<span class="vcard">Kurt Helin</span>

Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets Press Conference

Report: Rockets aggressively trying to make deal using $8.4 million trade exception by Dec. 19


The Houston Rockets may be 16-4 (and a surprising 7-3 without Dwight Howard) but they look around at the rest of the West and they can’t feel comfortable. Nobody can look around the West and feel comfortable.

The Rockets also have an $8.4 million trade exception from the Jeremy Lin trade. Meaning they can use all or part of that to bring in some salary in a trade without sending it out — they can absorb a contract a team wants to dump (but that exception cannot be combined with a player to take in a larger salary).

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is trying to use that exception in a deal by Dec. 19, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Houston Rockets are aggressively pursuing deals to use their $8.4 million trade exception before Dec. 19, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Rival executives say that Houston’s front office has been active in searching out deals in recent days and wants an acquisition completed within the 60-day reaggregation window before the Feb. 19 NBA trade deadline. This way, the Rockets could still have an option of moving the player again this season.

No names have been attached to the deal yet. The Rockets could use another quality point guard, depth on the wings behind James Harden and Trevor Ariza, and maybe some help at the four with Terrence Jones still out. There are plenty of holes to fill.

But Morey is still thinking about swinging for the fences (as he did with Chris Bosh over the summer) and adding another star. So if Morey can acquire a player by the 19th who potentially can be flipped in a deal at the deadline, he will leave that option open.

Basically, expect the Rockets to make some kind of deal in the next nine days. How big remains to be seen.

Carmelo Anthony hints he could miss time to rest ailing knee

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks

Carmelo Antony has been dragging a sore knee around with him all season, he’s just tried to play through it.

That may be coming to an end. After the Knicks’ ninth straight loss Sunday Anthony spent 40 minutes in the training room getting treatment on that knee, only to emerge and suggest he may need to shut it down for a while to rest the knee and get it right, reports Marc Berman at the New York Post.

“At this point, it’s evaluating and seeing,’’ Anthony said. “Some days are better than others. It’s a matter if I want to continue to play on it and the pain threshold. The flip side to that is we are losing games. I hate it, I hate to sit on the sidelines and watch my teammates.

“At this point, sitting down with trainers and coaches and seeing what’s best for everybody. If it’s best for me to sit out, take some time to get it right, then that’s a decision we’ll have to make. But they’ll have to pull me out.”

The Knicks play Wednesday in San Antonio then Friday at Boston before returning home to face the Raptors on Sunday.

Anthony is averaging 22.9 points a game and is the fulcrum of the Knicks triangle offense this season, and he’s done so with an above average true shooting percentage of .540. He’s played fairly well but carried a heavy minutes load, being out there for nearly 36 minutes a game.

Even with his play the Knicks are bad. They have the 21st ranked offense (in points per possession) and worse yet the 27th ranked defense. Put simply, with or without ‘Melo in the lineup they are going to have a lot of ping-pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery next spring (even though the NBA doesn’t use ping-pong balls anymore, but you get the idea).

I’m not saying the Knicks should intentionally tank, but Magic Johnson isn’t totally wrong — if you’re going to be bad, be bad and increase your odds at a higher pick. And while you’re at it take care of the franchise forward you just agreed to pay $124 million over five years. Don’t let the knee become a chronic thing.

PBT’s Tuesday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Kobe, LeBron go off on night of the living legends

LeBron James, Patrick Patterson

Every night the NBA can be a cold hard reality — there are winners, there are losers. It’s the nature of the game. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to bring you the best and worst of the NBA each week night. Here’s what you missed while reading Grantland’s Boogie Nights oral history

source:  LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the second time in a week, the Cavaliers knocked off the East leading Toronto Raptors (who miss DeMar DeRozan, especially at the end of games). What made this impressive was it was a fourth-quarter comeback on the second night of a back-to-back against a Raptors team that had won 39 straight when leading after three. But two things happened. One, Cleveland played more focused defense and held the Raptors to 13 points in the final frame (the Raptors helped out in that quarter). Second, this was one of those games LeBron James wins one for his team — he had 35 points overall, a team best 10 in the fourth quarter and he hit a key three late. He looked every bit the best player on the planet and as good as Kyle Lowry was (he saves his best games for facing Kyrie Irving) it was not going to be enough.

source:  Kobe Bryant. He scored 32 on the Kings, nine of those in the fourth quarter plus he had three key assists in the final frame as the Lakers used a late 9-3 run to come from behind and beat the Cousins-less Kings. Take that Magic Johnson. If the Lakers win it’s because Kobe is putting up numbers and his 32 Tuesday leave him just 31 back of Michael Jordan on the all time scoring list (he could pass MJ on Friday against the Spurs, but my guess is it’s not going to happen with Kawhi Leonard draped all over him).

