Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett

Report: Garnett signs off on trade that would send him, Pierce to Brooklyn

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UPDATE #2 10:56 PM: Kevin Garnett will agree to waive his no-trade clause, clearing a major hurdle for the deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That makes this deal far more likely. It is not finalized yet, and can’t be officially executed until July 10, but the teams are working to get the deal paramaters set by tomorrow. This looks like it could really happen.

UPDATE 5:50 pm: This trade is moving along and moving along quickly — the deal is in advanced talks and Kevin Garnett has had it presented to him to see if he would waive his no-trade clause, according to multiple reports.

The trade has actually grown to include more players, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The talks are centering around a package that would include Gerald Wallace, Tornike Shengelia, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and three future first-round picks (2014, ’16 and ’18), sources told Y! Sports.

Jason Terry also will be in the package going to the Nets, sources said. The Nets would send back Reggie Evans and do a sign-and-trade involving Keith Bogans and one more minimum-level player as part of package, a source said.

Marc Stein at ESPN reports Garnett has been approached about waiving his no trade clause to allow this deal.

The two sides could agree in principle to the trade in the next 24 hours, however it cannot be executed until July 10. That is because it requires Paul Pierce’s larger salary, which kicks in July 1, but there is a moratorium on trades being finalized at the start of the free agent period. That lasts until the 10th.

1:13 pm: If Nets GM Billy King can find a way to get out from under this roster he built, the man deserves a Harry Houdini award.

And he may have found his path — with the Boston Celtics.

The Nets and Celtics are discussing a blockbuster deal that would bring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The talks are centering around a package that would include Gerald Wallace, Tomike Shengelia, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and three future first-round picks, sources told Y! Sports.

Garnett has yet to be approached about waiving his no-trade clause, sources said, but there’s a belief that he could be convinced of agreeing to a deal should the Celtics and Nets be able to reach an agreement on terms. No deal is imminent.

First, this is not going to be done fast — it couldn’t be completed until after the moratorium is lifted on July 10 (because of Pierce’s salary).

Boston certainly wants to try and move Pierce and Garnett together — that way KG is more likely to waive his no-trade clause — but that is a lot of salary to move and few teams would be willing to take it on. Brooklyn apparently will consider it.

Those picks are spread out over a few years and there are complications — the Atlanta Hawks have the right to switch first round picks with the Nets in 2014 or 2015. The Nets can’t trade picks in consecutive years so this would space out for a while.

If it came to pass — and that’s still a big “if” — it would give the Nets Deron Williams at the point, Brook Lopez at center, Garnett at the four and Pierce at the five. There would be a lot of tax to be paid but the team would be a bigger threat (if they can stay healthy) to the elite of the East.

The picks would matter to the rebuilding Boston Celtics, but they would then be trying to move Gerald Wallace and the three years, $30 million still on his deal. That contract is an anchor and would be the hard part of the deal for Boston to swallow.

Whenever they do move Pierce and Garnett, other questions come up for Boston: How far down does the rebuilding go? Do you move Rajon Rondo too? Do the Celtics go all in on the “Woeful for Wiggins” train?

Rajon Rondo strangely runs behind Rick Carlisle during play (video)

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This would be ignored – still odd, but ignored – if it weren’t for their history.

But Rajon Rondo running behind Rick Carlisle during the Mavericks’ win over the Bulls raised a couple eyebrows in curiosity and drew a few chuckles. What was Rondo doing?

At least Carlisle explained why he didn’t call timeout before Wesley Matthewsgame-winning 3-pointer. The Dallas coach had Rondo in mind.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Mike D’Antoni: “James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach”

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 07: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center on November 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It’s not exactly Seven Seconds or Less Part 2 in Houston, but it may be closer to Mike D’Antoni’s ultimate vision.

The Rockets are 32-12 with the third-best offense in the NBA (Toronto and Golden State), and it’s an analytics wet dream of threes and shots at the rim. It’s all come together because James Harden bought in. Steve Nash ran the offense brilliantly but differently — Harden is as good or better with his style (which gets him to the line more often).

The brilliant Howard Beck at Bleacher Report got everyone to talk about the Rockets rapid rise and how it all came together. It’s must read. Plus there are some brilliant quotes, starting with Harden about D’Antoni pitching the move to point guard:

“I thought he was crazy,” says Harden, who earned his stardom at shooting guard….

Or as D’Antoni put it, “James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach.”

“People always ask, ‘You traded for him; did you know he was this good?'” (Rockets GM Daryl) Morey says. “I’m like, ‘F–k no!’ I mean, we thought he was extremely good and better than other teams probably did.”

But not top-five good or, say, top-three, which Morey would make the case for today.

Harden is MVP-level good. What’s more, the Rockets are knocking on the door of contender good. The pedestrian defense isn’t there yet (18th in the NBA for the season, 15th for the month of January), questions about depth and if young key cogs like Clint Capela can grow into the roles the Rockets need them to, and there are the health concerns considering the histories of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.

But the Rockets are dangerous right now and could reach the Western Conference Finals this season if healthy and things break right (their style and athleticism would be a tough test for the Spurs).  And the story of how it all came together is fascinating.

Carmelo Anthony on talk with Jackson: “We didn’t break bread….It was a short conversation”

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 25:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks looks on during the game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on December 25, 2016 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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It wasn’t long. It wasn’t outwardly contentious. But you can bet it was colder than the weather outside Madison Square Garden in January.

Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony sat down and talked about Anthony’s future with the Knicks Tuesday, with Anthony reiterating again he doesn’t want to be traded. And since he has a no-trade clause and two years on his deal after this one, he has the power.

Anthony seems done with the entire topic and is ready to move on. From Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“The conversation was not that long. We didn’t break bread,’’ Anthony said. “We didn’t have hours of conversation. It was a short conversation.”

This entire topic came up when Phil Rosen — a Phil Jackson confidant who swears he’s not a surrogate — penned an article saying Anthony was willing to accept a move to the Cavaliers or Clippers (or maybe the Lakers). The move felt like a classic Jackson mind game move where Anthony was forced to respond to it — and Anthony seems done with the drama.

“I’m done asking why,’’ Anthony said. “My focus is playing ball at this point. My focus is these guys. That’s all I care about at this point. Making sure these guys stay strong and positive and have their head on right and not be a distraction to them.

“I’m committed [to the Knicks]. I don’t have to prove that to anybody. I don’t have to keep saying that and keep talking about it. I know for a fact people know that and people see that.”

Anthony is ready to move on, is Jackson? Or do we see another mind game move coming?

Anthony isn’t going anywhere, not in the short term. Even if Anthony would entertain a trade to those mentioned, markets, you think the Cavaliers would like to give Kevin Love‘s minutes and some of LeBron James‘ touches to 33-year-old Anthony? You think Doc Rivers would swap 27-year-old Blake Griffin for ‘Melo? Anthony is expensive and while he can still score the other limitations in his game make it very hard to trade him.

Jackson is the master of convincing guys to do what he wants and think it’s their own idea, but I have a hard time seeing that happening with Anthony.

Kevin Durant reflects on “AAU basketball” of Durant/Westbrook/Harden Thunder

Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden
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If MVP voting took place today, James Harden and Russell Westbrook would be in a photo finish for the win — they are the clear first and second choices in that race. Third could well be Kevin Durant, who is having a strong and efficient season in Golden State (it’s who Dan Feldman and I said we would pick third during the PBT Podcast, although certainly guys like LeBron James, Isaiah Thomas, Kawhi Leonard and others are in the mix).

Remember when Durant, Westbrook, and Harden were all on the same team? The NBA’s ultimate “what if?”

Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News got Durant to reminisce about those days (the Warriors play the Thunder and Rockets this week).

“It’s easy to say we were supposed to be together for the rest of our careers, but it didn’t play out like that,” Durant said. “I think all three of us will have memorable careers. And it’ll be a journey we’ll always remember, something that’s different and unique, playing with two different guys who are doing incredible things in the league right now. But when you look back, think about the fun times instead of what could’ve been.”

Could they have ruled the NBA for a decade?

“No. We never looked at it that way, like we could be best of all-time,” Durant said. “It was really AAU basketball, man. We were just having fun. We weren’t listening to anyone on the outside, media, none of that. It was just pure fun. When we did hear something about the group, it was like, what is this? That was so foreign to us because we never paid attention to it.”

It was Harden that was traded — he wanted and deserved the max, the Thunder has spent on Durant, Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka. They weren’t willing to pay the costs — the luxury tax bill would have come calling — to keep all three. The other side of that debate: Could Harden have continued happily in his sixth man role? This guy dominates the ball now (he leads the league in time of possession this season), would he have stayed coming off the bench to win?

“I think he’d have stayed in that role. I think so,” Durant said. “He’d have still been a really great player. You look at it, a lot of people wouldn’t have looked at him as a Sixth Man. He’d have been better. I think he’d have been better. Obviously I’m sure he loves what he’s doing now, but if we would’ve won a championship, I think the perception of him would’ve just been as a great player. ‘He’s the heart, he’s what makes us go.’ That’s what his label would’ve been, instead of just Sixth Man. He would’ve probably been the best Sixth Man that ever was.”

Maybe, and maybe that would have been enough. It’s all moot now.

But what if?