Miami Heat v Orlando Magic

Dwight Howard’s agent defends spin after confirming he leaked details of meeting with Magic

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“They started it!”

This is what professional business negotiations have, once again, turned into, in the NBA.

A day after David Stern outed Dwight Howard agent Dan Fegan as the source of leaks concerning Howard’s meeting with the Orlando Magic this week, Fegan hit the media again, this time with regards to why he leaked details of the meeting.

It wasn’t his fault!

The Magic started it! He swears!

From ESPN, in an email that was no doubt distributed across the board:

“On the morning prior to Wednesday’s supposedly confidential meeting between Dwight Howard and Rob Hennigan, there were media reports stating a meeting was taking place later that same day,” wrote agent Dan Fegan of LaGardere Unlimited in an email. “Prior to the actual meeting, Dwight’s business manager and I met with Rob, reminded him that we had not requested the meeting, had been reluctant to take it and were concerned that the Magic had leaked that a meeting was taking place.

“Both during and after the meeting, we continued to get communications from the media telling us that they had confirmation that the meeting was occurring and/or had taken place. After the meeting, some media requested comments on information they allegedly already had on what had taken place in the meeting. I want to stress that none of the information the reporters had about the meeting at this point came from us.

“After receiving these media inquiries, I called Rob and left several messages expressing concern that what had occurred in the meeting was not going to be accurately reported — as had happened on previous occasions — and that we were going to respond to the media inquiries to make sure that reports were accurate. To a limited extent, that is what we did.”

via Dwight Howard’s agent, Dan Fegan, confirms David Stern’s accusation – ESPN Los Angeles.

Oh, he just wanted to clear things up. Just to make sure things were accurate.

Got it.

/eyebrow raise

Look, the Magic aren’t innocent in all this. They’re playing games through the media. They’ve just been substantially more quiet about it than the Nets and Howard’s team. But if Fegan’s leaking this information, the reporters are forced to report on it, because it’s a credible source. It’s his agent, who was at the meeting. The problem is that that source is transparently and emphatically trying to shift the public conversation in one direction: Dwight’s way. That’s his job. This isn’t Fegan’s fault, either. He’s doing his job to protect and serve his client.

But if one side says something happened in the meeting, and I’m sure it was “accurate” from their perspective, why not get the other side’s take? Why not get what the Magic have to say about it?

Because the Magic know they don’t gain anything by leaking that information. Even if they did leak that Howard was meeting with the team, that’s an innocuous leak. There’s no real gain for them there. “Team meets with player they have on contract.” But the details are what caused an uproar. The Magic aren’t leaking their side, they’re not leaking that they met with Howard but did not meet to try and convince him to stay, or anything about the intent of the meeting, which was something Fegan let loose which apparently they interpreted as Hennigan trying to convince Howard to stay, when he’s clearly not. The Magic aren’t leaking more harmful information about what Howard did.

It hurts their leverage. It limits their ability to trade him. It keeps them stuck in this never-ending cycle of misery everyone, including the media at this point, is trapped in.

The Magic don’t need to meet with Howard. Howard doesn’t need to meet with the Magic. No one needs to leak anything. The Magic need to work to find the deal they need, get it, trade him, and forget Dwight Howard ever happened to the franchise.

Such a shame for something that brought so many people in Florida joy for so many years.

It is kind of weird that the fourth wall has been broken with Fegan himself becoming the story. Don’t see that happen much. Then again, nothing about this process of holding a team hostage to try and force Howard’s way to Brooklyn has been normal.

J.B. Bickerstaff calls Rockets ‘broken team,’ ‘fragmented bunch’

Houston Rockets interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff rubs his head in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Washington Wizards, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Houston. The Wizards won 123-122. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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Rockets interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been unafraid to sharply assess his team.

But after last night’s loss to the Trail Blazers – Houston’s third straight defeat and sixth in eight games – Bickerstaff kicked up the rhetoric even further.

Bickerstaff, via Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

“We’re broken,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s that simple. We’re a broken team, and we all need to use this break to figure out how we’re going to impact change. If we don’t want to impact change, then we need to be made aware of that, too, and we’ll go in a different direction.

“We can’t continue to go out and play this way. It’s easy to see it’s a fragmented bunch. You can’t win that way.”

This is why Dwight Howard is on the trade block. The Rockets are so incohesive, there’s no simple solution in sight. This increasingly looks like a lost season for Houston, which should emphasize future planning – like dealing Howard, who can become an unrestricted free agent at age 30 this summer.

Yet, the Rockets are just a half game from playoff position. They obviously dreamed much bigger when the season began, but at this point, merely making the postseason should qualify as a success.

It’s Bickerstaff’s job to get them there, no matter how unlikely. He has certainly shown little fear in trying, whether it’s giving these quotes or pulling all five starters simultaneously shortly into a game. He’s trying to put his mark on this team.

The players just aren’t responding, not more than periodically, at least. From James Harden down, nobody plays with the requisite focus and energy.

Nothing in Bickerstaff’s assessment is surprising. It’s just surprising he said it so bluntly publicly.

Then again, that’s nothing compared to what veteran Houston guard Jason Terry said. Eric Ringering of 750 The Game:

https://twitter.com/ringering45/status/697664478993756164

Devin Booker to replace Nerlens Noel in Rising Stars at All-Star Weeekend

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker reacts after hitting a 3-point shot against the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
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Sixers big man Nerlens Noel — who has looked much improved this season once Ish Smith was feeding him the rock on offense — sat out the Sixers game Wednesday night due to tendonitis in his right knee. After he missed his rookie season with knee issues, you can understand why the Sixers want him to be cautious.

Noel is going to sit out All-Star Weekend as well — he had been scheduled to play in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night, but he is going to sit that out and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns will take his place, the league has announced (Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic broke that story).

Booker has been one of the few bright spots for the Suns this season, averaging 10.6 points a game and shooting 40.3 percent from three.

He will play for the USA in the World vs. USA format of the Rising Stars Challenge (the former rookie/sophomore game, featuring first and second year players).

With Emmanuel Mudiay replacing Patrick Beverley, NBA reveals Skills Challenge bracket

Houston Rockets' Patrick Beverley (2) knocks the ball away from Denver Nuggets' Emmanuel Mudiay (0) in the first half of a NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
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Out: Defending champion Patrick Beverley.

In: Emmanuel Mudiay Emmanuel Mudiay.

The NBA confirmed the Rockets guard would miss the Skills Challenge and that Mudiay would replace him. The league also release the bracket:

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My picks:

Quarterfinals

Semifinals

  • Isaiah Thomas over C.J. McCollum
  • Anthony Davis over Draymond Green

Final

  • Isaiah Thomas over Anthony Davis

NBA suspends Hassan Whiteside for elbowing Boban Marjanovic’s head

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Hassan Whiteside lost his cool and elbowed Boban Marjanovic in the head Tuesday.

The Heat center received a flagrant 2 and an ejection, and now he’s getting the rest of his punishment.

NBA release:

Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside has been suspended one game without pay for throwing an elbow and making contact with the head of San Antonio Spurs center Boban Marjanovic, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which Whiteside was assessed a Flagrant 2 and ejected, occurred with 9:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Spurs’ 119-101 win over the Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena on Feb. 9.

Whiteside will serve his suspension when Miami plays the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 19 at Philips Arena.

The suspension will cost Whiteside $8,921. As a result, the Heat – in line to become the first team in NBA history to pay the repeater luxury-tax rate – trim their impending tax bill by $24,534.

More importantly for Whiteside, this will be a strike against him for teams considering offering him a big contract in free agency this summer.