Houston Rockets v New York Knicks

Report: The Knicks interested in bringing back Jeremy Lin


New York’s desperate search for a point guard at the trade deadline has finally come full circle.

The New York Knicks interested in bringing back Jeremy Lin, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford talking with Bill Simmons on the Grantland Podcast (hat tip to Real GM).

Of course, the Knicks are interested in pretty much any and every point guard on the market as they see the slippage of Raymond Felton as a key problem for them this season (and it is, one of several but it is). The challenge, of course, is that the Knicks are not flush with tradable assets the Rockets might want, unless Daryl Morey secretly loves Iman Shumpert (don’t bet on it). Every team that talks to the Knicks apparently asks about Tim Hardaway Jr. but the Knicks are not looking to move him.

You all know the history that makes Lin returning to New York a story.

Back in the summer of 2012 the Knicks let the Rockets Lin from them in what was a rare prudent basketball decision by the Knicks — this was a poison pill deal with Lin making more than $15 million in the final year of the three year deal. (For the Rockets it costs them $8.3 million a season on the books, the way the deal was structured, but they still have the big payments coming.) Lin is good but not worth what he was offered.

Yet the deal was very unpopular with the Knicks fan base, which loved Lin.

Lin has settled pretty comfortably into a sixth man role for the Rockets this season (although he started 25 games due to Patrick Beverly’s injuries) and is averaging 13.3 points a game with a strong true shooting percentage of 58.6 percent, plus he dishes out 4.5 assists a night. He still likes to create with the ball in his hands off the pick-and-roll (22.5 percent of his shot attempts come that way and he shoots a respectable 46.4 percent on those according to Synergy Sports) but he also has developed into a strong spot up shooting, hitting 44 percent from three on those this season.

For the Knicks this deal makes sense because they get a point guard, the fans would love it and he comes off the books in time to preserve their 2015 cap space.

The Rockets are open to moving Lin to avoid that balloon payment next season, however they are a team playing well right now (seven wins in a row) and are going to need a real incentive to mess with their chemistry right now.

The real question for the Knicks is simply this one: What would Carmelo Anthony think about the deal? Everything New York does has to be seen through the “keeping ‘Melo happy” prism and this is no different.

This seems a long shot, with the desperate Knicks talking to any team willing to move a point guard but lacking the assets to really get a deal done with Houston (Daryl Morey drives a hard bargain). Plus, Knicks owner James Dolan’s MO is not to do the deals everyone is talking about, but rather the ones he thinks are a surprise (not usually a good surprise, but a surprise).

Philadelphia has dropped record 27 in a row dating back to last season

Brett Brown
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We tend to think of record streaks having to be in one season, not broken up across two.

But if you can suspend that, the Philadelphia 76ers are now the owners of the longest losing streak in NBA — and major professional sports — history.

With their tough two-points loss to Houston Friday night, the Sixers have lost 27 in a row. The Sixers dropped their final 10 last season and with the loss to the Rockets are 0-17 to start this one.

That bests the 26-game losing streaks of the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and these same Sixers from 2013-14. Looking across sports, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of 1976-1977 also lost 26 in a row, which when you consider the length of the NFL season is pretty embarrassing.

The Sixers struggles are born from a plan by GM Sam Hinkie (and approved by ownership) to get better long-term by being bad now and hoarding draft picks. It’s a strategy that can work if Hinkie nails the draft picks (the book is out on how Hinkie is doing on that front). And they are committed to it through at least this draft.

But don’t think for a second the players and coach are trying to lose.

If you have watched the Sixers play their last few games you know the players are trying hard to get that victory (and almost have a couple of times). The effort is there, they are just outmatched and lack the kind of presence at the end of games to execute under pressure (something a couple of quality, regularly-playing veterans might help, but that’s another discussion). They have the point differential of a team that should have a couple wins; they just haven’t been fortunate. It happens. Go ahead and blame management if you think this plan is an abomination. Just don’t question the desire or effort of the players or coaches, that is not in doubt.

The Sixers play at the Grizzlies Sunday, then have maybe their best shot at a win for a while when they host the Lakers on Tuesday.



Byron Scott, is it time to bench Kobe Bryant? “That’s not an option.”

Kobe Bryant, D'Angelo Russell, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant‘s shooting woes this season have been well documented. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up. Kobe is shooting 31.1 percent overall and 19.5 percent from three, all while jacking up more threes than ever before. He was 1-of-14 shooting against Cleveland, and that’s as many shots as rookies D'Angelo Russell and Julius Randle got combined.

If Kobe keeps shooting like this while dominating the ball, is it time to bench Kobe? Coach Byron Scott laughed at the idea, as reported by Baxter Holmes at ESPN.

“I would never, never, never do that,” Scott said after practice at the Lakers’ facility. “That’s not an option whatsoever. No, that’s not an option.”

It’s not an option because this is the guy the fans have paid to see, at home and on the road (the Lakers have still sold out every road game this season, the only team to have done so). Kobe is the draw, he’s going to play.

That doesn’t mean Scott is handling all this well, Kobe has no repercussions for his actions.

Byron Scott is an enabler with Kobe. In his mind Kobe has earned the right to play poorly because of his career, which is just hard to watch.

The real issue I have with Scott enabling Kobe is the double standard — minutes for Russell and the other young players get jerked around when they make mistakes. Scott sounds and acts like a guy with a couple rookies on a veteran team where the objective is to win as many games as possible.

This can’t be emphasized enough: the primary goal for the Lakers this season is to develop Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson (and Larry Nance Jr., who has impressed). But Russell has sat a lot of fourth quarters, and when Scott is asked if playing in those blowout minutes might help develop the young point guard faster, he says, “Nah.” Scott has benched Clarkson at points and called him out in the media.

Reduction of minutes can be a valuable teaching tool with young players — if the conditions of them getting those minutes are precisely laid out. Clear rules with rewards and consequences. That is not the case in Los Angeles, where Russell has said Scott has not spoken to him much about what he’s doing wrong and why he’s spending the ends of games benched. That’s not coaching a guy up; that’s not player development. There need to be clear guidelines and structures for young players to follow.

The only guideline in LA seems to be “Kobe has carte blanche.”

Boston police now probing fight involving 76ers center Okafor

Jahlil Okafor

BOSTON (AP) — Boston police say a man has come forward saying he’s the victim in a fight involving Philadelphia 76ers center Jahlil Okafor that was recorded and posted online.

Authorities say a man filed a police report Friday saying the fight outside a nightclub left him with stitches over his eye.

Police say the alleged victim reported the fight began after some of his female friends refused the advances of two men, including one believed to be Okafor. The man told police Okafor punched him and knocked him to the ground.

Okafor says he’s embarrassed about the scuffle and is dealing with the team and league on possible discipline.

The confrontation happened early Thursday morning after the 76ers fell to 0-16 on the season. The Sixers rookie said he was being heckled.

Previously, the police had said they were not investigating the incident.

Durant, Westbrook throw shade at Reggie Jackson after Thunder beat Pistons

Reggie Jackson
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Reggie Jackson‘s exit from Oklahoma City a year ago was not smooth or pretty. He wanted a bigger stage, he wanted out, and he let everyone know it. “We felt like everybody wanted to be here except for one guy,” Kevin Durant said after the trade that sent Jackson to Detroit.

The Pistons and Jackson were back in Oklahoma City Friday night. The fans let Jackson know they didn’t appreciate his words with plenty of boos. After the game, when asked about Jackson both Durant and Russell Westbrook threw shade at Jackson, as reported by Royce Young at Daily Thunder.com. KD didn’t even mention Jackson among Detroit’s best players.

“Steven (Adams) did a great job on their best player and Andre (Roberson) did a great job on their second best player in (Kentavious Caldwell) Pope and Russ did his job,” Durant said…

“Who?” Westbrook said, after very clearly hearing who he was asked about.

Reggie Jackson.

“What happened?”

Those comments were more aggressive toward Jackson than the Thunder players seemed to be during the game, where he was treated as an afterthought.

Jackson has played well for Detroit this season — averaging 19.1 points and 5.9 assists per game, with a PER of 20.3 and real chemistry with Andre Drummond — but he was held in check against the Thunder. Spending much of the night battling foul trouble, Jackson had 15 points on 16 shots on the night.

Durant was the stud for the Thunder, with 34 points and 13 rebounds, and the Thunder won comfortably 103-87.