Who is left on free agent market? Pickings getting slim but a few good players out there

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Free agency has been open for more than two weeks now and most of the big names are gone, not just Dwight Howard but also guys like Andrew Bynum, Mike Dunleavy, Al Jefferson, Andrei Kirilenko, Quentin Richardson, Nick young and more.

But there are a few name guys left on the market. Guys with flaws but guys who can help the right team.

Here’s a quick list of the big names.

• Brandon Jennings (restricted): The Bucks let the market set the price for Jennings — and with virtually every team now locked in at the starting point spot he doesn’t have the leverage to get the $12 million a year he thought he deserved. Jennings is a quick point guard who looks good in transition, a guy who can penetrate, but who shot a low percentage (40 percent last year), a guy who struggles to finish in the paint, and is a disinterested defender. Bottom line is he can put up points but teams are hesitant about his overall impact. The Bucks went hard and missed out on Jeff Teague, but that didn’t help the Bucks relationship with Jennings. The most likely outcome is a sign-and-trade, but other teams may have lowball offers and not want to send the Bucks much in return. It is possible he returns to the Bucks for another season.

• Metta World Peace: He was amnestied by the Lakers and while he’s not the defender or isolation scorer he was a few years ago he can still he certainly help a good team. He cleared waivers and is considered likely to sign with the Knicks (the front runners) or Clippers. Remember he can sign for the minimum for one year because the Lakers are still paying him.

• Kenyon Martin: He pushed his way into the starting lineup for a stretched, scored 7.2 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, then went on to play key minutes in the playoffs with a PER of 16.2. The Knicks are interested but there are more than a few teams out there that could use his inside presence.

• Lamar Odom: The former Sixth Man of the Year has been a mess the last two seasons — he averaged 4 points a game and shot 39.9 percent shooting last year. His PER the last couple seasons was 9.2 and 10.9. The Lakers and Clippers are reportedly interested but he’s only going to get one-year offers at the minimum.

• Nikola Pekovic (restricted): The Timberwolves want to keep him and the two sides are still negotiating (there were reports that the number was four years, $50 million, but the team pretty much laughed at that immediately). They need him to balance out Love and will reach a deal, but other teams are lurking.

• Gerald Henderson (restricted): His negotiations with the Bobcats were at an impasse, so both sides were looking at sign-and-trade options. Henderson would be a solid addition for a team; he scored 15.2 points a game for the Bobcats last year and had an above average PER of 16.2.

• Nate Robinson: He can light up the scoreboard off the bench… or shoot you right out of the game. Fans love his fearless style, coaches hate his defense. The Nuggets and Knicks are reportedly the front-runners.

Other names of note still available: Mo Williams, Gary Neal (restricted, but the Spurs most likely would not match an offer), Elton Brand, Antawn Jamison, Samuel Dalembert, Devin Harris, Daniel Gibson, and Richard Hamilton.

After Ricky Rubio’s triple-double, Russell Westbrook promises to “shut that s*** off”

Associated Press
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Ricky Rubio outplayed Russell Westbrook Saturday night in Utah and now the Jazz are up 2-1 in that series.

Rubio did his damage from the midrange — he was 5-of-5 between the key and the arc — on his way to 26 points, to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. All series the Thunder have dared Rubio to shoot and to beat them, Saturday he did. It was a stark contrast to Westbrook’s 14 points on 17 shots Saturday with eight turnovers.

When asked about Rubio’s big night postgame, Westbrook was looking ahead to Game 4 and using a little NSFW language (hat tip to Ben Golliver of SI, who loves him some playoff podium video).

There you have it, a personal guarantee.

Rubio struggled some in Game 1, taking 18 shots and mostly the ones the Thunder wanted him to. However, after that he has been better at getting to his spots and taking the shots in rhythm, and it’s worked — he’s averaging 20.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 8 assists per game this series. OKC has been focused on making life difficult for rookie Donovan Mitchell (with limited success) and it’s freed up Rubio to make plays.

More than just slowing the Spanish point guard, Westbrook and the Thunder need to figure out how to get their offense back on track against a Jazz defense that was best in the NBA once Gobert got healthy last season. Oklahoma City lost Game 2 when their big three — Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony — went 0-of-15 in the fourth quarter. In Game 3, OKC averaged 100 points per 100 possessions (well below their season average of 110.2) and Westbrook shot 29.4 percent. Do that again in Game 4 and it will not matter what Rubio shoots, what matters is the Thunder could be looking at a 3-1 deficit. The Thunder need to even this series before it heads back to Oklahoma City.

