Associated Press

Watch Joakim Noah score 19, grab 14 boards, lead Grizzlies past Pelicans

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — On a night where new faces sprinkled Memphis’ rotation, an old vet carried the Grizzlies to their first victory of a new era.

Joakim Noah had season highs of 19 points and 14 rebounds to lead the new-look Grizzlies to a 99-90 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.

“Ton of credit to Joakim,” Memphis coach said about Noah – in his 11th season and first with Memphis. “He had a flashback to a few years ago. He was all over the place, and I think he led the charge with his energy.”

Justin Holiday had 15 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. finished with 14 points, 10 of them in the fourth. C.J. Miles, playing his first game for Memphis added 13 points to help the Grizzlies win for the third time in four games.

With three new players in the rotation, along with more minutes for former reserves, the Memphis offense was not very fluid early. The defense struggled, too, as New Orleans shot 61 percent in the first quarter.

“I think all the guys, they just wanted to come in and be effective on offense and defense,” said center Ivan Rabb, who had 10 points and nine rebounds. “I feel like we got off to a slow start because our communication wasn’t there. Once we picked it up at the end of the first quarter and going into the second, we looked totally different.”

Julius Randle led the Pelicans with 21 points, and Jrue Holiday added 15. Anthony Davis had 14 points and 16 rebounds in his second game returning to the lineup after seeking a trade.

The smoother communication as the game progressed benefited the Memphis defense. After connecting on 11 of 18 shots in the first quarter, New Orleans went 15 of 50 over the next two frames, scoring only 34 points.

“I think we had too many dribble tantrums,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, `where we would just dribble, dribble, dribble, dribble. This is not the team you do that against because they are very good at getting into the ball.”

Memphis used the Pelicans struggles in the middle two quarters to carry a 10-point lead into the fourth. The lead would eventually stretch to 12 in the closing minutes as the Pelicans saw their two-game winning streak snapped.

And even though players across the league are familiar with each other’s games, it is a bit of adjustment to see them playing in different roles on a new team, said Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams, who had 10 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists.

“We didn’t even know who was starting until about 10 minutes before the game,” Williams said. “So, that’s kind of tough. But you can’t make excuses. You’ve got to go out there and get it done.”

 

Report: Bulls signing Luke Kornet for guaranteed $4.5M over two years

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Just three 7-footers have averaged 3.5 3-pointers per game and made 35% of them each of the last two seasons:

The Bulls will now have most of them.

Markkanen is Chicago’s top young player. Kornet will join him with the Bulls next season.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

I’m a little surprised Kornet got more than his minimum ($3,383,360 over two years). But it’s worth taking a flier on him.

In addition to his outside shooting, Kornet has shown good timing as a shot-blocker in two seasons with the Knicks. The 24-year-old must get stronger and improve as a rebounder to play major minutes.

But the Bulls won’t have to press him into action. They also have Thaddeus Young, Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Cristiano Felicio as bigs.

Pistons claim Christian Wood off waivers

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The Bucks waived Christian Wood late last season to ensure avoiding the luxury tax. The Pelicans claimed him. Wood had played well in limited minutes with the 76ers, Hornets and Bucks and in the NBA’s minor league since going undrafted in 2015.

New Orleans gave him his biggest opportunity yet. In 24 minutes per game over eight games, he averaged 17 points and eight rebounds.

But the Pelicans filled their roster for next season and waived Wood.

Detroit will take advantage.

Pistons release:

The Detroit Pistons announced today that the team has claimed forward/center Christian Wood off waivers.

Wood’s $1,645,357 minimum salary is unguaranteed until the regular season. So, Detroit could still waive him before the season. But it seems he’ll at least go to training camp and get a shot at a regular-season roster spot.

The Pelicans also could’ve kept him through the preseason then waived him before the regular season. They seemingly did him a favor of allowing him to get somewhere he has a realistic chance of sticking.

Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond will start in the frontcourt for the Pistons. Markieff Morris and Thon Maker appear to be first in line is backups.

But don’t be surprised if Wood earns playing time. At minimum, the 23-year-old should provide nice depth at both power forward and center.

The Pistons have also now acquired four members of last year’s Bucks – Tony Snell, Thon Maker, Tim Frazier and now Wood.

Knicks: Reggie Bullock has spine injury

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Reggie Bullock had his agreed-upon salary cut by more than half with the Knicks. He’ll reportedly miss at least a month of the regular season.

All because of a mysterious health issue.

The Knicks have finally disclosed what’s happening.

Knicks release:

Reggie Bullock underwent successful surgery today at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York for a cervical disc herniation. The team will plan to provide an update on his rehab and progress around the start of training camp.

Bullock is a good shooter from the wing. New York could use him. Many teams could use him.

But Bullock must get healthy first.

At this point, we probably shouldn’t expect much from him any time soon. The best indication: how eagerly his agent praised the Knicks for their handling of this situation. Again, Bullock settled for less than half his initially agreed-upon salary.

Report: Suns signing Cheick Diallo to two-year contract

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The Suns went old in the draft, picking 23-year-old Cameron Johnson at No. 11.

Phoenix will go younger in free agency with 22-year-old Cheick Diallo.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Barring another move, the Suns have only the minimum available. Diallo will get $1,678,854 next season and $1,824,003 the following season.

The No. 33 pick in the 2016 draft, Diallo worked his way into the low end of the rotation during his three years with the Pelicans. He’s a hustle big, committed rebounder and athletic player. But at 6-foot-9 and 220 pounds, he’s not strong enough to bang with most centers. His skill level is low for power forward.

Phoenix will stick him behind Deandre Ayton, Dario Saric, Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky in the frontcourt. Diallo might receive situation minutes, but he must develop further to hold staying power.