Hedo Turkoglu still on trade block, still hopes to get back in NBA

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There have been a lot of trade rumors around Andrew Bynum — if a team trades for him then waives him by Jan. 7 (or if the Cavaliers waive him) they save $6 million on the salary cap.

Marc Stein at ESPN reminds us Bynum is not the only guy in this situation — Orlando has Hedo Turkoglu with a nearly identical contract. He gets $12 million for the season but just $6 million if waived by Jan. 7.

So far this season the Magic have basically paid Turkoglu to stay away from the team. However, the situations around these trades and what the teams want back are different, Stein notes.

The Cavaliers, despite their disastrous 10-21 start, still have playoff aspirations in the “Leastern Conference.” So they appear to be willing to add some salary in a Bynum trade if they can land a difference-making asset, as evidenced by Cleveland’s recent trade talks with the Los Angeles Lakers to acquire $19.3 million man Pau Gasol.

Orlando is not in the same place. Although the Magic decided to keep Turkoglu on their roster through Jan. 7 just in case a trade of some sort materialized in which his contract was needed, they’re not chasing the likes of Gasol in support of a playoff push, which makes a trade even trickier for Orlando than it is for the Cavs to find a workable Bynum deal.

Like Bynum, Turkoglu doesn’t want this to be the end of his NBA career.

I’m told Turkoglu, incidentally, remains determined to relaunch his NBA career later this month when he is finally waived by the Magic or any other team that happens to trade for him in the next five days. The 34-year-old will become a free agent Jan. 10 after clearing waivers and has been working out on his own away from the team.

There will be demand for Bynum — as up and down as he has been for the Cavaliers there are good teams (the Heat and Clippers, for example) that see him as an improvement over their bench bigs. Those teams don’t want to be on the hook for $6 million for Bynum for the second half of the season, but if they can get him at a league minimum deal it’s different.

I’m not sure there is much if any demand for Turkoglu, a stretch four who has an injury history and didn’t shoot well from three last season. Never say never, but it’s not likely we see him again.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.