Gregg Popovich will not coach Game 4 following death of his wife, Erin

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San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will not be on the sidelines again for Game 4 Sunday following the death of his wife, Erin, to a lengthy illness.

Ettore Messina will again coach the Spurs.

Popovich also missed Game 3. His San Antonio Spurs are down 3-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the first-round matchup. None of that matters compared to the loss of a woman he loved and was married to for four decades.

Erin Popovich’s passing has cast a pall over the series, especially with Warriors coach Steve Kerr being very close to the Popovichs dating back to his playing days with the Spurs.

The reaction and sadness about Erin’s passing has reached well beyond this series.

Our thoughts are with the Popovich family in this difficult time.

Anthony Davis’ 47 points, Pelicans sweep Trail Blazers out of playoffs

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.

Jrue Holiday capped his 41-point performance with an 18-foot pull-up jumper that gave the Pelicans a six-point lead with 40 seconds left.

Rajon Rondo added 16 assists, and Davis also had 11 rebounds and three blocks for New Orleans, which is moving on to the second round of the playoffs for only the second time since the NBA returned to the city 16 seasons ago.

C.J. McCollum scored 38 for the Trail Blazers, who responded to a blowout loss in Game 3 by keeping Game 4 close until the final minute. Al-Farouq Aminu scored 27, Damian Lillard added 18 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out.

Lillard’s difficult driving layup had just tied the game at 60 when the Pelicans briefly pulled away, going on an 11-2 run capped by Davis’ 3.

Soon after, Nikola Mirotic added step-back 3. Davis, who scored 19 in the third quarter, then added a layup while falling down after a hard foul by Aminu, after which Davis flexed both biceps while still sitting on the court.

Holiday’s transition 3 made it 87-72, prompting Portland to call timeout while Holiday walked slowly toward mid-court, nodding and smiling wide as he soaked in the crowd’s adulation.

New Orleans led by 13 to start the fourth quarter, but Portland refused to wilt, opening the period on a 15-4 run that included Nurkic’s hook shot, 20-foot jumper and dunk. McCollum’s transition layup made it 104-102 with nearly nine minutes to play.

Portland got as close as a single point on Aminu’s layup with 5:08 to go, but Davis responded with 12 points over the final 4:56, starting with a layup as he was fouled and a 3-pointer. Holiday scored six points during the final 2:52, starting with his 3-pointer. The pair combined for all but one of New Orleans’ points during that pivotal stretch.

Leading up to Game 4, Lillard spoke of the need for the Blazers to ramp up their intensity and physicality. From the tip, it looked as though they’d done so.

In stark contrast to Game 3, when New Orleans led by 18 in the first quarter, this game was tight and testy.

Anthony and Ed Davis received double technical fouls after bumping one another following one of Anthony Davis’ dunks – and that was just the beginning.

McCollum was called for a flagrant foul when he stormed into the lane behind E'Twaun Moore and grabbed the Pelicans guard by the shoulders to thwart a driving layup attempt. Moore then shoved McCollum and was assessed a technical foul.

And in the final seconds of the half, double technicals were assessed to Rondo and Portland center Zach Collins after Rondo lowered his forehead into Collins’ chest and Collins shoved back.

When halftime arrived, New Orleans led 58-56.

 

 

Twins Marcus, Markieff Morris each fined by league for separate instances

Associated Press
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Twins Marcus and Markieff Morris have a special bond, one that includes doing so much together on the basketball court — playing at the same high school, the same AAU team, then going to college together at Kansas, and even playing together in the NBA for a while together with the Suns (they are now on separate teams).

That includes them both getting fined Saturday by the NBA for recent actions during the playoffs.

Washington’s Markieff Morris picked up a $25,000 fine for “attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing a game official,” the league announced. Here is the play in question, just minutes into Game 3.

Toronto’s OG Anunoby draws a foul knocking Morris to the ground, but Morris starts the incident with an elbow to Anunoby’s back, and he does push referee Kenny Mauer. Considering all that, a $25,000 fine is not that severe.

His twin Marcus Morris picked up a $15,000 for “public criticism of the officiating,” which he certainly did following the Celtics’ Game 3 loss to the Bucks. Here are his comments, and they are NSFW.

That $15,000 fine is pretty much the going rate for ripping the referees after the game.

Markieff outdid his brother on this one… if you consider getting the larger fine the “win.”