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?

DeMarcus Cousins thinks refs are giving him techs off reputation alone

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New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins is a fiery personality on the court, often arguing foul calls at length despite no official in NBA history reversing a call directly after player complaint.

Crafty veterans — your LeBron Jameses and your Chris Pauls — slowly and pointedly chatter with officials as a means to influence their subconscious leaning on calls (and to protect them against earning techs when they do decide to straight up yell at refs).

Cousins hasn’t used that kind of angling to success in his career, instead going hard at referees with some consistency. Cousins has tried to change that approach this season, but instead has found that his prior actions have earned him a reputation the Pelicans forward believes doesn’t befit his actions in 2017-18.

Speaking to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, Cousins said that despite letting more calls go and changing his candor, NBA refs are not responding proportionately.

Via The Undefeated:

I am going out of my way. I am going over and beyond,” Cousins said. “I am coming in saying, ‘We can’t do this, this and this …’ Even calls I know I should be arguing, I’m letting go. And they’re still like … it’s a one-sided thing. Everything is changing from one end. But with them, it’s like, ‘We are not letting go of the past. You are who you are. You’re getting a tech.’

“So, when it comes to me getting a tech for saying, ‘Good call, referee …,’ vets and coaches tell me to butter them up. Switch it up a little bit. Do a little reverse psychology. Tell them it’s a good call. And you still getting a tech for it? They’re not trying to make it work. They’re stuck in their ways, and it is so obvious.”

Cousins added that he believes foes are taking advantage of his troubles.

“Now it’s to the point where teams are saying, ‘Yeah, just go over there and beat the s— out of him.’ I don’t get calls, and I’m not protected like other players are,” he said.

It’s interesting to see that Cousins has at least tried to change things up, and indeed acknowledges that he should be trying to work with the officials rather than antagonize them.

Still, we’re not sure what the tone of his “good call” comments are toward the refs. Are they sarcastic? Or are they contrite? You can see how one might earn Cousins a tech from an official — who seem to be particularly sensitive this season — and the other might endear you to them.

James Harden is playing with a bruised right knee

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James Harden, Chris Paul, and the Houston Rockets are on a 13-game winning streak. They have a 1.5 game lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. But it’s not all rosy in Space City.

Harden suffered a bruised right knee against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, and almost had to sit out the Rockets’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after the win over the Bucks, Harden said that he was in some pain but a doctor told him he would be able to play and that he would not make the condition worse.

Via ESPN:

“I wasn’t feeling well at all, but the doc came in and just told me that there’s going to be pain for a bit, but you can play through it,” Harden said. “It can’t get worse, but it’s going to be pretty painful until obviously you give it some time. Once he said that, I was like, ‘Let’s go.'”

“I wasn’t moving like I usually move, but we won,” said Harden.

If Harden wasn’t feeling well, it sure didn’t show. He had 31 points, although on 8-of-21 shooting against Milwaukee. Chris Paul chipped in with 25 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

It doesn’t sound like Harden will be missing a game any time soon, which is par for the course for him. He’s played in a minimum of 89 percent of his team’s regular season games since entering the league in 2009.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are blasting their way into 2018. They play the Warriors next on January 4.

Nuggets say Paul Millsap won’t return until after All-Star break

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The Western Conference has been a blast this season, with the Houston Rockets playing strong after the arrival of Chris Paul. The team has 13 straight wins, and a 1.5 game lead over the Golden State Warriors.

That’s just part of the results of the West getting a boatload of stars sent its way over the summer. One team is lacking their new addition, however, and his absence has been a quiet disappointment. The Denver Nuggets still sit in sixth place out West, but new forward Paul Millsap has been sidelined with a wrist injury.

The original timeline for Millsap said he would be out for three months, which would put him back around the beginning of March. That plan was confirmed by Nuggets head coach Mike Malone, who said that he expects Millsap will be out until at least the All-Star break, which starts on February 16.

Malone also seemed to indicate it’s possible Millsap is out longer than that.

Via Twitter:

At least Millsap is on schedule? It’s hard to tell inflection from text, but let’s just hope Malone’s “at the earliest” isn’t an indicator of slow recovery on Millsap’s part. The Nuggets certainly don’t need to rush Millsap back. They have a 16-13 record and instill more confidence than most the teams floundering below them in the standings.

LeBron James on talk with Lonzo Ball: “Some things could be held private”

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LeBron James was caught on a hot mic this week speaking with Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball. The conversation came after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Lakers in Ohio, 121-112.

In their talk, LeBron told Ball that he needed to stay in his zone and be aggressive. Pretty generic stuff, to be honest.

Meanwhile, LeBron was asked about whether he thought having microphones record those types of conversations between players was good for the league. He was less than enthused.

Via Cleveland.com (response is at 0:50 in the video above):

Some things could be held private. Like my conversation with Lonzo. Everything doesn’t need to be said. Should be some type of privacy. I’m OK with it.

It does raise an interesting question in terms of player privacy and separation between media, fans, and players. On one hand, you could see how what they say on the floor, in a public arena meant for spectators, could be deemed public and therefore fair game.

But it’s also common for media not to publish — or for TV not to broadcast — the things players say during the game. We don’t hear trash talking, even if we see it, and if you’ve ever sat near the floor at an NBA game you hear a lot more colorful language than you do watching the game on TV.

However you come down player privacy on the court, it doesn’t seem like LeBron needed to speak with Ball in front of media like that. He could have spoken to him in the tunnels below the Q, or got his phone number and texted him. He could have sent him a DM on Twitter and it would have been more private.

It feels like there was a performative aspect to this, like LeBron wanted to create a mystery around his conversation with Lonzo but it got turned on its head. It’s just too bad what was said between them wasn’t actually that interesting.