Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard silly season opens up. The Thunder? Will not happen.

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With all Dwight Howard trade action — to the Rockets, to the Lakers in a three-team deal with Cleveland, to anyone — in a holding pattern, speculation is starting to run wild.

Not rumors. Not “hey, GM X talked to the Magic to put in a bid.” But rather random, rampant speculation from the media and fans about things that are never going to happen.

Case in point, some fans and media are running with what John Rhode of the Oklahoman wrote.

OKC could throw its name into the Howard hopper and offer Kendrick Perkins, James Harden and Eric Maynor in a Howard sign-and-trade with Orlando, but doing so would abandon the Presti Plan and give the perception he had gone about things all wrong.

Then again, it potentially could result in an NBA title or two with a starting lineup of Howard, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka, not to mention a season record for blocked shots and a high-dollar existence above the league’s luxury tax. Presti is booking that slow and steady eventually will win the race to the NBA crown, which is why the Thunder is a tortoise in a league filled with hares.

Rhode’s piece is just saying that the Thunder have stuck to their plan — a plan that has worked out pretty well. If there are  Thunder fans not happy with how things are set up in Oklahoma City I know 28 other fan bases who would trade spots with you. Tomorrow. Sorry if it wasn’t fast and sexy enough for you, but what you have now is the model most teams try to build on — smart drafting of a powerful core. Each year they got better and this time made it to their first NBA finals.

OKC, you have not had a team for that long, so let me give you some advice — enjoy the journey. If your mentality is “title or bust” you’ll come off as arrogant, entitled Lakers fans. You have as good a young core as there is in the game, good players and good people who are fun to watch. Savor that, it is too rare. The titles will come. They will. Let them and enjoy the journey because that is the fun part, not the end result.

As for the people who want to jump on this idea, know there is no way this happens. No. Way. It will not even be discussed. Because neither side would do it.

First, you have title chemistry in OKC and that is hard to get, and there is no way GM Sam Presti blows that up to go way over the cap to win. Does that mean you don’t get to play the game like the Knicks financially? So what, how has that worked out in NYC? The NBA is not the MLB — smart drafting and management wins, not buying a team. (And don’t say the Heat bought a team, they drafted Wade and took a huge risk stripping their payroll to make their play. Are you going to tell me Pat Riley wasn’t the smartest guy in the room?)

Secondly, the Magic wouldn’t do this.

What does Orlando want in a deal? Well, that’s been a little hard to tell, but apparently it is cap relief, young players and picks. OKC doesn’t have a lot of great picks. And while Harden is good and Maynor is nice, but the Magic are not taking Perkins back. And they want you to take on Jason Richardson and or Hedo Turkoglu in a deal. This isn’t about getting talent for Howard, it’s about stripping the team down to the foundation and rebuilding. Using the Thunder model. This deal doesn’t offer that.

We’re going to see a lot random speculation now as the Magic have let this drag on and on and on. I just hope it ends soon. I fear if the Mayans were right, the world could end before this saga does.

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.

Thaddeus Young shakes backboard with dunk on Terrence Jones (video)

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Terrence Jones isn’t much of a rim protector.

Thaddeus Young took advantage.

This ferocious jam helped the Pacers beat the Pelicans, 98-85.

Rudy Gobert block secures Utah’s win over Phoenix (VIDEO)

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At the season’s midway point, Rudy Gobert is probably the leader frontrunner in the Defensive Player of the Year race. Kawhi Leonard will have a say, and there is a lot of basketball yet to play, but Gobert anchors the NBA’s best defense and he is a force in the paint.

Just ask the Phoenix Suns.

Down three with 13 seconds left Monday night, the Suns wanted a three to tie, but when that was not easily open Eric Bledsoe decided to drive for two (then the Suns would foul and extend the game), he was cut off so Bledsoe dished to rookie Marquese Chriss, who went in for the layup — and found the long arms of Gobert. Blocked shot and game over.

Utah is for real, folks.

