Kurt Helin

Al Horford got booed upon his return to Atlanta

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What, you expected something different?

The only question is did Mike Budenholzer secretly join in?

Al Horford made his return to Atlanta in a Boston Celtics uniform Friday night, and of course he was booed when introduced to the fans. Horford spent nine seasons in Atlanta and was an All-NBA player and four-time All-Star while there.

The Hawks organization offered a video tribute to Horford, and he was cheered after that.

 

Joel Embiid’s introduction a tribute to WWE’s star HHH

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Joel Embiid is the best.

His introduction in Philadelphia for Friday night’s game vs. Charlotte was a tribute to WWE star HHH.

This is why I want Embiid in the All-Star Game. We can debate whether the rookie has earned it in a crowded East frontcourt (I would say yes, but there are cases for more players than slots) but it is stuff like this that shows how much fun he would have with the experience.

Plus, he can do stuff like this on the court.

Derrick Rose says he wants to return to Knicks next season, hopes AWOL incident doesn’t hurt that

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Derrick Rose bet on his future last summer, accepting a one-year deal with the Knicks. Play well and he would make his money back next summer. Ideally with a max contract.

The Knicks are unsure if they are going to bring Rose back, but he wants to stay in Manhattan and hopes going AWOL for a game on Monday doesn’t change that, Rose told Michael Lee of The Vertical.

At every chance, Rose has been adamant about wanting to stay in New York after his contract expires this summer. Rose is hopeful that his brief disappearance won’t prohibit the two sides from reaching an agreement on a long-term deal. “When I was in the room, I felt like they understood where I was coming from,” Rose said. “I hope one incident didn’t change their mind. Who knows? This is a business. If it was to happen, I still would want to play the way I normally know how to play wherever I’m at.”

This incident may not be a deciding factor, but it combined with his play make it a question if they bring him back. Or, to be more accurate, how much they are willing to pay him to come back.

Rose is right now an average point guard. He has a PER of 16 and a Value Over Replacement Player of -0.01, both saying he’s in the middle of the bell curve (stats via basketball-reference.com). He’s giving the Knicks 17.5 points per game, but when he tries to dominate the ball too much the team gets in trouble — the Knicks are 2-12 when he takes 17 or more shots per game.

How much is an average starting point guard worth? Certainly not a $30 million a season max, maybe not even half of that. The question next summer for the Knicks is what is their price, and can they get anyone as good or better — somebody younger who has good chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis — for similar money? What other teams may be willing to step in and poach Rose?

A lot of that is on Rose. Play well and within himself the second half of this season and the AWOL issue will get overlooked. Give people reason to doubt him and it will not. He’s really playing for that next contract now.

Al Horford returns to Atlanta for first time wearing Boston jersey

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ATLANTA (AP) — Al Horford knows this won’t be just another game tonight.

The four-time All-Star is returning to Philips Arena for the first time with a new team, and many are still adjusting to the fact that he no longer plays for the Atlanta Hawks.

After nine seasons as a franchise cornerstone, Horford left for Boston as a free agent last summer, signing a four-year, $113 million contract.

But a big part of the big center will always be in the Deep South. He hopes his impact with everyone in Atlanta was positive.

“I always tried to be a guy that plays hard and was committed to giving his all, on and off the court,” Horford said Friday. “So that’s something I’m really proud of.”

Horford led Florida to back-to-back national championships before the Hawks drafted him No. 3 overall in 2007. He helped Atlanta make the playoffs each season he was with the franchise, but the team only got close to the NBA Finals once, in 2015. The Hawks won 60 games and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time.

They were swept by Cleveland each of the last two years, and coach Mike Budenholzer has remade the roster. Kyle Korver now plays for Cleveland, Jeff Teague for Indiana and DeMarre Carroll for Toronto.

The Hawks have rebuilt around Atlanta native Dwight Howard, an eight-time All-Star center, and point guard Dennis Schroder. The overhaul continues to be a work in process with just four players with double-digit scoring averages and the team lacks consistent perimeter shooting.

