Dwight Howard to Nets: It can happen, but is it likely?

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The Orlando Magic are talking to the New Jersey Nets about a possible Dwight Howard deal. And there are a few ways — complex ways — that a deal could come together.

But if you think it’s a foregone conclusion — and I’m looking at you, Nets fans — you should check out what Ken Berger at CBSSports.com wrote.

Indeed, according to another person briefed on the matter, there is little optimism even from Howard’s camp that the Nets can put together a realistic package for the All-Star.

The reported deal would send Dwight Howard and maybe Hedo Turkoglu to Brooklyn for Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and some first round picks. Plus there are other players and pieces that could be part of any final configuration of the deal.

Here is what it takes to make it work: First Orlando has to accept a version of a deal with the Nets that they basically rejected before the trade deadline last year. And rejected before the draft. The Magic are in no hurry to do any deal right now because no deal can be consummated until July 11 at the earliest — why agree to terms now when someone else may come in with a better offer in a few days?

Howard has said he only will sign an extension in Brooklyn, but the Magic could not care less. If some team comes in with a better offer to rent Howard — and try to convince him to stay — then Orlando will take it.

As for the Nets deal, there are a whole lot of complications. Especially if the Magic insist that Turkoglu and his $11.8 million salary for next season is part of any deal. Think about it this way, the Nets would have the salary just agreed to with Gerald Wallace ($10 million a year), Joe Johnson’s salary from the trade with the Hawks, the max salary Deron Williams if he resigns, plus Dwight Howard’s max and Turkoglu — that alone is about $79 million. The Nets may take on Jason Richardson’s deal instead of Turkoglu to save a few bucks, but they are still over the tax line.

Then to make this work, the Nets have to convince Kris Humphries to sign a new contract and accept a trade, and the same for Brook Lopez. In total, as many as seven players may need to agree to a sign-and-trade to make this work.

Plus a third team has to be found to take on Humphries’ deal because the Magic are not going to add that salary, according to multiple reports.

And all that is pretty much the shortened, simple version.

So yes, the sides are talking and a trade of Dwight Howard to the Nets is possible — the Nets want it to happen and Howard wants it to happen.

But it is a very complex deal, and far more of those fall apart then come together.

LeBron James flips elimination-game game on its head

AP Photo/Charles Krupa
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His Cavaliers down 3-2 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals, how does LeBron James assess his situation?

"I don’t enjoy being in the position where it’s you lose and go home," LeBron said before Game 6 tonight in Cleveland.

He might not enjoy this position, but he’s pretty good in it.

Since he first reached the playoffs in 2006, other teams have won 26% of their elimination games. LeBron’s teams have won 57% of theirs.

Of course, LeBron hasn’t gone 12-9 in elimination games just because he’s lucky. He has willed his team off the mat numerous times.

LeBron has scored 40 points and/or had a triple-double in six straight elimination games, winning five of them. His line in his last elimination game before that streak? Just 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists.

A full history of LeBron’s elimination games:

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Rockets played with fire with Chris Paul, got burned

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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Chris Paul played 79 minutes in three days.

Prior to Games 4 and 5 of these Western Conference finals, he hadn’t done that in more than two years. He hadn’t done it without both games going to overtime in more than three years.

The Rockets leaned heavily on the 33-year-old Paul, and they’ll pay the price.

Paul will miss Game 6 against the Warriors tomorrow. Given how quickly Houston ruled out Paul with a strained hamstring, he seems unlikely to play in a potential Game 7 Monday.

Injuries are somewhat – but not completely – random. Players are more susceptible when worn down. After missing the close of the 2016 postseason, Paul missed 45 games the last two regular seasons. He has accumulated a lot of mileage in his 13-year career.

Yet, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni drastically shortened his rotation, anyway. Not only did Paul play big minutes in this series, he shouldered a huge load. He took the reins of the offense at times, allowing James Harden to conserve energy for defense, while maintaining his own strong-two way play. That’s never easy, especially in these high-intensity games.

This was the risk.

We can feel bad for Paul and his predicament. We can also acknowledge Houston got this far by gambling on Paul’s health.

That’s not to say it was a bad bet. This is what you save him for, the biggest playoff series of his career and maybe one of the last before he exits his prime. The Rockets would have been far worse off to this point resting Paul extensively and protecting him. Even with such a heavy workload, an injury was never fait accompli. And Houston got plenty from Paul before he went down. He was instrumental to wins in Game 4 and Game 5 that gave the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Now, they just must hope that’s enough of a head-start into a world of playing without Paul.

Chris Paul out for Rockets-Warriors Game 6

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The Rockets bought themselves margin for error by earning home-court advantage and taking a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

They’ll need it.

Chris Paul will miss Game 6 against the Warriors tomorrow with a strained hamstring.

Rockets release:

The Houston Rockets announced today that guard Chris Paul will miss Saturday’s game at Golden State with a right hamstring strain that occurred during the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Warriors. He will be re-evaluated after the team returns to Houston.

Golden State was already heavily favored at home. This will tilt the odds even further in its favor.

But the Rockets aren’t completely incapable without Paul. They went 15-9 without him this season. James Harden and Eric Gordon can assume extra playmaking duty.

Still, this is a massive loss. When Harden is overburdened offensively, his defense suffers. Gordon is already playing a lot of minutes, so greater responsibility will come in role, not playing time. To fill Paul’s minutes, Mike D’Antoni will have to expand a rotation he had masterfully tightened. Gerald Green could play more. Luc Mbah a Moute could return to the rotation.

A Game 7 looks increasingly likely. Will Paul return for that? The 2018 NBA title might hinge on that question.

Given how quickly the Rockets announced Paul would miss Game 6, there isn’t much reason for optimism about Paul’s availability three days from now, either.

Report: Chris Paul’s hamstring injury ‘not good’

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The question looming over the Western Conference finals: How is Chris Paul?

The Rockets revealed little last night about Paul’s hamstring injury. Time to see how his body responded would provide clarity.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

That stinks. It’s also a fairly expected development. Paul appeared to be in rough shape before leaving the court.

The Rockets have bought themselves margin for error, but a sidelined or even hobbled Paul would sap a lot of it.

If Paul can’t play in Game 6 tomorrow, expect Eric Gordon and James Harden to receive a larger offensive roles (though not necessarily more minutes). Gerald Green could play more, and maybe Luc Mbah a Moute gets back into the rotation.