy.

The Philadelphia 76ers are engaged in serious trade talks to send the center to the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources told Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports.

It's believed the Sixers, who've discussed a deal involving the sophomore big man with eight teams, want a future first-round pick in return. They could fetch that, plus big man Alex Ajinca from New Orleans.

The 76ers have a glut of talented young bigs between Okafor, Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel, and Richaun Holmes, whom they acquired via the draft over the years as a result of tanking "The Process." Okafor and Noel's names have both been floated in trade rumors.

Related: Bulls reportedly interested in trading for 76ers' Okafor

The team has been playing better over the past month than it has in years, and is 10-8 in 2017. Brett Brown's men have been jelling, with Noel and Holmes emerging as better fits within the system to back up Embiid than Okafor.

For their part, the Pelicans have been looking to improve the supporting cast around All-Star Anthony Davis, with a focus on landing a center who better complements him. Omer Asik isn't cutting it, so the team is trying to unload his contract - which has three years and about $33.9 million remaining - per sources of The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

New Orleans has also reportedly looked into making a move for Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez. It would rather give up its first-rounder in 2018 than this year, and seeks lottery protection regardless.

Despite expressing a preference to play at the four-spot, Davis has played 73 percent of his minutes this season at center. Adding Okafor should allow him to get his wish.

The 22-year-old is averaging 15.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.1 blocks per game over his two seasons in Philly.

The trade deadline is on Feb. 23.

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As expected, Steve Kerr's tirade will cost him.

The NBA fined the Golden State Warriors' head coach $25,000 on Monday for berating officials and not exiting Saturday's game against the Sacramento Kings in a timely manner, according to Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports.

The 51-year-old was livid about a technical foul called on forward Draymond Green in the third quarter, so he let the referees hear it. Kerr was promptly ejected, but continued to jaw at officials and had to be restrained by his assistants.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr unleashes a string of profanities and gets ejected... pic.twitter.com/MWlCnzAXUD

— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) February 5, 2017
Saturday's contest ultimately went into overtime, with the Dubs dropping just their eight game of the season, 109-106.

Kerr has racked up multiple fines for criticizing officials in the past.

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Isaiah Thomas of the Boston Celtics (East) and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors (West) have been named NBA Players of the Week for games played from Jan. 30 through Feb. 5, the league announced Monday.

Boston went undefeated at 4-0 with victories against the Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors, and both the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers. Thomas led the Association in scoring during that stretch with 37.8 points per game along with 6.8 assists, all while connecting on nearly 50 percent of his field-goal attempts (49.4).

The biggest win undoubtedly came against Toronto, which helped propel the Celtics past their division rival to take over the East's second seed. The two-time All-Star point guard had 44 points that night in 37 minutes of action.

Golden State didn't go unblemished, finishing 2-1 after Saturday's frustrating overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings. Despite a costly blown layup that night, Curry still put forth a spectacular performance with 39 points, nine dimes, four boards, and three steals.

In total, the reigning back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player ranked near the top of the West in most statistical categories, including first in both scoring (34.3) and steals (three).

Other nominees for the honors included Yogi Ferrell (Dallas Mavericks), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Jeff Teague (Indiana Pacers), Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), and John Wall (Washington Wizards).

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MIAMI - The Miami Heat have waived forward Derrick Williams, and are signing rookie forward Okaro White through the 2017-18 season.

The Heat, who play in Minnesota on Monday, are 10-0 since signing White to a pair of 10-day contracts. White was added to the roster when Miami got permission from the NBA to carry a 16th player because of an abundance of injuries.

But to keep him long term, the Heat had to create a roster spot.

That meant parting ways with Williams, who appeared in 25 games for Miami and started 11. He averaged 5.9 points on 39 percent shooting with the Heat.

White has averaged 4.1 points on 48 percent shooting in his brief stint so far with the Heat.

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Being a starter for the best team in basketball over in the Bay Area has center Zaza Pachulia feeling fulfilled and reinvigorated. Despite his contract running for just one year with the Golden State Warriors, the 32-year-old veteran plans to remain with the organization for as long as possible to keep those feelings alive.

"I don't want the season to end," Pachulia said, according to the San Francisco Gate's Connor Letourneau.

"When people ask me about (free agency) this summer, I say, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here.’ Even after June, I’m staying here."

Pachulia inked a bargain contract with the Warriors last summer worth $2.9 million for just one season, forgoing larger offers elsewhere in order to contend for his first championship.

Surrounded by elite scorers, the 6-foot-11 big man has found a level of comfort as a utility guy who provides head coach Steve Kerr with sound defense at the five spot - Golden State allows 4.1 more points per 100 possessions when he's not on the floor - and quality rebounding numbers. He's averaging 11.5 boards per 36 minutes, 4.1 of which come on the offensive glass, and sits second among centers in real plus-minus at 3.61.

Golden State holds a 3.5-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs for the top seed in the Western Conference at 43-8, and has won two of its last three games while Pachulia has been sidelined due to a strained right rotator cuff.

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While he was busy pouring in 39 points on 17 shots, hauling in 12 rebounds, swiping three steals, hurling a game-saving full-court assist, and generally enjoying one of his best games of the season to lead his Cleveland Cavaliers to an overtime win in Washington on Monday night, Kevin Love's name was being bandied about in trade rumors.

A report from Frank Isola of the New York Daily News during the game cited a source who said LeBron James was pushing the Cavs' front office to trade for New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, even if it meant trading his All-Star teammate.

James was asked about the report after the game, and he was unequivocal.

"Yeah I saw that and heard about it, it's trash," James told reporters. "And the guy who wrote it is trash, too, for writing that. Especially during a game like that. It's always about outside noise, and that's just outside noise for us."

It's unclear whether Isola's source came from within the Knicks organization or elsewhere, but the Cavaliers were unified in their staunch rejection of the rumor.

"Kevin should be happy that teams want him, but he's not going anywhere," said head coach Tyronn Lue.

"It's a lie," said Love himself. "What do they say? A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put his pants on."

James, who has reportedly been at odds with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert recently over Gilbert's hesitance to spend more luxury-tax dollars to add another playmaker, struck a more happy-go-lucky tone Monday.

"We gotta focus on what needs to be done in order for us to continue to compete for a championship, and we got what we got," he said. "Our GM will do a great job of figuring out if we need something else, but right now we're in a good place."

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Last time Dwyane Wade sunk the Sacramento Kings with a last-second flourish, DeMarcus Cousins waited until he was in the tunnel to take out his frustration on a garbage can. On Monday night, he couldn't hold it in, and earned himself an unpaid vacation.

After failing to get a whistle on a last-ditch 3-point attempt - a possession after Wade had gotten away with grabbing his jersey on his game-clinching steal-and-slam - Cousins threw a tantrum to pick up his second technical foul of the game and his 16th of the season, triggering an automatic one-game suspension.

Unless he has one of those techs rescinded, he'll serve the suspension Wednesday night when the Kings play the Celtics in Boston. It's safe to say neither of the ones he picked up Monday will be called back. The first one saw him shove Bulls assistant coach Jim Boylen, and the second saw Cousins effectively beg to get T'd up and tossed.

It all came after the Kings had made a rousing comeback, erasing a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game with 30 seconds left, whipping the Golden One Center crowd into a frenzy two nights after the Kings faithful had watched their team topple the Golden State Warriors. Cousins had tied it with an and-1 layup, and his free throw would've given the Kings their first lead of the game. He missed it, and it was all downhill from there.

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Monday was a wild night for LeBron James. After forcing overtime with a bank-3 with under one second left against the Washington Wizards, the King was already heading to overtime with a career-high in assists.

Yet James then fouled out in the extra frame, the first time he's done so in a contest since Jan. 10, 2014, when he was a member of the Miami Heat.

While he was forced to watch his Cleveland Cavaliers pull out a gutsy 140-135 OT win from the bench, James finished the night with 32 points, a career-high 17 assists, and six rebounds. It was just the third 30-point, 15-assist performance of James' career, according to ESPN.

The trey to force overtime was also only the fourth time in James' career he's made a game-tying or go-ahead three in the final five seconds of regulation or overtime. He came into Monday 3-for-32 on such shots.

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Kyle Lowry became the Toronto Raptors' all-time franchise leader in 3-point field goals Monday with his third trey of the night against the Los Angeles Clippers - giving him 802 in a Toronto uniform, surpassing Morris Peterson.

Lowry is having a career season in several categories, including 3-point accuracy (41.5 percent coming into Monday). He set a Raptors franchise record for threes in a season last year with 212, a mark he's on pace to break this season.

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Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was assessed a one-game suspension without pay, along with a $25,000 fine, for accumulating 16 technical fouls on the season.

He is expected to serve his suspension Wednesday when the Kings host the Boston Celtics.

Cousins was ejected for two separate outbursts in Monday's controversial loss to the Chicago Bulls. Cousins shoved Bulls assistant Jim Boylen during a timeout for his first tech.

Cousins earned his second for berating an official following a perceived missed call in the dying seconds. An uncalled shirt pull by Dwyane Wade allowed him to pick off the inbound pass leading to a dunk which sealed the result. Cousins exploded at the officials coming down the court and was ejected with 1.1 seconds left.

On top of the suspension, Cousins was fined $25,000 for a separate incident that occurred last week against the Golden State Warriors. He made an inappropriate gesture while leaving the court in an overtime win over their California rivals.

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Phil Jackson's passive-aggressive attempts at running Carmelo Anthony out of the Big Apple is strengthening the 32-year-old's desire to remain with the New York Knicks, league sources tell The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Anthony has told teammates that he refuses to let Jackson force him into waiving his no-trade clause, and a source told Wojnarowski that Jackson is misjudging "Melo's willingness to stay."

Jackson appeared to take another public shot at Anthony on Tuesday when he agreed with an article by Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding that questioned Melo's desire to win. It's not that first time the Knicks president has been critical of Melo this season, as he also complained about his star forward's selfish play in December.

Jackson has yet to sit down with Anthony and his representatives and notify them of his preference to trade the nine-time All-Star, according to Wojnarowski, opting to publicly fire shots at Melo instead.

The Knicks have reportedly contacted three teams to gauge their interest in Melo, but have yet to find a deal that works for both sides.

Anthony is averaging 22.9 points, six rebounds, and 2.9 assists on 43.5 percent shooting in 52 games this season.

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Count LeBron James among the many athletes who have spoken out against U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration ban.

The Cavaliers forward voiced his displeasure with the controversial executive order last week, saying he wouldn't support a policy that excludes others.

"I am not in favor of this policy or any policy that divides and excludes people," James said while accepting the NAACP's Jackie Robinson Award, according to Jason Miller of The Hollywood Reporter. "I stand with the many, many Americans who believe this does not represent what the United States is all about. And we should continue to speak out about it."

The four-time MVP has made a point of voicing his disapproval of Trump since November's election, refusing to stay at a Trump hotel in New York during a road game earlier this season.

"Diversity is what makes this country so great," he said. "We should all continue to speak up and fight for ideas that bring people together regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or any other differences. It's important that we as athletes continue to use the platform we have to speak up for what we believe in."

On Friday, federal judge James Robart issued a nationwide restraining order, temporarily halting elements of the ban.

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Being tossed out out of "The World's Most Famous Arena" on Wednesday night won't change Charles Oakley's opinion about the New York Knicks organization and its fans.

Released from police custody after being charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal trespassing, Oakley was later filmed giving his side of the story about what transpired at Jimmy's NYC restaurant.

He said Madison Square Garden security approached him minutes into the game against the Los Angeles Clippers because someone "ordered" him to leave.


"I'm like, 'I've been here four-and-a-half minutes,'" Oakley said. "'I'm a Knicks fan. Played here for 10 years. I love the Knicks. I love New York. This is my heart. I wish them all the luck and success on the basketball court. I don't know why I'm not welcome into the Garden.'"

Asked how the situation escalated, Oakley said, "When somebody walking up on you, you've got to protect yourself in all manners. I've been in situations like it before. I've been jumped before. So in my mind I was thinking like, 'If you see seven, eight, nine, 10 guys walking up on you, you have to brace yourself and be ready for the challenge.'"


As far as whether or not he'll be back inside MSG anytime soon, Oakley isn't sure.

"I don't know no status," he added. "As long as the fans care about me ... I love the fans. I'm always going to love the fans. I'm a Knicks fans for life, no matter if I go back to the Garden or not. I'm still going to cheer for the Knicks because I played here for a decade. My heart and soul is here."

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The list of older or retired NBA players who believe the league is losing its "competitive fire" has been growing steadily over the past couple years, and you can add one more to that list - 18-year veteran Paul Pierce.

"I don't think the league is as competitive as it was, let's say like, 10 years ago, where you've got the superstars going at one another, talking smack, creating rivalries," Pierce told ESPN's "Mike and Mike" show. "We don't have rivalries anymore. The closest thing to it is Golden State and Cleveland, which could end up being a great rivalry, but outside of that, you don't have any individual rivalries, a Kobe vs. LeBron. Individual rivalries are just not there anymore."

Pierce has been in his fair share of individual rivalries with guys like LeBron and Kobe over the years, which culminated in a Championship in 2008 alongside Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. To add to that, he grew up watching Larry Bird's Celtics suit up against Magic Johnson's Lakers in three hard-fought Finals battles throughout the 80s, and Michael Jordan grit and grind through those feisty Knicks and Pacers teams in the 90s, so his words and perspective shouldn't come as a surprise.

However, those days - according to the Celtics legend - are over, and he sees only a couple current players who possess that inherent fiery quality.

"We were friends then, don't get me wrong," Pierce continued. "I have friends too. But you wouldn't know it by the way we competed on the court, and you couldn't see it.

"I believe the person who really has the 80s, 90s, early 2000s genes of competitive fire are dead and gone. You have about one or two guys who I see that in, (Russell) Westbrook and maybe like a DeMarcus Cousins or something. But pretty much everybody else, it's a different type of attitude."

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lobo316 wrote: Being tossed out out of "The World's Most Famous Arena" on Wednesday night won't change Charles Oakley's opinion about the New York Knicks organization and its fans.

Released from police custody after being charged with three misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal trespassing, Oakley was later filmed giving his side of the story about what transpired at Jimmy's NYC restaurant.

He said Madison Square Garden security approached him minutes into the game against the Los Angeles Clippers because someone "ordered" him to leave.


"I'm like, 'I've been here four-and-a-half minutes,'" Oakley said. "'I'm a Knicks fan. Played here for 10 years. I love the Knicks. I love New York. This is my heart. I wish them all the luck and success on the basketball court. I don't know why I'm not welcome into the Garden.'"

Asked how the situation escalated, Oakley said, "When somebody walking up on you, you've got to protect yourself in all manners. I've been in situations like it before. I've been jumped before. So in my mind I was thinking like, 'If you see seven, eight, nine, 10 guys walking up on you, you have to brace yourself and be ready for the challenge.'"


As far as whether or not he'll be back inside MSG anytime soon, Oakley isn't sure.

"I don't know no status," he added. "As long as the fans care about me ... I love the fans. I'm always going to love the fans. I'm a Knicks fans for life, no matter if I go back to the Garden or not. I'm still going to cheer for the Knicks because I played here for a decade. My heart and soul is here."
The initial reaction was that Oak was off the rails.  However, as the story comes out, it is apparent that Dolan is the true asshole.  FWIW - Oak looked to be in better shape than most of the Knicks on the floor.  The 5 security guys who drove him off worked more as a team than the Knicks have all year.  Maybe they should sign Oak so he can show them what it is like to have a heart.

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lobo316 wrote: The list of older or retired NBA players who believe the league is losing its "competitive fire" has been growing steadily over the past couple years, and you can add one more to that list - 18-year veteran Paul Pierce.

"I don't think the league is as competitive as it was, let's say like, 10 years ago, where you've got the superstars going at one another, talking smack, creating rivalries," Pierce told ESPN's "Mike and Mike" show. "We don't have rivalries anymore. The closest thing to it is Golden State and Cleveland, which could end up being a great rivalry, but outside of that, you don't have any individual rivalries, a Kobe vs. LeBron. Individual rivalries are just not there anymore."

Pierce has been in his fair share of individual rivalries with guys like LeBron and Kobe over the years, which culminated in a Championship in 2008 alongside Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. To add to that, he grew up watching Larry Bird's Celtics suit up against Magic Johnson's Lakers in three hard-fought Finals battles throughout the 80s, and Michael Jordan grit and grind through those feisty Knicks and Pacers teams in the 90s, so his words and perspective shouldn't come as a surprise.

However, those days - according to the Celtics legend - are over, and he sees only a couple current players who possess that inherent fiery quality.

"We were friends then, don't get me wrong," Pierce continued. "I have friends too. But you wouldn't know it by the way we competed on the court, and you couldn't see it.

"I believe the person who really has the 80s, 90s, early 2000s genes of competitive fire are dead and gone. You have about one or two guys who I see that in, (Russell) Westbrook and maybe like a DeMarcus Cousins or something. But pretty much everybody else, it's a different type of attitude."
It is the NBA's fault.  They created a system that has allowed for super teams to be put together at the expense of the rest of the league.  What are the chances we won't see Cavs v Warriors part 3?

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Milwaukee Bucks power forward Jabari Parker will miss the next 12 months after tearing his left ACL for the second time in his career, head coach Jason Kidd confirmed Thursday.

Parker left Wednesday's contest after suffering a non-contact injury against the Miami Heat.

It's a huge blow to the Bucks, who had just gotten Khris Middleton back into the lineup after a six-month absence.

The 21-year-old was in the midst of his best season as a pro, averaging career highs in points (20.1), rebounds (6.1), and assists (2.8), while shooting 49 percent of the floor.

Parker's absence likely means Mirza Teletovic, Thon Maker, and Michael Beasley will all see extended minutes going forward.

After a strong start to the season, Milwaukee has struggled of late, winning just two of its last 13 contests.

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Jabari Parker's injury is a big blow to my injury plagued Fantasy Basketball Team (Rotisserie to be factual). I'd lately been rolling with John Wall and Kyrie Irving at guard, Andre Drummond at center, and then shifting Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, and Jabari Parker around between the forward and flex spots. With Parker hurt, Robert Covington gets back into the lineup. Currently on the team, but injured to one degree or another are Pau Gasol, Cody Zeller, and Emmanuel Mudiay. Robert Fournier, Ersan Ilyasova, and Matthew Delladova fill out the team. I was in 10th and last place until making a trade to get Kyrie Irving on December 8 for Rajon Rondo in a deal my trading partner wishes he can undo even though he's higher in the standings. Now I'm up to a four way tie for 4th place. This is a very active league for transactions so there's not much to pick up at the moment. I need Embiid to get hurt to help get my Sixers more floor time and more responsibility during it.

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Jabari Parker's injury is a big blow to my injury plagued Fantasy Basketball Team (Rotisserie to be factual). I'd lately been rolling with John Wall and Kyrie Irving at guard, Andre Drummond at center, and then shifting Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, and Jabari Parker around between the forward and flex spots. With Parker hurt, Robert Covington gets back into the lineup. Currently on the team, but injured to one degree or another are Pau Gasol, Cody Zeller, and Emmanuel Mudiay. Robert Fournier, Ersan Ilyasova, and Matthew Delladova fill out the team. I was in 10th and last place until making a trade to get Kyrie Irving on December 8 for Rajon Rondo in a deal my trading partner wishes he can undo even though he's higher in the standings. Now I'm up to a four way tie for 4th place. This is a very active league for transactions so there's not much to pick up at the moment. I need Embiid to get hurt to help get my Sixers more floor time and more responsibility during it.

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New York Knicks owner James Dolan has fired security chief Frank Benedetto in the wake of Wednesday's incident involving Charles Oakley, a source told Murray Weiss of DNAInfo.com.

The move comes two days after Oakley was forcibly removed from a game by Madison Square Garden security. The 53-year-old was later charged with three counts of misdemeanor assault and one count of trespassing.

The Knicks remained silent on Benedetto's reported dismissal.

"We don't comment on employees that have left the company," MSG spokesman Barry Watkins told Weiss.

Oakley told reporters Thursday that Dolan was responsible for his removal, saying he was minding his own business prior to being ejected. Knicks PR later released a statement calling Oakley's account of what happened "pure fiction."


A number of current and former players have voiced support for Oakley, believing Dolan mistreated the Knicks legend.

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Twitter sources stated earlier today that Charles Oakley has been permanently banned from MSG.

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Sources were partially wrong. Oakley is indefinitely banned, but not permanently. I assume he'll have to do some sort of apology to get that ban lifted unless the heat of public opinion comes down so hard on James Dolan that he has no choice but to do something.

Phil Jackson is quitting after the season. He has to. It's been a disaster and he's mishandled so many situations. Unless pride and fears for appearances and his damaged reputation override all other factors, what reason does he have to want to stay on?

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Kevin Durant knows it will be an emotional night for Oklahoma City Thunder fans to see him return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time as the opponent.

His former supporters, turned detractors, can do what they like, Durant said before the fateful showdown Saturday.

Kevin Durant pregame Part 2 pic.twitter.com/0fD7u3lZ3A

— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 11, 2017
"Thank you. Do what you gotta to do. I appreciate every second I had here. I wish nothing but the best for the organization and for the city. Thanks for all the great memories but I know what it is," Durant told reporters before tip off.

With a bitter and rude welcome on the horizon, Durant said he will, "plan for the worst."

"I know what fans are about, especially here. Try not to think about it, just go out there and play. Once the ball is tipped just go play the game."

Durant spent eight seasons in OKC, helping the relocated franchise establish itself as one of the league's marquee teams. All that apparently went out the window when Durant exercised his right as an unrestricted free agent to join another team of his choosing.

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lobo316 wrote: Kevin Durant knows it will be an emotional night for Oklahoma City Thunder fans to see him return to the Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time as the opponent.

His former supporters, turned detractors, can do what they like, Durant said before the fateful showdown Saturday.

Kevin Durant pregame Part 2 pic.twitter.com/0fD7u3lZ3A

— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 11, 2017
"Thank you. Do what you gotta to do. I appreciate every second I had here. I wish nothing but the best for the organization and for the city. Thanks for all the great memories but I know what it is," Durant told reporters before tip off.

With a bitter and rude welcome on the horizon, Durant said he will, "plan for the worst."

"I know what fans are about, especially here. Try not to think about it, just go out there and play. Once the ball is tipped just go play the game."

Durant spent eight seasons in OKC, helping the relocated franchise establish itself as one of the league's marquee teams. All that apparently went out the window when Durant exercised his right as an unrestricted free agent to join another team of his choosing.
It was a pretty could game for a blowout. OKC never had a chance after the first 7 minutes.

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Carmelo Anthony may not have any rings, but he will be in the top 10 in NBA scoring when it's all said and done.

Anthony moved past Charles Barkley for 25th on the all-time scoring list with his 25-point effort against the San Antonio Spurs. He entered Sunday's contest seven back of Sir Charles with 23,750 career points.

He also drained two dagger jumpers in the final two minutes to help the Knicks steal a surprising 94-90 victory over the Spurs.

The next great for Anthony to surpass is Vince Carter, who is still kicking around at the age of 40 but only holds a lead of 577 points. Moving past Carter would make Anthony the league's third-most prolific active scorer behind Paul Pierce and LeBron James.

The 32-year-old is roughly 3,500 from cracking the top 10. He would need roughly two healthy seasons at his current scoring average of 23 points per game to reach that mark.

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NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is getting tired of the public feud between Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson.

While she doesn't have the power to make it happen, Roberts is hoping the two can sit down to air out their differences, believing it would be far more effective than taking shots at one another though the media.

"I wish there was an opportunity for Phil and Melo to sit down without this issue or issues being litigated as it were in social media or in the media," Roberts told Dan Le Batard on ESPN Radio. "I wish I could facilitate that. Of course, I can't. I'm not happy about what appears to be a skirmish. I don't know what Jackson's motives are and I've not spoken to Melo about it but what I would love to be able to broker is an opportunity for these men to sit down and figure out what's going on."


Jackson's passive-aggressive attempts at running Anthony out of town have had the opposite effect thus far, as they've reportedly only strengthened the nine-time All-Star's desire to stay in the Big Apple.

Many believe the Knicks president took a shot at Anthony earlier this week when Jackson responded to an article that criticized the 32-year-old's supposed lack of desire to win. Jackson later said the tweet was "misunderstood," telling others to "let it be."

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After banning one franchise icon from Madison Square Garden earlier this week, the New York Knicks brought another one back on Sunday.

Latrell Sprewell hadn't been invited back to MSG as a guest since being traded by the Knicks in 2003, and subsequently feuding with owner James Dolan. He was in attendance for Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs, sitting next to Dolan and two other Knicks legends in Larry Johnson and Bernard King.

The Knicks also welcomed Sprewell back with a video tribute memorializing the five seasons he spent with the team, which included a run to the Finals in 1999.

Welcome back Spree! #NYK70 #Knicks pic.twitter.com/gq5X0Z6jmO

— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) February 12, 2017
The Knicks have been mired in a public relations mess since forcibly and publicly removing Charles Oakley from MSG on Wednesday night. Oakley was later arrested and charged with assault for fighting with the security guards who were trying to remove him.

Oakley said he did nothing to merit his removal, while Dolan insisted Oakley had been behaving belligerently and abusing the arena staff, and suggested he might have an alcohol problem. Current and former players subsequently came out in support of Oakley, as did players' union boss Michele Roberts, and the MSG crowd.

In his courtside seat at Sunday's game, famed Knicks superfan Spike Lee donned an Oakley jersey.

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The Toronto Raptors are reaching their wits' end after blowing a 16-point fourth quarter lead to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday.

All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry tore into his club when addressing reporters following their 13th loss in their last 23 games.

"(We're) being put in the same situations over and over and we're not being successful. Something's gotta give, something gotta change," Lowry said.

When asked about what changes Lowry wanted to see, he wisely pleaded the fifth.

"I have an idea but I'll keep my mouth shut, keep it very professional."

The Raptors shot themselves in the foot by playing foolish offense and absent defense which culminated in yet another collapse to a sub-.500 team. Sunday's game saw the Raptors repeatedly run basic plays for DeMar DeRozan to little effect down the stretch, while their defense allowed a Pistons side led by Ish Smith to shoot 59 percent in the final frame.

The game-winning shot for Detroit saw Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all alone in the corner to drill a three for a one-point lead. The Raptors promptly called timeout to set up an isolation for DeRozan that rimmed out in the face of tough defense by Marcus Morris.

Lowry added that he wasn't just reacting to a bad loss. Toronto has been in a two-month funk since their brilliant 22-8 start.

"I'm starting to get worried. Yeah. It's not going the way it's supposed to be going and things aren't changing so yeah, I'm starting to get worried," he said.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have opened up a roster spot and saved money by pulling their second trade in as many months.

The Cavs announced Monday they have traded injured center Chris Andersen and cash considerations to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for a protected second-round draft pick.

Andersen - who signed a one-year minimum contract with the defending champion Cavs in July - appeared in just 12 games this season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

The Cavs, who acquired Kyle Korver in January and signed forward Derrick Williams to a 10-day contract last week, now once again have an open roster spot to play with as they continue their search for a backup point guard. The Andersen trade also saves the team a bit of cash on its historically expensive luxury tax bill.

According to ESPN's Dave McMenamin, the second-rounder Charlotte moved to Cleveland is a 2017 pick that's top-55 protected, meaning it's unlikely the Hornets will actually sacrifice anything to help Cleveland free up a roster spot.

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James Dolan did his best to insulate himself from a maelstrom of bad public-relations buzz, responding to backlash over the MSG ban he issued to Charles Oakley by inviting Knicks franchise legends Latrell Sprewell, Larry Johnson, and Bernard King to sit with him for Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

It's unclear how many former Knicks in Dolan's Rolodex got the call before Sprewell - who hadn't been invited to MSG since feuding with the Knicks owner after being traded in 2003 - but at least one more of them was apparently invited.

Vin Baker played just 41 games in a Knicks uniform, and says he hadn't been in touch with Dolan since that brief tenure ended, but that didn't stop Dolan from reaching out.

"(Dolan) called me sounding really sad asking me if I would come sit with him," Baker told Jordan Schultz of The Huffington Post. "Hadn't spoken to him in 15 years."

The Knicks don't play another home game until after the All-Star break, but be sure to tune in Feb. 25 when they host the Philadelphia 76ers. Maybe Dolan will be flanked by Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry.

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t took some meddling from the NBA, but it appears James Dolan and Charles Oakley have patched up their strained relationship.

Commissioner Adam Silver met with the two Monday at the league office in New York, while Michael Jordan participated by phone in an effort to help end the feud between the New York Knicks owner and former player.

"Both Mr. Oakley and Mr. Dolan were apologetic about the incident and subsequent comments, and their negative impact on the Knicks organization and the NBA," Silver said in a statement issued Monday. "Mr. Dolan expressed his hope that Mr. Oakley would return to MSG as his guest in the near future."

Oakley was banned from Madison Square Garden last week after he was forcible removed from Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers and subsequently arrested. Dolan said Friday the ban will be lifted once the retired player gets control of his "personality problems."

Dolan suggested Oakley battled with alcoholism, which the Knicks legend denied and may take legal action against.

The commissioner called the fiasco "beyond disheartening."

Leave it to Silver and the GOAT to take care of this mess.

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The Toronto Raptors appear to have finally addressed their longstanding need at power forward.

The Raptors are acquiring Orlando Magic big man Serge Ibaka in exchange for Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round draft pick, sources told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowksi.

The Raptors own their own first-round pick in this summer's draft, along with the Los Angeles Clippers' first-rounder; Orlando will get the lower of the two selections, Wojnarowski reports.

The Raptors have lacked for a star-caliber forward since Chris Bosh decamped for South Beach nearly seven years ago, and have long coveted Ibaka. By acquiring his Bird rights, they'll give themselves a good chance at re-signing him when he hits unrestricted free agency this summer - something Toronto reportedly has every intention of doing. The 27-year-old is averaging 15.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks, while shooting a career-best 38.8 percent from 3-point range this season.

Ross, 26, has two years and $21 million left on his contract after this season, and will help balance an ill-fitting Magic roster that was far too crowded up front. He's cooled off after a scorching start to the season, but is still shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range on 4.7 attempts per game, with a career-high 14.9 PER.

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The New York Knicks have lifted the arena ban imposed on popular former star Charles Oakley, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith and The Undefeated's Mike Wise.

The news comes two days after commissioner Adam Silver intervened with the assistance of Michael Jordan, summoning Oakley and Knicks owner James Dolan to the NBA offices to encourage them to settle their dispute.

Although the ban's been lifted, Oakley said he's not willing to accept an invite to Madison Square Garden from Dolan, as per ESPN's Dan Le Batard.

Oakley was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden last Wednesday, and arrested and charged on counts of assault and trespassing. He resisted efforts from security to remove him from his seats - which were located near Dolan - after being instructed to leave for verbally abusive behavior toward security.

It was announced that night that Oakley was banned indefinitely.

Following Monday's meeting with Silver, the NBA announced that both Oakley and Dolan expressed regret for their actions, and that Dolan hoped Oakley would return to Madison Square Garden soon.

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Toronto thank you for all the memories, thanks to the amazing fans. Couldn't of been drafted to a better city. Thanks to to my team. All luv

— Terrence Ross (@TFlight31) February 14, 2017
Terrence Ross won't forget the memories forged in Toronto.

Ross, who had spent the entirety of his professional career with the Raptors, was reportedly traded to the Orlando Magic along with a 2017 first-round draft pick, in exchange for Serge Ibaka on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old was selected eighth overall by the Raptors in the 2012 NBA Draft out of Washington. Ross notably won the Slam Dunk contest that season and notched a career-high 51 points during a January 2014 game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ross is averaging 10.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game this season, shooting 37.5 percent from 3-point range.

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The Denver Nuggets defeated the best team in the league thanks to a historic long-range shooting night.

The team tied an NBA regular-season record with 24 made 3-pointers in Monday's 132-110 win over the Golden State Warriors.

The Nuggets tied the NBA regular-season record with 24 made 3's in a single game. pic.twitter.com/1WuajBTyJr

— The Crossover (@TheCrossover) February 14, 2017
With six players sidelined with various ailments, the club was down to nine men. And boy, did they ever step up to give the Dubs their ninth defeat of the season, which matches their 2015-16 loss total.

The shorthanded Nuggets tied the record for most long bombs in a half with 16 in the opening 24 minutes while shooting a wildly efficient 70 percent from deep. They finished 24-40 - or 60 percent, ho hum - which is at least a little bit better than their average of 10 makes on 37 percent shooting.

Juancho Hernangomez led the way with 27 points and 10 rebounds, going 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. He was one of four players to hit four or more treys, while up-and-coming star Nikola Jokic recorded a triple-double with 17 points, 21 rebounds, and 12 assists.

The Houston Rockets set the regular-season 3-point record earlier this campaign in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Houston was far less efficient than Denver, though, attempting 21 more threes (61 total) to hit 24.

The Cleveland Cavaliers hold the postseason record for most 3-pointers with 25, which they set last year versus the Atlanta Hawks.

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For a moment, it looked like the Oklahoma City Thunder may never score again.

The Thunder missed 24 consecutive during one stretch in Monday's contest, getting outscored 34-5 by the Washington Wizards. It was the longest drought in the NBA this season, beating the previous mark by nine shots.

Triple-double machine Russell Westbrook was particularly cold, missing all nine of his shot attempts during the drought. He finished the game by going just 5-for-19 from the field.

Surprisingly, the Thunder still managed to score 98 points in the loss, but shot just over 35 percent as a team overall.

It's the second straight blowout defeat for Oklahoma City after losing to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

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The Thunder are paying Westbrook, Adams, Oladipo, and Kanter more than $20,000,000 apiece. Westbrook of course should be paid a mint and Adams brings something to the table, but the latter two are overpaid. The THunder are already over the projected salary cap for 2017-18 with little flexibility to get out from under it. As long as Westbrook doesn't use his opt out, the team should be respectable, but the days of competing for an NBA Title are over. It'll be interesting to see how OKC fans react to a non contending team that doesn't have great immediate upside. The then Hornets drew okay during their Katrina enforced sabbatical from New Orleans, but there was a big novelty factor. Then the Thunder arrived and were bad their first season in town, but had Durant and Westbrook in place, plus the novelty of having the NBA was enormous. After that the Thunder were the young team on the rise to contenders. Fans in Oklahoma City haven't had to endure a bad team or an okay to good team with no upside. We shall see if the fans continue to buy in or if they start to fall away.

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The two greatest guards in Los Angeles Lakers history may play significant roles in the team's front office.

Magic Johnson, who was hired by the Lakers as an advisor on Feb. 2, said that if his role expands, he'd immediately call Kobe Bryant, who retired after the 2015-16 season, about a potential management position.

"First call I make if I'm in charge? Kobe Bryant," Johnson said on ESPN's "First Take." "Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players. I would call: 'What role you want? ... If you've got a day, just give me that day.'

"I'll take that. Whatever time he has, I want him to come and be a part of it."

Johnson reports to Lakers president/co-owner Jeanie Buss, and would need her approval to hire Bryant. The Hall of Famer was expected to meet with GM Mitch Kupchak to discuss strategy ahead of the All-Star Game.

"Everybody has to be on the same page right now," Johnson told ESPN on Monday. "What we should be concerned about is not just right now, but how it will affect the future of the Lakers. That's why we all have to be on the same page."

Bryant hasn't spoke about joining the Lakers' front office, but fans would certainly be pleased to have him take a job with the team.

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The Detroit Pistons aren't exactly setting the Eastern Conference on fire with their 26-30 record, reportedly leading the team to dangle its two franchise players as trade bait in hopes of improving the roster.

Management has explored trade scenarios for both Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, league sources told ESPN's Zach Lowe.

The potential returns apparently haven't been promising, however, reducing the chances that either player will be shipped out of the Motor City ahead of the Feb. 23 deadline.

While Drummond is unlikely to be sent packing, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, and New Orleans Pelicans remain possible destinations for Jackson, Lowe reports.

The Pistons are only a game off their pace from this time during the 2015-16 regular season, when they sat 27-29. They finished that campaign with the eighth seed at 44-38, only to be swept by the eventual NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in a competitive opening-round matchup.

After being selected for his first All-Star appearance last year, Drummond's stock has clearly dipped across the Association, with his numbers dropping ever so slightly to 14.7 points on 52.8 percent shooting, 13.9 rebounds (second in NBA), 1.7 steals, and 1.2 rejections. The Pistons fare better offensively (1.6 more points per 100 possessions) when he's not on the floor. He remains the anchor of the defense, though, with the team allowing 7.9 more points per 100 possessions when he sits.

As for Jackson, Detroit is better served on both ends with backup Ish Smith running the show, which doesn't exactly help the Boston College product's value. Jackson has the poorest defensive rating of any Pistons player (110.4), the second-worst assist ratio despite being the starting point guard (16), and a net rating well below par at minus-7.8.

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Warriors value in 2012...368 million
Warriors value in 2017....2.6 billion

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Andrew Wiggins has had an interesting season. He began 2016-17 smoking hot, shooting 52 percent from deep in his first 11 games. Then came a prolonged cool down, but the Canadian now appears to be back.

With 40 points in Wednesday's 112-99 victory over the Denver Nuggets, Wiggins became just the fourth player in NBA history age 22 or younger to record consecutive 40-point outings - LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Allen Iverson are the other players to do so.

Wiggins dropped 41 on James' Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. In his last 15 games, he's averaging 27.7 points on a shooting line of 50/39/81. Wednesday also featured a filthy dunk on Nikola Jokic.

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The oft-rumored Kevin Love for Carmelo Anthony finally came to fruition, but it's not the one Phil Jackson has been dreaming of.

Anthony will serve as Love's injury replacement for the Eastern Conference at the 2017 All-Star Game in New Orleans this weekend, sources told ESPN's Marc Stein, citing league sources.

The NBA announced the swap shortly thereafter.

Carmelo, the #NBAAllstar.#NBARapidReplay @ESPNNBA pic.twitter.com/a5jwLus9iY

— NBA (@NBA) February 16, 2017
The two names have been inexorably linked through trade talks, although it appears unlikely that any move will be consummated. The Knicks are reportedly coveting Love, but the Cavs are unwilling to make that swap for Anthony.

Love was selected as a reserve by the coaches, but he is suffering from a knee injury that is expected to hold him out for roughly six weeks.

This year's midseason showcase will mark Anthony's 10th straight All-Star appearance, and the 12th nod of his career.

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Russell Westbrook scored 38 points and posted his 27th triple-double of the season to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New York Knicks 116-105 on Wednesday night.

Westbrook moved into sole possession of third place for the most triple-doubles in a season, behind Oscar Robertson's 41 in 1961-62 and Wilt Chamberlain's 31 in 1967-68. The star guard had 14 rebounds and 12 assists in the 64th triple-double of his career.

Victor Oladipo scored 21 points and Jerami Grant added 13 for the Thunder, who snapped a two-game skid.

Carmelo Anthony had 30 points for the Knicks after being selected to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement for Kevin Love earlier in the night. Derrick Rose scored 25 and Courtney Lee added 16.

The Knicks jumped out to a 16-2 lead and shot 73 percent in the first quarter to take a 39-27 lead. Anthony made his first seven shots and scored 19 points in the first quarter.

New York led by 17 in the second quarter before the Thunder rallied and took a 62-60 lead at halftime. Westbrook had 19 points and 10 assists at the break.

Westbrook clinched his triple-double on a rebound with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. Oladipo's 3-pointer as time expired in the period put the Thunder ahead 88-80.

With about five minutes remaining, Westbrook caught Anthony on a pump fake before draining a 3 that put the Thunder up 105-94.

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Feeling old yet?

Memphis Grizzlies small forward Vince Carter, at the ripe age of 40, moved past Allen Iverson for 23rd in all-time scoring.

He entered Wednesday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans only two points shy of Iverson and finished with five on 1-of-7 shooting to barely eek past his former early-2000's Eastern Conference adversary.

Consistent scoring is tough to come by these days for the league's elder statesman, but Carter could conceivably squeak past Ray Allen for 22nd if he scored 132 more points in the final three months of the season. That would have been a walk in the park for Carter in his younger days, but there are no such guarantees at his age.

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Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons was supposed to be back on the court sometime in January.

Simmons, the first overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot during training camp. He underwent surgery on Sept. 30 and was supposed to return in three months.

However, the latest tests have revealed that an inside portion of the broken bone in his foot is not completely healed, sources told Keith Pompey of Philly.com.

Related - Sixers' Brown expects Simmons to play this season: 'We just don't know when'

Simmons has progressed to the stage of conducting on-court drills, but Pompey relays that the team has kept him out of scrimmages for fear of causing further damage.

Foot injuries, Jones fractures in particular, are tricky by nature. Kevin Durant is a recent reminder that the healing process isn't necessarily linear. Cameron Payne has also bounced in and out of the lineup since breaking his foot.

Injuries have undercut each of the Sixers' promising young talents. Joel Embiid missed two seasons with a broken foot, and is now sidelined with a knee injury, while Nerlens Noel sat out a year on account of a torn ACL. Jahlil Okafor also missed a handful of games in his rookie year.

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For a man of diminutive stature, Isaiah Thomas carries a large chip on his shoulder. Theoretically the NBA's version of "Mr. Irrelevant" as the final selection of the 2011 draft, Thomas has carved out two All-Star appearances and the role of Boston Celtics leading scorer the last three seasons.

While he's spoken about being an underdog before, Thomas offered further insight into being a (listed) 5-foot-9 NBA star.

"To all those people that said, 'He's a spark plug off the bench, a sixth man at best, a volume scorer who can't play defense ... I am going to keep going," Thomas told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears. "I am going to make everybody eat their words. They didn't want to give me my just due. That's what keeps pushing me till this day."

Even while a significant set of Celtics observers wonders aloud if Thomas anchoring the team can pay postseason dividends, the fact remains at the present time, he is Boston's offense. Since returning from a groin injury on Dec. 16, he's averaged 32.5 points a game on near-50 percent field-goal shooting - including over 41 percent from three. Thomas currently has the same player efficiency rating as Kevin Durant (27.5).

"Getting the opportunity to be a 'franchise guy' and getting the keys to the team, I could play at this level," Thomas said. "I always believed in myself and believed that something like this short height by NBA standards could be a blessing in disguise. This might not sound right, but I use my height to my advantage."

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The coach-player relationship between Doc Rivers and Glen "Big Baby" Davis seemingly did not end on the most pleasant of notes.

Davis, who played for Rivers with both the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, said his old coach is overrated, and doesn't really deserve much credit for the championship his Celtics won in 2008.

"What Doc had in '08 was special," Davis said this week on Chris Broussard's "In the Zone" podcast, as transcribed by MassLive's Jay King. "And he was lucky as hell. Lucky as hell. The year before that they were wearing trash bags (in the crowd). ... But then the next year they win it, now he's one of the best coaches ever? I'm just not feeling that, you know what I mean? You give credit to (Kevin Garnett). You give credit to Paul Pierce. You give credit to Ray Allen. Those are the guys that made sure whatever Doc needed to be done got done. And so now it's easy for Doc to do his job."

Davis, who was a rookie on that 2007-08 title team, called Rivers a good person but a poor motivator - at least for him personally - and said Celtics president Danny Ainge occasionally had to get Rivers to lay off.

"I know multiple times he had to talk to Doc just to say, 'Hey Doc, leave them alone. Hey Doc, ease up. Like, there's points where you ease up.' I would play good games and Doc ... he'd be: 'Go do it again.' You know? You want to hear, 'Hey, great job kid. Good job, man. Keep it up.' But not, 'Go do it again.' So I'm off that Doc tip, man. He's a great guy but as far as just that basketball stuff, I just try to leave (it)."

Davis' stint with the Clippers, his last as an NBAer, seems to have left a bitter taste in his mouth, particularly in regards to how Rivers treated him while he was playing through an ankle injury. The Clippers' 2014-15 season ended with a second-round loss to the Houston Rockets, in which they blew a 3-1 series lead. Davis hasn't played an NBA game since.

"I don't like his organization, what he's doing, his teams," Davis said of Rivers and the Clippers. "We had something in '08 and that was it. You know what I mean? ... I didn't like how he handled me on my exit. Yeah, hold yourself accountable, but at the same time I had a broken ankle. I won a championship with you and you don't even really call me. I've got to beg you to call me. My agent has to beg you to call me. ...

"They pulled me to the side when I played against Houston and told me, 'You're not playing the way you need to play. You're not doing this.' My ankle was broke. My ankle was broke. And they're shooting me up, shooting me up, shooting me up every day to play. ...

"They just did an X-ray. They didn't do an MRI. And it was just like, 'Oh, can you run? Can you play?' The next day they had me working out after I broke my ankle. They had me trying to play Game 7. It was crazy and I'm just not feeling that. When you win a championship with somebody, you don't treat nobody like that. No matter if it's a business or not, because it's bigger than basketball between us, Doc."

Rivers took a shot at Davis earlier in February, reminding reporters after Pierce grew watery-eyed in his final game in Boston that it wasn't the first time he'd seen someone cry during a game.

"I saw Big Baby cry one time," Rivers said, referring to a famous incident in which an animated Garnett brought Davis to tears on the bench.

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AUSTIN, Texas - The NBA is warning Texas over a proposed ''bathroom bill'' targeting transgender people that is similar to a North Carolina law that prompted the league to move the All-Star Game out of that state.

The NBA on Friday joined the NFL in suggesting that Texas will be overlooked for future big events if lawmakers pass a bill requiring people to use bathrooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass says an environment where people are treated ''fairly and equally'' weighs heavily when the league chooses host locations. Texas has three NBA teams and has hosted three All-Star Games since 2006.

Charlotte was originally supposed to host the All-Star Game on Sunday. But the NBA moved the game to New Orleans after North Carolina adopted its ''bathroom bill'' last year.

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#SistersForLife #shannonwestbrook @KDTrey5@russwest44 @NBA #allstarweekendpic.twitter.com/qBBBJwjJIt
— Wanda Durant (@MamaDurant) February 18, 2017
Even though the feud on the court between former Oklahoma City Thunderteammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is alive and well as they awkwardly cross paths at the All-Star weekend festivities, the conflict apparently doesn't extend to family.
Wanda, Kevin's mother, posted a photo of herself and Westbrook's mom, Shannon, to Twitter on Saturday. She hashtagged the photo #SistersForLife.
One week ago Saturday, Durant returned to Oklahoma City for the first time as a member of the Golden State Warriors. Wanda sat behind the Warriors' bench, where she was approached by a number of Thunder fans who insulted and criticized her son.








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It finally happened.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings have reached an agreement on a trade that would send DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Big Easy, reports Adrian Wojnarowki of The Vertical.

The Pelicans will send out 2016 No. 6 pick Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, the expiring contract of Tyreke Evans, a 2017 first-round pick, and a future second-rounder, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Galloway will be waived once the deal is through, Wojnarowski adds.

It was only a month ago when reports out of Sacramento suggested that the franchise would offer Cousins a $200-million extension this summer. Only two days ago, Cousins declared that he was happy with his situation, and that he wanted to be in Sacramento for a long time.

Now the mercurial center will line up alongside fellow Kentucky forward Anthony Davis to form the most formidable frontcourt in the league.

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Anthony Davis scored an All-Star Game record 52 points in his home arena, and the Western Conference squad defeated the East 192-182 on Sunday night.

Davis broke the record of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962.

Russell Westbrook was gunning for his third straight All-Star MVP honors. He scored 41 points, including seven 3-pointers, but West coach Steve Kerr subbed Westbrook out of the game for the final minutes while leaving Davis in, and the Pelicans' star scored eight more points. Westbrook's highlights included an alley-oop dunk set up by former teammate Kevin Durant.

Milwaukee's emerging 22-year-old star, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the East squad with 30 points. LeBron James highlighted a 23-point night with emphatic dunks and shot from nearly half court.

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Kevin Durant showcased his all-around game during Sunday's All-Star festivities.

The Warriors forward finished the night with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals to record the fourth triple-double in All-Star Game history. Durant joined LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Michael Jordan as the others to accomplish the feat.

While he had several impressive buckets, Durant's most memorable moment came in the first half, when he found former teammate Russell Westbrook for an alley-oop - a play few would've expected to happen heading into the contest.

The former MVP is in the midst of one of his best offensive seasons, averaging 25.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.7 blocks, and 1.1 steals on 53.9 percent shooting.

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lobo316 wrote: It finally happened.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings have reached an agreement on a trade that would send DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi to the Big Easy, reports Adrian Wojnarowki of The Vertical.

The Pelicans will send out 2016 No. 6 pick Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, the expiring contract of Tyreke Evans, a 2017 first-round pick, and a future second-rounder, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

Galloway will be waived once the deal is through, Wojnarowski adds.

It was only a month ago when reports out of Sacramento suggested that the franchise would offer Cousins a $200-million extension this summer. Only two days ago, Cousins declared that he was happy with his situation, and that he wanted to be in Sacramento for a long time.

Now the mercurial center will line up alongside fellow Kentucky forward Anthony Davis to form the most formidable frontcourt in the league.

Money talks when...... well you know the rest.

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The Kings are a mess. 10 + years of high draft picks and the only one they nailed was Cousins. Now they trade him for a bunch of backups.

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Call it posturing or patience, but the Chicago Bulls aren't eager to move their franchise player.

The Bulls have told suitors that they have no plans to move Jimmy Butler ahead of Thursday's trade deadline, sources told K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.

Johnson adds the qualifier that the situation could change if a significant offer arises, but the Bulls appear content on retaining Butler.

Related: Butler's camp doesn't think Bulls will trade him before deadline

Fresh off his third straight All-Star nod, Butler is enjoying career-highs across the board as he continues to improve by leaps and bounds each year. The All-Defensive team staple is averaging 24.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, five assists and 1.8 steals while single-handedly carrying the Bulls in the playoff chase.

Butler's style of leadership has occasionally rubbed teammates the wrong way, but the more important detail is that he is under contract through 2019, with a player option through 2020.

There is absolutely zero no rush to move him.

The Boston Celtics have been linked to Butler - most notably during last year's draft - but recent conversations have not gained much traction. Boston boasts cheap veteran talent and highly-coveted draft picks but it's tough to pry away a top-10 player like Butler.

If the offer changes, Chicago may have to reconsider.

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As Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri said following the Serge Ibaka acquisition: "As long as we still have a phone, we'll see what goes on."

The Ibaka deal was only the first domino to fall for the Raptors, who appear to be going all-in. Even after filling its massive gap at power forward, the team remains eager to add another rotation player to the mix, sources told ESPN's Zach Lowe.

The Raptors are interested in Phoenix Suns defender P.J. Tucker, Lowe adds, and the Suns are reportedly taking calls on the 31-year-old.

Toronto is a bit light on the wing, especially at backup small forward - a spot that became vacant once Terrence Ross was shipped to Orlando for Ibaka. Sophomore sensation Norman Powell is currently slated to play that role, but he only stands at 6-foot-4.

Tucker is toiling away in what's turned out to be another lost season for Phoenix, but he could definitely serve a purpose for a team that needs his defensive abilities. Tucker is built like a brick house and relishes defensive assignments - a useful skill for a Raptors side that's wavered between average to downright awful on the defensive side of the ball.

Toronto could offload Jared Sullinger's salary to accommodate a deal for an incoming wing, Lowe notes.

The Raptors drafted Tucker with the 35th pick in 2006, but he failed to impress in his earlier days and had to find his game overseas. He's currently averaging seven points, six rebounds, and 1.5 steals while shooting a passable 34 percent from deep, and he's in the last year of a three-year, $16-million contract.

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The Los Angeles Lakers once again belong to Earvin "Magic" Johnson.

The team announced significant changes to its leadership structure Tuesday - most notably, Johnson will serve as president of basketball operations and report directly to co-owner Jeanie Buss.

As a result, longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak was relieved of his duties, while Jim Buss - brother of Jeanie - is no longer executive vice president of basketball operations.

"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect," Jeanie said in a press release.

"Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new general manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new general manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness."

Johnson was announced as an advisor to Jeanie in early February. Jim apparently wasn't told a move was coming, and said he hoped to work alongside the Hall of Famer.

"I'm taking Magic at face value, that he's here to help," Jim told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. "He's one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Who wouldn't value his opinion? I'm excited to work with Magic for years to come."

However, after delivering unsatisfactory results over the last four years, Jeanie wrested the reins away from her brother and placed them in Johnson's hands, as she made clear Tuesday.

"I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself," she said. "We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again."

Johnson is thrilled to work alongside her and head coach Luke Walton as they attempt to restore the franchise to its former glory.

"It's a dream come true to return to the Lakers as president of basketball operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family," said Johnson.

"Since 1979, I've been a part of the Laker Nation and I'm passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions."

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Is another homecoming in the works?

Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George has considered two destinations when he becomes a free agent in 2018: He could re-sign with Indiana, or he could flee for the Los Angeles Lakers, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

George, a four-time All-Star, was born and bred in Los Angeles. He and his family loved the Lakers growing up, and Wojnarowski notes they gravitated toward Magic Johnson, who now just happens to head up the Lakers.

Indiana also holds intrigue for two reasons. One, the Pacers are the only team George has ever known and he remains loyal. Two, the Pacers could conceivably offer him more money than any other franchise should George qualify for an All-NBA team within the next two years.

George could be on the move before he makes his 2018 free-agency decision. The Pacers are reportedly gauging the market for the four-time All-Star and may flip him for future assets if George isn't amenable to a long-term extension.

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The Toronto Raptors aren't done tinkering.

Having already added power forward Serge Ibaka last week, the Raptors are still in the market for another forward with size, or a wing who is a threat to shoot from the perimeter, sources told Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

The Raptors have been linked to the likes of P.J. Tucker and Danilo Gallinari in recent weeks. Both names fit what the Raptors lack.

Dealing away shooting guard Terrence Ross for Ibaka introduced imbalance to the Raptors' roster. The team boasts four point guards, seven bigs, one player in Bruno Caboclo that isn't ready at all for the NBA, and only three wing players. Out of those three, only the inconsistent DeMarre Carroll can defend threes since DeMar DeRozan and Norman Powell are undersized for the small forward spot.

Moving a big for a wing is the obvious move for the Raptors.

Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph cover minutes at point. DeRozan and Powell cover the two. Their frontcourt rotation is set between Ibaka, Patrick Patterson, Jonas Valanciunas and Lucas Nogueira.

That just leaves the small forward spot that is still in need of upgrades. Raptors president Masai Ujiri has prospects, picks, and some expiring salary in Jared Sullinger's $5.6-million deal at his disposal.

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While Magic Johnson has already reportedly brought Kobe Bryant's agent aboard with the Los Angeles Lakers, he's also interested in having the Black Mamba himself.

"Whatever he wants to do," Johnson said of Bryant on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes. "There's no certain role."

Johnson said last week that Bryant would be the "first call I make if I'm in charge." Now that Johnson is in charge, it helps that the Lakers' all-time leading scorer has already offered his assistance.

"I'm always a phone call away," Bryant said in January.

An advisory role seems to be the most logical position at present, following news that Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, is set to become the team's next general manager. Mitch Kupchak was fired Tuesday after 17 years on the job.

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Magic Johnson sounded confident as ever during his first day on the job as Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations, but the Hall of Fame point guard admitted he isn't naive about the long road to restore the franchise to glory.

"I understand what I'm up against, but I'm here, and I'm here for the long haul, and eventually we will turn it around," Johnson told a group of Lakers reporters Tuesday, according to ESPN's Baxter Holmes.

"If I didn't think I could turn this thing around, you think I'd be sitting in this seat? I think that we can do it. It may take us some years to do it, but I'm here."


Johnson's long-term outlook - and his admissions that he needs to improve his understanding of the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement, salary cap, and analytics - should reassure Lakers fans worried about his approach to running the organization, but Johnson added that while he'll empower his general manager, he'll still have final say.

"Anything to do with trades, (the) draft, is, of course, going to end with me," Johnson said, before labeling himself a control freak.

That statement falls in line with Johnson's comments earlier in February - when he was brought on merely as an advisor - about wanting to eventually "call the shots" for the Lakers.

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New team, new life.

DeMarcus Cousins is set to embark on a journey with the New Orleans Pelicans after over six years spent with the Sacramento Kings, and will do so with a new jersey number.

He'll rock No. 0 after wearing No. 15 at Kentucky and Sac-town. Asked to explain the change, he told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears:

"New life..."

.@boogiecousins will wear jersey #0 pic.twitter.com/YECFrYDfrR

— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) February 21, 2017
He arrived in the Big Easy on Tuesday afternoon, and is set to make his Pels debut Thursday against the Houston Rockets.

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The Philadelphia 76ers are finalizing a trade to send Ersan Ilyasova to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Tiago Splitter and two second-round picks, league sources tell The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

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The Washington Wizards have stocked up in advance of a likely return to the postseason.

Washington traded Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, and a 2017 lottery protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday for shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Bogdanovic gives the Wizards another sharpshooter on the wing to pair with Otto Porter. The 27-year-old Croatian is averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while shooting 36 percent from the field.

Washington will likely lean on Bodganovic for a much-needed dose of bench scoring.

The Nets also get what they want in the trade. The first-round pick helps restock Brooklyn's empty coffers in the wake of the disastrous trade with Boston, while Nicholson could round into a decent bench power forward with range.

This deal also leaves Washington with a decision for the summer, since Bogdanovic is slated to become a restricted free agent. The Wizards will likely brush against the luxury tax if they retain Porter, thus making retaining Bogdanovic an expensive proposition.

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The Detroit Pistons are aggressively shopping point guard Reggie Jackson, looking for a young player, a first-round draft pick, and an expiring contract in return, sources told The Vertical's Chris Mannix.

The Pistons have reportedly had Jackson on the block for the past couple weeks in the lead-up to Thursday's trade deadline, most recently engaging in talks with the Orlando Magic.

The return the Magic were reportedly offering involved two veterans in forward Jeff Green and point guard D.J. Augustin. Green is an expiring contract, but the young player and draft pick were absent from that package.

Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy has been open that his team has struggled since Jackson returned from knee tendinitis in December, while Jackson has expressed frustration over the team's inability to find an offensive identity.

The 26-year-old has seen a dip in production after a career year a season ago, but is still averaging a solid 15.2 points and 5.6 assists with a 15.7 PER.

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In their continued quest to upgrade the team's wing depth, the Toronto Raptors have reportedly pursued Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler ahead of this afternoon's trade deadline, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.

The Raptors have also been linked to fellow Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari and Phoenix Suns forward P.J. Tucker in recent weeks, but unlike those two likely free agents (Gallinari has a player option 2017-18), Chandler is locked into a team-friendly contract through 2019.

