What we could see before the trade deadline?

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Thumbnail image for NBA_mcgrady.jpgA lot of the big shoes dropped yesterday — Antawn Jamison going to Cleveland was the size 16 shoe of those moves — but there are still some trades hanging in the balance. What could happen?

The Knicks could get Tracy McGrady. The Rockets and Kings have a deal that sends McGrady, hard-working Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Kings for sharp-shooter (at least before this season) Kevin Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong and the ugly contract that is Kenny Thomas.

But that is not what McGrady’s agent, Arn Tellum, had in mind. He was picturing the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, and that could still happen. That two team deal could expand to bring in a third team deal that includes the Knicks. The scenario would likely involve Rodriguez and McGrady going to New York, and Jared Jeffries heading out. However, who would get him and who else would be involved is still being negotiated.

If the three team deal does not work, the two-team deal will go forward.

The Heat could get Amar’e Stoudemire. The trade to get Jamison in Cleveland was as much — or more — about making LeBron James happy and getting him to re-sign as it was about winning a title this year (although they could get both).

Miami has one of those frustrated free-agent-to-be stars in Dwyane Wade, and keeping him happy is why they may make a move. Stoudemire, with his tremendous athleticism and versatile offensive game, would be a good fit and add an offensive spark to the Heat. But, the nagging question is what Miami would give up. Second year forward Michael Beasley has been mentioned, but the deal is going to need a lot more than that.

There have been rumors that the Heat don’t want to make a big move, that the interest in Amar’e was simply to placate Wade. The Heat may be focused more on the free agent class this summer to bring help to Wade than right now. Stoudemire said he doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. But, stranger things have happened. Like Ray Romano having a hit show.

The Heat could trade Dorell Wright. This would be all about the cash — right now the Heat are just a hair over the luxury tax threshold. If they don’t go big with Stoudemire, they may want to go small and trade Dorell Wright and his $2.75 million expiring contract just to save the tax money.

Possible trading partners (those under the tax or with a trade exception they would use) are the Grizzlies, Wizards (after all their recent moves), the Nets and the Clippers. Those teams may want more than just Wright to make this happen (a second round draft pick, for example).

The Bulls could trade Tyrus Thomas/Kirk Hinrich. Chicago is still looking for anyone who wants Tyrus Thomas, in part for cap reasons and in part because he and Coach Vinny just don’t get along. They will listen to offers if a team wants to take on a very talented, not always so focused forward.

The Bulls showcased Kirk Hinrich last night, giving him 40 minutes on the court, and he had 10 points on 5 of 14 shooting. Since Chicago moved John Salmons, they may not be as inclined to find a deal, however Hinrich is owed $17 million over the next two seasons, and that is a lot of money. One possible rumored destination was the Lakers, but the defending champions said they likely would not be making any moves.

Nate Robinson deal finalized. While the news the Knicks and Celtics were close to a deal to send Nate Robinson to the Celtics to backup Rajon Rondo are true, the deal has yet to be finalized and get a thumbs up from the league office. We will see what the final details of this deal look like.

Indiana tries to trade Troy Murphy. It’s the hottest thing in the NBA — doesn’t everybody want a stretch four? Doesn’t everyone just like to say stretch four? Murphy is probably the best available at the deadline, and Indiana would love to be involved in talks where they are not just being used as leverage.

Golden State could trade Corey Maggette. Anywhere. Golden State would love to unload Corey Maggette’s deal, which goes three seasons after this one, starting at $9.6 million and climbing to $10.9 million. Maggettee is the perfect scorer/sixth man, and gets to the line with the best of them, but plays poor team defense and is not a good passer. Which is to say he is overpaid. Golden State is going to have a hard time moving this contract, but they will try.

The Spurs could move Antonio McDyess. Frankly, what the Spurs would like to do is move Richard Jefferson’s deal, but if all the other GMs are sober today nobody is taking that deal on. A lesser option being thrown around is to move Antonio McDyess. That would not be a surprise.

Charlotte could trade DJ Augustin. The Bobcats are shopping around second year point guard DJ Augustin. The former University of Texas player is still on his rookie deal, which is affordable, if someone is looking for a backup point guard. The Bobcats want a power forward in return.

Memphis could add depth. The Grizzlies like their team and will not be making major tweaks that could change future prospects, but they would like a little more depth. Discussion of all reasonably priced bench players welcome.

Paul George scores 28 as Thunder beat Raptors 116-109

Associated Press
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TORONTO (AP) — Paul George scored 28 points, Russell Westbrook had 18 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Toronto Raptors 116-109 on Friday night.

Dennis Schroder came off the bench to score 26 points and Jerami Grant had 19 as the Thunder snapped a four-game losing streak and avenged Wednesday’s 123-114 home defeat to Toronto.

The Thunder made 20 of 43 shots from 3-point range. Oklahoma City made a season-high 22 3-pointers against the Lakers on Jan. 17.

Kawhi Leonard scored 37 points and Pascal Siakam had 25 for the Raptors, who played without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry.

