Kurt Helin

Report: Donatas Motiejunas near deal to sign with Pelicans


The Houston Rockets saw so little future in Donatas Motiejunas, they decided to release him after he failed a physical with the team. The Rockets could have easily held on to his rights (by just failing him on the physical, which would have returned him to restricted free agent status) but they chose to let him go and seek his next chance somewhere else.

That chance appears to be in New Orleans, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports and Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Pelicans have waived veteran wing Reggie Williams to create a roster spot for this move.

This is a good roll of the dice by the Pelicans, and getting Motiejunas on a veteran minimum contract (likely with options for next season and incentives if he plays well) minimizes the risk. The Pelicans are looking for anyone who could play next to Anthony Davis — we know it’s not Omer Asik or Alexis Ajinca — and Motiejunas’ ability to space the floor with his shot seems like a natural fit. Especially with the up-tempo, pace-and-space style Alvin Gentry would prefer to run.

This is a big financial step back from where Motiejunas was just a few weeks back. Brooklyn had signed him to a team-friendly, incentive-filled four-year, $37 million contract, but Houston matched the core $31 million of it (all they had to do). After Motiejunas refused to report, he reached a four-year, $35 million deal with Houston (that gave the team more time to decide on future year options), but then came in a failed his physical.

Now we just need to see if Motiejunas can get healthy and back on the court.

Rajon Rondo has meeting with Bulls GM after benching


Rajon Rondo didn’t just lose his starting spot to Michael Carter-Williams, Saturday night he got the dreaded DNP-CD — he didn’t even get in the game.

One of the Bulls’ big acquisitions over the summer, he simply has not been a good fit next to Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade, he does not provide the shooting this team needs (37 percent overall), and while he wants to control the flow of the offense more and more coach Fred Hoiberg has taken that away from him.

On New Year’s Eve, after another Bulls’ loss (this time to Milwaukee), Rondo had a meeting with Bulls GM Gar Forman to discuss his future in Chicago, reports Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

“Gar (Forman, Bulls GM) and I will have a talk. We’ll talk tonight and go from there. I don’t know if it’s right now, maybe the next 30, 18, 45 minutes. Tonight, before ’17 (the clock strikes midnight).”

By then, one wonders if the Bulls and Rondo will be working on a buyout to free him from the remainder of his contract — one that includes a $3 million buyout that has to be exercised before next July.

“No, I’m not surprised. Not surprised,” Rondo said. “It’s been a tough season. Certain buttons are being pushed and the Bulls are trying to figure things out.”

Rondo was professional during the interview (unlike the dust up with a Bulls assistant coach recently), but he’s not happy with the Bulls and the Bulls are not happy with him. Coach Fred Hoiberg told Rondo he had looked slow the last five games, Rondo disagreed. But it doesn’t look like he will be injected back into the starting lineup anytime soon, or maybe even the rotation.

The Bulls could buy Rondo out and he could go somewhere else on a minimum deal (although, if he wants to move to a team playoff bound, finding a landing spot may be difficult). It will come down to money — how much of his $14 million salary is Rondo willing to eat to get out of the contract? But things seem headed in the direction of a divorce more than reconciliation.

Another game, another Russell Westbrook triple-double

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The Clippers, without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, are reeling.

Which is the wrong time to run into Russell Westbrook. He racked up another triple-double — and got there in the first half. He finished with 17 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds, which are not the biggest numbers of the night, but he didn’t have to against the Clippers.

The Thunder won 114-88. Which was a nice note to leave 2016 on.

Watch James Harden rack up 53 points, 17 assists, 16 rebounds


James Harden could do no wrong.

Or so it seemed as he shredded the Knicks becoming the first NBA player ever to have more than 50 points, 15 rebounds, and 15 assists in a game — Harden finished with 53 points, 17 assists, and 16 rebounds.

And yes, the Rockets beat the Knicks, 129-122.

James Harden hits three, does the shimmy on way to record night (VIDEO)


There has not been a better show in the NBA this season than James Harden.

He was putting up numbers on the Knicks Saturday night — he’s the first player in NBA history to have 50 points, 15 rebounds and 15 assists in a game. 

That included this crossover away from the screen, three ball, and then the shimmy. The Rockets bench and the crowd loved it.
The Rockets went on to beat the Knicks comfortably, then Harden shimmied off into the night.