John Wall

John Wall admits a number of point guards are better than him, still wants to get paid

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It remains one of the interesting questions of the NBA off-season: How much do the Wizards offer John Wall in a contract extension?

The Wizards are going to make an offer and they’ve suggested it’s substantial. I think something close to Stephen Curry’s four year, $44 million seems about right. Since getting back and healthy this season Wall has certainly shown both an improved jump shot and an ability to lead a team on the court, both scoring and setting other guys up. The Wizards are playing well behind him (11-9 in their last 20).

But Wall also admitted to David Aldridge of NBA.com that there are a number of point guards out there better than him — and that he still wants to get paid like the big names.

Only three point guards in the league have max deals — Deron Williams, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. It’s a lock that Chris Paul will join them this summer. And that’s all. Even Wall acknowledges those four are better than he is.

“You’ve got Chris Paul, Russell,” he said Sunday night. “Derrick right now. I’d say Kyrie [Irving]’s up there, doing pretty good. I like [Portland’s] Damian Lillard. I’d say he’s up there in that category. He’s playing out of his mind, to play like he’s a rookie. I feel like those years in college really helped him. I feel like they’d be the top.”

He agrees, when Rajon Rondo’s name is mentioned, that Rondo is better. He goes along with Denver’s Ty Lawson, and volunteers Golden State’s Stephen Curry. And that’s the list. Eight better.

Of course, Wall still wants to be paid like the top four.

Maybe a fair alternative is a five-year offer in the $55 million range but with an opt-out after three for Wall — if he proves in the next three years that he is a max player he can opt out and get that deal. It’s a risk for the Wizards, but if they can build a good team around him he will not want to bolt (and the Wizards can always offer more money). It will be a trade off of dollars and options between the sides.

I’ll add this: Wall is right on in his comment that he was drafted into a situation that would make it difficult for any rookie to succeed at a high level. This was the Wizards of Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young when Wall arrived. Not exactly the most professional locker room. As I have asked before, how would Rondo and Wall had been different had you reversed their landing spots in the NBA and Wall got quality veterans to model as a rookie?

“Well, I feel like I get what I deserve,” Wall says. “I know what I play like. I think they understand what I’ve been through the first two years, having what I had. Not to talk bad on any of my teammates or any of the guys I’ve had. I just feel like some of them weren’t very professional about their job. They didn’t care about winning, to be honest.”

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)
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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.