Blake Griffin arrives for a news conference announcing the players selected for the 2012 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Las Vegas

Welcome to NBA signing day tracker: Griffin, Nash, more ink deals

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It’s official, Steve Nash is a Los Angeles Laker. And Blake Griffin is a very rich Clipper.

All the deals that have been reported in the past 10 days — such as Deron Williams re-signing with the Nets — go from “agreement reached” to “pen on paper” today. The league has a 10-day moratorium on signings that begins with free agency July 1, but that is over. Today you sign your name on the line that is dotted.

Here is a running tracker of deals we know to be signed and new deals announced on what will be a busy day (so check back often, all times Eastern).

9:04 P.M.

• Jamal Crawford made it official and signed a deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Adding him and Lamar Odom to their core from last year is an upgrade, we’ll see if it’s enough of one to keep Chris Paul happy.

• Ian Mahinmi was sent to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade (4-years, 16 million) for Darren Collison and Danhtay Jones go to Dallas.

• With Collison gone, the Pacers have targeted D.J. Augustin for a trade.

• J.J. Hickson has signed a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

5:44 P.M.

• Center Chris Kaman has tweeted that he will be signing with the Dallas Mavericks, teaming up with fellow German National Team member Dirk Nowitzki.

• The Nets have reached a four-year, $61 million deal to keep Brook Lopez. That’s overpaying for him.

5:29 P.M.

• The Dallas Mavericks have reached terms with Chris Kaman, who is a German national team teammate of Dirk Nowitzki.

• Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey confirms that Portland will match Minnesota’s offer for Nicolas Batum and keep him.

4:20 P.M.

• Dwight Howard to the Nets is dead and it sounds like the Magic are retreating from the trade talks for a bit and will reassess where things stand.  What a mess. For Howard, for the Magic, for everyone. And this is really just a hiatus for the trade talks, not an end.

• The Kings re-signed forward Jason Thompson, as had been agreed to a few days back.

3:25 P.M. 

The Dorell Wright trade sending the Warriors swingman to the 76ers just expanded — Jarrett Jack is going to Warriors as part of the deal. The Hornets clear $5.4 million off their books and the Warriors get a true point guard to come off the bench and put up some points. The Hornets are taking back a second round pick, stash in Europe kid.

2:50 P.M.

In another expected move, Tim Duncan has signed his three-year deal to remain with the Spurs.

• It’s official, Marcus Camby is once again a Knick, the trade from the Rockets has been approved by the league.

• The Jazz have officially re-signed the human pogo stick, Jeremy Evans.

• The Nuggets have bought out the European contract of draft pick Evan Fournier and he will be in Denver next season.

1:56 P.M.

• The Nuggets have made the re-signing of Andre Miller official, a three-year deal the sides agreed to last week.

• The sign-and-trade of Ryan Anderson to the Hornets is official now as well.

• Gerald Wallace has signed with the Nets, four years and $40 million.

• Patrick Ewing Jr. has signed to play in Germany.

 12:52 P.M.

• Trades keep on becoming official, including Gary Forbes being sent to the Rockets.

• And Gustavo Ayon trade from the Hornets to the Magic has been cleared by the league.

• There is a growing buzz that Kyle Korver will be traded from the Bulls to the Timberwolves. Not sure what would be coming back the other way yet.

11:52 A.M.

• The complex cap moves of the Houston Rockets — which impacts Jeremy Lin and more — are underway. First, the trade of Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors has been approved. Now they are waiting for approval on the Marcus Camby trade to the Knicks. After those deals are formal the Rockets will have the cap space to sign Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik to offer sheets.

The Knicks will match the Lin offer sheet, but now they need to soothe his ego, too, reportedly.

11:05 A.M.

• And it’s official, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are Miami Heat. They have signed their deals. And the Miami heat team record for most threes taken in a season is about to fall. We can call that one now. By the way, Allen will go back to his old No. 34 with the Heat.

10:40 A.M.

• Well, didn’t see this one coming. The Nets have agreed to a one-year, $1.3 million deal to have Jerry Stackhouse on their team, reports ESPN’s Chad Ford. I think all season I’m just going to refer to him as “the corpse of Jerry Stackhouse.” At age 37 he barely got on the court last season for the Hawks, but I guess the Nets saw something they liked. That or they accidentally were watching scouting tape from 2001.

• The Knicks have signed James White to a deal.

9:59 A.M.

