Former Houston Rockets player Robert Reid dies at 68

The Houston Rockets announced Tuesday afternoon that former NBA player Robert Reid died at 68. Reid was a 13-year NBA veteran, 10 of which he spent with the Rockets. Reid was drafted in 1977 in the second round by Houston after playing four years of collegiate ball at St. Mary’s University.

After Reid’s first five years in the league, he announced his retirement due to religious reasons, but after taking a year away to devote more time to his Pentecostal faith, Reid returned to the Rockets and played eight more years in the league. During his time with the Rockets, he was a key piece in Houston’s many postseason runs.

Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta released the following statement on Reid’s passing:

“It is with great sorrow that my family and I received the news of the passing of Rockets legend, Robert Reid. I have had the privilege of knowing Robert for over 40 years, and his presence always brought joy and positivity to any room he entered. I will never forget watching the Rockets teams he was a part of in the 80s compete in the Finals and the love he had for the game. My heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Diana, and all those who held him dear. Robert’s absence will be deeply felt, and he will be fondly remembered.”

During the 1980-81 season, Reid was the third leading scorer behind Hall of Famers Moses Malone and Calvin Murphy, averaging nearly 16 points a game. Despite finishing with a 40-42 record, the Rockets made a surprising run to the NBA Finals that year before falling to the Boston Celtics, and Reid was a key piece in that postseason success.

Three years later, Reid, Hakeem Olajuwon, and the Rockets again found themselves in the NBA Finals after getting past Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Lakers in the Western Conference finals during the 1985-86 season. They met the Celtics in the NBA Finals again and lost once more.

After 10 years with the Rockets, Reid was traded to the Charlotte Hornets, where he spent a season and a half, then he played with the Portland Trail Blazers for a year before ending his career with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1991.

Reid ranks in the top 10 of many categories in the Rockets record books, including games played (4th), steals (5th), points and rebounds (8th), blocks (9th), and assists (10th). He played a significant role in the Rockets’ first two NBA Finals appearances and helped lay the groundwork for the franchise’s two championships that followed in the ’90s.

Magic cited as possible free agent destination for Warriors legend, per report

Before the 2023-24 season, the Golden State Warriors reportedly offered Klay Thompson a two-year, $48 million contract extension. That’s a significant chunk of change, but a far cry from the five-year max he signed in 2019 that is set to expire after the season.

Things haven’t gone his way since then. Thompson is shooting career-low percentages from both the floor and from behind the 3-point line. Warriors coach Steve Kerr brought him off the bench for the first time since his rookie season in Golden State’s last game before the All-Star Break. Meanwhile, owner Joe Lacob has said that “plan 1A” for the offseason is to get below the luxury tax line, a difficult task if Thompson returns on a hefty contract.

All parties involved would prefer Thompson retire as a Warrior. He even told The Ringer’s Logan Murdoch that he would be open to a reduced role if it meant staying in Golden State — which may be a necessity given the rise of Brandin Podziemski. But if push comes to shove and the Warriors aren’t willing to pay Thompson what he believes he is worth, Marc Stein is reporting that there are increasing murmurings about one team that might: the Orlando Magic.

The fit is obvious. The Magic rank 27th in 3-point attempts and 29th in 3-point percentage. Their No. 5-ranked defense is built around four starters in Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, and Wendell Carter Jr. (along with reserve Jonathan Isaac), who can defend multiple positions, making it easy to protect Thompson on that end of the floor as he continues to decline. Eight players have given the Magic at least 750 minutes this season. They are all 26 and under, and not one of them has played in a playoff game. Thompson has obviously played in quite a few.

Orlando’s balance sheet for next season is complicated. They are currently looking at over $30 million in cap space, but that figure could go up or down depending on what they decide to do about their own players. Markelle Fultz and Gary Harris, key role players on this year’s team, are both set for unrestricted free agency. Joe Ingles has an $11 million team option. Isaac’s $17.4 million salary is non-guaranteed. The Magic can generate a max salary slot if they want to. They can also operate above the cap.

Thompson won’t generate anything close to a max offer, but something like that two-year, $48 million offer he turned down in the offseason makes plenty of sense for Orlando if Golden State won’t step up to the plate. It’s a short enough contract not to affect their long-term plans and would expire before Banchero’s inevitable max extension kicks in for the 2026-27 season.

