Report: Four-team deal sending Howard to Lakers finalized, awaits league approval

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Finally, Dwight Howard is being traded.

A complex four-team trade that sends Dwight Howard to the Lakers and Andre Iguodala to the Nuggets and involves the 76ers and Magic has been approved in principle by the teams and will go to the league for formal approval on Friday, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources close to the process told Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that a trade call with the league office has been scheduled for Friday to secure the necessary NBA approval to make the deal official.

The deal means the Lakers get Howard; the Magic get Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic, just drafted Moe Harkless (No. 15 pick in this draft) and a first round pick from each of the three other teams; the Sixers get Andrew Bynum and take on Jason Richardson and his contract; the Nuggets get Andre Iguodala.

That varies from the original report but fits with reports that Pau Gasol is not part of the deal. Expect some changes in the final form, but that seems to be the core of it.

This makes a lot of sense for the Lakers — they would start Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Antwan Jamison (probably), Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and off the bench… does it matter? They would move up with the Heat as title contenders, and we can debate it but I think it moves them just past the Thunder.

However, Howard will not sign an extension with the Lakers. He shouldn’t, if he does he only gets three years at lower raises than if he becomes a free agent and re-signs with the Lakers. That would let him get a five year max deal with larger raises. Still, there is some risk for the Lakers.

Also, there is concern about Howard’s back — he had surgery on it and is rehabbing it in Los Angeles. That said he does not have a history of injury concerns (like Bynum), before last season he had never missed more than three games.

I get this for the Nuggets, who have wanted Iguodala for a while.

I get this for the Sixers, who get an anchor big in Bynum — and they are reportedly willing to gamble they can re-sign him. Philly athletes will tell you that if the fans in the city respect you and your effort it is the best place in the world to play… Bynum lived up to that last season, but before not so much. Bynum also grew up in New Jersey about an hour from Philly. Bynum is very money motivated and the extra cash the Sixers can offer with his Bird rights will play a big role. Also, Richardson’s deal is less painful than Iggy’s.

For the Magic, is this really better than what they were offered before? Afflalo is a quality NBA wing, Vucevic is young and could develop into a solid big, Harrington can be bought out after this season, Harkless is a rookie. There are three picks but all are lower in the draft.

Is that better than what the Nets offered with Brook Lopez and picks? Is it better than the picks and cap relief the Rockets are offering?

Or, is it something you can at least sell to your fan base as good? That may be the case.

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.

Marc Gasol game-winner tops Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance, evens Spurs/Grizzlies series 2-2

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Best. Game. Of. The. Playoffs.

So far at least.

Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.

It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.

The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.

While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.

The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.

Hawks take control early, romp past Wizards 116-98

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ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 29 points, Dennis Schroder had 27 and the Atlanta Hawks delivered an early knockout blow against Washington, cruising to a 116-98 victory Saturday that sliced the Wizards’ lead to 2-1 in the opening-round playoff series.

After two tight losses in Washington exposed some bad blood between the teams, Atlanta returned home and built a 25-point lead by late in the first quarter.

The Hawks were never seriously challenged by the Wizards, who were essentially a one-man team. John Wall kept up his dazzling play in the series, scoring 29 points, but the point guard got no help from his teammates.

The other Washington starters combined to score 30 points on 14-of-45 shooting.

Millsap also had 14 rebounds, while rookie Taurean Prince chipped in with 16 points.

Game 4 is Monday night in Atlanta.

The Hawks came out intent on moving the ball, getting open looks and cutting down on the turnovers that plagued them in the first two contests.

Talk about following the game plan.

Atlanta pushed out to a double-digit lead before the game was 3 minutes old and stretched the margin to 38-13 with just under a minute to go in the opening quarter on Schroder’s 3-pointer.

Wall did everything he could to spark the Wizards. He posed along the baseline after a thunderous dunk, which might have had more effect if the Wizards weren’t losing by 23 at the time. He also darted through the lane against a collapsing defense to bank in an improbable shot, drawing gasps from the Atlanta crowd.

Wall made all but one shot and scored 21 points in the first half, but the Wizards trailed 64-46 heading to the locker room. The other four Washington starters had just 18 points.

Beal, in particular, had a miserable night after averaging 26.5 points in the first two games. He was held to 12 points on 6-of-20 shooting, missing all six of his attempts beyond the arc.

TIP INS

Wizards: Wall is averaging 31 points per game in the series. … F Otto Porter Jr. left in the third quarter with a strained neck and didn’t return. … After a video review, Jason Smith was called for a flagrant foul against Millsap late in the third quarter.

Hawks: C Dwight Howard remains a non-factor in Atlanta’s offense. He scored five points and took just four shots, giving him a mere 15 attempts over the first three games. He did have 11 rebounds. … Schroder had some issues at the free-throw line, making only half of his eight attempts. Millsap did, too, going 5 of 9. … Atlanta had a double-digit lead for the final 44:24 of the game. … Prince picked up a technical foul for taunting the Wizards after an alley-oop dunk in the closing minutes. … The Hawks had just 11 turnovers.

 

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic to play, start vs. Golden State in Game 3

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In 20 games after the Trail Blazers traded for him, Jusuf Nurkic averaged 15.2 points 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2 blocks per game. Portland was 9.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court and went 14-6, a surge that helped get them into the playoffs. Then a leg fracture had him sidelined for the end of the season and the start of the playoffs.

Until Saturday.

He will play limited minutes, but the Blazers will take it.

Portland is down 0-2 to the Warriors but are coming home to take on a Golden State team that will be without Kevin Durant again (strained calf) and coach Steve Kerr (illness).

Nurkic gives Portland some hope, he certainly helps their defense. We’ll see if that’s enough.