The 29-year-old, who's averaging a career-high 15.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists on an effective field-goal percentage of 50.8, will earn a combined $24.8 million over the next two years after earning $11.2 million this season.

Chandler has spent the last six years with the Nuggets after being shipped from New York to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade that preceded the 2011 deadline.

The Raptors have minutes to spare on the wing - specifically behind DeMarre Carroll at the small forward position - after including Terrence Ross in the deal that netted Toronto Serge Ibaka.

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The Chicago Bulls may be on a mission to bring Jahlil Okafor home.

The team is trying to swing a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire the sophomore big man while giving up forward Nikola Mirotic, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Okafor, 21, is averaging 15 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 dimes, and 1.1 blocks over two campaigns in the City of Brotherly Love. Although he's not much of a force at the defensive end, he can help provide a boost to Chicago's below-average offense with his reliable scoring touch in the low post. Okafor shoots over 70 percent within three feet of the rim.

The former third overall pick has been on the trading block for some time as a result of Philly's frontcourt logjam. Rookie center Joel Embiid has emerged as an up-and-coming star, while the club seems to prefer Nerlens Noel and his elite defensive upside, rendering Okafor the odd man out.

The Sixers held Okafor out of a few games before the All-Star break because a trade was reportedly imminent. It's believed the Portland Trail Blazers nearly landed the Chicago native, while the Indiana Pacers are rumored to still be in the mix for him.

Meanwhile, Mirotic is having a down year in the Windy City. The 26-year-old's averaging a career-low nine points on 38 percent shooting from the field and a shade under 30 percent from long range.

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The Sixers sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas for somebody and a conditional first round pick. Attempts to trade Jalil Okafor came to nought, so he's staying and Noel goes too.

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tamalie wrote: The Sixers sent Nerlens Noel to Dallas for somebody and a conditional first round pick. 

The Dallas Mavericks have finally snagged their center of the future.
Dallas will send Andrew BogutJustin Anderson, and a 2017 protected first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nerlens Noel, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, citing sources.

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The Phoenix Suns have traded forward P.J. Tucker to the Toronto Raptors, for Jared Sullinger and two second-round picks, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Tucker is limited offensively, but he is a tenacious defender who relishes physical defensive play. He is best suited to guarding wings or small-ball fours - a particular weakness for the Raptors in recent seasons.
Having traded Terrence Ross in their earlier deal for Serge Ibaka, the Raptors had a shortage of wings and too many bigs. This deal restores balance to the Raptors' rotation.
Tucker will most likely play as the backup small forward serving as an insurance policy behind the injury-hobbled DeMarre Carroll.
As for the Suns, they salvaged some value for Tucker who is on an expiring contract. They had hoped for a first, but two seconds is a worthy consolation for a 30-year-old slated to leave.
Phoenix also receives Sullinger, who is an expiring deal with some modest promise. A foot injury cost him most of the season and rendered him largely unplayable.

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2017 01:18 am by lobo316

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Paul George will remain with the Pacers after Indiana passed on trade offers for the All-Star forward, league sources tell The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Boston CelticsDenver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Lakers were reportedlyamong the teams who inquired about George after Indiana opted to gauge the trade market for the four-time All-Star. The Celtics were reportedly open to giving up the Nets' 2017 first-round pick for George, while the Nuggets apparently presented the Pacers with a "monster offer."
An unrestricted free agent in 2018, George is reportedly "hell-bent" on joining the Lakers next summer if the Pacers aren't a title contender by then.
George is averaging 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals on 44.6 percent shooting in 50 games.

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2017 12:16 am by lobo316

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The Houston Rockets traded reserve point guard Tyler Ennis to the Los Angeles Lakers for Marcelo Huertas, whom Houston will waive, sources told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Lakers would be Ennis' third NBA team in his three seasons in the league. The Canadian didn't get much of an opportunity to crack the Rockets' rotation, averaging just 6.3 minutes per contest.

Huertas has seen similarly little playing time, and is in his second NBA season after a long career in South America and Europe.

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The Atlanta Hawks traded forward Mike Scott to the Phoenix Suns for cash, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

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Having whiffed on their bold Paul George gambit, the Denver Nuggets quickly pivoted, acquiring Milwaukee Bucks center Roy Hibbert in exchange for a heavily protected second-round draft pick, The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The Boston CelticsDenver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Lakers were reportedlyamong the teams who inquired about George after Indiana opted to gauge the trade market for the four-time All-Star. The Celtics were reportedly open to giving up the Nets' 2017 first-round pick for George, while the Nuggets apparently presented the Pacers with a "monster offer."
An unrestricted free agent in 2018, George is reportedly "hell-bent" on joining the Lakers next summer if the Pacers aren't a title contender by then.
George is averaging 22.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.6 steals on 44.6 percent shooting in 50 games.

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2017 01:15 am by lobo316

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The Houston Rockets have traded swingman K.J. McDaniels to the Brooklyn Nets, league sources told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Houston will receive a second-round pick (No. 31-55 protected) in return, according to The Vertical's Bobby Marks.

Trading the 24-year-old frees up approximately $3 million for the Rockets to use in the buyout market. McDaniels is owed $3.3 million this season, and has a $3.4 million team option in 2017-18.

The Clemson product is averaging 2.8 points, one rebounds, and 0.3 blocks on 45.6 percent shooting. McDaniels has struggled to find time in the Rockets' lineup since being acquired in 2015, playing just 76 games with the franchise.

Brooklyn's roster already stands at 15 players, meaning they'll need to make a subsequent move to create room for McDaniels.

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The Washington Wizards have stocked up in advance of a likely return to the postseason.

Washington traded Andrew Nicholson, Marcus Thornton, and a 2017 lottery protected first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday for shooting guard Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough, as initially reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

The Nets reportedly plan to waive Thornton, bringing their roster to 14 players.

Bogdanovic gives the Wizards another sharpshooter on the wing to pair with Otto Porter. The 27-year-old Croatian is averaging 14.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists while shooting 36 percent from the field.

Washington will likely lean on Bogdanovic for a much-needed dose of bench scoring.

The Nets also get what they want in the trade. The first-round pick helps restock Brooklyn's empty coffers in the wake of the disastrous trade with Boston, while Nicholson could round into a decent bench power forward with range.

This deal also leaves Washington with a decision for the summer, since Bogdanovic is slated to become a restricted free agent. The Wizards will likely brush against the luxury tax if they retain Porter, thus making retaining Bogdanovic an expensive proposition.

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The Taj Gibson era is ending with a whimper.

The Chicago Bulls are nearing an agreement to send Gibson, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow, sources told Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Gibson spent the entirety of his career with the Bulls after being selected 26th overall in 2009. He developed into a reliable bench contributor and eventually became the heart and soul of the franchise once Joakim Noah's health started to fail.

With Gibson set to hit free agency this summer, Chicago evidently chose to recoup some value for him instead of letting him walk for nothing.

Chicago receives Payne, a promising point guard who could eventually grow into the starting role vacated by Derrick Rose. Payne battled foot injuries this season and boasts modest averages of five points and two assists as the backup to Russell Westbrook over the last two seasons.

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The Brooklyn Nets have waived shooting guard Marcus Thornton after acquiring him from the Washington Wizards earlier this week.

Brooklyn was forced to open up a roster spot after reportedly landing swingman K.J. McDaniels in a trade with the Houston Rockets prior to Thursday's deadline.

Thornton appeared in 33 games for the Wizards this season, averaging 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.2 assists on 40 percent shooting. The 29-year-old has played with seven different teams throughout his NBA career, averaging 11.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in 483 games.

It remains to be seen how many teams will be interested in signing Thornton, who has struggled to see regular rotation minutes over the last few seasons.

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Here are the fantasy implications following the news the Toronto Raptors have acquired SG/SF P.J. Tucker from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for PF/C Jared Sullinger and draft picks:

The Phoenix Suns are trading PJ Tucker to the Toronto Raptors, league source tells @TheVertical.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) February 23, 2017
Tucker had crept up to number 123 in our latest rest of season rankings, owing to his tenacity as an undersized rebounder. Though he's only 6-foot-6, Tucker has averaged at least six rebounds per game in each of his last fseasons, and has tallied 7.1 per game since Jan. 2 this year.

He's also had 10 games this season with at least three steals, and three games with five-plus steals. His sub-elite steal potential, rebounding and contributions in assists and 3-pointers, have made Tucker a frequent streaming option or category specialist.

The move to Toronto creates uncertainty. Will playing with superior talent improve the quality of his shots, especially from 3-point range? Tucker is shooting 36.4% on corner 3s this season and could benefit from Kyle Lowry kick-outs, much like he did when playing big minutes alongside Goran Dragic with the 2013-14 Suns.

The floor-spacing is something the Raptors had hoped they'd found in SF DeMarre Carroll; while he's shot a passable 35.2% on 3s this season, his inconsistent defense and the general fragility of his body creates potential for Tucker to steal his playing time.

Ultimately, Tucker's fantasy outlook comes down to whether he is able to bring the same tenacity as a defender and rebounder. If that's the case, he should continue being a top-125 player, worthy of ownership in category leagues. And if he can grow his production on 3-pointers or muscle Carroll out of playing time, he may even crack the top-100.

Back in Phoenix, Sullinger -- on an expiring contract -- won't be an impact player. C Tyson Chandler, who is already averaging 11.4 rebounds per game, will be hard pressed to take on even more responsibility on the glass, so look for C Alex Len and rookie PF/C Marquese Chriss to pick up some of the rebounding lost with Tucker's departure.

Chriss in particular merits attention in fantasy. He's been averaging 8.9 points per game since Jan. 2 but his overall value has been hampered by a lack of rebounding. If he can get to 12-and-8 -- a big if -- Chriss will merit ownership in deep leagues. He wouldn't be the first rookie big man to break out in the second half of his first campaign.

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The Atlanta Hawks announced a one-game suspension for point guard Dennis Schroder after he reported late to the team following the all-star break.

Schroder explained he had complications with his visa in his return from Berlin, but he accepts his punishment.
He will serve his suspension Friday against the Miami Heat.
"Dennis has played an important role for our team and been a significant contributor to our success this season," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said in a statement.
"We are disappointed that he did not return to the team on time and we have discussed this with him. We look forward to him rejoining the team in Orlando tomorrow night."
Schroder is averaging 17.5 points and 6.3 assists in his best year with the Hawks.

Last edited on Fri Feb 24th, 2017 10:01 pm by lobo316

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DeMarcus Cousins is embracing his new NBA home - and, he hopes, a more functional basketball organization - but he's still feeling stung by the way the Sacramento Kings dealt him this week, with little warning and after repeatedly assuring him they would not do so.

Cousins says Kings general manager Vlade Divac told him as much, to his face, just a week before trading him to the New Orleans Pelicans for pennies on the dollar, and that owner Vivek Ranadive was asking him about potential personnel moves just a couple days before consummating the deal.

"The sick part about it is that Vlade came in my house with my agent," Cousins told The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears after losing his Pelicans debut Thursday night. "We sat in my theater and just talked. That was maybe three weeks ago. We sat there and (he) told me what moves he wanted to make. All of that. I just didn't understand.

"I got a text from the owner right before I went to All-Star. He was asking me about a player, how I felt about him and making a move. The owner! When it happened, I was just in shock. I didn't understand."

In the wake of the trade-deadline fiasco, Cousins has no interest in talking to either Divac or Ranadive.

"For what? It was a coward move, so I'm pretty sure I will get a coward response," he told Spears. "For what? And I've seen this happen before. I've been there through all same types … I was there with (coach) Mike Malone's (firing). I've seen how they operate. I know what kind of answer I will get anyway. So, what is the point?"

Instead, Cousins is looking forward, focusing on his new start in New Orleans.

"Whatever the system is, I'm dialed in," he said. "I'm all in. I'm not here to waste time. I'm not."

More so than being misled and being wrenched from a basketball environment in which he'd grown comfortable, Cousins is disappointed at having his connection to the city of Sacramento abruptly severed.

"It's bigger than basketball. It's bigger than the Kings organization," he said. "The relationships I built out there, I'm more hurt by that. Being away from those relationships and the community, I'm more hurt by that because of the dishonesty and all that s--- with the organization."

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Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has been ruled out of Friday night's contest versus the Boston Celtics and will be further evaluated this weekend, head coach Dwane Casey told reporters.

The 30-year-old sustained the injury in last week's victory over the Charlotte Hornets.

Casey said that Lowry expected the injury to heal during the break, prompting him to play in Sunday's All-Star Game, according to TSN's Josh Lewenberg.

An unrestricted free agent this summer, Lowry is in the midst of another stellar season, averaging 22.8 points, 6.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals on 46.3 percent shooting.

Backup point guards Cory Joseph and Delon Wright are likely to see extended minutes in Lowry's absence.

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Forward LeBron James won't be in the lineup for the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena due to an illness, according to ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

Richard Jefferson is expected to get the start at the three-spot in his stead.

Originally listed as questionable, James was told by head coach Tyronn Lue to stay home. The four-time league MVP didn't take part in the team's light workout earlier in the day.

It will be just the fourth time this season that James doesn't suit up for the defending NBA champions. Cleveland is 0-3 when he doesn't play, with two of those losses coming by 10 or more points.

James is averaging 25.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.9 assists during the 2016-17 campaign, with Cleveland holding down the top seed in the Eastern Conference at 40-16.

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LeBron James may finally be getting a playmaker.

Deron Williams has cleared waivers and will sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, league sources told Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The veteran point guard was waived by the Dallas Mavericks after the team was unable to move him for picks ahead of Thursday's trade deadline.

The Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, and Utah Jazz all reportedly expressed interest in acquiring the 32-year-old, who's averaging 13.1 points and 6.9 assists in his 12th campaign.

James has been tasked with running Cleveland's offense all season, and is putting up a career-high 8.9 dimes per game. After he publicly voiced the club's need for another playmaker last month, the Cavaliers signed swingman Derrick Williams.


The defending champions lost their backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova in free agency last summer, and neglected to pick up a suitable replacement. James has indicated he wants a more proven player than rookie Kay Felder to come in off the bench, especially during the playoffs.

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DeMar DeRozan made sure to bring his A-game on Friday with fellow All-Star Kyle Lowry out with a wrist injury.

The Raptors shooting guard exploded for arguably the best offensive performance of his career, dropping a career-high 43 points in Toronto's win over the Boston Celtics. DeRozan also chipped in five rebounds and five assists in the 107-97 victory.

It was DeRozan's second 40-point performance against the Celtics this season, as he dropped 41 in January's 114-106 victory at the Air Canada Centre. The 6-foot-7 guard also became the third player in franchise history to amass four 40-point games in a single season, joining Raptors legends Vince Carter and Chris Bosh.

The USC product is in the midst of a career year after inking a five-year, $139-million contract last summer, ranking sixth in the NBA in points per game (27.3), ninth in field goals (491), and 13th in minutes per game (35.5).

Friday's win was huge for the Raptors, as they secured the tie-breaker over the Celtics by taking the season series 3-1.

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The Oklahoma City Thunder have no answer for Anthony Davis.

The 2017 All-Star MVP dropped 24 points in the opening frame Sunday, setting a franchise record for the most points in a single quarter.

AD goes coast-to-coast. He's got 24 points already. pic.twitter.com/hymNZ9Bg0T

— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) February 27, 2017
The 23-year-old, who surpassed his previous single-game mark of 21, is in the midst of the best statistical season of his career, averaging 27.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2.1 assists, and 1.3 steals on 50.1 percent shooting.

With mercurial center DeMarcus Cousins set to serve a one-game suspension, the Pelicans will likely need more of the same from Davis on Wednesday.

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Phil Jackson's marquee offseason import was an expensive mistake.

New York Knicks center Joakim Noah, signed by Jackson to a four-year, $72-million contract last summer, will likely undergo arthroscopic knee surgery and miss the remainder of the season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

The oft-injured center missed the last six games due to soreness in his hamstring. It's unclear if the two injuries are related.

The Knicks showed tremendous faith in the former All-Star center. Noah only played in 29 games last season for the Chicago Bulls and was utterly ineffectual, but Jackson bet on a return to form for the 32-year-old.

That bet has not paid off. Noah holds averages of five points and 8.7 rebounds while shooting under 50 percent from both the field and the free-throw line. The former Defensive Player of the Year has also done little to improve the Knicks' 25th-ranked defense.

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The hits keep on coming for the Philadelphia 76ers' talented prospects.

76ers center Joel Embiid is experiencing swelling in his left knee and is out indefinitely, the team announced Monday.

The injury was initially diagnosed as a bone bruise, but the Sixers revealed earlier in February that the 22-year-old had actually suffered a torn meniscus, although the injury is not believed to be serious. Team doctors decided that the low-grade tear did not require surgery.


The runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year has appeared in just one game since Jan. 20. The same injury kept him from participating in All-Star Weekend in New Orleans. Before that he sat out one half of all back-to-backs in an effort to ease his recovery from a broken foot that robbed him of the last two seasons.

Embiid's injury leaves the Sixers in a tough spot. A week ago the team was flooded with frontcourt players, but dealing away Nerlens Noel and Ersan Ilyasova, paired with Embiid's diagnosis, puts them at a deficit.

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Don't get too excited about the Toronto Raptors just yet.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry will undergo surgery to remove loose bodies from his right wrist, the team announced Monday. He is aiming to return for the postseason.

Meanwhile, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports that Lowry could conceivably return in four-to-five weeks, which would leave him with a week or two to prepare for the playoffs.

Lowry apparently suffered the injury during the Raptors' win over the Charlotte Hornets prior to the All-Star break. He thought nothing of the injury at first and participated in key events during All-Star weekend in New Orleans.

This latest news explains why he shot so poorly - just nine points - in the Three-Point Contest and why he was icing his wrist during the All-Star Game.

It was announced shortly after the All-Star break that Lowry had a sore wrist. Lowry downplayed the ailment and the Raptors listed him as day to day while he sat out for Toronto's two encouraging wins over the weekend.

The Raptors had just added two win-now pieces in Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker in hopes of replicating last year's deep playoff run into the Eastern Conference finals. But all that would be for naught if the Raptors' most pivotal player isn't available.

The soon-to-be free-agent guard is averaging 22.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.4 steals while playing a league-leading 37.7 minutes per night.

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Talk about a case of the Mondays.

The New York Knicks started off their week by waiving point guard Brandon Jennings, in order to sign point guard Chasson Randle the team announced.

Jennings informed the Knicks he wanted to play for a playoff team, sources told Marc Spears of The Undefeated.

Jennings arrived in New York to much fanfare last summer, but the mood quickly faded as yet another Knicks season went south. Jennings made plenty of highlights and was a fan-favorite, but his inefficient style evidently led the Knicks to move in another direction.

The 27-year-old averaged 8.6 points and 4.9 assists against 38 percent shooting from the field and 1.8 turnovers in 24.6 minutes per game. He is owed $5 million this season.

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The Brooklyn Nets announced they have requested waivers on veteran power forward Luis Scola.

It was most likely an act of goodwill for a Nets team going nowhere to release the 36-year-old. Scola will be eligible to join a playoff team since he was waived before March 1.

Brooklyn signed Scola last offseason mostly for his leadership and presence in the locker room. He played sparingly, appearing in 36 games for an average of 12.8 minutes per game for averages of 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds.

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Stephen Curry laid a dud on the anniversary of a pretty big night.

Monday marked the four-year anniversary of the Golden State Warriors star torching the New York Knicks for a career-high 54 points on 11-of-13 shooting from long range.

Curry's stat line looked a little different against the Philadelphia 76ers this time around:

4 years ago today, Stephen Curry had his highest-scoring game (11-of-13 from 3!)

Tonight he was 0-of-11 from 3 pic.twitter.com/3wW0ey28CR

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 28, 2017
The reigning back-to-back MVP went 0-for-11 from 3-point territory in Philly, tying the record (held by Trey Burke and Antoine Walker) for most attempts without a make.

