Houston Rockets center Clint Capela had surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb Thursday and is expected to miss four to six weeks, general manager Daryl Morey said Thursday
Capela suffered the injury while getting hit on a lob play during Sunday night’s loss to Orlando. He underwent an MRI in Houston on Monday.
After signing a five-year, $80 million contract extension this summer, Capela has career-high averages of 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds to go with 1.8 blocks a game this season.
Sources previously told ESPN that Capela was expected to miss four to six weeks and that the Rockets expect him to miss the remaining 15 games before the All-Star break, with a potential return for the Feb. 21 road game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Rockets plan to immediately insert Faried into the lineup as a stopgap big man to help replace some of the defense and rebounding lost with starting center Clint Capela, who is expected to be out several weeks following surgery on his right thumb.
Faried will be released Saturday, sources said, with his $13.7 million salary expected to clear waivers on Monday.
The Rockets are aggressively working to find a trade for the exiled Carmelo Anthony before Monday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline to clear a roster spot for Faried, league sources said. The Rockets will need to trade a player to a team with an open roster spot, or waive a player, before signing Faried. The team has no intention of waiving Anthony, league sources told ESPN. It is possible for Houston to hold off on signing Faried to find a way to create the roster spot, but there’s a need to get him into the team’s depleted frontcourt as soon as Monday night against the 76ers.
The cleanest solution to the Rockets clearing a roster spot without a trade is releasing James Nunnally five days early from his 10-day contract. The contract signed on Jan. 16 is set to expire Jan. 25. Nunnally would not need to be waived.
The Detroit Pistons are trying to do something nice for government employees affected by the shutdown. The team announced it will give government employees two free upper-level tickets to Saturday’s game. All those employees have to do is present their government ID at the Little Caesar’s Arena box office.
Fans who take the Pistons up on that offer will see the team face the Sacramento Kings.
The Pistons are far from the only sports team to offer free tickets to government employees. A number of teams in the D.C. area have made similar offers.
The United States government has been shut down since Dec. 22. At 29 days, it’s the longest government shutdown in the country’s history. A number of government employees have not received pay during the shutdown.
Any Pistons fan who decides to redeem those tickets should at least be in for a competitive game. At 20-24, the Pistons are ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Kings, 23-22, sit 10th in the Western Conference.
Davis suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 128-112 loss to Portland. He had his fingers taped together and played briefly before exiting with 1:18 left to play. He finished with 27 points and seven rebounds.
Davis had an X-ray after the game, a team official told reporters.
For the season, Davis, a five-time All-Star selection, is averaging 29.3 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game — all above his career averages. He has missed five games due to injury and illness this season.
The Pelicans have lost three of four to drop to 21-15, four games behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference entering Saturday’s games.
New Orleans next faces Memphis on Monday night to conclude a five-game road trip. The Pelicans have four games next week and a total of seven during the two weeks that Davis could miss.
Making his much-anticipated return to the basketball court nearly a year after tearing his left Achilles tendon, Cousins impressed with 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three 3-pointers before fouling out in 15 minutes in the Golden State Warriors‘ 112-94 rout of the LA Clippers at Staples Center.
“Felt like a kid on Christmas,” Cousins said. “It’s been a long journey. This is probably one of the best days of my life.”
Welp, DeMarcus Cousins is back and the Golden State Warriors have reached their final form.
For the first time since 1976, five reigning All-Stars took the floor wearing the same uniform on Friday, a sight the NBA has awaited — and feared — since it was reported that Cousins would spend this season in Golden State trying to re-establish his value after an Achilles tear and create one of the most star-studded lineups in NBA history in the process.
Cousins predictably didn’t see major minutes during his debut, an emphatic 112-94 win, but he at least showed enough to let everyone know he is still DeMarcus Cousins. That’s probably bad news for the rest of the NBA.
DeMarcus Cousins throws it down in early minutes of Warriors debut
Cousins got the start on Friday alongside Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, but was the first starter to come out, which isn’t surprising considering the big man likely still has some recovering to do from what is generally considered one of the most feared injuries in basketball.
Cousins got his chance to introduce the Warriors’ new look early during the team’s game against the Clippers, taking an easy feed from Kevin Durant and slamming it home for the Warriors’ first points of the night.
As he came down, the big man unleashed a primal roar, likely feeling the catharsis of a year-long rehab process finally coming to and end.
The Warriors were clearly focused on getting Cousins his first points early, feeding him whenever they got the chance during their first three possessions before sitting him after three minutes of play.
How DeMarcus Cousins fared for the rest of the game
Cousins’ first quarter was more of a featured cameo, but he was on the floor again to open each of the remaining three quarters and saw increased action in all of them. He quickly showed even more of what he has to bring to the Warriors, for better or worse.
The 28-year-old showed his shooting touch — something his team clearly needed more of— with a three-pointer to open the Warriors’ scoring for the second quarter, but was also exploited defensively to the point that he fouled out early in the fourth quarter. As he left the game with six fouls, he received a strong ovation.
