USA sleepwalks past Iran 88-51 at World Championships

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Thumbnail image for USA_Logo.jpgWell, that was pretty much what we expected — including the part where Kevin Love was the one guy to show up and care.

The USA was going to roll past a clearly less talented Iran team and came out with all the intensity of an intersquad scrimmage. Eventually they got there, winning 88-51 and securing the USA the top spot in Group B at the FIBA World Championships. They face Tunisia tomorrow morning in the final game of group play.

Iran hung around early as the USA’s sluggishness led to a lot of missed shots and turnovers. Iran kept it to a six-point game after one quarter, while the Americans piled up 7 turnovers.

Then the USA started to roll in the second quarter, using their pressure defense to create turnovers and easy transition points, as they have done against every team that could not come close to matching their athleticism. At one point Iran had 21 possessions where they had scored and 20 where they had turned the ball over (according to John Schuhmann of NBA.com).

It was 42-28 at the half and with an 8-0 run to start the third quarter it was all over but the full half of garbage time. Kevin Durant had a dozen for the USA, Derrick Rose 11.

Two guys of note.

Kevin Love led the USA with 13 points — in just 11 minutes of play. He continues to be the best USA big man (starter Lamar Odom had 2 points and 2 rebounds in one of his classic disappearing games). Love defended well, rebounded and was the one USA player who seemed really focused and on his game from the second he stepped on the court.

Why isn’t he getting more minutes? It’s a mystery why Tyson Chandler was off the bench before him. If it wasn’t for wanting continuity, I’d suggest starting Love at this point, but at least he should be getting a lot more minutes than he is now.

The other guy to watch was Memphis’ backup center Hamed Hadadi, who finished with a team high 19 points for Iran but was a real mixed bag. He rarely used his 7’2″ frame to power inside (which he should have done more to Odom) but did show some nice touch from the outside. He can hit the midrange. But his shot choices are questionable and he seems to love the fade away when he should be powering toward the hoop. He can rebound some, too. But he is not mobile.

Basically, he’s a backup center, one that will survive around the league because of his size and touch, but not much else. Used in the right setting he can have some value, but he is not a transcendent player.
 
Basically, nothing Grizzlies fans didn’t already know.

Chris Paul thanks Clipper fans in online statement

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Chris Paul is as competitive a guy as there is in the NBA — he and James Harden are not the smoothest fit next to one another, but he would rather team with another star and go hard at the Warriors juggernaut than sit back and collect a check.

That’s why CP3 wanted to go to the Rockets as part of the trade reported Wednesday.

But before he left, he wanted to say thank you to Clippers fans.

Paul is committed to his charity causes, he’s not giving those up. He’s likely keeping his home in Los Angeles, too — L.A. is the unofficial off-season home of the NBA anyway.

Rockets make series of cash trades for expiring contracts to help line up Chris Paul deal

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While everyone was rightfully raving about the move by the Houston Rockets to trade for Chris Paul — you have to love a team not cowering from the Warriors but willing to take them on Game of Thrones style — there was one little catch. The trade, as first announced, didn’t pencil out.

Because the Rockets were over the cap, this trade needs to be a salary match. The Clippers were getting back nice young players in Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell, plus a first-round pick, but the salaries still didn’t match up. Then a string of small cash deals for expiring contracts started rolling in.

All those deals are official — and led to one of the funniest tweets of the year.

All three of those players will head to the Clippers as part of the official trade, but then be waived by the Clippers so they don’t actually pay them.

Also of note, by staying above the salary cap line (as opposed to diving below it to absorb CP3’s contract) the Rockets will keep their mid-level exception, giving them a full $8.4 million to spend in free agency to get a role player to help fill out the roster in Houston.

The Rockets are not done big game hunting, GM Daryl Morey is reportedly going after Paul George and maybe free agents such as Paul Millsap. Carmelo Anthony reportedly would like a buyout so he can get to Houston now, but with Phil Jackson gone and $55 million owed over the next few years that seems more up in the air. Regardless, expect the Rockets to keep making small moves to set up big ones.

Reports: Rockets not done, looking at Paul George, other possible third big star

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If you’re going to go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors, you can’t have enough elite talent on the roster. Which is turning the Western Conference into a Game of Thrones.

Houston has James Harden and just added Chris Paul — and GM Daryl Morey is not done, he’s targeting Paul George and other stars. That according to multiple reports from ESPN, starting with Jeff Goodman.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey not done yet, source told ESPN. Harden and CP3. Will try to add a third star to compete with Warriors.

The logistics of this would be difficult, but not impossible. The Pacers want a first-round pick, which the Rockets can include if the Pacers will wait until 2020 (the Rockets 2018 pick goes to the Clippers, 1-3 protected, which means they can’t trade 2019). With Sam Decker traded to LA, the Rockets may not have a young player of interest outside of Clint Capella (the Pacers have Myles Turner at center), but the Rockets have made a series of cash deals for non-guaranteed contracts to make this work with the Clippers and pave the way for future deals.

Also possible, the Rockets look for a way to land Paul Millsap (or maybe a lesser version, like Serge Ibaka) in free agency.

The Rockets also could target guys such as Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade, if they are bought out. Anthony is rumored to want a buyout to go to Houston now, but with Phil Jackson out and being owed $55 million over a couple years, that may not happen.

The point is the Rockets are going all in — they see the window as now and, unlike much of the rest of the West and the NBA, they are not going to wait and hope for the Warriors to wilt in a few years.

Knicks fans celebrating Phil Jackson’s departure on social media

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When the Knicks hired Phil Jackson, he was a beacon of hope for an organization that had seen dark days. Jackson was going to keep owner James Dolan out of basketball decisions (he did that) and provide a direction for the franchise (he failed to do that).

Now, three year’s later, Jackson is out as president of the Knicks.

That had Knicks fans celebrating on social media.

HALLELUJAH.

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That’s just a small sampling. So all is good with the Knicks now, right?