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NBA AM: Derrick Rose Remains A Lightning Rod

Derrick Rose has remained a lightning rod for skeptics. Is it fair?

Lang Greene

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Derrick Rose hurt, again, during Thursday’s win over Raptors

Derrick Rose’s basketball journey over the past few years has been filled with highest of highs and the lowest of lows. There is the league MVP award won after an outstanding 2011 campaign. There’s the two crippling knee injuries, which subsequently robbed him of nearly two full seasons. Then there’s the 2014 FIBA World Cup where Rose managed to play throughout, winning a gold medal, even though his play was shaky.

The 2014-15 season has been filled with similar up and down moments for the former MVP.

Rose was seemingly on his way to one of his trademark performances in the second game of the season versus the Cleveland Cavaliers with 20 points in just over 25 minutes played. But Rose was forced to sit the remaining portion of the second half with a pair of sprained ankles. Those ailments have forced Rose to miss four games total.

In the Bulls’ last two games, wins over Detroit and Toronto, Rose is averaging 22 points and 5.5 assists while converting 13-of-15 free throws.

However, Rose was forced out of the Raptors victory on Thursday night after tweaking his left hamstring. The Bulls got the win over the emerging Raptors but the aftermath naturally turned to the topic of Rose’s health.

Rose played off the severity of the latest injury and is hoping not to miss any court action.

“I guess it’s cramps in my hamstrings,” Rose said according to ESPN Chicago after the Raptors game. “But I think it’s minor, and they decided to pull me out.

“I don’t think it’s that serious. Just ice it, stim, see if I can practice [Friday] and give it a go Saturday.”

The latest potential setback comes after a firestorm of media criticism about Rose’s ability to play through injuries and stay healthy.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau defended the guard earlier this week and believes the criticism is off base.

“He’s navigating through coming back off of 2-1/2 years off,” Thibodeau told Fox Sports. “It’s a lot. I think everyone has to take a step back and be patient and let him go through this process. He’s going to be special again, just be patient.

“He’s a lightning rod right now. The same people that were praising him in his MVP year are the ones that are criticizing him now and, when he starts playing great again, will be the same people praising him again.”

In five games this season, Rose is averaging 18 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in 28 minutes per outing. The Bulls host the struggling Indiana Pacers at home on Saturday.

Bucks’ owner looking to improve financial literacy throughout the league

Behind the flashy dunks, fame, expensive cars, beautiful women and lucrative endorsement deals lies a seldom mentioned state of affairs – bankruptcy among former professional athletes is still an issue needing to be addressed.

While the NBA has improved its efforts over the years attempting to educate players entering the league, it’s important to keep in mind that the audience oftentimes features guys under 21 years old from poorer economic backgrounds.

However, if it is left up to new Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens, the subject will receive even greater attention moving forward.

According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Edens wants players to become more savvy off the court and give them financial outlets to help them improve and maintain their accumulated wealth.

“I want to help guys out to understand financially how to be in a better place,” Edens said according to the report. “I know when I was 22 (years old), I made a lot of bad decisions.

Edens is founder and co-chairman of Fortress Investment Group LLC. The asset management company is reportedly worth $62 billion.  He purchased the Bucks, along with New York hedge fund exec Marc Lasry, back in May for a reported $550 million.

For now Edens’ work on financial well being has remained exclusive to his franchise but according to a source in the original report this is a topic the newly minted owner is extremely passionate about.

“This is something he really feels passionate about,” the source said. “The stats about the number of players ending up in bankruptcy are unacceptable to him and he wants to see what he can do to help his players.”

Milwaukee is currently 4-4 on the season and would make the Eastern Conference playoffs if the campaign were to end today.

Mavs’ Felton still not ready for game action

After an offseason full of moves, the Dallas Mavericks appear to be one of the stronger teams in the league during the early portion of the 2014-15 campaign. The team’s marquee additions this past summer was emerging forward Chandler Parsons in free agency and former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler via trade.

