TIME Basketball

NBA Suspends James Harden for Kicking LeBron James in the Groin

LeBron's teammate called it "an intentional kick to a troublesome area"

The NBA announced Monday that Houston Rockets guard James Harden will be suspended for one game without pay for kicking Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James in the groin during Sunday’s game.

During the third quarter, Harden fell to the ground during a tussle for the ball and appears to have lifted his foot to give James a little kick below the belt. James was incensed and had a few words for Harden during the altercation.

After the game, Harden said the kick was unintentional and he didn’t think he would be suspended.

Naturally, James’ teammates had a different reaction

The suspension comes at an unfortunate time for Houston as they must travel to face the Atlanta Hawks, the league’s leader in wins, on Tuesday.

James Harden is in the middle of an outstanding season; he leads the league in scoring and is a front runner for the Most Valuable Player award. LeBron James is probably professional basketball’s most recognizable star and is widely considered to be the best player in the world.

TIME NBA

NBA Star Garnett to Give Away 1,000 Tickets

NBA: Washington Wizards at Minnesota Timberwolves
Jesse Johnson—USA Today Sports Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett (21) pounds his chest before a game against the Washington Wizards at Target Center on feb. 25, 2015.

"Enjoy the game on me"

Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett has purchased 1,000 tickets to an upcoming Timberwolves game to give away to the team’s fans as a gesture of appreciation, the team announced Sunday.

Beginning at 9 a.m. central time Monday, fans can sign up to claim tickets for that evening’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at a dedicated website. The first 500 fans to register will receive a pair of tickets.

Kevin Garnett: The Kid who changed the game (and the Timberwolves)

The 19-year NBA veteran played in Minnesota for 12 seasons before being traded to Boston prior to the 2007-08 season.

After spending a season and a half with the Brooklyn Nets, the 38 year old was traded back to his original team on Feb. 19 for Thaddeus Young.

“The response and support I’ve received from Wolves fans since my return to Minnesota has been nothing short of amazing. It’s been unbelievable,” Garnett said in a statement.

“As a gesture of thanks, I would like to treat some fans to Monday night’s game against the Clippers. Love you all, and thanks for the love. Enjoy the game on me.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

New York Knicks Star Anthony Mason Dead at 48

New York Knicks Anthony Mason during game against Chicago Bu
Linda Cataffo—New York Daily News/Getty Images Anthony Mason during a game against the Chicago Bulls, May 12, 1996.

The 6-foot-7 Mason won the NBA's Sixth Man award in 1995

The New York Knicks say Anthony Mason, a rugged power forward who was a defensive force for several NBA teams in the 1990s, has died. He was 48.

Knicks spokesman Jonathan Supranowitz confirmed Mason’s death, which was first reported Saturday by the New York Daily News.

The 6-foot-7 Mason won the NBA’s Sixth Man award in 1995 with a Knicks team that was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in one of its classic clashes with the Indiana Pacers.

Mason played for New York from 1991-1996, and then for the Charlotte Hornets until 2000. He made his only All-Star team in 2001 as a member of the Miami Heat.

TIME Basketball

Bulls’ Derrick Rose to Undergo Right-Knee Surgery for Torn Meniscus

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls
Jeff Haynes—NBAE/Getty Images Derrick Rose shoots a free throw against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the game at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 12, 2015

The Bulls announced Tuesday that Derrick Rose will undergo surgery to address a medial meniscus tear in his right knee, marking the third time he’s undergone knee surgery since May 2012.

Rose reported feeling pain in his right knee, which led to an exam and an MRI, which confirmed the tear. A surgery date and a recovery timeline have not yet been set.

The 2011 MVP previously underwent ACL surgery in his left knee in May 2012 and a medial meniscus repair in his right knee in Nov. 2013. The first surgery sidelined Rose for the rest of the 2012 playoffs and the entire 2012-13 season. The second surgery sidelined Rose for the final five months of the 2013-14 season and the entire 2014 playoffs.

After returning to the court with USA Basketball last summer, Rose had played in 46 games this season, averaging 18.4 points, 5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Coach Tom Thibodeau will be forced to turn to backup point guards Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich in Rose’s absence.

Rose, 26, is under contract through the 2016-17 season, earning $18.8 million this season and $20.1 million next season.

Chicago sits at the top of the Central Division standings with a 36-21 record, holding a one-game lead over Cleveland (35-22).

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NBA

Watch This Crazy Richard Jefferson Dunk That Got Nixed By a Foul Call

Playing in his 14th NBA season at age 34, Dallas Mavericks forward Richard Jefferson can still get up.

