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Cavaliers trade Andrew Bynum to Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng

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Not only was Luol Deng on the trade market, the Chicago Bulls had a taker — the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Chicago Bulls have agreed to trade Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Andrew Bynum and a first round pick (the Kings’ pick owned by the Cavs that is top 12 protected this season, top 10 protected the next couple), the teams have announced. This was a story broken by Shams Charania of Real GM and quickly confirmed by Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Aggrey Sam of CSNChicago.com.

“We have great respect for Luol Deng, as a player and a person. He has been an incredible contributor to our team on the court, and he has also done great things in the community. On behalf of the entire Bulls organization, I want to thank Luol for his years in Chicago. The moves made today will put us in a better position to make the entire roster stronger for the future and to compete for a championship,” said Bulls GM Gus Forman in a statement released by the team.

Deng had rejected a three-year, $30 million extension from the Bulls last week, reports Adrain Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. That made the Bulls think he was leaving this summer as a free agent, so they wanted to get something for him.

The Cavs had wanted to upgrade at the three and get a guy who could help them make a push toward the playoffs in the East — Deng gives them a real chance at that (although it’s going to take more than just Deng to get them there, Kyrie Irving has to be healthy and better). The Cavaliers are just three games out of the playoffs in the East so the playoffs remain a reasonable goal. The real risk for them is that they are unable to re-sign free agent to be Deng this summer — if he walks this is a little bit of a loss, but not really a big one because the Cavs would have waived Bynum themselves. This was a solid gamble.

The Bulls will waive Bynum Tuesday and with that save $15 million this season to get under the luxury tax. As we have noted before, if they now amnesty Carlos Boozer this summer (as expected) the Bulls will have about $10 million at least cap space to go after another free agent to go with a core of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler. Plus Bulls management believes Nikola Mirotic (who is still playing well in Europe but is expected to be in the NBA next season) will be a big part of that future. The Bulls now also potentially have the Sacramento pick in this draft (top 12 protected, so the Bulls probably don’t get it it this year) and Charlotte’s first rounder (top 10 protected) not to mention their own pick to add some depth to that core.

While Rose’s people have leaked he doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process, this isn’t a full “tear it down” rebuild, by the time he returns this will be a good and potentially very good team.

This shows why the Cavaliers were not willing to throw in another pick or piece in talks with the Lakers — they had coveted Deng more than Pau Gasol and were willing to give up more to get him.

Report: Knicks grumbling about Jeff Hornacek’s lineups and rotations

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 17: Head coach Jeff Hornacek of the New York Knicks watches as his team plays the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on December 17, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. 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.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek has seemingly steered clear of the Phil Jackson-Carmelo Anthony feud. Hornacek has even avoided Jackson, one of the greatest coaches of all time, overly interfering.

But Hornacek hasn’t sidestepped every fissure in New York.

Veteran Knicks are reportedly frustrated with the defensive scheme, though some of that resentment could be pinned on assistant coach Kurt Rambis. Derrick Rose has reportedly been increasingly frustrated with Hornacek. And apparently he’s not the only one.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

Privately, players have been grumbling about lineups and rotations during the recent losing skid, according to sources. Brandon Jennings hinted at this after Monday’s loss when he spoke with frustration about the inconsistent nature of the Knicks’ recent lineups.

“Every day is something new. So just got to be ready I guess. You never know when you’re going to play,” he said.

Jennings was asked if the inconsistent rotations make things difficult for players.

“Yeah, when you come in here you don’t really know what’s going to happen, so it’s kind of no consistency and it’s really tough right now,” he said. “Right now, you come in here you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m struggling. It’s difficult for me, because I don’t really know what’s going on. Just take it one day at a time.”

Jennings isn’t the only player expressing dissatisfaction beyond anonymous leaks.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, Rose and Hornacek yelled at each other after Rose – who called on Hornacek to coach defense harder – got beat by Dennis Schroder on this play:

Berman reports Kyle O'Quinn also glared at Hornacek after being subbed out during the Knicks’ loss to the Hawks.

