Kevin Martin can see the future, likes it

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Thumbnail image for martin_rocket.jpgPrediction: Next year, Kevin Martin will be an All-Star.

Next year, those passes into the post that are going to Luis Scola will be going to Yao Ming. That means on the kick-outs Martin should be getting some open looks. And he can bury open looks all night long. So Martin’s numbers should be good.

Plus, the continent of China will be voting for him online.

It’s hard when watching the Rockets on League Pass, not to start daydreaming of next season just a little. Even Martin feels that way a little, something he told The Sporting News.

Long term, here in Houston, whether we make the playoffs or not, it is very positive. They want me here, they let me know that right away. When you look at it long-term, you look forward to what this team can become in the next few years with all the good young players and with Yao Ming coming back healthy. There is a lot to look forward to.

As for right now, he thinks he’s fitting in quite well.

There have been some things about (coach Rick Adelman’s) system that have just come natural to me, but there are some twists now, some things are different. You have different personnel, so you have different twists for those guys. When I was playing for him before, I was just a young guy. I was way behind guys like Brad Miller, Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic. I got all the wide-open shots back then, because no one was guarding me. Now, I have to adjust to be more of a featured player. It’s a different role. But I like it, because it is a system that definitely accentuates what I do best and what I think my strengths are.

The playoffs are a long shot for the Rockets this season — making up four-and-a-half games on Portland at this point is going to take a lot of luck to go with a hot streak. But if it doesn’t work out this year, there’s always next year.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

AP Photo/Darron Cummings
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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.