With the All-Star break on the not-so distant horizon, three of California’s teams are in various stages of a positive identity forge, while a fourth remains the stuck in “Fugitive-esque train wreck” mode. (Spoiler alert! The odd team out is the Sacramento Kings!) With that in mind, here’s a look at what’s brewing on the left coast.
The NBA is back, and so is the weekly edition of The Bernucca List.
You remember how this works, right? I give you a list of players, or coaches, or teams, all of whom have something very specific in common. You try to figure out what that common thread is.
When you think you’ve got the answer, drop it in the Comments section below. Or you can send me a Tweet.
First correct answer gets a mention in next week’s list. Second correct answer gets nothing.
Here ya go. Knock yourselves out.
The Bernucca List
There is one team in the league that has been constantly in the news since the beginning of free agency: The Houston Rockets. That trend continued on Friday, as the team made a number of significant moves to ultimately acquire the prize they seek in Dwight Howard. See what they did today, along with transactions around the league including trades and signings. Also, be sure to scroll to the bottom to watch a number of entertaining videos. It’s what the cool kids do on Friday nights:
- The Rockets are trying to make an offer to the Magic that is hard to refuse, from Marc Stein and Chad Ford: “The Houston Rockets have reconstructed their trade proposal to the Orlando Magic for superstar center Dwight Howard, vowing to take back even more long-term salary from the Magic in hopes of convincing Orlando to consent to trade Howard directly to Houston, according to sources briefed on the trade talks. Sources told ESPN.com the Rockets, after going ahead Friday with their plans to release starting power forward Luis Scola via the NBA’s amnesty clause, are now able to absorb the contracts of Glen Davis, Jason Richardson and Chris Duhon – in addition to offering Orlando various combinations of future first-round draft picks and players drafted in the first round by Houston last month — to give the Magic an opportunity to wipe their payroll virtually clean for their post-Howard rebuilding effort.”
- Here is the official news of Luis Scola hitting the waivers, from Jonathan Feigen: “The Rockets’ housecleaning continued with a move that a week ago would have been shocking but by Friday had become entirely expected. The Rockets waived forward Luis Scola through the NBA amnesty provision to clear cap space for trades they hope to make, a person with knowledge of the move said. They faced a Tuesday deadline to make the move, but an individual with knowledge of their thinking said on Wednesday they planned to make the move by Friday to give Scola greater opportunities with other teams.”
- Jeremy Lin has officially signed with the Rockets and the deal has been adjusted, according to Ian Begley: “Jeremy Lin has signed a three-year offer sheet with the Houston Rockets, according to a source close to the talks. The deal is worth a little more than $25 million — $5 million in the first year, $5.225 million in the second year and $14.8 million in the third year. The Knicks have three days to match the Rockets’ offer. Initial reports had the Rockets offering Lin a four-year deal for around $28 million. That deal included salaries of more than $9 million in each of the last two years, which would be a big hit on the Knicks’ cap. Still, the organization seemed intent on matching. ”They will match any offer on Lin up to $1 billion,” a source told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein last week. It’s not clear, however, if the new deal changes that thinking since the third year of the current deal carries an even bigger cap hit.”
- Feigen helped explain what exactly the Rockets did with Lin’s contract to make it even more “poisonous”: “Rockets bumped up offer to Lin by fully guaranteeing all three years, worth $25.1 million. Previously, third year partially guaranteed.”
- Elton Brand was claimed by the Dallas Mavericks, according to Sam Amick: “Source confirms reports that Dallas has successfully claimed forward Elton Brand off waivers after he was amnestied.”
- Adrian Wojnarowski has further details of the Brand pick-up: “Brand joins a remade Mavericks frontcourt with center Chris Kaman, as well as point guard Darren Collison. Brand and Kaman allow the Mavericks to pair Dirk Nowitzki with two solid veteran frontcourt players on one-year deals, while maintaining its salary cap space to pursue major free agents or absorb significant contracts next summer. Philadelphia used the amnesty clause to clear Brand, 33, and the $18.2 million owed him this season off its salary cap. Under the amnesty provision, the Mavericks will pay $2.1 million and Philadelphia will be left to pay the remaining $16.1 million.”
- Kyle Korver has been traded to the Atlanta Hawks, according to K.C. Johnson: “Pending a passed physical, the Chicago Bulls have traded Kyle Korver to the Atlanta Hawks via the Minnesota Timberwolves in a move that saves them $500,000 and nets what is expected to be either a second-round pick and traded player exception or a player with a small contract from the Timberwolves.”
- The Raptors are looking to move Jose Calderon for his sake, according to Stein: “The Toronto Raptors and the representative for veteran guard Jose Calderon are working together to try to find a new home for Calderon via trade. After ESPN.com reported Thursday that Calderon would welcome a trade after the arrival of Kyle Lowry to become the Raptors’ new starting point guard, agent Mark Bartelstein confirmed Thursday night that he and Raptors president and general manager Bryan Colangelo are “working together” to try to find a workable trade.”There’s a little bit of a logjam there in the backcourt now,” Bartelstein said. “Bryan and I are talking and we’re putting our heads together to see what we can do to find a solution.”
