HOOP HANGOUT • NBA GAMEDAY POST • February 1st 2019

Kyrie Irving scores 23, leads Celtics past Knicks 113-99

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving had 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists before a Madison Square Garden crowd eager to start the free agent wooing five months early, and the Boston Celtics beat New York 113-99 on Friday night in the Knicks’ first game since trading Kristaps Porzingis.

The trade to Dallas gave the Knicks money to chase two top free agents this summer and fans showed Irving that they want him to be one of them, cheering him before and during his return from a two-game absence with a hip injury.

Marcus Morris added 18 points for the Celtics, who won for the eighth time in nine games.

Damyean Dotson scored 22 points and Kevin Knox had 21 for the Knicks, who dropped their 12th straight.

Irving is one of the headline names in the 2019 free agent class, and though he said at a Celtics fan event last fall that he intended to re-sign in Boston, that may be no guarantee. He told reporters at the morning shootaround to “Ask me July 1” if his plans had changed.

Irving got a loud ovation when starting lineups were announced and again when he touched the ball early in the game. A brief “We want Kyrie! We want Kyrie!” chant echoed through the arena in the third quarter.

HORNETS 100, GRIZZLIES 92

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kemba Walker scored 23 points, Marvin Williams hit two key 3-pointers and Bismack Biyombo swatted away a pair of late shots, leading Charlotte past depleted Memphis.

Memphis suited up just 10 healthy players and was minus star Mike Conley, out because of soreness in his left knee. Starters Kyle Anderson and Jaren Jackson Jr. also were sidelined.

Williams’ 26-foot shot with 2:55 left tied it, and his deep jumper 38 seconds later gave the Hornets the lead for good at 93-90. Williams finished with 16 points.

Malik Monk scored 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter. The Hornets were shooting just 36.8 percent from 3-point distance through the third quarter.

Biyombo had just one point but he blocked JaMychal Green‘s dunk attempt with 1:48 to go and swatted away a layup attempt by Shelvin Mack 20 seconds later. He finished with seven rebounds and three blocks.

Mack led Memphis with 19 points and nine assists and Justin Holiday and Ivan Rabb added 15 points each for the Grizzlies.

THUNDER 118, HEAT 102

MIAMI — Paul George scored 43 points and had a career-high 10 3-pointers, Dennis Schroder scored 24 of his 28 points in the second quarter and Oklahoma City extended the NBA’s longest current winning streak to seven games by beating Miami.

Russell Westbrook got his fifth straight triple-double and 18th of the season, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists. Steven Adams added 13 for the Thunder.

Oklahoma City beat Miami for the sixth straight time, and became the second team to have two separate winning streaks of at least seven games this season. Golden State is the other, with streaks of 11 and eight games.

Kelly Olynyk scored 21 for Miami, which fell to the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference. Josh Richardson scored 18 and Hassan Whiteside finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Heat.

JAZZ 128, HAWKS 112

SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert had 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead Utah over Atlanta.

Ricky Rubio added 22 points and 11 assists, and Joe Ingles chipped in 19 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Seven Utah players scored in double figures as the Jazz won their third straight at home.

Trae Young had 28 points and nine assists to lead the Hawks. John Collins scored 19 points, Dewayne Dedmon added 15 and Kevin Huerter finished with 14. Atlanta lost for the third time in four games.

Kyrie Irving walks back on long-term Celtics commitment: ‘Ask me July 1’

Is Kyrie Irving still committed to the Boston Celtics or not? ‘Ask me July 1’

Ben Rohrbach • Yahoo Sports

Surprise, surprise, nobody can get a read on Kyrie Irving.

After declaring to thousands of season ticket-holders at TD Garden prior to the season, “If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year,” the Boston Celtics point guard walked that commitment back a little on Friday. When asked in New York whether he still plans to stay in Boston as a free agent this summer, Irving said, “Ask me July 1.” The 26-year-old said a lot of other stuff, too:

“At the end of the day, I’m going to do what I feel is best for my career.”

“Obviously Boston’s still at the head of that race.”

I don’t owe anybody s—.

So, that’s not, like, the greatest endorsement that Irving is steadfast in his commitment to Boston.

There are several ways to read this. There have been many recent reports about a growing belief around the league that Irving is wavering on his decision to re-sign with the Celtics, and Friday’s shootaround press conference at Madison Square Garden would certainly lend credence to that.

It is also concerning that Irving’s indecision came moments before The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Anthony Davis doesn’t consider the Celtics a longterm option and a day after the New York Knicks — his hometown team and one of few he included on a list of preferred destinations prior to joining Boston — cleared double-maximum cap space by trading Kristaps Porzingis. Irving’s close relationships with USA Basketball teammates Davis and (fellow 2019 free agent) Kevin Durant, as well as the fact Irving met with the media in New York prior to playing the Knicks, only adds to the drama.

On the other hand, Irving did say in September that he merely planned to re-sign with the Celtics in July, and plans change. He also said on Friday that Boston remains the leading contender for his services, so maybe the plan hasn’t changed. As The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reported on Thursday, Irving has given the Celtics no indication that he has changed course on his commitment.

“I talk to Kyrie on a daily basis and see him all the time,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge told Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday. “None of this stuff that’s out in the media this week that people have brought to my attention really matters to me. Just, we need to sell our team, our players. We need to sell free agents-to-be that are out there, potential free agents, our own players that this is a place they want to be on a regular basis.

“Of course we want to keep Kyrie and, you know, time will tell.”

That’s not a ringing endorsement, either, but maybe this is what it always was. Until Irving signs an extension, the Celtics have to sell him on the organization, and this season has been a rocky one. They also just showed they can compete with the Golden State Warriors, so the sales pitch is solid. It might be better with Davis in tow this summer, but the Celtics remain one of the NBA’s few contenders.

