Nets move to Newark may actually help with a free agent: Shaq

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shaq.jpgWhen the Nets announced a relocation to the Prudential Center, it was largely seen as an addition by subtraction. You subtract the IZOD Center and you add an arena that isn’t referred to as something resembling a trash compactor. But other than that, there wasn’t much to get excited about in a relocation to the good city of Newark.

Or, so we thought.

Shaquille O’Neal, who you may remember from such films as “Kobe, Tell Me How Continued Relevance Tastes” and “I’ve Been Known To Do Things When Mad, Like Bring Little To Nothing To A Team’s Championship Contention” told the New York Post that he would consider the Nets a possible target for his free agent relocation this summer.

Not exactly the big name free agent the Nets are hoping for.

Still, one of Shaq’s reasons for considering the future-Brooklyn squad is their current residency in Newark, which Shaq calls his hometown. So Newark’s got that going for them. And hey, Shaq thinks so much of Brick City that he thinks the Nets shouldn’t even bother relocating to Brooklyn.

Riiiiiight.

While the lunacy of that statement is for another time, you’ve got to wonder if the Nets will have any interest in the big man at all. They have one of the best centers in the league in Brook Lopez. Shaq has never been, nor will ever be, a bench player. Which would mean a move to power forward for Lopez, and that’s not ideal.

Shaq is one of the best players of all time, but sometimes you can not go home again.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.