Remember three years ago, when Kobe Bryant demanded to be traded from the Lakers, the team went through the motions of shopping him around and found a decent offer from the Chicago Bulls? That deal didn’t go through in part because the Bulls would not put Luol Deng into the package.
Oh, how times have changed.
Now Deng and the No. 17 pick are being offered to the Clippers for the No. 8 pick, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Why would the Bulls do it? To free up cap space to bring in a major free agent or two. It’s always about free agency with the Bulls.
Deng is due to make $11.3 million this season and is locked in for three years and $39 million beyond that. Plus the No. 17 pick will make $1.3 million this next season. Al-Farouq Aminu, the small forward likely to go at No.8, would command $2.1 million. Bottom line, the Bulls have $10.5 million off their roster (another $6 million or so and they could sign two max free agents).
The real question is do the Clippers want Deng. They need a dynamic wing player and Deng could be that guy. When he wants to be. But usually Deng is pretty happy to launch long jumpers (more than six attempts per game from 16 feet out to the arc last season) and not really rebound much. He is inconsistent — he is fully capable of putting up 20 efficient points and using his length to lock down players on the wing one night, then shooting 7 for 22 the next night and not seem into it on defense. When he drives the basket good things happen, but did we mention the love of the long two?
The Clippers staff needs to determine if Deng is $10.5 million better than the very athletic Aminu. Probably not. But who knows what the Clippers will think on any given situation.
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.
Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.
His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.
Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.
Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.
As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.
Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.
Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.
Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.
Maybe a little too pumped.
That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.
Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.
(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)
The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.
While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”
Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”
We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.
Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.