Cousins finished with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting (3-of-4 from deep), six rebounds and three assists. That’s a strong line for your first game back from a devastating injury, but Cousins addressed some shortcomings in a halftime interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.
“Felt good, it just feels good to be back on the floor,” Cousins said in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Not playing the right type of basketball right now, but outside of that, I’m having a blast.”
Cousins, who seemed winded at times while playing, is clearly not 100 percent yet, but he obviously doesn’t need to be to have the entire league buzzing.
Cousins fouls out of Warriors debut in win over Clippers
LOS ANGELES — Stephen Curry scored 28 points, DeMarcus Cousins added 14 before fouling out of his Warriors debut after being sidelined for nearly a year, and Golden State pulled away in the third quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-94 on Friday night for its seventh straight victory and sixth in a row on the road.
The Warriors shot just 9 of 37 on 3-pointers on a night when Curry made only three from long range. Fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
Cousins went 5 for 11 from the floor and finished with six rebounds and three assists during his first game since Jan. 26, 2018, when he ruptured his left Achilles tendon playing for New Orleans. He missed the rest of last season, including nine playoff games for the Pelicans. The Warriors signed him last July.
With Cousins finally in the lineup, Golden State became the first team in 42 years to start five All-Stars from the previous season.
Kevin Durant had 24 points for the Warriors. Tobias Harris led the short-handed Clippers with 28 in their season-worst fifth consecutive loss.
NETS 117, MAGIC 115
ORLANDO, Fla. — D’Angelo Russell matched his career high with 40 points and Brooklyn overcame a 21-point deficit to beat Orlando.
Russell’s 3-pointer with 27.1 seconds left put the Nets up for the first time since they led 2-0. After missed free throws by both teams left Brooklyn with a two-point lead, Evan Fournier missed a shot in the lane that would have tied it for Orlando.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half for Brooklyn. The Nets won for the 16th time in 21 games, making 19 of 46 3-pointers. They also rallied Wednesday night in a 145-142 overtime victory at Houston.
Aaron Gordon scored 23 points for Orlando, and Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 17 rebounds.
SPURS 116, TIMBERWOLVES 113
MINNEAPOLIS — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points, Rudy Gay added 22 and San Antonio held on to beat Minnesota to give coach Gregg Popovich another milestone victory.
The win was the 520th on the road in Popovich’s career, tying him with Pat Riley for the most in NBA history. The Spurs have won 16 of the past 18 games between the teams.
San Antonio scoring leader DeMar DeRozan sat out because of left ankle soreness.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points for Minnesota, but was limited to 21 minutes because of foul trouble. Derrick Rose also had 23 points.
CELTICS 122, GRIZZLIES 116
BOSTON — Kyrie Irving scored 20 of his 38 points in the third quarter and Boston held off Memphis.
Irving also had 11 assists and seven rebounds to help Boston win ints second straight after dropping three in a row. Marcus Smart added 20 points and Al Horford had 18
Mike Conley led the Grizzlies with 26 points. They have lost 10 of 11 overall, and six in a row on the road.
TRAIL BLAZERS 128, PELICANS 112
PORTLAND, Ore. — Damian Lillard had 22 points and eight assists to lead Portland over New Orleans.
CJ McCollum and reserve forward Jake Layman scored 20 points each for the Trail Blazers. Layman got all his points in the second quarter.
Anthony Davis finished with 27 points and seven rebounds for the Pelicans. Jrue Holiday had 20 points and Julius Randle added 19.
JAZZ 115, CAVALIERS 99
SALT LAKE CITY — Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points, Rudy Gobert had 19 points and 15 rebounds and Utah routed Cleveland for its sixth straight victory and eighth in nine games.
Royce O’Neale added 16 points and 11 rebounds. Ante Zizic and Collin Sexton each scored 15 points, and Cameron Payne had 14 for the Cavaliers.
PISTONS 98, HEAT 93
DETROIT — Blake Griffin had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Detroit Pistons overcame an early exit by injured Andre Drummond to beat Miami.
Dwyane Wade scored 20 points for the Heat, but missed
San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is typically obtuse with the media, so it can be often hard to interpret his true intentions. But with the legendary coach in the final year of his contract, his future with the franchise has come up.
Despite massive changes to the team’s typically steady roster, Popovich has the Spurs effectively tied for the No. 5 seed in the West after winning seven of their last 10 games.
The Spurs are eager to keep their head coach of 23 years around, as team president R.C. Buford told the New York Times’ Marc Stein: “He’ll coach as long as he wants to coach.” The question then becomes what Popovich’s plans for next season are.
No one doubts that Popovich will coach for the Spurs if he returns for the 2019-20 season, but with him turning 70 at the end of the month, there is a question about how much longer Popovich wants to remain on the bench.
