New York Knicks' Lin pumps his fist from the bench as teammates score during their NBA basketball game in Toronto

Knicks sign-and-trade for Raymond Felton, is Jeremy Lin on the way out?

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Things went from “easy and predictable” to completely insane Saturday night in Gotham. It had been a few days since things with the Knicks had seemed berserk, so of course, all that detonated as news broke that the Knicks’ point guard situation could be altered dramatically in a matter of hours.

Here’s a rundown of how this happened.

Late Saturday night, a television reporter in South Carolina tweeted that he had spoken with free agent point guard and former New York Knick Raymond Felton and the guard told him that he was headed to New York in a sign-and-trade and that Jeremy Lin would not have his 3-year, $25 million offer sheet from the Rockets matched by the Knicks. Chaos ensued.

Then the New York Daily News reported that the Knicks had in fact reached out to Felton to discuss a deal and sign-and-trade, giving the report from South Carolina credence.

Yahoo Sports reported the deal was close and that Jeremy Lin was “close to being a Rocket.” 

The New York Daily News reported that the deal was done, with Felton and Kurt Thomas headed from Portland to New York for Dan Gadzuric and Jared Jeffries. CBSSports.com confirmed the trade. Yahoo Sports reported that the Knicks would give Felton a 3-year, $10 million contract.

The New York Post reports that a source indicates the Knicks will not match the offer. Every other outlet is staying quiet on that matter for now, waiting on confirmation.

That’s a huge question looming for both the Knicks and the Rockets.

For the Knicks, it’s a stunning move away from both the player who set the sporting world on fire for a few weeks in late winter, a financial boomtown all by himself due to marketing potential, and from their long insistence that they would match any offer made for Lin. It was a guarantee that Lin would be a Knick, by most sources. Now it appears as if it’s very possible that the richest team in the land is being scared off by the fear of the luxury tax hitting them in three years, when the structure of a matched contract for Lin would result in $15 million owed to the point guard.

It has long been thought that the Knicks couldn’t care less about the luxury tax. This would render all of that false.

Even more complicated still is the prospect of the Knicks matching for Lin. It would mean a three-point-guard rotation, with J.R. Smith signed to the two-guard spot and Iman Shumpert expected back early next year. Where does Jason Kidd fit into that plan? Would the Knicks play Felton, Lin, or Kidd at the 2-guard spot as a reserve? What role does Felton fit in? How would Lin fit in with his relative inexperience next to Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd?

Why would they sign three point guards at that level and price?

The questions go on and on and still have to be answered.

For the Rockets, there are huge questions about how it impacts their chase of Dwight Howard and the questions remain in flux as we try and get a handle on the situation. There are indications that the deal could sink the trade for Howard, or have no impact on it whatsoever. What is clear is that if the Bulls do not match the offer sheet Houston signed Omer Asik to, there’s going to be a huge chunk reserved in terms of space, and the Rockets would be unable to trade either player until December 15th, meaning they’re running out of options to trade for Howard.

The Blazers got a second round pick and some roster filler for a point guard they weren’t going to retain. No big deal for them.

The Knicks have one of the biggest choices of their franchise in front of them, and the implications either way could be massive. Lin could be massively overpaid, having only excelled in a handful of games last season. Letting him go could be a killer with the kind of skillsets and physical conditions Felton and Kidd bring with them. This is a monstrous decision for the Knicks, and the stakes are as high as they can be.

We know Raymond Felton is back as a Knick. Everything else we’re still working on.

Three things we learned Thursday: Memphis, Marc Gasol just win every close game

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) shoots between Portland Trail Blazers forward Al-Farouq Aminu, from left, center Mason Plumlee, and forward Jake Layman (10) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Here’s what you missed Thursday around the NBA while you were drinking homemade glow-in-the-dark beer with jellyfish genes in it (no, you try it first, I insist)…

1) Don’t play Memphis in a close game, they just find a way to win.
Last week, when Mike Conley went down with a back injury and was going to miss six weeks (give or take), we questioned if Memphis could keep their heads above water. They promptly went out and lost to a very good Toronto team.

Since then they have won five in a row, capped by an impressive 88-86 win over Portland Tuesday. Impressive because:

• Memphis is now 12-0 in games that were within 3 points in the final minute. You get in a close game with Memphis, you lose. (Statistically, we know some of that is luck, that there will be some regression to the mean, but that stat has propelled a team has been outscored by nine points this season, one that should be 12-12, to the 16-8 record they have.)

• Memphis trailed Portland 79-68 with less than five minutes to go, and still won.

Marc Gasol had 36 points and has been an absolute beast since Conley went down, doing whatever it takes to win.

• Toney Douglas — a guy the Grizzlies just picked up off the street this week, basically — comes in and is clutch down the stretch for them, including hitting the game-winning free throws with 0.5 seconds left (Damian Lillard tried to argue the call, to no avail).

The schedule gets tough for Memphis the next couple of weeks — Golden State, home-and-home with Cleveland, then Boston and Utah looming not long after — but do not doubt the Grizzlies. No team is as resilient as this bunch.

