The Hornets may not have been entirely truthful in their dismissal of Luther Head

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Luther Head agreed with the New Orleans Hornets on the terms of a new two-year, $2.5 million contract, but one GM later, he was left out in the cold. The Hornets claimed that Head failed his physical due to a bum ankle, and the Hornets used that claim to sever ties with Head.

In the aftermath of that decision, there were whispers aplenty that Head had been done wrong (link via Tom Ziller of FanHouse); perhaps there was nothing wrong with Head’s ankle at all, and though the Hornets organization had originally agreed to contractual terms with him, he was no longer in the team’s plans after a management shift.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has cited “several sources” confirming that to be the case, and the implications of the Hornets’ alleged ruse have apparently extended to Head’s dealings with other franchises as well:

And yet like the
rest of the league, the Kings were unwilling to guarantee the deal
because Hornets president Hugh Weber declared that Head had flunked his
physical in July.

Head had agreed to a one-year deal with Hornets GM Jeff Bower, only
to have the GM fired within days of the verbal agreement. It appeared
that Weber didn’t want Head under contract for the next GM, and
cancelled the agreement after the physical. Several sources insisted
that there was nothing wrong with the ankle, and Weber’s decision
appears to have made it more difficult for Head, 28, to find a job this
summer.

The team may have wanted to change directions mid-stride, leaving Head in a pretty crummy situation as a result. Then again, unnamed sources always deserve their grains of salt, and there are logical reasons to question pro-Head reports. If everyone knows Head’s cut was bogus, then the effectiveness of the smokescreen would be null, and other teams would have no reason to assume Head is damaged goods. Additionally, isn’t this all a bit much to clear Head’s near-minimum two-year salary off the books?

Still, if Head’s future contract negotiations were affected by New Orleans’ regime change, it’s a pretty raw deal. It’s one thing for the Hornets to decide that they no longer require Head’s services, and another entirely for their contract takesies backsies to harm Head’s other chances at guaranteed money.

Head is now left to fend for a roster spot in the Sacramento Kings camp, with a partially guaranteed, one-year contract. If things did indeed go as Wojnarowski’s sources indicated, I think it’s safe to say that the aftertaste of his dealings with the Hornets may be a tad bitter.

NBA: DeMarcus Cousins got away with (more important) travel before incorrect foul of Dwyane Wade

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The NBA acknowledged the attention-grabbing officiating error late in the Bulls’ win over the Kings on Saturday: DeMarcus Cousins shouldn’t have been called for fouling Dwyane Wade, who hit the go-ahead free throw with 14 seconds left.

But before Sacramento claims the referees cost it a win, the Last Two Minute Report reveals a more significant missed call that favored the Kings.

Cousins should have been called for travelling with 56.3 left as he drove for a basket, according to the league:

Cousins (SAC) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.

The non-call directly allowed Cousins to score two points. Wade made only one free throw.

The officiating errors in the final two minutes helped the Kings more than the Bulls.

(Sacramento center Kosta Koufos also got away with a shooting foul on Jimmy Butler with 37.8 seconds left, according to the league, but Robin Lopez tipped in Butler’s miss, anyway. The Bulls weren’t shorted any points on that possession.)

NBA: Marcus Smart wrongly called for huge foul late in Celtics’ loss to Trail Blazers

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The Trail Blazers beat the Celtics on Saturday in an overtime thriller. The game provided so much action, there was little objection when what would’ve been one of the most exciting plays was waived off.

But it should have counted.

With Boston down one one and 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart stripped Damian Lillard under Portland’s own basket and immediately hit a go-ahead layup. Except officials called a foul on Smart – in error, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Smart (BOS) makes clean contact with the ball.

Lillard went to the line and made both free throws, and Terry Rozier made a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime, where the Trail Blazers emerged with a 127-123 win.

Portland still would’ve had a chance to answer, but with a correct call, Boston would have held the lead a much better chance of winning in regulation.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin out another 3-5 weeks after re-aggravating hamstring injury

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 31:  Jeremy Lin #7 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles up court against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at Barclays Center on October 31, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Jeremy Lin has been in and out of the Nets’ lineup due to a lingering hamstring injury. He has already missed 31 games, including the last 11.

The point guard hoped to return around now, but that’s not happening.

Nets release:

The following statement has been released by Brooklyn Nets General Manager Sean Marks:

“During the course of his rehab, Jeremy re-aggravated his strained left hamstring and will be out approximately three to five weeks as he continues to work towards a full recovery.  We understand and appreciate Jeremy’s competitive desire to get back on the court with his teammates, however, we are going to be cautious with his rehab in order to ensure that he is at full strength once he returns.”

Of course, this improves the fortunes of the Celtics,who own the Nets’ 2017 first-round pick. Brooklyn, 9-34 and 4.5 games worse than anyone else in the NBA, appears even more certain to secure the No. 1 seed in the lottery.

The Nets have been bad with Lin this season and a little worse without him. With no first-rounder, the difference is negligible to them.

Isaiah Whitehead, Sean Kilpatrick and Spencer Dinwiddie will get more opportunities to develop. But Brooklyn is probably overburdening those young guards. Even with Lin, there was plenty of playing time available.

NBA: 76ers got away with violation before Robert Covington’s late 3-pointer against Trail Blazers

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Robert Covington hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the 76ers’ 93-92 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, but that wasn’t Covington’s only triple as Philadelphia overcame a four-point deficit in the final 40 seconds. He also buried a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.

The catch: That shot came after Philadelphia should have turned the ball over, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

Gerald Henderson missed a 3-pointer, and Dario Saric prevented the rebound from going out of bounds, saving the ball with a pass to Covington. Except Saric got away with stepping out of bounds with the ball with 42.1 seconds left, per the league:

Saric’s (PHI) left foot is out of bounds when he makes contact with the loose ball.

That would’ve given Portland the ball up four.

The 76ers overcome the odds to win this game. But a correct call might have produced too steep of a hill for Philadelphia to climb.