Lowry missed his second straight game because of a sprained right ankle. Coach Nick Nurse said there’s no structural damage to Lowry’s ankle, but soreness remains following a collision with New York’s Mitchell Robinson on Monday. Nurse said Lowry is expected to return next week.

Danny Green scored 19 points and Serge Ibaka had 11 but Toronto couldn’t hold a double-digit lead in the third quarter for the second straight game. The Raptors gave away a 20-point lead before recovering to win in overtime Wednesday, but weren’t able to match that on their home court.

Oklahoma City trailed by 10 points to start the second half, and was down 13 with 5:23 to go in the third before rallying. Westbrook gave the visitors the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter on a layup with 1:18 left in the period, putting them up 80-79. The Thunder closed the third with a 20-4 run to take an 83-80 lead into the fourth.

Leonard cut the gap to 93-91 on a free throw with 7:33 to play but George hit 3-pointers on either side of a fast-break layup by Grant, giving Oklahoma City a 101-91 edge with 6:21 left.

The Thunder missed eight of their first 10 shots of the game. Toronto was 5 of 6 from 3-point range in the first, with Green making all three of his attempts, and the Raptors led 29-22 after one.

Leonard scored nine points in the second and Green had six as Toronto led 58-48 at halftime.

 

James Harden ties career best with 61, Rockets beat Spurs 111-105

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden matched his career high with 61 points, including 27 in the first quarter, to lead the Houston Rockets to a 111-105 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

Harden hit three straight 3-pointers to give the Rockets a 103-100 lead and scored all of Houston’s points in a 13-2 run late in the fourth quarter.

Harden topped the 50-point mark for the eighth time this season, compared with 10 such performances from the rest of the league combined. He matched his career-best total set earlier this season against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

The NBA’s leading scorer surpassed the 30-point mark in the second quarter and the 40-point mark with 9 minutes remaining in the third.

Before Harden’s late surge, the Spurs led by six points with 4 minutes left in the game. The Spurs had overcome a 15-point halftime deficit to tie the game at 81 entering the fourth quarter.

Harden was 7 of 10 from the field in the first quarter, including 3 of 4 from the 3-point line, and also went 10 for 12 from the free throw line. His 27 points in the period were the second-most in franchise history, trailing only Vernon Maxwell’s 30 in 1991.

Harden finished 9 of 13 from 3, 19 of 34 from the field and 14 of 17 from the free throw line.

Houston has won 13 of its last 15 games and eight of its last nine at home.

Bryn Forbes led San Antonio with 20 points, while Derrick White added 18 and DeMar DeRozan had 16.

Houston led 36-24 at the end of the first quarter and 62-47 at halftime.

 

LeBron James’ playoff streak ends at 13 years

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The last time LeBron James missed the playoffs, YouTube hadn’t yet launched to the public.

LeBron had reached the postseason every year since 2005, when his Cavaliers went 42-40 and finished ninth in the East – another good marker. The last time LeBron missed the playoffs, it was so long ago, an Eastern Conference team could be that good and not qualify.

But his Lakers were officially eliminated from the playoff race Friday with a loss to the Nets.

That ends LeBron’s postseason streak at 13 years – tied for the 13th-longest of all-time. Karl Malone and John Stockton hold the record, each playing in 19 straight postseasons.

Here are the longest playoff streaks of all-time:

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Obviously, LeBron joining the Western Conference put his playoff streak in greater jeopardy. And the Lakers’ fate has been known for a while.

Still, it’ll be a little jarring to watch a postseason that doesn’t include a player who ruled half the bracket for so long.

That said, LeBron might not have the longest playoff streak snapped this year. Tony Parker, who reached the playoffs in all 17 of his seasons with the Spurs, could fall short in his first season with the Hornets.

If Charlotte misses the playoffs, 76ers guard J.J. Redick is in line to hold the longest active streak at 13 years.

Here are the players with the longest active streaks that could continue this season.

Players are listed with the teams they made the postseason with during their streaks. If they haven’t reached the playoffs in their stint with their current team, that team is listed in brackets.

Players whose teams are currently in playoff position are in teal. Players whose teams are currently outside playoff position but not yet eliminated are in purple. Free agents who’d be eligible for the playoffs if they sign before the end of the regular season are in white:

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There’s no reason to believe Manu Ginobili will come out of retirement. But he has played in every postseason since missing the entire 2009 playoffs due to injury. It’s technically possible for him to play in the 2019 playoffs and keep his streak alive.

Which is more than LeBron can say.

Knicks’ fans chant “Free IT” as Isaiah Thomas sits on Nuggets bench

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Well played, Knicks fans.

Denver went into Madison Square Garden Friday night to be the latest team to defeat the Knicks. Isaiah Thomas, out of the rotation in Denver, was the only dressed player not to play for the Nuggets. That did not sit well with Knicks fans.

Denver has better on court options than IT — Monte Morris should get Most Improved Player votes — but I hope he gets fully healthy and lands somewhere next season where he gets a chance to show what he can still do.