Report: Dwight Howard and James Harden tried to get the other traded from Rockets in 2014

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A report earlier this season said Dwight Howard didn’t like playing second fiddle to James Harden on the Rockets. Howard denied it, but here’s more evidence of the players’ discord.

Fran Blinebury of NBA.com (hat tip: reddit user Longh0rns):

Howard and Harden have been an oil-and-water mix since they came together for the 2012-13 season. It was only days after Damian Lillard‘s 3-point dagger eliminated them in the first round of their first playoff series together when both were sending out messages and maneuvering to get the other one traded.

Harden is a difficult teammate to play with, dominating the ball and so much of every shot clock and Howard too often felt ignored.

[Correction: That Rockets-Trail Blazers series occurred in 2014.]

Plenty could have changed since 2014, and Howard and Harden clicked well enough last season to lead the Rockets to the Western Conference finals.

But it’s hard to watch their disharmony – and, by extension, the Rockets’ disharmony – this season and believe there are no lingering issues. It’s easier to get over those problems when the team is winning. When it’s losing, personal issues can be both a cause and symptom, snowballing on themselves.

To whatever extent Howard and Harden are still battling, Harden is winning. That’s only logical considering Harden is better, four years younger and on a more favorable contract.

If Howard wants to stay in Houston (he says he does) and play without Harden (much more questionable), Howard should have campaigned better two years ago.

July 1 NBA Free Agency Tracker: All the latest signings, news, rumors in one place

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Welcome to the wildest NBA off-season anyone can remember.

Thanks to the new television deal the salary cap is spiking by $24 million. Look at it this way, last season the cap was $70 million, next season the salary FLOOR teams must reach is estimated to be $84.6 million. Throw in some quality free agents — Kevin Durant, Al Horford, Mike Conley — and some question marks (we’re looking at you Dwight Howard) and things will be fast and wild.

We will keep this post continually updated for the first 24 hours of free agency so you can keep up with everything.

2:24 AM: There’s been conflicting reports about who was meeting with Chandler Parsons when, but the Trail Blazers just got done with their meeting and threw a max offer down on the table, according to Sam Amick of the USA Today.

2:12 AM: With Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah the Knicks do not yet apparently have enough players with worrisome injury histories to reach their quota, they are talking to Eric Gordon (most recently of the Pelicans), according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

I’ll need to see the terms of the proposed deal, but the Knicks training staff should get a raise.

DEAL REACHED 2:05 AM: DeMar DeRozan said he was only going to meet with Toronto, that he wanted to stay. Not a shock then that the two sides have reached a deal, something first reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today.

1:57 AM: There were fewer deals in the opening hours of free agency Friday than there were a year ago, and on the Vertical’s live show Adrian Wojnarowski had an interesting explanation for why: The league had called around to GM’s Friday asking about all these meetings that were set before players and teams could talk. While a number of deals were reached in the first hours of free agency, teams wanted to hold off on announcing them to avoid the appearance of tampering. That makes a lot of sense.

1:41 AM: The meeting between Hassan Whiteside and the Miami Heat has ended without a formal deal being reached. Dallas and Portland still will get chances to woo him.

1:21 AM: Chandler Parsons will meet with the Portland Trail Blazers and they will offer him a max contract ($26 million a year for him).

DEAL REACHED 1:13 AM: And it’s done (well except that the papers can’t be signed until July 7), the Lakers got their man in 7-foot Cavaliers’ center Timofey Mozgov for an average of $16 million a year, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

What surprises me most here: How does Mozgov fit in with the up-tempo style Luke Walton wants to play? This is going to play poorly with Lakers fans but it’s a decent  fit — with their young, more athletic players they needed a rim protector, a guy who can set screens and do the dirty work. I’m not sure I’d want to give him four years, and that’s a lot of cash for a big the numerous small-ball teams in the West can marginalize, but this isn’t a horrid signing.

1:11 AM: In addition to Mozgov, the Lakers also have reportedly reached out to Evan Turner, and there is mutual interest.

1:07 AM: Chandler Parsons is going to meet with Memphis and Portland in the next 24 hours, and despite missing more than 60 games the past two seasons with knee injuries, he is expected to be offered a max contract by at least the Blazers ($26 million for him). I’d say that is unprecedented, but Wesley Matthews got nearly the same thing coming off an Achilles injury the season.

12:40 AM: The Brooklyn Nets need a point guard, and while they are going to go after Jeremy Lin they also will take a look at Brandon Jennings, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.

12:32 AM: Did not see this coming — Timofey Mozgov may be the Lakers’ big fish. The Lakers and Mozgov are in “advanced discussions” about a four-year, $65 million deal for the old-school big man, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. My initial reaction is: That is vastly overpaying a guy who doesn’t really fit well in Luke Walton’s preferred up-tempo style. That soft weeping you here is Lakers’ Nation.

