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Report: Knicks to trade or stretch Joakim Noah

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The Knicks – even after firing Jeff Hornacek and hiring David Fizdale – planned to stretch Joakim Noah after Sept. 1.

Apparently nothing changed this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski and Ian Begley of ESPN:

Unless general manager Scott Perry can find a trade that includes Noah, the Knicks will use the NBA’s waive-and-stretch provision to release Noah sometime after Sept. 1, league sources said.

The Knicks almost certainly won’t trade Noah, who’s guaranteed $18,530,000 next season and $19,295,000 the following season. He has arguably the NBA’s worst contract, and New York would have to attach significant sweeteners to unload him.

That leaves the stretch provision.

By executing it after September begins, the Knicks would pay his entire $18,530,000 salary this season. Better to get that out of the way during what projects to be a down year with Kristaps Porzingis hurt and the rest of the roster lacking.

Then, the $19,295,000 remaining on Noah’s contract would get spread over the following three seasons in equal $6,431,667 cap hits. New York would open an extra $12,863,333 in cap space next summer (minus a roster charge if the Knicks have fewer than 12 players).

That $12 million-ish could go a long way in free agency. The Knicks offer a huge market and a rising team, they’d appeal to many players.

But the Knicks could get this same benefit next summer. They could wait until they line up free agents who require that extra cap space then stretch Noah. By delaying, New York would also leave open the possibility of trading Noah.

If free agents forgo the Knicks next summer, New York could also decide just to pay Noah his entire salary in 2019-20 and get it over with rather than incurring unmovable $6,431,667 cap hits in each 2020-21 and 2021-22.

So, why stretch him this offseason? It’s mostly a huge favor to Noah. He wants to play, and the 33-year-old doesn’t fit the Knicks’ rebuild. This allows him to find his next team before the season.

It also removes a potential malcontent from the locker room (though New York could just tell him to stay home) and opens a roster spot.

Ultimately, the Knicks are mandating they put their 2019 cap space to better use than they could in 2020 and 2021 – nearly a year before they must make that call.

Russell Westbrook has beef with Joel Embiid after hard foul (VIDEO)

Associated Press
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Russell Westbrook is always looking for something — real or imagined — to use as motivational fuel.

He found something real Saturday in Joel Embiid.

With 1:46 left in a close game on national television, Westbrook was off to the races in transition with just Embiid back and the result was a hard foul.

Westbrook was pissed after the game thinking this was not just a hard foul (warning, NSFW language):

Embiid essentially shrugged.

The actual foul was hard but a bit of a fluke. Embiid went up to block the layup/dunk but Westbrook lost his dribble for a second, and the result was an airborne Embiid crashing into Westbrook. Hard. Was there a little bit extra in there? Depends on if you’re on Team Westbrook or Team Embiid.

But the NBA could use more feuds, so bring it on.

The Thunder went on to beat the 76ers on a Paul George game-winner.

Celtics’ Marcus Smart goes after Hawks’ Deandre Bembry, gets ejected

Associated Press
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Marcus Smart will be lucky if all he has to do is write a check to the league office. This is the kind of thing that can lead to a suspension.

Midway through the third quarter in Atlanta Saturday, Boston’s Smart picked up his second technical foul jawing with Atlanta’s DeAndre Bembry before a jump ball. That got him ejected. But it was when it charged back after Bembry rather than leaving the floor that the real trouble started.

Predicting the league office on fines/suspensions is like predicting a roulette table, but that looks like it could cost Smart a game. Smart had picked up his earlier technical arguing calls.

Boston came from behind to win Saturday in Atlanta, with Kyrie Irving leading the way scoring 32.

Bucks to retire jersey Marcus Johnson’s number

via NBA.com
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Marcus Johnson is a Milwaukee legend. He averaged 21 points a game in his seven seasons with the Bucks and is sixth on the all-time franchise list in points (10,980), is its all-time leader in offensive rebounds (1,468), is third in total rebounds (3,923), and made 4,546 during his time in Milwaukee. He is now a color commenter for the team.

Now, the team is going to retire his No. 8.

The ceremony will be March 24, a story broken by the Journal-Sentinel.

Johnson will be the ninth Bucks player to have his number retired and the first since the team’s move to its new home Fiserv Forum.

Current Bucks legend Giannis Antetokounmpo told the Journal-Sentinel he was happy. Antetokounmpo turned to Johnson at points for help with footwork, post moves, and more.

“I’m really happy for him, I think he deserves to have his jersey retired,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s amazing. He’s just sitting down there like a normal person, but this guy was one of the best players in the league when he was playing. … He’s a legend.”

Johnson won an NCAA national championship at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden before going on to an NBA career that included five All-Star appearances and three All-NBA teams.

Paul George hits game winner, lifts Thunder past 76ers 117-115

Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Paul George converted a four-point play with 5.1 seconds left, sending Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder to a wild 117-115 victory over Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

George’s clutch shot capped a wild finish that included another memorable exchange with Westbrook and Embiid. Westbrook hit the floor out of bounds under the basket after a foul by Embiid late in the game, and Westbrook fouled out with 14.9 seconds remaining after he got Embiid while shooting a 3-pointer.

Embiid made all three foul shots, tying it at 113, and Jimmy Butler‘s driving layup put Philadelphia in front with 6.9 seconds to go. But George drained a 3 while being fouled by Butler and made the foul shot.

Philadelphia had one last chance, but Butler missed a 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The 76ers have lost 19 in a row to the Thunder.

George finished with 31 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Westbrook had 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for Oklahoma City, and reserve Dennis Schroder also scored 21 points.

The Thunder had dropped five of six, including a 138-128 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Embiid, who was a game-time decision because of back tightness, had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. JJ Redick scored 22 points for Philadelphia, and Ben Simmons finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists.

Oklahoma City led by as many as 16 points in the first quarter, but Philadelphia rallied in the second and trailed 59-56 at the break.