Leandro Barbosa and Danny Ainge deny report of Barbosa’s trade request

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Leandro Barbosa has played well offensively for the Celtics this season when he’s gotten the chance.

The problem has been that after the first month of the season, the opportunity has all but vanished — and when that happens, reports and rumors can often begin to swirl.

That was the case with Barbosa this week, who supposedly told a foreign media outlet that he was trying to get out of his situation in Boston. Once asked about it by those who cover the team locally, however, the report was immediately shot down.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge denied it, as well.

From Greg Payne of ESPNBoston:

“I won’t lie to you. I’ve tried to get out several times, but Danny Ainge doesn’t want to let me leave,” Barbosa told ESPN Brazil. “He is a guy that I’ve admired in basketball for many years. I was supposed to have gotten a good contract from the Boston Celtics, but it did not happen. He’s not going to let me leave this way.”

Barbosa was all smiles while taking shots on the the team’s practice court before Thursday’s afternoon session. When the Boston Herald showed Barbosa the ESPN Brazil story, he told the paper, “No, I want to play. I want to be here. That’s it.”

Ainge said Thursday he was unfamiliar with the ESPN Brazil report and while he has had discussions with Barbosa about his role with the team, there have been no trade demands.

Barbosa averaged over 14 minutes per game in November, and averaged 6.1 points on 43.6 percent shooting. In the two monts since, his time on the court has dropped to less than half that, and he didn’t appear at all in 10 of his team’s games over that stretch.

For now, it seems like Ainge and Babosa are on the same page. If his minutes don’t pick up over the next month, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Barbosa included in a deal near the trade deadline, even if to this point no formal request to be sent out of town has been made.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.