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Blazers re-sign Anthony and Hood, sign Jones


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers have re-signed 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony.

It was one of several anticipated moves that Portland formally announced Sunday. The Blazers also re-signed forward Rodney Hood, who was injured for much of last season, and signed free-agent forward Derrick Jones Jr.

Anthony, a 17-year NBA veteran, averaged 15.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 58 games with the Blazers this season. He signed with Portland last November after being out of the game for a year.

Anthony has 26,446 career points, ranking him 15th on the NBA’s career list. Over the span of his career, he has averaged 23.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He was also on four Olympic teams.

Anthony played seven-plus seasons for the Nuggets before being traded in 2011 to the New York Knicks, where he spent six-plus seasons. He also has played one season each with Oklahoma City and Houston. The Rockets traded him to Chicago in January 2019 but the Bulls cut him before he played a game.

Hood, a six-year veteran, declined a $6 million player option with Portland earlier this week, becoming a free agent. He signed a new two-year deal with the Blazers but the terms were not made public.

Hood averaged 11.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in 21 games, all starts, with the Blazers last season before he tore his left Achilles tendon. He did not play with Portland in the bubble in Florida.

“Rodney played a critical role in our run to the Western Conference Finals in 2018-19 and was off to a great start last year prior to his season being cut short due to injury,” Neil Olshey, president of basketball operations, said in a statement. “Now fully healthy we expect him to make an immediate impact and are pleased he chose to stay in Portland.”

Sunday was the first day that most NBA free-agent contracts could be signed. Free agent talks around the league opened Friday evening, and many of the deals that were struck over the weekend started becoming official Sunday.

Jones, a four-year veteran, averaged 8.5 points and 3.0 rebounds with the Miami Heat last season. He played in 59 games including six starts.

Portland also formally announced that it had acquired veteran center Enes Kanter from Boston in a three-team trade. It is Kanter’s second stint with the Blazers, he was also with the team during its run to the Western Conference finals in the 2018-19 season.

Kanter averaged 8.1 points and 7.4 rebounds last season. Portland sent forward Mario Hezonja to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the deal.

The Blazers also acquired forward Robert Covington from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Trevor Ariza, the draft rights to Isaiah Stewart and a conditional future first round pick. The deal was reported before Wednesday’s draft, but it was not announced by Portland until Sunday.

Covington, a seven-year veteran who played for both Minnesota and Houston last season, is expected to start for the Blazers. He had total 115 steals, ranking third in the league, and 93 blocks last season while averaging 12.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

“Robert is an elite defender and consummate professional that will make an immediate impact on both ends of the floor,” Olshey said. “His versatility enables him to play multiple positions and his character and professionalism will allow him to transition seamlessly into our culture.”

Among the teams invited to play in the bubble in Florida, the Trail Blazers made it to the NBA playoffs for the seventh straight season but they were knocked out in the first round by the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The Blazers finished the coronavirus-shortened regular season 35-39.

The NBA season is set to open Dec. 22.

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Houston Rockets have no draft picks for 2nd straight year


KRISTIE RIEKEN, AP Sports Writer

Nov. 18, 2020Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 11:30 p.m.

HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets didn’t have a pick in the NBA draft for the second straight year after trading away a selection they had added earlier in the week.

The Rockets were scheduled to pick at No. 16 after trading Robert Covington to Portland for Trevor Ariza and the pick. Instead, the Rockets agreed to trade Ariza and that pick to the Detroit Pistons for a future first-round pick, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the trade had not been announced.

Houston’s quiet draft night comes during an offseason of upheaval for the team. Coach Mike D’Antoni decided not to return when his contract expired following Houston’s loss to the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals and general manager Daryl Morey stepped down last month before quickly taking a job with the 76ers.

The Rockets picked Stephen Silas as their new coach and promoted long-time front office employee Rafael Stone to general manager.

Since then, rumors have swirled that stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook are unhappy and looking to get out of Houston. Management has not commented on their status, but both players remain under contract for two more seasons, with player options in 2022-23.