source:  Memphis Grizzlies offense. While nobody was looking the Grizzlies have developed into a top five offense — they are scoring 107.4 points per 100 possessions this season, tied with the Golden State Warriors. Did not see that coming and the question is can they sustain it against good teams — they did Tuesday scoring 114 points (a 125.6 offensive rating per 100 possessions) on Dallas Tuesday. They did it by just overpowering Dallas inside — Marc Gasol had 30 points, while as a team the Grizzlies got 42 of their 85 shots (49.4 percent) within eight feet of the rim. That pounding inside also led to the Grizzlies getting to the free throw line 29 times (hitting 25). Combine that with hitting 7-of-14 from three (Mike Conley and Tayshaun Prince combined to be 4-of-7 from three) and you have a team that is hard to stop. And when things go right, Tony Allen will dance.

source:  Dallas Mavericks’ defense. They are 0-5 against the other members of the top eight in the West so far and the reason is their defense can be overpowered inside. Even with Tyson Chandler. On the season the Mavericks are giving up 105.2 points per 100 possessions, which is 22nd in the league. That’s got to improve if they plan to make any real noise in the brutal Western Conference.

source:  LaMarcus Aldridge. Fittingly doing it with a step-back three, Tuesday night Aldridge passed Terry Porter to move into second place on the all time Trail Blazers points list with 11,333. Aldridge had 23 points and 11 rebounds on the night as the Trail Blazers didn’t blow away but did handle the Pistons and win 98-86 on the road. Oh, you want to know who leads the Trail Blazers’ scoring list? Clyde “the glide” Drexler with 18.040.

source:  Chris Bosh. Miami snapped a four-game losing streak against a potential Western Conference playoff team (Phoenix is currently the eight seed). That’s a good night. And it was all Bosh who had 34 points on the night. Bosh was 7-of-8 shooting inside eight feet of the rim but he did more damage on the perimeter (he was 4-of-6 from three). While there are a lot of questions about Miami — you had to know the post-LeBron transition was going to be difficult — Bosh isn’t one of them. He’s been fantastic this season.

Sixers’ K.J. McDaniels blocked a ball into crowd so hard he gave fan a concussion

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers

There are few reasons to subject yourself to a Philadelphia 76ers game this season. It’s ugly basketball. They play fast but in the way a four-year-old runs fast — out of control and doomed to fall hard. There is talent to develop, but sorting the wheat from the chaff is not a simple job for Brett Brown. He has to find the pieces the Sixers could use going forward.

K.J. McDaniels is one of them.

Coming into the league there were questions about his offense, but he has proven to be a much better shooter than expected. What people thought when he was drafted at No. 32 is he could be an energy guy, one who can defend and maybe block a few shots.

Oh, he can block shots. He may be just 6’6” but he has quickly established himself as a threatening shot blocker in the paint. To the point he gave a lady at a game a concussion, McDaniels told our old friend Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated.

“I used to watch a lot of [Dwyane] Wade and LeBron [James] when they came into the league,” McDaniels said. “I used to watch Michael Jordan a lot, too – the way they were versatile in how they defend multiple positions and use their athleticism to block shots. I just figured since I’m athletic and I can jump and have good instincts, I can go up there and get shots as well.”

That particular skill has translated brilliantly to the NBA level, where McDaniels succeeds the aforementioned Wade and James as one of the most awesome and surprising help-side shot blockers in the league. The jewel of his rejection résumé might just be the play of the season to date: A complete demolition of a Greivis Vasquez runner, rocketed into the stands at such a violent velocity as to cause actual injury.

“I surprised myself,” McDaniels said of the block. “There was a lady who got hit by the ball who got a concussion, I believe.” McDaniels, upon hearing what happened, sent flowers.

Here’s the play in question, but we don’t see the lady getting hit.

This is from the “I don’t care if the story is actually true” file, I want it to be. I want it to be part of the McDaniels’ legend. So I will believe it like some people are convinced Bigfoot walks the Pacific Northwest. Or they believe in the chupacabra.

The Sixers have found something in McDaniels. Now they just have to keep him (he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, and he will have suitors).

Raptors to host “Drake Night” on Dec. 17. There are special shirts and everything.

drake night shirt

You may think Mr. “last name ever, first name greatest” (gosh, now I want a Sprite) is an overblown, overhyped piece of… but they love him in his native Toronto. Which means when the 2016 All-Star Game goes to Toronto it’s going to be all Drake all the time.

But before then, Drake Night is coming to a Raptors game. As said on the OVO blog (via
SLAM) “All ticket holders will receive a limited edition OVO x RAPTORS T-shirt upon entry of the Air Canada Centre” for that game.

That night the Brooklyn Nets come to Toronto and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

The Raptors are a feel-good story this season. They are 16-5 and on top of the East, with the second best offense in the NBA behind Kyle Lowry and, when healthy, DeMar DeRozan. They have one of the top home court advantages in the NBA (them or OKC gets the crown). Their GM isn’t afraid to say what he is really thinking. This is a team you can get behind.

I hope too much Drake doesn’t ruin that.