The team also made improvements to their depth at point guard signing veteran floor general Jameer Nelson and acquiring Raymond Felton in a trade with the New York Knicks.

To date, however, Felton hasn’t been able to log any time due to a severely sprained right ankle suffered in training camp. But even when Felton is 100 percent he will have to serve a four game suspension after pleading guilty to a gun charge during the offseason.

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle says there hasn’t been any setbacks concerning Felton’s ankle.

“It’s just a little bit slow,” Carlisle told the Dallas Morning News. “There has not been a setback. We’re not going to mess with it. The rules state that he’s got to be healthy to begin [the suspension]. And we’re not going to mess with league rules.

“We need him. We need every available healthy guy on our roster that we can get. Don’t think it doesn’t cross your mind when you see Jameer Nelson go down the other night and limp off the floor. But Mother Nature is difficult sometimes. He’s working hard at it. We’ll just keep pointing in that direction and hopefully it will be soon.”

Felton is on the Mavericks’ books for $3.8 million this season. The guard has a player option worth $3,9 million for the 2015-16 campaign.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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NBA Daily: Three-Point Champion is Just a Regular Joe

Joe Harris had his league-wide coming out at All-Star weekend when he shocked fans across the globe in upsetting three-point shootout favorite-Steph Curry.

Drew Maresca

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Joe Harris’ fortunes and those of the Brooklyn Nets appear to be traveling on the same trajectory. Harris’ personality and approach embody the softer side of the Brooklyn Nets’ team persona: he is loyal, hardworking and humble. And while Jared Dudley and DeMarre Carroll provide veteran leadership and Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson offer personality, Harris provides a grounded approachability.

No one would blame him, though, if he develops a small ego. After all, Harris just received his formal introduction to the world, having won the NBA’s three-point championship last weekend in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s hard to deny that his star is rising.

And yet, Harris seems unaware that his status is rising.

“To be honest, I am solid in my role. That’s what I’m about,” Harris told Basketball Insiders before the Nets’ January 25 game against the Knicks. “I’m pretty realistic with where I view myself as a player. And I have the self-awareness to realize that I’m not a star player in this league by any means. I mean, I’m good in my role and I’m trying to take that to another level and be as complete as I can in my niche role that I have.”

While Harris’ comments could be misinterpreted as a humble brag, they shouldn’t be. He is simply a hard-working player who perhaps doesn’t quite realize everything he adds to his team. But let’s be clear, Harris’ presence absolutely improves the Nets’ play.

Harris boasts the second-best three-point percentage in the NBA (.471) through the first four months of the season; he trails only Victor Olapido and J.J. Reddick for top three-point percentage of all 48 players who have at least 10 “clutch” attempts from long-range and he’s ranked tenth in points per clutch possession (1.379).

He helps space the floor for teammates D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, who take advantage of his long-range acumen by attacking an often less congested pathway to the hoop — and drives account for 53.4 percent of the Nets’ points (third in the entire league).

It is no surprise then that the Nets are currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

“At the end of the day we’re just trying to go play good basketball.” Harris said. “The wins are a byproduct of that. It’s about staying locked into this process and how it’s gotten us here regardless of who is on the court.”

Harris’ dedication to the team and its process is becoming more unique each year as players hop from franchise to franchise more frequently than ever before. While Harris only joined the Nets in 2016, he was immediately seen as a key player by the Nets’ leadership, albeit one on a minimum deal – according to Kyle Wagner of the Daily News, Coach Kenny Atkinson saw a lot of Kyler Korver in his game and GM Sean Marks wanted him to study Danny Green.

And while Harris’ 2018-19 stats reflect similar production to the career highs of both of Korver and Green (13.2 points per game with an effective field goal percentage of .622 for Harris versus 14.4 points with an eFG% of .518 for Korver and 11.7 points with an eFG% of .566 for Green), at only 27 years old, he should only continue to improve.

A lot has changed in the two and a half seasons since Harris signed a free agent deal with the Nets, but one thing that hasn’t changed is his character.

“We had various deals that were shorter for more (money),” Harris said. “And some were longer and roughly the same, but this is where I wanted to be and I’m happy it ended up working out.”

Harris ultimately signed a two-year deal for approximately $16 million, which can be viewed as both cashing in, given where he was only two years ago (out of the league), and betting on himself, considering the short-term nature of the contract and his relative youth.

And what’s more, Harris will probably go down as a value signing for the Nets considering his versatility. After all, he is not merely a one-dimensional shooter. In fact, he is actually shooting slightly better than 60 percent on 3.2 attempts per game from the restricted area – which is better than All-Star teammate D’Angelo Russell (53 percent on 2.8 attempts). Further, Harris shoots a fair amount of his three-point attempts above the break, which is to say that he does not rely heavily on the shorter corner threes – which tend to be a more efficient means of scoring (1.16 vs. 1.05 points per possession league-wide from 1998-2018) as they are typically a spot where specialist players lurk awaiting an opening look.

The question is, how much more can we expect to see from Harris in the future? If you ask him, he’d probably undersell you on his ceiling and allude to steady progress that ultimately looks similar to what he’s done recently. But the only thing similar about Harris’ career production is that it has steadily improved – and that’s partially due to his process-oriented approach.

“We talked about it in the midst of the losing streak,” Harris said. “What are you going to change, what are you going to do (when you’re in a slump)? Not that we were going to do the exact same thing, but we felt like we were very process oriented. We felt like we were right there. Our whole thing was about being deliberate and doing it as consistently as possible.”

Harris sees the validity in repeating what works. And he’s figured that out, partially with the help of his teammates. Harris clearly values veteran input and team chemistry.

“You look at our team right now and we have really good veteran presences with Jared and DeMarre and Ed (Davis),” Harris said. “That’s the voice from the leadership standpoint. I’m learning from them just like DLo is. And all the other guys in the locker room are. They’re the guiding presence of what it is to be a professional and they keep everything even keel. They don’t go too low when things are tough, and they don’t let us get too high when things are going well.”

Harris is clearly a little uncomfortable taking credit for his team’s success, and he shies away from the spotlight a bit. He seems to prefer anonymity. But Harris should probably get used to the attention he’s received this season because it will only increase as his profile continues to rise as we enter the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

“He’s not just a shooter,” Atkinson told NBA.com last April. “He’s worked on his drive game, he’s worked on his finishing game. I think he’s worked on his defense. So just a complete player who fits how we want to play. He’s one of our most competitive players. Not a surprise watching, from the first day we had him, how locked in he was, how hungry he was. On top of it, he’s a top, top-ranked human being.”

So expect to see more of Joe Harris this April and beyond, but don’t be surprised by his humility. It’s one aspect about him that won’t change.

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NBA Daily: Danuel House Optimistic About Future

David Yapkowitz speaks to Danuel House about life as a two-way player for the Houston Rockets & what he hopes comes out of his time in the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

David Yapkowitz

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Opportunity is everything in the NBA. Last season’s implementation of two-way contracts gave a lot more players potential opportunities in the league that may not have been previously available.

One player who has used two-way contracts to showcase himself and really prove that he belongs in the NBA is Danuel House Jr.

House actually began his career two years ago as an undrafted rookie with the Washington Wizards. However, he suffered a wrist injury only about a month into the 2016-17 season.

He was subsequently cut by the Wizards and used the summer to heal up before joining the Houston Rockets for training camp prior to the start of last season. He ended up being one of the final cuts in camp, and he joined the Rockets’ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

His strong play earned him a two-way contract with the Phoenix Suns after only two months of G League play. This year, he rejoined the Vipers, only to earn another two-way contract with the Rockets. Having had some experience now with a two-way, it’s something that House sees as being beneficial.

“It’s got its good perks and its bad perks. But then the NBA is just trying to open more doors for more guys to be seen and have an opportunity,” House told Basketball Insiders. “I think it’s a good idea, it’s gonna work the kinks out so it can be more beneficial to the players. It’s still new and it’s still trending and working itself through the NBA.”

