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Around the Association: Klay Thompson’s Return, Can’t Get Enough Ja Morant, Trade Talk, John Collins is Frustrated, More

Chicago Bulls

Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies are on one heck of a heater, and they’re looking to give the Golden State Warriors and the Phoenix Suns a run for their money for the top spot in the Western Conference. However, the Warriors now have Klay Thompson back in the starting lineup, and they will look to show the Grizzlies who’s boss when they square off tonight in Memphis.

We’ve got the latest on Ja and the Grizz, Klay and the Dubs, and more in this week’s edition of Around the Association.

Klay Thompson’s Return

Klay Thompson is back!

After 941 days since his last contest (Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 13, 2019), the Warriors welcomed back Klay Thompson on Sunday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Check out this pre-game introduction for Thompson at the Chase Center:

Thompson played just 20 minutes, but he still managed to rack up 17 points, three rebounds, a block, and one assist. Thompson shot 7-of-18 from the floor and 3-of-8 from three-point range in his return.

He also delivered this jam, so the legs look just fine!

In addition to just getting back on the floor, Thompson reached two milestones on Sunday night, scoring his 12,000th career point and making his 1,800th career three-pointer. Bulls fans will get a close-up view of Thompson’s return tour when the Dubs come to the United Center on Friday night.

Can’t Get Enough of Ja Morant

I feel like Ja Morant is becoming a regular at the top of these Around the Association posts, and why not, right? I can’t get enough of this kid. He’s on a special tear right now, and he’s become appointment viewing.

Holy cow.

Obviously, the run-down and freakishly athletic block is the highlight here, but let’s not miss the fact that even after skying for the block off the glass, Morant lands and gets the rebound, and without ever slowing down, he gets the ball back to the other side of the floor in what seemed like three strides in real-time.

Morant and the Grizzlies have won nine in a row after their 127-119 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night and are now sitting in the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a 28-14 record, just 3.5 games behind the Warriors for the top spot in the West. In four games played in January, Morant is averaging 25 points, 6.8 assists, 6.0 rebounds.

Trouble in Atlanta?

Charania reports that there might be trouble in Atlanta, specifically when it comes to John Collins, who just inked a five-year, $125 million deal with the Hawks this offseason.

Here’s a snippet from the Charania column on the beef in Atlanta:

Collins, however, has grown increasingly frustrated over his role in Atlanta, multiple sources have told The Athletic. His shot attempts per game and usage rate have decreased in each of the past three seasons — even as the athletic, energetic Collins has improved his offensive repertoire. The 6-foot-9 big man has challenged the Hawks locker room on multiple occasions to play team basketball and commit to one another this season. Oftentimes, Collins has felt his voice go unheard.

Maybe Collins’ frustrations could finally help the 76ers with their frustrated superstar dilemma?

Charania mentions the Atlanta Hawks, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Indiana Pacers, among others, as potential suitors for the embattled 76ers star who is yet to suit up this season. Would a John Collins and Cam Reddish package from the Hawks move the needle for Philadelphia? That would be an exciting package, or at least, the start of the package that might get the job done.

Speaking of trade movement in the East …

And Ones…

•   The Orlando Magic have come to terms with contract extensions for Jeff Weltman and John Hammond, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

•   The Pistons are in Chicago to take on the Bulls tonight, but they’ll be without head coach Dwane Casey, who recently entered the Health & Safety Protocols. Assistant coach Rex Kalamian assumes head coaching duties for the Pistons until Casey returns.

•   DeMarcus Cousins, who was waived by Milwaukee last week, is heading to Denver on a 10-day deal after the Nuggets were awarded another hardship exemption due to COVID-19 issues throughout their roster.

•   James Harden missed the Nets contest with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night with a left knee hyperextension. Might the Bulls catch a break and miss James Harden tomorrow night in Chicago?

•   This is mind-blowing:

•   Man, Derrick Rose was something special. It’s a shame that era of Bulls basketball has become the era of “what could have been” rather than the era of what was. Regardless, we got to witness something special from the hometown kid for a long time.

 

•   Even Justin Timberlake is getting on the Ja Morant hype train:

•   LOL:

•   Cade Cunningham is in Chicago tonight, fresh off a career night in Utah!

•   I’ll leave you with this gem:



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.