Rockets GM Morey says Harden trade is unprecedented

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Daryl Morey is feeling pretty good about himself right now. After striking out going after Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol and just about every other big name who came on the market in the past couple years, he finally made contact.

He got James Harden in a trade that shocked the NBA and even shocked Morey, he admitted during a Tuesday press conference (transcribed on the Rockets Web site). Morey said he was surprised Harden was even being made available.

Shocked. I actually can’t come up with any examples of a player of his caliber and age getting traded at the time he was traded – it really has never happened. So we were obviously very aggressive and we gave up a lot – Oklahoma City does a great job; we gave up some great players in Kevin (Martin) and Jeremy (Lamb) and some great draft picks – but a top player like James really never gets traded so we jumped at the chance.

Morey said that in September Thunder GM Sam Presti called to gauge both interest and see what kind of deal might be out there, but added he probably called all 30 teams. Teams have those conversations all the time, they need to be prepared, but 99 times out of 100 nothing comes of it.

This time, because Harden and the Thunder couldn’t agree on a contract, it did.

I actually didn’t think they’d trade him. I think he’s a great, great player. I think he’s already playing at an All-Star level and is going to be a perennial All-Star and those players are rarely traded so I thought, frankly, it was going to work out there. I’m very happy for the Houston Rockets that he’s here.

Harden is a great piece for the rockets. Something they can start to build around (with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik). Morey should celebrate this. But he has a lot of work left to do.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr downplays argument with Jordan Bell (video)

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So much went right for the Warriors in their blowout of the Lakers on Monday.

But there were a couple snags. Stephen Curry slipping and falling and air-balling. And Steve Kerr and Jordan Bell arguing on the bench.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

Kerr, visibly upset, addressed the matter but kept his comment brief and vague.

“It was a total misinterpretation of something I said,” he said, “and we cleared it up.”

Kerr surely would like to think this is the end of it, as would Bell. And perhaps it is. But there have been questions about Bell’s commitment and habits dating back to at least the middle of his rookie season.

Coaches and players say a lot of things quickly during games. A comment being misinterpreted and causing an overreaction isn’t the end of the world.

But it usually doesn’t lead to an exchange that looks so heated. That Bell thought Kerr said something so off-putting toward him – whether Kerr actually did or didn’t – is telling.

After a promising rookie season, Bell has declined this year. He’s not even a permanent member of the rotation. With DeMarcus Cousins returning, Bell could be even further deemphasized.

Bell has potential as a versatile defender who finishes above the rim and moves the ball well. Golden State could particularly maximize his skill set.

First, Bell – who’ll be a free agent this summer – must show he’s on the same page as his coach.

Celtics play themselves with Al Horford tweets

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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The Celtics eventually deleted the first one, but these two Al Horford tweets back-to-back are a masterpiece:

screenshot-twitter.com-2019.01.22-15-54-57

Russell Westbrook beefs with Damian Lillard, Evan Turner, Jusuf Nurkic (video)

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Russell Westbrook neared peak Russell Westbrook last night.

During the Thunder’s win over the Trail Blazers, he talked trash to Damian Lillard and exchanged pointed laughs and words with Jusuf Nurkic. Westbrook also scored 29 points, dished 14 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds. After the game, he mocked Evan Turner for stealing his trademark rock-the-baby celebration and called Nurkic a “clown” (to which Nurkic responded online by calling the Oklahoma City star “Westbrick”).

For better or worse – mostly better last night – Westbrook always brings that same energy to everything he does.

Frustrated Luka Doncic tears jersey (video)

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Luka Doncic has been showing his anger lately – kicking a ball into the stands and, last night, tearing his jersey entering halftime. At least that last outburst didn’t get him ejected.

Doncic got a fresh jersey for the second half and helped the Mavericks beat the Clippers, 106-98.