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TODAY'S NBA RUMORS

Updated Saturday, January 23, 2021 at 2:30 p.m. ET

The Washington Wizards today signed free agent center Alex Len and free agent forward Jordan Bell. Len (7-0, 250) has averaged 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting .512 from the field in 474 career games (185 starts) over eight seasons with Phoenix, Atlanta, Sacramento, and Toronto. He appeared in seven games this season for the Raptors. Inside Hoops

Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green was ejected for yelling at teammate James Wiseman in the second quarter of Thursday night's game vs. the New York Knicks after an official thought the outburst was directed at him. Head coach Steve Kerr said postgame that officials admitted to him at halftime the ejection was a mistake, and point guard Stephen Curry said the league's referees are "probably" biased against the expressive Green. San Francisco Chronicle

"Steph, obviously you've been with Draymond for a while," a reporter told the Warriors star. "How much do you think his reputation and the way he talks to officials through the years factors into how younger officials officiate him in games?" Curry responded, "The reason you're asking that question is probably because there's a bias, but that can't be part of how you officiate the game. You have to be able to ref the game you're reffing in that moment." San Francisco Chronicle

Free-agent forward Norvel Pelle is planning to sign a deal with the Brooklyn Nets once he clears health and safety protocols, his agents, BJ Bass and Tod Seidel, told ESPN. Pelle, 27, is a limited all-around big man but an electric shot-blocker who has shown an ability to control space near the rim in his brief NBA and G League career. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY

The Cleveland Cavaliers have agreed to trade 2019 first-round pick Kevin Porter Jr. to the Houston Rockets for a heavily protected future second-round pick, sources told ESPN. The pick is top-55 protected, meaning it is likely never to convey, sources said. ESPN.com

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green was mistakenly ejected late in the second quarter of Thursday night's 119-104 loss to the New York Knicks after yelling at rookie teammate James Wiseman. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game that Ben Taylor -- the game's crew chief -- admitted at halftime that second-year official John Butler thought Green was yelling at him and made a mistake by giving the forward his second technical foul. ESPN.com

Green, who picked up his first technical of the game with 4 minutes, 2 seconds left in the first quarter after arguing too long with the officials, received his second with 1:04 left in the second quarter after turning the ball over on a pass directed to Wiseman. On his way back down the floor, Green's voice boomed through a near-empty Chase Center as he appeared to air out his frustration at the rookie. When the whistle was blown and Green was assessed his second technical, Kerr and several members of his staff tried to explain to the officiating crew that Green's ire was directed at the rookie center. ESPN.com

Anthony Davis might have performed better as a facilitator in crunch time than he ever has before in the Los Angeles Lakers' 113-106 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday, but the All-Star big man was still hypercritical of his play. "Right now, to be hard on myself, man, I think I suck right now," Davis said after finishing with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks. "I'm not making shots. I'm not making free throws. But I think tonight my aggressiveness, just being a [post-up threat] and getting to the paint, allowed guys to get open." ESPN.com

It's the tone of a team seeking something far more substantial than a regular-season win in January. "My aggressiveness tonight," Davis said, "that's the only way I feel like I'm gonna get out of this funk or whatever that I'm in. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a better basketball player every game, and that's what I'm gonna continue to do." ESPN.com

The NBA's postponement of three consecutive Memphis Grizzlies games marks an evolution in the league's handling of COVID-19 scenarios within teams, essentially parking a team and taking it out of circulation once a roster has been exposed to the virus, sources told ESPN on Thursday. In previous instances, the league has allowed teams to isolate positive players and sideline others in contact tracing believed to have been in close proximity to infected individuals, yet still allowed teams to proceed with games if they had eight eligible players. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY

Caris LeVert was sleeping as part of his usual pregame nap when his phone started going off. It was 4 p.m. (or maybe 4:30, he couldn’t be sure) ahead of tipoff against the Knicks on Jan. 13 when he woke up to hundreds of texts, missed calls and notifications on his phone, so many his lock screen continued refreshing itself. At the same time, Nets GM Sean Marks was calling. The Nets had traded LeVert and three of his teammates in a deal that landed James Harden. LeVert called the news “tough to hear,” and said he’s going to miss the fans and the family he built in Brooklyn. NY Daily News

Caris LeVert said he knew the trade was on the table ever since the Nets acquired Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving two summers ago. He understood that as GM, Marks’s goal is to find ways to make the team better. “So when you have players such as Kevin and Kai who want to come and play for your city, I think that you can’t rule anything out when you’re in my position. So I knew when those guys were coming to town that anything was possible,” LeVert said. “As Sean Marks, you have to take those things serious. Kevin is one of the best players in the world, so if he wants to come and play for your organization, obviously you’re gonna make the necessary changes to do that.” NY Daily News

Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner has a small fracture in his right hand and is expected to miss the next few games, sources confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday. Turner, who leads the NBA with 4.2 blocks per game, has met with two hand specialists, will be reevaluated in the next few days and will participate in practice Tuesday, sources said. He suffered the injury vs. Portland on Jan. 14. ESPN.com

Delonte West is now working at the drug rehabilitation center in Florida that he attended after Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban helped the former homeless NBA player get his life back on track, a source confirmed to ESPN. West was treated at the Rebound therapy center in Florida. Cuban picked West up at a gas station last September after pictures circulated of him panhandling at an intersection in Dallas. Cuban also helped West to reconnect with his mother. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SUNDAY

Mired in a five-game losing streak, the Knicks can’t look to their schedule for any help. Sunday’s matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Celtics begins a stretch of four games in six days for the Knicks, including a pair of back-to-backs with a cross-country flight in between. That makes practice days few and far between, forcing the Knicks to largely figure out their issues on the fly. NY Post

The Raptors knew they were going to get a ton of three-point attempts on Saturday night. The Charlotte Hornets play a lot of zone defence that creates those opportunities. And it was a long two-pointer that was the biggest bucket of the night. Kyle Lowry made a step-back 18-footer with just over 30 seconds to go for the game-winning basket, allowing the Raptors to post a 116-113 win over Charlotte, their second in three nights in Tampa. Toronto Star



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

James Harden made his debut with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night against the Orlando Magic. Harden, who was traded to Brooklyn by the Houston Rockets as a part of a four-team deal earlier this week, started for the Nets in his first on-court action with the team. On Friday, James was ineligible to practice with the Nets because all the players involved in the trade had not passed their physical exams. ESPN.com
Indiana Pacers wing Caris LeVert is out indefinitely after an MRI revealed a small mass on his left kidney, the team announced Saturday. The mass was found during a physical prior to the Pacers finalizing the trade to acquire LeVert. He will undergo further tests. ESPN.com

The number of players in the NBA’s health and safety protocol for the coronavirus grew Friday, as did the number of postponed games. That’s why, according to a report, the NBA is looking to expand current roster limits, with player approval said to be the final hurdle to making it happen. The hope is it makes life easier for teams as coronavirus cases continue to climb. Bulls coach Billy Donovan is all for the extra bodies, although so far it has been easier said than done. “It’s probably a good idea just because you’ve had a postponement of games, and the league is probably looking at ways to prevent that from happening by having enough players,” Donovan said. “But I think the other trick to it, for the players not in the rotation, [is] you’re playing nine or 10 guys, and [then] you’ve [expanded] from 10 to 16 or 17, however many players they want to add. How are you going to keep those guys ready and in shape if something happens? Because on the road, that’s when a lot of the restrictions become much more challenging in terms of what these guys can and can’t do. Chicago Sun-Times

Knicks rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley was so good again Friday, it prompted questions of whether coach Tom Thibodeau will consider making him the starter over Elfrid Payton. Quickley closed the game, a 106-103 loss at Cleveland, and there’s a notion he might as well start at this stage after piling up 23 points in 27 minutes with three assists. He was a plus-11 while Payton finished a minus-14. Quickley now has reeled off two solid outings after a four-game slump He finished with 19 points in Wednesday’s loss to the Nets. NY Post

The NBA season is just shy of reaching the four-week mark and has already had to postpone 13 games due to teams being unable to field the necessary eight players to play a game because of COVID-19. On Friday the league announced that a pair of games between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers scheduled for Sunday and Monday had been called off and later in the day added that Friday’s contest between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies to the growing list of postponements. Deseret News

After losing multiple double-digit leads throughout the game to eventually fall 127-125 in overtime to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday, Chicago Bulls coach Billy Donovan put it bluntly: His young team hasn't figured out how to win yet. "This is a hard-working group. It's a good group of guys. They want to win," Donovan said. "They don't know how to. They are learning how to." With a fourth consecutive loss, the Bulls dropped to 4-8 on the season. Turnovers have become a trend, with 24 against the Thunder. Guard Zach LaVine was sensational in scoring 35 points, hitting 8-of-14 from 3-point range, but he turned it over six times. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY

If only one game was all the Trail Blazers lost Thursday night. As if falling 111-87 to the Indiana Pacers in the second game of a back-to-back wasn’t bad enough, the Trail Blazers also lost Jusuf Nurkic to a broken right wrist suffered in the third quarter of Thursday night’s contest at the Moda Center. “Obviously it’s very disappointing for (Nurkic) and for us,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “He had a long road back from his other injury, he had a rough start of the season, looked like he was getting back on track. Obviously this is a big setback both for him and for us.” NBA.com

