Omer Asik

Reports: Houston Rockets pull out of Asik trade talks, will keep him for now

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Omer Asik may not like it, but he’s staying a Rocket for now. Probably.

After weeks of talks — not to mention media and fan speculation — Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey has looked at the trade market for Asik and decided it’s not good enough.

The Rockets have pulled out of all Asik trade talks and will keep the big man for now, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (among others).

Asik has requested a trade several times and switched agents in an effort to get moved. He has not been happy since — following a strong breakout season for him — the Rockets went out and got Dwight Howard to take over at center.

This is all about gaining leverage — the way to get the best deal on a new car is to be willing to walk out of the dealership without the keys.

Morey felt everyone knew about his self-imposed trade deadline of this Thursday — because they did (after Friday any players he gets back in an Asik trade cannot be packaged with others in a follow-up trade). With that Morey felt he was only getting lowball offers, so he walked out of the dealership without the keys.

Reports had the Rockets talking to the Celtics for a deal involving Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee and a future first round pick. There also had been talk of a deal with Philadelphia, likely involving Spencer Hawes among others.

There is little chance Asik is with the Rockets after the Feb. 20 trade deadline, but it’s not going to happen now…

Probably. Again, if you want to put pressure on the other side in a negotiation you walk away from the table. The Rockets did that, it’s possible a team caves in the next 24 hours and gives Morey a deal he wants.

Otherwise, this cloud follows the Rockets around for a while longer.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: