Jason Smith

Report: Bucks trading for Pelicans’ Nikola Mirotic

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The Pelicans are in turmoil with Anthony Davis asking out.

The Bucks want to avoid that situation with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

So, Milwaukee is vulturing the wreckage in New Orleans for Nikola Mirotic. To do so, the Bucks will turn their not-yet-official Thon MakerStanley Johnson trade with the Pistons into a three-way deal involving the Pelicans.

Tim Bontemps of ESPN:

The team with the NBA’s best record and best net rating just improved. Mirotic is a high-quality stretch four. His outside shooting and defensive competitiveness will fit Milwaukee perfectly. Essentially, the Bucks upgraded on Ersan Ilyasova, who was their top free agent last offseason but has underwhelmed.

Mirotic is on an expiring contract, and New Orleans was unlikely to get much value from him the rest of this season or retain him. Four second-rounders are a nice haul and will help into a post-Davis future.

Mirotic’s impending free agency will soon become the Bucks’ problem. They already have four starters – Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Malcolm Brogdon – heading into free agency. Keeping all four could be difficult, and re-signing Mirotic now adds another challenge. On the other hand, Milwaukee gains leverage in negotiations if it tries to keep four of the five. Previously, that would have been four of four, giving the players an upper hand.

Stanley Johnson and Jason Smith, also on expiring contracts, were likely included primarily for salary-matching. At least Johnson is a decent flier. The Pelicans can make him restricted this offseason.

Thon Maker is still headed to Detroit.

Bucks’ Ersan Ilyasova out indefinitely after surgery on nose fractured in practice

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Ersan Ilyasova was brought in to be part of the Bucks’ five-out offense and he has done that — he has taken 43 percent of his shots from three this season, hitting 35.9 percent of them. He’s giving the Bucks about 20 solid, veteran minutes a night.

But he won’t be giving them minutes for a little while.

Ilyasova suffered a fractured nose in practice last Sunday and has surgery to repair it Friday, the team has announced.

Ilyasova is out indefinitely, whenever he does return expect him to be in a mask for a little while.

 

Look for Jason Smith and Tony Snell to get some extra run while Ilyasova is out.

Stephen Curry scores 51 points with 11 3-pointers, sits entire fourth quarter

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OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry just shrugged and grinned as he kept lighting up the floor, scoring 51 points and finishing with 11 3-pointers in only three quarters of the Golden State Warriors’ 144-122 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.

Kevin Durant added 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Draymond Green had 11 of his 12 assists in the first half to help two-time defending champions finish with 37 after dishing out 35 assists in a 20-point victory against Phoenix on Monday.

But this was all Curry’s show. No. 30 knocked down his 11th 3 of the night late in the third from 32 feet back and shrugged like no big deal whatsoever.

He scored 31 in the first half and finished with his sixth career 50-point game and made 10 or more 3s for the 10th time. The 51 points matched his most at Oracle Arena.

Curry hit his first five 3-pointers then after his fifth one drove to the basket and was fouled. He made two free throws to chants of “MVP! MVP!” The two-time winner of the award had the ninth 30-point half of his career and fourth at home.

The “MVP!” cheers continued. Curry shot 15 for 24, 11 of 16 from 3-point range and made all 10 free throws, missing his career high of 54 set in February 2013 by three points.

He has scored 30 or more points in four of the first five games and had 29 on Monday against Phoenix, also playing just three quarters. He has hit at least five 3-pointers in each game so far.

Bradley Beal bruised his sternum early then returned late in the first half and wound up with 23 points. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 17 points off the bench for Washington.

The Warriors have won four straight against Washington.

TIP-INS

Wizards: C Ian Mahinmi missed the game with back spasms, Jason Smith starting in his place. … Washington hasn’t won at Golden State since Jan. 28, 2014, a five-game skid. The Wizards have dropped 10 of 12 on the Warriors’ home floor.

Warriors: Golden State had its first 80-point half since scoring 81 in the first half Jan. 13 at Toronto. … Curry’s third 3 of the night at the 3:30 mark in the first moved him past Jamal Crawford (2,153) for fifth place on the NBA’s career list. Curry now has 2,162 3s. He notched the 22nd 20-point quarter of his career and seventh in the opening period. … G Shaun Livingston returned from a two-game absence nursing a bruised left knee. … This marked Golden State’s initial matchup against the Eastern Conference so far and first of four straight with an upcoming three-game road trip to New York, Brooklyn and Chicago. The Warriors went 24-6 vs. the East last season, 11-4 at home.

