Erick Dampier not nearly as much of a Rocket as we may have previously thought

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There was talk, and then there was more talk, and it looked very much like Erick Dampier was going to be a Rocket. Even Jermaine Taylor was getting shoved out the door in a way that suggested he had his spot reserved for someone else. Certainly looks like the Rockets need some more size with Yao Ming not playing back to backs and only playing 24 minutes a game due to his recovery from the injury.

Or, you know, maybe not.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets have informed Jermaine Taylor he will not be released because they do not intend to sign Dampier after all. The best part about this story? Taylor’s not even all that happy he’s being retained.

“I’m happy to still be here and still have a job, but then again, I kind of wonder what would have happened if I went somewhere else. I won’t get any playing time here with guys like Courtney Lee, Kevin Martin, unless they get hurt. I kind of know if I went somewhere else, I would have had a chance to play. I have mixed feelings about it.”

Sorry to keep you there, Jermaine. I’m sure there are several teams dying to pick you up… and then bury you at the edge of the bench just as you are now. Taylor needs to take notice of how the Rockets have used their development talent, bringing them along slowly and then giving them more and more responsibilities. Even with the depth the Rockets have, there are opportunities to be had during a season.

For Dampier, it’s the second team that was believed to have offered a contract and then decided not so much, after Miami. So now you have to wonder what the real issue is with his body and why the Rockets have elected not to acquire him, despite a need. The Rockets need another center badly, but apparently Dampier doesn’t fit what they do. So now the question becomes who will pick him up, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix, or anyone?

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.