It's only the third time in Chef Curry's career that he's taken eight or more threes without hitting a single one. The other instances both came earlier this season, when he went 0-for-10 in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and 0-of-8 during a win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Of course, these nights represent an aberration for perhaps the best 3-point shooter to ever grace the hardwood. Curry entered the game leading the NBA with 231 treys this season, and only three shy of tying Kobe Bryant for 11th all time.

Despite being cold from deep, Curry finished with 19 points on 7-of-23 shooting while chipping in six dimes, four rebounds, and two steals in Golden State's 119-108 victory over the Sixers.

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With Kyle Lowry out for the foreseeable future, the Toronto Raptors may need DeMar DeRozan to be the Eastern Conference's most valuable player over the final six weeks of the season to maintain a top-three seed.

So far, so good for the Compton native.

Only hours after the Raptors found out Lowry would undergo wrist surgery Tuesday morning, DeRozan helped Toronto erase a 17-point deficit at Madison Square Garden Monday night, pouring in 37 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including the game-winning fadeaway that left New York only 1.9 seconds to operate.

The outburst was nothing new for DeRozan, who added eight rebounds, two assists, and a steal against the Knicks. With Monday's result, the Raptors earn a sixth consecutive win against their Atlantic Division rival and fourth straight victory, overall.

Sans Lowry for the last three of those triumphs, DeRozan's 113 points - on 37-of-69 shooting - have accounted for more than 36 percent of Toronto's total offensive output.

Taking nothing away from DeRozan's recent shooting efficiency, which is remarkable for a high-usage scorer who operates inside the 3-point line, it's the swingman's ability to get to the free-throw line that remains the key to his offensive sustainability.

After attempting only 34 free-throws combined over the Raptors' final five games heading into the All-Star break - and failing to accumulate 10 free-throw attempts in any of those five contests - DeRozan has paraded to the charity stripe 41 times over the last three games, canning 37 of those attempts.

The three-time All-Star is now averaging 27.9 points per game on the season, good for fifth in the Association, and second to Isaiah Thomas in Eastern Conference scoring.

At 36-24, the Raptors sit in third place in the Eastern Conference, two games behind Thomas's second-place Celtics.

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The Washington Wizards appear to have found a new backup point guard.

Brandon Jennings has reached a verbal agreement with the team on a deal for the remainder of the 2016-17 season, league sources told ESPN's Chris Haynes.

Jennings plans to travel to Washington on Wednesday to sign the deal once he officially clears waivers, league sources told The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski. The Wizards can't make it official until they release another player to open up a roster spot.

The guard was waived by the New York Knicks on Monday, after he reportedly told management he'd prefer to play for a playoff team.

The Wizards have struggled to get consistent point guard play behind John Wall, with backup Trey Burke having the worst statistical season of his career.

Jennings has struggled with efficiency throughout his career, but should help improve a second unit ranked 29th in scoring.

The seven-year veteran averaged 8.6 points, 4.9 assists, and 2.6 rebounds on 38 percent shooting in 58 games with the Knicks.

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Washington Wizards power forward Markieff Morris has been fined $25,000 for throwing a ball at the game official and into the stands during Sunday's defeat to the Utah Jazz.

Morris had already been removed from the game prior to the incident after picking up his sixth foul moments earlier.

The 27-year-old wasn't the only Wizards player who was upset with the officiating that night, as John Wall took a shot at the game's referees following the contest.

Morris is in the midst of a strong season with Washington, averaging 14.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 steals on 45.5 percent shooting.

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Help is on the way for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

OKC reached an agreement with free-agent guard Norris Cole on a deal through the remainder of the season, sources told Shams Charania of The Vertical.

The Thunder found themselves short on guard depth after dealing Cameron Payne to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott at the trade deadline.

Cole provides added insurance as a third-string guard behind Russell Westbrook and Semaj Christon. Cole went unsigned this summer, but he is an experienced veteran hand.

The 28-year-old averaged 10.6 points and 3.7 assists on 40.5 percent shooting from the field in 45 games with the New Orleans Pelicans last season.

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All in all, it's not the worst case scenario for the Golden State Warriors.

The team announced Wednesday that Kevin Durant suffered a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise. He will be re-evaluated in four weeks but there is no timetable of his return.


Durant suffered the injury in Tuesday's loss to the Washington Wizards. His knee buckled when Zaza Pachulia fell backwards while battling for a rebound.

Given the dire possibilities that could stem from a knee injury, Durant and the Warriors can be considered fortunate in this regard. He hasn't been ruled out for the season and sprains may not necessitate surgery.

There is a chance Durant could return for mid-April, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Stephen Curry suffered a sprained MCL in last year's playoffs and missed two weeks. He wasn't 100 percent the rest of the way, but Curry did manage to light up the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals before flaming out in the final round.

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All of a sudden the invincible Golden State Warriors look vulnerable.

A seemingly harmless play - a battle for a rebound that saw Zaza Pachulia hit the deck - sent a seismic shock across the league. Pachulia slid backwards into Kevin Durant, who left the game with a sprained MCL and a bone bruise that will hold him out indefinitely.

Nobody will cry poor for the Warriors. Subtracting Durant from the equation only leaves the Dubs with the 73-win team that fell one possession shy of the title last season, but there's a question if that team still exists. Durant's addition made everyone shift down a peg, but that still doesn't account for the inexplicable absence of the two-time reigning MVP.

The Warriors need Stephen Curry to reclaim his title as the league's deadliest offensive player until Durant returns. But that's no sure thing.


With or without Durant, replicating last season was always an impossible task for the league's golden boy.

Curry set the bar too high for himself by drilling 402 threes and becoming the first-ever unanimous MVP in league history. His efficiency and per-minute scoring rivaled Michael Jordan in his prime. He reinvented the way modern offense was played while leading a 73-win team. He left nothing but a second title for an encore.

Still, nobody quite expected Curry to silently slink into the background. He's still a top-10 player to be sure, but gone are the days of anxious anticipation for what Curry would do next. His regression has him on the level of Isaiah Thomas and Damian Lillard - not exactly a bad problem to have - but the magic to Curry's game isn't there.

Steph was arguably matched by younger brother Seth Curry, who shot better from the field, from deep, and from the line while averaging 16.7 points per game in February. Credit Seth for improving by leaps and bounds, but that just simply should not happen.

Curry's signature shot - the pull-up three - is no longer a cheat code and thus he is no longer leading the Sportscentre highlight reels every night. Curry has been conspicuously absent from the MVP conversation that he rendered moot after Game 1 of last season by dropping a 40-piece.

In all fairness, Curry's drop-off is partially due to Durant's addition.

Accommodating a fellow MVP candidate was always going to require some measure of sacrifice. Curry is just flat-out seeing less of the ball. His touches are down (from 72.1 per game to 64.8) and his shots are down (20.2 attempts to 17.8).

But more than anything else, there's just a notable difference in the discretion with which Curry plays the game.

There's a reason why Curry isn't on every highlight reel like he once was. Last season's Curry was carefree, daring, and willing to make mistakes. That's how those behind-the-back, pull-up fading to the baseline, 35-foot threes came to be. It's a lot harder to justify those shots when it means looking off Durant against a mismatch.

Playing with discretion was necessary to accommodate the superteam, but responsibility doesn't grab headlines. That was Curry's selfless sacrifice - to step down from the league's brightest spotlight for the good of the Warriors.

This is Curry's chance to send a loud reminder around the NBA: put the two-time MVP in the heat of the moment and he can still cook.

All the same core pieces remain. Klay Thompson hasn't forgotten to spot-up in the corner when Curry attacks the basket. Draymond Green can still make plays in 4-on-3 scenarios when defenses trap Curry above the arc. The supporting cast can still play defense at an elite level. Steve Kerr hasn't trashed the playbook that produced a historically efficient offense.

The ball will be returned to Curry along with the spotlight. There will be less of Curry running as a decoy off the ball and more of Curry creating with the ball in his hands.

It's back to the same script from the last two seasons - the Warriors will even park a small forward named "Barnes" in the corner - but that script will only work if Curry steps back into the role of leading man.

The Warriors need Curry to become the two-time MVP again just as badly as he does.

Last edited on Wed Mar 1st, 2017 10:10 pm by lobo316

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Up two points late against the Golden State Warriors, the Washington Wizards power forward went to the line for a pair. Morris, a career 76.9 percent free-throw shooter, sank both foul shots to give his club a two-possession lead.

The Wiz held on to sink the league's best team, 112-108, with Morris chipping in 22 points, six boards, and four blocks. Asked about icing the win, the 27-year-old jokingly offered the following:

"My wife tells me all the time I've got big nuts. I put my nuts on the line for the team and we did it."

Got em.

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The coaches who squared off in back-to-back NBA Finals in 2013 and 2014 have been bestowed with the profession's highest monthly honor in their respective conferences for February of 2017.

The Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra and San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich have been named Eastern and Western Conference Coaches of the Month, after the last four weeks saw Spoelstra lead his once-moribund squad to the fringe of the East playoff race, and Popovich's ever-consistent Spurs affirmed their place as the West's No. 2.

The Heat went 8-3 in February, including five straight wins to open the month that stretched their season-long winning streak to 13 games. They ranked in the top seven in both offensive and defensive efficiency. And after starting the season 11-30, they now sit just two games out of a playoff spot. It's the seventh Coach of the Month award for Spoelstra, and his first since LeBron James' last season in Miami in 2013-14.

The Spurs, meanwhile, kept chugging along with a conference-best 8-2 month, during which they posted the league's best defensive rating by nearly six points per 100 possessions. For context, the gap between their defense and the Utah Jazz's second-ranked unit in February, was greater than the gap between Utah's and the Philadelphia 76ers' 17th-ranked defense. They closed out the month, as they do every year, with their season-long Rodeo Road Trip. They won six of the eight games away from AT&T Center, to improve their NBA-best road record to 26-7.

It's the 17th Coach of the Month award for Popovich, and his first since December of 2015.

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The Philadelphia 76ers are back at square one with their injured prospects.

The team announced Wednesday that they will shut down center Joel Embiid for the remainder of his much-anticipated rookie season after an MRI of his left knee revealed a more severe meniscus tear than originally detected.

"The assessment of Monday's follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid's left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan," said Sixers Chief Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Glashow.

Embiid was the runaway favorite to win Rookie of the Year, but he only played in one game since Jan. 20 since injuring his knee. The Sixers performed close to .500 with Embiid in the lineup, but after falling out of the playoff race, there was little point in putting the 22-year-old further in harm's way by playing him this season.

Waiting on Embiid is nothing new for Sixers fans. The prodigally talented center sat out his first two seasons with a broken foot. He showed more than enough ability in his 31 appearances this season to reward their patience.

"Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court," Sixers president Bryan Colangelo said in the release.

Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in just 25.4 minutes per game this season.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have waived guard Jordan McRae to open up a roster spot to sign center Andrew Bogut, who reportedly committed to signing with the team Tuesday.

Bogut was traded to 76ers prior to this year's trade deadline, before being waived just four days later. The 7-foot Australian is averaging 3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and one block this season.

The Cavaliers have been active since last Thursday's deadline, signing Deron Williams for the remainder of the season after the veteran point guard officially cleared waivers.

McRae appeared in 37 games for Cleveland this season, averaging 4.4 points, 1.1 rebounds, and 0.5 assists on just 38.7 percent from the field.

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Earl Watson wants some protection for his young players.

After 20-year-old guard Devin Booker received an elbow to the head Tuesday from Vince Carter, the Suns bench boss said he wants Phoenix to sign an enforcer this summer to avoid such incidents in the future.

"We have to find someone in free agency or the first chance we get who can protect our top offensive players," Watson told ESPN.

Watson added that other teams have made similar moves in the past, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, who signed Metta World Peace in 2009 to help make things easier for Kobe Bryant.

"This has to happen. If not, Book is going to see a lot of elbows," Watson said. "It's the reason Kobe went out and got Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. It's the reason why Jordan went out and got guys who could protect him."

While Carter was ultimately ejected for his actions, Watson still wasn't satisfied, saying the vicious elbow changed the game.

"Carter's elbow changed the momentum of the game and sent a message," Watson added. "Who's going to protect our young guys? It's the situation we're in. We have to find a guy who can come in and make another team think twice about doing that. That should be a top priority for us moving forward."

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With Kevin Durant down, the Golden State Warriors will slide another Barnes into the small forward spot. A year after Harrison Barnes' final season with the Dubs, the team officially signed Matt Barnes Thursday.

The scrappy Barnes was waived by the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 20. It will be the 36-year-old's second stint with Golden State, having played with the club previously from 2006-08. In 909 career games with nine teams, Barnes has averaged 8.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.

The signing also means Barnes will have played for all four California NBA teams in the last six seasons.

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Former NBA star Amar'e Stoudemire issued an apology Thursday for remarks he made about avoiding a potentially gay teammate.

"I want to apologize for my offensive comments against the LGBT community," Stoudemire said in a statement through his Israeli pro team, Hapoel Jerusalem. "These remarks were taken from a larger interview where a reporter was asking me hypothetical questions, and all my answers had a comedic undertone. The answers I gave were meant to be taken as jokes and I am deeply sorry for offending anyone."

In an interview with Walla Sport this week, Stoudemire said he "would shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner, and ... take a different route to the gym" when queried how he would react to having a gay teammate.

Asked if he was joking, he said, "I mean, there's always a truth within a joke."

Fellow former NBA players John Amaechi and Jason Collins - both of whom are gay - were quick to criticize Stoudemire, who last played stateside with the Miami Heat last season.

THIS is what I think of Amar'e Stoudemire.#RoleModelFail @espn @LeBatardShow pic.twitter.com/43KuuJ27WL

— John Amaechi OBE (@JohnAmaechi) March 1, 2017
Very sad & troubling to think that @Amareisreal was just given this award. His homophobic comments have no place in sport or in our society. https://t.co/A81sTzItOi

— Jason Collins (@jasoncollins98) March 1, 2017

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The Milwaukee Bucks have agreed to a deal with recently bought-out power forward Terrence Jones for the remainder of the season, sources told The Vertical's Shams Charania.

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LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder were named NBA Players of the Month for February in the Eastern and Western Conference, respectively.

The same pair won the monthly award for November. The Cavs were 9-1 with James in the lineup during February, with The King averaging just under 26 points per game to go with 10.6 assists and 7.2 rebounds.

Westbrook statistically had his best month of the season in February, averaging 33.4 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. He's still averaging a triple-double for the season, and looks to become the first player since Oscar Robertson to do so over the course of a full campaign.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers made it official on Thursday, signing Andrew Bogut for the remainder of the season.

Bogut was waived by the Sixers on Monday after he was acquired by Philadelphia just prior to last week's trade deadline.

The 7-foot big man appeared in 26 games for the Dallas Mavericks this season, averaging three points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and one block on 46.9 percent shooting. Bogut will give the Cavaliers some added playoff experience, having reached The Finals in each of the last two years with the Golden State Warriors.

Cleveland has been active on the free-agent market this week, signing veteran point guard Deron Williams to a deal on Monday.

The Cavaliers waived second-year player Jordan McRae earlier this week in order to make room for the Australian center.

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Dario Saric of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Dallas Mavericks' Yogi Ferrell were named the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Rookies of the Month on Thursday for games played in February.

Saric, in his first year in the league after being selected 12th in the 2014 draft, led all rookies in scoring (17 points) and ranked second in rebounding (7.9 boards) for the month.

Ferrell, an undrafted free agent last year, had a storybook month, averaging 12 points and 4.7 assists in 11 games. He was on a 10-day contract when he scored 32 points (including nine treys) in a Feb. 3 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.

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Consistency had been the name of the game for the Golden State Warriors during the regular season, with the team carrying a streak of 146 games without consecutive losses into the United Center against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night.

But all good things come to an end, and with a 94-87 loss to Chicago, the Warriors have now dropped back-to-back games for the first time since 2015, when they fell to the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Pelicans on April 5 and 7, respectively.

It was on Tuesday at the Verizon Center when Golden State had its four-game winning streak snapped by the Washington Wizards - a loss made more painful after four-time scoring champion Kevin Durant left the court with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and tibial bone bruise.


Without Durant in the lineup, the Warriors put up a season low in points against the Bulls, converting a putrid 38.6 percent of their field-goal attempts, and just 6-of-30 from 3-point range.

It was also just the third time all season Golden State failed to score at least 100 points, and just like the other two instances against the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies, they couldn't pull out a victory.

Stephen Curry led the way with 23 points, although his shot continued to fail him, with 10 makes on 27 attempts. His two 3-pointers, however, moved him past Kobe Bryant for 11th place on the NBA's all-time 3-pointers made list.

To avoid losing three games in a row for the first time since Nov. 20-23, 2013, the Warriors will need to put away the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

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There's only so much a man can do on his own, even if that man is Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who's on the verge of becoming just the second player ever to average a triple-double for an entire season.

Well, triple-double No. 31 didn't come his way Thursday in a heartbreaking 114-109 road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, but that's because he focused more of his attention on scoring to keep the Thunder in the game.

Westbrook finished with 45 points, eight rebounds, and four assists in 36 minutes, but it took him 36 shots from the field to get there (he converted 12). To put those numbers in perspective, no other player in the Thunder's starting lineup attempted more than three shots, or scored more than six points.

Nonetheless, this was the third straight game the six-time All-Star dropped 40 or more points. Westbrook had 41 points against the New Orleans Pelicans last Sunday, then followed that up with 43 two days later against the Utah Jazz.

He also notched a triple-double in those games, and had he tallied one against Portland, he would have become the first player ever with three consecutive 40-point triple-doubles.

Westbrook, however, becomes just the fourth player since the league's merger to have multiple three-game stretches of at least 40 points in a single season, with the last to pull it off being Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant (2005-06).

From Dec. 19-23, Westbrook had outings of 46, 42, and 45 points against the Atlanta Hawks, Pelicans, and Boston Celtics, respectively.

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Steph Curry continues his meteoric ascent up the all-time 3-point ladder.

The reigning two-time MVP hit his second triple of the night - and the 1,828th of his career - in the third quarter against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, moving past Kobe Bryant and into 11th place on the career NBA leaderboard.

It took Curry 555 regular-season games to run down Bryant, whose 1,827 made threes came in a 1,346-game career.

The Golden State Warriors point guard has struggled with his stroke of late. He shot 2-of-20 from deep in two games coming into Thursday night's contest, and missed five of his first six 3-point attempts against the Bulls before splashing the long ball that broke the tie with Bryant.

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Jeanie Buss has blocked an attempt from her brothers, Jim and Johnny, to dethrone her as the Los Angeles Lakers president and controlling owner, Nathan Fenno and Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times report.

Jeanie's attorneys reportedly requested a temporary restraining order on Friday to prohibit Jim and Johnny from holding a meeting to elect a new board of directors that didn't include Jeanie. The brothers withdrew the request after Jeanie sought the restraining order.

If a meeting were to be held, Jeanie would need to be elected to the board in order to keep her controlling ownership.

"This is no doubt the beginning and not the end of the game-playing," Jeanie's attorney Adam Streisand told The LA Times. "They don’t have a legal leg to stand on. This is a legal strategy doomed for failure."

This comes just two weeks after Jim was relieved of his duties as vice president of basketball operations following the hiring of Magic Johnson as team president.

"Everything she’s trying to do could be undone," Streisand said.

A probate court trial has reportedly been set for May.

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Well, that didn't take long.

Just a week after signing a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, point guard Jarrett Jack was ruled out for four-to-six weeks Friday with a torn meniscus in his right knee.

That's the same knee in which Jack tore his ACL last season, putting him on the shelf for over a year. He played in just two games in his return with the Pelicans, averaging three points, 2.5 assists, and a steal in 16.5 minutes. The injury will be a bitter pill to swallow for a guy whose slow recovery saw him get waived by two different teams in the summer, and then fail to land a job for two-thirds of the season.

For the Pelicans, meanwhile, it's their second recent acquisition to immediately get injured, following forward Omri Casspi - who suffered a broken thumb in his first game in New Orleans.

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ATLANTA - ''Pistol'' Pete Maravich's No. 44 has been retired by the Atlanta Hawks, his first NBA team.

The Hawks made Maravich only the fifth player in franchise history to have his number retired. During a halftime ceremony Friday night during a game against Cleveland, Maravich's number was uncovered in the Philips Arena rafters beside those of Bob Pettit, Lou Hudson, Dominique Wilkins and Dikembe Mutombo.

Maravich's wife, Jackie, and son, Josh, spoke at the ceremony.

The Hawks made Maravich the No. 3 overall pick in the 1970 NBA draft. He averaged 24.3 points in four seasons with Atlanta.

Maravich's number also has been retired by the New Orleans and Utah Jazz and his college, Louisiana State. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987, one year before his death at 40.

The Hawks wore their Maravich-era blue and green throwback uniform.

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Festus Ezeli's 2016-17 season is officially over, before it had a chance to begin.

The Portland Trail Blazers center, who has yet to appear in a game for the team that signed him to a two-year deal in the summer, will undergo season-ending surgery next week to repair his injured left knee, the Blazers announced Saturday.

Ezeli received a bone marrow aspirate injection in the knee in August, suffered a setback in his rehab in November, and seemingly has not recovered. There were reports from as far back as mid-December that he was likely to opt for surgery, but he was waiting for a cadaver donor, sources told ESPN's Chris Haynes. It's unclear what part Ezeli needs to have replaced.

Whatever the case, the Blazers still had hopes of finding a trade partner for him before the deadline. They reportedly sought out teams below the salary floor to see if they had any interest in absorbing Ezeli's contract, but found no takers. Ezeli is making $7.4 million this season, but the second year of his deal is guaranteed for just $1 million, and the capped-out Blazers appear likely to waive him before the remaining $6.7 million becomes guaranteed June 30.

The 27-year-old has struggled with injuries his entire career, and has been sidelined for more games than he's played in since being drafted by the Golden State Warriors in 2012.

In 46 games with the Warriors last season, Ezeli averaged seven points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 16.7 minutes.

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International expansion may not be in the NBA's immediate plans, but it's not unrealistic to believe that a franchise could end up in Mexico City down the road.

While commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that a move wouldn't happen in the next few years, he did say the league is looking into adding a team further south.

"Mexico City, in terms of international markets, is one we’re looking more closely at," Silver said Friday at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, according to Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The NBA has hosted five regular-season contests in Mexico City since the 1997-98 season, with the Phoenix Suns playing back-to-back games there earlier this year.

Silver also previously stated that he's entertained the idea of organizing a midseason tournament in Mexico City, in hopes of increasing the NBA's popularity in North America's most populous city.

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If Russell Westbrook needed any extra motivation against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night, Mark Cuban may have provided it.

On the same day that Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters he's in awe of Westbrook's season, the team's owner said he wouldn't even have Westbrook on his MVP shortlist.

Mark Cuban says MVP is a toss-up between James Harden and LeBron James. Where is Russell Westbrook in that mix? "He's not."

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 6, 2017
Westbrook - who's looking to become the first player in 55 years to average a triple-double for an entire season - is considered the co-favorite (along with former teammate Harden) to take home the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

This isn't the first time Cuban has thrown shade at Westbrook, as the outspoken billionaire said last year during a first-round playoff matchup between his Mavs and Russ' Thunder that the Oklahoma City point guard isn't a superstar. Those comments led Kevin Durant - Westbrook's teammate at the time - to label Cuban "an idiot." Earlier this season, Cuban clarified that he believes Westbrook is the closest thing to a superstar, if he isn't one already.

In Cuban's defense, award history isn't on Westbrook's side. His Thunder, while obviously reliant on his outrageous productivity, sit seventh in the Western Conference at 35-27. The last MVP from a team outside the top three in its conference was Moses Malone in 1982, when Malone's 46-36 Houston Rockets finished sixth in the West.

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With his third 3-pointer against the New York Knicks on Sunday - the 1,831st triple of his career - Stephen Curry moved past Chauncey Billups for 10th on the all-time leaderboard.

The Golden State Warriors superstar accomplished the feat early in the third quarter when he pulled up several steps behind the top of the arc:

.@StephenCurry30 passes Chauncey Billups for 10th on #NBA all-time 3-point made list with No. 1,831#DubNation pic.twitter.com/r9gTJHkcWJ

— NBA.com (@NBAcom) March 5, 2017
Curry has managed to crack the top 10 in just his eighth NBA campaign, and will almost certainly continue his climb up the ladder. He passed Kobe Bryant for 11th in career 3-point makes earlier this week, and is now 72 treys behind ninth-place Joe Johnson.

RANK      PLAYER         3-POINTERS
1          Ray Allen            2973

2          Reggie Miller       2560

3         Jason Terry          2217

4         Paul Pierce          2138

5         Kyle Korver         2018

6         Jamal Crawford   2014

7        Vince Carter         2013

8        Jason Kidd           1988

9        Joe Johnson         1903

10      Stephen Curry      1831




There hasn't been a more prolific long-range sniper than Curry since the NBA introduced the 3-point line in 1979-80. The 28-year-old attempts 54.4 percent of his shots from 3-point territory and hits 3.9 threes per game. He registers 24.8 points while shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Chef Curry leads the league in 3-pointers with 238 this season. In fact, he's led the Association in long bombs the last four years, and has set the record for most threes in a season three times. He's currently on pace to hit over 300 in 2016-17, which would be the second-highest mark ever, only trailing his 402 from last year.

Last edited on Mon Mar 6th, 2017 05:47 am by lobo316

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San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard and Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker have been named Players of the Week for their respective conferences.

Walker is coming off a 2-1 week for the Hornets, leading the team to important road victories over the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets. After breaking out last season, the 26-year-old has been even better in 2016-17, posting career highs in points per game (22.9) and field-goal percentage (.450).

Leonard led the Spurs to an undefeated week, helping to extend the team's seven-game winning streak. While he hasn't been at the forefront of the MVP discussion until recently, the 6-foot-7 small forward is in the midst of a monster campaign, averaging 26.1 points, six rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals on 48.5 percent shooting.

It's the fifth Player of the Week honor of Walker's career, and Leonard's fourth.

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It appears that the Indiana Pacers had zero intention of moving Paul George at this year's trade deadline.

While a number of reports suggested that the Pacers were at least listening to offers on George, team president Larry Bird claims there is zero truth to the rumors that Indiana was shopping its All-Star forward.

"I wasn’t motivated to move Paul George at the deadline," Bird told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. "I can’t remember if it was even brought up or not. I don’t think it was. It’s all fake news anyway. You know that. Somebody’s gonna start it and (it) just was a snowball effect. (The phone call) was not about Paul George."

Reports surfaced last month that while ownership was compelled to gauge the market for the 26-year-old, Bird was determined to reject all pitches for George.

An unrestricted free agent in 2018, George has the ability to sign an extension with Indiana in July, but is reportedly intent on signing with the Lakers next summer if Indiana isn't a contender by then.

The 6-foot-9 small forward is averaging 21.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.5 steals on 44.1 percent shooting this season.

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LeBron James' quest for greatness can sometimes get in the way of the more important things in his life.

After noticing that his quest to be the best was taking away from his family life, the four-time MVP apologized to his wife Savannah for being too focused on his own journey.

"I am addicted to the process. I’m addicted to the process," James said on Monday's Road Trippin' Podcast. "It’s so funny. I just told my wife the other day, I apologized to her. She was like 'What are you apologizing for?' I said 'Because the journey that I’m on to want to be the greatest to ever play this game or to the point where no one ever forgets what I accomplished, I've at times lost the fact of how important you are to this whole thing. … I want you to understand that along this journey while I’m playing this game there will be times that I lose the fact of how important you and my three kids are - my babies are.'"

LeBron and Savannah have been together since their high school days, and have been married for more than three years.

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Andrew Bogut's tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers was less than two minutes old when he broke his left leg Monday night.

Moments after entering his first game as a Cavalier, Bogut collided with Miami Heat forward Okaro White on a closeout, taking a knee to the left shin. He hobbled to the sideline and needed to be helped to the locker room, unable to put any weight on his left leg. Bogut seemed to know immediately that he'd broken it.

The team announced that Bogut suffered a fractured left tibia and was taken to the Cleveland Clinic for further imaging and evaluation, with updates on his status and recovery timetable to come.
Bogut signed with the Cavs after being bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired him from the Dallas Mavericks in a deadline-day trade. The 32-year-old averaged three points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and a block in 26 games with the Mavs this season.

Last edited on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 07:01 pm by lobo316

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ATLANTA - Dennis Schroder sounds miffed about getting benched. Dwight Howard insists it's no big deal. Mike Budenholzer says his team has got to learn to play together.

One thing is certain: The Atlanta Hawks are in a bit of disarray heading toward the final month of the regular season.

Schroder was yanked early in the third quarter of Monday night's 119-111 loss to the Golden State Warriors after arguing with Howard about an errant pass.
While the two were angrily exchanging words, the Warriors got the ball to Stephen Curry for an open 3-pointer.

Budenholzer wound up sending Schroder to the bench with 8:41 to go in the third, even though he led the Hawks with 23 points. The 23-year-old German never returned, merely a spectator as Atlanta took its sixth loss in eight games to slip back further in the Eastern Conference standings.

''I don't understand Coach's decision,'' Schroder said. ''Maybe I'm too competitive, I don't know. I'm just trying to be competitive, trying to win games. But I don't get that one.''
Budenholzer was tight-lipped, calling it a ''coaching decision.''
''We need to learn to play together and stay together for 48 minutes,'' he said. ''That's something that's very important to us.''
Schroder has run into other problems in his first year as a Hawks starter. After the All-Star break, he was late reporting back to the team and served a one-game suspension . Then, the very next night, he was late for the team bus and came off the bench for a game at Orlando.

Now, it looks as if he is headed for a summit with Budenholzer and Howard.
''We've got to figure it out, me and coach,'' Schroder said. ''I want to talk about it. Dwight's got to be in there, too. Get on the same page. Then we're going be all right.''
Howard downplayed the incident and said he looks forward to smoothing things over with his teammate, but the whole affair raised more troubling questions about an eight-time All-Star center who joined Atlanta this season with a reputation for causing problems in the locker room.

''It happens during the course of the game,'' he said. ''It just cost us a 3. It's something that we've got to make sure we nip it in the bud quick, and move on to the next play.''
Howard said disagreements are bound to pop up during the course of the season.
''Listen, we're a team,'' he said. ''It's OK if we have conversations. It's not always conflict when you have a conversation with your coach or a team meeting. That's what you're supposed to do. So, by him wanting to have a meeting and talk, it's great. It's great for our team. It's great for each other. We're all open to it.''

Still, it wasn't a good sign for a team that has struggled all season to find some consistency .

The Hawks, who were the top seed in the East just two seasons ago, are now three games out of a home-court edge in the first round of the playoffs. If they don't turn things around soon, they could be facing a challenge from teams below them in the standings.

Indiana has closed within two games of Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago are three games back, and streaking Miami looks like one of the league's most dangerous teams after a dismal start.

Schroder's benching came after he got off to a magnificent start against the Warriors. He scored 19 points in the first quarter - his most ever in a period - and knocked down four shots beyond the 3-point arc. By the half, he had 23 points and seemed on his way to setting a career high.
He didn't get the chance.

Schroder conceded he should have waited until a timeout or dead ball to raise his concerns with Howard, instead of bickering in the middle of the court.
''They got a 3 right out of it,'' he said. ''I've got to do better.''
The other Atlanta players are eager to snuff out any signs of a lingering feud. They're going to need both Schroder and Howard to have any shot at turning things around this season.

''When you play basketball, especially in a game like this, emotions are high and everybody is quick to react,'' Thabo Sefolosha said. ''But at the end of the day, we're a team and we've got to play as a team. I'm sure they're going to talk between the two of them and they're going to be fine.''

Last edited on Tue Mar 7th, 2017 07:05 pm by lobo316

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Draymond Green isn't one to forget a slight.

The Warriors power forward sounded off on Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer for his pregame comments Monday night, suggesting Atlanta would have stood a greater chance had they focused on stopping him.

"And that's exactly why they can't beat us," Green told ESPN's Chris Haynes. "That's exactly why they won't. Don't game plan for me."

While Budenholzer admitted Green was a talented player, he appeared to take a shot at the Defensive Player of the Year candidate, telling reporters he's not the type of player you scheme around.

"He's a unique player. He's so unique, but I don't know that he's the guy that you game plan for," Budenholzer said. "He does things just kind of so much on instinct intuitively, defensively, and rebounding and passing.

"He's good (with) instincts and all those things, but game plan - (Steph) Curry and (Klay) Thompson are the guys, and he's great at finding them and creating opportunities for them. So he's a big part of their group."

The 27-year-old filled the stat sheet in Monday's 119-111 victory, finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and four steals.

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Timing is everything.

San Antonio Spurs superstar Kawhi Leonard just happened to be subjected to a random drug test following his 39-point effort Monday against the Houston Rockets, according to ESPN's Michael C. Wright.

The test came minutes after Leonard dropped the go-ahead three, followed by the game-saving block on James Harden to secure a 112-110 victory over the surging Rockets.

To be clear, his performance had nothing to do with the procedure. It was a total coincidence that one of Leonard's four tests on the season came after his best game.

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NBA scoring leader Russell Westbrook scored a career-high 58 points, but much like his 45-point performance five days ago, it was a balanced attack led by Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe that was victorious as the Portland Trail Blazers (27-35) beat the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-29), 126-121, Tuesday night in front of 18,203 fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.

"I think probably the most satisfying thing is that we got contributions from so many players, everybody that played," Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts praised his players. "Up and down the roster, everybody that got in the game contributed in some way whether it was rebounding, passing, scoring, defending. It was a really good team win."

A hot shooting start that saw the Thunder go 15-of-20 from the field begin the game with a 40-29 advantage after the first quarter. But the Blazers, sparked by efforts off the bench from Allen Crabbe, Al-Farouq Aminu and Meyers Leonard sparked Portland to a 14-2 run in the opening minutes of the second quarter mostly with Westbrook on the Oklahoma City bench. The visitors eventually held a 53-52 lead with 7:08 left in the first half. But the NBA’s leading scorer would return to the floor to score 16 of his 28 first-half points to see Oklahoma City on top going into halftime, 67-61.

The Blazers would come out of the break hot as Lillard, Crabbe and Leonard combined for 25 of the Portland’s 38 points in the third quarter, despite another double-digit period from Westbrook. The visitors entered the fourth quarter with a 99-92 lead behind a 59% shooting performance in the third.

"From top to bottom, guys contributed on both ends of the floor," Leonard told media. "We just continued to battle and did our best to slow Russ down. Obviously, a guy scores 58 and you're looking up like 'Wow,' but I think we did a good job of keeping other guys in check."

In the final quarter, the Blazers extended their lead to 12, their largest of the evening with Westbrook resting in the early minutes. The Thunder’s lone All-Star returned to the court to bring the game to a tie at 114 with just over two minutes to play.

From there, the game came down to a possession-by-possession chess match. After being whistled for his fifth foul on a charge two possessions before, Jusuf Nurkić scored back-to-back buckets in the final minute to put the Blazers up four. After three-straight missed Thunder field goals, Victor Oladipo answered Nurkić’s efforts at the other end by drilling a three to make it 120-119 Portland advantage. The Thunder then fouled CJ McCollum, who’s made free throws gave the Blazers a three-point lead with 15.2 seconds to play. Westbrook’s deep three-point attempt was off the mark, leaving Nurkić to put the Blazers up five at the line following the foul. Though Westbrook drove in for an easy layup to bring the Thunder within three, Lillard’s made free throws in the final second sealed the Blazers’ third straight win and a fourth victory in six games since the All-Star break.

"This was a game we needed to win," McCollum said after the game. "Obviously, each game is magnified getting closer down the stretch, and also for the tie-breaker purposes, we wanted to make sure we took care of them."

Crabbe led the Blazers with 23 points off the bench, while Lillard added 22 points and eight assists. CJ McCollum scored 21 points in the win, scoring eight in the final period. Nurkić recorded his fourth consecutive game of 15-plus points, finishing with 17 points and eight rebounds. Leonard and Aminu finished with 12 points each off the bench.

Westbrook led all scorers with a career-high 58 points to go with nine assists. Oladipo and Enes Kanter were the only other players in double figures, scoring 16 and 11 points, respectively.

The Blazers return home to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday at Moda Center. Oklahoma City welcomes the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday evening.

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The ongoing drama surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers and their ownership doesn't look like it will end anytime soon.

Janie Buss, the younger sister of controlling owner Jeanie Buss, says both of her older brothers, Jim and Johnny, are working to break the family trust in order to sell their minority ownership in the franchise.

"This is something huge and it's not going to go away. They're trying to bust the trust so they can sell their (interests)," Janie told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "And if they sell, that'll leave the rest of us in a minority."

Last week, both brothers reportedly attempted to dethrone Jeanie as the Lakers president and controlling owner. Jeanie ultimately requested a restraining order after Jim and Johnny tried to hold a meeting to elect a new board that excluded her.

"Growing up, Johnny was the kid who brought the ball to the park and when things didn't go his way, he took the ball and ran," Janie said. "I don't want to call him a poor sport, because a poor sport would be someone who lost a game and kicked the referee. No, Johnny took the ball away so nobody could play.

"Jimmy will bring the ball, but he'll be like, 'Everyone gets to play, but you have to put a dollar in to play. He tries to figure out things mathematically, how to get the best advantage."

Reports last week indicated that a probate court trial would be held in May to settle the dispute.

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Sacramento Kings point guard Ty Lawson allegedly violated his probation after testing positive for alcohol on three occasions, according to court documents acquired by TMZ Sports.

Lawson was sentenced to 12 months of supervised probation last year on drunk driving charges, when he was ordered not to drink or use marijuana.

The 5-foot-11 guard tested positive for alcohol on Sept. 27, Sept. 29, and Feb. 7, according to TMZ.

Lawson's court date has reportedly been set for March 22 - the same day the Kings take on the Milwaukee Bucks. A warrant will be issued for his arrest should he fail to show.

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After watching his team struggle against the Lakers for much of the previous two decades, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is hoping that Los Angeles continues down the path of mediocrity under its new management.

"I hope they fail miserably. I hope they fail horrifically," Cuban told Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. "I hope Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka go down as the worst GM/President combination in the history of GM/President combinations. But I hope they live wonderful lives."

In general, Cuban would prefer to see greater dysfunction among teams.

"The worse it is, the better for me," Cuban said. "There’s no NBA thing involved. We survived the other franchise going through some hell that didn't begin to rival what may be going on. The more turmoil with 29 other teams, the happier I am."

Cuban could get his wish, as Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is in the midst of a legal battle after thwarting an attempt by her brothers to dethrone her as team president and controlling owner last week.

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After weeks of speculation, the Los Angeles Lakers confirmed the hiring of former agent Rob Pelinka as the team's new general manager Tuesday.

Pelinka represents the first major front-office hire during Magic Johnson's tenure as president of basketball operations.

As an agent, Pelinka represented some of the game's biggest stars, including Kobe Bryant, MVP candidate James Harden, former MVP Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Chris Bosh, and Carlos Boozer.

Bryant voiced his support for Pelinka on Twitter.

No one knows the business of basketball more than @robpelinka. I wish him & the Lakers much success as they bring winning bball back to LA.

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 7, 2017
The Bryant connection is intriguing considering Johnson once said that his first call - if given control of the Lakers - would be to the franchise legend.

The Lakers hope Pelinka can follow in the footsteps of Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers, a former agent who went on to put together one of the most talented NBA teams ever assembled.

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Dirk Nowitzki walks among the immortals.

With a torrid first half against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night, Nowitzki became just the sixth player in the NBA history - and the first international player - to score 30,000 points in his career.

The Dallas Mavericks legend joined Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant as the only players to reach the plateau with a single team.

Nowitzki came into Tuesday's game 20 points shy of 30,000 and promptly unleashed a barrage of his patented rainbow jumpers, hitting his first six field goals and pulling within two points in the first quarter.

Just over a minute into the second, the 7-foot German splashed a vintage fadeaway from the short corner over Larry Nance Jr. to send the crowd at American Airlines Center into hysterics.

Nowitzki finished his banner night with 25 points and 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes, as the Mavs blew the Lakers off the floor.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers aren't done making roster moves with the postseason just over a month away.

After announcing on Wednesday that Andrew Bogut would miss the remainder of the season with a broken leg, Cleveland plans to waive the Australian big man to open up a roster spot, sources told ESPN's Dave McMenamin. The Cavaliers may not be done there, as they are also considering waiving an additional player, with shooting guard DeAndre Liggins the most likely option.

Bogut played just a single minute for Cleveland after signing a contract with the team last week. While no longer the player he once was, the 32-year-old was brought in to help bolster the team's rebounding and frontcourt depth.

Cleveland reportedly plans to make any roster adjustments after the team's three-game road trip, which ends on Sunday against the Houston Rockets.

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Using 34.1 percent of the Houston Rockets' possessions (fifth in NBA) on a nightly basis, while sitting atop the Association in assists per game, has led to All-Star guard James Harden being prone to turning the rock over at a historic rate for a second year in a row.

With six turnovers Wednesday night in Houston's 115-108 loss to the visiting Utah Jazz, Harden has established a new single-season record for total turnovers with 376, breaking the mark he set in 2015-16 of 374.

The 27-year-old played a full 82-game slate that campaign, and has 17 games to go this season to add to his 376.

Harden also ranks first in total minutes (2,372) and third in scoring (29.1 points), with the ball being in his hands even more so since being shifted from shooting guard over to the point by new head coach Mike D'Antoni.

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The Sacramento Kings have at times resembled a competent basketball team since their baffling trade of franchise player DeMarcus Cousins, but they keep finding new and increasingly ridiculous ways to lose games.

On Wednesday night, they were fortunate enough to catch the San Antonio Spurs on a night when the Spurs opted to rest Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, and when coach Gregg Popovich came in looking fresh off a back-alley brawl.

Sure enough, the Kings came roaring out of the gate, starting the game on a 24-8 run and building a 22-point lead by the end of the first quarter. Eight minutes into the second quarter, they'd stretch that lead to 28. They were playing like the version of the Kings that Vivek Ranadive would imagine in the cold sweat of a fever dream; Buddy Hield raining threes, Tyreke Evans getting to the rim at will, and Skal Labissiere defending the paint and craftily scavenging for buckets.

But things started to fall apart in the final four minutes of the quarter, as a weirdo Spurs small-ball lineup of Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, and David Lee blew holes in their defense and reeled off a 15-2 run to close the half.

They picked up where they left off in the third quarter, with Lee in particular putting a hurting on the Kings, ducking and diving into pockets of space and finishing in traffic. Then Mills and Ginobili caught fire at the same time, and by the time the final frame rolled around they'd sliced the deficit to four.

The fourth quarter was pure carnage. The Kings' offense completely dried up as the Spurs buzzed around the floor, Mills and Lee continued to breathe fire, and Danny Green iced the cake with a flourish of late 3-pointers. San Antonio won 114-104, authoring a 38-point swing over the span of 28 minutes and posting the league's largest comeback this season. It's the team's ninth straight win, and the third straight in which it's overcome a deficit of at least 15 points.

To top it all off, it improved the Spurs' record to 50-13, making this their mind-boggling 18th consecutive season with at least 50 wins. Their millennia-spanning streak has been an NBA record for quite some time. The next-longest such run belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers, who had 12 straight from 1979 to 1991.

It's also worth mentioning, as always, that the last time the Spurs didn't win 50 games, was the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season that was only 50 games long. The Spurs didn't go undefeated, but they weren't far off, going 37-13 (a 61-win pace) and winning the title. Had that been a full season, the Spurs would be sitting on 20 straight with 50-plus.

Extolling the Spurs has long been a pointless exercise. There's nothing new and, increasingly, nothing surprising about any of this. The Spurs are ridiculously good, seemingly always have been, and probably always will be. Simply put, they are the standard-bearers for excellence in the world of professional team sports.

As for the Kings, well, they are whatever the exact opposite of that is. They're about to miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season. Nothing about this is new or surprising for them, either. The game was simultaneously Peak Spurs and Peak Kings.

Every yin has a yang.

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This was the type of effort that Dwane Casey was looking for from Jonas Valanciunas.

The 7-foot Lithuanian played fourth-quarter minutes for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday as bettered DeMarcus Cousins to help his Toronto Raptors to a 94-87 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Valanciunas scored nine points in the fourth to finish with 25 total and 13 rebounds on a hyper-efficient 9-of-13 shooting. His production outweighed that of Cousins, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-23 shooting from the field.

"I’m ready every night. I’m waiting for that chance. Give me a chance and I’m going to fight hard," Valanciunas said after the game.

Pump-fake-jumper #wethenorth pic.twitter.com/hZuHrpBCh5

— Sam Holako (@rapsfan) March 9, 2017
Closing-time minutes have been hard to come by for Valanciunas in the wake of the Raptors' Serge Ibaka acquisition. The former No. 5 pick has still continued to start, but a string of lethargic play and Toronto's newfound chemistry with a small-ball lineup led Casey to close games exclusively with Ibaka at center.

Valanciunas' short leash is nothing new, but Casey's recent fourth-quarter decisions have been strictly sound; the five-man unit of Ibaka, P.J. Tucker, DeMarre Carroll, DeMar DeRozan, and Cory Joseph have finished games to great success, outscoring opponents by 21 points over their last 17 minutes.

Spacing the floor with four 3-point threats around DeRozan as the offensive focal point proved more valuable than Valanciunas' interior presence. More importantly, the ability to switch across every position stabilized a Toronto defense that's been otherwise shaky with the plodding Valanciunas on the floor.

However, Valanciunas was simply too good to ignore on Wednesday and he was the only Raptor who could match Cousins' strength. He carried the offense with 15 points in the first half as DeRozan struggled badly with his jumper. The 24-year-old feasted in the low post and mixed in a steady diet of putbacks and pick-and-pop jumpers to confound the Pelicans' interior defense. His decisive play and sturdy interior defense against Cousins convinced Casey to ride him in the fourth.

Valanciunas rewarded Casey's faith with some stellar play down the stretch. He anchored the Raptors' second unit to start the final quarter, translating post touches into layups and free throws before hitting the bench for a quick blow.

Upon his return in a two-point game, Valanciunas immediately secured a contested defensive rebound, and then pump faked a defender before drilling a 17-foot jumper to double the lead. The ensuing possession saw Valanciunas body up Cousins in the post, allowing Ibaka to record a weak-side block. He secured rebounds on the next two Raptors' stops before finishing a tough pick-and-roll layup off a feed from DeRozan before pushing the lead to 10 with a dunk.

Two-man game #wethenorth pic.twitter.com/zcMGxCSf9Z

— Sam Holako (@rapsfan) March 9, 2017
There's no guarantee that Casey will change his rotations based on just one game. But Valanciunas will leave his coach no choice if he continues to play with this type of energy.

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DeMarcus Cousins' temper and foul mouth continue to cost him a good chunk of change.

The New Orleans Pelicans big man has been fined $50,000 for "directing inappropriate language" toward fans on multiple occasions, the NBA announced Thursday.

The first incident occurred March 5 during a 105-97 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, with Boogie caught on camera cursing at a fan while walking to the bench.

pic.twitter.com/rwfKFx26bw

— OSN (@OprahSideNigga) March 6, 2017
The very next night after the Pelicans fell 88-83 at Vivint Smart Home Arena to the Utah Jazz, Cousins told a fan to "sit your fat ass down" after they called him "soft."

This isn't the first time this season that Cousins' bank account has been hit hard by league officials. The All-Star center has been fined for exceeding the limit for technical fouls, throwing his mouthpiece, and entering the stands, as well as going on a verbal tirade against a reporter while with the Sacramento Kings.

He's averaging 22.1 points, 13.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals on 42.9 percent shooting in his first seven games with the Pelicans, while maintaining his league lead in technical fouls with 20.

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Shaquille O'Neal promised that his days of taking shots at "Shaqtin' a Fool" regular JaVale McGee are over. But as far as Golden State Warriors teammate Kevin Durant - who publicly defended McGee by going after the Basketball Hall of Famer - goes, well ... he's still fair game in O'Neal's eyes.

Sticking up for McGee, Durant went after the TNT analyst by calling him "childish," saying he had "no skill" during his days on the hardwood, and that he was a "shitty free-throw shooter." This stemmed from a Twitter feud between McGee and O'Neal fueled by The Big Aristotle constantly poking fun at McGee for his numerous appearances on his ever-popular blooper reel.

O'Neal tweeted Durant after the original remarks were made, appreciating the fact that he had his teammate's back, but still asking him to butt out. Perhaps O'Neal would have been more receptive to the four-time scoring champion if he had a championship ring or two on his fingers.

"KD doesn't have G-14 classification," O'Neal told The Crossover's Ben Golliver hours before filming Thursday's edition of Inside the NBA. "He can’t talk to me like that. He may think he does, and he's sticking up for his teammate. He's a great player, but you ain't in the club yet. You're on the outside in line with (Charles) Barkley, (Karl) Malone, and (John) Stockton. You're not in the club with me and those (championship) guys. That's why I tweeted him, 'Mind ya business.'"

This isn't the first time a player has gone after someone on the TNT panel this season. LeBron James called Charles Barkley a "hater" after Barkley labeled him as being "whiny" for wanting the Cleveland Cavaliers to improve their roster.

O'Neal is willing to give a guy like James more leeway since he's proven himself numerous times in the NBA Finals. Durant, on the other hand, has yet to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy, and won't be afforded that same courtesy.

"LeBron has a lot of clearance because he’s won championships," O’Neal added. "But when a guy who hasn't won championships makes comments, you say, ‘How do you know?’ … (Durant) was just trying to stick up for his teammate. If you read into what he said, none of his sh-- made sense. Well, actually some of it made sense. He said I was strong and I bullied people. Of course, that's exactly what I did. I'm not going to go shoot jumpers and do all of that.

"Just put it this way: The league is soft and these guys are sensitive, period. I was sensitive (as a player) too but I never went back at (older players). Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain never said sh-- to (support) me. Did I cry about It? No. Kareem said in the paper one time, when they asked him, 'Shaq is doing great, he has numbers similar to yours, what do you think?' His response was, 'Well, he hasn't won a championship yet.' I could have gone back at him, but I didn't. I sucked it up like a real man and was like, 'OK, watch this.' A lot of guys, these days, when you say anything about them they start whimpering and crying."

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Watch out, Oscar.

Russell Westbrook scored 23 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, and dished out 13 assists in a 102-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs to match Wilt Chamberlain for the second-most triple-doubles in one season with 31.

Oscar Robertson - the only player ever to average a triple-double - is the last one left standing in Westbrook's way. Robertson notched 41 during his historic 1961-62 campaign that saw him average 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.

For the moment, Westbrook's line stands at 32.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Most Triple-Doubles in Single Season
1961-62 Oscar Robertson 41
2016-17 Russell Westbrook 31
1967-68 Wilt Chamberlain 31

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 10, 2017
As always, OKC needed the 28-year-old at his best to earn the victory. Thursday's win over the Spurs bumps its record to 25-6 when Westbrook records a triple-double, as compared to 13-23 when he doesn't.

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Chalk up another triple-double for the Oklahoma City Thunder's All-Star point guard.

Russell Westbrook grabbed his 10th rebound at the 8:50 mark of the third quarter Saturday afternoon when his Thunder hosted the visiting Utah Jazz at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

That gave him a line of 13 points, 10 boards, and 12 assists at the time, as well as his 32nd triple-double of the 2016-17 regular season. This moved him past the legendary Wilt "The Stilt" Chamberlain for the second-most triple-doubles in a single campaign.

He recorded the triple-double in 27:04 of game time, making it the fourth-fastest one he's notched this season.

Westbrook now needs nine more triple-doubles over the final 16 games to tie Oscar Robertson's record of 41 set back in 1961-62. Robertson averaged 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists that year.

Entering Saturday's matchup with Utah, Westbrook was averaging 31.9 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists in 34.8 minutes for the 36-29 Thunder.

He finished with 33 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds, two steals, and a pair of blocks to lead his team to a 112-104 victory over the Jazz.

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The reigning NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to a contract with center Larry Sanders, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

The deal will likely include an option for the 2017-18 campaign.

Sanders is reportedly in Cleveland with his agent, with a physical exam set for Monday morning.

He will fill the void created by Andrew Bogut, who will reportedly be waived after suffering a broken leg within the first minute of his debut with Cleveland on March 6 against the Miami Heat.

The plan is for Sanders to spend most of the remainder of the regular season down in the D-League with the Canton Charge, according to NBA.com's David Aldridge.

Last taking the floor for the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 23, 2014, Sanders had heavily teased his return to basketball over the past several months on social media, going as far as tweeting out that he'll need his "goggles back."

Several violations of the Association's drug policy, as well as bouts with depression and anxiety which led to checking himself into a hospital, ultimately forced Sanders from the league.

In 233 appearances for the Bucks, Sanders averaged 6.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.8 rejections on 50 percent shooting from the field.

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The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially waived Andrew Bogut after signing center Larry Sanders to a contract on Monday, the team announced.

Bogut played just a single minute for the Cavaliers, fracturing his leg during his debut with the team. The 7-foot Australian was brought in to help strengthen the team's frontcourt, but was seen as expendable after Cleveland ruled him out for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.

Related: Joining Cavaliers provides Sanders a chance at redemption, championship

Sanders hasn't appeared in an NBA game since 2015, when he averaged 7.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and one steal for the Milwaukee Bucks. While he could turn into a valuable contributor for the Cavaliers, reports have indicated that the 28-year-old will spend most of his time in the D-League.

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Larry Sanders is still only 28 and can have a long and productive career if his head is in the right place. He was a first round pick in 2010 by the Bucks and blew up in 2012-13 when he averaged just under 10 PPG, 10 RBG, and 3 BPG. It earned him a four year $44,000,000 contract extension, but problems off the court immediately started brewing. There were suspensions for marijuana use and a fight in a club. The Bucks bought out his deal and released him. Sanders then checked into a mental hospital to deal with problems stemming from depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, stating then that he had no intention of returning to the NBA at any time in the then foreseeable future. He went from being on the brink of All Star status to out of the league. If he can reestablish his form at his Bucks peak, he stands to make quite a bit of money.

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Two games is all San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge had to miss after being ruled out indefinitely with a minor heart arrhythmia.

The five-time NBA All-Star has been cleared to play, and will be available for Wednesday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the AT&T Center, the team announced.

"We are thankful that LaMarcus will be able to rejoin the team," general manager RC Buford said in an official statement. "All of us have been impressed with the professionalism and grace he has shown in dealing with this difficult situation."

Aldridge underwent a series of tests, as well as consultations with several medical experts, before receiving clearance to resume all basketball-related activity.

San Antonio went 2-0 without its second-leading scorer, picking up victories against the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks. The team is currently half a game behind the Warriors for the top seed in the Western Conference at 52-14, but now holds the tiebreaker following its win on Saturday.

In 58 appearances in his first year with the franchise, Aldridge is averaging 17.3 points and 7.5 rebounds on 47.4 percent shooting from the field.

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Months before the start of the 2016-17 regular season, Derrick Rose couldn't have been more optimistic about how his first year in the Big Apple would go, with the former MVP even going as far as saying the New York Knicks would be a "super team."

Fast forward to today, and the Knicks find themselves on the outside looking in with a 27-41 record - six games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They're not mathematically eliminated, but with just 14 games to go, the chances of New York qualifying are bleak.

Suffice it to say, how Rose envisioned the season playing out and how it's actually gone are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

"I didn't care about my stats," Rose said Tuesday, according to Newsday's Al Iannazzone. "It was the fact I was coming to a new team, having a huge opportunity in front of me to come here and try to spark something. It's messed up that it's gone the way that it's gone."

Head coach Jeff Hornacek - who the players have reportedly "tuned out" - understands his Knicks are, in all likelihood, not going to end their playoff drought this season. Rose, on the other hand, isn't ready to throw in the towel.


"I still haven't - until I know the season's over," said Rose. "It's kind of hard setting goals or having goals early on in the year and things don't work out the way you want them to work out or plans don't go exactly how you want them to go."

The Knicks were right in the thick of things prior to hosting the Boston Celtics on Christmas Day, possessing the 12th-best record in the Association at 16-13. Since then, they've gone 11-28, with only three other teams (the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, and Brooklyn Nets) having worse records in that span.

Rose - who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer - finished with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting in a low-scoring 87-81 Knicks victory over the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, ending the team's three-game losing skid.

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The Los Angeles Lakers' two major free-agent acquisitions from last summer reportedly won't see the floor for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.

Along with center Timofey Mozgov, the team has decided to shut down veteran forward Luol Deng and give his playing time to its younger players, sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

The 31-year-old was reportedly comfortable with the decision after meeting with head coach Luke Walton over the past several weeks.

The Lakers have apparently left the door open to reconsider the move over the final 15 games, but the plan is for Deng and Mozgov to no longer play.

Deng inked a four-year, $72-million contract with the organization after spending the prior two seasons in South Beach with the Miami Heat. He last suited up for the Lakers on Feb. 26 in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, playing 12 minutes and failing to register a point coming off the bench.

Starting 49 of 56 games this season, he has averaged a career-low 7.6 points on 38.6 percent shooting, along with 5.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 0.9 steals, in 26.5 minutes.

Los Angeles sits dead last in the Western Conference with a 20-47 record, winning just one game in its last 11 outings. The team owes its 2017 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, which is top-three protected.

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LeBron James has broken yet another Cleveland Cavaliers record.

The superstar notched his 10th triple-double of the 2016-17 season, which is the most ever by a Cav in a campaign.

LeBron James triple-double alert! James is the 1st @cavs player with 10+ triple-doubles in a season in franchise history, via @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/ITqLZlwwFM

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 15, 2017
James finished with 16 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds in Tuesday's 128-96 win over the Detroit Pistons. It's his fifth triple-double in the last nine games.

His previous high in a season was seven, set in both 2007-08 and 2008-09. The 32-year-old's third in the league in the category this year, trailing fellow MVP candidates Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

In his second stint with his hometown Cavaliers, James owns numerous club records, including most points, minutes, free throws, steals, win shares, usage percentage, and VORP.

The veteran forward's having his best year to date as a playmaker for the first-place squad, averaging a career-best 8.9 dimes in his 14th season.

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Russell Westbrook is giving everyone something to cheer about - even fans of opposing teams.

The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar lit up the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday to notch his 33rd triple-double of the season - and his second against the Nets. As Westbrook grabbed his 10th board in the fourth quarter - completing the feat in the process - he received an ovation from the Barclays Center crowd.

33rd triple-double for Russ (25 PTS, 19 ASTS, 12 REBS).@okcthunder improve to 27-6 when Westbrook records a triple-double. #ThunderUp pic.twitter.com/z2nbSRctt2

— NBA (@NBA) March 15, 2017
In fairness to Brooklyn's faithful, their club has given them little to celebrate this season; at 12-54, the Nets are by far the worst club in the NBA. They won't benefit from losing, either, as the Boston Celtics own their lottery pick in the upcoming draft.

Westbrook finished with 25 points, 19 assists, and 12 rebounds in OKC's 122-104 win. Now 80 percent through the regular season, the MVP contender is still averaging a triple-double.

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Stop if you've heard this one before, but Rajon Rondo is not jelling with his current team.

His first season with the Chicago Bulls hasn't been what he hoped for, and Rondo doesn't anticipate sticking around. So, while the campaign is still in progress, the veteran point guard is already thinking about his next opportunity.

"I'm looking for a straightforward coach," Rondo told the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn following Sunday's loss to the Celtics. "That's what I'm looking forward to the most, sitting down with a coach. I want to develop a relationship and see what his goals are."

The 31-year-old Rondo, who signed with the Bulls last summer, doesn't see them picking up the option on his deal for 2017-18, so he's bracing to hit free agency for the third straight year. Having been on both good and bad teams (and butting heads with multiple coaches and players), the guard yearns for a better situation as his 11th campaign winds down.

"My perspective on things (has changed), I would love to be part of a winning tradition or winning culture," said Rondo, who captured a championship in 2008 with Boston. "I thought I was going to get that here. The people up top are going in a different direction as far as experimenting. It (stinks) when you have the opportunity to make the playoffs and they want to go a different route."

The Bulls tried to go into win-now mode over the offseason when they added Rondo and Dwyane Wade. Ahead of the trade deadline, though, they moved Doug McDermott and a proven vet in Taj Gibson for a package highlighted by Cameron Payne, who they hope will become their point guard of the future.

Despite the roster shakeup, Chicago remains just a half-game back of the eighth seed. The club could very well make a playoff push, but coach Fred Hoiberg appears to be jeopardizing that with seemingly never-ending lineup experiments that favor inexperienced players.

Rondo, who's been coming off the bench for the first time in his career, has publicly criticized the situation, the coach, and the team's leaders, while mentoring and going to bat for the young bucks.

Related: Mirotic praises Rondo as positive influence for young Bulls

The former All-Star's averaging just 7.1 points, 6.4 assists, and 4.9 rebounds in 26 minutes, while costing the Bulls $14 million.

As frustrating as the year's been, though, Rondo found a silver lining: his lack of floor time allows him to rest, so he feels good and has a better chance of staying healthy for the next organization that dares to take a flyer on him.

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The list of candidates who could realistically walk away with NBA MVP honors is the deepest it's been in years. So much so that Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star Russell Westbrook could become just the second player ever to average a triple-double, and still not take home the honors for his efforts.

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks worked with Westbrook manning the sidelines for eight seasons in Oklahoma City, and knows firsthand how talented he is, and the type of competitor he is.

Westbrook's incredible production, paired with a respectable final record for the Thunder, has Brooks feeling his former point guard has as strong a case as anyone to hoist the Maurice Podoloff trophy.

"You have to weigh (the overall record) a little bit into it, but it’s not like (the Thunder aren't) making the playoffs, like they’re not having a successful season," Brooks told USA Today's Sam Amick last week. "I mean they’ve got a lot of talent, and they’re going to win, probably, 50-something games (they’re on pace to win 46). And Russell is a big part of that. Fortunately for me, I got to see behind the scenes who Russell is, and if he doesn’t win it, he definitely has an MVP character, and like I said, it’s hard to argue a triple-double. That doesn’t happen often. (Averaging a triple-double), to me that qualifies to be an MVP. It’s hard to say no.

"What he’s doing, I’m in awe, like a lot of players and coaches and fans. He’s the only guy I’ve been around that can play back to back in the same game, and still have numbers in that same game, and energy in the tank. He has a motor like - I mean he’s phenomenal."

Oscar Robertson also averaged a triple-double, in 1961-62, as a member of the Cincinnati Royals, but he didn't win MVP, as that honor went to legendary Boston Celtics center Bill Russell.

Westbrook has 33 triple-doubles, and needs eight more over the Thunder's remaining 15 games to tie Robertson's single-season record of 41.

In 67 appearances, the 28-year-old is averaging 31.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 10.3 assists for the 38-29 Thunder.

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Dwyane Wade's first season with his hometown Chicago Bulls has come to a crashing halt.

The 35-year-old veteran will miss the remainder of the regular season after being diagnosed with a sprain and small fracture in his right elbow, the team announced Thursday.

He underwent an MRI following Wednesday's 98-91 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at the United Center, which revealed the extent of the damage.

The injury occurred when Wade went up for a rebound minutes into the fourth quarter, with his elbow making hard contact with Grizzlies big man Zach Randolph.

Wade mentioned afterward that he discussed the injury with teammate Jimmy Butler - who had dealt with a similar injury in the past - and wasn't overly optimistic after hearing what he had to say.

He told reporters Thursday that if he's cleared, he will will return for the postseason should the Bulls qualify, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell. Wade went on to add that he won't need surgery, as rehab and wearing a cast will be enough.

In 57 appearances, the 12-time NBA All-Star averaged 18.6 points on 43.4 percent shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.5 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. The Bulls actually scored 1.5 more points per 100 possessions and allowed 1.7 fewer points per 100 possessions on defense when Wade wasn't on the floor.

Chicago is four games under .500 with a 32-36 record, yet just one game out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Wade also has a player option for 2017-18 that would pay him $23.8 million.

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Instead of a second 10-day contract, guard Jordan Crawford will be sticking around with the New Orleans Pelicans on a new two-year contract, according to The Vertical's Shams Charania.

Crawford originally signed his first 10-day deal in the Big Easy on March 6 to aid a Pelicans roster heavily ravaged by injuries.

This followed a stint down in the Developmental League with the Grand Rapids Drive, where he averaged 23.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in 37 appearances.

Since joining the Pelicans, Crawford has been the third-leading scorer behind "Fire and Ice" combo Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, averaging 14.2 points and shooting 51.9 percent from 3-point range.

New Orleans sits 13th in the Western Conference with a 27-41 record, and is 5.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

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Eric Bledsoe's season appears to have come to a premature end, as the Phoenix Suns have reportedly shut the guard down, according to AZCentral.com.

Bledsoe entered Wednesday's game against the Kings having started all 66 games he had suited up for this year, was originally set to come off the bench behind rookie Tyler Ulis, but was eventually deemed a late scratch, as Phoenix went on to a 107-101 defeat at the hands of Sacramento.

Suns head coach Earl Watson told reporters that sitting Bledsoe against the Kings was a "management decision," before speaking about Bledsoe's season in past tense.

"Bled’s been great, he had a great season, he played at a high level," Watson said. "He’s been dominant all year. He’s taken a big leap in the right direction. There’s a lot of room for him to grow and he’s excited about that."

Bledsoe, who admitted to let knee pain recently, averaged a career-high 21.1 points and 6.3 assists to go along with 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 33 minutes per game. The 27-year-old, who underwent a season-ending, left meniscus surgery in Dec. 2015, has two years and $29.5 million remaining on his contract after this season.

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The New Orleans Pelicans looked primed to make a push for a Western Conference playoff spot after pulling off a blockbuster trade for DeMarcus Cousins in the waning moments of All-Star Weekend.

The Pelicans had gotten one of the game's best bigs, a consensus top-15 player, for the price of an underwhelming prospect, a couple expiring contracts, and a top-three protected first-round pick. But since Cousins' arrival, the team's been a bit of a mess. Their lack of depth has been exposed, Cousins and Anthony Davis haven't jelled, and the team has struggled mightily to generate points (they rank 29th in offensive efficiency since the break).

The Pelicans' playoff hopes are now effectively extinguished, but that doesn't mean they have nothing to play for in their final 14 games. Head coach Alvin Gentry's ability to show "significant progress with this roster as it stands" will likely determine whether or not he joins the unemployment line in the spring, a source told Sean Deveney of Sporting News.

General manager Dell Demps' job may also be in jeopardy, but his seat reportedly isn't as warm as Gentry's.

"There's some feeling in the front office the record being what it is, the writing is on the wall," the source told Deveney. "Might as well make a change in April and start searching. But is that really fair? Can't you give Dell an offseason to get some shooters, give Alvin some time to remake the offense? They've at least got to give this playoff spot a run and that might buy more time. That's sort of where it stands."

Cousins can also become a free agent after the 2017-18 season, and these remaining 14 games may determine his and the Pelicans' interest in pursuing an extension this offseason.

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The Sacramento Kings' future may not be so bleak after all.

By dropping a career-high 32 points on Wednesday, Skal Labissiere became the first player from the 2016 Draft to score 30 points in a single game. Rookies Joel Embiid and Yogi Ferrell have both dropped 30 points this season, but neither player was chosen last June.

Skal's in his lab. pic.twitter.com/VZfujrCbF7

— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) March 16, 2017
Chosen with 28th overall pick, Labissiere failed to make much of an impact over the first few months of his career, but has seen a significant spike in his minutes following the trade of DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans.

The 20-year-old rookie has quickly become one of the team's most efficient players, averaging 18.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per 36 minutes.

- With h/t to Reddit

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He hasn't garnered the attention he deserves, but Nikola Jokic is quietly putting together one of the best seasons of any big man this year.

With his fifth triple-double of the season, Jokic became the first center since David Robinson in 1993-94 to record five triple-doubles in a season. In addition, Jokic matched The Admiral for most triple-doubles in a season by a center in the last 34 years.

The Nuggets big man was sensational in Denver's win over the Los Angeles Clippers, finishing with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists in the 129-114 victory Thursday.

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Dwane Casey has had enough of his team's lackluster effort.

The Raptors bench boss apologized to his team's supporters after the Thunder blew out Toronto 123-102 on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre.

"That exhibition of basketball was unacceptable. I want to apologize to our fans, everybody, for the way we played tonight," Casey told reporters.

Toronto trailed by 27 points at the end of the third quarter.

Casey wasn't the only one frustrated by the team's performance - the Raptors held a players-only meeting shortly after Thursday's home defeat.

"A lot of people talked a lot. It was a good conversation but enough talking," Raptors forward P.J. Tucker said, according to TSN's Josh Lewenberg. "We've got 14 games left, it's time to put it into action."

Tucker added, "They wanted this game, we didn't, period. There's no two ways around that. They wanted it more than us and they took it."

The Raptors have been relatively mediocre following a hot start to the season, going just 11-16 since Jan. 15.

They'll look to bounce back Friday night against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

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Russell Westbrook continues to inch closer to Oscar Robertson's 55-year-old feat.

With his 34th triple-double of the season in Thursday's victory over the Toronto Raptors, the Thunder guard now sits just seven triple-doubles away from tying Robertson's single-season record of 41.

The 28-year-old dominated Toronto in just 27 minutes of action, collecting 24 points, 16 assists, and 10 rebounds in the 123-102 victory.

Despite not playing a single minute in the fourth quarter, Westbrook recorded more assists than the entire Raptors team, and threw what could go down as the assist of the year.

Thread, meet needle 😮 pic.twitter.com/0HztxBcjiH

— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) March 17, 2017
Westbrook has now recorded a triple-double in four straight contests, playing a key part in Oklahoma City's current four-game winning streak.

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Though head coach Jeff Hornacek feels it could be a draw for free agents in the offseason, the incumbent New York Knicks don't seem too fond of the triangle offense. Even opposing teams are apparently expressing their skepticism about the system's viability.

The triangle offense, though, isn't going anywhere as long as Phil Jackson is in charge of the Knicks' basketball operations department, and unless either he or team owner James Dolan exercise their mutual opt-out clause after this season, Jackson will likely remain at the controls until his lucrative contract expires in 2019.

The Knicks have compiled a 76-157 record since Jackson took over and installed the triangle, and are about to fall well short of the playoffs for the third year of his three-year tenure. So despite the fact that Dolan has said he won't exercise his end of the opt-out, some people around him have pushed him in recent months to move on from Jackson, sources told ESPN's Ian Begley.

Those close to Jackson, meanwhile, feel the Zen Master just needs a bit more time to get the organization back on the right track, according to Begley.

We'll find out this summer whether Dolan's patience extends that far.

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A front-office shakeup could reportedly be in store for a pair of teams on opposite coasts.

After a year of mystifying moves that has the team headed for a fifth straight lottery appearance, with fewer assets than they had 12 months ago, Orlando Magic general manager Rob Hennigan is "increasingly likely to be dismissed at season's end," sources have told ESPN's Marc Stein.

Meanwhile, there's been "persistent chatter" around the league about the Magic's desire to bring Los Angeles Clippers president and head coach Doc Rivers back into the organization at some point "down the road," Stein reports.

It would take a lot for the Magic to pry Rivers from his current situation in Los Angeles, where he has autonomy over personnel decisions, a massively superior team to coach, and a mammoth contract that runs through the 2018-19 season. But the Clippers could be headed toward a summer of seismic change, given that they'll once again be hard-pressed to advance past the second round of the playoffs, and that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will both be unrestricted free agents at season's end.

It's unclear whether a reunion with the Magic - who Rivers coached from 1999 to 2003, winning Coach of the Year in his first season on the sideline - would involve supplanting both Hennigan and head coach Frank Vogel, or whether the team would simply want him to take over their basketball operations department. There's no indication that Vogel's job is in jeopardy, and the Magic also have Detroit Pistons associate GM Pat Garrity on their radar, according to Stein.

Rivers has compiled a 206-109 record as the Clippers' president and coach, but despite the team's ultra-promising core, has so far failed to guide them to the first conference finals berth in franchise history.

The past year of Hennigan's ignominious tenure has seen him try to short-circuit Orlando's rebuilding process, effectively turning Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis into Terrence Ross and a late first-round draft pick, while overpaying Bismack Biyombo and Jeff Green to overstuff the team's frontcourt. The Magic could use some new leadership.

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Doc Rivers isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

The Clippers head coach and president put an end to the recent rumors suggesting that he'd entertain a return to Orlando, saying that he has every intention of staying in Los Angeles.

"I have a past with the Orlando Magic, but I have no future with them. My future is here," Rivers told ESPN's Jovan Buha .

It was reported earlier on Saturday that there's been "persistent chatter" that Rivers and the Magic would explore a reunion with Orlando destined for a fifth straight lottery finish.

Rivers began his coaching career with the Magic, earning Coach of the Year honors during the 1999-2000 season. Rivers led the team to a 171-168 record over four-plus seasons before getting fired in 2003 following a 1-10 start.

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Charles Barkley has a theory about the real reason why teams hold out their stars to rest, and offered a solution.

The former NBA star believes money is the driving factor for the rise of "DNP-rest," as players are making more money than ever before, so they take nights off in an effort to extend their careers and maximize their earning power. In doing so, though, they bite the hand that feeds them.

"I've been in the NBA for 30 years, and all of a sudden now, with better shoes, private jets, all this stuff they got, now all of a sudden they're worried about getting hurt," Barkley said Monday on the "Rich Eisen Show."

"I think it's the joke, especially when you're screwing your TV partners. Just for the record, we're the reason they make $10, 20, 30 million. TV. No disrespect to the fans, but the reason players make $10, 20, 30 million is because of the TV partners."


The salary cap ballooned last summer to reflect the league's new TV deal worth $24 billion over nine years. Though he's generally outspoken, Barkley may be more heated about this particular topic because he's a TNT analyst and star shortages in marquee matchups diminish the product he and his employer put out. He contends that money's the root of the problem, and it can also be part of the solution.

"I think fans need to boycott games and boycott television to send these guys a message, because people always understand money," he said, specifying that fans shouldn't attend nor watch NBA games for a week.

The 54-year-old criticized the "idiots on television" who cite research in support of resting players, usually for half of a back-to-back set, as a means to keep them injury-free and fresh for the playoffs. Barkley said players, including himself, always needed rest, but didn't because it was their job to "dribble a basketball." He listed some examples of greats who excelled without taking games off.

"Bill Russell played in Converses," he said. "He had a long career. Tim Duncan, the greatest power forward ever, played 20 years basically, and he went to college for four years. You look at Michael (Jordan) who went to college for three years, he never got hurt."


Barkley himself dominated over his 16-year Hall of Fame career, but only suited up for a full campaign in his rookie year. He missed time due to a variety of injuries, but at least he didn't sit out games if he was fit to play.

"I'm so old I flew coach and played back-to-back games. These guys are flying private, getting a great night's sleep, getting a great meal, and they're making $20-30 million and they can't play a couple of basketball games? This is ridiculous, man," he said.

Last edited on Wed Mar 22nd, 2017 02:05 am by lobo316

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The pioneer of "DNP-rest" will continue to sit his stars as he sees fit.

Despite a memo from the league telling team owners to be more active in managing rosters - specifically when it comes to keeping big names out of marquee matchups - Gregg Popovich said that'll remain his responsibility.

"I will continue to make those decisions," the San Antonio Spurs coach said Tuesday, as quoted by San Antonio Express-News' Tom Osborn.

The comment comes shortly after NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo imploring owners to become more involved in calling shots about healthy scratches - namely, cracking down on them because they're detrimental to the game and how fans and business partners perceive it.

Popovich understands where the commissioner and fans are coming from, expressing "total sympathy" with people who pay to see certain players only to find out they're taking the night off. That said, the 68-year-old suggested he and his fellow coaches deserve a bit more credit.

"I think just because we are coaches and GMs doesn't mean we don't understand or know what is going on with the business side. We are a little bit more sophisticated than that," Popovich said, adding that resting players is better in the long run.

"But, at the same time, the league has to understand that the science of what we do is a whole lot more sophisticated than it used to be, and we have definitely added years to people. So, it's a tradeoff: Do you want to see this guy in this one game or do you want to see them for three more years of his career? And do you want to see him through the playoffs because he didn't get hurt?"

Sounds like Popovich is more concerned about the well-being of his players and keeping them fresh for the postseason - when he'll try to capture his sixth championship - than he is about Silver's threat of "significant penalties." The three-time COY was fined $250,000 for resting his Big Three, plus Danny Green, in 2012.

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The pioneer of "DNP-rest" will continue to sit his stars as he sees fit.

Despite a memo from the league telling team owners to be more active in managing rosters - specifically when it comes to keeping big names out of marquee matchups - Gregg Popovich said that'll remain his responsibility.

"I will continue to make those decisions," the San Antonio Spurs coach said Tuesday, as quoted by San Antonio Express-News' Tom Osborn.

The comment comes shortly after NBA commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo imploring owners to become more involved in calling shots about healthy scratches - namely, cracking down on them because they're detrimental to the game and how fans and business partners perceive it.

Popovich understands where the commissioner and fans are coming from, expressing "total sympathy" with people who pay to see certain players only to find out they're taking the night off. That said, the 68-year-old suggested he and his fellow coaches deserve a bit more credit.

"I think just because we are coaches and GMs doesn't mean we don't understand or know what is going on with the business side. We are a little bit more sophisticated than that," Popovich said, adding that resting players is better in the long run.

"But, at the same time, the league has to understand that the science of what we do is a whole lot more sophisticated than it used to be, and we have definitely added years to people. So, it's a tradeoff: Do you want to see this guy in this one game or do you want to see them for three more years of his career? And do you want to see him through the playoffs because he didn't get hurt?"

Sounds like Popovich is more concerned about the well-being of his players and keeping them fresh for the postseason - when he'll try to capture his sixth championship - than he is about Silver's threat of "significant penalties." The three-time COY was fined $250,000 for resting his Big Three, plus Danny Green, in 2012.

lobo316
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LeBron James says there's a double standard when it comes to teams resting players.