Defensively active starter Reggie Bullock has missed the past two games with a sore hip for the Knicks. He’s listed as questionable to return against the Cavaliers, whom the Knicks defeated, 95-86, on Dec. 29. Alec Burks (sprained ankle) is doubtful, while Frank Ntilikina remains out with a sprained right knee. “We’ve got to stay with it,” said forward Julius Randle, who ranked third in the NBA through Wednesday in minutes per game (37.3). “It’s a long season, a lot of games to be played. It’s not at the end of the world after 12 games. Just stick with it, keep working how we’ve been working and things will turn it around.” NY Post

A long streak ended as the Indiana Pacers won in Portland for the first time in 14 years on Thursday. They led by 25 in the first half and withstood a 3-point assault from the Trail Blazers (7-5) to improve 2-1 on this trip at Moda Center, 111-87. Malcolm Brogdon (25 points, 7 assists, 3 steals) opened strong and never wilted. Myles Turner (11 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks), Domantas Sabonis (23 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists), Justin Holiday (11 points) and Edmond Sumner (7 points, 2 steals) did their part as starters, too. Indy Star



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

The Rockets have sent James Harden to the Nets in a blockbuster four-team trade that also involves the Pacers and Cavalier, completing the unhappy star's exit from Houston and setting up a potential superteam in Brooklyn, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne. The Nets sent Houston a package that includes multiple players and draft picks and features guard Caris LeVert, who was then traded to the Pacers for Victor Oladipo, sources told ESPN. ESPN.com

Center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince are headed from the Nets to the Cavs in the deal, sources told ESPN, while the Rockets receive Cleveland guard Dante Exum and Brooklyn forward Rodions Kurucs. ESPN.com

Houston also receives Brooklyn's three unprotected first-round draft picks -- 2022, 2024 and 2026 -- in the deal, plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027, sources told ESPN. The Rockets also get Cleveland's 2022 first-round pick, via the Milwaukee Bucks, and a future second-round pick from the Pacers. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY

The Houston Rockets are planning to keep James Harden away from the team until they can complete a trade involving the disgruntled star, sources tell Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski. Houston's front office is currently weighing the best final trade offers from the Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers, sources tell Shelburne and Wojnarowski. ESPN.com

The Rockets' trade talks with the Nets and Sixers had gathered momentum in recent days -- even before Harden's comments Tuesday night, sources told Shelburne and Wojnarowski. Harden, in what represented the closest he's come to a public trade demand, said after Tuesday's 117-100 loss that he doesn't think the struggling Rockets "can be fixed" and that he has "literally have done everything that I can." ESPN.com

The Brooklyn Nets are willing to give the Rockets anyone on their roster not named Kevin Durant – and that includes Kyrie Irving – plus three first-round picks in a deal for James Harden, according to FS1’s Nick Wright. Would the Rockets even want Kyrie Irving, though? Irving left the team earlier this month due to personal reasons and recently was spotted at a club at what appears to be his sister’s birthday party and likely will have to quarantine. Houston Chronicle

After months of reports that Harden has asked the Rockets to trade him to a contender, the Rockets star came the closest he has yet to publicly confirming that speculation. “I love this city,” Harden said. “I’ve literally done everything that I can. The situation is crazy. It’s something I don’t think can be fixed, so ... yeah ... thanks.” And, with that, Harden got up and walked away from his press conference. Houston Chronicle



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY

The Mavericks had four players who registered positive tests, according to ESPN. Players who test positive have two pathways to return. The first is to pass two PCR tests more than 24 hours apart. The second is to wait 10 days after first exhibiting symptoms, do two days of individual on-court work and then receive clearance from medical officials. There have been four games postponed in the first three weeks of the season. Tuesday’s game between the Bulls and Celtics was also postponed, the NBA announced Monday. New Orleans Times-Picayune

RJ Barrett and Julius Randle lead the NBA as a 1-2 punch in one category. It’s not in scoring but minutes per game. RJ Barrett, after playing 44 in the Knicks’ loss to Oklahoma City on Friday, entered Sunday’s 114-89 loss to Denver averaging 38.8 minutes. Randle was close behind at 37.7. Nothing changed against the Nuggets except coach Tom Thibodeau throwing in the towel in the fourth quarter. But the load is taking a toll on Barrett, who labored through a second straight poor outing — scoring nine points with three turnovers, shooting 4 of 13. NY Post

Randle’s workload has increased partly due to rookie lottery-pick Obi Toppin being out since the season opener with a calf strain. And Randle is holding up well with another efficient 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists Sunday. NY Post