After the game, Courtney Lee – whom Hornacek removed the starting lineup – posted and deleted photos of Dumb & Dumber on Instagram. Lee then followed with this caption:

I posted a pic of dumb n dumber cuz that was my mood, no jab at no1. It’s dumb that we have a talented team and we’re in position to win games n keep losing by 1 possession. We’ll figure it out collectively as a team but that was my mood after the game. Has nothing to with any change, rotation, system, players, coaches, so let that be clear.

Are we reading too much into vague social media postings and distant body language? That is a real risk.

But Hornacek still appears to have issues with these Knicks. The debate should be a matter of the depth of the problems, not whether they exist.

This is what happens when teams lose 11 of 13. Players get frustrated and grumble.

The coach also often adjusts the rotation, which Hornacek has done, including starting Ron Baker. Jennings and co. haven’t earned stability in their roles. When they had that, they were losing.

The question now: Can Hornacek reclaim the players’ trust, which would help the team break its skid? Or does the griping – and, partially as a result, the losing – continue in a season-destroying snowball?

PBT Extra: Carmelo Anthony/Phil Jackson rift just adds to Knicks stagnation

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Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson had a chilly talk, and Anthony told Jackson the star forward wants to stay in New York. Which, based on the mind games we’re seeing, is not what Jackson wants — although you get the feeling Jackson wants to move Anthony to bring in more stop-gap, win now pieces rather than try to build a future around Kristaps Porzingis.

Which all speaks to why the Knicks have made the playoffs just three times in 13 years. What is the Knicks long-term plan?

I discuss it all in this latest PBT Extra. Well, except the long-term plan because nobody knows what that is.

Rajon Rondo strangely runs behind Rick Carlisle during play (video)

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This would be ignored – still odd, but ignored – if it weren’t for their history.

But Rajon Rondo running behind Rick Carlisle during the Mavericks’ win over the Bulls raised a couple eyebrows in curiosity and drew a few chuckles. What was Rondo doing?

At least Carlisle explained why he didn’t call timeout before Wesley Matthewsgame-winning 3-pointer. The Dallas coach had Rondo in mind.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Mike D’Antoni: “James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach”

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 07: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on against the Washington Wizards during the first half at Verizon Center on November 7, 2016 in Washington, DC. 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. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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It’s not exactly Seven Seconds or Less Part 2 in Houston, but it may be closer to Mike D’Antoni’s ultimate vision.

The Rockets are 32-12 with the third-best offense in the NBA (Toronto and Golden State), and it’s an analytics wet dream of threes and shots at the rim. It’s all come together because James Harden bought in. Steve Nash ran the offense brilliantly but differently — Harden is as good or better with his style (which gets him to the line more often).

The brilliant Howard Beck at Bleacher Report got everyone to talk about the Rockets rapid rise and how it all came together. It’s must read. Plus there are some brilliant quotes, starting with Harden about D’Antoni pitching the move to point guard:

“I thought he was crazy,” says Harden, who earned his stardom at shooting guard….

Or as D’Antoni put it, “James Harden was the perfect superstar for how I would like to coach.”

“People always ask, ‘You traded for him; did you know he was this good?'” (Rockets GM Daryl) Morey says. “I’m like, ‘F–k no!’ I mean, we thought he was extremely good and better than other teams probably did.”

But not top-five good or, say, top-three, which Morey would make the case for today.

Harden is MVP-level good. What’s more, the Rockets are knocking on the door of contender good. The pedestrian defense isn’t there yet (18th in the NBA for the season, 15th for the month of January), questions about depth and if young key cogs like Clint Capela can grow into the roles the Rockets need them to, and there are the health concerns considering the histories of Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson.

But the Rockets are dangerous right now and could reach the Western Conference Finals this season if healthy and things break right (their style and athleticism would be a tough test for the Spurs).  And the story of how it all came together is fascinating.