• The Pacers and Roy Hibbert skipped the formalities of matching the Portland max offer sheet and Indy just offered him a max deal, which he will sign, Ken Berger at CBSSports.com tweets. The outcome is the same but the Blazers don’t have their cap space tied up for three days while the matching process takes place.

• The Suns and Hornets apparently will go through the matching game motions, Eric Gordon is expected to sign a max off sheet from Phoenix today, reports the Arizona Republic. The Hornets will match eventually, even though Gordon has said he wants to play for the Suns. He is key to the rebuilding in New Orleans.

• Nenad Krstic has signed to stay with CSKA Moscow and will not be returning to the NBA.

9:35 A.M.

• The Lakers and Suns made the Steve Nash trade official. Nash joins Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (the last two of those for now at least) in L.A. to form a contender that could challenge the Thunder if everything comes together for them (and they get another perimeter shooter/defender). By the way, Nash will wear No. 10 with the Lakers (his No. 13 is retired as Wilt Chamberlain’s number).

• We told you already that Deron Williams remains a Net and will make enough money to live in New York City. Which is no small feat. The only interesting note here to add is that he was given the official contract on an iPad and signed his name with his finger. Honestly not sure how my signature would look if I tried that.

• Blake Griffin put his name on the dotted line and will remain with the Clippers, a five-year deal but the final year of that is a player option. This is Griffin’s first post rookie deal contract and there was never any doubt he would take the big payday to stay in L.A. The real challenge for the Clippers now is getting Chris Paul to stay next summer.

• J.R. Smith inked a two-year deal to be a designated gunner with the New York Knicks.

• Darrell Athur is in Memphis and signed a new three-year deal with the Grizzlies.

• The Grizzlies also added Jerryd Bayless. That is a couple good, affordable role players signings for them.

According to reports out of Spain, Portland has signed Joel Freeland to a three-year, $9 million deal. Freeland was the last pick of the first round by the Blazers back in 2006, but he has only played in Europe (Spain, specifically) since then. He is a 6’11” power forward who is fairly athletic and has a midrange game, according to reports. We will see, a three-year deal is a risk, but you can bet Freeland is taking a pay cut to come to the NBA. There also is a buyout issue that could kill this deal.

• For those that follow the international game, interesting tweet from Sportando: “In NBA McCalebb was offered up to $4.7M per season but his Buyout is too high plus he would be a backup getting less money than Europe”

• By the way, the league made the salary cap numbers for next year official and as expected they track this year’s — the cap is at $58.044 million, the luxury tax line is $70.307.

• Keep checking back, we’ll be adding to this post and tracking the signings as the day goes on.

Isaiah Thomas on pace to break modern-era fourth-quarter scoring record

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With seven and a half minutes left, Isaiah Thomas drained a 3-pointer, held up his left wrist and stared at it.

It was time.

His time.

Thomas scored 17 fourth-quarter points in the Celtics’ win over the Hornets yesterday.

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Thomas said. “It just surprises everybody else.”

It shouldn’t any longer.

Boston has won seven of eight, and in that span, Thomas has scored most of the Celtics’ fourth-quarter points. He has pushed his fourth-quarter scoring average to 10.1 for the season – putting him on track to break the modern-era record.

Kobe Bryant scored 9.5 fourth-quarter points per game in 2006, the most in the previous 20 years (as far back as NBA.com has data). The leaderboard:

image

Russell Westbrook is also on track to surpass Kobe and join this rarified air. LeBron James, Tracy McGrady, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade are the only other players to average even eight fourth-quarter points per game in a season over the previous 20 years. Not even Michael Jordan (7.1 in 1997, 7.3 in 1998) did it.

Boston’s offense has blasted into the stratosphere with Thomas on the court in the fourth quarter, scoring 122.1 points per 100 possessions. However, the Celtics allow even more with him on the floor in the final period (122.8 points per 100 possessions). The 5-foot-9 point guard has limits.

But where those limits exist when it comes to his clutch scoring – we haven’t found them yet.

Charley Rosen: I’m not Phil Jackson’s mouthpiece

New York Knicks president Phil Jackson speaks to reporters during a news conference in Greenburgh, N.Y., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Derek Fisher was fired as New York Knicks coach Monday, with his team having lost five straight and nine of 10 to fall well back in the Eastern Conference playoff race. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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Writer Charley Rosen describes himself as a “long-time friend and confidant” of Knicks president Phil Jackson. They coached and roomed together in the Continental Basketball Association decades ago. Since, they’ve collaborated on books and articles.

So, when Rosen wrote, “The only sure thing is that Carmelo Anthony has outlived his usefulness in New York,” Anthony took it as a shot from Jackson.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Rosen insists that unfair to him and Jackson.

Rosen at FanRag:

So, although I have often been called Phil’s mouthpiece by fans and some in the media, I have never consulted him about the content or general themes of any of the thousands of columns I’ve written for various sports web sites.

NEVER!

The only obvious exceptions being the interviews I conducted with him.

Although some of my opinions may be congruent with Phil’s, they are strictly my own. For better or for worse.

So, then, my views on Carmelo Anthony, for example, come from carefully watching and analyzing his play throughout his career.

I’m not in the business of parroting a party line, or of stroking players with whom I’ve had friendly contact.

As part of his Anthony critique, Rosen wrote, “It’s understood that he’d only accept being dealt to the Cavaliers or the Clippers.” Where did Rosen get that if not Jackson? Rosen invites questions by making statements like that without attribution.

Rosen’s history with Jackson also attracts scrutiny. So much of Rosen’s writing career has leaned on Jackson for exclusive access. He can’t have both that and the benefit of the doubt about his separation from Jackson. Even if Rosen wants to be objective, we all have biases. Rosen seems far too close to Jackson to evaluate him – and, by extension, the Knicks – properly. After all, when evaluating the team beyond Anthony, Rosen wrote:

PHIL JACKSON has pushed the right buttons

PBT Midseason Awards: James Harden or Russell Westbrook for MVP?

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) hugs his former teammate, Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook after an NBA basketball game in Houston, Thursday Jan. 5, 2017. The Rockets defeated the Thunder 118-116. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
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We are at the NBA season’s midpoint, which means we finally have seen enough games and compiled enough stats to start a conversation about the NBA end-of-season awards. Nothing is close to locked in yet, this is more like a horse race that is just coming out of the backstretch and starting the sweeping turn towards the finish line — a lot of things can change, and there will be players making late runs at some of these awards.

That’s not going to stop us from making picks for all the major categories — plus the best album of 2016. Because we can. Below are the picks for Kurt Helin, Dan Feldman, and Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Kurt Helin: Russell Westbrook
This is a coin flip between Westbrook and James Harden, with half a season to decide who gets the hardware. Right now I’d have a very slight lean to Westbrook, who is not just averaging a triple-double but has the Thunder in the playoffs on a 48-win pace — when he sits the Thunder are 17.5 points per 100 possessions worse (yes, that stat has noise and speaks to team depth, but point is without him this team is screwed).

Dan Feldman: James Harden
Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double — and Harden is still having a(n every so slightly) better season, which is just incredible. Unless Westbrook taps into his higher defensive potential more regularly, Harden’s efficiency gives him the edge.

Dane Carbaugh: James Harden
There’s obviously a strong case for Russell Westbrook here, but the thing that brings me back to James Harden is this: he’s increased his assists per-100 possessions this season despite his usage only going up by 1.5%. That’s ridiculous, and a prime example of the many ways Harden has been extra efficient this season.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin: Joel Embiid
Before the season I didn’t think he could win it because he was going to be on a minutes restriction, plus there would be pushback to having a third-year player win the award, but this race isn’t even close. Embed still got a lot of work to do defensively, but he’s far ahead of Malcolm Brogdon/Jamal Murray/Buddy Hield/Domantas Sabonis and the rest. Plus, Embiid is just fun to watch. And the league could use more fun.

Dan Feldman: Joel Embiid
It appeared Embiid would run away with this award, but Malcolm Brogdon has made it competitive. Still, Embiid’s talent, even if less refined, has made a bigger impact so far. He’s a force defensively, and his offense is diverse, albeit sloppy.

Dane Harbaugh: Joel Embiid
Not voting for Embiid here is voting against fun. It’s voting against hope. It’s voting against aesthetics. It’s voting against the culture. There’s real evidence Embiid is going to be a force in the league barring health for years to come, and to see it on display this year in unpolished form has been everything we wanted from The Process.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin: Rudy Gobert
He is the anchor of the best defense in the NBA this season, and he’s not a slow-footed big who you can destroy when he gets dragged into pick-and-rolls (he can hold his own). There are others such as Kawhi Leonard still in this race.

Dan Feldman: Rudy Gobert
The Jazz center erases the paint and is more than adequate when pulled outside. Teams haven’t found a way to run him off the court, the first test for any rim protector in this era. That allows Gobert’s interior skills to shine. Draymond Green is within striking distance, but this is Gobert’s award to lose.

