Report: Rockets confident they can trade Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik

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From the moment the Rockets signed Dwight Howard until the trade deadline, the Omer Asik trade saga went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and… You get the idea.

But through all the rumors and reports and discussions, Houston never found an acceptable deal.

Though Jeremy Lin didn’t come up in trade talks as often, there were at least a couple inquiries. No deal for him either.

If the Rockets have their eyes on LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Love or any other star who might – but probably won’t – be available this offseason, trading Asik and/or Lin is the simplest way to facilitate it.

Can Houston trade those two?

Jonathan Feigen of Ultimate Rockets:

According to an individual familiar with the Rockets’ plans, they are confident they would be able to move Lin and Asik’s contracts because unlike their failed efforts to trade Asik last season, they would be looking to clear cap room, rather than bring back rotation players with similar contracts .

Not asking for assets in return for Asik and Lin will help – there was a lot of grumbling about Houston’s asking price for Asik – but that might not be enough. Asik and Lin will each get paid $14,898,938 next season – a tough pill for a team to swallow if trading for them, even though their cap numbers ($8,374,646 each) are fairly reasonable.

Making the task tougher, Houston might have to narrow their pool of trade partners specifically to the team on the other end of a sign-and-trade. If they were focused on maximizing cap space this summer by trading Asik and Lin to any team that will take them, the Rockets wouldn’t decline Chandler Parsons’ team option. By doing that, they’re raising Parsons’ cap number from $964,750 to $2,875,130 when free agency begins – and it will only go up from there once Parsons signs.

Simply, Houston is not close to gaining enough cap space to sign one of its coveted stars. By declining Parsons’ option, the Rockets are moving even further from that goal.

Even if they trade Asik and Lin and take back no additional salary, they’d be projected to have just $14,321,273 in cap room. By comparison, here are the maximum starting salaries for their top target if each becomes a free agent this offseason:

  • LeBron: $20,659,633
  • Bosh: $20,659,633
  • Melo: $22,458,402
  • Nowitzki: $23,857,450

Unless the Rockets are aiming lower in the free-agent pool or have more up their sleeves – both of which are certainly possible – they’re not really gaining ground by trading Asik and Lin.

Unless it’s a sign-and-trade with Lin and Asik going out, which would allow the Rockets to take back a player with a higher salary than they could get with the aforementioned cap-room route. But the other team would have to accept paying Asik and nearly $15 million each next year. And we’re back to square one, where trading them in a worthwhile deal won’t be easy.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.

Ray Allen tells Orlando court he was ‘catfished’

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Retired NBA star Ray Allen believes he is a victim of “catfishing,” and has asked a court to throw out a case where he is accused of stalking someone he met online.

Allen says Bryant Coleman “pretended to be a number of attractive women interested in” him. In documents filed Tuesday, Allen acknowledges he communicated with who he thought were those women and that he eventually entered into an agreement with Coleman to not disclose details of those conversations.

Allen says that agreement was violated.

It was not clear if Coleman has an attorney, and a working phone number for him could not be found. Coleman told the court in a filing Monday that Allen is stalking him; in Allen’s request for an injunction, he says “the reverse is true.”