Knicks now 5-24 after loss to Suns

The New York Knicks have the second worst record in the NBA, and after Saturday’s home defeat at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, they have the most losses of any team in the league. The season remains a challenge. Which was expected. Phil Jackson isn’t likely to make his mark until the 2015 offseason. Here’s New York Newsday reporting on the latest setback:

Carmelo Anthony’s balky left knee felt good enough for him to face the Suns. But by the end of the game, he and the rest of the Knicks had the same feeling of pain, frustration and doubt.

The Knicks led at the start of the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon at the Garden but lost another winnable game in a fashion similar to so many other losses this season.

Poor execution on both ends with the game on the line led to the Knicks’ 99-90 loss to the Suns. It was their 14th defeat in the last 15 games, and they were booed as the clock wound down on their seventh straight home defeat.

The Knicks are 5-24 — and more fragile than you might think.

“It’s the same thing that’s happening game in and game out,” Anthony said. “I don’t know if we believe in ourselves at that moment that we can win the basketball game or have a chance to win the basketball game. I think it’s more mental than it is physical out there.”

Are the Sacramento Kings open to taking on veteran point guard Deron Williams’ hefty contract? Maybe. Though, just because a team discusses the mere possibility of trading for a player, it doesn’t mean they’d really do it. Or that they even want to. Also, Darren Collison stats this season: 15.6 ppg 3.6 rpg 6.1 apg. Deron Williams stats this season: 15.6 ppg 3.1 rpg 6.8 apg. Almost identical, yet worlds apart salary-wise. Here’s Yahoo Sports reporting a Kings-Nets rumor:

Kings, Nets discussing a Deron Williams trade

The Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings are discussing a deal centered on former All-Star guard Deron Williams, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Nets have been shopping their high-priced star players, and the Kings have been probing the market for an impact point guard.

No deal is imminent, but the talks are ongoing, sources told Yahoo Sports.

The talks have centered on sending the Nets point guard Darren Collison and forwards Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson as part of a multi-player package for Williams, league sources said.

Sacramento has significant interest with Williams, but a hurdle to a possible deal is the Kings’ desire to have center Mason Plumlee included into the package, league sources said. Brooklyn has considered Plumlee a significant part of its future core.

Three-team trade sends Corey Brewer and Alexey Shved to Rockets

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has acquired forward Corey Brewer from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Alexey Shved from the Philadelphia 76ers as a part of a three-team trade.

In the deal, the Rockets will send Troy Daniels to the Minnesota Timberwolves along with the Sacramento Kings 2015 2nd Round Pick (protected for picks 50-60), Houston’s 2016 2nd Round Pick (protected for picks 31-45) and cash considerations. Houston will send its 2nd Round Pick and the rights to Serhiy Lishchuk to Philadelphia. Minnesota will send Corey Brewer to Houston and Ronny Turiaf to Philadelphia. Philadelphia will convey Alexey Shved to Houston.

In order to facilitate the transaction, the Houston Rockets have waived Francisco Garcia and the roster now stands at 15.

The draft picks acquired by the Wolves in the trade are as follows: Houston’s protected second round pick in 2016 and Sacramento’s protected second round pick in 2015 (originally acquired by Houston on Sept. 17, 2014).

Brewer (6-9, 185, Florida) has averaged 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals in 24 appearances (16 starts) with the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. The eighth year veteran’s numbers mark career-highs for rebounds, assists and steals per game. After being drafted seventh overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Brewer has appeared in 491 career games (265 starts) with Minnesota, Dallas and Denver holding career averages of 10.1 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. Brewer also adds 19 games of playoff experience to the Rockets roster, including winning an NBA championship in 2011. In his time at the University of Florida, Brewer won two NCAA championships and was named the 2007 NCAA tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

Shved (6-6, 187, Russia) has averaged 9.9 points, 2.7 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game in 17 appearances with the Philadelphia 76ers this season. The third year pro went undrafted in the 2010 NBA Draft and originally signed as free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves on July 23, 2012. In 157 career appearances (including 16 starts) with the Timberwolves and 76ers, Shved holds career averages of 6.9 points, 2.5 assists and 1.3 rebounds per game.

Troy Daniels, 23, owns career averages of 4.0 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.4 assists in 22 games, one start, in parts of two seasons with the Rockets. In five games in 2013-14, the 6-4 guard averaged 8.4 points on 48.4% shooting, including 48.0% (12-of-25) from beyond the arc. In four postseason contests, Daniels posted averages of 7.8 points on 52.9% shooting, including 53.3% (8-of-15) from deep. Daniels hit the go-ahead 3-point shot with 11.9 seconds left in overtime to propel the Rockets to a 121-116 win over the Blazers on April 25, 2014. Two nights later he scored a new playoff career-high 17 points (5-of-7 FG, 4-of-5 3FG, 3-3 FT) in Game 4 at Portland.