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

On the one hand, the Nets are without Kevin Durant and Tyler Johnson due to NBA-mandated quarantines, even though both players have tested negative for COVID-19. On the other hand, the Nets still played Friday in Memphis, Tenn., even though Seth Curry’s positive COVID-19 test came in right in the middle of a game between his 76ers and the Nets at Barclays Center the night before. Yeah, it’s that kind of season. “There are protocols in place that the CDC helped generate and design,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We have a lot of faith in the league’s diligence, all that they’ve learned through the bubble process to [help] protecting the league and the players." NY Post

Zach LaVine ended the night with 38 points, but outscoring LeBron James doesn’t mean beating him. The four-time world champion scored 28 points, while adding seven rebounds and seven assists. That meant back to the drawing board for the Bulls on the defensive end, even with improvements happening. “Just at the [Friday] shootaround, we had a conversation as a group, you know about what we want to do when guards get all the way downhill or get past the free throw line, having a call for what the guard would do, what the big would do so no one is left wide open,’’ Carter said in a Zoom call from Los Angeles. “I feel like it’s about making adjustments. I feel like Coach is taking the proper steps in making those adjustments, and now it’s just on us to go out there and do what he’s telling us to do.’’ Chicago Sun-Times

“Our defensive drop off in the time coming out of training camp has been very noticeable,” Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I thought we came out of training camp with a real defensive mentality. We still made mistakes. But we came out with a defensive mentality. But over the past four games, we’ve had very little defensive mentality. Very little defensive disposition.” The Pelicans allowed 102.8 points per 100 possessions in their first five games. In their next four, that number has ballooned to 113.5 points per 100 possessions. Van Gundy sounded like he was ready to go back to the drawing board following his team's third-straight loss. The Pelicans gave up points in all sorts of ways. The Hornets hit 16 3s. They got to the free-throw line 25 times. They scored 44 points in the paint. Charlotte rang up 71 points in the second half alone. New Orleans Times-Picayune



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY

Basketball is coming back to Disney World. The NBA G League will play out its 2021 season at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, with games set to begin in February. The G League will follow in the footsteps of the NBA, which resumed its 2019-20 season in July at the Disney campus and eventually crowned a champion in October as the Lakers beat the Heat in the finals. Orlando Sentinel

Philadelphia 76ers guard Seth Curry returned a positive test for the coronavirus, which the team learned of near the start of its 122-109 loss to the Nets in Brooklyn on Thursday night, sources told ESPN. The Sixers are staying overnight in New York and will commence contact tracing Friday morning, sources said. The team will do a new round of testing Friday in accordance with the league's health and safety protocols. ESPN.com

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving missed Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers for “personal reasons,” according to the team. Per Irving’s coach, Hall of Fame guard Steve Nash, the reason behind Irving’s absence is unclear, and Irving did not return Nash’s texts. Boston.com

The Nets didn’t have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving or Spencer Dinwiddie — but they had enough to lead almost wire-to-wire in a 122-109 victory Thursday night over the 76ers, the top team in the Eastern Conference. “Lots of satisfaction,” coach Steve Nash said. “They again — for the second [game] in a row — played incredibly hard, stuck together, stuck to the game plan. We didn’t give up a bunch of offensive rebounds and didn’t turn the ball over. So you add it all up and it was a great performance.” It was an impressive results for the Nets (5-4), especially playing with only 11 healthy players. NY Post

Rookie Jalen Smith is the second Phoenix Suns player to miss a game due to health and safety protocols as he didn't make the three-game road trip that begins Friday in Detroit, team officials confirmed. Arizona Republic

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has spoken with NBA commissioner Adam Silver and is "pretty optimistic" the city is moving toward landing an expansion franchise to replace the SuperSonics. Silver said in a news conference last month that the NBA was dusting off its long-dormant expansion consideration and had put more time into the concept during the current pandemic. He spoke with Durkan shortly thereafter, and the mayor reaffirmed the city's desire to land a team; the SuperSonics relocated and became the Oklahoma City Thunder after the 2007-08 season. ESPN.com

Free-agent forward Taj Gibson is re-signing with the New York Knicks, the team announced Thursday... The Knicks also waived forward Omari Spellman on Thursday. Spellman hasn't appeared in a game this season. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz suffered a left knee injury with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter in yesterday’s game againt the Cleveland Cavaliers. He underwent an MRI and results revealed that Fultz has sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Fultz’s knee gave out as he planted his foot on a drive to the basket against Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro at the 7:35 mark of the opening quarter. Fultz yelled in agony as he fell to the floor, then clutched his knee and pounded the floor with his fist. He was helped off the court and taken to the locker room in a wheelchair.” Inside Hoops

Orlando Magic point guard Markelle Fultz is out for the rest of the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee during the first quarter of Wednesday’s 105-94 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fultz’s knee gave out as he planted his foot on a drive to the basket against Cleveland’s Isaac Okoro at the 7:35 mark of the opening quarter. Orlando Sentinel

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland could miss up to one week with a right shoulder sprain, the team announced. An MRI on Tuesday confirmed the injury after he was held out of Monday night's game against the Orlando Magic. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY

There were a number of factors the Pelicans pointed to after they fumbled away what would’ve been a nice home win. Once again, their late-game offense got stagnant and predictable. They turned the ball over too much. They didn’t stay disciplined defensively throughout the game. The one thing everyone could agree on: With a little less than 20 seconds left in regulation, someone should have called a timeout. “I screwed that up,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “All we had to do was get a timeout when we were struggling with the press. All we had to do was advance the ball up the floor, and we win the game. That one was on me.” New Orleans Times-Picayune

Backup center Nerlens Noel was a late scratch with a sprained ankle. With Obi Toppin and Omari Spellman still out with leg injuries, that meant the Knicks’ big-man depth was tissue thin. And it also meant Julius Randle would have to register a marathon amount of minutes. Again. Randle, already the third-highest in the league in minutes played, logged another 43 minutes in Monday’s win in Atlanta. And he had another scintillating outing — 28 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. He was one assist shy of his second triple-double of the season and is on a healthy pace to be considered an All-Star for the first time after coming to camp in superb shape. NY Post



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

Orlando Magic forward Chuma Okeke is expected to miss several weeks with a bone bruise on his left knee, sources tell ESPN. Okeke missed his entire rookie season with the Magic rehabilitating a torn ACL in the same knee, but this injury has showed no damage to his ligaments, sources said. - ESPN.com

Chicago Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison tested positive for COVID-19, according to coach Billy Donovan. He remains in Washington, D.C., where the Bulls beat the Wizards on Thursday. The Bulls took on the Bucks in Milwaukee on Friday night, losing 126-96. - ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM FRIDAY

The Thunder are not allowing fans into Chesapeake Energy Arena because of the pandemic. Fake crowd noise to celebrate Steven Adams’ return was a fitting way to end 2020. The Pelicans beat the Thunder 113-80 in both teams’ final game of the year. Adams had a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double as New Orleans improved to 3-2. The Pelicans were able to shake off a blowout loss against the Suns two nights earlier by finally finding some offensive rhythm. New Orleans Times Picayune

Eric Bledsoe, who came into the game shooting 36.8% from the field, scored 17 points. He made 7 of 11 shots. In the fourth quarter, he nailed a corner 3 that increased New Orleans’ lead to 20. The rout was on from there. New Orleans won despite Brandon Ingram getting ejected in the third quarter and a quiet outing from Zion Williamson. New Orleans Times Picayune

Jarrett Allen may not be starting for the Nets, but he has been starring for them, rebounding as well as anybody in the entire NBA so far this season. Despite not having starting a single game going into Friday’s matchup against the Hawks, Allen entered Thursday night leading the league in offensive rebounds (22), offensive rebound percentage and total rebound percentage (26.4). “We definitely encouraged rebounding, that’s an Achilles heel for us thus far. But mostly on the defensive end. The offensive end, it’s just, it’s really valuable,” coach Steve Nash said. “We have such so many scoring options that when we get extra possessions it makes us, I think, even more difficult to contend with." NY Post

Fortunately for the Raptors, the Knicks, who have been shooting the ball quite well from distance this season, had their own issues putting the ball in the basket in this game. Were it not for a 2-for-20 start from long range in the first half of this game, the Knicks might have pulled away early and coasted in this game. That they finished 3-for-36 from distance went a long ways to explaining the final score as well. But at the half, the two teams were tied at 42 and both went to the locker room looking for ways to get their respective offences jump started. Toronto Sun

Make that three in a row for Phoenix. The Suns avenged two preseason loses to Utah with a 106-95 win over Utah before a limited crowd of 1,932 fans amid COVID-19 pandemic Thursday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Going back to the bubble, the Suns (4-1) have won 12 of their last 13 games. This 4-1 start is Phoenix's best since the 2009-10 season, which was the last time the Suns made the playoffs. Arizona Republic