Dane Carbaugh: Rudy Gobert
It’s hard to argue that Rudy Gobert is not the DPOY. He’s the anchor for the NBA’s most efficient defensive unit and he’s not only a paint clogger but a shot blocker that doesn’t give up rebounding chances as he chases swats. Utah is extremely fun to watch on defense — gasp! — and Gobert is a big reason why.

SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin: Eric Gordon
This is the most open race on the board, but right now what Gordon brings Houston has him in front. This is the Gordon the Pelicans thought they were paying for (injuries undid him there), averaging 17.9 points per game and shooting 41.1 percent from three. Lou Williams had the lead for me but has slipped of late (as have the Lakers).

Dan Feldman: Enes Kanter
I did little more than pick a name here. This race is WIDE open with serious consideration also going to Greg Monroe, Eric Gordon, Lou Williams, Patty Mills, Jon Leuer, Marreese Speights, Tyler Johnson, Dwight Powell, Wilson Chandler and…

Dane Carbaugh: Eric Gordon
It’s sort of unfair that the Houston Rockets get to bring Eric Gordon off the bench, and I bet most NBA opponents would agree. Gordon is not only having a great comeback season as a scorer — averaging better than 17 points per-game — but he’s doing it efficiently as well. Daryl Morey hit a home run with Gordon and Ryan Anderson this season.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Kurt Helin: Mike D’Antoni
Note to Lakers/Knicks management (and fans): Yes you can win with Mike D’Antoni’s system and him as coach, but you have to give him players that fit his system. He’s not bending. But when you give him his players — James Harden at the point, healthy seasons from Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon — he’s going to win a lot of games. And the man is a groundbreaking coach.

Dan Feldman: Mike D’Antoni
D’Antoni’s touch has brought out the best in the Rockets’ offense, starting with the subtle tweak of making James Harden the point guard. Houston’s defense has even neared league average, a credit to how D’Antoni organized his staff. His coaching prowess is limited to players who fit his style, but the Rockets do, and D’Antoni is doing a very nice job with them.

Dane Carbaugh: Mike D’Antoni
Let’s put Houston’s rise to the upper tier of the Western Conference on hold for a second. Is there anyone who was more unfairly written off than Mike D’Antoni? His SSoL Suns were the prerunner to today’s modern NBA offenses, but because of some awkward years in New York and LA with some mismatched rosters, everyone wrote him off. Apparently he’s been in the lab, with a pen and a pad, trying to get the Rockets off the ground. It’s worked by turning Harden into a point guard and surrounding him with shooters who get rid of the ball like it’s made of molten rock. I, for one, am here for SSoL II: Electric Boogaloo.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF YEAR

Kurt Helin: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Entering his fourth season, his improvements have been as big as his strides. Jason Kidd made the brilliant move (in the second half of last season) to move him to a point-forward position and put the ball in his hands, and he is driving and dishing with the best of them. He leads the NBA in points in the paint per game at 13.4 — more than DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Davis and the rest of them.

Dan Feldman: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Antetokounmpo is the runaway winner here. He has improved so much, so quickly, he’s probably due for regression to the mean. But he still has plenty of leeway to come down to earth and still cruise to this award.

Dane Carbaugh: Giannis Antetokounmpo
I think many of us were expecting Andrew Wiggins to grab this spot, but if it weren’t for Giannis Antetokounmpo’s meteoric rise the Timberwolves guard might come in second to his own teammate in Zach LaVine. Meanwhile, the Greek Freak has garnered the second most All-Star forward votes in the East, (only to LeBron James has more). If you aren’t watching Bucks games, you’re missing out.

BONUS: BEST ALBUM OF 2016

Kurt Helin: A Moon Shaped Pool (Radiohead)
Dan Feldman: Lemonade (Beyoncé)
Dane Carbaugh: Still Brazy (YG)

Draymond Green tells Kyrie Irving: ‘I know your moves’ (video)

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Only Draymond Green can endearingly brag about his defensive intelligence while admitting getting fooled on a play.

In the Warriors’ blowout win over the Cavaliers last night, Green guarded Kyrie Irving and anticipated the Cleveland guard would go one way. After Irving went the other way to score, the two shared a moment during a stoppage.

“I know your  moves,” Green said.

“I know,” replied Irving, whose vast offensive repertoire allowed him to find an unexpected counter.