The Rockets haven’t had a first-round pick since they took Sam Dekker with the 18th overall selection in 2015.

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AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report.

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Bulls draft Florida State forward Williams with No. 4 pick


CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls drafted versatile Florida State forward Patrick Williams with the No. 4 pick on Wednesday night, the next big step for a rebuilding team with a new front office led by Arturas Karnisovas.

The 19-year-old Williams was the Atlantic Coast Conference’s sixth man of the year and helped the Seminoles win their first ACC regular-season crown. At 6-foot-8 and with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he can defend multiple positions and had a team-high 30 blocks.

Williams averaged 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds in just 22.6 minutes per game. He also shot 83.8% from the foul line.

The Bulls also have a second-rounder at No. 44 overall.

The draft was the first for Chicago not led by longtime executives Jerry Krause or John Paxson since 1984. Back then, Rod Thorn used the No. 3 pick to take some guy out of North Carolina named Michael Jordan.

The Bulls finished 22-43 last season and were one of the eight teams that didn’t qualify for the NBA’s restart at Walt Disney World. They were 11th in the Eastern Conference when play was stopped because of the COVID-19 pandemic in March and decided they needed new leadership.

The 49-year-old Karnisovas starred at Seton Hall and had a successful international career that included two Olympic bronze medals playing for Lithuania. He worked in basketball operations for the NBA from 2003-08 and spent five years as an international scout for the Houston Rockets before joining Denver’s front office in 2013. He became the Nuggets’ general manager four years later, with Tim Connelly promoted from GM to president of basketball operations.

Karnisovas had big roles in Denver, taking two-time All-Star center Nikola Jokic in the second round of the 2014 draft with the 41st overall pick, as well as recent lottery selections Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Karnisovas and Connelly also constructed a highly respected international scouting operation.

All that explains why Chicago hired Karnisovas as executive vice president of basketball operations in April while shifting Paxson into an advisory role. The Bulls also fired Gar Forman and brought in general manager Marc Eversley from Philadelphia to replace him. And they didn’t stop there.

FILE – In this Nov. 10, 2019, file photo, Florida State forward Patrick Williams brings the ball up during the first half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Williams was selected by the Chicago Bull in the NBA draft Wednesday, Nov. 18.Matt Stamey/AP

They let former coach Jim Boylen go in August and struck it big in the search for his replacement when they hired Billy Donovan in September. The 55-year-old Donovan led Oklahoma City to a 243-157 record and playoff appearances in each of his five seasons. But with an expiring contract, he and the Thunder split in what the team said was a mutual decision. Donovan also won two NCAA championships in 19 season coaching at Florida.

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Pistons acquiring Ariza, 16th pick from Rockets


The Houston Rockets agreed to trade Trevor Ariza and the 16th pick in Wednesday night’s NBA draft to the Detroit Pistons for a future first-round pick, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been announced. Detroit already had the seventh pick in this year’s draft.

The Philadelphia 76ers sent Al Horford and a protected future first-round pick to Oklahoma City in a major draft-night trade.

A person with direct knowledge of the trade told The Associated Press on Wednesday the Sixers will receive Danny Green and Terrance Ferguson from the Thunder. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was not yet announced.

The Sixers also sent a 2025 first-round pick protected from 1-6 overall. The Sixers also sent the 34th selection in Wednesday’s draft to the Thunder and the rights to European point guard Vasilije Micic.

The New York Knicks moved up a few spots with their second pick of the first round by completing a trade with the Utah Jazz.

The Knicks acquired the No. 23 selection from Utah, sending the Nos. 27 and 38 picks to the Jazz.

New York also received the draft rights to Croatian center Ante Tomic, who was taken by the Jazz in the second round in 2008 but has spent his entire career in Europe.

The Knicks’ first pick is the No. 8 selection.

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AP Sports Writer Noah Trister contributed to this report.

