Trade deadline: Rockets flip Tracy McGrady for Kevin Martin

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Thumbnail image for nba_martin1_250.jpgAfter flirting with the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has finally capitalized on the expiring contract of Tracy McGrady. The deal is hardly concrete, but an agreement has been made in principle between the Kings and the Rockets according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, though the Knicks could still become a part of the deal as well (something that seems more and more likely as the night wears on). As it stands however, the Rockets will send McGrady, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, and cash considerations to Sacramento for Kevin Martin, Kenny Thomas (woof), Sergio Rodriguez, and Hilton Armstrong.

Even though seven-time All-Star and former scoring champ Tracy McGrady is the biggest name of the bunch, he hardly has the biggest game; Kevin Martin is capable of being one of the league’s most efficient scorers, as his ability to hit shots and draw fouls make him valuable to any offense. He should fit in beautifully with a Rockets team that relies too heavily on Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza for shot creation, though the defensively-challenged Martin is a bit atypical on a roster of hard-working defenders.

But Houston will certainly miss Carl Landry’s top-notch production from inside, and Sacramento will be reaping all the benefits. Having a big man rotation of Landry, Jason Thompson, and Spencer Hawes gives the Kings a young, versatile bunch to build around, and each brings something unique to the table.  Sacramento also clears out a significant long-term contract by trading away Martin, which opens the window for the Kings to be a major player in this summer’s free agent market. The Kings’ final salary commitments depend on which pieces go where in this deal (and New York’s possible involvement could swing things by a few million either way), but as it stands, Sacramento will have plenty of financial flexibility going forward.

For a couple grand, Warriors fans can have Larry O’Brien Trophy visit their suite

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There’s so much money floating around the Bay Area right now thanks to another tech boom, this price almost seems low.

If you have a suite for the Golden State Warriors home games this season — and those are pretty much sold out, the Warriors draw big from the Silicon Valley crowd — you can have the NBA championship Larry O’Brien Trophy visit your suite. All for just a couple grand. From Gilbert Lee, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

The best part is it includes champagne… do you get to spray each other with it as you hold up the trophy? Now that would be perfect (goggles included, of course).

Have an issue with this? Why? To the victor goes the spoils. The Warriors may be able to sell this package for years.

Sixers new “Spirit of 76” court is fire

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First, the Sixers nailed the Nike “statement” jersey.

Now, they have announced a new “Spirit of 76” promotion, with seven tribute nights this season honoring the history of the franchise and of the Philadelphia area (and there is plenty of history to honor).

The best part — the “Spirit of 76” court with the bell logo.

Here is the promo vid

I just hope the Sixers team can live up to all the hype.

Wizards’ Markieff Morris to have sports hernia surgery, miss start of camp

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When the Washington Wizards open training camp next Tuesday, starting forward Markieff Morris will not be on the court.

That’s because he will have surgery to repair a sports hernia, a story broken by Candice Buckner of the Washington Post and since confirmed by Chase Hughes at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

While we don’t have details on the surgery, often recovery time for this is just a few weeks, and Morris could well be ready for the start of the season.

Morris averaged 14 points and 6.5 rebounds a game last season, and the Wizards offense was 5.7 points per 100 possessions better when he was on the court last season. With him out, coach Scott Brooks can lean on Jason Smith or Mike Scott for traditional lineups, but don’t be shocked if he tries a little small ball with Otto Porter and/or Kelly Oubre at the three or four.

Morris also is in the midst of a felony assault trial in Arizona (one where he does not need to attend).

Sixers enter camp with Joel Embiid not cleared for 5-on-5, Jahlil Okafor on trade block

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This is the season the 76ers make the leap from team with potential to playoff team fast on the rise.

Maybe.

That’s the plan in Philly, but there are a lot of questions for this team to answer. While a couple of these issues are answered already — Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz are cleared to play and practice with teammates — a couple big ones still hang around. At the top of the list is “how healthy is Joel Embiid?” Coach Brett Brown doesn’t even have that answer yet, reports Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

It’s this simple: The Sixers outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions when Embiid was on the court last season, he was a dominant force defensively who scored 20.2 points a game. When he was off the court the Sixers were 11.5 points per 100 possessions worse. They need him to play and play consistently if the Sixers have playoff dreams. It’s unclear when Embiid will return, but know that the Sixers will be cautious with his minutes again when he does get cleared (he has played just 31 games in three seasons).

Does that mean more Jahlil Okafor? Maybe not, the Sixers are still willing to trade him.

The Sixers have shopped Okafor for most of a year and found no deal they like. Okafor battled knee issues last season and, after a summer working to get healthy, other teams will want to see him play a little before talking trade. If he comes to camp slimmed down and his knee looks right, it could revive trade talks. Using a back-to-the-basket game, he averaged 11.8 points a night shooting 51 percent last season, he’s efficient, and some teams could use what he does (off the bench).

It’s going to be an interesting season in Philly. Are they playoff bound?