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#pounditSaturday, April 10, 2021

Basketball

LaMarcus Aldridge will sign with Nets

LaMarcus Aldridge

The Brooklyn Nets continue to absolutely load up for a championship run.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Nets have agreed to sign veteran forward LaMarcus Aldridge for the remainder of the season. Aldridge’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, later confirmed the agreement to ESPN.

This comes as a bit of a surprise, as a different team was viewed as a frontrunner for Aldridge after he was bought out by the San Antonio Spurs. Ultimately, the appeal for Aldridge became obvious. The team should be able to afford the veteran forward playing time, and he will have a great chance to win a title alongside James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant.

Aldridge averaged 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the Spurs this season. He’ll be able to take on a complementary role in what has become a loaded Brooklyn rotation.

Warriors GM Bob Myers defends Kelly Oubre’s recent comments about starting

Kelly Oubre

Bob Myers is apparently one heck of a crisis negotiator.

The Golden State Warriors GM spoke with reporters this week and addressed Kelly Oubre’s controversial recent comments. Oubre had indicated that he would be unwilling to come off the bench when Klay Thompson returns from injury.

“I like what [Oubre] said,” replied Myers, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. “He should want to start.”

Myers added that he has spoken to Oubre’s agent about what Oubre’s role will look like if he returns to the team.

Oubre’s comments caused a strong reaction because he will be a free agent this summer. The Warriors also paid a hefty luxury tax bill to acquire him. The timing of Oubre’s remarks, right after the NBA trade deadline, fanned the flames even further.

The 25-year-old Oubre is a full-time starter on the wing for the Warriors this season, averaging 15.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest. Thompson’s return is looming for next season, but he may have to integrate slowly back into the lineup following back-to-back devastating injuries. Perhaps Myers can envision a future in which Oubre, Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins can all co-exist peacefully.

Kawhi Leonard likely to remain with Clippers?

Kawhi Leonard

The LA Clippers may not have much to worry about with the future of their fun guy.

Tom Haberstroh of TrueHoop reported this week that there is currently “no reason” to think that Kawhi Leonard will leave the Clippers this summer. Haberstroh quotes an anonymous non-Clippers executive who places the odds of Leonard leaving at less than one percent. The report also says that “most people” think Leonard will stay, noting how the Clippers afford him the luxury of commuting from his home in San Diego.

The 29-year-old Leonard has a $36 million player option for next season. Serge Ibaka, Leonard’s closest friend on the team, also has a player option of $9.7 million. But Leonard’s co-star Paul George recently signed a lucrative extension that will keep him with the Clippers through 2024, keeping a good foundation in place for the team.

Things can change quickly in the NBA, especially if the Clippers come up short again this postseason. But it is hard to imagine a cushier situation for Leonard, who already has two NBA titles and is given superstar concessions by the Clippers. While Leonard has been noncommittal on the subject of his free agency recently, there seems to be a very clear expectation that he will be staying put.

H/T HoopsHype

Lakers reportedly are frontrunners for Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond

Andre Drummond is soon to become available for interested teams, and the Los Angeles Lakers may be the leaders for him.

Los Angeles Times reporter Brad Turner said on Friday that the Lakers are the “front runners” to land Drummond. However, he noted that the Lakers have competition for the big man.

Additionally, the Lakers reportedly have made acquiring Drummond their priority.

The Cavaliers were unable to trade Drummond and agreed to a buyout with him on Friday. The 27-year-old is averaging 17.5 points and 13.5 rebounds per game this season. The Lakers could especially use him with Anthony Davis and LeBron James both out.

James Harden makes bold MVP proclamation

James Harden

James Harden is a part of a three-headed monster in Brooklyn. But he still thinks he has done enough individually to earn the NBA’s highest award.

After dropping 44 points in a win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday, the Nets star was asked if he belongs in the MVP conversation.

“I am the MVP,” he declared, per Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Harden, who arrived on the Nets in January, is averaging 25.4 points and 11.5 assists per game for his new team this year. That is a much lower scoring output than what he was putting up with the Houston Rockets when he won MVP in 2018. But Harden also has a higher field goal percentage now to go along with the higher assist numbers.

