Kobe Bryant Dwight Howard

It’s official: League approves four-team deal, Howard a Laker

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Some Lakers fans were convinced David Stern was going to try to kill this blockbuster, balance changing trade. And you could bet if he really could have some owners (*cough*Mark Cuban*cough*) would have pressured him to do so.

But the league had no real standing to block this trade — because it can be justified for basketball reasons and because Stern is not the defacto owner of the team like he was with the Hornets when he called off the Chris Paul trade. This trade was going through. And it has, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network:

The teams finalized the trade on a call with NBA officials Friday afternoon.

So here is how the trade works out.

Lakers get: Dwight Howard, Chris Duhon and Earl Clark,

Magic get: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Josh McRoberts, Christian Eyenga, Nikola Vucevic, Moe Harkless, three first round picks (one from each team), two second-round picks.

76ers get: Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson.

Nuggets get: Andre Iguodala.

As I said before, I like this trade a lot for the Lakers, Sixers and Denver. They all get better and have guys that fit with what they want to do.

As for Orlando, they said they wanted to get picks, get some good young players and save some cap space. There was no good deal for them to take, there was nothing remotely like equal value, so they looked for a way to rebuild. Most of the guys they just picked up are nice rotation players, and the picks will be lower in the draft order. However, the Magic are going to be bad and it is their own picks the next few years that will be key to them getting to rebuild through the draft.

Could they have saved more money and gotten better picks from Houston? Probably. This is not a great deal. But I don’t think we can call it a bust until we see how those picks pan out. And that’s going to take years.

But it’s done now, either way. Good luck, Magic fans. Lakers fans, you don’t need it.

Blazers C Meyers Leonard dunks on Celtics’ Mickey twice in five minutes (VIDEO)

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Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is an athletic young guy who has made a name for himself as a fade man off the pick-and-roll. But against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Leonard decided to roll to the hoop instead, and it sort of worked out.

Unless you’re Jordan Mickey, in which case it didn’t.

The first poster dunk came during the final minute of the first quarter in Boston, where the Blazers were running a sideline out of bounds play.

Via Twitter:

The second came at 9:51 in the second quarter, with Leonard again rolling to the rack on a play with Allen Crabbe. Mickey again wound up as the help man, and again found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel.

We’ll just forgive that off arm for now.

Jabari Parker held out of Bucks lineup vs. Heat for breaking team rule

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MIAMI (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday night at Miami after breaking a team rule.

Parker will play coming off the bench, coach Jason Kidd said.

Kidd declined to elaborate on the move, which came after the Bucks held a long players-only meeting following a loss Friday at Orlando. The meeting got heated at times, and Parker said he wasn’t well received when he expressed his point of view.

Parker has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Thon Maker, making his first career start.

Gregg Popovich on Trump: “Can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth” (VIDEO)

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Today across the country many hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump, his misogyny as demonstrated in prior comments made about women, and policies he’s promised to put in place to weaken women’s health including defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Affordable Care Act. Gregg Popovich, no stranger to speaking his mind about Trump, was asked about the marches today and how he felt about the former reality TV star’s first hours in office.

Popovich responded for around four minutes, spanning a wide breadth of topics including Trump’s maturity level, respect for the presidential office, and Trump’s cabinet members waffling on implied meaning when he insulted a handicapped reporter in November of 2015.

Via Cleveland.com:

I wish that he was more — had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying ‘I’m going to include everybody.” He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it, but so far we’ve got a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes of his mouth.

Popovich also expressed his frustration with Trump’s insecurities, referencing his need to discuss the size of the inauguration crowd from Friday — reported widely by major news outlets in both text and video/photographic evidence — as far smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.

“I’d just feel better if somebody was in that position that showed the maturity, psychological, and emotional level of somebody that was his age,” said Popovich, adding, “It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist, and make fun of handicap people.”

It’s an interesting period in American history to be sure. Things are at such a fever pitch after Trump’s election that whether people like it or not — and no doubt many won’t like Popovich’s comments or this article about it — the lines between diversion and real life, including politics, has begun to blur.

It’s great to see that coaches and players in the NBA are able to speak their minds about topics openly like this, perhaps surprisingly so when you consider the amount of money involved for the league and teams.

If you’d like to read the full comments you can do so here:

Ricky Rubio will miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio has left the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons and will miss at least the next game on Sunday against Denver.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says he expects Rubio to get back into town late Sunday and rejoin the team for practice on Monday.

Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night because of tightness in his left hip. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101.

Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the season, with the belief that Thibodeau would prefer a point guard who shoots better from the perimeter. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists.