Like magic, Harden finally named MVP

The NBA Most Valuable Player award has become worse than a Florida election.

In the first-ever Players’ Association Awards, James Harden finally beat out Stephen Curry for MVP honors on Tuesday. It was fitting that the presentation took place at the Penn & Teller Theater at the Rio Las Vegas, because for the Houston Rockets’ loose cannon to be selected ahead of Curry required some sleight of hand.

Harden didn’t bother to sit in the audience for the other selections, but he made sure to emerge from backstage when his name was called. In his acceptance speech, he thanked the players’ union for “giving players a voice to speak their minds.”

First NBPA vice president LeBron James was among the notable no-shows, an indication of how seriously the players took the event.
None of this matters, really, because the official MVP award is the one voted on by the media prior to the postseason. In that one, Curry was the runaway winner with 75 first-place votes and 262 points.

Sure, Harden had better raw numbers in several categories last season. But in terms of efficiency, Curry pulled those rabbits out of his hat months ago.

Curry was selected Clutch Player and Hardest to Guard. He and teammates Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli also accepted the award for the best home-court advantage on behalf of Oracle Arena, which also wasn’t in attendance.

OH, BROTHER: That red-hot rivalry between the Sacramento Kings and the Warriors just got hotter yet.

OK, tepid then?

Let’s just say that, when Seth and Stephen Curry square off against each other next season, the games will be a bit more fun to watch.

The prospect of the Curry brothers in the same Pacific Division became a reality on Tuesday, when it was announced that Seth had agreed to a guaranteed, two-year, $2-million deal with the Kings. He has the option for the 2016-17 season.

Older brother Steph tweeted when he heard the news, “Let’s goooooo! He’s been patient and worked so hard to get here. @sdotcurry got his Foot in the door now it’s time to go! Love you bro!”

The 24-year-old Curry upped his stock with the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas this year — his 24.3-points-per-game average led the Summer League — and the two were reportedly on the verge of a deal. But the Kings swooped in to sign the 6-foot-2 combo guard instead.

Curry will fill some of the void left by the recent trade of point guard Ray McCallum to the San Antonio Spurs. Like his famous brother, Seth can shoot the rock from the outside, so he’ll be expected to provide instant offense off the bench as well.

Curry was a Developmental League All-Star the last two seasons. He also had 10-day contracts with three NBA teams. The Warriors signed the undrafted Duke product in 2013, but bothered by a right knee problem, he was cut in training camp.

HAPPY TOGETHER: The Los Angeles Clippers will have something to say about the Western Conference, it turns out, now that the DeAndre Jordan fiasco is behind them, presumably.

Jordan celebrated his 27th birthday at Staples Center on Tuesday, when he wore a wide smile and his No. 6 jersey alongside Paul Pierce and Josh Smith, his new teammates. The center didn’t have to be reminded how he almost took the Clippers out of contention before he backed out of a verbal commitment with the Dallas Mavericks and resigned with his former team.

“Originally with Dallas, I thought I wanted change,” Jordan said. “I wanted a bigger role and more responsibility, and I was ready to embrace and accept that challenge. But [when] I got by myself and I was able to think about everything that just happened, I realized that being with the Clippers was the best decision for me.”

In terms of wins and losses, Jordan made the correct move. The Clippers give him the best chance to claim a championship ring. Let’s not forget his tenuous relationship with team leader Chris Paul, though, one of the main reasons he considered a move out of La-La Land in the first place.

“I love Chris,” Jordan can say now. “When Chris got here, he changed the culture of our team. He helped me out in so many ways on and off the floor, just becoming a better player and a student of the game. I know it may look [like an argument] on the floor because we’re both emotional and vocal players. But when it comes down to it, we’re criticizing each other because we want what’s best for the team.”

What won’t change is Jordan’s personality. He’s one of those emotional big guys who needs a hug every once in a while. We’ll see how much he loves Paul after the guard gets in his face or stares a hole through him next time.

CUETO TIME? Philadelphia Philies ace Cole Hamels may be headed to the Dodgers with considerable money and multiple years left on his contract, which is counterintuitive to how the Giants have done business in recent years. But if the Champs want a convenient three-month rental to bolster the front of their rotation, then Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto is worth a look.

He’s young (29), very affordable and immediately disposable in the offseason, when he becomes a free agent.

Despite an occasional outburst, Cueto has been remarkably consistent in has career. His earned-run average has been between 2.25 and 2.82 in the last five seasons. The one-time All-Star has a good history at AT&T Park — a 2-1 record and 1.69 ERA in three starts.

Cueto struggled in his last appearance, which led to whispers about a possible physical problem, but his velocity and movement were on par with his previous numbers. He’s on a pace to start at least 30 games for the sixth time in his eight seasons.

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