Chris Smith, brother of J.R. Smith, says he ‘earned’ Knicks roster spot

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Chris Smith is getting a roster spot with the Knicks, and his contract of $490,000 will become fully guaranteed for this season if he remains there by the time Wednesday’s opening night is upon us.

It’s been widely speculated (and essentially assumed) that Smith is on the team because his brother, J.R. Smith, made it known to the Knicks front office that it was a requirement of his re-signing with the team in free agency.

But Smith believes he’s still on the team more because of his basketball ability than because of his family association.

From Al Innazzone of Newsday:

Chris Smith says being J.R. Smith’s brother has its advantages. But the younger Smith gets angered by those who think his brother is the reason he’s on the Knicks.

He said he’s being harassed on Twitter. “I can’t even have a social media because people are coming at me because they think my situation is something different,” Chris Smith said. “I feel like I earned my position on the team and I’m going to keep on earning my way here.” …

Earlier this week, when Mike Woodson was asked if Chris’ relationship to J.R. would affect the younger Smith’s status, he said, “Sure it does.”

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports had a little bit stronger words about the situation on Friday.

Chris Smith made Knicks when his brother, J.R., signed his extension. That’s the business, but he should spare everyone how he “earned” it.

Nevertheless, there are family members on payrolls everywhere in the NBA. Some earned it; some didn’t. Still, roster spots are precious.

Regardless of how the younger Smith got there, he now has an opportunity. He’ll likely spend more time in the D-League than on the Knicks bench this season.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.