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Chandler Parsons to return to court for Grizzlies Wednesday vs. Pistons

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Watch out, the Grizzlies are getting healthy.

They have the best defense in the league, Marc Gasol has played as well as anyone in the league the past few weeks, but they have stumbled the last three games as the offense just can’t generate enough points.

That’s about to get a boost with the return of Chandler Parsons. Tim MacMahon of ESPN broke the news, Parsons basically confirmed it.

Parsons has played in only six games for the Grizzlies this season (he missed the start of the season coming off knee surgery), but in that small sample size the Grizzlies have been 8.3 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court. His return plus that of Mike Conley recently should bring the Grizzlies offense up to decent — which with their defense should be enough.

It’s good timing for a team that could use some wins because seven of the next nine for Memphis are on the road.

Bulls’ fans booed during loss to Bucks. Dwyane Wade didn’t like that.

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The Chicago Bulls are 14-13 on the season, and frankly playing a little better than that record suggests. While the offense is pedestrian — and the predicted lack of shooting has caught up with them — they have a top 10 defense and look like a playoff team in the muddled East. That’s about as much as should be expected from this team.

However, as the Bulls were getting drilled by the Bucks at home last Friday, the fans booed.

Dwyane Wade didn’t like that at all. Via Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.

Fans pay a lot of money for seats and to see their team play, and they have the right to boo. It’s easy for us to sit at home watching on League Pass and say “it’s just one of those nights” or “it’s a schedule loss,” but for the fans that pay to see the product they are understandably frustrated. Can’t blame them for that.

Wade is right in the big picture, this is a solid Bulls team playing about as well as could be hoped, and with a couple of signature wins. They just happened to stink up the joint for a night. But Wade wanted to go home where the expectations were high — Chicago is not a town where if the home team had a bad night the fans just say “oh, well, let’s go get some mojitos and ceviche.” He left that place. And his new home is going to come with some scrutiny.

New CBA has special provision so James Harden, Russell Westbrook get PAID

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Last summer, the old CBA worked as the owners had hoped in the case of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden signed an extension to stay with the Rockets. After Kevin Durant bolted for the Bay, Westbrook extended his contract with the Thunder.

The new CBA is going to reward superstar players who stick with their teams — Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins, and others who are All-NBA team players with the team that drafted them are in line for five-year, $207 million (or more) extensions. It’s the designated player rule — better named the Kevin Durant rule — that piles on the incentives for those players to stay with their teams (teams can offer 35 percent of the salary cap to those stars, not just 30 percent).

However, in framing the new CBA, both sides wanted to reward the players that inked a deal last summer, so a special provision benefiting Harden and Westbrook is in there, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The National Basketball Association’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement includes a special provision that grandfathers Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook into the windfall of super-max contract extensions available to several star players this summer, league sources told The Vertical.

This summer, Westbrook could sign a five-year, $219 million contract extension that would begin in the 2018-19 season. He’ll make $28.5 million in 2017-18.

Harden could sign for an additional four years and $171 million starting in 2019 – on top of the $58.7 million owed to him in the next two years of his current contract.

This is all part of the goal by the owners of small and middle market teams to make it hard for stars they draft to walk away. The incentives in the last CBA came in response to LeBron James leaving Cleveland for Miami. The stakes were upped when Durant made his move this summer, and the new CBA reflects that.

Players can still get out of town. If DeMarcus Cousins wants out of Sacramento, or eventually guys such as Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis want to leave their teams, they are free to do so — they are just going to leave tens of millions of dollars on the table. Maybe north of $60 million. For someone like Durant, who has a massive shoe deal with Nike, that contract money may not be enough to keep him in town. But it makes the discussion more interesting.

Blazers’ Meyers Leonard says DeMarcus Cousins deserved to be ejected

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DeMarcus Cousins scored his 54th point against an overmatched Trail Blazers front line Tuesday night, turned to the Portland bench and let out a string of obscenity-laced trash talk. To the point that his mouthpiece went flying out of his mouth.

At first, the referees ejected Cousins for it. Then they reversed course and brought him back. Cousins though the whole thing was “ridiculous” (and someone should buy him a thesaurus for Christmas).

Portland’s Meyers Leonard thought the refs had it right the first time.

Here’s the heart of what Leonard said:

“He deserved to be out of the game for what he did. He’s a very skilled player, had a very good game. But his antics are over the top. He’s disrespectful. Out of line. The list of words could go on. I can’t respect someone like that…. I saw some comment from him, ‘The world needs to see, this is ridiculous.’ No it’s not ridiculous. He did it to himself, and that’s the truth, and people need to know that.”

The feud between Cousins and Leonard is not new. Cousins has said before last night that Leonard’s entire gameplan is to try to frustrate him because Leonard isn’t as skilled/good as Boogie. Leonard has returned the “love,” called Cousins “vulgar,” and had a good game against Cousins before.

Part of Cousins’ game is intimidation — physical and verbal. The NBA has a long tradition of that, running back through Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and so many more. Some players always push back against that, and Cousin’s brand of talk isn’t quite as clever as Bird’s. Which means we’re going to see a lot more of it between these two.

UPDATE: Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith has broken thumb, needs surgery

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J.R. Smith left the first half of the Cavaliers eventual overtime win over the Bucks Tuesday night with a thumb injury, apparently injuring it while trying to swipe the ball away from Giannis Antetokounmpo. It was serious enough for the team to have an MRI done, but that returned inconclusive. Smith didn’t return to the game, and it’s unlikely he plays Wednesday in the second night of the home-and-home with Milwaukee.

 

But the Cavaliers feared from the start it could be much worse, and it appears that is the case, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

He will be out indefinitely.

Smith is a key part of the Cavaliers starting five that coach Tyronn Lue leans on heavily, and that lineup outscores opponents by 11.6 points per 48 minutes. That lineup has played 300 minutes together this season, no other Cavaliers lineup has been on the court together for more than 46.

DeAndre Liggins started the second half in Smith’s place and likely gets the call now.

There has been a rash of injuries with the Cavaliers lately. They were without Kevin Love Tuesday due to knee soreness, and Chris Andersen is out for the season with a torn ACL.