The Circle of Stupidity is complete: Suns expected to buy out Vince Carter

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This is like some crazy train of poor decision making and it just jumps from car to car to car. Let me try and trace this back for you.

Hedo Turkoglu looks awesome in the 2009 NBA playoffs, helping the Orlando Magic make it all the way to the NBA Finals. He rebounds, runs point forward, hits threes, the works. It’s a bright, bright, sun-shiny free agency day for Turkolu when he hits the open market that summer. The Magic decide to let him go by the wayside, instead opting to take on Vince Carter and his ridiculous contract which pays him $16 million in 2009-2010, largely to miss games with minor injuries, miss free throws and not be able to carry a team at all like he did back when he could… in the Mesozoic era.

The Portland Trail Blazers and Toronto Raptors get into a bidding war over Turkoglu’s services, despite many intelligent people saying this was a bad idea given Turkoglu’s age and declining abilities. Many of these people aren’t even on the internet. The Blazers think they have their man but dodge a huge bullet when Turkoglu instead opts for Toronto. Toronto pays him a huge sum of money, and he is terrible. Absolutely terrible, worse than even the harshest critics thought. He says he feels “wronged” by Toronto management (the same people that gave his elderly self that ginormous contract) and he’s eventually traded, because the Phoenix Suns lose Amar’e Stoudemire and are desperate for any forward they can get their hands on. They trade their expiring contract of Leandro Barbosa and pieces for Turkoglu, hoping he can rekindle some magic.

He can’t.

Meanwhile, the Magic have gone on and taken a big step backwards with Carter as it becomes apparent that not only is he not the high-flying, dagger-dropping Carter of old, he’s not even a vacant shell of that. He’s incapable of running the pick and roll with Dwight Howard. Let me say that again. He couldn’t figure out how to run the pick and roll with the best center in the league who is an athletic freak of nature and who’s biggest talent offensively is working in the pick and roll. Carter struggles, struggles some more, has a late season breakout game where everyone says he’s back…. and then goes right back to being Vince Carter.

So the Magic get desperate to trade him as they frantically try and hold onto Dwight Howard and prop the championship window open. The Suns meanwhile are looking to liquidate, now wanting expiring contracts, like the Barbosa one they shipped, and the Magic and Suns find themselves talking. Somehow in this process, the Suns let Jason Richardson, the younger, better player who actually contributes go in the deal, along with his $14 million expiring contract, just to get rid of Turkoglu. The Magic are willing to take on Turkoglu in order to get Richardson and because Turkoglu had had such success in Orlando. Also, they’re desperate.

So the Magic now have Turkoglu on the contract they knew they shouldn’t give him, because they opted to go after a player notorious for, well, being Vince Carter and who was aging. The Suns meanwhile, took on two more years of Vince Carter just to get rid of Turkoglu, and managed to nab Marcin Gortat, despite Gortat not being anywhere near the offensive weapon they need and regardless of their long-term prospects with Robin lopez.

The Raptors wind up with cap space. Bryan Colangelo is considered the worst of the three front offices. We haven’t even started to talk about Gilbert Arenas yet.

Anyway, the circle is almost complete as the Arizona Republic’s always reliable Paul Coro reports that the Suns are expected to buy out Vince Carter’s remaining year for $4 million instead of trying to move his final year on some other poor sap. Carter will then be a free agent in a dramatically different NBA free agency landscape following the CBA restructuring, but will inevitably get an offer from someone and probably start on top of it. The Magic will still have Turkoglu for the rest of eternity, and the Suns will pay $4 million to get rid of the player they acquired to get rid of Turkoglu, after the Raptors paid them to take him after they gave him the money the Magic knew they shouldn’t give him in the first place, which they are now paying him.

In unrelated news, NBA ownership meets with the player’s union again next week to continue discussions about how it’s the system which is unsustainable and that their economic troubles have nothing to do with their decision making on the open market.

Watch Stephen Curry drain shots from center-court logo during warmups like it’s nothing

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In case you need any kind of reminder that Stephen Curry is a flat-out ridiculous shooter — particularly during warm-ups, well, you’re in luck.

Check out this pregame video of Curry knocking down shots from the center-court logo at Oracle like it’s nothing.

The man changes the game. Even in warmups.

James Harden being out clouds latest Rockets-Warriors clash

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — The Houston Rockets have had the Golden State Warriors’ number this season. However, when the teams meet on Saturday, the Rockets will have to play without the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player.

Houston guard James Harden is out due a cervical neck strain. Harden was bothered by soreness Thursday during the Rockets’ 111-106 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was seen receiving treatment to the neck and right shoulder during the contest.

The Rockets have used different means to beat the two-time defending champs in their first two head-to-heads since Golden State prevailed in a seven-game conference finals last May.

Houston held a Stephen Curry-less Warriors team to 86 points — Golden State’s lowest output of the season — and just 42 percent shooting in a 107-86 home win in November.

The Rockets then turned Harden loose in the January rematch at Golden State, watching him pour in 44 points — including a game-winning 3-pointer — in a 135-134 overtime thriller.

More than a month later, that game still weighs heavily on the mind of Curry, who countered Harden with 35 points of his own that night.

“They just made one more shot,” he noted to reporters after the Warriors Thursday win over the Sacramento Kings. “We understand how talented they are, how well James has been playing. It’s going to be a dogfight … a defensive test for us.”

At the time of Curry’s statement, the extent of Harden’s injury had not been made public. The NBA’s leading scorer at 36.5 points per game, Harden was bothered by a left shoulder strain prior to the All-Star break but didn’t miss any contests. He has played in 55 of Houston’s 58 games as he missed three games early in the season due to a hamstring injury.

In the overtime win at Oakland, Harden complemented his 44 points with 10 rebounds and 15 assists for a triple-double.

While there was no triple-double against the Lakers, Harden did extend his streak of games with 30 or more points to 32.

The Rockets lost their second in a row and fell to 33-25, a full 12 games below where they stood at this point last season. It’s gotten some analysts grumbling about the club’s style of play and reliance on Harden.

Houston coach Mike D’Antoni labeled such talk “absurd” before the Thursday game.

“I don’t know if they watched last year,” he said of the naysayers. “Nobody else can do what he does. … If you’re a ball-stopper, usually you’re inefficient. He’s very efficient. So when the ball stops, it’s a good thing.”

The Rockets earned the home-court advantage over Golden State in last year’s playoffs by finishing seven games ahead of the Warriors during the regular season.

That almost surely won’t be the case should they meet again this postseason. The Warriors (42-16), with the best record in the West, have a nine-game advantage over Houston, currently in the No. 5 seed.

Golden State won for the 17th time in its past 19 games by surviving a late rally from the Kings on Thursday in a 125-123 home decision. Curry finished with 36 points, making 10 of his 16 3-point attempts.

Harden (276) and Curry (246) enter the game ranked first and second, respectively, in the NBA in 3-pointers made.

Harden also led the league last season with what was then a career-best 265.

Curry got the better of his rival in 3-pointers in last year’s playoff showdown, however, making 27 of 75 (36 percent) while Harden was harassed into 19 of 78 (24.4 percent).

Curry saved his best for last in the series, going 7 of 15 on 3-point tries in a 27-point effort in Golden State’s 101-92 win at Houston in Game 7. Harden went just 2-for-13 from long range on his 32-point night.

 

James Harden fined $25,000 for calling referee Scott Foster ‘rude and arrogant’

Associated Press
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“Scott Foster, man. I never really talk about officiating or anything like that, but just rude and arrogant. I mean, you aren’t able to talk to him throughout the course of the game, and it’s like, how do you build that relationship with officials? And it’s not even that call [Harden’s sixth foul, ending his night]. It’s just who he is on that floor.”

Houston’s James Harden knew the fine was coming before he even uttered those words following the Rockets loss to the Lakers Thursday night, in which Foster called two offensive fouls on Harden, one that limited his minutes early and another that set him up to eventually foul him out of the game.

Harden got what was expected on Saturday, the NBA fined him $25,000 for “public criticism of the officiating.”

Harden wasn’t alone in his frustration. Chris Paul fouled out and picked up a technical, and coach Mike D’Antoni picked up a technical as well.

For the game, Foster called 12 fouls on the Rockets and six on the Lakers. This season in games Foster has officiated, the Rockets are 1-1.

The Rockets are not the only team to have frustrations with Foster, he has a reputation around the league for a short fuse that doesn’t let you question calls. LeBron James‘ Heat teams and others have felt how Harden does.

Lakers’ Lonzo Ball could be out longer due to bone bruise in ankle

Associated Press
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Lonzo Ball has missed the last 11 Laker games. In that time the team is 4-7 with a bottom 10 offense and defense, and they have been outscored by 9.4 points per 100 possessions. Granted, LeBron James was out for a number of those games as well, but even LeBron is talking about how much Ball is missed in the rotation.

The Lakers could be missing him a while longer.

While we are starting to approach the ballpark return date projected for Ball’s Grade 3 ankle sprain, he could miss more time due to a bone bruise in the ankle, reports Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.

Ball moved quickly through the early stages of his rehab. He used crutches for about a week and wore a protective boot on his left ankle for less time than that.

Ball began running on an underwater treadmill two weeks ago and last week he began work on an antigravity treadmill, but was limited because of the bone bruise.

Ball injured his ankle back on January 19 and it looked bad when it happened.

The Lakers could use him as they make a push down the stretch to get into the playoffs — the Laker defense is 3.4 points per 100 possessions better when Ball is on the court this season. The Lakers, 29-29, enter Saturday as the 10th seed in the West, three games back of the Clippers in the eighth seed and final playoff spot. The Sacramento Kings are also between the Lakers and the postseason — to get in the Lakers are going to need to go on a LeBron-led run. Ball would help with that, but it may be a little while longer before we see him on the court.