Kurt Helin

Russell Westbrook hits referee in head with ball after play stops, gets technical (VIDEO)

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The good news for Russell Westbrook was that during the past week the NBA rescinded two of his technical fouls: Nov. 14 at Detroit and  Dec. 17 against Phoenix. That dropped his total for the season from 11 down to nine.

To celebrate, Westbrook picked up another Wednesday night.

You can see the video above: Westbrook dribbled the ball up the court and just as he gets over half court a timeout is called (a common move by teams). Westbrook tries to toss the ball to Sean Corbin on the baseline, but Corbin is not looking for it and the ball just bangs him in the head.

Westbrook got a technical for it. He didn’t deserve it, I know the ref got hit in the head but it’s clear there is no intent there, other than the intention to give the ball to the official like he is supposed to. The letter of the law may say technical, but sometimes you need to take the spirit of the rule into account.

Hopefully, the league will rescind this one, too.

Report: Jarrett Jack almost back from knee surgery, will audition for teams

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Teams will come take a look — plenty of teams could use a solid, veteran backup point guard who can get a team some buckets. Jarrett Jack might be able to be that again — averaged 12.8 points and 7.4 assists in the 32 games he played last season in Brooklyn.

However, teams are going to be skeptical for two reasons: He’s coming off ACL surgery, and now is 33 years old.

Jack was signed by the Hawks last summer but waived during training camp because he could not get healthy. He’s healthy now and ready for teams to take a look, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Jack isn’t the player he once was: He relies far more on his outside shot than ability to drive the paint, and he’s not a great defender. That said, off the bench on the right team he could certainly play a role. Teams will take a look.

Sixers waive Hollis Thompson, some team likely to claim him on waivers

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Most of the time, when a player is waived he clears waivers and 48 hours later becomes a free agent, who goes on to sign somewhere else.

With Hollis Thompson, some team is going to claim him off the waiver wire.

The Sixers did waive him Wednesday, something reported by CSNPhilly.com, providing roster flexibility heading into a trade deadline where Philadelphia is expected to be active. The move was made before Thompson’s $1 million contract became fully guaranteed (that deadline is Jan. 10, with players to be waived by Jan. 7 to make sure they clear waivers before the 10th).

This is not a move the Sam Hinkie regime would have made. Thompson has gotten a lot more run than the average guy cut loose — he’s averaged 18.1 minutes a game off the bench for the Sixers and only missed two games all season. Projected as a “3&D” guy off the bench, he is shooting 36.6 percent from three, which is down from his previous seasons, but not poor. He’s dangerous from the corners.

There are a lot of teams that could use a three-point shooter off the bench, which it is expected some team will sign Thompson.

Why did the Sixers waive a guy who is contributing? Because they want the roster spot. That could temporarily go to a point guard (Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez are both out injured), but what the Sixers really want is the ability to take on a player or a contract as the trade deadline approaches, giving them options.

We will update you where Thompson lands.

PBT Podcast: Chicago Bulls talk with Sean Highkin of The Athletic

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Rajon Rondo is waiving towels from the bench and no longer in the rotation, is he long for Chicago?

Would the Bulls listen to Jimmy Butler trade offers? Taj Gibson?

The Bulls are scrambling for a playoff spot in the East, and Kurt Helin of NBC Sports breaks it all down with Sean Highkin who covers the Bulls for The Athletic. The discuss trades, what worked and what hasn’t and if the John Paxson/Gar Forman front office is safe.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes (check there to see all the NBC Sports podcasts), subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out our new PBT podcast homepage and archive at Audioboom.com.

Hawks to retire “Pistol” Pete Maravich’s number

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There has never been another player like “Pistol” Pete Maravich.

He is a Hall of Famer, a five-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA, but he is remembered as one of the most entertaining players ever to lace them up. Basketball is supposed to be fun and entertaining, and few have blown away the people in the seats like Maravich.

It was the Atlanta Hawks who drafted Maravich, and it is there he spent the first four years of his career. Finally, they are going to retire his number 44, reports Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A date and details of when the No. 44 will be raised to the rafters of Philips Arena have not been finalized…

The Hawks drafted Maravich with the third overall pick in the 1970 NBA Draft. He played 302 games for the Hawks and averaged 24.3 points, 5.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 37.2 minutes. He had a field-goal percentage of .448.

Maravich passed away back in 1988, at the age of 40, when he suffered heart failure playing a pickup basketball game.

Maravich’s number has already been retired by the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans — Maravich is best known for his time playing for the then New Orleans Jazz. The other retired numbers in Atlanta? Bob Pettit (No. 9), Lou Hudson (23), Dominique Wilkins (No. 21) and Dikembe Mutombo (No. 55).