Did Bucks lend helping hand to a division rival?

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Intra-division trades are fairly rare. They happen when teams are desperate for a change, or have eyes for a player they can’t pass up, but otherwise, teams are generally reluctant to face the possible consequences of divisional dealings four times a year. It’s one thing to see one of your former players find prosperity elsewhere, and another thing entirely to have that prosperity rain down on you several times a season.

That’s what made the Bucks’ acquisition of John Salmons from the Bulls much more interesting than the players and salary relief involved. The early returns make Chicago look absolutely foolish, as Milwaukee has clearly supplanted them in the Central Division hierarchy. But the long-term picture could be far different, as the cap space opened up by trading Salmons could help the Bulls to swing a big-name free agent this summer. From Bob Wolfey of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Hammond was asked if in trading for Salmons he was helping set up the Chicago Bulls to land a top free agent, hence making life tougher for the Bucks in the division.

“We talked about it over and over and over again before we made the decision what to do with Chicago,” Hammond said. “That was a concern for us, but you know what? At the end of the day, we had to do what was going to be right for us. We needed a piece like John. He’s fit in for us. It’s been worthwhile for us. I’m not going to tell you it was not a concern. It’s still a concern. If Chicago can sign one of these major free agents, it’s going to be a concern for us and we will have to live with it.”

It’s hard to say that the Bucks made the wrong move. Milwaukee’s spectacular brand of defense has vaulted them up the Eastern Conference standings, and while they’re unlikely to jump into the cream of the conference crop anytime soon, Salmons is exactly the type of two-way player that has solidified their place as a playoff contender. The Bucks aren’t reaching for a title just yet, but their success is at least concrete.

Meanwhile, the Bulls only benefit from the possibility of improvement. If the cap space gained by ditching Salmons is never properly utilized, then it’s the Bulls who were had. It’s so difficult to evaluate trades on a one-year time frame because the outlook of each involved franchise is altered beyond that. So while the Bucks may be one of the teams of the moment, keep in mind that they may have facilitated the Bulls’ rise to prominence as a team of the future.  

Markieff Morris flips off Suns fan (video)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris reacts to a call during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Markieff Morris‘ frustrations last night didn’t end with his scuffle with teammate Archie Goodwin. They didn’t end with the Suns’ loss to the Warriors, either.

As Morris was leaving the court, a fan heckled him: “Markieff, you f—ing suck. I can’t wait until you’re traded.” Though Morris probably agrees with the second sentence, he flipped off the fan:

Though it’s difficult to confirm that video was from last night, it jibes with a previous report of the incident.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7

Morris will likely at least be fined. Considering his previous behavioral problems this season – he threw a towel at Jeff Hornacek – I wouldn’t completely rule out a suspension. But a fine seems most likely.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.