It would also give the Magic badly-needed short-term shooting and veteran experience as they attempt to rise from the play-in range of the standings to genuine championship contention. Wagner and Banchero handle the ball more than most pairs of forwards, so the Magic could get away with not having a traditional primary ball-handler in their backcourt. If they ever decided to trade for one, Thompson’s hefty cap number on a short deal would be helpful.

The Magic are in a “use it or lose it” phase of having cap space. Wagner and Suggs become extension-eligible this offseason, but those deals wouldn’t kick in until the 2025-26 seasons begin. That gives them the 2024 offseason to spend their space before, at least from a salary perspective, they lock into something resembling their current roster. From that perspective, a Thompson pursuit would be relatively low-risk. He checks several boxes for them at a very limited opportunity cost. If they eventually want to pursue a high-priced guard that fits closer to the age range of the rest of their core, they’d still have enough draft capital and matching salary to do it down the line.

The Warriors should be the favorite to sign Thompson this summer. Nobody wants to see dynastic players finish their careers elsewhere. But as a starter or a reserve, Thompson still has plenty to offer a winning team. If the Warriors don’t pay him for that, maybe the Magic will.

‘There’s never accountability with that guy’

JJ Redick doesn’t want to hear any more excuses from recently installed Milwaukee Bucks coach Doc Rivers. While appearing on ESPN on Tuesday morning, Redick didn’t shy away from harsh criticism of his former coach, who spoke during All-Star Weekend about the difficulties of coming in midseason to take someone else’s job. Rivers was hired in late January after the Bucks fired Adrian Griffin, and since then, Milwaukee has gone just 3-7.

Rivers said that taking over the Bucks job has been “probably more difficult than I thought,” but Redick was fed up with hearing the excuses.

“I’ve seen the trend for years; the trend is always making excuses,” said Redick, who played under Rivers for four years (2013-17) when they were both with the Clippers. “Doc, we get it. Taking over a team in the middle of the season is hard… just like getting traded in the middle of the season is hard for a player. We get it. But it’s always an excuse. It’s always throwing your team under the bus.”

Redick also took issue with Rivers’ comments following Milwaukee’s loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in their final game before the All-Star break. The Bucks lost 113-110 to a Grizzlies team that didn’t play any starters or significant role players, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and the rest of Milwaukee’s rotation played heavy minutes. After that loss, Rivers said, “We had some guys here, we had some guys in Cabo,” questioning his players’ effort.

“They lose to Memphis, ‘oh it’s his players’ fault,'” Redick said. “Memphis was playing G League guys and two-way guys.”

Redick ended his rant by calling out Rivers’ comments after he said the Clippers consulted him before making the blockbuster trade that landed them James Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers.

“Then you look at his quotes over the weekend; now he wants to take credit for the James Harden trade to the Clippers working out?” Redick said. “He wants credit for that? There’s never accountability with that guy.”

Redick played under Rivers for four years when they were both with the Los Angeles Clippers, so there’s a personal history of knowing how he is as a coach. And from the sounds of it, Redick clearly has strong opinions about how Rivers, as he views it, doesn’t take accountability when his team doesn’t live up to expectations.

One of Rivers’ current players, Patrick Beverley, took to social media to defend his coach and call out Redick. Beverley, who played for Rivers with the Clippers before reuniting with him by getting sent from the 76ers to the Bucks at the Feb. 8 trade deadline, said Rivers “saved” Redick’s career.

This Man Doc actually saved your career. Started you when no one else wanted 2. And u retire go on TV and say that. @jj_redick

— Patrick Beverley (@patbev21) February 20, 2024
Redick responded to Beverley on social media, pointing out that when a sign-and-trade was executed to send him from the Bucks to the Clippers in 2013, something that would’ve needed his approval before being done, he was fielding a similar offer from another team before ultimately deciding to join L.A.

Pat my guy I had a four year offer with player option for the same money to be a starter for a different team. FOH “saved my career”.

— JJ Redick (@jj_redick) February 20, 2024
Despite the slow start to Rivers’ tenure in Milwaukee, there’s still time for him and the Bucks to turn things around. They are third in the Eastern Conference, but there will be a ton of pressure for him and this roster to make a deep run in the playoffs. After making three major moves in trading for Lillard, firing Mike Budenholzer to hire Griffin, and now pivoting to Rivers midseason, all eyes are on Milwaukee to see if this complicated situation will work.