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.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

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Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.

Report: Eric Bledsoe requested trade from Suns before season

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Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:

In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.

Another Hornets backup PG injured

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Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williamsout.

Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.

Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee.  Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.

The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.

Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.

Report: Suns also fire three assistant coaches

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The Suns fired Earl Watson just three games into the season – the second-earliest firing in NBA history.

They didn’t stop there.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Firing assistant coaches during the season has become Phoenix’s m.o. I’m just not sure what it accomplishes.

Were Watson, Nate Bjorkgren, Mehmet Okur and Jason Fraser all so bad at their jobs? If so, why did the Suns figure that out simultaneously?

Were the firings designed to shake up a losing team? If so, wouldn’t ousting Watson have been enough?

Will Phoenix replace those assistants? If not, will the team have the resources to properly train its players?

The Suns are filled with young players who need coaching, particularly skill development. This move looks like it will put them further behind.