Report: Hornets and Raptors close to Peja trade

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A report popped up this morning on a Euro site via HoopsHype describing a trade between the New Orleans Hornets and Toronto Raptors. Now ESPN is reporting the same: The New Orleans Hornets are very close to trading Peja Stojakovic and Jerryd Bayless to the Toronto Raptors for Jarrett Jack, David Andersen, and Marcus Banks.

Ooooookay.

The trade makes little to no sense for either side. Stojakovic’s $14.25 million gold mine of a contract could be moved at the deadline for a substantial set of assets, far beyond a player who splits time with Jose Calderon, a center that was discarded from center-light (at the time) Houston, and Marcus Banks. Bayless himself is a dynamic young talent that can run either guard position, hit from the outside, run the break, and attack the rim with reckless abandon. That’s two good if not great wing players being shelved off for a solid backup point guard when you have Chris Paul, Marcus Banks who is Marcus Banks, and a center that looks like he would belong more in Stillwater.

There may be other assets tied to this deal, including part of the massive trade exception the Raptors received in the Chris Bosh sign-and-trade this summer. That would make it slightly more attractive for New Orleans. This also could be tied to the ongoing drama regarding the protracted sale of the Hornets. Dropping some hefty assets could help move the deal along, but that’s just conjecture in a very complicated subject.

ESPN reports the deal is currently held up over the amount of cash the Raptors want in the deal. We’ll let you know if it goes through.

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.