Knicks bench J.R. Smith again because… nobody is saying. Smith thinks it’s “ridiculous”

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There are plenty of reasons a team may choose to bench J.R. Smith: his poor shot selection messing with the offense, his lack of defense, a wide range of off the court antics.

The Knicks benched Smith for the second time in four games Tuesday night, this one an eventual Knicks loss to the Bobcats where New York seemed flat and in need of a spark. The kind Smith brings when he is on.

What was odd was the timing — the Knicks already benched him one game for the shoe-untying incident, but he had come back and played in two games since them (playing more than 50 combined minutes and scoring 24 points). Then it was back to the bench Tuesday.

After the game coach Mike Woodson refused to talk about it, saying only he just didn’t play him.

Smith however, was talking, as reported by the New York Daily News.

“I stopped being surprised after the Miami game,” Smith said, adding Woodson gave him “no reason” for his latest benching and didn’t tell him he wouldn’t play before the game began. “I haven’t the slightest clue (what’s going on). . . . If I’m not helping the team, there’s no point in me being here….

Asked about the recent shoelace incidents, Smith said “for that to be the trigger point for all of this to happen is ridiculous.”

Smith has a point here. First, the shoelace thing is in the past and you suspended him for it, then brought him back. Maybe there was another incident. More than likely that was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but then why play him  the past two games? Why bench him again now?

Smith can officially be traded on Wednesday (because he signed a contract this summer he couldn’t be moved before Jan. 15) so some saw this benching as precautionary measure. Except, there is no trade market for Smith — he is owed $12.3 million for the two seasons after this one, his play is declining, plus there are all the off-the-court distractions he brings.

Whatever the reason, this is just another distraction and sideshow for the Knicks. Exactly what they need.

Ex-Sacramento Kings executive to plead guilty to siphoning $13.4 million from the team

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Court records show a former Sacramento Kings top executive has agreed to plead guilty to siphoning $13.4 million from the team to buy Southern California beachfront properties.

Federal prosecutors in Sacramento, California, on Wednesday filed charges and a plea agreement signed by former chief revenue officer Jeffrey David admitting to forging the team president’s signature to divert sponsorship payments to a bank account he controlled. Court records show the properties have been sold for $14.8 million, and the team is expected to recoup the stolen funds.

David is expected to plead guilty to wire fraud and identity theft in January and faces at least two years in prison, court records show.

David’s lawyer, Mark Reichel, didn’t return a call for comment.

The Sacramento Bee first reported the plea deal Wednesday.

Report: Dirk Nowitzki will make season debut Thursday against Suns

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Dirk Nowitzki is coming back for the Dallas Mavericks.

The veteran forward has been nursing a return from ankle surgery all season long, and has yet to make his debut in 2018-19. Despite not having Nowitzki on the floor, the Mavericks have jumped out to an impressive 15-11 record with Harrison Barnes, Luka Doncic, and DeAndre Jordan leading the way.

The news was announced on social media on Thursday before the Mavericks got set to take on the Phoenix Suns.

Via Twitter:

Of course, sending Nowitzki back onto an NBA floor against Phoenix is perhaps the easiest test he could have as he comes back from an injury. The Suns are god-awful, and Nowitzki will need some time to readjust to playing at full speed (or at least at whatever speed he normally plays at).

The 40-year-old German star should be able to help the Mavericks as a bench contributor this season. Hopefully with Nowitzki on the floor Dallas can solidify their potential playoff berth.

Rumor: Pistons among teams considering Markelle Fultz trade

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Markelle Fultz remains away from the 76ers, getting treatment for his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome while the rest of his teammates try to adjust to playing with Jimmy Butler (which is going better for some than others).

The sense around the league is the Sixers still plan to trade Fultz, they’re just waiting for better offers to come in, the first round was very lowball.

A few teams are kicking the tires on a trade, and among them are the Pistons, reports Rod Beard of the Detroit News.

Let’s be clear, nothing is close on any Sixers trade of Fultz right now. Teams are just testing the waters.

It’s an interesting idea for Detroit, the chance to add a player who was a high draft pick —  but only if they think he’s healthy and can get over his mental hurdles (his agent said there aren’t any, it’s all physical, and most of the league laughed at that). Also, the sides need to find a trade that works. Fultz, as a No. 1 pick, is not cheap, he makes $8.3 million this season and is guaranteed $9.7 next season, then $12.3 million the season after that (unless whatever team has his rights and just cuts bait on that last season).

The Pistons are flirting with the luxury tax line right now, their $123.3 million payroll is just about $500,000 below the tax line, so Detroit will not be taking on any salary in any potential trade. They also sent out last year’s first-round pick in the Blake Griffin trade, so they can’t trade this year’s, and likely would not include a pick anyway. A deal centered around Ish Smith or Langston Galloway plus Zaza Pachulia works (after Dec. 15 when Pachulia becomes available to trade). Both provide guard depth and Galloway offers Philly some shooting (34.9 percent taking 65 percent of his shots from three this season). Reggie Bullock also could be part of a trade.

There are options. Right now the Pistons are among the teams kicking the tires on a trade, but we are a long way from it actually happening.

Pacers fans epically bad at tic-tac-toe (video)

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Trail Blazers fans are off the hook.

A couple Pacers fans are also terrible at tic-tac-toe.

Pacers:

I can’t rule out this being staged, which is disappointing.

But if genuine – wow.