Three things to know: Winners and… other winners from Derrick Rose trade


The NBA season is in full swing, and we will be here each weekday with the NBC Sports daily roundup Three Things to Know — everything you might have missed in the Association, every key moment from the night before in one place.

1) Winners and… other winners from Derrick Rose trade

Derrick Rose and Tom Thibodeau, together again.

It will become official in the coming days, one of the NBA’s best buddy cop franchises is back together in a third city, with the Pistons trading Rose to New York for Dennis Smith Jr. and a second-round pick.

Traditionally, I like to do a winners and losers post after trades like this, but in this case I’m not sure there are any big losers …

Unless Tom Thibodeau finds minutes for Rose at the expense of emerging rookie Immanuel Quickley. That’s the real concern with this trade, that it plays into Thibodeau’s worst tendencies as a coach of a young team — playing veterans to win now at the expense of developing young players. If Thibs leans into heavy minutes for Elfrid Payton and Rose at the point and Quickley gets squeezed (and his minutes were already too low), this is a loss for New York. But I doubt that happens. In today’s NBA game, a team cannot have too many ball handlers and shot creators on the court at once, and Quickley can play either guard spot. Thibodeau should play Rose and Quickley together (plus Rose could fill a mentor role). How the backcourt rotation shakes out is something to watch, but I’m optimistic things will be fine in Madison Square Garden.

This is a win for New York because its playoff chances just got better. At a surprising 11-13, the Knicks are currently the seven seed in the East, and projects them to be the 10-seed in the East — making the play-in game — with a 32% chance of advancing to the playoffs. Rose increases those odds. He provides depth and scoring New York needs.

Detroit wasn’t going to re-sign Rose next offseason and the decision to find a trade was mutual. The Pistons get a decent second-round pick (likely in the 40s) and a long look up close at Smith to see if he can be a reclamation project (something Detroit likes to do, as evidenced by picking up Jahlil Okafor and Josh Jackson). It’s not a lot, but there was a limited market for Rose, so Detroit did well considering — this is a win that way.

This is not a trade that dramatically moves the needle for either side, but both teams get something that can help them — that’s win-win. No real losers here.

2) Sacramento has won four in a row, above .500 after beating Clippers

You can take Luke Walton off the hot seat.

When the Kings started 4-10 with a historically bad defense, Walton’s seat was getting very warm. In the offseason Sacramento had brought in Alvin Gentry as Walton’s top assistant, putting a ready-made replacement next to him on the bench. Walton was on top of everyone’s “first coach to be fired” list.

Then Sacramento turned it around — they have four wins in a row after beating the shorthanded Clippers on Sunday, 113-110, behind 36 points from De’Aaron Fox.

Sacramento has won 7-of-8 and improved to 12-11 this season, tied for eighth in the West with Golden State. The Kings have done that against the third toughest schedule in the league so far. The key in the turnaround is the defense that was historically bad early has been average — 13th in the league — over the past seven games. The offense has seen a step forward, too, but just getting a few stops changes everything.

Postgame there was a lot of praise from the players for Walton and his coaching style — including from Buddy Hield, who was so mad at Walton after last season (when Hield got moved to the bench) he wouldn’t speak to his coach. Via Jason Jones at The Athletic:

“Last year, he coached us different,” guard Buddy Hield said. “I just feel like he’s way more alert, and I feel like from when we’re messing up those few games, we’d be at practice and he’d show a lot of mistakes and we’d correct them. And that’s what coaches do, they correct mistakes we’re getting burned on.”

“Him taking the next step in leading us in the right direction, even in timeouts and how he’s managing the game, he’s letting us play and letting us be ourselves, just being fun out there,” Hield said. “I think everybody loves the way he’s handled us.”

It looks like Walton’s job is safe, at least as much as any NBA coach not named Popovich or Spoelstra feels safe.

3) Injury update on Hawks De’Andre Hunter, Cavs’ Larry Nance Jr.

Some not great injury updates to round out the Sunday news.

De'Andre Hunter — who has been out the last four Atlanta games due to a knee issue — will now be out at least another couple of weeks after having his right knee scoped. Officially, the team said Hunger “will undergo a lateral meniscus arthroscopic debridement procedure on Monday.” Hunter has played strong wing defense for Atlanta this season while making a leap forward on offense averaging 17.2 points a game, hitting 36.6% of his threes, and finishing much better at the rim. The Hawks are +9.2 per 100 possessions when he is on the court this season.

Cleveland’s Larry Nance Jr. suffered a fractured fourth metacarpal on his left hand against the Bucks Saturday night, the team announced. The injury is commonly known as a “boxers’ fracture,” it’s fairly common around the NBA, and it takes 5-6 weeks to recover from it. Nance is averaging 9.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a game for the Cavaliers, but more importantly providing quality defense at the four.

One other injury note, Oklahoma City’s Mike Muscala sustained a concussion during Saturday against Minnesota and has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. Muscala is averaging 9.7 points and 3.5 rebounds a night this season for the Thunder.