12:23 AM The Washington Wizards are nearing a max deal of five years, $128 million with Bradley Beal. While that is a lot of money for a guy who will be battling stress fractures his entire career (and have reduced minutes to prevent issues) if the Wizards didn’t max him out they’d lose him for nothing. The Wizards did what they had to do here. The two sides will reach a deal but he will sign that last, giving the Wizards about $30 million in cap space to chase other free agents.

12:14 AM: The first of many, many signs about how overheated this market will be.

12:08 AM: Who was Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak’s first call at midnight? Timofey Mozgov, the old-school center of the Cavaliers, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. Not exactly what Lakers fans were hoping for this summer.

12:06 AM: We knew that the Knicks wanted Joakim Noah and he wanted them, no surprise the two sides are meeting already. But man, this seems like a lot of money and a lot of guaranteed years for a guy battling injuries.

12:02 AM: The Houston Rockets have a midnight meeting with coveted swingman Kent Bazemore (who would be a fantastic fit in Mike D’Antoni’s system). James Harden is reportedly at the meeting.

12:01 AM: The Dallas Mavericks are waiting their turn to meet with Hassan Whiteside, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. The Mavs are one of the favorites, along with the Heat, to land Whiteside, and they will offer him a max contract (Whiteside has said he wants to make a quick decision).

Midnight: IT’S ON!

Report: As expected, DeMar DeRozan reached five-year, $139 million deal with Raptors

TORONTO, ON - MAY 27:  DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors reacts in the third quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre on May 27, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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When DeMar DeRozan said he wasn’t going to meet with any teams other than the Toronto Raptors, you could safely assume that deal would get done quickly once the calendar turned to July 1.

It took about two hours.

DeRozan and the Raptors have agreed to a five-year max contract, something first reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today, with Shams Charania adding the details.

DeRozan gets buckets. The man was an All-Star last February and now is part of the USA Basketball team for the Rio Olympics because of his ability to get into the paint and score. He averaged 23.5 points a game last season in Toronto. He, along with fellow Team USA member Kyle Lowry, drive the Raptors offense.

No doubt DeRozan needs to become more comfortable taking (and hitting) the three ball, but Toronto couldn’t afford to lose him, so they came up with a big number and he jumped at it.

Report: Wizards quickly nearing max five-year, $128 million deal with Bradley Beal

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards walks onto the court against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half at Verizon Center on January 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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The Wizards had to do this. If they didn’t max out Bradley Beal, another team would have — injury history or no. Then the Wizards would have had to match, but bad blood could have formed. He has just too much promise as a shooter in a league where 29 other teams could use more shooting.

Within an hour after free agency started, the Wizards and Beal were closing in on a five-year, $128 million contract extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Restricted free-agent guard Bradley Beal is nearing agreement on a five-year, $128 million maximum contract to stay with the Washington Wizards, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Vertical. The framework of the contract will be a straight five-year deal with no options, Bartelstein said.

The sides are expected to come to a complete agreement later Friday morning.

Friday morning does not mean in the hours right after midnight, but rather once everyone comes in and has had a cup of coffee Friday morning.

The question with Beal isn’t “can he play the game?” He averaged 17.4 points per game last season and is a career 39.7 percent shooter from three. Rather, the issue is his health, where a stress fracture in his right leg has kept him out of 46 games the past two seasons and is a lingering problem. He’s going to be on a minutes restriction the rest of his career to deal with that stress issue.

Beal and Wizards point guard John Wall need to learn to thrive together (they were just pedestrian last season, when the two were on the court together they played opponents basically even, less than +1 per 100 possessions). Maybe new coach Scott Brooks scan help. But the Wizards need those two to be a lot more like what Toronto gets out of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. They have to be more than scorers; they need to be catalysts.

The Wizards will be paying Beal handsomely to be just that next season.

Report: Lakers, Timofey Mozgov agree to four-year, $64 million deal

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 05:  Timofey Mozgov #20 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a shot against the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 5, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Bob Donnan/Pool/Getty Images)
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For months, we’ve been told to prepare for the higher salary cap to lead to some insane deals. Here’s the leader in the clubhouse so far: a deal paying Timofey Mozgov around $16 million per year annually with the Lakers.

Mozgov was a key piece in the Cavs’ Finals run in 2016, but he was all but out of the rotation by the end of this year, dealing with knee issues and inconsistent play all year.

With Hassan Whiteside apparently not interested in going to the Lakers, the team is viewing Mozgov as a consolation prize, a starting center. When he’s healthy, he’s productive. But coming off a down year, this feels like an overpay. If Mozgov is getting this kind of money, be prepared for all kinds of craziness going forward.