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.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.