Washington Wizards v Houston Rockets

Andray Blatche admits trade rumors bother him “some”

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You’d like to think Andray Blatche has been inconsistent this season because of injuries and the weight of trade rumors, but that would assume some basis of consistent play from his past to serve as a baseline. And no, the last couple months of the failing Wizards last season when they had to feed him the ball every time down does not count, he didn’t have to play well with others then.

Still, Blatche told the Washington Post that his name coming up in trade rumors has weighed on his mind.

“That bothers me some,” Blatche said. “But that’s the name of the game. I just gotta keep trucking along with it.”

Injuries — such as the foot surgery that kept him out of training camp, limiting his bonding time with John Wall, and the ongoing knee issues — probably play a bigger part in Blatche’s up-and-down season than the rumors, to be fair.

He has taken the court in seven of the Wizards last 10 games, scoring and average of 14.4 points but on 36 percent shooting. He has been better on the boards (9.4 rebounds per game in that stretch) and in the Post story coach Flip Saunders speaks well of Blatche’s defense — which is kind of a laugh, Blatche gets incredibly lost on defense.

Really, Blatche doesn’t need to worry about the trade rumors because he has such an onerous contract — four years and $29 million owed after this season. That is a long commitment and a lot of money for sporadic production and an injury history. If the Wizards had not just moved Gilbert Arenas I’d say he was unmovable, but it still seems unlikely anyone takes a shot on him.

Still, Blatche had better get used to the rumors because he is not in the Wizards long-term plans anymore and they are going to shop him around.

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.

Rumor: Nets testing trade waters for Bojan Bogdanovic

Bojan Bogdanovic, Otto Porter Jr.
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If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.

First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.

Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.

Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.

Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.

Just a reminder that Joakim Noah would like some more run

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Joakim Noah is playing 20.6 minutes a night coming off the bench for Fred Hoiberg and the Chicago Bulls this season.

And he doesn’t like it. He wants more run. He was getting 10 minutes more a night last season under Tom Thibodeau, and Noah wants some of those minutes back. Nick Friedel of ESPN sent out a tweet that was a reminder of just that.

Three thoughts here.

1) Reducing minutes for guys who battle injuries every season by the time the playoffs roll around was one huge reason Fred Hoiberg was brought in to coach the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau was shown the door. This isn’t just Hoiberg, the minutes reduction comes from management. While it is possible Noah’s spot in the rotation shifts (he could start at some point) and he might get a little more run, the Thibodeau era is gone.

2) There are legit reasons for Noah to want to play. First, he is a competitor who doesn’t like sitting. Second, the Bulls’ defense is elite when he plays (allowing 95.5 points per 100 possessions) and the Bulls outscore opponents by 1.3 per 100 when he plays. Finally, Noah is in the final year of his contract and scoring just 3.1 points per game is not going to help him earn more cash in the next deal.

3) Barring injury to another big, don’t expect a change.