Thanasis Antetokounmpo suspended one game for headbutting Blake Griffin

Utah Jazz v Boston Celtics
Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

The Celtics thought it was funny — Jaylen Brown jokingly offered Blake Griffin his mask after the Bucks’ Thanasis Antetokounmpo headbutted the Celtic forward.

The NBA didn’t find it as amusing and suspended Antetokounmpo for one game for the incident.

Griffin was given a Flagrant 1 foul at the time, but mostly the Celtics had a good laugh.

It’s easier to laugh when you are blowing out your opponent, and the Celtics made a statement with a 41-point win over the Bucks.

The Celtics are 1.5 games back of the Bucks for the No.1 seed in the East (and NBA), and they are two games back in the loss column. While Boston has the tiebreaker, it will need some help from Milwaukee to catch them. The Bucks play the 76ers in a key game on Sunday, but will do so without Thanasis Antetokounmpo.


It’s official: Popovich, Wade headline international class (Gasol, Nowitzki, Parker) into Hall of Fame

San Antonio Spurs v Boston Celtics
Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

In an incredibly deep Hall of Fame class, the man who garners the most respect — legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich — is the man who feels least like he belongs in these hallowed halls.

“In all honesty, I always felt the Hall of Fame is like for Red Holzman, Red Auerbach and Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. … I’ve never felt like I really belonged, to be honest with you,” Popovich told the Associated Press, and it’s not a gimmick. “I’m not trying to be ‘Mr. Humble’ or anything. I’m a Division III guy. I’m not a Hall of Fame guy.”

Popovich is a Hall of Fame guy. While it has been expected for a while, it became official on Saturday with an announcement in Houston during the NCAA Final Four.

Popovich is part of one of the great Hall of Fame classes ever: Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol and Becky Hammon are the headliners.

“To me, it’s a no-brainer that all of these guys are first-ballot guys,” Heat president Pat Riley told the Associated Press. “Look at the records. Look at the longevity that they’ve had in this league. Look what they’ve done for the league, and how much the league calls them back – because they’re ambassadors of this great league and they have a great voice and a great message. Dwyane being a first-ballot was a no-brainer.”

Let’s break down the cases for the biggest, NBA tied-names:

• Gregg Popovich led the San Antonio Spurs to five titles and 18 consecutive seasons of 50+ wins. “Pop” also coached USA Basketball to the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics, and was active. Popovich will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time, a man who adapted his system to the personnel he had — how the Tim Duncan/David Robinson Spurs won was very different than the 2014 team led by Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard (and still Duncan).

• Dwyane Wade is one of the greatest shooting guards the game has ever seen. He helped the Miami Heat to three NBA titles and was the 2006 Finals MVP, and along the way racked up eight All-NBA teams and 13 trips to the All-Star game. He is the greatest Heat player ever and is an easy Hall of Fame choice.

• Dirk Nowitzki is the greatest Dallas Maverick ever, an NBA champion and Finals MVP, plus he won the regular season MVP in 2007. His resume includes being a 12-time All-NBA player and 14-time All-Star, plus playing 21 seasons all for the same franchise.

• Tony Parker is a four-time NBA champion for Popovich and his San Antonio Spurs, and Parker was the Finals MVP in 2007. His NBA resume includes four All-NBA nods and six All-Star trips, but his international resume secured his place in the Hall of Fame, for example he was the MVP of EuroBasket 2013, which France won.

• Pau Gasol won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers (as Kobe Bryant’s co-star), is a four-time All-NBA player and six-time All-Star, plus he was the Rookie of the Year in 2002. Like Parker, it is Gasol’s international resume that cements his spot in the Hall, he led Spain to the FIBA World Championship in 2006 and won three Olympic medals (two silver, one bronze).

• Becky Hammon, who most NBA fans know as the first women’s assistant coach in the NBA and current coach of the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces, but before that she was a six-time WNBA All-Star.

Also entering the Hall of Fame this year:

• Jim Valvano, who coached North Carolina State to the 1983 NCAA Championship, and created The V Foundation for Cancer Research
• Gene Bess, All-time winningest college coach (1,300), 2-time NJCAA Coach of the Year.
• David Hixon, who racked up 826 wins and was a two-time D3 national champion and two-time D3 Coach of the Year.
• Gene Keady, best known for coaching 25 years at Purdue, was a six-time NCAA Coach of the Year and made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances.
• Gary Blair, who coached in the women’s game for 37 years, amassing 852 wins, including winning the 2011 National Championship with Texas A&M.
• The 1976 Women’s USA Olympic Basketball Team – Silver medalists in inaugural appearance for Women’s Olympic Basketball.

Watch Davis score 38, Lakers move up to No.7 seed with win against Timberwolves


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Anthony Davis scored 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and had 17 rebounds to lift the Los Angeles Lakers past Minnesota 123-111 and leapfrog the Timberwolves on Friday night in the crowded Western Conference playoff race.

“You’ve got to have that one pivotal force that’s leading the charge, and in our case with this particular team here in the moment it’s AD,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “When he comes out and he’s aggressive and we’re feeding him and he’s not settling and he’s putting pressure on the paint, putting pressure on the rim, we find ourselves having a lot of success.”