1975 CHAMPS

The Warriors honored the 1975 championship team, which swept the Washington Bullets 4-0 in the finals that year. Five members of the team attended morning shootaround then Hall of Famer Rick Barry joined the group for the game.

Six players and assistant coach Joe Roberts took turns hoisting the trophy during a ceremony before the second quarter. Coach Al Attles wasn’t in attendance as originally planned because he wasn’t feeling well.

Golden State sported gold throwback jerseys for the occasion.

THOMPSON’S TOUCH

Klay Thompson missed his first three 3-point tries before connecting with 6:36 left in the third and scored 19 points.

Thompson is 4 for 27 from long range through the initial five games.

“One thing I love about Klay is he’s going to shoot his way out of anything,” coach Steve Kerr said.

MORRIS FINED

Wizards forward Markieff Morris was fined $15,000 by the NBA for unsportsmanlike conduct. Morris was on the bench when he twice pulled at guard Seth Curry‘s shorts during live play at the end of the fourth quarter in the Wizards’ 125-124 overtime victory.

UP NEXT

Wizards: At Sacramento on Friday.

Warriors: At Knicks on Friday.

Report: Clippers trade Austin Rivers to Wizards for Marcin Gortat

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DeAndre Jordan could leave the Clippers, either by opting out to enter unrestricted free agency or opting in to facilitate a trade.

If he does, L.A. will be prepared.

The Clippers are sending Austin Rivers to the Wizards for Marcin Gortat in an exchange of expiring contracts.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This trade could improve the mood in both locker rooms.

By dealing Rivers – son of coach and former team president Doc Rivers – the Clippers are eliminating a political problem. Teammates resented Austin’s favored status, and it might have even contributed to Chris Paul‘s exit. Though the situation was more complex than that, perception matters greatly. The only way to move past the issue was firing Doc or dropping Austin. Once the Clippers extended Doc’s contract and Austin opted into his $12.65 million salary, trading the guard become favored.

Gortat always seemed to have tension with John Wall. Though they managed it well enough, that gets exhausting.

Beyond the interpersonal dynamics, Rivers was expendable in L.A., and this trade saves Washington money.

The Clippers have Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams as lead guards and just drafted Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson in the lottery. Beverley and Williams are better than Rivers. Gilgeous-Alexander and Robinson have higher upsides.

Based on their current roster, this puts the Wizards in line to save $3,203,263 – $915,218 in salary and $2,288,045 in luxury tax. They could trim payroll even further.

In Washington, Rivers will slide behind John Wall and/or Bradley Beal at guard. The Wizards especially need another backup shooting guard after Jodie Meeksperformance-enhancing drug suspension, but they also don’t seem to believe enough in promising Tomas Satoransky as backup point guard.

Washington might seek another center in free agency. It’ll be a buyers’ market at that position. A hodgepodge of Ian Mahinmi, Markieff Morris and Jason Smith is far from inspiring.

Gortat could start at center in L.A. if Jordan leaves. If Jordan returns, Gortat would be a good backup. The Clippers also have Boban Marjanovic at center, though none of his three teams (Spurs and Pistons previously) have figured out quite what to do with him.

Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier ejected for altercation, leading to hilarious Dwight Howard free throws (video)

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Jason Smith pushed down Michael Carter-Williams while going for a rebound. Carter-Williams pulled Smith to the floor. Tim Frazier flew in heated.

It was more than a typical NBA altercation – Carter-Williams clenched his fist, though never swung – but it wasn’t quite a fight. It was just reserves getting feisty late in a blowout, the Hornets’ 133-109 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Carter-Williams and Frazier were given double technical fouls and ejected.

One catch: Smith was called for personally fouling Carter-Williams, who was due free throws. With Carter-Williams unavailable, Washington could pick his replacement at the line.

Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose Dwight Howard, a poor free-throw shooter who’d been resting the entire fourth quarter and surely figured his night was over. Maybe it was only about Howard’s team-worst 53% shooting from the line, but it’s also possible Brooks was trying to make an opponent uncomfortable.

The Charlotte crowd went wild, and Howard only added to the fervor.

He sunk both free throws – padding his stats (18 points, 15 rebounds, two blocks and two steals) – and blew Brooks a kiss. Howard might appreciate the extra points Brooks afforded him, but they’ll likely come at a cost. Howard celebrated with the Sam Cassell/big-balls dance, which usually draws a fine from the NBA.