In surprise, Portland claims J.J. Hickson on waivers

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Last year before the lockout, J.J. Hickson was considered a prospect on par with Omri Casspi, and they were traded for each other.

But his performance this season left him glued to the bench of an unimpressive Kings team. Paul Westphal or Keith Smart, neither thought his play warranted minutes — he was shooting 37 percent, had almost two turnovers to ever assist and wasn’t playing great defense. The point the Kings decided to waive him.

Word on the street was Golden State was going to sign him after he cleared waivers (he had even flown to New Orleans where the Warriors were), but the Trail Blazers jumped in and claimed him (taking on the rest of his $2.3 million salary this season, reports Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

The Blazers are intrigued by Hickson’s upside, as he is an athletic and physical player who averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in his third and final season in Cleveland (2010-11). The Blazers will have the remainder of the season to analyze the current state of his game, and he will be their restricted free agent this summer.

The Blazers have thrown in the towel on this season, so taking a flier on an athletic player isn’t the worst idea. I wouldn’t expect much — the Kings waived him, that should tell you something — but it’s worth a shot.

Jason Williams out 6-8 months after injury in Big3 debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Former NBA point guard Jason Williams will miss six to eight months after suffering a knee injury in the opening game of the Big3.

Corey Maggette, also injured in the opening week of Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league of former NBA players, had surgery for a leg injury. There is no timetable for his return.

The injuries were announced Wednesday during a conference call with Cube and Big3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz, who also detailed a couple rules changes starting with this weekend’s game in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Games will be played to 50 points, instead of 60, with halftime coming when the first team reaches 25 points. Cube said that would help the four games per day move more quickly.

Report: Mutual interest between Knicks, Jeff Teague with Phil Jackson gone

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Phil Jackson’s exit is already opening doors for the Knicks.

No position differs more in the triangle from modern spread NBA offenses than point guard. But without Jackson demanding his point guard fit such a narrow profile, New York can pursue greater talents – like Jeff Teague.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

With Phil Jackson out and the triangle de-emphasized, the Knicks, under general manager Steve Mills, have interest in free agent point guard Jeff Teague, league sources told ESPN. League sources say the interest in Teague is mutual.

The Knicks aren’t as desperate at point guard after drafting Frank Ntilikina, but Ntilikina probably isn’t ready to run an offense full-time yet. Teague could be a stopgap – which might be necessary considering New York can’t easily pivot into rebuilding with Carmelo Anthony, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee locked up.

Teague’s future with the Pacers appears uncertain with Paul George on the trade block. A key part of Larry Bird’s retooling last summer, Teague and Indiana might be headed in different directions now.

The Knicks make as much sense as anywhere for Teague – now that Jackson is gone.

PBT Extra: Rockets, with Chris Paul trade, show fearlessness in face of Warriors’ dominance

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The Rockets and Clippers both turned aggressive with today’s Chris Paul trade.

Houston is making a bold attempt to overtake the Warriors (a plan that could include other big moves). The Clippers are launching into rebuilding.

Kurt Helin breaks down what it means for both teams.

PBT Extra: With Phil Jackson discarded, Knicks face next challenge

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The Knicks did well to part ways with Phil Jackson, but where does New York go from here?

Masai Ujiri? David Griffin? Someone else?

Kurt Helin breaks down Jim Dolan’s options – and the approach the Knicks owner should take.