The 31-year-old Harden has held down the fort in Brooklyn while Kevin Durant has dealt with a hamstring injury and Kyrie Irving has been in and out of the lineup for personal reasons. Harden may also benefit in MVP voting from the time missed by players like Joel Embiid and LeBron James.

Still, Harden’s season is probably not as impressive as the ones that players such as Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo are putting together. But regardless of his place in the MVP race, Harden has had a massive impact for the Nets since his arrival in more ways than just one.

Kyle Kuzma shares why he bleached his hair blond again

Kyle Kuzma blond hair

Kyle Kuzma has done it again.

The Los Angeles Lakers forward bleached his hair blond yet again. The hair color was visible when Kuzma spoke with the media on Thursday.

You may recall that Kuzma also went blond at the start of last year, though he looked a little different.

According to Ryan Ward, Kuzma said that Anthony Davis told him to do it. Maybe Davis felt that the Lakers needed Kuzma to change the Lakers’ fortunes amid a four-game losing streak.

Kuzma is averaging 12.4 points per game this season, but he may have a larger role with Davis and LeBron James out.

Tilman Fertitta traded his stars to rivals of Sixers to spite Daryl Morey?

Tilman Fertitta

James Dolan may have new competition for the pettiest owner in the NBA.

Bleacher Report’s Jason Dumas tweeted this week that the icy relationship between Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and Philadelphia 76ers GM Daryl Morey encouraged Fertitta to send his star players to rivals of the Sixers. Dumas mentions James Harden, who was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and PJ Tucker, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Something similar also happened with Victor Oladipo, whom the Rockets acquired as part of the Harden deal. Houston traded Oladipo to the Miami Heat, last season’s Eastern Conference champion, for pennies on the dollar.

Morey was GM of the Rockets for 13 years. But he had a falling out with Fertitta that helped lead to his departure from the team last summer.

We know Fertitta does not want to do business with Morey and the Sixers. But intentionally trying to sabotage them by helping out their rivals is on a different level of spitefulness entirely.

Photo: Diego Pimentel/Flickr via CC0

Rockets suffered incredible collapse against Timberwolves on Friday

Houston Rockets logo

The Houston Rockets have been unbearably bad since James Harden was traded earlier this season, but Friday’s performance may have hit a new low.

The Rockets appeared to be on their way to a win against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, taking a 101-85 lead with 7:31 to go in the game. As it turned out, the Rockets wouldn’t score again. The Timberwolves went on a 22-0 run to end the game to pull off a 107-101 comeback victory over the stunned Rockets.

The comeback was largely predicated on the Timberwolves getting to the line. 10 of those final 22 points came at the stripe, with Minnesota converting every opportunity there. The Rockets, meanwhile, simply collapsed from the field, missing their last 14 shot attempts.

The Rockets just broke a 20-game losing streak this past week. There was some hope they might be able to be a bit more competitive with that off their backs and trade speculation no longer hanging over them, but they’ve lost another two straight since then. They’re even getting bested in the front office. It’s tough to see things getting any better from here.

Kelly Oubre unwilling to come off bench when Klay Thompson returns?

Kelly Oubre

Kelly Oubre may be putting the Golden State Warriors in a bit of a bind as they plan for their longer-term future.

The Warriors swingman received a question on Friday if he would be OK with coming off the bench for the team next season.

“I can offer a lot more than coming off the bench,” replied Oubre, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Oubre, who has started in all 43 of his appearances for the Warriors this season, is on an expiring contract. All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson will be returning from injury next season, so any unwillingness on Oubre’s part to come off the bench will certainly complicate matters in Golden State.

Andrew Wiggins is also signed through 2023. Thompson does not see himself settling for a reduced role either. That means that something will have to give if Oubre wants to stay with the Warriors beyond this season.

Anthony Davis making progress in recovery from calf injury

Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis is making progress in his recovery from a calf injury.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Friday that Davis was re-examined by the team’s medical staff and is showing signs of progress.

“Anthony Davis … continues to progress in his recovery and has been cleared to advance his on court work. Additional updates will be given when appropriate,” the statement said.

Although this is good news, the reality is Davis is still a ways away from a return to the Lakers, according to coach Frank Vogel.

This is tough for the Lakers. The defending champions are without both Davis and LeBron James, who is recovering from an ankle injury.

Davis has not played since Feb. 14. He is averaging 22.5 points and 8.4 rebounds in 23 games this season.