Report: Rockets interested in Deron Williams and Goran Dragic

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The Mavericks landed Rajon Rondo, but before the Celtics traded the point to Dallas, the Rockets were in the running for him.

It’s unclear how serious Houston was. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey likes to inquire into any possible deal, regardless of feasibility.

But perhaps the Rockets are truly interested in upgrading at point guard.

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report:

Daryl Morey, no doubt, is burning up the phones, and the expectation is that he’s going to go hot and heavy after a point guard.

They love Patrick Beverley, but ideally, he is the third guard in that rotation.

And to give an indication of just how aggressive they might be, sources around the league are saying don’t count Deron Williams out from the Brooklyn Nets, even though he has that fat contract and right now has a rib injury

Far more likely is that they go back to a guy that they already know – Goran Dragic, who is in a crowded backcourt with the Phoenix Suns and could be got with that New Orleans No. 1 pick that the Rockets have right now.

Beyond Williams’ injury, there are major roadblocks for getting him to Houston.

Williams is so highly paid, it’s difficult to construct a trade that has the Rockets sending out enough salary to match. For example, a package of Jason Terry, Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved (the latter two can’t be dealt with other players until days before the trade deadline) would fall $2,360,879 short of meeting Collective Bargaining Agreement rules. Look at Houston’s roster and try finding $2,360,879 worth of salary to add without including players too valuable to deal for someone Brooklyn seemingly wants to dump. Also keep in mind the Nets can’t add more than one player than they send out in a trade, though they could waive minimum-salary players Jerome Jordan, Darius Morris, Cory Jefferson and/or Markel Brown if necessary beforehand to make room.

Houston is also less than $1 million below the luxury-tax line, so adding Williams would almost certainly prove quite expensive for the Rockets.

Dealing for the underpaid Dragic would be much simpler, though it would require Houston surrender much more desirable assets. A lot of teams are interested in Dragic, who previously played for the Rockets, and Phoenix could move him. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and he, Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas haven’t always smoothly complemented each other.

At 22-16, the Suns are eighth in the Western Conference. As long as they remain in playoff position, they’ll probably keep Dragic and hope they can re-sign him this summer. But if the Thunder make a move and knock Phoenix down in the standings, the Suns would be more likely to get what they can for Dragic now.

Of course, Houston could also push Phoenix in that direction by making a substantial offer. The Rockets have the Pelicans’ first rounder (protected 1-3 and 20-30 the next four years and 1-3 and 25-30 the two after that). With New Orleans on pace to finish as the No. 14 seed in the lottery this season, that’s a reasonably valuable pick.

It shouldn’t be enough alone to net Dragic, but it’s a start, and the Rockets have plenty of other intriguing assets. It’s just a matter of whether they want to use them to upgrade at point guard when they have a very solid Beverley there already.

Luka Doncic with 42-point triple-double, sticks dagger in Spurs for Mavericks win

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Luka Doncic is having a “we’ve got to talk about this guy as a possible MVP” kind of season so far.

The latest addition to the resume: A 42 point, 11 rebounds, 12 assist triple-double to lead the Mavericks past the Spurs. That includes sticking the dagger in the Spurs late.

Dallas won 117-110 and improves to 8-5 on the season.

The 42 points is a career-high for Doncic, and he is the first player in Dallas history to record a 40-point triple-double. This is Doncic’s sixth triple-double of the season.

And he’s still just 20 years old.

Here’s the full list of NBA players who have had 40-point triple-doubles at the age of 20 or younger:

LeBron James
Luka Doncic

That’s it — and that’s some impressive company for Doncic.

Kings’ Buddy Hield fined $25,000 for kicking ball into stands in celebration

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This was a $25,000 celebration by Buddy Hield.

Sacramento led by one in the final seconds against Boston Sunday, but the Celtics had a final shot and Marcus Smart‘s attempt at a game-winning floater hung on the rim seemingly forever… then fell off. The ball was tipped out to mid-court and — as you can see in this video — Heild kicks the ball into the stands as part of the celebration.

Kicking or throwing the ball into the stands is a standing $25,000 fine, and the league came down with that on Hield on Monday. It was not a surprise.

Hield was the reason Sacramento won the game, scoring 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three. He’d likely make that trade for the win again.

Kawhi Leonard out vs. Thunder Monday night, third straight game due to knee bruise

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This isn’t load management. This is a bruised knee.

The first Clipper game with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sharing the court will have to wait as Leonard is going to miss his third straight game with a knee contusion Monday night against the Thunder. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news.

The Clippers are going to be cautious with bringing Leonard back from this, thinking long term with his health, as they should. Los Angeles is playing for games in May and June, not games in November.

This means tonight the Clippers will be the Paul George show again — in two games he has scored 70 points in 44 minutes. This will be George’s first game against the Thunder since he demanded a trade out of the city last summer, landing him on the Clippers with Leonard.

Kevin Love tries to ignore trade rumors, ‘let the chips fall where they may’

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Cleveland Cavaliers GM said he has no interest in trading Kevin Love.

You can count the number of people around the league who believe him on one hand. There’s a good chance Love is still on the Cavaliers at the end of this season, but that’s more about him being in the first year of a four-year, $120 million contract extension than it is Cleveland’s willingness to trade him (or interest from other teams, if money was not an issue). The Cavaliers are rebuilding, and if they can get young players and picks for Love, they have to consider it.

With Portland off to a slow start, and Love growing up in the Pacific Northwest, that rumor has floated around. There are others. Love is just trying to ignore them and play ball, he told Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times.

“I know there’s talk about me possibly being the missing piece somewhere,” Love said. “There’s been constant chatter since I signed that I could be traded. It’s one of those things where I’m going to keep doing right by the team, by Cleveland and by the organization. If my number is called, so be it, but I’m going to stay true to my commitment and let the chips fall where they may.”

Love, who has been open in recent years about his struggles with anxiety and mental health, said dealing with the trade rumors that constantly swirl around him can be a challenge on that front.

“A big aspect of mental health is just staying in the present but it’s so hard,” he said. “You have to try to not get too far ahead of yourself or get worked up. You can get that anxious feeling or fear for the future, but you have to try to stay focused on getting better and let things work out the way they should.”

Kevin Love has played well to start the season, averaging 18.3 points and 11.3 rebounds a game, shooting a respectable 34.7 percent from three. He could help a lot of teams, particularly ones in the West who want to be in the mix for a ring but who look at the Lakers and Clippers and think, “we have to get better fast.”

The rumors around Love are just going to get louder the closer and closer we get to the trade deadline. Love will have to do a lot of work to tune all that out.