Sunday night NBA grades: Tony Parker is back and looks good

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while thinking “I really should see that movie”….

source:  Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs. In case you forgot, he’s really good at basketball. He wasn’t really getting going in transition yet, but he was dominant in the half court, scoring 10 of the first 17 Spurs points. He finished the night with 22 on 10-of-15 shooting and completely orchestrated the Spurs offense as they beat the Mavericks. Everyone is healthy in San Antonio now; let’s see how they start to look.

source:  Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls. Chicago has won four in a row and the Bulls are 9-1 in their last 10 — you need to score to do that and the Bulls have broken 100 in four straight games. Noah is the heart of what the Bulls do and he had a triple double — 13 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists. Yes, it still counts if you do it against the Knicks.

source:  Jimmer Fredette, Chicago Bulls. Well, he signed and got out there. Three minutes of garbage time but he got out there and the Chicago fans welcomed him warmly. Fredette (and his supporters) feel like he never got a real shot in a system that shoed off what he can do. The fact the Kings couldn’t get a second round pick for him at the trade deadline shows how the rest of the league felt. If he is going to prove them wrong, the Bulls and Tom Thibodeau’s system is where he has to do it.

source:  DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors. Maybe his best game of the season — 32 points with Andre Iguodala assigned to stop him. What worked in this game for him is what worked for the Raptors and made them better since the trade — he got the points in the flow of the offense. No forcing things, rather work the offense and let the game come to you. It works for the Raptors, who beat the Warriors with better execution late.

source:  Michael Carter-Williams, Philadelphia 76ers. He didn’t have a great game — 17 points but on 20 shots, plus 11 assists. What he did was completely outplay Victor Oladipo, the only guy in a race with him for Rookie of the year. Carter-Williams did enough to distance himself in the race tonight, the award should be his.

source:  Tobias Harris, Orlando Magic. He is the reason the Magic beat the struggling Sixers, finishing with 31 points on 20 shots. The Magic are without Aaron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson, so Harris has to carry more of the offense and he attacked from the start, scoring 8 of the first 10 from Magic. He is the biggest steal the Magic have gotten in a couple years.

Chris Paul thanks Clipper fans in online statement

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Chris Paul is as competitive a guy as there is in the NBA — he and James Harden are not the smoothest fit next to one another, but he would rather team with another star and go hard at the Warriors juggernaut than sit back and collect a check.

That’s why CP3 wanted to go to the Rockets as part of the trade reported Wednesday.

But before he left, he wanted to say thank you to Clippers fans.

Paul is committed to his charity causes, he’s not giving those up. He’s likely keeping his home in Los Angeles, too — L.A. is the unofficial off-season home of the NBA anyway.

Rockets make series of cash trades for expiring contracts to help line up Chris Paul deal

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While everyone was rightfully raving about the move by the Houston Rockets to trade for Chris Paul — you have to love a team not cowering from the Warriors but willing to take them on Game of Thrones style — there was one little catch. The trade, as first announced, didn’t pencil out.

Because the Rockets were over the cap, this trade needs to be a salary match. The Clippers were getting back nice young players in Sam Decker and Montrezl Harrell, plus a first-round pick, but the salaries still didn’t match up. Then a string of small cash deals for expiring contracts started rolling in.

All those deals are official — and led to one of the funniest tweets of the year.

All three of those players will head to the Clippers as part of the official trade, but then be waived by the Clippers so they don’t actually pay them.

Also of note, by staying above the salary cap line (as opposed to diving below it to absorb CP3’s contract) the Rockets will keep their mid-level exception, giving them a full $8.4 million to spend in free agency to get a role player to help fill out the roster in Houston.

The Rockets are not done big game hunting, GM Daryl Morey is reportedly going after Paul George and maybe free agents such as Paul Millsap. Carmelo Anthony reportedly would like a buyout so he can get to Houston now, but with Phil Jackson gone and $55 million owed over the next few years that seems more up in the air. Regardless, expect the Rockets to keep making small moves to set up big ones.

Reports: Rockets not done, looking at Paul George, other possible third big star

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If you’re going to go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors, you can’t have enough elite talent on the roster. Which is turning the Western Conference into a Game of Thrones.

Houston has James Harden and just added Chris Paul — and GM Daryl Morey is not done, he’s targeting Paul George and other stars. That according to multiple reports from ESPN, starting with Jeff Goodman.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey not done yet, source told ESPN. Harden and CP3. Will try to add a third star to compete with Warriors.

The logistics of this would be difficult, but not impossible. The Pacers want a first-round pick, which the Rockets can include if the Pacers will wait until 2020 (the Rockets 2018 pick goes to the Clippers, 1-3 protected, which means they can’t trade 2019). With Sam Decker traded to LA, the Rockets may not have a young player of interest outside of Clint Capella (the Pacers have Myles Turner at center), but the Rockets have made a series of cash deals for non-guaranteed contracts to make this work with the Clippers and pave the way for future deals.

Also possible, the Rockets look for a way to land Paul Millsap (or maybe a lesser version, like Serge Ibaka) in free agency.

The Rockets also could target guys such as Carmelo Anthony or Dwyane Wade, if they are bought out. Anthony is rumored to want a buyout to go to Houston now, but with Phil Jackson out and being owed $55 million over a couple years, that may not happen.

The point is the Rockets are going all in — they see the window as now and, unlike much of the rest of the West and the NBA, they are not going to wait and hope for the Warriors to wilt in a few years.

Knicks fans celebrating Phil Jackson’s departure on social media

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When the Knicks hired Phil Jackson, he was a beacon of hope for an organization that had seen dark days. Jackson was going to keep owner James Dolan out of basketball decisions (he did that) and provide a direction for the franchise (he failed to do that).

Now, three year’s later, Jackson is out as president of the Knicks.

That had Knicks fans celebrating on social media.

HALLELUJAH.

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That’s just a small sampling. So all is good with the Knicks now, right?