His dunk over Charlotte Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist Sunday night was a perfect example, though he was called for an offensive foul on the play.

At 15.1 minutes per game, Jefferson is receiving less playing time than he did last season with the Utah Jazz (27 per game), but he’s still proven capable of being a solid contributor when needed. Getting the start on Sunday and playing 33 minutes, he contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, scoring in double figures for the first time since Feb. 5.

Kidd-Gilchrist scored 15 points and added six rebounds for the Hornets.

The Mavericks won 92-81 to move to 38-20, sixth in the Western Conference.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Trade grades: Knight, Carter-Williams Move in Three-Team Mega Deal

Brandon Knight
Frank Franklin II—AP Milwaukee Bucks' Brandon Knight competes during the NBA All-Star Saturday Skills Challenge event Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, in New York

The Bucks, Suns and Sixers combined on Thursday for a three-team point guard mega deal that sent Brandon Knight to Phoenix, Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee and a protected 2015 first-round pick to Philadelphia. Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee will also go from Phoenix to Milwaukee.

For Milwaukee, the surprising decision to move Knight is an indication it wasn’t prepared to commit major dollars to him next summer, when he’s set to enter restricted free agency. Acquiring Carter-Williams allows the Bucks to ride the 2013 lottery pick for the next two-plus years on his rookie deal.

Phoenix adds Knight as its point guard of the future after shaking up its deep guard ranks in multiple moves. The Suns traded Thomas, 2014 All-NBA third team guard Goran Dragic and Ennis to leave Knight and Eric Bledsoe as its young and talented backcourt duo.

MORE NBA: Trade tracker | Trade rumors | Grades: McDaniels to Rockets

Philadelphia parts with Carter-Williams, who has dealt with injury issues, shooting struggles and turnover problems in his sophomore season, to play for the future and add to their deep stash of draft picks. Carter-Williams admitted on Twitter he was “shocked” by the move.

Knight, 23, drew some buzz as an All-Star candidate for this first time this season and is averaging 17.8 points, 5.4 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals per season.

Carter-Williams, 23, won the 2014 Rookie of the Year award and is averaging 15 points, 7.4 assists, 6.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals this season.

Trade grades

Milwaukee Bucks: B

Outgoing: Brandon Knight

Incoming: Michael Carter-Williams, Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee

This trade could go two ways for Milwaukee, depending on how Carter-Williams manages the adjustment to playing for a real NBA team: A) it could wind up looking like a cautious, shrewd approach to salary cap management or, B) it could send them searching for a long-term solution at point guard after developing Knight into just such a commodity.

Knight is sure to command major attention in free agency this summer. He’s shown steady progress over his four-year career, has good size and the ability to balance his scoring and play-making for others and he carries zero off-court concerns. Knight isn’t a top-flight option at his position in the East, and he will be pretty far down the loaded totem pole in the West, but he’s proven this year that he can be the starting point guard for a team with playoff aspirations. Given the number of suitors available and the projected rise in the salary cap in 2017, Knight was sure to press Milwaukee to its limit when it comes to the price of his next deal.

MORE NBA: Players tweet reactions to deals | Grades: Garnett to T-Wolves

The Bucks responded by trading Knight early, thereby preempting a damaging offer sheet. Their bet is that Knight is a good, but not great point guard who would have been overvalued by unique market conditions and his career-year performance. That’s a reasonable bet. By taking on Carter-Williams, the Bucks will enjoy paying him just $2.4 million next year and $3.2 million in 2016-17. It’s possible Knight earns something like five or six times that money over the next two seasons, and not even his biggest fans would argue he’s five or six times better than Carter-Williams.

Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd will add the long, tall Carter-Williams to a lineup that’s already overwhelming with its wingspan. Kidd will look to narrow Carter-Williams’ role, as he simply was asked to do too much with too little help in Philadelphia. Carter-Williams’ size and versatility should appeal to Kidd, even if Knight has been a much better perimeter shooter and a more polished player this season. A season-ending knee injury to 2014 No. 2 pick Jabari Parker gives Milwaukee some time to work these things out, and perhaps it decided that Carter-Williams’ contract scale was better aligned with Parker’s and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s.

The addition of Ennis, a 2014 first-round pick, and Miles Plumlee gives Kidd new options at point guard and center. Ennis has yet to get a real shot in the NBA. His selection by Phoenix made little sense at the time, given its depth at the position, and he could get some time in the short-term due to Kendall Marshall’s season-ending injury. Plumlee joins a frontline that includes Zaza Pachulia and John Henson. If Larry Sanders’ buyout proceeds as expected, there should be some backup minutes for him as a beefier alternative to Henson.

