Norris Cole

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Report: Thunder, Raymond Felton agree to one-year deal

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We all know the numbers from last season in Oklahoma City: When Russell Westbrook was on the court the Thunder outscored opponents by 3.3 points per 100 possessions, when he sat they were outscored by 8.9. The Thunder did keep the best players on with Westbrook to help him chase the triple-double mark and an MVP, but this team was not deep.

This summer the Thunder have addressed that concern. Paul George is obviously a big help (you can stagger him and Westbrook at times), but also they have added depth.

To that point, they are adding veteran Raymond Felton to the point guard mix, a story broken by Chris Haynes of ESPN.

While no price is given, it would have to be for the veteran minimum.

Felton has issues at age 33, including his three-point shot and a career of conditioning concerns, but he’s an upgrade over Norris Cole and Semaj Christon. Felton can get some points off the drive, is a solid floor general, and is physically strong enough to defend larger guards. The Clippers needed 21 minutes a game out of him last season, but if the Thunder can cut that closer to 15-17 most nights, that should work and give them decent minutes behind Westbrook.

Report: In wake of Mo Williams’ retirement Cavs reach out to Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, others

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At the last minute — literally the day of the start of training camp — Mo Williams told Cleveland he was going to retire and will not be Kyrie Irving‘s backup point guard.

With all due respect to Kay Felder, the Knicks need a new backup point guard. They have started to reach out, reports Joe Varden at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

While Griffin said he felt “comfortable” with the Cavs’ current point guard situation — behind Kyrie Irving now is only rookie Kay Felder — the team has on its radar free agents Norris Cole, Mario Chalmers, and Kirk Hinrich.

The Cavs have been in contact with all three players this summer, a source said, in anticipation of Williams’ move.

LeBron hasn’t yelled at anyone on the court in a long time, having Chalmers back on his team might be a nice release for him. Chalmers and Cole have experience playing with LeBron before in Miami, and both are athletic enough to play up-tempo like coach Tyronn Lue likes.

While all three of those come with flaws, they would be playing limited minutes behind Irving and would make reasonable backups (so long as they accepted their roles). Certainly upgrades over Felder. Expect the Cavaliers to make a signing before too long.

Report: Pelicans aggressively seeking ‘one of the higher level free agent guards left’

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The Pelicans will reportedly work out Lance Stephenson, and whether or not they’re serious about him, they seem serious about somebody at his position.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

I’m not sure who qualifies as “‘one of the higher level free agent guards left” other than J.R. Smith, who seems extremely likely to return to the Cavaliers. (The Pelicans don’t have cap space to pursue Smith, anyway.)

Norris Cole, whom New Orleans already renounced? Mario Chalmers coming off a torn Achilles? Kevin Martin who did little with the Spurs? Kirk Hinrich who’s over the hill? Andre Miller who’s five years older?

Making this harder to decipher: The Pelicans have 15 players with guaranteed salaries, most of whom signed this offseason. How will they make room for an additional guard on their regular-season roster, which is capped at 15 players? They don’t have money or roster spot to lure a quality guard, even if you grade quality on a curve for who’s left unsigned.

Does this signal another shoe to drop in New Orleans?

Finally healthy Jrue Holiday helping organize Pelicans team workouts in Los Angeles

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‘Tis the season when players join with teammates in voluntary workouts, trying to develop some chemistry and get in shape before training camp starts. For example, the LeBron James is organizing those kinds of workouts for the Cavaliers next month.

Jrue Holiday is doing the same for the Pelicans right now (along with Anthony Davis and Quincy Pondexter). The good news, Holiday told the Pelicans’ official Web site, is that he is finally healthy and not restricted entering the season.

“There has been a major difference,” he said. “I haven’t had to key in on one injury. I haven’t had a major injury, so that I had to take most of my time and worry about that. This summer has been more like the summers before I was injured or had the stress reaction (in his right leg), where I can (now) do a lot of explosive things (athletically). It’s been great, feeling like I can do things with no restrictions, but at the same time being smart with the stuff I’m doing.”

Holiday averaged 16.8 points per game last season and had a PER of 19.3 — he was efficient and when the core was healthy he helped the Pelicans look dangerous. New Orleans just wasn’t healthy much. Holiday needs to stay healthy this season because while Norris Cole and Langston Galloway are behind as potential backups they don’t have anyone of the quality of a healthy Holiday.

76ers avoid NBA record for losses in a season

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PHILADELPHIA — These 76ers are relieved not to be part of history.

Carl Landry scored 22 points to lead Philadelphia to a 107-93 victory over the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night, ensuring that the 76ers won’t tie their own league record for fewest victories in an 82-game season.

“We didn’t want to be a part of that,” Landry said. “We tried to do whatever it took to lock in, in practice, in film sessions and just have a carryover to each and every game.”

Philadelphia improved to 10-68 and now is one win clear of the 1972-73 76ers, who set an NBA mark for futility with a 9-73 mark. The 76ers have four games remaining.

“We hope to get a few more before our season ends,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said, adding he was happy for his players.

“They’re good people, they genuinely care (and) they put in a fantastic day’s work,” he said. “Our record wouldn’t indicate that, but they do. And so to get a win and just move on, they deserve that.”

Isaiah Canaan added 16 points for the 76ers, who snapped a 12-game losing streak while winning for just the second time in the last 27 contests.

Landry made his first nine shots before finishing 9 for 10 from the field, including tying a career high with two 3-pointers.

Dante Cunningham led the Pelicans with 19 points and Alexis Ajinca chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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The game had more of a D-League feel to it.

The Pelicans started five players who have combined to start just 76 games this season. And only Tim Frazier, whom the Pelicans signed on March 16, entered averaging more than 7.6 points. Joining Frazier in New Orleans’ starting five were Luke Babbitt, Toney Douglas, Ajinca and Cunningham.

The Pelicans were missing nearly 100 points of scoring without injured players Anthony Davis (left knee), Ryan Anderson (sports hernia), Tyreke Evans (right knee), Eric Gordon (fractured right ring finger), Jrue Holiday (right inferior orbital wall fracture) and Norris Cole (lower back).

“We don’t have any excuses,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “You have to make do with what you have. There’s no sympathy in this league.”

Helped by Landry’s 10 third-quarter points in just 4 1/2 minutes, Philadelphia took an 88-73 lead into the final period.

The 76ers used a 10-3 run to open the final quarter to go in front 98-78 with 9 minutes remaining. T.J. McConnell capped the spurt with a spinning, driving layup that drew fans in the crowd of 10,978 to their feet.

“I didn’t see it tonight,” Gentry said. “I thought we were trying, but we just didn’t have that energy we usually have.”

M-V-P! M-V-P!

The fans serenaded Landry with chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P” late in the game, something not heard on Philadelphia’s home court since the days of recent Hall of Fame inductee Allen Iverson.

Even Landry was surprised by the crowd’s reaction.

“I was like, `What? MVP? Me?”‘ he said. “It was funny. It definitely put a smile on my face, and it makes me feel good.

“It definitely made me feel good that the fans of Philly, blue-collar people, the majority of them, appreciate the effort that I put in, each and every day.”

VILLANOVA PROUD

Cunningham, a member of Villanova’s 2009 Final Four team, wore his Final Four jersey and a Wildcats hat in the visiting locker room after the game.

He’s been connecting with former teammates and coach Jay Wright over the last 24 hours.

“I haven’t been able to keep my phone charged,” he said. “I’ve been texting the whole time. It’s been awesome.”

Along with his Pelicans teammates, Cunningham watched the championship game from a private room in a Philadelphia steakhouse.

“I was screaming the whole time,” he said. “It was good.”

He hoped to catch up with Wright and the Wildcats upon their return to Philadelphia on Tuesday, but their arrival didn’t match the Pelicans’ schedule.

Cunningham received cheers during pregame introductions.

TIP-INS

Pelicans: The Pelicans beat the 76ers 121-114 on Feb. 19 in New Orleans. … The Pelicans, who entered on a two-game winning streak, last won three straight games Jan. 19-23. … Frazier averaged 5.7 points and 7.2 assists in six games with the 76ers last season. He finished with 12 points.

76ers: The crowd erupted in loud cheers in the first quarter when the 76ers replayed Kris Jenkins’ game-winning shot from Villanova’s national championship victory over North Carolina on Monday night. … Canaan strained his left shoulder in the third quarter but later returned. … Elton Brand made his first start in his 15th game for the 76ers. Brand finished with two points.

UP NEXT

Pelicans: At Boston on Wednesday night.

76ers: Host Knicks on Friday night.