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. remains sidelined, and it doesn't seem as if he’ll be back in action soon. Smith flew to Tampa on Thursday to be with the team, but coach Tom Thibodeau said he could be out a while with the quadriceps contusion he suffered in the second game of the season. NY Newsday The Miami Heat, Erik Spoelstra said, didn’t dwell. They simply got back to being themselves. Back in the same building against the same opponent one night after losing by 47 to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Heat this time limited their largest deficit to 14 -- instead of the 51 a night earlier -- and then drew a line in the AmericanAirlines Arena hardwood. So from Tuesday night’s 144-97 torment, the Heat made a quick turnaround to Wednesday night’s 119-108 resounding resurgence. “I think there was a lot of anger and frustration last night, as well there should have been,” Spoelstra said shortly before the rare home-game pairing against the same opponent. “And then today was just about getting to work and preparing and doing what we need to do to have a better version.” - South Florida Sun Sentinel

Kawhi Leonard returned to action for the LA Clippers on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a mouth laceration on Christmas night. - ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY

The Knicks arrived in Cleveland with a pack of injured players. But Julius Randle is healthy — boy, is he ever. In his fourth straight powerful performance, Randle posted a 28-point triple-double. And afterward, he was even happy as a clam on Zoom. The 6-foot-9 southpaw scored 28 points and collected 12 rebounds with his Knicks-high 11 assists as the club won its second straight in taking out the previously unbeaten Cavaliers, 95-86, at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Tuesday. - NY Post

Randle has seemed grumpy and curt on previous Zoom interviews — mostly because he’s felt disrespected by the media who had labeled him a trade chip and a disappointing $60 million investment. Tuesday, he was more like the expansive Randle of last season. “I just tried to take what the defense gave me, make the right plays,’’ Randle said. “My teammates did a good job of being in position when the defense collapsed. Made it easy for me to kick out. When they didn’t collapse I just tried to make sure to get to my spot to score. I got to cut down on my turnovers obviously.’’



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY

Memphis Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant has a Grade 2 left ankle sprain and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks, the team said Tuesday. An MRI on Tuesday revealed the severity of the sprain after initial X-rays on Monday night showed no fracture. ESPN.com

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will miss at least the next three to four weeks with a calf injury. Love, 32, suffered a calf strain in the preseason and aggravated the injury during Sunday's 118-94 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. ESPN.com

The injury bug is unavoidable in Brooklyn. This time, it’s the Nets’ ironman, Spencer Dinwiddie, who will be out extended time after injuring his knee in Sunday night’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Dinwiddie had an MRI on Monday, which confirmed the worst: a partially torn ACL in his right knee with no other structural damage, according to The Athletic. Dinwiddie left the floor in the second quarter after driving and making knee-to-knee contact with Charlotte’s big man Bismack Biyombo. He immediately hit the ground and grabbed his knee before getting up, limping to the sidelines to be evaluated, then limping to the locker room. NY Daily News

Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant left the Barclays Center court area in a wheelchair Monday night after spraining his left ankle in the second quarter of Memphis' 116-111 overtime win over the Brooklyn Nets. X-rays on Morant's ankle revealed no fracture, sources told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, and he is expected to undergo an MRI as soon as Tuesday. ESPN.com

Alex Caruso missed Monday's 115-107 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers because of the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocol, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before the game. Caruso, who played 11 minutes in the Lakers' 127-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, was considered questionable for the Blazers game because of a right hand strain, but Vogel clarified that it wasn't Caruso's hand that was keeping him out of the Portland game. ESPN.com

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has been fined $50,000 for violating the NBA's anti-tampering policy, the league office announced Monday. The fine is in response to a Dec. 20 tweet about Houston Rockets superstar James Harden. The tweet, which was deleted several minutes later, celebrated the one-year anniversary of Harden breaking the Rockets' franchise assist record. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY

The quandary for the Celtics is their roster is full at 17. To add another player, they would have to remove a current player. The question Ainge has to ask himself is whether adding a free agent now would make a significant impact or is it best to allow Stevens to figure out rotations and roles over the next few weeks. There is one particular proven scorer on the market and looking for work and his name is Isaiah Thomas. If offense is the bench’s weakness, it would seem sensible to sign a player who can score. Thomas is unsigned because of years of hip issues that he maintains are finally over after a corrective surgery earlier this year. Boston Globe

Isaiah Thomas has worked out with NBA players and is waiting for a call. At this point, any available NBA player has a considerable weakness. Would you rather the Celtics take a chance on Dion Waiters or J.R. Smith? The available wings on the market aren’t enticing enough to make a roster move. And if you think about it, the Celtics already have defensive-minded, offensively challenged wings coming off the bench — both Williamses and Semi Ojeleye. Boston Globe



