Daryl Morey says Rockets more likely to re-sign their own free agents than land a big name

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In the last two offseasons, the Rockets have been major players in free agency. All indications from Daryl Morey are that that’s not going to be the case this year. In 2013, Houston landed the biggest free agent of the summer in Dwight Howard. Last year, they made a pitch to Carmelo Anthony and came close to luring Chris Bosh away from Miami, before the Heat came through with a max contract offer. Now, even with such names as Kevin Love and LaMarcus Aldridge on the market, Morey seems more focused on re-signing the Rockets’ own players who are due for new deals than adding another star.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

The Rockets are “probably likely” to stick with their plan to remain above the salary cap and spend the free-agency period putting the band back together by signing many, if not all, of their five free agents.

Morey did say there are “possible opportunities we have to explore that are bigger. But I think they’re unlikely.”

Those unlikely “possible opportunities” are enough for the Rockets to do some big-game hunting when free-agent season opens Wednesday, but without the confidence of the past two summers.

This summer’s top free-agent targets – big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Love – are considered much greater long shots than the top players of the past two offseasons that had the Rockets in the middle of the annual free-agent frenzy.

The Rockets will have five players to make decisions on this summer: restricted free agents Patrick Beverley and K.J. McDaniels, and unrestricted free agents Josh Smith, Corey Brewer and Jason Terry. Beverley and Smith are the two most likely players to be priorities. Beverley missed the last two weeks of the regular season and the entire postseason with torn ligaments in his left wrist, but he should be healthy by training camp and he’s been a defensive pest for Houston the last three years. He should be due for a significant raise over the $915,000 he made this season — probably something north of $10 million annually.

Smith resurrected his career in Houston after a catastrophic year-plus in Detroit, learning to play to his strengths as a solid defender and around-the-basket finisher and complimenting Howard well in the frontcourt. Brewer found a perfect role as an energy guy off the bench in Houston after being traded from Minnesota in December. Terry was surprisingly solid in the backup point guard role, stepping in as a starter after Beverley went down. McDaniels didn’t play much after being traded to Houston from Philadelphia at the deadline, but he’s still a promising young talent.

Unless something unforeseen happens, Morey’s plan seems to be to keep this group together and add new draftees Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell. And why not? The Rockets made the Western Conference Finals despite injuries to Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas. If the opportunity is there to get a star like Love or Aldridge, Morey will obviously go for it, but it’s understandable that he sees potential for this core to make yet another leap after a successful season and playoff run.

Nets fans post ‘missing’ posters of Ben Simmons before Game 3 (PHOTO)

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Ben Simmons did not perform well in Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets. The Philadelphia 76ers star posted a stat line of just eight points with seven rebounds, three blocks, and three steals.

More concerning was Simmons’ apparent lack of desire to shoot. He seemed to fade in the big moments of the game, and scorn came swiftly for him social media after the 76ers loss. Philly fans even booed the Sixers on the court, which angered Simmons.

But Game 3 is upon us, although Joel Embiid is not playing,  and the series has shifted back to New York. As expected, fans in Brooklyn are doing their best to troll the Sixers.

Via Twitter:

We will see how Simmons responds after all of the back and forth about booing, not to mention his whole thing with Jared Dudley. If Simmons wants to be a star, now is the time to step up for his team with Embiid out.

Joel Embiid out with left knee soreness for Game 3 vs. Nets

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The Philadelphia 76ers will be without Joel Embiid on Thursday night as they take on the Brooklyn Nets in Game 3 of their first round series.

Embiid is battling left knee soreness and although he had a statistically-important performance as the Sixers took Game 2, it was obvious he was in some kind of reduced state of ability.

Veteran center Greg Monroe will start in Embiid’s place, but it will be hard for the Sixers to match Embiid’s production. The Cameroonian star is Philadelphia’s best player, and the 76ers are a hot and cold team.

Not having Embiid on the floor will seriously alter how they respond to the spunky Nets, who already took Game 1 from the higher-seeded Sixers.

The fact that Embiid needs to rest is also drawing some ire from folks on social media. The question is why Embiid did not rest earlier in the series — or even the end of the regular season when he was in and out of the lineup — and prepare for the coming playoff run?

However things go on Thursday, folks around the league will have their eyes glued to the injury report to see updates on Embiid’s status.

Grizzlies’ Kyle Anderson undergoes thoracic outlet decompression surgery

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Kyle Anderson was playing a solid role off the bench for the Grizzlies this season, 8 points and 5.8 rebounds a game, serving as a secondary ball handler and shot creator. Slo-mo was doing his thing.

However, by the end of January, the pain radiating from his shoulder — something he now says he had been playing through for a couple of years — got to be too much. He never played another game after Jan. 30.

Thursday he had thoracic outlet decompression surgery to relieve the problem. Anderson is expected to make a full recovery and be ready to go next training camp.

For comparison, this is the same surgery the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had.

Anderson is on a very reasonable contract, three years and $28 million remaining. He can be part of what is going to be built in Memphis going forward, but if they are tearing down and rebuilding — meaning a summer trade of Mike Conley — he could bring back assets in a trade.

Either way, he should be healthy and ready to go next summer.

Jerry West on NBA draft: ‘I don’t know how you could pass Zion Williamson’

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A rumor started buzzing around NBA Twitter last week, a second-hand report that NBA legend and Clippers’ consultant Jerry West was praising Murray State guard Ja Morant, saying he would take him in front of the presumptive No. 1 pick Zion Williamson.

The source of that rumor: comedian Jeff Garlin, saying it on the Dan Patrick Show.

Jerry West himself went on the Dan Patrick show Thursday and shot that down saying “it Would Be Like Passing Jordan in the draft.”

Two players were picked in front Jordan in the 1984 Draft. The Houston Rockets took Hakeem Olajuwon, and while Jordan went on to be Jordan nobody can fault the Rockets for how this picked turned out — two titles and a Hall of Fame big man in your organization is an amazing draft.

The one everyone talks about was Portland at No. 2, when executive Stu Inman and coach Jack Ramsey decided they were set on the wing in Clyde Drexler and needed a big man, so they selected Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. Bowie might have had an excellent NBA career if injuries had not plagued him, but he was no Jordan. It’s the ultimate NBA cautionary tale — draft the best player on the board, not according to need.

Williamson is projected by teams as the best player on the board. By far. Even the Morant fans have him a clear second. Plus, Williamson comes in hugely popular and a brand unto himself — he will sell tickets and sponsorships. Not drafting him would be a stupid business decision, not to mention a basketball one.

Whoever lands second in next month’s draft lottery will do well with Morant. Whoever is third will likely get R.J. Barrett out of Duke and… let’s just say that’s where it gets interesting.