All that said, if Irving wanted to keep his options open for the summer, he probably shouldn’t have shot this Nike commercial suggesting he wants his No. 11 retired in the TD Garden rafters one day:

Maybe keeping some suspense about his free agency is good for his brand.

Maybe it’s best to have some leverage entering into negotiations on a longterm contract.

Maybe it’s best to have some leverage entering into negotiations on a longterm contract.

Maybe he’s frustrated by everyone else trying to tell him whether he’s wavering or not:

And maybe we’re all better off trying not to figure out what the heck Kyrie Irving is thinking.

https://sports.yahoo.com/kyrie-irving-still-committed-boston-celtics-not-ask-july-1-174444879.html

After KP trade, what is the Knicks’ plan? N.Y. now has enough cap space for two max free agents this summer

A New York Knicks free agency primer after the bombshell Kristaps Porzingis trade

Ben Rohrbach • Yahoo Sports

With the absolutely wild news that the New York Knicks had dealt Kristaps Porzingiswithin hours of the All-Star big man leaving a meeting with management wanting a trade, the biggest-market team in the NBA has created enough cap space for two maximum-salaried free agents this coming summer.

The dream, for the Knicks, is mostly likely luring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving away from the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, respectively. The joke, for everyone familiar with the Knicks, is that they will end up spending north of $60 million on borderline stars like Tobias Harris and Eric Bledsoe.

The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but as odd as it is to see them trade the face of the franchise (Porzingis) for the guy they could have drafted instead of Frank Ntilikina (Dennis Smith Jr.), the Knicks just put a scare into the NBA, and they could be armed with the No. 1 pick in June to boot.

Here are the four guys they will be chasing hardest this summer:

Kevin Durant has called USA Basketball teammate Kyrie Irving one of his best friends.

Kevin Durant

It is no secret that Durant’s agent, Rich Kleiman, is a Knicks fan. It’s also no secret that Durant’s unwillingness to sign beyond this season with the Warriors has raised concern within the organization. Mix one with the other, sprinkle in the possibility that Durant sees restoring the Knicks to glory as the greatest possible achievement left in his career, and you can connect the Durant dots to Manhattan.

Kyrie Irving

Irving grew up in New Jersey. He reportedly listed the Knicks among his desired trade destinations upon asking out of Cleveland, and it has long been rumored that he wants to play there one day. He publicly informed the Celtics that he would re-sign with them this summer, and they have no reason to believe he’s changed his mind, but speculation outside Boston runs to the contrary. Durant has also called Irving “one of my best friends,” which would make me pretty nervous if I were Danny Ainge.

Kawhi Leonard

Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, lives in New Jersey and wields heavy influence over the Toronto Raptors star. Leonard spent much of his rehab away from the San Antonio Spurs in New York, and his former team reportedly feared that Uncle Dennis was trying to steer his nephew to the Big Apple.

Jan 8, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jimmy Butler (23) controls the ball against the Washington Wizards during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler

Butler also included the Knicks among his short list of preferred destinations before he landed on the Philadelphia 76ers. Chemistry with new teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons has proved only slightly better than chemistry with former teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. There was also a preseason report that former USA Basketball teammates Butler and Irving “are still trying to figure out a way to play together.” Irving shot that down, but hey — he’s also said the Earth is flat.

***

Klay Thompson is also among the biggest-name free agents this summer, but he has repeatedly said he wants to return to the Warriors. Even if he were to leave, the Los Angeles Lakers are likely runners-up for his services, considering his father has been affiliated with the organization for decades.

There is a pretty significant drop-off from there in 2019 free agency. The list includes a fresh-off-an-Achilles-injury DeMarcus Cousins, a 33-year-old Al Horford and face-of-a-perennially-average-franchise Kemba Walker. (Walker, for the record, is from The Bronx and a prime Knicks candidate.)

Then, you start getting into the list of guys like Harris, Bledsoe and Khris Middleton — all borderline All-Stars who would be good secondary or tertiary options behind one of the aforementioned stars.

Still, the Knicks have options, and that’s something they couldn’t say yesterday. It’s a start.

https://sports.yahoo.com/new-york-knicks-free-agency-primer-bombshell-kristaps-porzingis-trade-215431798.html

2019 NBA All-Star reserves announced

Jason Owens • Yahoo Sports

The NBA announced on Thursday the reserve players selected for next month’s All-Star game.

Where the starters announced last week were selected via a combination of fan, player and media vote, coaches filled out the rosters with the pool of reserves who will join either Team LeBron or Team Giannis in Charlotte for the All-Star game.

Eastern Conference

Backcourt
Ben SimmonsPhiladelphia 76ers
Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Victor OladipoIndiana Pacers (will not play due to injury)
Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

Frontcourt
Blake GriffinDetroit Pistons
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic

One more player will need to be selected to replace Oladipo, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Brooklyn Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and Philadelphia 76ers forward Jimmy Butler are likely candidates to take his spot.

Western Conference

Backcourt
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Frontcourt
Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs

Davis is dealing with a finger injury. His status for the All-Star game is not yet known.

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will serve as team captains by virtue of receiving the most fan votes and will select their teams on Feb. 7 from the pool of starters and reserves.

Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker join Antetokounmpo as starters out of the East.

Paul George, Kevin Durant, James Harden and Stephen Curry join James as starters out of the West.

After last year’s selection process between James and Stephen Curry was done in secret in the first year of this format, James and Antetokounmpo’s draft will be televised next Thursday on TNT at 7 p.m. EST.

Original article : https://sports.yahoo.com/nba-star-reserves-announced-anthony-davis-nikola-jokic-lead-way-001209941.html