Howard moves one step closer to suspension

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Last night, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul with the Magic nursing a two-point lead in overtime against the Heat. Not good.

Orlando lived, because the Magic are a better team with better chemistry and more depth. That one point the Heat gained off of the technical free throw bore only fleeting significance, as late game surges by Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis put Orlando over the top and kept them there.

Last night, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul with the Magic nursing a two-point lead in overtime against the Heat. Not good.

Orlando lived, but in this case the Magic’s short-term success in spite of Dwight’s tech may be offset by the long-term implications: that technical foul was Dwight’s 15th of the year, just one short of a mandatory one-game suspension. Howard’s next T will be met with a game on the bench.

Not to play the ‘poor, pitiful Dwight’ card here, but big men are pushed, pulled, held, and fouled in ways that most others players and refs are completely oblivious of. That’s the burden of being the biggest, baddest dude on the court, and when your presence is as menacing and influential as Howard’s, you’re going to get fouled. A lot. Only some of those fouls are going to be called, because officiating is an undeniably human element of the game we know and love.

Big men often have a reason to complain, and while the calls for Dwight et al to just “play the damn game” are justified to an extent, I sympathize. I’ve seen undersized players hook Howard’s arm as he goes up for a rebound. I’ve seen them tug on his jersey. Hell, I’ve seen Howard do the very same things to other players.

That doesn’t make things any less frustrating for the always expressive Howard, but it does speak to this kind of trench warfare as a fact of life. I don’t know if that justifies Howard’s complaining to the refs or removes its base entirely, but Dwight should cut it out regardless. Orlando isn’t in a particularly vulnerable position right now, but that doesn’t mean Howard and the team can’t tread softly in order to avoid losing a bit of the momentum they’ve built up in recent weeks.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.