Rockets coach Kevin McHale explains the difference between good and bad players

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The Rockets were on the wrong end of brilliant performances from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard in their Game 1 loss to the Blazers on Sunday, and lost a winnable game by blowing a 10-point lead at home with just four minutes left in regulation.

Sunday was an eternity ago by NBA standards, and with James Harden coming off an 8-for-28 shooting performance over 45 minutes of action, he sounds beyond ready for Wednesday night’s chance at redemption.

“This is a must-win for us,” James Harden said after the morning shoot-around [via CSN Houston]. “Must-win Game 2. Like I said, we had Game 1 under our belt and we let some silly mistakes in the fourth quarter, late in the fourth quarter, which we don’t usually do, slip away. But we’re confident. We’re ready to go for Game 2.”

Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, however, is taking a bit of a lighter approach.

The grind of talking to the media daily can get old for coaches, especially with so many days between games. And McHale in particular isn’t always all that interested in fulfilling this duty — in fact, one time I witnessed him come out for a pregame session at a visiting arena during the regular season, and when he saw only two reporters there (none of whom were regulars that traveled with the team), he turned right around and went back into the locker room, skipping the interview entirely.

McHale has a great sense of humor, however, so in the rare moments when the mood is right, he’ll definitely open up. And when asked some questions about Harden’s subpar Game 1, he explained in very basic terms the difference between good and bad players.

Reporter: “[Harden] has had some of his bigger games in the ones after some of his lesser games …”

McHale: “That’s usually the sign of a good player. The sign of a bad player is that he strings a bunch of bad plays, bad games together and then they become a bad player.”

Thanks for the clarification, coach.

Report: Dewayne Dedmon opts in for $6.3 million with Hawks

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The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.

And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.

He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.

Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.

If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.

Nick Young says ‘everybody needs to do cocaine,’ later insists he was joking

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Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.

Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.

Young, via TMZ:

“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”

Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.

Report: 76ers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers

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The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.

Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.

So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.

Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.

Kyle O’Quinn opts out of Knicks contract

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The Knicks have the No. 8 pick, and tomorrow’s draft will be the most important part of their offseason.

Will they also have cap space to add talent in free agency? That hinges on Enes Kanter‘s player option.

If Kanter opts out, New York will have even more room to operate thanks to Kyle O'Quinn declining his $4,256,250 player option.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Knicks expected this for a while, and they’re probably not disappointed. Steve Mills and Scott Perry want to put their stamp on the franchise. O’Quinn is a leftover from the Phil Jackson era and a reminder of the recent tumult in New York.

O’Quinn’s combination of block percentage (6.1) and defensive-rebounding percentage (27.8) was unmatched last season. He just really struck a nice balance between contesting shots and remaining in position on the glass. He’s also a smooth mid-range shooter with an improved ability to distribute.

How much is that player worth?

It’ll be a tight market, especially for bigs. For his sake, I hope the 28-year-old O’Quinn already has assurances from other teams. He might get a similar salary or, more likely, a larger overall guarantee on a multi-year deal. But it’s also possible he comes out behind by testing free agency.