Originally undrafted out of Virginia Commonwealth University, Daniels spent much of the 2013-14 season in the NBA Development League with the Rio Grande Valley where he averaged 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 48 games (37 starts). He led the D-League in three pointers made with 240 — a league single-season record — and ranked eighth in the D-League in scoring average with 21.5 ppg. Daniels was signed by the Rockets on February 21, 2014. 

Garcia (6-7, 195, Louisville) has 3.2 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in 14 appearances with the Houston Rockets during the 2014-15 season. The tenth year player and product of the Dominican Republic was re-signed by the Rockets this past offseason on September 29, 2014.

New Toronto Raptors logo

New Toronto Raptors logo revealed

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, the Toronto Raptors already had an accepted, cool logo, but they decided on an update, which was revealed today.

Last April, the Raptors launched a “We The North” campaign. Today the team took the next step in redefining the Raptors’ identity with the launch of its new primary logo, a circular shield with a ball torn by the unmistakable attack of a Raptor.

The new logo will be introduced in time for the 2015-16 NBA season. New uniforms haven’t been revealed yet.

“Last year during the playoffs, ‘We The North’ became a rallying cry for this team, and all of our fans,” said Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri. “Our new logo represents that attitude and will be an important part of our identity starting next season.”

The new Raptors logo features the team’s primary colours of red, black, white and silver with an alternate version in black and gold.

Team merchandise featuring the new Raptors logo will be in stores next Fall prior to the start of the NBA season.

The logo was designed by Sid Lee, the same creative services agency that developed the “We The North” campaign.

Super-quick InsideHoops.com reaction: It’s a very cool logo. It looks a lot like the Brooklyn Nets logo, though.

It’s always fun to hear which exact adjectives NBA stars use when discussing other stars. Here’s Kobe Bryant discussing Russell Westbrook, as reported by ESPN Los Angeles:

Kobe says Westbrook plays with rage, aggression

Recently, Kobe Bryant said there’s only one other active NBA player whose intensity matches his own: Russell Westbrook.

“He just plays with a rage that’s not very common,” the Los Angeles Lakers star guard said of Westbrook this week. “He just plays with a lot of aggression.”

The two will face off Friday (ESPN, 7:30 PT) when the Lakers (8-17) host Oklahoma City Thunder (12-14) at Staples Center.

Hawks assign Mike Muscala to D-League

The Atlanta Hawks have assigned forward/center Mike Muscala to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Head Coach Mike Budenholzer.

Muscala has appeared in eight games with the Hawks this season, averaging 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.0 minutes (.586 FG%, .800 FT%). In a Dec. 10 win against Philadelphia, he had 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in 19 minutes (6-8 FGs), tying career-highs in FGM and assists.

He saw action in two games with Fort Wayne earlier this year, putting up 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.0 assists in 25.0 minutes (.625 FG%, .700 FT%). In his most recent contest with the Mad Ants (Dec. 7 vs. Westchester), he recorded 14 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 27 minutes (6-9 FGs, 2-4 FTs) in a 97-86 win. He was first assigned on Dec. 6 and recalled on Dec. 8.

Pelicans waive Gal Mekel

Pelicans waive Gal Mekel

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has waived point guard Gal Mekel.

Mekel, 6-3, 191, was signed by the team on December 5 as an unrestricted free agent. Mekel appeared in four games with New Orleans, averaging 1.5 points and 3.3 assists.

The Wichita State product appeared in 31 games during the 2013-14 season for the Dallas Mavericks and appeared in all eight of Dallas’ 2014 preseason games.

New Orleans’ roster now stands at 14.

Lakers recall Jordan Clarkson from D-League

Lakers recall Jordan Clarkson from D-League

Los Angeles D-Fenders guard Jordan Clarkson has been recalled by the Los Angeles Lakers, it was announced today.

In four games with the D-Fenders, Clarkson has posted averages of 19.5 points, 7.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 34.0 minutes per game. In tonight’s win, Clarkson tallied a team-high 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds. Clarkson shot 8-of-11 from the field in the second half, totaling 19 points on the half.

Celtics trade Rajon Rondo to Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have acquired four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo and center Dwight Powell from the Boston Celtics in exchange for center Brandan Wright, forward Jae Crowder, guard Jameer Nelson, a 2015 first round pick and a 2016 second round pick.

Rondo (6-1, 186) is an eight-year guard who has spent his entire professional career with the Celtics. In addition to being a four-time NBA All-Star (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013), Rondo has been named All-NBA Defensive Team four times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), All-NBA Third Team (2012) and was the starting point guard on Boston’s 2008 NBA Championship team. He has played in 527 career games (474 starts) and holds averages of 11.0 points, 8.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 32.9 minutes per game.

The veteran point guard also has extensive postseason experience having competed in two NBA Finals and starting each of his 92 career Playoff games. Rondo holds postseason career averages of 14.5 points, 9.2 assists, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 38.5 minutes per game.

Rondo currently leads the NBA in assists with 10.8 assists per game. He led the league in that category in both 2011-12 (11.7 apg) and 2012-13 (11.1 apg). He also holds several Celtics’ franchise assists records including single-season total with 794 assists (2009-10), assists per game with 11.7 apg (2011-12) and assists in an NBA Playoff game with 20 (2011).

The Louisville, Ky., native was originally the 21st pick of the 2006 NBA Draft after declaring as an early-entry candidate out the University of Kentucky. In just his freshman season as a Wildcat, Rondo set Kentucky’s all-time single-season steals mark with 87 steals in 34 games.

Powell (6-11, 240) is a rookie center who hails from Toronto, Canada and has seen action in five games this season with averages of 1.8 points, 0.2 rebounds and 1.8 minutes per game.

A former Stanford University standout, Powell was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 45th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He was originally traded from Charlotte to Cleveland before being acquired by the Celtics in a late-September trade that landed him in Boston, along with John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy, while Keith Bogans was sent to the Cavaliers.

As a senior at Stanford, Powell was named All-Pac-12 First Team while averaging 14.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He was also named Pac-12 Scholar Athlete of the Year.

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News blog reporting fun futuristic dreaming type stuff:

Plenty of time awaits before the 2016 offseason strikes. Plenty of circumstances could determine how the free agency sweepstakes play out.

But with Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant becoming a free agent in 2016, consider him as the Lakers’ top player they will pursue.

“That’s safe to say,” said a league source familiar with the Lakers’ thought process.

So with the Lakers having their sights on Durant in 2016, has Kobe Bryant made an early free agency pitch?

“No, I think we know each other pretty well,” Bryant said on Thursday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I don’t think it’s a discussion that you have in terms of coming here. But I think it’s more of an understanding how to play with each other.”

Larry Sanders suspended

Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders has been suspended one game without pay for pushing Portland Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum in the back as he elevated toward the basket, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which was upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 2, occurred with 3:01 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Bucks’ 104-97 loss to the Trail Blazers at MODA Center.

Sanders will serve his suspension tonight when the Bucks travel to Sacramento to play the Kings.

Julius Randle already off crutches

Here’s the Los Angeles Daily News blog with an update on injured Lakers rookie Julius Randle:

Julius Randle already off crutches

It appeared like a normal exercise as Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle performed a leg press during Wednesday’s practice. But in Randle’s case, it marked one of many progressions he has made since suffering a season-ending injury to his right leg in the Lakers’ season opener just under two months ago.

Since then, Randle has healed enough to get around without any crutches in the past week.

“Honestly I’m not supposed to be off crutches,” Randle said, with a chuckle. “The doctor said to go at your own pace. My pace was to get rid of them immediately.”

Randle still has a long way to go.

Here’s the Charlotte Observer blog reporting positive things about the city’s chances of eventually hosting All-Star weekend:

Now that the Charlotte Hornets and the city of Charlotte have agreed to an arena renovation, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said its inevitable Charlotte will get an All-Star Game

“Personally I’m very excited about coming back here. I don’t think there’s any question it’s going to happen,” Silver said during a visit to Charlotte Wednesday. “Just a matter of what year.”

The first available All-Star Game up for bid is in 2017. In all likelihood the 2017 and 2018 events will be awarded to cities simultaneously. Silver said there’s no set date for when those games will be awarded, but he’d like it to be as soon as possible.

Here’s the Denver Post reporting on the Nuggets, who are majorly struggling lately:

Hoping to clear the air and get everybody on the same page, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw had “a couple of” individual meetings with players Tuesday, he said.

“There’s frustration,” Shaw said. “Obviously, we’re 10-14. We feel that out of those games there’s maybe a handful that we feel that we could have reversed — we feel we kind of did it to ourselves in those games. But I see frustration from some of the guys that aren’t playing as much as they want to play, from some of the guys that aren’t playing as well as they want to play.”

Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried have been the most frustrated with their playing time as they battle through injuries and ineffectiveness. The Nuggets are 1-6 in their past seven, and the frustration isn’t limited to those two players.

