NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

NBA Notes: Cavaliers trade Kyrie Irving to Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, more in blockbuster

CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving was tired of being teammates with LeBron James.

Now he has to figure out how to beat him.

Cleveland's All-Star guard, who asked owner Dan Gilbert to trade him earlier this summer, was dealt Tuesday night to the Boston Celtics for fellow All-Star Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, center Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' unprotected 2018 first-round draft pick.

"It's extremely rare to trade for a 25-year-old player that's done what he's done, the offensive weapon that he is," Celtics president Danny Ainge said. "We feel like his best basketball is still ahead of him.

"We have a player that's proven to be a sure thing. We know how unpredictable the draft can be. You do pay a heavy price for a player of that age and that caliber."

Irving, whose late 3-pointer helped Cleveland win the 2016 NBA championship -- and the city's first title since 1964 -- is on his way to Boston, where he'll join a Celtics team that lost to the Cavs in last season's conference finals.

And as fate will have it, the Cavs will host the Celtics in their season opener on Oct. 17.

"Of course we know who our competition is, and we know who are biggest threats are each year," Ainge said. "But we feel like this is a trade that can make us better, and that's why we did it" (see full story).

Pacers: Poythress signed to 2-way contract
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have signed forward Alex Poythress to a two-way contract.

Poythress spent most of last season playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA's G-League, where he averaged 18.5 points and 7.1 rebounds in 46 games.

The 6-foot-7, 238-pound former Kentucky player joined the 76ers on April 1. He averaged 10.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in six games with Philadelphia.

The Pacers signed Poythress on Tuesday.

Brett Brown believes Ben Simmons is 'stone cold' Rookie of the Year

Brett Brown believes Ben Simmons is 'stone cold' Rookie of the Year

Brett Brown made his case for Ben Simmons to win top rookie honors, and Simmons agrees.

“He is the stone cold Rookie of the Year,” Brown said.

The Sixers head coach’s strong words came after Simmons recorded his 10th triple-double of the season Saturday in the Sixers' win over the Timberwolves (see observations).

With 15 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists in just under 30 minutes, Simmons posted a stat line that is becoming routine for the 6-foot-10 point guard.

“I think the play I’ve had over the season has been pretty consistent,” Simmons said. “I’m doing some things that haven’t been done in a while.”

Simmons is right. He already passed Magic Johnson for second-most triple-doubles by a rookie in NBA history and trails only Oscar Robertson in that category. The 21-year-old currently is averaging 7.9 assists, putting him on track to join Robertson as the only rookies to average at least 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists per game.

In comparison to rookies around the league this season, Simmons ranks first in rebounds, assists and steals and second in scoring. 

For as well as Simmons is playing, there will be a tough competition for the award.

Like Simmons, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is leading his team in the hunt for the playoffs. Mitchell is averaging 20.3 points (first among rookies), 3.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. He has scored 30-plus point in seven games, including a 40-point performance.

Forward Jayson Tatum also has been mentioned in Rookie of the Year consideration. Tatum is posting 13.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists on the Eastern Conference second-ranked Celtics.

"I’m not worried about putting up points every game,” Simmons said. “As long as we win, that’s all I’m worried about. I think everything else will come along with it. But that’s just not the way I play. I don’t need to score 30, 40 points every game. Now I can create 40 points by passing the ball, that’s easy to me."

The conversation about this award is far from over.

Pistons keep Sixers from clinching playoff spot

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Pistons keep Sixers from clinching playoff spot

DETROIT — Anthony Tolliver scored 25 points, and the Detroit Pistons made 13 3-pointers in the first half on their way to a 117-95 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night.

The Pistons have won three of four, with the only loss in that span in overtime at Houston, but Detroit still trails Milwaukee by 5 1/2 games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls have lost five straight.

The Pistons went 13 of 27 from 3-point range in the first half and led 66-47 after two quarters. Tolliver scored 16 points in the half.

Tolliver made six 3-pointers for Detroit and Reggie Bullock made four. The Pistons were 16 of 36 from beyond the arc through three quarters, but they missed all six of their attempts in the fourth. The franchise record for a game is 17 (see full recap).

Rockets set franchise wins record with victory over Pelicans 
HOUSTON — James Harden scored 27 points in three quarters and the Houston Rockets routed the New Orleans Pelicans 114-91 on Saturday night for their eighth straight victory.

The NBA-leading Rockets improved to 59-14 to overtake the 1993-94 championship team for the most wins in franchise history.

Houston never trailed and already had a huge lead to start the fourth before scoring seven straight points early in the period to make it 92-63 with 10 minutes remaining. Clint Capela had four points and a steal to lead Houston in that stretch. Capela finished with 18 points, 16 rebounds, three steals and tied a career high with six blocks.

The Pelicans, who were playing their fifth game in seven days, finally ran out of gas, and looked worn out from the start. Entering Saturday's game they had played on three consecutive nights from Tuesday-Thursday because of a rescheduled game and won all of them to extend their winning streak to four in a row (see full recap).

Gordon dishes out career high in assists in Magic win over Suns
ORLANDO, Fla. — There hasn't been a lot for the Orlando Magic to cheer about this season, so a victory over the Phoenix Suns and a couple of near triple-doubles by Aaron Gordon and D.J. Augustin were nearly cause for celebration.

Gordon had 29 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high eight assists in what could have been the first triple-double of his career in Orlando's 105-99 victory Saturday night. Augustin was even closer, getting 15 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to help the Magic end a three-game losing streak.

Nikola Vucevic had 24 points and 11 rebounds.

"That was a pretty good all-around game," Gordon said. "If I draw attention from the defense, I pass and once the defensive attention leaves, I can score again so it's a balance that I'm still working on as a young player." (See full recap.)