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Who NBA mock drafts are saying the Rockets will pick in the first round


With the Rockets acquiring a first-round pick in Wednesday’s NBA Draft earlier this week, it’s hard to gauge the team’s thinking.

Are they planning a rebuild with plans of moving on from James Harden and Russell Westbrook, or are they looking for a complementary piece who could hopefully help Harden almost immediately?

INTERNET SLEUTH: Using Instagram clues to figure out James Harden’s future with the Rockets

Mock drafts seem to have focused the Rockets on three players, all really young and just one year out of high school.

The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, as well as Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and Yahoo Sports, all have the Rockets taking 6-foot-5 guard R.J. Hampton, who turns 20 in February.

Hampton was a star on the Texas high school basketball circuit, playing at Little Elm High School just north of Dallas. Hampton was the state’s player of the year as a junior and graduated early so he could forgo his senior year and play professionally for the New Zealand Breakers in Australia’s National Basketball League, which is the same league where lottery pick LaMelo Ball played last season. In 15 professional games, Hampton averaged 8.8 points and shot 40.7 percent from the field.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 09: RJ Hampton of the Breakers (R) in action during the round six NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the New Zealand Breakers at Melbourne Arena on November 09, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Graham Denholm/Getty Images

Hampton, who is one of the most physically gifted guards in the draft, is an outstanding scorer both on and off the ball, who was thought to be a sure-fire Top 10 pick before falling a bit off the radar when he didn’t blow anyone away overseas.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and NBC Sports has the Rockets taking Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey, who was another Texas high school star, playing at South Garland High School before his one season in college. The 6-3 Maxey, who just turned 20 this month, also is a combo guard with a lot of upside. Maxey may not be an option for the Rockets, because several mock drafts have him going in the 13 to 15 range.

LEXINGTON, KY – FEBRUARY 04: Tyrese Maxey #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on February 4, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Another ESPN mock draft has Hampton off the board before the Rockets pick, leaving them to take Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, a 6-9 power forward. Achiuwa, who spent one season at Memphis, has an NBA body and is a strong defender, but his offensive game needs work. Of course, if the Rockets hold on to Harden and Westbrook, they don’t need much help offensively.

CINCINNATI, OH – FEBRUARY 13: Precious Achiuwa #55 of the Memphis Tigers blocks out during a game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Fifth Third Arena on February 13, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati defeated Memphis 92-86 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Athletic has the Rockets going big on upside, taking 18-year-old Serbian Aleksej Pokusevski, who is a 7-footer, but has the handles and shooting ability of a wing. It seems unlikely that Pokusevski would be much of a contributor right away, but this would be a big swing from the Rockets, hoping he develops into a star.

ATHENS, GREECE – MARCH 19: Aleksej Pokusevski, #20 of Olympiacos Piraeus competes with Derrick Williams, #23 of FC Bayern Munich during the 2018/2019 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season Round 27 game between Olympiacos Piraeus and FC Bayern Munich at Peace and Friendship Stadium on March 19, 2019 in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

Panagiotis Moschandreou/Euroleague Basketball via Getty

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Bucks hire Dunlap, Oppenheimer as assistant coaches


MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer has added former Charlotte Bobcats and Loyola Marymount coach Mike Dunlap along with Josh Oppenheimer as assistants.

Dunlap coached Loyola Marymount for the last six seasons and posted an 81-108 record. Loyola Marymount athletic director Craig Pintens announced in March that the school and Dunlap had agreed to part ways.

Dunlap coached the Bobcats from 2012-13 and worked as an assistant with the Denver Nuggets from 2006-08. He also coached Metropolitan State to Division II national titles in 2000 and 2002. He worked as a college assistant at Arizona, Oregon and St. John’s, where he briefly served as an interim head coach.

Oppenheimer previously was a Bucks assistant from 2013-16. He also has worked as an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets (2016-17) and Brooklyn Nets (2017-18).

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Using Instagram clues to figure out James Harden’s Rockets future


I’m telling you now: This is going to be one of the dumber things you’ve ever read on a legitimate website. That’s what happens when you’re trying to figure out the future of James Harden and the Houston Rockets, and you have to go digging through social media looking for clues.

