Report: Pelicans want to sign Luke Babbitt but it’s going to cost them

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To answer your first question, Luke Babbitt has been playing for BC Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia. A city where the high temperature Thursday is predicted to be zero. You might imagine he’d like to get back stateside.

And the Pelicans want to bring him back for the rest of the season, but the question is how much they are willing to pay to do it, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Luke Babbitt and the New Orleans Pelicans were in the final stages of reaching an agreement on a deal for the remainder of the season, one league source informed CSNNW.com…

However, BC Nizhny Novgorod isn’t facilitating that move having recently issued a statement saying they won’t sign his letter of clearance, disallowing him to sign with any other team. One person briefed on the situation tells CSNNW.com, “It’s going to be a battle” getting him out of that contract.

That statement is the sign of an international team looking for a payday. NBA teams are only allowed to offer $500,000 to get a player out of a contract, although whether they would really pay anywhere near that to get the stretch four Babbitt out of Russia remains to be seen

The Pelicans could use another stretch four off the bench with Ryan Anderson out indefinitely due to a back injury, Babbitt could fill that role. The question is how much owner Tom Benson is willing to pay in salary (minimum deal, certainly) and buyout to get Babbitt.

In his three seasons in Portland Babbitt shot 36.7 percent from three and did particularly well matched against power forwards. However, his defense kept a series of coaches from trusting him much — he could score but got abused by bigger power forwards and isn’t quick enough on the perimeter to guard NBA threes.

The Pelicans would like to give him another NBA chance, we’ll see if they get to. It’s going to come down to money, like it always does.

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

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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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.