Ja Morant is the most entertaining player in the NBA.
As if we needed more evidence on top of the mountain of highlights Morant has amassed, I present an early Dunk of the Year candidate — Morant switching hands midair for the throwdown against the Pelicans.
The hand switch into the dunk is ridiculous, Ja.
He has 31 PTS heading into Q4 on TNT 👀 pic.twitter.com/rjMAyzwvNX
— NBA (@NBA) November 16, 2022
Morant finished with 36 points but it wasn’t enough against the Zion-less Pelicans (out with a right foot contusion), who had a 30-point, nine-assist night from CJ McCollum plus 19 each from Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance Jr.
Chris Ford, a member of the Boston Celtics 1981 championship team, a longtime NBA coach and the player credited with scoring the league’s first 3-point basket, has died, his family announced in a statement. He was 74.
The family revealed the death through the Celtics on Wednesday. No official cause was given, but the statement said Ford passed away on Tuesday. The Press of Atlantic City reported he died in Philadelphia having suffered a heart attack earlier in the month.
“Chris was beloved by his family, friends, and teammates. He had a great love for his family, the city of Boston, the fans, and the entire Celtics family,” the family statement said. “He always showed humility and respect for all those that were fortunate enough to be a part of his life.”
Ford was voted the team’s MVP in his first season with Boston. He retired following the 1981-82 season and was an assistant coach for the Celtics for seven seasons from 1983 to 1990, helping coach former teammates Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to two titles in 1984 and 1986 while serving under coach K.C. Jones.
He is one of four former Celtics to have won championships as both a player and coach, joining Bill Russell, Tom Heinsohn and Jones.
“As a player and coach, Chris Ford’s career spanned over a decade of Celtics basketball, and he made his mark every step of the way,” the Celtics said in a statement. “`Doc,’ as he was affectionately known by his teammates, was a fundamentally versatile all-around guard. . The Boston Celtics sends their deepest sympathies to the Ford family and their many friends.”
Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Ford was drafted out of Villanova by the Detroit Pistons in 1972. He spent six seasons there before being traded to the Celtics. He averaged a career-high 15.6 points and 4.7 assists per game his first season in Boston in 1978-79. He opened the following season on Oct. 12, 1979, by sinking the first 3-point shot in NBA history in the first quarter of Boston’s win over the Houston Rockets.
Ford succeeded Jimmy Rodgers as Celtics coach and led the team for five seasons from 1990-91 through 1994-95.
He compiled a 222-188 record with four playoff appearances as Boston’s head coach, but his teams never advanced beyond the conference finals.
Ford also had a pair of two-year head coaching stints with the Milwaukee Bucks (1996-98) and Los Angeles Clippers (1998-2000). He began the 2003-04 season as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers and coached the final 30 games that season after Randy Ayers was fired.
At least Tom Thibodeau has been consistent — he has not been a fan of Cam Reddish since the day Leon Rose and the front office sent out a first-round pick to get him in just more than a year ago.
Now the Knicks are looking to move Reddish out at the trade deadline and the Mavericks, Bucks, and Lakers are among the interested, according to a report from Marc Stein.
The Knicks have redoubled their efforts to find a new home for Reddish with essentially three weeks to go until the deadline, sources tell The Stein Line, with the Dallas Mavericks having joined the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers on the list of known potential trade partners…
Despite the price it paid to bring Reddish in, league sources say New York is seeking only second-round draft compensation now to move Reddish on in addition to the contracts required for salary-cap-matching purposes. Reddish’s salary this season is nearly $6 million.
The asking price for Reddish is small, it will come down to the quality of the pick and the player coming back to NYC. The Lakers can offer Kendrick Nunn and a second-round pick, which might sound better to New York than JaVale McGee and a future Mavericks second-rounder. The Knicks want Reggie Bullock and a second from Dallas but the Mavs like Bullock too much to throw him in that deal.
Reddish is a 6’8″ wing who has good athleticism, can finish around the rim and do a little playmaking, but he has not stood out at anything in his four NBA seasons. Thibodeau hasn’t put him in a game since Dec. 3 (not exactly showcasing a guy for a trade).
This sounds like a trade that gets done in the next three weeks, although the Knicks may drag the process out to see if they can get a slightly better deal.
Jakob Poeltl is the kind of quality rotation center that can help a team. For example, plug him in with the Celtics and he gives them a solid option for the nights Robert Williams III could miss, plus he helps keep the minutes down for Al Horford. He would make the best team in the NBA this season better.
Two first-round picks better?
That’s the question facing teams interested in the Spurs’ Poeltl, according to reports out of The Athletic. Ideally the Spurs want to keep Poeltl, but he wants to compete in the playoffs and the Spurs are rebuilding, so the fit is not there, Shams Charania reports.
Spurs center Jakob Poeltl has gained significant trade interest from teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics, according to league sources… San Antonio will be able to offer more to Poeltl in the offseason and is slated to have in excess of $50 million in salary-cap space. Rival executives believe Poeltl will approach the $20 million per year range in a new deal during the offseason. There’s no question the Spurs will hold a high price threshold for any deal involving Poeltl.
That price, according to Jared Weiss, is two first-round picks.
The sticking point has been, as always, price. San Antonio has made it known to interested parties throughout the league the Spurs want two first-round picks for Poeltl, according to team and league sources, which was the same stance they took on Derrick White last season. The Celtics were able to acquire White for what ended up being the 25th pick in the most recent draft and a first-overall protected pick swap in 2028.
It seems a longshot the Spurs would get two first-round picks for a free agent to be. A first and a pick-swap, maybe. A first and a second, now that’s more likely, so long as that team believes it can re-sign Poeltl (likely for the three-year, $70 million range).
Poeltl is averaging 12.3 points a game on 63.4% shooting, plus he is pulling down 9.3 rebounds a game and is playing decent defense. He should be more than a backup in the NBA, but would he accept a smaller role to win (as long as he got paid)? The Celtics may find out. Or, maybe Poeltl is the first step in a roster shift coming to Toronto.
Or, maybe the Clippers or another team a little off the radar steps in and makes a move. Whatever it may be, there will be a lot of Poeltl rumors for the next three weeks.
Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.
1) NBA trade rumors roundup as deadline nears
We are just 22 days away from the NBA trade deadline of Feb. 9, and talks are warming up… kind of. It seemed time for a roundup of the latest trade rumors and discussions around the league. This is not a comprehensive list but a snapshot of where some big names stand.
• The temperature of talks around the league are warming up, but everything is still on simmer so far and this is looking like another quiet trade deadline. Blame the play-in tournament that has more teams looking to hold on to stars. Because there are not a lot of sellers on the market, the few there are can keep their prices high, cooling down the market. Don’t expect many moves; the best players traded may be John Collins and Bojan Bogdanovic.
• Speaking of Collins, the Jazz are the team going hardest to land him, reports Marc Stein. With Utah having slid to 23-24 on the season and eighth in the West some teams thought they would be sellers at the deadline, but instead they are looking to pair Collins with Lauri Markkanen (there seems a lot of overlap of positions there, but the Jazz are looking). The Wizards, Nets, and Pacers also have interest in Collins.
• One three-team trade involving Collins would send Malik Beasley from Utah to Cleveland, while the Jazz would acquire John Collins, and the Hawks would get Caris LeVert and another player or pick. The draft compensation moving around in that deal appears to be the hold-up.
• The Jazz may be sellers on one front: They are discussing Mike Conley trades, with the Clippers being one of the more aggressive suitors (Los Angeles is open to sending out John Wall in any trade). The Clippers seek help at the point, more size on the wings, and a backup big at the deadline.
• The Timberwolves also have interest in Conley and are checking the trade market for their own point guard, D’Angelo Russell, after the two sides couldn’t reach a deal on an extension.
• The Heat have interest in Russell as an upgrade for them at the point, but the Timberwolves have no interest in a Kyle Lowry for Russell swap (it would put them next season right back to having to extend or trade a point guard they don’t see as part of the long term with the team). It’s tough to make the trade work without Lowry, unless the Timberwolves suddenly want Duncan Robinson (they don’t).
• Fred VanVleet is having a down season in Toronto (18.2 points per game on 37.6% shooting overall), leading other teams to call. However, the Raptors seem more interested in working out an extension after the season than looking for a trade.
• The Raptor most likely to be traded is wing Gary Trent Jr., however, the wing that other teams hopes becomes available is OG Anunoby. However, he is a favorite of the Toronto front office, and it will take multiple first-round picks to get them to consider a move.
• Bojan Bogdanovic trade rumors are everywhere, but the Pistons are keeping the price high and want an unprotected first-round pick in any trade to move him. The Lakers are the most mentioned suitor — and he would fit their needs on the court next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis — but have not been willing to give up a first-round pick in other trades. The Bucks, Pelicans, Cavaliers and Mavericks are also interested in Bogdanovic.
• Jakob Poeltl is absolutely available from the Spurs (they’d ideally keep him around, but he’s a free agent at the end of the season and likely walks), but (as Jared Weiss confirmed today at The Athletic) the asking price is two first-round picks. I doubt any team is willing to meet that, but what about a first and a high second (or a young player the Spurs like)? Will the Spurs drop that price? The Celtics, Raptors and Clippers are among the teams interested.
• Jae Crowder is still out there waiting for the Suns to trade him. The Heat get mentioned but that deal is a longshot, and his trade value drops as the season gets shorter. Crowder reportedly is looking for his new team — whoever it might be — to give him an extension in the ballpark of the three-year, $33 million deal P.J. Tucker got from Philadelphia.
• One seller at the deadline is the Charlotte Hornets, who are open to moving nearly anyone not named LaMelo: Terry Rozier has drawn considerable interest, but also available are Mason Plumlee, Jalen McDaniels and Kelly Oubre Jr.
Damian Lillard had himself another big night in an impressive bounce-back season for the Portland icon, scoring 44 against the Nuggets.
44 points and 8 dimes for @Dame_Lillard tonight.
He’s got 40+ in 3 of his last 4 games. pic.twitter.com/3cvJnEUC2B
— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2023
It just wasn’t enough. Nikola Jokic, finished with 36 points on 13-of-14 shooting plus 12 rebounds and 10 assists to spark a Nuggets win, 122-113.
Just another unreal night for Nikola Jokic.
9-10 FTM@nuggets W pic.twitter.com/unmXEyDUuZ
— NBA (@NBA) January 18, 2023
The Nuggets have won seven in a row overall, 14 in a row at home, and at 31-13 lead the West.
A local artist in Dallas spoke to the mood of Mavericks fans (and maybe Luka Doncic himself, although he would never say so publicly) by painting this mural.
A post shared by The House of Pannek (@thehouseofpannek)
Mark Cuban was not a fan of this artwork and called it “disrespectful.” Not long after, Doncic called the artist himself, and now the mural is painted over with this message.
A post shared by The House of Pannek (@thehouseofpannek)
I get the change, but that first message was pretty on the mark.
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