LeBron James added 18 points and 10 rebounds and D'Angelo Russell had 12 points and 10 assists against his former team as the Lakers (39-38) won for the fifth time in six games to move into seventh place. They’re even with New Orleans, owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Pelicans.

“We’ve made some huge climbs, but we’re not finished,” said Davis, who had 38 points Wednesday in tthe win at Chicago. “We’re hungry to not only make the playoffs but make some noise.”

The Lakers improved to 9-4 since losing at home to the Wolves on March 3.

“We jumped on AD’s back, and he brought us home,” James said.

Mike Conley had 25 points on 7-for-11 shooting with seven assists before fouling out, and Karl-Anthony Towns scored 23 points for the Timberwolves (39-39), who tumbled into ninth place. They entered the evening one game behind Golden State and the cut to avoid the play-in tournament, with the Warriors tipping off later at home against San Antonio.

Davis scored 12 straight points for the Lakers over a 3:52 span late in the fourth quarter to seal the steely comeback from a deficit that hit 13 points shortly after halftime. He made five baskets in a row with Wolves center Rudy Gobert on the bench, dominating on the glass, in the post and at the rim.

“He’s playing at a super high level right now,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said.

The Lakers took charge earlier with a 24-2 spurt over a 6:49 stretch of the third quarter with their defense on lockdown mode. Conley’s turn to rest on the bench during that run was ill-timed. Davis rolled his left ankle around the start of the Lakers surge, a breath-holding sequence that only seemed to energize the visitors.

“We started to turn the ball over, and the ball started to stick much more,” Gobert said. “We kind of lost our flow offensively, and it really affected our defense.”

The Wolves, whose bench was shortened without center Naz Reid and his broken wrist, went 2 for 14 from 3-point range in the third quarter and were outscored 35-18 in a discouraging stretch for a fired-up crowd that included local sports superstars Justin Jefferson and Kirill Kaprizov in floor seats.

Watch Jalen Brunson score 48, Knicks top Cavs in possible playoff preview


CLEVELAND (AP) — With All-Star Julius Randle back in New York, the Knicks needed someone to step up.

Jalen Brunson did that, and more.

New York’s point guard scored a career-high 48 points and the Knicks moved closer to a playoff berth while waiting for Randle to get healthy, outrunning the Cleveland Cavaliers 130-116 on Friday night.

“There is nothing that Jalen does that surprises you,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s so mentally tough. He’s nicked up a little bit, but he’s a machine. He just keeps going.”

Brunson credited his Knicks’ teammates and coaches for his big night, which included seven 3-pointers and nine assists. He finished 18 of 32 from the floor.

“They had confidence in me and the ball just went through the hole,” said Brunson, who scored 44 in a loss to Milwaukee on Jan. 9. “I just kept shooting with confidence and that’s just how it went.”

The Knicks reduced their magic number to one in their first game without Randle, who sprained his left ankle Wednesday and will miss the rest of the regular season. New York hopes he’ll be back for the postseason and a potential first-round matchup against the Cavs.

New York won the season series 3-1 and denied Cleveland a chance to lock up home-court advantage in the first round.

“This loss hurts,” said Donovan Mitchell, who led Cleveland with 42 points. “We need to feel it and be ready to use it when the time comes. Obviously, we control our destiny and we’ll probably see these guys in two weeks.

“There is a lot of film to go through. But if we let this affect us, we have no chance in the playoffs.”

Leading by three, the Knicks outscored the Cavs 14-2 to open the fourth and get some breathing room in a game played at a frenetic pace. The teams combined for 89 points in the first quarter and 151 in the first half.

The Cavs got within 123-116 before Brunson put the Cavs away with a layup following a timeout and then a 3-pointer. He missed a floater in the final seconds that would have given him 50 points.

Did he want 50?

“Who wouldn’t?” he said. “I was going to hold the ball out, but they doubled and I guess that means keep playing. No disrespect to them. They played to the buzzer. I have the most respect in the world for that coaching staff. You got to keep playing.”

Brunson, who averages 23.6 points, scored 33 in a wild first half without much defense.

The teams combined for 89 points in the first quarter, tying the third most in the first 12 minutes of a game in NBA history. The record of 91 is shared by Utah and Denver (1982), and Miami and Washington (2021).

Also, Cleveland’s 47 points in the first quarter were the most in the franchise’s 53-year history.

The Cavs were without two of their top defenders, center Jarrett Allen (groin) and Isaac Okoro (knee).

The Knicks had a moment of drama.

During a timeout in the third quarter, New York starters RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin got into a shouting match and had to be separated.

Thibodeau downplayed the conflict.

“The cameras are everywhere and it probably happens more than people realize,” Thibodeau said. “It was the heat of the moment. Sometimes, there is a difference of opinion, but those guys are fine with each other. These things happen.”

Later, in the locker, Toppin had his arm around a smiling Barrett.

“This is my brother,” Toppin said. “We’re good.”