All told, this is a counterintuitive move for a small-market team. Usually, such teams do whatever they can to lock up their breakout performers for as long as possible. Have the Bucks’ new owners succeeded in selling high on Knight or did they simply get cold feet and outsmart themselves? Knight’s play in Phoenix will write that story.

Phoenix Suns: B+

Outgoing: Tyler Ennis, Miles Plumlee, and 2015 first-round pick (top-five protected, via Lakers)

Incoming: Brandon Knight

Phoenix entered the deadline needing clarity at the point guard position and better roster balance. GM Ryan McDonough resisted the temptation to stay the course in hopes of sneaking into the playoffs by blowing up his backcourt depth chart, shipping out Goran and Zoran Dragic (to the Heat), Thomas (to the Celtics) and Ennis (to the Bucks). Needless to say, the log jam is cleared. Knight now enters the mix able to play all the minutes he can handle alongside Bledsoe, and he should fit well in coach Jeff Hornacek’s up-tempo, aggressive schemes. Assuming he is re-signed this summer, Knight’s arrival will hopefully slow down Phoenix’s incredibly fast roster churn, allowing McDonough to focus his effort and resources on filling out his frontline.

McDonough was reportedly facing pressure from Goran Dragic’s agent in advance of the Slovenian point guard’s free agency this summer. There was no sense for McDonough to enter a staredown he wasn’t going to win, and taking action at the deadline prevented a worst-case scenario where Dragic walked for nothing and Phoenix was left without a true starting point guard. Although he had to part with the Lakers’ blue-chip pick, he replenished his stockpile with a total of three first-round picks in the deals with Boston and Miami. More importantly, he put himself in position to ink Knight to a long-term deal this summer. When weighing who to reward with a lucrative four-year contract, there’s little question that Knight’s age (23) relative to Dragic’s (28) played a major role in McDonough’s thinking.

MORE NBA: Why the Suns are NBA’s perfect face for playoff reform

The Suns move forward with a point guard who should be capable of hanging with his peers in the West and with far fewer questions than they faced one week ago. The worst thing you can say about this move from Phoenix’s perspective is that it turns Ennis into a totally wasted pick less than a year after the selection was made.

 

Philadelphia 76ers: A

Outgoing: Michael Carter-Williams

Incoming: 2015 first-round pick (top-five protected, via Lakers)

Well, well, well. Wouldn’t you know it? Philadelphia has jumped at the opportunity to trade current players for future players. GM Sam Hinkie’s performed this movie before, when he traded Jrue Holiday to the Pelicans in exchange for Nerlens Noel and a first-round pick. As with Holiday, Hinkie likely came to the conclusion that he should cash out when he could for a good, but not elite, point guard.

Carter-Williams certainly had his warts this season. His 25.6 percent three-point shooting qualifies as atrocious, he ranks in the top five in turnovers and he penned one of thedumbest essays you’ll ever read for The Players’ Tribune. At 23, he’s older than most top-flight second-year players, and it’s fair to say that his star potential is pretty limited. Because the Sixers have no desire to win in the short-term, and everyone knows it, their only calculation is whether the player they can get with the Lakers’ pick has a better shot to be a franchise player than does Carter-Williams. That seems like a pretty safe bet, given that Carter-Williams currently ranks No. 45 among point guards in Player Efficiency Rating, even though he’s feasting on all the shots and minutes he wants.

Philadelphia could get Los Angeles’ pick as high as No. 6 this year, No. 4 in 2016 and 2017 and No. 1 in 2018. Given the Lakers’ misguided stubbornness not to full-on tank, there’s a good chance the pick conveys to the Sixers this year or next year. It might require some patience, but Hinkie has just acquired yet another quality shot at a franchise-level talent.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME NBA

Where Next for Amar’e Stoudemire? Clippers, Mavericks Headline Suitors

Isaac Baldizon—NBAE/Getty Images Amar'e Stoudemire stands on the court during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena in Miami on Feb. 9, 2015

The vast majority of NBA contract buyouts occur without controversy. So it is with the Knicksagreement to part ways with Amar’e Stoudemire, who in 2010 came to New York on a five-year, $99.7 million max contract. The star player who drew that contract is no more and the team that signed him in such high hope has been run aground to rebuild. At this point, Stoudemire had nothing more to offer a rebooting Knicks team and they, at 10-43, had nothing more to offer him.