The Rockets’ superstar is pretty social media averse. He rarely posts on Twitter unless it’s an ad or he’s wishing a friend a happy birthday. He’s equally inactive on Instagram with just 20 posts all year. So, when Harden posted to his Instagram stories on Monday night, people noticed. Especially, since it seemed like he was sending a coded message.

FIGURING IT ALL OUT: What’s going on with the Rockets’ James Harden and Russell Westbrook

Before you can help us decipher the message, we must first make sure you’re up on slang. (This is where me being a 40-something white man makes this lesson painfully cringe-worthy). When someone says something is “cap”, it means it’s a lie. Adversely, when someone says “no cap” that means it’s the truth.

On Monday, rumors about Harden’s future started to swirl. The Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith reported Harden wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets to team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. The Athletic’s Shams Charania confirmed that report and added that Harden also would be interested in being traded to the 76ers. Later that night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reported that Harden recently turned down a two-year, $103 million contract extension from the Rockets.

As this was going on, Harden posted a 10-second video clip to his Instagram story. The video is simply a close-up of his BodyArmor drink, which he removes the cap from, then sets the cap on the table and zooms in on said cap.

First off, excellent sponsored content since Harden endorses BodyArmor.

The real question though: Is he trying to say “cap” or “no cap” with the video? The zoom on the cap at the end seems like he’s saying “cap.” Of course, removing the cap from the bottle also means that bottle literally has “no cap.”

Let’s assume, based off the zoom on the cap – I told you this was going to be dumb – that he’s saying something is “cap.” OK, but what is he saying is the lie? Is it a lie that he wants to be traded? Or is it a lie that he turned down the Rockets’ record-setting contract extension offer, which is news likely leaked by the Rockets to show fans how much they’re trying to keep their star in the fold?

THE NEW GUY: Everything you need to know about Rockets’ new coach Stephen Silas

Harden does seem to like sending messages through social media. A week ago, about the time there were rumors of a rift between Harden and teammate Russell Westbrook, Harden made a rare Instagram post with a picture of himself and Westbrook, wishing his teammate a happy birthday and calling him “as solid as they come.”

Then there’s Travis Scott’s Instagram posts. The most famous Rockets fan – hey, nearly 35 million Instagram followers is no cap – made two posts to his story on Monday night. One was a picture he had taken with Harden and captioned “Soooooonnnn” and the other was of a basketball rim with no net. Clearly, the Missouri City rapper is telling Harden no to the Brooklyn Nets, right?

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What’s going on with the Rockets and James Harden, Russell Westbrook?


The Rockets built their championship hopes on two superstars. Now, both of those superstars want out.

A week after multiple media outlets, including the Houston Chronicle, reported that Russell Westbrook requested a trade, those same reports say James Harden is trying to force his way out as well.

On Monday, the Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith reported Harden wants to be traded to the Brooklyn Nets to team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Later on Monday, The Athletic’s Shams Charania confirmed that Harden wants to play elsewhere and wants to be part of a contender, with Brooklyn and Philadelphia topping his wish list.

NEW GUY IN CHARGE: Everyting you need to know about new Rockets coach Stephen Silas

So, the season is just five weeks away and the Rockets’ two biggest pieces no longer want to be here.

However, there’s a wide gap between players wanting to be traded and teams actually trading them.

Both Harden and Westbrook are under contract for two more seasons with an attractive player option for a third season. The Rockets are likely ready to move on from Westbrook, who is owed $85.5 million over the next two season with a $47 million player option for the third season. And that contract is exactly why there aren’t many suitors for Westbrook.

The Clippers, Knicks and Hornets reportedly are interested in swinging a deal for Westbrook, but none of them are going to give a huge bounty to take on that contract. If Rockets’ first-year general manager Rafael Stone can find a suitable taker for Westbrook, he’d likely be all in.

That leaves Harden.

