Tracy McGrady's future apparently not in New York

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He didn’t make it there. Can he make it anywhere?

After getting a good look at him for 21 games, Mike D’Antoni has made his decision and he wants a future without Tracy McGrady, the New York Post is reporting.

The team source said D’Antoni feels McGrady has too far to go in his comeback to be counted on next season as an important piece of a rotation the coach expects to be massively improved.

If the Knicks sign a wing player with a maximum contract, either LeBron James or Joe Johnson, re-signing McGrady as a rotation player, even at the $1.9 million veteran minimum’s salary, seems highly doubtful because of his injury risk.

For the record, D’Antoni is denying any decision has been made. However, McGrady looked terrible for a half last night then was shut down by the Knicks medical staff after there was swelling in his knee.

It emphasized that if McGrady is going to land anywhere next year, it’s going to be in the 15-minutes-off-the-bench veteran presence role, because on a nightly basis that’s what his body will allow anymore. Push it much beyond that and there will be breakdowns. If McGrady can accept that role and not go Iverson on it, he could land somewhere for a couple million. But can he? And does some general manager want the distraction of him on the bench, with the media constantly asking him if he should play more?

Two other fun notes out of the above quote. Joe Johnson as a max player in New York? Disaster in waiting. All due respect to Johnson, who is a very good, All-Star player and likely will remain one for a few more years, but he needs to be paired with a real number one. He can’t carry a loaded Atlanta team to the top in the East, and he was at his best in the West as the third part of the Nash/Stoudemire show. If you sign him for five years you will regret it the last couple years, it will feel like the ghost of Isiah Thomas set up that contract.

Second, D’Antoni expects the team to be “massively improved” next season. He should, they spent two years clearing out the dead weight on that roster. But he better hope it comes to pass because the media and fans will unleash the hounds of Hell on him next year if it looks like this year.

Rumor: Paul George told former Pacers teammates he wanted to join the Lakers

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Paul George to the Lakers is a capital-T thing.

George is from Southern California, and he keeps indicating his dissatisfaction with the Pacers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2018. Even Lakers president Magic Johnson is talking about George.

Where do rumors like this originate?

Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News:

A SoCal native, he’s been talking about playing for his hometown team, the Lakers, for a long time. He’s never made his long-term intentions a secret within the Pacers’ locker room, according to former teammates. He wants to wear the purple and gold.

Did George say he dreamed of playing for the Lakers growing up? Did he say it’d be cool to join his boyhood favorite team if the situation presented itself? Or did he say he wanted to get the heck out of Indiana to join the Lakers as soon as possible?

There are so many ways his comments to teammates could get misconstrued as they get passed down in the game of telephone.

But the Lakers threat – to whatever degree it’s real – looms, and it’ll impact how the Pacers handle their offseason.

Jazz call deactivating Jeff Withey, who was accused of domestic violence, ‘strategic basketball-related decision’

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Jazz Center Jeff Withey was accused of domestic violence in a police report filed by his ex-fiancée.

Withey played a small role in Utah’s first two playoff games, but once the accusation over an alleged 2016 incident became public, he hasn’t seen the court. Withey received a DNP-CD in Game 3 against the Clippers, and the Jazz deactivated the center for Game 4 last night.

Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News:

The team called it a “strategic basketball-related decision.”

Withey was always going to see a reduced role with Rudy Gobert returning from injury.

Though Gobert didn’t play in Game 3, the Jazz had two injured players – Gobert and Alec Burks on the inactive list – so Withey was active but never played. But Withey was active for Game 1, which Gobert started healthy before injuring his knee 11 seconds in.

Therefore, deactivating Withey in Game 4 for Joel Bolomboy, a little-used second-round rookie who has yet to play in the postseason, is a curious choice for basketball reasons. It’s almost as if that wasn’t the reason.

Russell Westbrook on Rockets laughing at Andre Roberson missing free throws: ‘Probably the guys that don’t play’

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The Rockets bench made a big production when an intentionally fouled Andre Roberson kept missing free throws in the Thunder’s Game 4 loss to the Rockets yesterday.

Russell Westbrook stuck up for his teammate.

Royce Young of ESPN:

Westbrook:

I didn’t see it. I didn’t see it at all. Probably the guys that don’t play, probably over there the ones laughing, if I had to guess.

Good guess. It appears Montrezl Harrell and Bobby Brown – whose only playing time this series came late in Houston’s blowout Game 1 win – led the jeers.

But the most important thing for the Thunder is Roberson making his free throws. They need him on the court to defend James Harden, which exposes him to hacking. If Westbrook deflecting attention onto the Rockets’ benchwarmers helps Roberson at the line, great. But if not, the Rockets will keep having reasons to laugh.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.