All involved move on. New York remains on the hook for most (or all) of Stoudemire’s salary (tagged $23.4 million in total) this season, but clears playing time and touches for prospects who could be of interest to the team for next year. That doing so required they part ways with the longest-tenured Knick hardly matters. Teams this bad needn’t stand on ceremony.

New York also does right by Stoudemire in letting a 32-year-old, oft-injured veteran ply his trade elsewhere. Stoudemire has been hurt so often in his career – and especially of late with the Knicks – that to deny him competitive basketball when healthy seems cruel. Once Stoudemire clears waivers (a practical certainty given the size of Stoudemire’s salary), he’ll be empowered to seek it out elsewhere. Among those teams with reported interest are the Mavericks, Clippers, Suns, and Spurs.

All could make use of Stoudemire to varying degrees, though none would benefit from his addition quite so much as the Clippers. Los Angeles is a team desperate for bodies; even before Blake Griffin and Glen Davis were sidelined by injury, theirs was among the shallowest rosters in the league. The top of the roster is of contending quality. The bottom features more rotation spots than it does rotation-caliber players, to which Stoudemire could help. He might not be viable for more than 15-20 minutes nightly and won’t salvage L.A.’s defensive issues on the second unit. But what he can do is contribute in greater capacity than the Clipper alternatives when healthy, a positive outcome in itself.

The salary cap math is tight given that the Clippers are subject to the hard cap, but signing Stoudemire to a minimum deal should be feasible. In doing so L.A. would improve – perhaps not as much as Stoudemire’s name and reputation would suggest, but in some amount that could come to play a part in a Western Conference where every minor advantage matters.

Ditto for the Mavericks, whose need for a rotation big of any kind comes in equal measure to the Clippers. Dallas needs better minutes behind Dirk Nowitzki, spot insurance for Tyson Chandler, and stylistic flexibility as to give Rick Carlisle more options in his postseason tinkering. Stoudemire would be a partial address at the least, though he isn’t the caliber of rebounder or defender who could change the Mavs’ outlook all that drastically. Were Dallas to go on to sign Jermaine O’Neal (and were O’Neal to be in similar form to last season, when he was a difference-maker for the Warriors in controlled minutes) or get continued quality play from 10-day-signee Bernard James, however, the Mavs might buttress their back line enough to support their rotation’s quirks. Stoudemire would help in any case as an active finisher whom defenses respect.

At this stage, reports from the Dallas Morning News and ESPN.com point to the Mavericks as frontrunners in their push to acquire Stoudemire. This makes sense for all involved. Dallas is a balanced, veteran team with a friendly internal dynamic. They’re well-coached and well-supported with a successful training staff. Their offensive system turned Brandan Wright into a 75-percent finisher from the field and could conceivably make Stoudemire even more efficient through similar means. By signing with a contender and making the most of a reserve role, Dallas could offer a way forward for Stoudemire as much as a way out.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Basketball

Former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason Has Improved Slightly After His Heart Attack

Former New York Knick Anthony Mason attends the Boston Celtics vs the New York Knicks 2013 Playoff game two at Madison Square Garden on April 23, 2013 in New York City
JP Yim—Getty Images Former New York Knick Anthony Mason attends the Boston Celtics vs the New York Knicks 2013 Playoff game two at Madison Square Garden on April 23, 2013 in New York City

“Right now, it’s day to day, but that’s an improvement from moment to moment”

NBA veteran Anthony Mason has improved slightly after a massive heart attack that had him “fighting for his life” throughout the day on Thursday, reports the New York Times.

The Times cited Dan Cronson, Mason’s agent from his playing days, who was updated by a close family member. “Right now, it’s day to day, but that’s an improvement from moment to moment,” Cronson told the paper.

Cronson also said the family has been informed that Mason may need a heart transplant if he survives.

The 48-year-old Mason, who was known to have heart issues, was at the hospital getting a checkup when the attack happened.

The leftie played in the NBA for 13 years but is perhaps most famous for his five years spent on the New York Knicks in the mid-1990s.

While there, he proved himself as a physical big man with immense ball-handling skills. He was a valuable member of the 1994 Knicks team that lost to the Houston Rockets in the NBA Finals.

Mason won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award in 1995, became an All-Star in 2001 and was named to the All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team in 1997.

Mason has two sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine, who are both out to make a career in basketball. Anthony Jr. plays professionally in Europe and Antoine plays at Auburn University.

