Report: Nets agreed to deal to get Marcus Thornton from Kings; Nets near adding Hill from Lakers

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We passed along the report this trade was being discussed yesterday. Apparently it’s about to be much more than discussed, and with that the Nets continue to laugh at the NBA’s new, stiffer luxury tax.

The Nets and Kings have agreed in principle to a trade that would send Marcus Thornton to the Nets in exchange for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. There are no picks or cash involved, just the players.

Thornton’s contract has two years and nearly $17 million remaining through the 2014-15 season. Terry, 36, has $10.7 million left on his deal, including $5.4 million next season.

Brooklyn had discussed a deal involving Terry for Cleveland’s Jarrett Jack, too, but sources tell Yahoo Sports that is an unlikely scenario based on the length of Jack’s contract, which guarantees a total of $12.6 million in the final two years of his deal through the 2015-16 season.

This move would save Sacramento just shy of $1 million, although most likely they would try to move Terry and Evans again this summer in future deals. It essentially breaks up the big Thornton contract into two smaller ones that may be easier to move.

The Nets clearly don’t care about the money because they are about to take on the salary of Jordan Hill from the Lakers.

The Nets’ $5.25 million Disabled Player Exception can be used in a trade or free-agent transaction until March 10 and they can use a portion of it to absorb the remaining $3.5 million on Hill’s expiring contract.

Nevertheless, the luxury tax penalty from absorbing Hill’s contract would be extraordinary for Brooklyn – nearly $17 million… If the Nets also were to complete a deal for Hill, the team’s salaries and luxury tax would reach $210 million.

That’s a lot of money to, at best, make the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Hill brings good energy on the court (although Mike D’Antoni was never a fan for several reasons including a lack of offensive skill) and could give the Nets some decent play at the four and five off the bench. But he’s a pedestrian NBA big about to cost the Nets $17 million. Ridiculous. It’s not my money and apparently Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t need it, but that is the definition of overpaying.

In the larger trade, basically these two teams are swapping disappointing players.

Thornton is in the midst of his worst season as a professional. Remember that two seasons ago he averaged 18.7 points a game with a true shooting percentage of 54.4 percent — back then he was seen as part of the Kings’ future.

What he’s evolved into is a volume scorer who is struggling to put points on the board. This season he is scoring 8.3 points a game with a true shooting percentage is 48.5. What made him dangerous before was his ability to knock down the three, but he is shooting just 31.8 percent from deep this season.

Brooklyn is betting that a change of scenery and surrounding him with veterans will bring back the old scorer and shooter. If so he certainly helps their wing depth.

Sacramento isn’t making this trade for the players. Terry’s game has been in decline for years — he can still shoot the three (37 percent, and he still loves the right corner) but he can’t create his own shot or defend well anymore. Reggie Evans brings energy and for that reason fans love him, and he works hard on the glass, but he is limited in just about every other way. He’s a decent big off the bench because of his effort but he’s a role player.

Watch highlights of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue unveiling outside Staples Center

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Kobe Bryant said “Thank you. I learned so much from you as a player.”

Jerry West said he loved him like a son.

Jeanie Buss said “No one celebrates a championship like you, but please no more asking Mark Madsen to dance.”

The Lakers unveiled a new statue for Shaquille O’Neal Friday night, one flying high over a Staples Center entrance, and the stars were on hand for the event. Phil Jackson was there making Snoop Dogg jokes. Shaq and Kobe were sharing laughs. It was a big night for a big man with a big personality. And a big heart.

Check out the highlights above.

Report: Knicks’ Joakim Noah to be suspended 20 games for violating league drug policy

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Joakim Noah hasn’t set foot on an NBA court since Feb. 4, and his season was all but ended when he had knee surgery at the end of February. Last summer, Phil Jackson took a $72 million gamble on an aging Noah that has not worked at all, and left New York with an anchor of a contract for three more seasons after this one.

Tomorrow it will be official Noah is done for this season, but not because of the Knicks or his injury.

During his recovery, Noah violated the NBA’s drug policy and will pay for a 20-game suspension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski at The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Noah tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement that is prohibited under the outgoing Collective Bargaining Agreement, league sources said.

Noah, 32, is expected to serve 10 games of the suspension to finish out the 2016-17 regular season and 10 games to start the 2017-18 season, league sources said.

The National Basketball Players Association’s investigation concluded that Noah hadn’t “knowingly or willingly” violated the policy and cooperated fully with the league’s probe, league sources said.

According to reports, this is not a substance banned in the new CBA that kicks in July 1, but was covered in the previous CBA. Over-the-counter supplements could be something put in his regular workout recovery drinks that he was unaware of, although we are unsure of the details.

Traditionally, the player has to be healthy enough to play before the league starts the suspension. Noah has been out for more than a month, but if a league doctor says he is healthy enough to play the then the clock on the suspension can start. The 10 games this season is no big deal for the Knicks, he wasn’t going to play anyway, but the 10 at the start of next season could sting (depending on how they plan to use him).

 

 

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.