Harden is owed the same money as Westbrook, but Harden is also still an MVP candidate and a top-five player in the league. The Rockets won’t be trading Harden unless they can get an overwhelming package like the Thunder got from the Clippers for Paul George last offseason.

The Nets have all their first-round picks – including No. 19 overall in Wednesday’s draft – plus several promising players who are in their mid-20s, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert. Even that doesn’t seem to be enough to trade for an MVP candidate still in his prime at 31 years old.

In his new job with the 76ers, Daryl Morey no doubt is salivating at the prospect of once again trading for Harden. Morey would have to include Ben Simmons in any deal, but then his offerings would start to get slim.

So, what’s Harden and Westbrook’s future in Houston?

Bottom line: The Rockets hold all the cards, and they absolutely could – and probably should – opt to run it back, unless they find someone willing to take Westbrook’s contract off their hands.

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Rockets’ Russell Westbrook wants to be traded


Matt Young, Chron.com / Houston Chronicle

Nov. 11, 2020Updated: Nov. 11, 2020 10:26 p.m.

James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on September 12, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The NBA season is just five weeks away, but Russell Westbrook wants out of Houston, according to a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Kelly Iko and Sam Amick.

The Houston Chronicle’s Brian T. Smith reported Westbrook is ready to move on from James Harden, and the Rockets are willing to explore the trade market.

It’s been a tumultuous offseason for the Rockets as coach Mike D’Antoni decided to walk away after a second-round playoff loss to the Lakers and then general manager Daryl Morey did the same.

It’s up to Stephen Silas and Raphael Stone – the replacements for D’Antoni and Morey, respectively – to find a way to either make Westbrook happy and fit in with Harden or find a team willing to take on the three years, $131.5 million left on Westbrook’s contract and give the Rockets a piece to help keep the Rockets a contender.

There have been multiple reports that both Harden and Westbrook are wary about the team’s future without D’Antoni and Morey in place. Both players have max contracts with three years remaining.

Both players were on board with the hiring of Silas, so there is some hope he could get the duo on the same page.

Matt Young has been a sports web editor/writer at Chron since 2015. He’s proudly from Alief and occasionally sits alone in his four-cornered room staring at candles. Reach him at matt.young@chron.com.

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Thunder promote assistant Daigneault to head coach


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder promoted assistant Mark Daigneault to head coach on Wednesday, handing the team over to the 35-year-old former coach of its G League team.

Daigneault replaces Billy Donovan, who now is coaching the Chicago Bulls.

Daigneault coached the Thunder’s G League team for five years. He had a .572 winning percentage, won three division titles and made four playoff appearances.

“We are thrilled to have Mark assume the role of head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in a statement. “He has been a selfless and effective leader within our organization since his arrival.”

Presti sees Daigneault’s youth as a strength.

“The amount of head coaching experience and diverse experiences through his tenure with the Blue is rare for someone his age,” Presti said. “He has also shown the ability to empower both the players and staff he works with, and we are confident that he will help us continue to modernize our approach as an organization in a constantly evolving industry.”

Daigneault has big shoes to fill. Donovan took the Thunder to the playoffs all five years he spent in Oklahoma City. He was a finalist for NBA Coach of the Year this past season after his squad outperformed expectations and pushed the Houston Rockets to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.

Daigneault enters an unclear situation. All-Star point guard Chris Paul could be traded before the upcoming season, and the team has stockpiled draft picks. Uncertainty about the team’s future was part of the reason Donovan left.

Daigneault has some promising young building blocks to work with.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emerged in his second season. He led the team with 19.0 points per game and added 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest.

Guard Lu Dort emerged as a starter his rookie year. He made his mark while guarding Houston’s James Harden in the playoffs and his offense improved late in the season. Darius Bazley had great moments as a rookie, especially in the bubble. He averaged 5.6 points per game.

“The opportunity to be the head coach of the Thunder is truly a special honor,” Daigneault said. “Over my six years in Oklahoma City I’ve developed a deep commitment to the organization and a care for what is truly a special community that I call home.”

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