Gallinari has missed the past three games with a bruised right knee but is expected to play Wednesday against the Houston Rockets.

Dirk Nowitzki raves about Kobe Bryant

Here’s ESPN Dallas reporting Dirk Nowitzki’s comments on Kobe Bryant. And as you’d expect from one legend discussing another, they’re quite positive:

Dirk Nowitzki raves about Kobe Bryant

“He’s probably the greatest player in my generation that I played against,” said Nowitzki, who has 27,239 career points and will likely pass Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone over the next few weeks to move up to seventh on the list. “Obviously Shaq was very dominant, Tim Duncan was great, but I just loved watching Kobe. I don’t think there will ever be another MJ, but he’s definitely as close as it gets that we’ll ever see.”

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on OKC Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who after an early-season injury has taken things to another level in 2014-15:

During this recent streak of unbelievable MVP-level games — a career-high nine straight of at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists — it’s Westbrook’s finesse and improved touch around the rim that’s vaulted his kamikaze style to the next level. He’s playing with a controlled chaos that’s so rare. He’s darting to the rim with that same breakneck speed, but routinely maneuvering around the basket with a smoothness we’re not used to and tossing in feathery layups with either hand. His shot selection has always been criticized. His efficiency has always been used as an argument against him. But that’s not a crutch his biggest skeptics can lean on right now. Westbrook, again, was economical with his usage on Tuesday night: 20 shots, 11 makes, 32 points (to go along with his usual seven assists, six rebounds and four steals). In his career, Westbrook is a 43 percent shooter. But this season, he’s currently at 49.5 percent. Some would suggest he’s due for a regression to the norm. But others would view this as a different, improved Westbrook — the kind of dynamic yet efficient player who can make a legit case as the league’s best player.

Jabari Parker knee injury ends his season

Jabari Parker knee injury ends his season

Jabari Parker knee injury ends his season

Milwaukee Bucks rookie forward Jabari Parker suffered a left knee injury during the third quarter of last night’s game in Phoenix. He returned to Milwaukee this afternoon to undergo an MRI that revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Parker will undergo surgery to repair the injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the 2014-15 season.

This is a horrible blow to a Bucks team that is enjoying a very respectable season.

Parker was also a top favorite to win the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year award.

In 25 games this season, Parker averaged 12.3 points (2nd among rookies) and 5.5 rebounds (3rd) in 29.5 minutes per game (3rd) while helping the Bucks to a 13-12 record. He scored in double figures 17 times, including a career-best 23 points at Brooklyn on Nov. 19 that stands as the highest-scoring game by a Bucks teenager in franchise history.

The Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in October/November, Parker began his career by posting double-doubles in two of his first three games (11 points and 10 rebounds on Oct. 31 vs. Philadelphia, and 13 points and 11 rebounds on Nov. 1 at Washington). In doing so, he became just the 14th player in the last 30 seasons to record multiple double-doubles within his first three career games, and the only teenager to accomplish the feat.

Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on the 2-22 Sixers, who have such a limited roster that there’s no reason to expect them, as a group, to be competitive for all four quarters of a game:

Sixers coach Brett Brown especially disappointed by latest loss

Monday’s 105-87 setback to the Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Center was one game 76ers coach Brett Brown quickly wants to forget.

“Last night for me was the most disappointing home game that we’ve had in a while,” Brown said after Tuesday’s practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “For the first time, I didn’t recognize us. That’s not this team at all.”

The Sixers (2-22) shot 35.5 percent from the field and 14.3 percent on three-pointers and committed 23 turnovers.

Ronny Turiaf out for season after hip surgery

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that forward/center Ronny Turiaf underwent a successful arthroscopic procedure this morning on his right hip. The operation was performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Turiaf will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2014-15 season.

Turiaf played in two games this season, totaling one rebound and two assists in just over 18 minutes of action.

Bucks rookie Jabari Parker hurts knee

Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker, who is averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game this season, hurt his knee Tuesday. Hopefully it’s not serious. The extent of the injury isn’t known yet. Here’s the Journal Sentinel blog reporting:

Bucks rookie Jabari Parker hurts knee

It was a happy Bucks locker room after a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Khris Middleton lifted Milwaukee to a 96-94 victory Monday night.

But the joy was mixed with sincere concern over rookie Jabari Parker, who suffered a left knee injury early in the third quarter.

Parker’s left knee buckled without contact as he made a drive in transition and he was unable to leave the floor under his own power. He was carried off the court by teammates Zaza Pachulia and Johnny O’Bryant.

“As of right now we don’t know anything. They’ll do all the tests tomorrow and we’ll be able to report something then,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after the game.

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