2) Bulls prove Spurs aren’t perfect on the road. It was bound to happen, the San Antonio Spurs were 13-0 on the road, they were going to stumble at some point. That point turned out to be Thursday night in Chicago, where the Spurs came out of the gate like they went out and had a big pregame meal of Lou Malnati’s pizza — 32 points on 30.6 percent shooting in the first half for San Antonio. The Spurs didn’t defend poorly, for example Kawhi Leonard held Jimmy Butler to no first-half points — in fact, midway through the first quarter Taj Gibson and Robin Lopez had scored almost all the Bulls’ buckets — but the San Antonio offense was dreadful. Throw a little credit to the Chicago defense if you want, but this was more San Antonio stumbling than a Chicago return to the Thibodeau era.

The Bulls were up 12 at the half and were able to hang on despite a strong second 24 minutes from Leonard (17 of his 24 came in the second half) and get the win. Dwyane Wade had 20 points and hit a couple of key buckets late to stabilize Chicago. For a Bulls team that is going to be in a playoff battle all season — they are the seven seed right now, one game ahead of the Pacers in ninth — these kinds of wins at home can prove huge.

3) What is it with Minnesota and second half? On the road, the Minnesota Timberwolves had played the Toronto Raptors even for the first 24 minutes — it was 59-59 at the half. And yet, there was a sense of dread for Timberwolves fans because all season their young team has just come apart in the third quarter — and then Toronto opened the second half on an 11-2 run. Minnesota, to their credit, crawls back into it, but midway through the fourth the Raptors go on a 17-4 run sparked by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, and the Raptors pull away for the 124-110 win. The Timberwolves lost another game because they can’t defend well.

Minnesota shows flashes of the kind of brilliance that has everyone thinking they might be a contender in a few years. But we all expected too much too soon from this group. Those impressive stretches are followed by ones where they play like a young team, they don’t defend well, and they throw those good efforts away. Not that they were going to beat a good Toronto team on the road, but the Timberwolves can be frustrating to watch. Patience is hard, and Minnesota fans are being asked to show a lot of it. We can debate if it’s time to bring Ricky Rubio off the bench and let Kris Dunn sink or swim, but that’s not the core problem. Ultimately, the Timberwolves are young and playing like it. They don’t know how and aren’t putting in the effort to defend well yet. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, they can be the core of a contender eventually, but there is a lot of learning to do along the way. Tom Thibodeau can teach them. But it’s going to require patience.

Watch Joel Embiid completely erase Anthony Davis’ layup

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Anthony Davis is languishing in New Orleans, but at least Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers pitted The Brow against The Process. That is, Joel Embiid.

When the two multi-talented big men met on the floor in New Orleans, Embiid got the better of Davis on at least one play.

With the ball on the left wing, Davis was able to get a step on Ersan Ilyasova out of the triple-threat position. As Davis dribbled toward an open lane, Embiid slid over to add some extra protection:

Great timing and court feel from Embiid, who has looked like a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.

Spurs fall to Bulls 95-91 after winning first 13 road games

Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) is defended by San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. (AP Photo/David Banks)
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CHICAGO (AP) — Dwyane Wade scored 20 points, and the Chicago Bulls handed San Antonio its first road loss after a 13-0 start, hanging on to beat the Spurs 95-91 on Thursday night.

San Antonio fell one win shy of matching the NBA’s best road start set by the Golden State Warriors last season. The Spurs cut an 18-point deficit midway through the third quarter to four in the closing minutes, only to come up short.

Kawhi Leonard scored 24 for San Antonio. Patty Mills added 16 points, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers. Former Bull Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his first game in Chicago since signing with San Antonio in the summer, but the Spurs lost a road game for the first time since Oklahoma City knocked them out in the Western Conference semifinals last season.

Jimmy Butler scored all of his 13 points for Chicago in the second half. Rajon Rondo added 12 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, and Chicago picked up the win after dropping three in a row and six of nine.

The Spurs hadn’t dropped a regular-season road game since Denver beat them on April 8. But after a big push down the stretch, they came up short in this one.

The Bulls led 65-47 midway through the third following a surge by Butler, who scored seven in a 54-second span after missing his first six shots. But the Spurs jumped back into it in the closing minutes of the quarter.

They went on an 11-2 run that Mills finished with a 3 to cut it to 72-66 just under a minute into the fourth.

Things got real tight when Gasol nailed a 3 to pull San Antonio to within 88-84 with 3:24 left. Doug McDermott then hit three free throws after being fouled by Tony Parker, and the teams basically exchanged baskets the rest of the way.

TIP-INS

Spurs: Parker had eight points and five assists after missing a game because of a bruised left knee. … For the second straight game, the Spurs set a season low for first-quarter scoring. They had 17 points after managing 19 at Minnesota on Tuesday night.

Bulls: F Doug McDermott scored eight points after being sidelined because of a concussion since Nov. 11. … Butler had scored 20 or more in 15 consecutive games, the longest streak by a Bulls player since Michael Jordan did it in 24 straight during the 1995-96 season.

 

Parker returns to Spurs’ lineup against Bulls

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CHICAGO (AP) San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker returned to the lineup Thursday night against the Chicago Bulls after missing a game because of a bruised left knee.

The seven-time All-Star did not play at Minnesota on Tuesday night after knocking knees with a Milwaukee Bucks defender the previous night. He started against the Bucks after missing two games with a thigh contusion.

Parker came into Thursday averaging 9.4 points and 4.4 assists.

Chicago’s Doug McDermott returned to the rotation after missing nearly a month because of a concussion.