Five Things We Learned in NBA Sunday: James Harden, LeBron James want your MVP vote


If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while remembering the old MTV Rock ’n Jock events

1) LeBron James and James Harden played like MVPs. The Cavaliers and Rockets were in a playoff game — it was intense, it was physical to the point of chippy, and it was a dramatic overtime game. One the Rockets won — they are now 11-4 with Dwight Howard out. But what everyone is going to talk about is the LeBron James and James Harden going back-and-forth. Harden bolstered his MVP candidacy with 33 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Harden got his kicks in. LeBron, who a couple days back went hard at Stephen Curry to make his MVP candidacy, tried to do the same thing with Harden and LeBron finished with 37 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. However, LeBron shot 3-of-11 from the free throw line, which is one big reason Cleveland lost.

2) The JaVale McGee recruiting battle has begun. The Sixers bought out JaVale McGee — at full price — right before the deadline to waive him and allow him to join another team and make their playoff roster. A whole lot of contenders could use him as a reserve big man — he’s an athletic seven footer who can block shots and run the floor. The Mavericks, Clippers, Rockets are among the teams rumored to be interested. The teams can all offer the same minimum contract, so it’s going to be about where McGee wants to play, and who can do the best Matt Foley motivational speaker recruiting job.

3) Brandon Bass had the dunk of the night. Yes, that Brandon Bass. This was a quality throwdown, even if the source was a little surprising. Brandon Bass has a few hops still.

4) Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan are carrying the Clippers quite well. Friday night the Clippers beat Memphis. Sunday they handled the Bulls pretty comfortably, 96-86. And both of those games they were without Blake Griffin. Sunday the Clippers pulled away with a 10-2 run midway through the fourth, a quarter when Jamal Crawford dropped 10 of his 16. However, it is the play of Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan that has carried the Clippers without Griffin (and not let them fall down the West standings). CP3 had 28 points and 12 assists, while Jordan pulled down 26 rebounds. There are moments you think this team could put it all together and be scary come the playoffs; they just haven’t sustained it. Yet.

5) It’s an annual tradition: The playoffs are coming, and the Bulls are breaking down. Derrick Rose is out 4-6 weeks after his latest knee surgery. Taj Gibson was out on Sunday against the Clippers due to an ankle issue. Then Jimmy Butler had to leave the game after hyper-extending his elbow, and he did not return. (Butler will have an MRI Monday on his elbow.) This happens every year with the Bulls, and although you can’t throw this one on Tom Thibodeau (he wasn’t grinding Rose into the ground, for example) you wonder if management will after the season anyway because they want to make a change.

Brad Stevens says Jared Sullinger “will be out a while” with foot injury

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In the wake of a busy trade deadline that saw the Celtics land a potential long-term piece in Isaiah Thomas, they were hit with some serious bad news:

So, this is not ideal for the Celtics. With Sullinger out, Boston is looking at Shavlik Randolph, Jae Crowder and (if he’s not bought out) Brandon Bass as their starting power forward options. The Celtics are 20-31, just a game and a half out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Trading minor pieces for Thomas could have helped them make a push for the eighth seed. Losing Sullinger for a while is a step back.

They could still make it, because the bottom of the East is a disaster, but it’s an uphill battle now.

Report: Amar’e Stoudemire’s representatives pushing for buyout from Knicks


Amar’e Stoudemire said he’d take the All-Star break to decide whether or not he wants a buyout from the Knicks.

Apparently, he has made up his mind.

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

Stoudemire’s representatives are pushing for a buyout, and the Knicks seem inclined to grant it, according to sources.

The following players, per league sources, are also considered likely buyout candidates if they are not traded by the deadline: Andrea Bargnani (New York); Brandon Bass, Tayshaun Prince and Marcus Thornton (Boston); Andrei Kirilenko (Philadelphia); Willie Green (Orlando); Randy Foye and Darrell Arthur (Denver).

This will come down to how much money Stoudemire wants to give up. Stoudemire, whose salary this season is $23,410,988, is owed $8,538,125 the rest of the season.

How badly does he want to join the Suns, Mavericks, Warriors or another team outside New York?

Stoudemire is clearly not in the Knicks’ plans beyond this season, so if they can save some money and open a roster spot, why not?

At this point, it’s just about negotiating the exact buyout – same as with those players if they’re not traded. With several decent players likely to become free agents after the trade deadline, it’ll be hard for teams to get much in trades for back-end rotation players.

Report: Kings open to trading Nik Stauskas for frontcourt help


The Sacramento Kings selected Nik Stauskas with the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft, and already he might be on the block.’s Ken Berger reports that the Kings are looking for help in the frontcourt and are open to moving Stauskas to do so:

Determined to find an upgrade to complement inside force DeMarcus Cousins, the Sacramento Kings are seeking frontcourt help in a trade and are willing to discuss first-round pick Nik Stauskas in the deal, league sources told

The Kings want to pair Cousins with a frontline player who would fit with his post-up skills — either a stretch four or above-the-rim defender, sources said. They’ve fielded numerous calls about Stauskas, whose opportunities have been limited with the steadily improving play of Ben McLemore.

Sacramento thus far has rebuffed teams inquiring about Stauskas, the sharpshooter from Michigan whom they selected with the eighth overall pick in the draft. But the Kings’ motivation to put a “high-level” player next to Cousins on the front line has heightened, making them finally willing to include Stauskas in trade talks.

The idea is noble: Cousins has emerged as a legitimate All-Star, so it makes sense that the Kings would want to get an upgrade over Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson to pair with him. But this is awfully soon to give up on Stauskas, who hasn’t had many real opportunities to contribute. Plus, it’s not clear which frontcourt players may actually be available for the Kings to go after. Brandon Bass doesn’t move the needle.

The Kings are continuing to make bizarre decisions since firing Mike Malone earlier in the season.

Report: NBA teams gearing up Brandon Bass inquires


The Celtics acquired Brandon Bass for him to help them contend for a championship. He re-signed in Boston to help them contend for a championship.

But since trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, the Celtics have gotten younger and worse. Bass – 29 and making $6.9 million in the final year of his contract – no longer fits so well in Boston.

Bass has remained professional and productive amid the losing. He’s averaging 8.3 points on 52.8 percent shooting and 3.4 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per game.

He just doesn’t fit, which other teams realize.

Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald:

Scouts and opposing front-office types have begun to speak and inquire about the 29-year-old forward, a practice that’s generally a precursor to discussing a trade. Danny Ainge could not be reached on whether teams have called about Bass — not that he would say anyway — but it certainly makes sense.

“If there’s a team competing for a championship and they could steal him, that’d be big,” said Rajon Rondo.

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At 4-8, the Celtics are only one game out of playoff position in the lowly East. It’d be more difficult to make a postseason push if they trade Bass for a draft pick or younger player who isn’t as good right now.

Before making a deal, Boston must determine its priorities for the season. If contending for a playoff berth is the goal, Bass should probably stay. If rebuilding takes precedent, a win-now team could certainly make better use of Bass before his contract expires.

Given the Celtics’ recent moves, they seem content to rebuild, but the historic awfulness of this Eastern Conference might cause them to re-think that strategy.

Either way, Bass definitely fits the profile of a tradable asset.