- Chauncey Billups has officially re-signed with the Clippers: “The Los Angeles Clippers today re-signed unrestricted free agent and five-time NBA All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not announced. In 20 games (20 starts) played for the Clippers during the 2011-12 season, Billups averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 30.4 minutes per contest. Billups shot 36.4 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from behind the three-point line and 89.5 percent from the free throw line. Billups 2012 season ended prematurely on February 6th in Orlando when he suffered a torn left Achilles tendon after scoring 18 points (10 in the fourth quarter) in what would eventually be a 107-102 overtime road win for Los Angeles.”
- The Golden State Warriors are looking for tough-minded players, so Kenyon Martin is on their radar, according to Matt Steinmetz: “According to league sources, the Warriors have made inquiries and are open to the idea of signing Martin, who played last season for the Los Angeles Clippers. Warriors owner Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers have made it clear this offseason that the team is looking to add toughness and experience to their roster. The Warriors followed through on that earlier this week when they acquired guard Jarrett Jack in a three-team trade with Philadelphia and New Orleans. Martin, a 12-year veteran, would provide those same kinds of things in the frontcourt.”
- JaVale McGee has been offered a lot of money from the Nuggets, but isn’t in a rush to get a deal done, according to Benjamin Hochman: “The Nuggets continue to pursue restricted free-agent center JaVale McGee, who has a five-year, $50 million offer on the table, a source said. But McGee’s representatives don’t appear to be in a hurry to get a deal done and will continue to negotiate. The Nuggets can match any offer another NBA team would make to McGee, 24.”
- Grant Hill may be leaning towards joining the Los Angeles Lakers: ”It appears another Suns favorite will be heading to Hollywood. Arizona Sports 620′s John Gambadoro reported Friday that veteran Grant Hill may be the next Sun to head to division rival. Hill has been linked to Los Angeles almost from the moment Steve Nash was traded, as his good relationship with the former Suns point guard as well as sturdy defense and leadership qualities would be a good fit for a Lakers team that believes it is a championship contender.”
- As Joe Johnson was officially introduced on Friday as a Nets player, he declared that the Brooklyn Nets are the best team in New York now, from Mike Mazzeo: “Joe Johnson thinks the best NBA team in New York City is the one that just traded for him: The Brooklyn Nets. ”The Nets. Definitely, the Nets,” Johnson responded Friday at a news conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall, kicking off what should be a riveting “East River Rivalry” between the Nets and the New York Knicks. ”This is a great day, because it’s a day when we put together the best backcourt in the NBA,” general manager Billy King said, alluding to pairing Johnson (four years, $89 million) with Deron Williams, who signed a max contract worth $98 million over five years.”
- The Philadelphia 76ers signed Kwame Brown to a two-year contract worth $6 million, and Kelly Dwyer can’t quite figure out what they are thinking: “What’s bad is this comes amidst news that the 76ers have used the amnesty provision on Elton Brand, who was due to make over $18 million in 2012-13 but also due to play some very good basketball that particular year. And, amongst word that coach Doug Collins is looking to find a center to move Spencer Hawes down to power forward, a position he didn’t play a single second at last year while at times even looking too slow for the center position. And, amongst word that Lou Williams has moved on to Atlanta for a reasonable contract the 76ers could have easily come up with. Also, let’s remind you of the word “signed” as in “the 76ers just signed Kwame Brown.”
- The Timberwolves made some moves as they continued to prepare to sign Nicolas Batum: “The Minnesota Timberwolves have traded center Brad Miller and two second-round picks to New Orleans and waived swingman Martell Webster as they prepare to file a formal offer to Portland restricted free agent Nicolas Batum. The Wolves made the moves on Friday, one day after using the amnesty clause on center Darko Milicic. The Wolves received a conditional second-round pick from the Hornets for Miller, who has said he will retire. Timberwolves president David Kahn says the Wolves will submit the offer sheet, which is for four years and more than $45 million, to the league on Sunday night when Webster clears waivers.”
- The Knicks may have some interest in Ronnie Brewer as they search for a combo-guard, Jared Zwerling: “A source very close to Ronnie Brewer said the Knicks have expressed “some interest” in the six-year swingman. His team last season, the Bulls, didn’t pick up his team option of $4.37 million, thereby making him an unrestricted free agent. Addressing reporters in Las Vegas, Mike Woodson didn’t specify which players the Knicks were still looking to sign — they have a couple of roster spots remaining — but he said he and Glen Grunwald are looking at a couple of players. It’s likely that with Iman Shumpert out until January — Woodson did say he believes Shump is ahead of schedule — the team could be in the market for a combo/shooting guard to play off the bench, especially someone who’s athletic and can get to the cup.”
- Speaking of the Knicks, we have some Carmelo Anthony clips today. Here is one of him being a spokesperson for chocolate milk, because it’s so good for you. He also discusses what it means to be a part of the Olympics team in his thisismelo.com video.
- Check out this sweet looking documentary called “Doin’ it in the park: pick-up basketball, NYC“, featuring legendary street ballers and NBA players including Kenny Anderson, Kenny Smith, Julius Irving and more.
- If you are an extremely talented basketball player, LeBron James Skill Academy is apparently the place you want to end up in.
- If you want to have crazy fun and be a part of a lip-syncing promotion video, you join Rudy Fernandez’s camp.
- Did you know there is a show called “Nate Robinson’s State of Nate“? There is, and it’s already 10 episodes in.