Magic intend to sign Jason Richardson as franchise spirals further into madness

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Let’s play a little thought exercise.

Magic GM Otis Smith walks into a room. He stands at a podium and answers questions regarding the state of the team. He opens by informing the media that Dwight Howard has requested a trade, twice, today, in the last year year of his contract. His team is facing the edge of disaster, trading away a superstar which never nets equal return and which guarantees that the team will not be competing for a title this year or any other in the near future. He is now faced with the unenviable task of trying to determine who to trade Howard for and more importantly for what, trying to direct the franchise forward through a difficult rebuilding period.

He will be diligent. He will still try to win as long as Howard is here, but will also do what is “best for the franchise at all times.”

Following that, does the GM:

A. Quietly finish out the humiliating session and then try and construct a complicated three-to-four team trade that brings picks and young players to Orlando while ditching salary.

B. Make one last swing for a star to go along with the star, leveraging the future but trying to get the kind of star player that can keep Howard in town.

C. Give Jason Richardson, a soon-to-be-32-year-old shooting guard a four-year, $24 million deal.

Obviously Smith gave Richardson the four-year deal, via Yahoo! Sports.

It’s a terrible idea. Richardson was probably going to get something similar to that deal on the open market, but that says more about the market than Richardson. He’s a good defender. He can hit from the outside.

But he’ll be making more than $8 million when he’s 36 and the Magic are trying to move him for anything they can. He’ll be a chain around their neck. It’s the kind of deal that got the Magic into this situation. Maybe Smith is in shock. Maybe he doesn’t understand what’s standing before him. Maybe he just really thinks Richardson can still put in big numbers. But the reality is that Orlando is watching the Titanic sink, and now they just had a new dining table airlifted in.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.