Three Things We Learned, Cavaliers/Warriors edition: What can we take away from Monday to NBA Finals?

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 16:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers holds his face after being fouled by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on January 16, 2017 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The NBA goes big on Martin Luther King Jr. day — as they should — but if you missed the action because you were busy counting to 100,000 for no reason, we’ve got you covered with the key takeaways from the biggest game on the schedule.

And we’re doubling our usual three things we learned to six for a day.

Six things from Warriors’ thrashing of Cavaliers that could play out in NBA Finals.
 Nothing that happens in the regular season guarantees anything come the NBA playoffs, let alone the Finals. Last season’s 73-win Warriors were just the latest in a long line of teams to prove that. Which means we need to be careful reading much into Golden State’s thrashing of Cleveland on Martin Luther King Jr. day. The Finals are a little less than six months away — both of these teams will be different by then (the Cavaliers hope to have a healthy J.R. Smith and Kevin Love by then, for example).  Remember, in January one year ago the Warriors thrashed the Cavaliers on national television, and how did the following Finals turn out?

However, when these teams meet some strategies are tested, little things in the game that we could see — or teams will need to at least account for — come the Finals meeting we all expect. Here are six things from Monday’s game that could well play out in June in the NBA Finals.

1) In the four straight wins the Cavaliers had in this series prior to Monday, they were very aggressive in defending Stephen Curry — they trapped him off picks, were physical, tried to pressure him into decisions to give up the ball, then when Curry tried to make the playground passes that worked against other teams the Cavaliers help defenders made steals and were off in transition the other way. All of that made Curry passive — remember the guy floating on the perimeter taking just 11 shots on Christmas Day?

On Monday night Curry took that pressure in stride, attacked Kyrie Irving from the opening tip (remember Curry’s first possession he blew right by him), used his handles to create space, used his gravity to draw defenders to him, then he whipped smart passes around the floor. In the first half, Curry had 10 assists and zero turnovers. For the game Curry had 20 shots. If he can match that, or even come close, in the Finals, the Cavs are going to struggle to slow this offense down. Like every mortal team has.

2) In January 2016 the Warriors thrashed the Cavaliers on national television, and that was a critical step in the Cavaliers deciding they needed to let David Blatt go, hire Tyronn Lue, and make changes that put them on Golden State’s level. With Monday’s loss, one thing that was evident was the depth of playmaking options the Warriors have and how that can be difficult to guard. Cleveland has two playmakers right now, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Cavs’ GM David Griffin has talked about wanting to add playmakers, LeBron has called for a backup point guard, but it’s clear whatever position they could use to add another playmaker or two heading into the trade deadline.

3) Can Kevin Durant guard LeBron? Chris Haynes of ESPN with an interesting stat:

The Cavaliers were on the last night of a six-game, 12-day road trip — they were not at their best. LeBron clearly wasn’t. However, if KD can even do a reasonable job on LeBron — or can switch on to him without getting torched — the Warriors will be a lot more comfortable and have more options on defense.

4) How did Warriors handle Kyle Korver? They went right at him and made him play defense, which has never been a strong suit (to put it kindly). The Warriors have enough playmakers that whoever Korver was guarding just went at him, and it worked — particularly during the stretch that saw the Warriors first push their lead north of 20. Korver didn’t have a great shooting night, by June he likely is far more comfortable, but if the Warriors can expose him on the other end it will be hard to keep Korver on the court for extended periods.

5) When JaVale McGee checked in for the Warriors, Tyronn Lue countered with Channing Frye. JaVale is not a strong defender, doesn’t step out away from the basket if he can help it, and the Cavs saw an advantage. JaVale’s offense covered that in this game scoring inside, but it’s something to watch.

6) DeAndre Liggins is a good defender, but he’s more focused on-ball than off, and in the fourth quarter Klay Thompson torched him a few times making Liggins chase him off screens away from the ball. You can be sure Steve Kerr noticed and filed that away.