Before Popovich, only Bill Bertka, Hubie Brown and Larry Brown coached into their 70s in the NBA, and none of them coached beyond 71. However, Popovich is by far the most accomplished of that group with five championships and a career .686 winning percentage. The only year his team hasn’t had a winning record was in his first season in 1996-97, when he took over midway after firing Bob Hill as head coach.
Although Popovich has not committed to returning to the Spurs, he has committed to coaching Team USA at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Those two summer jobs would not interfere with his ability to coach in the NBA, but they do show that he’s not done yet.
While the rest of the league zigs to high-speed offenses heavy on three-pointers, the Spurs are zagging to mid-range jumpers. No team shoots a higher percentage of shots from inside the arc (72.2 percent), and San Antonio is still able to find success.
Time will tell whether Pop returns for a 24th season, but his advanced age doesn’t seem to be slowing him down. And as long as he’s coaching the Spurs, they seem like a safe bet to be in the playoff hunt.
But for the rest of the teams in the league, they are looking forward to Cousins’ Warriors debut because they hope it’s the beginning of the end for the Golden State dynasty.
Warriors COO Rick Welts was recently in the presence of executives from the other 29 teams and he relayed the vibe.
“How crazy is this, right? We had all 30 teams together in Miami 10 days ago, and as you can imagine, we’re not the most popular team with our peers,” Welts said on Thursday on KNBR 680. “The entire league is praying that this is the crack in the armor. I think they are going to be really, really disappointed.”
The Warriors will be the first team since the 1975-76 Boston Celtics to have five All-Stars in their starting lineup, and the rest of the league is clearly hoping this will finally be too much to handle.
But, there were concerns when Kevin Durant joined the team, and the Warriors made it work to the tune of two NBA titles in two seasons.
So, while the road might be bumpy at the beginning, it’s a safe bet that the Warriors will indeed disappoint the rest of the league when it’s all said and done.
Programming note: Watch DeMarcus Cousins’ warm-up Friday before his Warriors debut live on the MyTeams app at 5:50 p.m. PT, with analysis from Greg Papa, Garry St. Jean and Kelenna Azubuike. Download MyTeams on Google Play and the App Store.
Go DeMarcus! It’s your return day! We gonna party like it’s your birthday!
About 10 hours before he makes his long-awaited Warriors debut, DeMarcus Cousins posted an old viral video of a young buy named DeMarcus dancing.
LONDON — Allonzo Trier goaltended on Thomas Bryant’s layup with 0.4 seconds remaining, giving the Washington Wizards a 101-100 victory over the New York Knicks at The O2 Arena on Thursday night.
Bradley Beal had 26 points and nine rebounds, and Otto Porter Jr. added 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards. They outscored the Knicks 24-11 in the fourth quarter.
Emmanuel Mudiay scored 25 points and Luke Kornet added 16 points for the Knicks in their fifth straight loss. New York center Enes Kanter did not travel with the team for the game because of fears over his safety as an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
LAKERS 138, THUNDER 128, OT
OKLAHOMA CITY — Kyle Kuzma scored 32 points to help Los Angeles beat Oklahoma City in overtime without injured LeBron James.
The four-time MVP missed his 12th straight game with a left groin strain, but the Lakers still pulled off a solid road win. Ivica Zubac had a career-high 26 points and Lonzo Ball added 18 for the Lakers, who improved to 5-7 without their star.
Paul George scored 27 points and Terrance Ferguson added 21 for the Thunder. Russell Westbrook had 26 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds but shot just 7 of 30.
The Thunder lost despite making a franchise-record 21 3-pointers and leading by 17 in the first half. They have dropped five of six.
Westbrook missed two layups in the final minute but hit three free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining in regulation to tie it.
RAPTORS 111, SUNS 109
TORONTO — Pascal Siakam scored basket just before time expired to lift Toronto past Phoenix.
Siakam had 10 points and 12 rebounds, Ibaka scored 22 points and Kyle Lowry had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors. They have won eight straight at home and six of seven overall.
Devin Booker scored 30 points for Phoenix, and Deandre Ayton had 15 points and 17 rebounds.
76ERS 120, PACERS 96
INDIANAPOLIS — Joel Embiid had 22 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists to lead Philadelphia past Indiana for its seventh victory in nine games.
Jimmy Butler added 27 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Former 76ers player Thaddeus Young led Indiana with 27 points.
NUGGETS 135, BULLS 105
DENVER — Jamal Murray scored 22 of his 25 points in the third quarter, Nikola Jokic finished two rebounds shy of another triple-double and Denver routed Chicago.
Jokic had 18 points and 11 assists to help the Nuggets rebound from a 142-111 drubbing Tuesday night against Golden State. Lauri Markkanen scored 27 points for Chicago. The Bulls have lost nine a row.
HORNETS 114, KINGS 95
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kemba Walker scored 23 points, surpassing 11,000 for his career, and Charlotte beat Sacramento.
Miles Bridges and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist each had 15 points and Willy Hernangomez added 11 points and 16 rebounds. Buddy Hield led the Kings with 24 points.