Dwight Howard

NBA Notes: Chauncey Billups meets with Cavaliers for 2nd straight day

NBA Notes: Chauncey Billups meets with Cavaliers for 2nd straight day

CLEVELAND -- Chauncey Billups once competed against the Cleveland Cavaliers as a player. He could be joining them as an executive.

Billups met with team owner Dan Gilbert on Wednesday for the second straight day to discuss a front-office position with the Cavaliers, who are regrouping after losing to Golden State in the NBA Finals.

Gilbert could be close to offering a job to Billups, according to a person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. Billups is the first person to meet with Gilbert since he parted ways with general manager David Griffin this week when talks about a possible contract extension broke down.

Billups was in Cleveland, but as of 7 p.m. EDT there was no official agreement in place. The 40-year-old is likely weighing whether Cleveland is a good spot for him to begin a new career, given the team's recent upheaval and that superstar LeBron James will be eligible for free agency after next season.

While the Cavaliers are looking for Griffin's replacement after he guided them to three straight Finals, it's believed that Billups would take on a different role, perhaps as the team's director of basketball operations. Trent Redden, who served as the senior vice president of basketball operations, is also not returning next season.

Billups has no previous experience as an NBA executive, but he does have a long-standing relationship with Gilbert from their time together in Detroit and he knows the league well. Billups, who was a five-time All-Star, also is close with Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue (see full story).

Wizards: Frazier acquired from Pelicans for pick
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have acquired point guard Tim Frazier from the New Orleans Pelicans for a second-round pick in the NBA draft.

Wednesday's deal gives the Pelicans the No. 52 overall selection Thursday night.

That was the only pick Washington had this year. Its first-rounder went to Brooklyn in the Bojan Bogdanovic deal at the trade deadline.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Frazier has averaged 6.2 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in three NBA seasons with New Orleans, Philadelphia and Portland. He has played in 127 regular-season games, making 40 starts.

Last season, he averaged 7.1 points and 5.2 assists for the Pelicans in 65 games, including 35 starts.

With Washington, Frazier could be the primary backup to All-Star point guard John Wall.

Lakers: Young declines contract option for next season
LOS ANGELES -- Nick Young will be an unrestricted free agent this summer after declining his $5.66 million contract option for next season with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers announced Young's decision Wednesday.

Young has spent four tumultuous seasons with the Lakers, averaging 13.1 points and 2.3 rebounds over 220 games.

The Los Angeles native realized a childhood dream by joining the Lakers, but the 10-year NBA veteran's tenure has coincided with the worst four-year stretch in the 16-time NBA champions' history.

After struggling on the court during the 2015-16 season and enduring upheaval in his personal life due to an infamous video scandal with then-rookie D'Angelo Russell, Young enjoyed a career revival last season under new coach Luke Walton. Young averaged 13.2 points while hitting 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.

Hornets: Coach says Howard can return to All-Star level
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Charlotte coach Steve Clifford is confident he can help newly acquired Hornets center Dwight Howard become a dominant force and an NBA All-Star again.

Clifford is familiar with Howard, having coached him for six seasons as an assistant in Orlando and Los Angeles.

"I know what he has to do to play well," Clifford said Wednesday. "He understands that I know him. I know his game. Being around him in different settings I have a feel for what he likes to do... There is no reason he can't get back to playing at a really high level."

General manager Rich Cho said Clifford's familiarity with Howard is a major reason the Hornets pulled the trigger on a trade that sent guard Marco Belinelli, center Miles Plumlee and the No. 41 overall pick in the NBA draft to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for Howard and the No. 31 overall pick. It meant taking on Howard's contract, which will pay him $47 million over the next two seasons.

Now the question becomes if Howard can bounce back from two tumultuous seasons in Atlanta and Houston, and also fit in in Charlotte.

Howard was an NBA All-Star eight straight seasons from 2007-14. But Howard didn't play in the fourth quarter two of Atlanta's first-round playoff games last season, something that irked the 13-year NBA veteran. Atlanta dealt Howard to Charlotte just one year into a three-year, $74 million contract (see full story).

Richaun Holmes earns high praise from Dwight Howard after career night against Hawks

Richaun Holmes earns high praise from Dwight Howard after career night against Hawks

Richaun Holmes continues to set career-highs in scoring and is doing so against some of the most defensive-minded bigs in the NBA.

Holmes reached his new mark with 25 points against Dwight Howard in the Sixers' 99-92 loss to the Hawks on Wednesday. He also pulled down eight rebounds.

Holmes scored a then-career-high 24 points twice in March, first facing DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers on March 11 and then against Nikola Vucevic and the Magic on March 20.

Holmes' most recent performance earned praise from Howard, who also had a standout night with 22 points and 20 rebounds.

"I thought he played great," Howard said. "I'm real happy for him."

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and five-time All-Defensive Team selection recalled his early matchups with Holmes and how far Holmes has come in his two years in the league.

"He's a kid that I remember the first time he stepped on the court with me, he was just like excited," Howard said. "He kept saying, 'Wow, I'm on the floor with Dwight Howard.' He just kept saying he was excited. Just to see his growth from that moment, he plays with such passion, it's great to see especially from a young guy like him. I'm proud of him."

Holmes' matchup with Howard was a test of physicality. Howard is listed at 6-foot-11, 265 pounds compared to Holmes at 6-foot-10, 245 pounds.

Holmes rose to the occasion.

"It's another challenge playing against one of the best in the world," he said. "It's another way to learn and another way to get better. Obviously, I enjoyed it."

Holmes is averaging 14.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 26.2 minutes over the last 10 games. With an ease playing at the basket, Holmes is working on improving his long-range game. He made a three against the Hawks, which caught Howard by surprise.

There are only seven games remaining in the season. Without a timetable for Jahlil Okafor's return (right knee soreness), Holmes could start in all of them. The once bench-ridden backup has proven he can handle that role.

"He became the forgotten center (earlier this season). Throughout it all, he was not a forgotten teammate," Brett Brown said. "Daylight became available and he has capitalized on that."

Best of NBA: Howard stars in return to Houston as Hawks rally for win

Best of NBA: Howard stars in return to Houston as Hawks rally for win

HOUSTON -- Dwight Howard scored 24 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in his first game back in Houston since signing with Atlanta in the offseason, leading the Hawks to a 113-108 victory over the Rockets on Thursday night.

Tim Hardaway Jr. had 33 points for Atlanta, including a driving dunk with less than a minute remaining that gave Atlanta a three-point lead.

The Hawks trailed by as many as 20 points and entered the fourth quarter down 13 before Howard led a late comeback.

James Harden had 41 points, eight assists and eight rebounds, but the Rockets struggled to make shots down the stretch.

Houston lost its lead when Hardaway Jr. was fouled on a driving layup and converted the free throw to give Atlanta a one-point lead with two minutes remaining.

Howard, who spent the last three seasons in Houston, received a mostly warm welcome by the Toyota Center crowd (see full recap).

Wall double-double lifts Wizards over Lakers
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- John Wall scored 33 points and had 11 assists, Bradley Beal added 23 points and Marcin Gortat tied his season high with 21 to lead the Washington Wizards to their sixth straight win, 116-108 over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

It marks Washington's first six-game winning streak since Dec. 8-19, 2014. The Wizards have also won 16 straight at home -- the second-longest run in franchise history.

Jordan Clarkson led Los Angeles with 20 points.

Washington had a 14-point lead, 86-72 with 2:37 to play in the third quarter, but the Lakers, who have lost nine of 11, tied it at 91 with 9:10 to play.

Wall, who scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, including the Wizards' final eight, sealed the win with a steal with 1:18 to play. He converted a jumper with 1:06 left, another with 38 seconds remaining and added four late free throws (see full recap).