Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers

Paul Millsap agrees to two-year deal with the Hawks

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The Utah Jazz knew that two of their best players would be unrestricted free agents this summer, and yet they played out all of last season without trading them to try and get anything of value in return.

They didn’t bother to re-sign them, either.

After Al Jefferson left for the greener pastures of the Charlotte Bobcats (that’s a joke, people), now comes word that Paul Millsap has agreed to join the Atlanta Hawks.

From Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The Hawks agreed to terms with free agent Paul Millsap late Friday night, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned.

The deal for the 6-foot-8 power forward will be for two years and $19 million, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The agreement with Millsap came hours after the Jazz renounced his rights upon agreeing to a trade with the Warriors. In that deal, the Jazz obtained the expiring contracts of Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush. Millsap made $8.6 million last season and had an $11 million cap hold.

It could be argued that the Jazz weren’t very good with Millsap and Jefferson in the fold, when they finished 43-39 a season ago, outside of the playoff picture entirely in the Western Conference.

But losing both of these players puts them into a full-fledged rebuild, and taking on the high-dollar contracts in that trade with the Warriors all but confirms that to be the case.

Meanwhile, the Hawks add an excellent player in Millsap, who averaged 14.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 78 games with the Jazz last season.

Atlanta also re-signed Kyle Korver, and are still in the mix to re-sign Josh Smith, though he may receive bigger and better offers to play somewhere else.

Dwight Howard commits ridiculously sloppy inbound violation (video)

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An embarrassing lack of focus by the Rockets? I can hardly believe it.

Late in a game against a team Houston is battling for playoff position, Dwight Howard was just careless, stepping on the baseline as he inbounded the ball. It’s a needless goof, and he’ll get plenty of deserved criticism for it.

But don’t overlook Patrick Beverley‘s frustration foul on Damian Lillard before the ensuing inbound. That was nearly as foolish and even more costly.

The sequence sparked a 7-0 run for the Trail Blazers, who seized control of the game en route to a 116-103 win.

DeAndre Jordan dunks on Marcus Smart before Smart knows what’s happening (video)

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Marcus Smart went to tag DeAndre Jordan on the pick-and-roll, and Jordan took off from so far from the basket, he was dunking on Smart before the Celtics guard could do a thing.

Chris Paul finds brilliant counter to hack-a-DeAndre Jordan (video)

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I originally favored allowing Hack-a-Shaq as the NBA currently does. I found the strategy fascinated – why and when teams would use it and how their opponents would counter.

But it just became too common. Far too many games featured a parade of trips to the line, a boring stretch that made games too long. I thought the intrigue had run its course.

Then, Chris Paul pulled this move last night.

The Clippers guard saw Jonas Jerebko charging toward DeAndre Jordan to commit an intentional foul, so Paul stepped in front of an unsuspecting Jerebko and took the foul himself. That’s sent a good free-throw shooter to the line instead of the dismal Jordan.

Just an awesome heady play by Paul.