“It really has changed fast,” Horford said. “That just shows us what the NBA business can be like sometimes. That’s just the way it is. All you can do is embrace those times that you had here and accept these new challenges that we’re in.”

In his first game against the Hawks, Horford said he expects some mixed emotions, but hopes to settle down after a pregame video tribute. There’s plenty at stake tonight with Boston third and Atlanta fourth in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics have won five of six and the Hawks seven in a row.

Horford keeps up with some of his former teammates and wishes them well.

“It’s a team that’s gone through its ups and downs, but I feel like they’ve found a really good rhythm right now,” he said. “They’re playing really well. Dennis has impressed me a lot, the way that he’s been playing and leading the team. Paul (Millsap) being as consistent as he is, and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) is really impressive off the bench.”

Horford said many times over the years that he wanted to spend his entire career with the Hawks, but when they wouldn’t match Boston’s offer, his decision was easy.

“I think for me individually it was the right decision,” Horford said. “It takes time to adjust to a new team, a new city and everything, but my teammates and coach have made my transition very easy.”

Boston guard Isaiah Thomas credits Horford with helping him get off to the best start of his six-year career. Thomas is averaging 28.2 points, tied for fourth-best in the league. Horford is averaging 15.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists.

“He helps me out because he puts me in position,” Thomas said. “He sets really good screens for me to get me open and he also is a hell of a passer, so when he gets the ball in situations where I’m on the opposite side, he usually finds me. I think that’s what making me have a pretty good year as well.”

Thomas said the Celtics intend to get Horford a win Friday night.

“He hasn’t brought it up to us,” Thomas said. “That’s just the type of person he is. Everything is the same for him.”

Horford likes to keep it that way. He’s ready to put this game behind him.

“It’s a little different, but I think probably tonight I’m sure it will be more surreal for me,” Horford said. “Right now it’s just a shoot-around and it feels very normal.”

Klay Thompson says he wants to re-sign with Warriors in 2018, but can he?

Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson follows through on a shot during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Klay Thompson isn’t thinking about the summer of 2018 or 2019. Yet.

Warriors’ GM Bob Myers and company better be.

This summer Stephen Curry will get a max, designated player extension from the team (safe to say Curry is a max player). Kevin Durant signed a one-plus-one deal when he came west last season so he could sign a max contract. That means the two of them will be making north of $36 million each, plus Draymond Green will be making $17.5 million for 2017-18 and $18.5 million the next season. That’s more than $90 million already wrapped up in three players — on a salary cap expected to be in the $108-$109 million range — when it’s time to pay Thompson.

To his credit, Thompson says he isn’t thinking about it, as he told Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt on the A to Z Podcast from the USA Today.

“I try not to think that are ahead, but I’d love to be here for as long as I can. What we’ve built here is so special, and I love living in the Bay Area, so that would be a huge priority of mine … I just feel like if I play hard and work hard every day, I’ll get rewarded no matter what I do, so I’m not going to get caught up with the numbers and how much money I could potentially make because it’ll all come around. You’ve just got to stay humble and be appreciative of what I have. And if I keep working this hard, I’ll be rewarded.

“I think I was raised right, with my Dad (Mychal Thompson, the two-time champion with the Lakers and current broadcaster and radio personality) telling me not to play this game for money but play for the love of it and you’ll be rewarded … I’m happy the way NBA players get paid; we deserve it for the revenue we bring in for this league, and I’m just thankful I’m here. I know if I just keep doing what I do, I’ll be rewarded hopefully for a long time.”

That’s a well-polished answer. Not that he doesn’t mean it, but there’s a lot of moving parts here.

The Warriors have decisions to make. There are questions about their ability to keep Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala past this summer when they need to pay Curry and Durant. What is the max player budget for the team, even one willing to pay some tax? What are the final salary cap and tax lines? How much will the new San Francisco arena under construction change the team’s equation? What veterans can the Warriors get to come in on a cheap contract — such as David West this season — to play for a ring and give them depth?

Thompson doesn’t have to think about the future, but the Warriors do.