This season has been a bit of a whirlwind for House. He initially joined the Golden State Warriors for training camp, only to have them cut him before the start of the season. After spending about a month with the Vipers, the Rockets called him up, only to cut him and then eventually re-sign him to a two-way deal.

Due to injuries in the Rockets lineup, House saw meaningful minutes right away, even being placed in Houston’s starting lineup. He had some solid performances down the stretch of last season with the Suns, but this season he really looked the part of a legitimate NBA rotation player.

When a player signs a two-way deal, they are allotted a maximum of 45 days of NBA service, meaning that the rest of the time they must remain in the G League. If a player exceeds the 45-day limit, they must be sent back down to the G League unless they’re able to reach an agreement on a standard contract with the NBA team.

Because of the Rockets’ necessity of House in the rotation, he used up his NBA days last month. He and the Rockets were unable to agree on a contract, so he returned to the G League with the Vipers. While there haven’t been many updates as of late, he’s still hopeful that something can work out with the Rockets.

“Hopefully I can go back to Houston and compete for a title. There’s nothing like learning from James [Harden] and Chris Paul, Gerald Green, Eric Gordon and those guys,” House told Basketball Insiders. “And now with the additions of [Iman] Shumpert and Kenneth Faried, I’m just excited to hopefully get something done so I can be out there and competing with those guys.”

Initially, House wasn’t playing with the Vipers upon returning to the team. But he made his return to the court a few weeks ago on Feb 8. In that game, House shook off some initial rust and ended up having a solid performance including hitting the game-winning free-throws.

In the past, the G League was often times seen as a punishment for NBA players. The league didn’t have that great of a reputation, but over the past few years that image has started to change. The competition has gotten a lot stronger, and according to House, there are plenty of guys who are that close to making it to the NBA.

“The competition here is real. There’s a lot of dudes out here that got a lot of talent that they can showcase. They just want their one opportunity, their one chance that I was so fortunate and blessed with,” House told Basketball Insiders. “I know not to come out here and take it for granted, that’s why I’m playing hard and of course still trying to be a student of the game and learn.”

Recently, during a media availability session, Rockets star and perennial MVP candidate James Harden expressed hope that the Rockets and House could work something out. Harden told reporters that they all know how good House is and what he brings to the team.

In 25 games for the Rockets this season – including 12 starts – House put up nine points per game while shooting 45.8 percent from the field and 39 percent from the three-point line. He’s in the mold of a three-and-D type player, but he also moves well without the ball on cuts to the rim and can attack the basket as well.

“My role was to play defense and make the right read,” House told Basketball Insiders. “Shoot when I’m open, drive, attack the rack, and run the floor. Of course, defend and rebound and make good reads. It was easy.”

As it stands, the Rockets have 12 players on their roster, and a pair of two-way deals for House and Vincent Edwards. House is not eligible to rejoin the Rockets until the G League season concludes. Even then, he won’t be eligible to play in the playoffs as per two-way deal restrictions.

The Rockets will need to add at least two players to get up to the league-mandated 14 players on the roster. House would appear to be a good candidate for one of those spots, but that remains to be seen. But regardless of whether or not it works out in Houston, House is confident that he’s done enough to prove he belongs in the NBA.

“It gave me the utmost confidence, but my hard work, my passion, and my faith in the man upstairs gave me the ability. I asked him to guide me through the journey and he’s been taking care of me,” House told Basketball Insiders. “I’m so grateful that the opportunities and I used my ability to perform and do something I love to take care of my family.”

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PODCAST: Checking In On Clippers & Lakers, East Arms Race, Warriors’ Challengers

Basketball Insiders Deputy Editor Jesse Blancarte and Writer James Blancarte evaluate the L.A. teams after the trade deadline, break down the Eastern Conference contenders, and look for the Warriors’ biggest challengers.

Basketball Insiders

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Basketball Insiders Deputy Editor Jesse Blancarte and Writer James Blancarte evaluate the L.A. teams after the trade deadline, break down the Eastern Conference contenders, and look for the Warriors’ biggest challengers.

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