Gerald Green receives first DNP in two seasons with Suns, team shoots down trade rumors

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Gerald Green had played in all of the 129 games he was available since joining the Phoenix Suns last season, and has been an important part of the bench unit this year, averaging 13.4 points in 21.4 minutes per contest.

But that streak came to an unexpected end on Friday, when Green received a DNP-CD in the Suns’ 99-93 win over the Bulls.

Given the sudden nature of Green’s benching, it was worth wondering if something was up; was a trade in the works involving Green, or was there an internal disciplinary reason for him remaining sidelined? According to head coach Jeff Hornacek, it was simply a coach’s decision based on the matchup.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

By coach’s decision, Suns swingman Gerald Green did not play for the first time in his two seasons with Phoenix. Hornacek said it was not predetermined that Green would not play but it worked out that way with Dragic and Bledsoe thriving and P.J. Tucker and Marcus Morris taking their turns on defending Butler.

“We have a lot of guys that can play,” Hornacek said. “I thought Goran and Eric going up against Rose and Butler and these guys was just a better match and they were playing 40 minutes. There are only so many minutes out there. We just went with the shorter rotation. Maybe tomorrow, it’s his night.”

Green, often visibly upset upon being pulled from games, remained encouraging and relaxed throughout the game and took a spot on the end of the bench. The Suns said there is no discipline or trade reason for the benching. Green could be in store for a large role tonight at Golden State.

Hornacek’s answer is believable, in that he chose to go with size in the form of Brandan Wright, Marcus Morris and Miles Plumlee (along with Isaiah Thomas) for the bulk of the bench minutes.

It’s difficult to argue with the results, and reporters in the locker room said that Green was positive and professional about it afterward. It may or may not be something to watch moving forward, but as long as the wins keep coming (this was the sixth in the Suns’ last eight games), Hornacek and his decisions, however odd they may seem at the time, will continue to be trusted.

Knicks say they scouted Giannis Antetokounmpo in Greece

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s agent, Giorgos Panou, said the Knicks were the only team not to scout Antetokounmpo in Greece before the 2013 NBA draft.

Ian Begley of ESPN:

If the Knicks indeed scouted Antetokounmpo that thoroughly, it’s a shame they were smeared for not doing so.

Milwaukee took Antetokounmpo No. 13. New York had the No. 24 pick and kept it to draft Tim Hardaway Jr.

Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma scores 35, wins MVP, leads USA to victory in Rising Stars dunkfest

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CHARLOTTE — Nobody comes to the Friday night Rising Stars Challenge — the All-Star weekend showcase of first- and second-year stars — for the defense. Which is good, because there isn’t any. Zero. Nada. Your Saturday blacktop pickup game at the local park has guys that care more about defense than you see in this game.

What the Rising Stars has are dunks. A lot of big dunks. And some threes. Then more dunks.

For example, the Hawks’ John Collins was showing off why he was in the dunk contest, complete with a pass off the backboard to himself.

As for the game itself, the USA won 161-144 over the World.

The Lakers Kyle Kuzma raced out to 23 first-half points and finished with 35 to earn MVP honors.

“Last year I didn’t really play that hard,” Kuzma said of his first time in this game. “This year I just came out, one, I wanted to get some conditioning, and, two, why not MVP? You’re in the game. So might as well just try.”

Kuzma also broke out the windmill.

D’Aaron Fox said before the game he wanted to break the assist record for the Rising Stars, and while he fell short of that number he had 16 for the USA. Boston’s Jayson Tatum had 30 and Donovan Mitchell had 20 for the USA. Ben Simmons led the Word team of 28 points.

As for highlights, there were plenty.

Atlanta’s Trae Young hit six threes and had this dime.

He also had the play of the night, nutmegging Deandre Ayton.

Philly’s Ben Simmons had a couple of throwdowns.

The Timberwolves Josh Okogie had the putback of the night (teammate and All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns sat courtside wearing an Okogie jersey).

Hawks’ John Collins passes to self off backboard for dunk in Rising Stars

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CHARLOTTE — The NBA’s Rising Stars Challenge — the Friday night showcase of first- and second-year players during All-Star Weekend — has less defense than your lunch run pickup game at the Y. Even less than the All-Star Game itself.

Which leads to some monster dunks.

Enter Atlanta’s second-year big man John Collins, playing for the USA (vs. The World), who went off the backboard to himself for the best throwdown of the game.

That wasn’t Collins’ only quality dunk in this game.

He looks ready for Saturday’s Dunk Contest.

Report: Nuggets extend president Tim Connelly’s contract

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On the same day the Pelicans fired general manager Dell Demps, the Nuggets extended the contract of president Tim Connelly, who went to Denver from New Orleans.

Nuggets release:

Nuggets President and Governor Josh Kroenke announced today that the Nuggets have extended the contracts of President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly and General Manager Arturas Karnisovas as well and also provided multi-year extensions for the entire basketball operations staff.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I don’t know whether Connelly used the threat of the Pelicans job as leverage. But he deserved this extension, anyway.

The Nuggets have only continued to rise since his previous extension three years ago.

Denver has yet to make the playoffs under Connelly, and he declared this season postseason or bust. Denver (39-18) is second in the Western Conference.

Connelly made a second-round pick so good in Nikola Jokic, it altered the course of the franchise. Connelly has done well to lock Jokic onto a five-year extension, surround him with young talent like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez and get them a good coach in Michael Malone.

If Denver weren’t stuck barely missing the playoffs in the loaded West the last couple years, we might have been singing Connelly’s praises sooner. But his success is undeniable. The Nuggets are in great shape now and in the future, and Connelly should see that through.