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

The Los Angeles Lakers have begun engaging with starting point guard Dennis Schroder in contract extension talks, and those discussions are expected to pick up again as soon as mid-February, sources told ESPN. Before the start of the season, Schroder turned down an initial Lakers offer to extend his contract for an additional two years and $33.4 million, sources said -- an overture that represented the maximum allowable offer the Lakers could make to him prior to Feb. 16. ESPN.com

The Lakers can offer a starting salary of $18.6 million starting with the 2021-22 season, which creates much more of a realistic opportunity for the Lakers, Schroder and his agent, Alex Saratsis, to find a landing spot on a market-value extension with the Lakers. ESPN.com

A bloodied Kawhi Leonard was forced from the LA Clippers' game against the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter Friday night after a collision with a teammate left him needing eight stitches to treat a mouth laceration. Serge Ibaka was going up for a defensive rebound when his elbow collided with Leonard's mouth, sending the Clippers' All-Star forward immediately to the floor. Leonard bled profusely from his mouth as he was treated on the floor before he was helped back to the locker room with 6:07 remaining in the game. ESPN.com

The Houston Rockets are traveling to Portland with nine players -- one more than the minimum required to play an NBA game -- for Saturday's road game against the Trail Blazers. ESPN.com

K.C. Jones, who personified winning as a hard-nosed point guard and then coach of the Boston Celtics during a Hall of Fame career, has died, the Celtics announced Friday. He was 88. K.C. was Jones' given name, although some joked the "C" stood for championships. It was easy to see why. ESPN.com

He played nine seasons in the NBA, all with the Celtics, and won titles in eight of them -- the third most in league history, behind only longtime teammates Bill Russell (11) and Sam Jones (10). That success carried over to his coaching days, when he won three titles (one as an assistant, two as a head coach) during Boston's run of success in the 1980s with Larry Bird & Co. He also won a championship in 1972 as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM THURSDAY

In the aftermath of his violating coronavirus protocols and absorbing a $50,000 fine, the NBA is mandating that Houston Rockets All-Star James Harden quarantine and test negative for four days, which should clear the way for his return Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers, sources told ESPN. The league's medical staff started the clock on a Harden quarantine with Tuesday's negative test and he should receive clearance on Friday, sources said. ESPN.com

Harden was disciplined after video surfaced of him at an indoor gathering in Houston without a mask. He wouldn't have been allowed to play in the Rockets' scheduled game against Oklahoma City on Wednesday, which was eventually postponed because Houston couldn't meet league guidelines with eight eligible players. ESPN.com

It took one day for the NBA to postpone a game due to coronavirus. Wednesday night’s matchup between the Rockets and Thunder in Houston was postponed, the league announced, because the Rockets did not have the necessary eight players available. The Rockets sent multiple players home because of contact tracing after rookie Kenyon Martin Jr. tested positive for the virus Wednesday morning. NY Post

Rajon Rondo and his girlfriend were involved in a parking lot altercation with another woman that culminated with the two-time NBA champion’s partner throwing punches, video obtained by TMZ shows. The altercation reportedly occurred on July 28 in Los Angeles. Toktam Jorshari is suing both Rondo and his girlfriend for assault and battery, infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy — and is seeking $1 million in damages. NY Post



NBA RUMORS FROM WEDNESDAY

A 22-point lead had shrunk to one and the LA Clippers could feel the Los Angeles Lakers coming for them on championship ring night. The Clippers could've felt déjà vu as they were on the verge of blowing another massive lead. But Paul George made sure the Clippers didn't suffer a bubble relapse and yet another epic collapse. A red-hot George buried 10 of 12 shots, including four 3-pointers, and scored 26 of his 33 points in the second half to open the Ty Lue era with a 116-109 victory to dampen the Lakers' celebration at Staples Center on Tuesday night. ESPN.com

"We are not thinking about last year," said Kawhi Leonard, who scored 26 points. "It's a different team. I am just happy that we kept playing basketball the right way pretty much. Even if we lost the game, the lead, we turned around, we stayed positive, we kept playing our basketball pretty much. We ran our offense. And that is what I take pride in tonight, that everyone had each other's back and speaking positive and we kept communicating on the floor and pushed out a win." Leonard also said he thought George's leadership shouldn't be defined by his postseason struggles last season. ESPN.com

LeBron James sat out the final eight minutes of the Los Angeles Lakers' 116-109 opening night loss to the LA Clippers after rolling his left ankle, but afterward insisted he will be clear to play on Christmas Day. "I turned it pretty good, but I don't think it's going to stop me from playing on Friday," James said, looking ahead to the Lakers' matchup with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. "So, have a couple days, you know how I am about treatment, so I'll do that around the clock and I think I should be fine by then." ESPN.com

