Rockets can’t keep Dwight Howard, James Harden and Chandler Parsons and give Chris Bosh max contract

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Chris Bosh wants he and LeBron James to re-sign with the Heat.

But considering LeBron left his meeting with Pat Riley today without committing to Miami, there’s no guarantee Bosh will have that option. So, the Rockets are trying to poach the power forward, reportedly offering him a max contract.

One problem: Houston can’t easily clear max cap space for Bosh.

As soon as Chandler Parsons officially signs his offer sheet with the Mavericks, the Rockets will have 72 hours to act. If they match Dallas’ offer, Parsons’ cap hold ($2,875,130) will immediately be replaced on the books by his 2014-15 salary, which is at or near the max ($14,746,000).

Obviously, Houston wants to delay that as long as possible. Signing Bosh first with cap space first and then exceeding the cap to re-sign Parsons – something possible only as long as his cap hold remains on the books – is the Rockets’ ideal plan.

However, even if the roster is stripped to just Dwight Howard, James Harden and Parsons’ cap hold, Houston still couldn’t offer Bosh a max contract.

The Rockets could come close, offering $83,088,781 over four years. Bosh’s max with Houston is $88,151,588 over four years.

Maybe Bosh doesn’t care about that $5,062,807 difference. If so, more power to him.

However, he was reportedly dismayed by Miami lowballing him. I’m not sure he’s running to Houston on a discount.

And for the Rockets to offer even that much, they’d have to dump several players – including starters Patrick Beverley and Terrence Jones. Bosh would replace Jones at power forward, making that departure less of a big deal.

But Jeremy Lin is already ready set to be moved, and if Beverley is gone too, who plays point guard? Without either, Houston is much less appealing.

Bosh could sacrifice more salary – $6,804,570 total over four years – to give the Rockets room to keep Beverley, but again, that makes their offer less appealing.

If the Rockets let Parsons walk, Houston could could max out Bosh while keeping Beverley (and one of Omri Casspi, Isaiah Canaan, Robert Covington or Josh Powell or Troy Daniels’ qualifying offer). Once more, the Rockets without a key player – Parsons in this case – are much less appealing.

Does Bosh understand all this?

Maybe.

One of two conflicting reports say Bosh is sold on Houston as his backup option if LeBron leaves the Heat.

Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst of ESPN?

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

The Rockets – and therefore Bosh – will soon be on a 72-hour clock to make this work. But as long as Houston wants to keep its two stars, Howard and Harden, and Parsons, a max offer to Bosh is not possible.

If the Rockets let Parsons walk, they could find max cap room for Bosh, but then the timetable wouldn’t matter. There would be no Parsons-related deadline.

Unless Bosh is willing to take less than the max – a possibility – it’s shaking up to be Bosh or Parsons for the Rockets. Or if they gamble wrong and let Parsons walk and LeBron re-signs with the Heat, neither.

It’s just hard to see Houston, again if Bosh truly wants the max, getting both.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas offers advice to Ball brothers on Lithuania

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Lithuania is a hoops-mad country.

The Baltic nation has fewer people in it than the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, yet it has three players in the NBA right now — Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas — and has put 11 players in the league total (such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Arvydas Sabonis, and Sarunas Marciulionis). The country has won three bronze medals in the Olympics ( 1992, 1996, and 2000). It’s Lithuanian league also has been the launching pad for Celtics’ Aron Baynes to make the NBA.

Now the Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo are headed there on professional contracts.

One of those players — the Raptors’ Valanciunas, had advice for the Ball brothers, speaking to ESPN.

“They’re getting themselves into a great opportunity. Lithuania is beautiful country… We have great basketball history. We’re such a small country, but we have many, many great players. Our basketball school is good., so they chose a really good school. They just gotta work hard — it’s all about working. You can be as good as you can be by working. Talent is one thing, but work you put in, that’s gonna show up.

“If they have any problems, let me know. I can help them out.”

