Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Rockets’ Terrence Jones in car accident on way to airport, out Thursday

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Fortunately, this doesn’t appear to be anything too serious. But it will keep Terrence Jones out for a game.

He was driving to the airport where the Rockets were off to Phoenix for a Thursday night game, when Jones was involved in a car accident. From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Jones comes off the bench for the Rockets and plays minutes in the teens most nights, but had almost 30 in the Rockets’ last game. Not having him leaves the Rockets shorthanded.

Report: Raptors interested in Suns’ forward Markieff Morris

Associated Press

Apparently the Raptors really like the Suns.

On the heels of reports the Raptors had interest in the Suns’ P.J. Tucker comes a report they have interest in another Phoenix forward — Markieff Morris. Via Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Suns have wanted to trade the disgruntled Morris all season, but other teams have been more than hesitant. His scoring is down almost five points per game, and he’s shooting less than 40 percent — he has battled with Suns coaches in the past and got fined for saying he wanted a trade. Earlier this season other teams were so put off they were telling Phoenix they would have to throw in a sweetener (a draft pick) to get them to take Morris.

The Suns are trying to showcase him more of late, and Morris dropped 30 points and grabbed 11 boards on Tuesday. Will a couple of strong performances change minds around the league enough to get a deal done?

The Suns have serviceable veterans Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson at the four — Morris at his best would be an upgrade to that rotation. But will they get his best? Will he bring chemistry issues, or would he bring a new attitude to Toronto? Or do you take Tucker, who would fit in and bring some physicality to the roster?

One way or another, the Suns will make a move before the deadline.

Report: NBA still investigating Blake Griffin incident, punishment likely


The NBA suspended Matt Barnes two games for punching Derek Fisher. The Sixers suspended Jahlil Okafor two games for punching fans (or just people outside clubs) over the summer, and then not coming clean with them about it.

Which means once Blake Griffin‘s hand heals from where he broke it punching a Clippers equipment manager, he can expect to spend a couple more games in street clothes with a suspension.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver didn’t get into details but hints at a punishment coming in an upcoming podcast with Sam Amick of the USA Today (Amick also used the comments in a story).

“The only update right now is we’re continuing to investigate,” Silver told USA TODAY Sports by phone from his New York office. “There (are) a lot of people that we want to talk to, and ultimately ensure that we have as complete an understanding as possible as to exactly what happened.

“I’d say from the league’s standpoint, of course it’s the last thing that you want to see happen. And whether it’s in the NBA, or in any industry, you have one co-worker, in essence, punching another co-worker. That’s a terrible thing. Blake has acknowledged that. But at the same time, I know he recognizes that there are consequences of his actions.”

The Clippers decided not to punish Griffin themselves, but they had to know this was coming. It’s a black eye for the league to have its stars giving team employees black eyes, and the NBA remains ever concerned about its image. So it will slap Griffin on the wrist, so to speak.

Griffin is not expected back on the court until March, maybe late March, so there is no pressure on the NBA to get this investigation done quickly.

Kevin Durant on free agency rumors: “I can’t control any of that”

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Kevin Durant is going to the Warriors.  Or the Lakers. Or the Clippers. Or the Rockets. Or one of 26 other teams.

Durant’s looming free agency had been quietly lurking in the background of the NBA news cycle all season — it was the biggest story out there, but with Durant deftly dodging questions there wasn’t much to say other than to say he would make up his mind this summer. Then in the past week, a rash of Durant free agency rumors/stories broke.

Durant’s reaction to all this? Essentially a shrug.

Here is his quote, via Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman (and he may have started the trend with this article):

“Now I guess you could say it’s ramped up. That’s a part of it. That’s a part of this process. Everyone has to do their job. Of course, the fans want to know what’s going on, but I can’t control that. I can’t control any of that. Just gotta work hard every single day, focus on what’s in front of me and not worry about what’s gonna happen down the line. All that stuff I can’t control. Like I said, when that time comes we’ll talk about it, but for right now, I’m 100 percent committed and locked in on being the best team and player I can be and helping my team try to get to a championship.”

This is how Durant has answered the questions all along — I’m focused on winning now, will worry about the rest of it later. And the Thunder locker room is about as professional as you can get, they are not going to let this bother them. Are these stories a distraction?

“Nah, nobody talks about it here. We don’t even talk about basketball outside of the court. Free agency chatter, we don’t talk about that stuff. As soon as we walk out this court, it’s friendship and brotherhood. We don’t talk about basketball. It makes it easier when you have a group of guys that’s not always turnt on talking about basketball. Like I said, it’s something that’s out of my control. Guys are going to write stories on what they’re going to write about. I just try to stay locked in on where I am.”

Oklahoma City is a good team — their +8.7 net differential makes them a leading title contender almost any season, except this one there are two teams on a 68-win or better pace this season that are standing out. The Thunder know this, they know they are playing better of late under Billy Donovan, and they know there are still questions to answer.

But right now, none of those questions involve Durant next season.


Report: Rockets not trading Dwight Howard, will chase Kevin Durant

Associated Press

Dwight Howard trade rumors are flying as the NBA trade deadline nears — Boston reportedly kicked the tires on a deal, and other teams are interested as well. With Howard to be a free agent this summer, there is a “get something now before you lose him for nothing” logic to the scuttlebutt.

But as has been mentioned before, the Rockets have no interest in moving him.

What they do have interest in doing is keeping him and chasing Kevin Durant this summer. Marc Stein and Calvin Watkins of ESPN have the details.

Sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday that the Rockets, despite recent speculation to the contrary, are not looking to trade Howard before the Feb. 18 deadline, even though he has to right to become a free agent July 1 and could thus leave the team this summer without compensation.

The Rockets’ grand plan, sources said this week, remains making an all-out pursuit in free agency this summer for Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant. Rockets officials have long believed privately that they will have as good a chance as any team to steal Durant away from the Thunder in the offseason because of his strong relationship with his former teammate, Harden, and the room Houston has to pay Durant max-contract money while also re-signing Howard.

If you were going to trade Howard, you would deny it. Even if they weren’t inclined to move him, the Rockets would be foolish not to listen to people calling just to see what the market might be for Howard — and Daryl Morey is not foolish. But if the market is tepid, as it seems to be, then this is how you respond.

While the Rockets remain an up-and-down team this season (10-10 in their last 20), they show flashes of playing decent defense, and with that being closer to the team that preseason many thought would be a borderline contender. It makes sense they would want to keep the core of this unit together (that does not include Ty Lawson) and make another surprising playoff run.

Do the Rockets want to chase Durant if he leaves Oklahoma City? Of course — 29 teams will get in line if he decides to test the waters. He is a franchise changing player. Golden State will be near the front of the line, but every team from there to Manhattan will want to get their shot. Houston is no different, and the James Harden connection does, at least, give them a foot in the door. But we are a long way from KD even testing those waters (I still expect him to sign a 1+1 deal in OKC to stay for another year, then really consider his options in 2017).

Meanwhile, don’t be shocked if the Rockets are active at the trade deadline — Morey is still their GM.