Ahead of the Nets' season opener against the Warriors, Golden State coach Steve Kerr sat down to watch some film of his former player Kevin Durant. He pulled up Brooklyn's preseason game against Boston and took in Durant's first competitive play since tearing his Achilles in June of 2019. "I didn't know what to expect given that it's been really a year and a half since his last game," Kerr said. "But I could not tell one difference between seeing him 18 months ago and seeing him the other night." Durant has stayed away from making any sweeping edicts, but Kerr got a front-row seat to Durant's dominance on Tuesday as he put up 22 points in a 125-99 victory against his former team. ESPN.com

Kyrie Irving -- who nailed nearly impossibly deep 3-pointers and showcased his flashy, signature ballhandling -- finished with a team-high 26 points. Irving said after the game that he was encouraged by the effort but has larger goals for the season. He said at times in his career, he was caught up "just trying to play 'hero' basketball." This season, he said, he is trying to focus more on collective team goals. ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM TUESDAY

The Sacramento Kings have waived center Chimezie Metu, according to General Manager Monte McNair. Metu appeared in four preseason games with the Kings, averaging 6.0 points (.563 FG%, .333 3pt%, .625 FT%), 2.3 rebounds and 7.4 minutes per game. Inside Hoops

The Orlando Magic yesterday signed guard Markelle Fultz and forward Jonathan Isaac to contract extensions. “We are thrilled to keep both Markelle (Fultz) and Jonathan (Isaac) in a Magic uniform,” said Magic President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman. “They both have a very bright future and they mean a lot to our organization, both on and off the court.” Inside Hoops

The San Antonio Spurs yesterday signed guard Derrick White to a contract extension. Per multiple reports, White’s extension is a four-year deal worth $73 million. White posted averages of 11.3 points, 3.5 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 24.7 minutes last season while ranking second among all NBA guards in total blocks (59), as well as second in the league in charges drawn (30). Inside Hoops



NBA RUMORS FROM MONDAY

The Clippers and guard Luke Kennard have agreed to a four-year contract extension worth up to $64 million, according to a person with knowledge of the deal not authorized to speak publicly. The deal includes $56 million guaranteed, along with $8 million in bonuses, and was reached before Monday’s deadline for extensions to be signed, which comes one day before the team’s season opener against the Lakers. It will keep Kennard, 24, from becoming a restricted free agent next summer. LA Times

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in an interview with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith on Monday that the league will never "jump the line in any form whatsoever" when it comes to its players receiving COVID-19 vaccines and that the league plans to work with the government on public service campaigns to promote the importance of taking a vaccine. "There's no way we'd ever jump the line in any form whatsoever," Silver said. "And, for the most part, because our players are so young and healthy without some sort of comorbidity, they will not be a high priority for vaccinations. There are some other members of the NBA community working on court who are older and will have a higher priority to get the vaccine. "We will very likely be part of some public service campaigns, we already talked to the CDC and other federal agencies about that, encouraging people to get vaccinated when it is appropriate. But up until then, we will just be watching and waiting." ESPN.com



NBA RUMORS FROM SATURDAY

The Los Angeles Lakers will repeat as NBA champions, according to a survey of NBA general managers. That prediction was one of many takeaways from NBA.com's annual survey of all 30 front offices before the start of the new season. The survey featured 33 questions, ranging from what player would they choose to begin a franchise with to the best player at each position to who will win this year's Most Valuable Player award. ESPN.com

Eighty-one percent of respondents said the Lakers would repeat in 2021, with the only other team to receive multiple votes being the rival LA Clippers, who got 11% of the vote. The only other teams selected were the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, fresh off signing a five-year supermax extension to stay with the Bucks, was picked to win a third straight league MVP award -- something that hasn't been done since Larry Bird pulled it off from 1984 to 1986. ESPN.com

Free-agent guard Jeremy Lin is expected to sign a deal to play with the Golden State Warriors' G League team, a source told The Undefeated. Lin averaged 11.6 points and 4.3 assists in 480 games in the NBA from 2010 to 2019. ESPN.com

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving says he plans to burn sage before every game this season to honor his Native American heritage. Irving was seen burning sage -- which is known as "smudging'' -- on the court at TD Garden during warm-ups before his Nets beat the Boston Celtics 113-89 on Friday night in the NBA preseason finale for both teams. ESPN.com

Months before he agreed to purchase the Utah Jazz for $1.66 billion, Ryan Smith, who was formally approved as owner by the NBA's board of governors Friday, said he was "really close" to making a bid to buy the Minnesota Timberwolves. Smith, who made his fortune as the co-founder of the Utah-based tech firm Qualtrics, had several detailed discussions with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor last winter. Smith was seriously considering taking the next step until his wife, Ashley, voiced her objection. ESPN.com


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