[New York Times]

TIME Basketball

Former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason Is ‘Fighting for His Life’

He suffered a massive heart attack

Correction appended, Feb. 17, 2015

Anthony Mason, a physical NBA power forward from the 1990s, is in critical condition after suffering a massive heart attack.

Retired NBA columnist Peter Vecsey broke the news on Twitter that Mason had undergone multiple surgeries, with one procedure lasting nine hours.

Mason played for six teams over his 13-year career but is probably most famous for his time as a valued role player for the New York Knicks in the mid-1990s. Mason teamed up with Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley to form one of the most bruising frontcourts in NBA history. The Knicks offered their condolences to the Mason family via Twitter.

Mason was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year honor in 1995, was an NBA All-Star in 2001 and made both the All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team in 1997.

Mason’s sons, Anthony Jr. and Antoine, are both pursuing careers in basketball. Anthony Jr. plays professionally in Europe while Antoine plays for the Auburn Tigers, according to Sports Illustrated.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the timing of Mason’s heart attack. The attack was reported on Wednesday, Feb. 11, but had occurred earlier.

TIME NBA

Spurs’ Gregg Popovich Becomes 9th NBA Coach to Win 1,000 Games

Cory Joseph, Gregg Popovich
David Zalubowski—AP San Antonio Spurs guard Cory Joseph, left, confers with head coach Gregg Popovich while facing the Denver Nuggets in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Dec. 14, 2014.

He's only the second, after Jerry Sloan, to reach 1,000 wins with a single franchise

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich won the 1,000th regular-season game of his 19-year career when San Antonio defeated Indiana, 95-93, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday.

Popovich (1,000-462) becomes just the ninth coach to cross the 1,000 wins threshold, joining Don Nelson (1,335-1,063), Lenny Wilkins (1,332-1,155), Jerry Sloan (1,221-803), Pat Riley (1,210-694), Phil Jackson (1,155-485), George Karl (1,131-756), Larry Brown (1,098-904) and Rick Adelman (1,042-749).

“Not too much celebrating,” Popovich told reporters afterwards. “I’ve been here a long time and I’ve had good players. That’s the formula. Getting the players is difficult, but I’ve been fortunate to have good ones. The time — that’s the most important element. You have to be around for awhile. It’s more a tribute to [the players] obviously than any coaches.”

Only Jackson and Riley reached 1,000 wins faster than Popovich, who needed 1,462 games: Jackson (1,423) and Riley (1,434). The most recent coach to reach 1,000 wins was Adelman in April 2013.

Popovich’s reign of coaching excellence is unmatched when it comes to longevity and consistency. He has served as the head coach of the Spurs since 1996-97, making him the NBA’s longest-tenured active coach, and he joins Utah’s Sloan as the only two coaches to win 1,000 games with a single franchise. From the start of the 1996-97 season through Sunday’s action, the Spurs’ winning percentage of .677 is by far the highest, easily outpacing the Lakers (.621), Mavericks (.597), Heat (.581) and Suns (.569).

All told, Popovich has guided San Antonio to 17 consecutive playoff appearances, 16 50-win seasons, four 60-win seasons, six Finals appearances and five championships (1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2014), while taking home three Coach of the Year awards (2003, 2012 and 2014).

The only coach with at least 1,000 wins who has a better career winning percentage than Popovich is Jackson, who coached Michael Jordan’s Bulls and the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Lakers.

The list of notable players who took the court on Popovich’s teams is a long one indeed. In addition to Hall of Famer center David Robinson, Popovich has guided future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, and the likes of Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry and Kawhi Leonard.

Popovich’s influence upon the NBA’s coaching and management ranks is arguably even more impressive. Current coaches with ties to Popovich include Steve Kerr (Warriors), Brett Brown (Sixers), Mike Budenholzer (Hawks), Monty Williams (Pelicans), Quin Snyder (Jazz), and James Borrego (named interim coach by the Magic this week). A list of executives with ties to Popovich includes Kevin Pritchard (Pacers), Danny Ferry (Hawks), Sam Presti (Thunder), Dell Demps (Pelicans), Dennis Lindsey (Jazz) and Rob Hennigan (Magic). Former coaches with ties to Popovich include Mike Brown, Avery Johnson, Vinny Del Negro and Jacque Vaughn.

The 66-year-old Popovich — known for his dry, sarcastic wit and impatience during in-game interviews — began his coaching career as an assistant at the Air Force in 1973. He coached at Division III Pomona-Pitzer college from 1979 until 1987 before joining the Spurs in 1992 as an assistant under Larry Brown.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser