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NBA Notes: Celtics trade Avery Bradley, pick to Pistons for Marcus Morris

NBA Notes: Celtics trade Avery Bradley, pick to Pistons for Marcus Morris

DETROIT -- One of the biggest questions facing the Detroit Pistons this offseason was what they would do with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

On Friday, they replaced him.

The Pistons traded forward Marcus Morris to Boston in exchange for guard Avery Bradley and a second-round draft pick in 2019. Bradley's arrival gives the Pistons a replacement for Caldwell-Pope, who had been a restricted free agent. Detroit has now renounced the rights to Caldwell-Pope.

Bradley averaged 16.3 points per game last season for the Celtics, but Boston is adding All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and moving on from Bradley. Morris averaged 14 points for Detroit.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge released a statement thanking Bradley for his contributions.

"It's no secret that Avery had been one of my favorite players," Ainge said. "Avery did a lot of the dirty work and often didn't get the recognition that he deserved, but our coaches, staff, his teammates, and our fans who watched him play every night appreciated what a special player and person he is."

Bradley was the longest-tenured member of the Celtics, bridging the gap from the era of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen that won the 2008 NBA title. Picked 19th overall in the 2010 draft, he developed into one of the league's best defenders, making the All-Defensive second team in 2013 and first team in 2016.

Detroit, which missed the playoffs last year, can slot Bradley into the backcourt alongside point guard Reggie Jackson. Bradley, who turns 27 in November, is older than the 24-year-old Caldwell-Pope, but he's also been a better shooter from 3-point range, finishing at 39 percent last season.

The Pistons lose Morris, who has been a steady veteran and a mainstay in the starting lineup over the past two seasons. Detroit has another solid wing player in Tobias Harris, and the Pistons drafted sharp-shooting Duke guard Luke Kennard in the first round (see full story).

Pacers: Team adds help to backcourt by signing Collison
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers have signed free agent Darren Collison.

Terms of the deal were not released Friday amid reports it is a two-year contract worth $20 million.

The point guard returns to a team he played for from 2010-12. Collison averaged 11.9 points and 5.0 in 139 games during his first stint with the Pacers.

Since being taken with 21st overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft, Collison has career averages of 12.7 points and 4.8 assists.

He joins a backcourt that will be led by Victor Oladipo and Lance Stephenson The Pacers are rebuilding after trading four-time All-Star Paul George to Oklahoma City and losing point guard Jeff Teague in free agency.

Indiana also waived forward Rakeem Christmas.

Hornets: Walker played big role in landing Carter-Williams
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When All-Star Kemba Walker approached Hornets general manager Rich Cho about signing free agent Michael Carter-Williams, Cho said he couldn't help but lend an ear.

"Anytime your best player is endorsing another player and is excited about acquiring another player you have to listen," Cho said.

The Hornets officially signed Carter-Williams to a one-year, $2.7 million contract on Friday, filling a need at backup point guard behind Walker, who's coming off his best season. The Hornets also envision the 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams playing alongside Walker at times as an off guard in certain situations, similar to how they used Jeremy Lin and Walker together two seasons ago during a run to the playoffs.

Carter-Williams' upside remains a bit of an unknown.

He was named the NBA's rookie of the year in 2014, but has been traded twice since and has struggled at times with injuries.

He hasn't come close to matching the 16.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists he averaged as a rookie for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Sixers traded Carter-Williams to Milwaukee midway through his second season. The Bucks later traded him to Chicago where he averaged just 6.6 points last season while starting a career-low 19 games.

Heat: McRoberts shipped to Mavs to free cap space
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat have traded oft-injured forward Josh McRoberts to the Dallas Mavericks for center A.J. Hammons and a 2023 second-round draft pick.

The move frees much-needed salary cap space for Miami, which owed McRoberts just over $6 million for next season. McRoberts was limited to 81 games with the Heat in the last three seasons.

Hammons is set to make $1.3 million.

Both players got to the NBA out of Carmel High in Carmel, Indiana. McRoberts graduated from Carmel; Hammons left there and transferred to Oak Hill in Virginia for his junior and senior seasons.

Dallas would become McRoberts' seventh team. He played for Portland, the Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando, Indiana and Charlotte before Miami (see full story).

Best of NBA: LeBron James triple-double lifts Cavaliers over Lakers

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Best of NBA: LeBron James triple-double lifts Cavaliers over Lakers

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James recorded his 59th career triple-double in front of Lonzo Ball and his brothers, Kevin Love scored 28 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers won for the 16th time in 17 games, 121-112 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

James finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to move a tie with Larry Bird for sixth place on the career triple-doubles list. He also put the Lakers away with a dunk and short runner in the final two minutes.

Love scored 13 in the third quarter, when the Cavs opened an 11-point lead on the way to their 10th straight home win. Jose Calderon added a season-high 17 points for Cleveland.

Brandon Ingram scored 26 for the Lakers and Ball had 13 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

It was the first on-court meeting between James and Ball, the Lakers' highly touted rookie whose outspoken father LaVar has brought both attention and animosity toward his son.

LaVar Ball, who did not attend the game, launched his "Big Baller Brand" to promote his three talented sons. James gave them an in-person lesson in the business of basketball (see full recap).

Lee, Knicks top Nets after Porzingis exits
NEW YORK -- Courtney Lee scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half, Michael Beasley added 15, and the New York Knicks held on to beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-104 on Thursday night after losing star forward Kristaps Porzingis to a sore left knee early in the second half.

Porzingis motioned to the bench with 9:25 remaining in the third quarter after contesting a shot made by Brooklyn's Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The Knicks' leading scorer had scored 13 points in nearly 18 minutes in the first half.

Enes Kanter had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who earned just their second road victory of the season. Their only other one was Oct. 29 at Cleveland.

Spencer Dinwiddie had 26 points for the Nets, who have dropped the first two games to their city rivals. Hollis-Jefferson added 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting and Caris LeVert added 15 (see full recap).

Drummond helps Pistons snap 7-game skid
ATLANTA -- Andre Drummond had 12 points, 19 rebounds and a career-high nine assists, Tobias Harris added 19 points and the Detroit Pistons snapped a seven-game slide with a 105-91 victory over the NBA-worst Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night.

Avery Bradley finished with 18 points and Langston Galloway scored 17 as Detroit won for the first time since beating Phoenix on Nov. 29.

Ersan Ilyasova had 23 points, John Collins scored 15 and Dennis Schroder had 10 assists for Atlanta, which dropped to 6-22 and has lost three in a row.

The Pistons never trailed after Galloway's 3-pointer early in the second quarter. They led by 13 at halftime when Galloway hit a 20-footer in the closing seconds and went up by 22 on Reggie Bullock's floater midway through the third.

Detroit recovered from a 103-84 home loss Tuesday to Denver, a performance coach Stan Van Gundy called one of the worst "I've ever had to coach" in over 850 career games (see full recap).

Robert Covington (back) to return for Sixers' game vs. Thunder

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Robert Covington (back) to return for Sixers' game vs. Thunder

Robert Covington kept his wish list very simple when asked by Joel Embiid what he wanted for his birthday.

“A ‘W’ tomorrow,” said Covington, who turned 27 on Thursday.

Realistically, the swingman will be happy just getting back on the court. Covington is expected to play after missing the last two games of the Sixers’ road trip following a scary back injury he suffered during last Saturday’s 105-98 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With 1:08 remaining, Covington attempted to save a ball near the sideline before he tumbled out of bounds and over the courtside seats near the Cavaliers’ bench. He kept falling off the four- to five-inch dropoff from the Quicken Loans Arena court to the ground and hit a metal object as he landed. Covington walked off the court with help from his teammates and was labeled with a lower-back contusion.

Now a few days of rest and rehab has him ready for a return in Friday’s home matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“It’s feeling good,” Covington said of his back after Thursday’s practice at the Sixers’ training complex. “The past few days, I’ve done a lot of rehab, acupuncture stuff. My bad today, I felt really great. … I felt great great coming into practice. Acupuncture yesterday, did a lot of movement, a lot of stuff that really opened up my back so I really feel really good today.”

Covington’s return couldn’t come at a better time for the Sixers. 

Sure, a team can always use a player that has averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game and shot 42.7 percent from three-point range this season. However, it will be Covington’s defense that will come in handy the most against the dangerous Thunder trio of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

Whether Covington comes out strong or struggles to find a rhythm after after his injury, the Sixers will still be happy just to have him back on the floor healthy.

“It’s his birthday today, so he looked a little bit older. But he looked good,” head coach Brett Brown said.