Knicks, Rockets talking McGrady. Again.

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Update 6: 23 pm These talks are now getting serious, with the Knicks now willing to throw rookie lottery pick Jordan Hill into the mix if the Rockets will take on Jared Jeffries (owed $6.9 million next year) as part of the deal. Also, the Rockets would get either Al Harrington or Larry Hughes in the deal. Besides McGrady, the Knicks would get Joey Dorsey and Brian Cook. Jeffries told the New York Post he has been told nothing so far.

If the trade goes down in that framework, the Knicks would have in the range of $31 million to spend this summer — just about $2 million short of enough to sign two max free agents. Who would be left to play around those free agents remains to be seen.

This deal may not go down today, but it seems to be picking up steam and may well become a reality before the deadline.

8:51 am It is not the prettiest of dances — two team trying to move a lot of salary and a big name player while both protecting their cap space — but they are dancing again.

mcGrady.jpgThey are the New York Knicks and the Houston Rockets. According to Howard Beck in the New York Times, Knicks President Donnie Walsh and Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, spent Sunday talking about a Tracy McGrady deal. McGrady’s agent, Arn Tellem, was also in the room and we can assume not just to deliver sandwiches.

The Knicks and the Rockets are trying to make the trade without the assistance of a third team, but the Knicks may not have the pieces necessary. There is also the challenge of matching McGrady’s $23 million salary.

Any deal for McGrady would involve some combination of Knicks with expiring contracts — Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Darko Milicic or the retired Cuttino Mobley — and a young player, possibly Jordan Hill, the Knicks’ 2009 lottery pick.

There’s not a lot of point in just trading expiring deals for expiring deals, so the Knicks want to throw in Eddy Curry, but it turns out Morey is not an idiot. What Morey wants is good young players, but the rebuilding Knicks are in no position to give up young talent for a deal like this. Still, Walsh and company would like to see if McGrady has anything left in the tank (he could be resigned at a more reasonable prices after the season when his deal expires if he does).

So, now they are talking about bringing in a third team. That, folks, is almost always the sign this deal is about to die.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.

PBT Podcast: NBA All-Star Weekend talk, predictions with Sean Highkin

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NBA All-Star weekend descends upon frigid Toronto starting Friday, with everything from the Rookie/Sophomore… er, Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, the Dunk Contest/Three-Point Contest on Saturday, and the main event on Sunday.

Kurt Helin and Sean Highkin of NBC’s ProBasketballTalk break it all down, from Pau Gasol replacing Jimmy Butler to predictions on the Dunk Contest and if anyone can knock off Zach LaVine. Plus, there is plenty of “why Sting?” talk.

PBT will be in Toronto with reports from the event all weekend, so come back early and often for all the latest (plus trade talk, as all the GMs get together in one city where it’s too cold for them to go outside).

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Pistons retire Chauncey Billups’ jersey at halftime (VIDEO)

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Moments before his jersey went up to the rafters, Chauncey Billups spoke to the crowd about the night the Detroit Pistons wrapped up the 2004 NBA title by routing the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Finals.

“We had one motivation,” he said. “We wanted to win it here at home.”

Billups was the most valuable player in the Finals that year, and he had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Pistons on Wednesday night at halftime of their game against Denver.

He was the second player from that 2004 team honored by the Pistons this year. The Pistons retired Ben Wallace’s jersey last month at a similar ceremony – in front of a packed house on a night Detroit beat Golden State.

There were some empty seats in the upper level Wednesday, but Billups wanted to be honored while the Pistons were playing the Nuggets. Billups is a Denver native and played for the Nuggets for two stints during his career.

“This was by design, only because there’s a lot of people that contributed to my success as a player and as a man, in Denver, my hometown,” Billups said before the game. “There were several dates that I could have chosen. This one obviously stuck out.”

Billups does have a mild regret about his run of success with the Pistons. He figures they could have won more titles.

“I felt like, two and maybe three championships – we were that good,” he said.

Ben Wallace was on hand Wednesday, and so were Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince from the 2004 champions. Pistons great Isiah Thomas was also at the Palace for the ceremony.

“This is what tradition looks like,” Thomas told the crowd. “This is what it feels like.”