Henry Abbott of TrueHoop on the Rockets: “By the time the smoke has cleared and Howard is officially a Rocket — the news conference is expected at the end of this week — the Rockets will likely have the ability to add minimum contract players and somebody with the mini midlevel. And that’s it. In other words: Andrei Kirilenko isn’t walking through that door. That means the starting power forward will be some combination of Jones or Motiejunas — who are young and promising, but come with a lot of unknowns. There are a lot of question marks about how it all fits together. It might work, but if it doesn’t, this is a contender in need of a major trade, which is almost the same as not being a contender at all.”
David Aldridge on an alternate NBA universe: “The Rockets, meanwhile, having been stung by the loss of their franchise center, will likely continue to try flipping existing players for younger assets, which they hope they can eventually turn into another young superstar. Their new target, according to sources, is Oklahoma City guard James Harden, whom the NBA champion Thunder kept last offseason by signing him to a $65 million extension — but who might be available if the smaller-revenue generating Thunder, who beat Miami in six games last month to win the franchise’s first NBA title since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008, decide they can’t continue to pay luxury taxes on their roster…”
Top 10 remaining free agents. The list is… eh.
Interesting thing about Nerlens Noel in this profile by Pablo S. Torre of ESPN.com: “Grabbing two plates and a Gatorade, Noel reclines in a wooden chair in front of the TV, which alternates between NBA 2K13 (he typically plays as the Thunder) and FIFA 13 (today he’s Spain) on Xbox. And as Dorcina watches from the dining table, half eating and half supervising her son and his two college-age friends from Lexington who’ve been crashing for a few days, it’s impossible to ignore just how young Nerlens actually is. Press him on when he can take the court as a pro — a question he’s been asked hundreds of times now, by reporters and GMs alike — and he drones boilerplate about “being careful with this process” and “coming back when I feel comfortable, if not better than before.” But hand him a controller and challenge him to a best-of-three series in FIFA, and the 19-year-old in him appears.”
Metta World Peace got amnestied. Who wants ’em?
Darnell Mayberry: “There’s plenty of time for Jackson to develop his ball-handling, decision-making and perimeter shooting. But this week, he’s teaching his recent draft picks Steven Adams, Andre Roberson and Grant Jerrett some of the lessons he had to learn the hard way. Keep playing. Stay hungry. Never be satisfied. And he’s leading by example, which is why with a shiner, three stitches and a left eye still swollen halfway shut Jackson stubbornly said he’s just ready to get back on the floor Tuesday.”
Mayberry also talked to Larry Bird about small markets: “Bird was a little blunter when I asked him today to elaborate on why teams like Oklahoma City and Indiana can’t toy around with the tax. ‘Because we can’t afford it,’ Bird said. ‘It’s like buying a used car and a new car. If you got the money to buy a used one, you better get the used one.’ Bird then said something interesting. He said the Pacers owners essentially have done the same thing the Thunder’s owners have done. That’s sign off on the front office assembling a roster that is as competitive as possible but one that doesn’t push the team past the tax threshold. Indiana’s payroll also is approaching $70 million. The projected tax threshold for the 2013-14 season is $71.6 million.”
Steve Lackmeyer says KD bought a home in Deep Deuce: “Management of the Brownstones at Maywood Park, at NE 3 and Oklahoma Avenue, confirm the Thunder star is halfway through a two-year lease with an option to buy that began almost a year ago. But when it came to buying a downtown home, Durant instead paid $1,769,000 to buy two townhomes at The Hill, at NE 2 and Walnut Avenue. Michael Biddinger, broker for The Hill, confirmed Durant bought two units, 420 and 422 NE 2, with plans to convert them into one 7,400-square-foot residence. City records show architect Troy Rhodes applied for a $400,000 building permit on Mondayto combine the two three-story townhomes.”