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Report: Pistons voiding Donatas Motiejunas trade with Rockets, 76ers

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With the Donatas Motiejunas trade and Joel Anthony trade wrapped into a single transaction involving the Pistons, Rockets and 76ers, Detroit asked for more time to evaluate Motiejunas’ back injury.

The writing was on the wall, and confirmation of a failed physical is sure to disappoint the Rockets and 76ers.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The effects of negating this trade are wide-reaching.

With Motiejunas and Thornton returning to Houston, the Rockets are back above the luxury-tax line. They’re now projected to pay $4,841,505 in taxes – and no longer receive the share of taxes typically distributed to non-taxpaying teams.

The 76ers, who lost JaKarr Sampson to the Nuggets after waiving him to create a roster spot for Anthony, fall $2,630,651 below the salary floor. Watch for them to claim a waived player who makes about that amount, count his full-season salary toward the floor and pay only the prorated portion of the remaining salary (about 30%). Teams with a superfluous player making that amount could even waive him knowing Philadelphia might take that guaranteed salary off their hands. A candidate: Joel Anthony, who’s now back with Detroit (though the Pistons, as non-taxpayers, have less of a need to shed salary).

The Rockets would surely love to trim that amount, but they have no contracts so easily expendable that the 76ers would claim. The biggest incentive for Houston to make this trade was the first-round pick the Pistons were sending. The Rockets didn’t want just to dump Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton. Houston now has both players to help with a playoff push, but that doesn’t mean so much to the Rockets.

Ethically, this decision should focus only on player heath – and it might have. Motiejunas’ bad back is scary, and it was somewhat surprising the Pistons surrendered such a valuable pick for the pending free agent in the first place. But it’s worth wondering whether Detroit, 0-2 since the trade deadline and facing increased playoff competition with the Wizards (Markieff Morris) and Hornets (Courtney Lee) upgrading before the deadline, made this decision with ulterior motives.

The Pistons also traded for Tobias Harris, and they might have determined they’d face more difficulty than expected integrating its newcomers. That could lead to the top-eight-protected pick they dealt Houston more likely landing in the lottery. At that point, they could’ve re-thought the deal designed to acquire two players more helpful this season than Joel Anthony. Now, Detroit can keep its first-round pick and still pursue Motiejunas as a restricted free agent.

Other teams might hesitate to deal with the Pistons after this, so the onus is on Stan Van Gundy to defend his reputation. I think he’ll do that, but the questions must be asked first. At minimum, the Pistons avoid what all along appeared to be too risky of a trade. Detroit still has plenty of flexibility to build from here – again, including the possibility of trying to sign Motiejunas this summer.

With the trade deadline past, Houston and Philadelphia are much more stuck.

D’Angelo Russell says weather played ‘major part’ in picking Warriors over Timberwolves

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D'Angelo Russell wants to play with Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns’ Timberwolves were reportedly interested in Russell last summer.

Why did Russell join the Warriors instead of Minnesota?

Russell, via Chris Hine of the Minneapolis StarTribune:

“I thought the opportunity here was amazing … ” Russell said after Warriors shootaround Friday. “It was definitely something I was considering very strongly. But then when this opportunity came, the weather is way better, so that helped me.”

“I did my first winter in New York and that was tough,” Russell said. “So to get the opportunity to go somewhere where it’s warm again, I think that played a major part in my plan.”

I don’t blame him one bit.

Russell grew up in Kentucky then finished high school in Florida. He spent his first couple NBA seasons with the Lakers.

He also played collegiately at Ohio State and a a couple years for the Nets. In other words, he spent enough time in cold-weather locations to know how miserable they can be.

This is an issue that will always hinder teams like the Timberwolves. It doesn’t mean they can’t attract free agents. It’s just a disadvantage.

There will always be players who don’t have multiple max offers. Minnesota can separate itself with money, playing time and other considerations.

But good for Russell for playing himself out of that group and earning a max contract in the Bay Area.

Kyrie Irving (shoulder) out for Nets-Pacers

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Kyrie Irving missed the Nets’ win over the Bulls on Saturday.

He’s not healthy enough to play the Pacers tonight.

Nets public relations:

Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement) is OUT.

Brooklyn (5-7) lags behinds Indiana (7-6) in the Eastern Conference’s middle morass. The Nets must try to catch up in the playoff race without their best player.

But it’s a long season. Brooklyn has plenty of time to gain ground. Spencer Dinwiddie is capable in relief, and the unselfish Nets can create ball movement while Dinwiddie rests.

I’m more concerned about next week. A segment of Brooklyn’s schedule:

  • Nov. 24 at Knicks
  • Nov. 25 at Cavaliers
  • Nov. 27 at Celtics

That’s the team Irving spurned in free agency, the team Irving requested a trade from and the team Irving just left after pledging to re-sign. Those are juicy matchups. Hopefully, Irving is healthy enough to play in all three.

Ray Allen says he would’ve returned to Celtics if they signed Kevin Durant in 2016

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Ray Allen left the Celtics on bad terms in 2012. He finished his career with the Heat in 2014.

But Allen apparently could have come back with Boston in 2016… if Kevin Durant signed there first.

Allen, via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston:

“I had a conversation with (Ainge) and I told him this was my last-ditch effort. I would’ve went back,” Allen said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria” radio show.

“This was when Kevin Durant was a free agent. He was thinking about going to Boston. And I said, ‘Hey, if you guys land Kevin, I would certainly look at lacing them back up one more time and try to make something good happen here in Boston.’ “

This is a fascinating “what if?” – for the Celtics on the court and for Allen’s legacy in Boston.

But it also probably didn’t come close to happening. Durant said his top two choices in 2016 free agency were the Warriors and Thunder. Even Allen himself said he never neared a comeback.

Still, it’s interesting – after all the animosity – Allen even spoke to Celtics president Danny Ainge about returning.

European coach berates his players: ‘You’re good guys. F— you’ (video)

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Remember Luigi Datome? He spent a couple seasons with the Pistons and Celtics.

He makes an appearance in this wild video featuring Fenerbahce coach Zeljko Obradovic (warning: profanity):

A partial transcript the best I could muster:

YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. IN YOUR EYES, YOU’RE GOOD GUYS. F— YOU, EVERYBODY! F— YOU, OK!

F— YOU, GIGI DATOME. OK? SHAME ON YOU. AND YOU…

Festivus isn’t for another month, but someone is already ready for the airing of grievances.