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA who thinks this ends well, especially those who know the Ball family. They are sending a college freshman and a high school junior to a small city in a former Soviet bloc country with a very different culture, that will be a major adjustment. The coach doesn’t speak English and his former American players have not spoken highly of him. The Lithuanian league itself has men — far more physically developed than the Ball brothers — and is known for a physical style of play. It’s also known as a league where the players have a reasonably high hoops IQ and don’t like undisciplined players.

But if LiAngelo and LaMelo have any problems, they can call Valanciunas.

Paul George on return to Indiana Wednesday: “For whatever reason, I’ll be booed”

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This week is the Oklahoma City Thunder’s “you can’t go home again” week of the schedule. On Saturday night, Carmelo Anthony will return to New York where Knicks fans should welcome him with cheers and open arms — he meant a lot to that franchise in recent years — but may very well not.

First up, however, Paul George returns to Indiana in a Thunder uniform Wednesday night.

There’s little doubt how he will be greeted by Indiana fans, who felt betrayed by a man they stuck by through recovery from a severe injury. George knows what is coming,

Here are the key lines from PG13:

“Boos. I honestly wouldn’t think it would be any other way. The Pacers fans outweigh the Paul George fans. That’s what I’m looking forward to. For whatever reason, I’ll be booed, but I’m gonna embrace that. I’m gonna thrive on that.”

For whatever reason? You asked to be traded and fans take that personally. There is no loyalty in sports — I have no problem with players asking out because teams show no hesitancy in dumping players they no longer have a use for (and fans are almost always good with that) — but he had to know how this would be taken in Indiana.

What George might want to worry about is stopping the red-hot Victor Oladipo (he averaged 35.7 points per game last week), because he and the Pacers are playing better than the Thunder right now.

Kawhi Leonard returns Tuesday on minutes restriction

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The Spurs have been the Spurs this season, going 19-8 with an elite defense and offense that’s good enough to get them wins, thanks to LaMarcus Aldridge playing at an All-Star level.

Starting Tuesday, they add Kawhi Leonard back to the mix.

He will return to the lineup against Dallas, but will be on a minutes restriction, coach Gregg Popovich said on Tuesday. He would not say how many minutes, although around 20 seems a logical starting spot.

Leonard is one of the five best players in the NBA (and that may be selling him short). He averaged a career-high 25.5 points a game last season, he’s arguably the best perimeter defender in the NBA, and he finished third in the MVP voting last season.

However, there are going to be adjustments. LaMarcus Aldridge has been the focal point of the offense, but he could see fewer touches, particularly in crunch time. Kyle Anderson could see fewer minutes, and Rudy Gay may as well because Popovich liked some small-ball lineups last season with Leonard at the four. A lot of players will see their rotations change.

That said, it’s the Spurs. Do we really expect them to be anything but an incredibly good regular season team? One that is about to get better?

 

 

 

Pelicans’ Tony Allen out 3-4 weeks with fibula fracture

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The injuries just keep hitting the Pelicans. Guys like Solomon Hill and Alexis Ajinca are out for extended periods of time. Anthony Davis has missed four of the team’s last six games and is questionable for Wednesday night due to a left adductor injury.

Now comes the news that reserve guard Tony Allen will be out three to four weeks due to a nondisplaced left proximal fibula fracture, the team announced Tuesday. This is the part of the bone near the ankle.

Allen has played a limited role for New Orleans off the bench this season, averaging 12.4 minutes a game, and averaging 4.7 points. His reputation is that of a defensive stopper, and when he is on the court this season the Pelicans’ defense has been 5.6 points per 100 possessions better. However, father time has started to catch up with him and he is not the defender he once was.

Expect the minutes to bump up for Jrue Holiday and E'Twaun Moore with this injury, which is not a bad thing as they have played well (they were knocking down threes against the Rockets Monday like they were named Curry), plus Ian Clark could get a little more run.