Portland still trying to trade Rudy Fernandez, at least his agent thinks so

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Thumbnail image for nba_fernandez_250.jpgRudy Fernandez has gone where Chris Paul can’t — he has basically demanded a trade. The man wants out of Portland and away from Nate McMillan as fast as he can. Fernandez wants the ball in his hands, he envisions himself to be a playmaker. Portland already has those and McMillan just wants him to shoot. That makes Rudy sad.

New Portland General Manager Rich Cho is listening to offers. Can you blame him — who wouldn’t want to make a trade when you just get the power to green light one? But you’re going to have to wow Cho, his first trade will not be crap, as he told Jason Quick of the Oregonian.

“I’ve spoken to Andy and I’m aware of Rudy’s feelings,” Cho said. “But at the end of the day we are going to make the best decision for the franchise.”

Boston, Chicago and New York are all in the running for Fernandez, at least that’s what his agent, Andy Miller. However, he is an agent whose client wants to be on the move, so find yourself a salt flat before swallowing anything he says.

But there is interest, and those three teams make some sense.

Chicago could slide him right in at the two, where they had pictured JJ Redick would go. Of course, Redick is primarily a shooter and Rose is the guy making the plays with the ball in his hands, but Rudy wants out and Chicago is out. Chicago has been offering James Johnson to anyone and everyone this offseason, but Johnson and a pick may not be the best deal Cho will hear.

Boston has interest and they certainly could use depth and playmakers coming off the bench. But what are they going to offer? Rasheed Wallace and pick that likely will be near the bottom of the draft? Not thrilling either.

On the court, New York might be the best fit — Fernandez would fit well in Mike D’Antoni’s system and he gets to set up plays. The question is what would the Knicks offer to go with what could be a nice pick? Toney Douglas? That would certainly be an upgrade for the Knicks (as much as they like Douglas, who has real potential). Just a guess. But the Knicks have a roster of options, and more than one player could be involved.

Bottom line, there is some smoke. That smoke could become a real fire in the next 48 hours. Or Rudy could sulk on the Portland bench all next season. Which would make Rudy sad. And does anybody want to see that?

Klay Thompson goes up for 360 dunk in exhibition… and he’s not a dunker (VIDEO)

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Klay Thompson has an amazing skill set — one of the best pure shooters in the league, he can put the ball on the floor and create, and he’s a very good perimeter defender.

He’s not a dunker. Oh, he can dunk, but he’s not the guy you’re inviting to the Dunk Contest.

Case in point, this video out of China where Thompson was part of an exhibition and tried to show off his dunking skills.

Thompson’s shoe sponsor is China-based Anta, which explains why he’s there playing some exhibition ball. In case you missed it, Thompson had a Finals shoe released.

Those are about as good as the 360 dunk.

Sixers will talk contract extension for Joel Embiid this summer, want to lock him up

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Could Joel Embiid be Philadelphia’s Stephen Curry?

No, I don’t mean taking 30-foot bombs that demoralize opponents (although, no doubt Embiid is game for trying it). I mean in having a contract extension off his rookie deal for less than the max, a value contract that allows the Sixers the cap room to secure a title contender around him.

After three seasons in the NBA, Joel Embiid is eligible for a contract extension this summer (one that would be negotiated now but not kick in until the 2018-19 season). Teams lock up their stars at this point, and Embiid is that — he was dominant in the 31 games he played. But it’s 31 games in three seasons, how much do the Sixers want to pay here?

Sixers owner Joshua Harris said extending Embiid is a priority for the team this summer, speaking at a press conference, via the Courier Times.

“Look, I’d just say we want Joel to be on the team for a long time,” Harris said. “We want us all to grow old together. That’s the way I would put it.”

A max contract for Embiid would be five years at about $130 million, an average annual salary of $26 million. Because of his injury history, would he be willing to sign five years at $100 million, maybe with an opt-out after four? That extra cap space may not sound like a lot, it’s not a Curry-level savings, but it would help the Sixers’ team building.

If the two sides can’t reach a deal by Oct. 31 (the deadline), Embiid will play out this season then be a restricted free agent next season. If he stays healthy, he will get a max deal from another team that the Sixers would just match (the Sixers and Embiid could also reach a deal).

The Sixers are not about to let Embiid go, they have their young core they believe they can contend with in a few years. Plus he is a fan favorite. The only question left is cost.

Josh Jackson’s first pitch is… just a bit outside

Associated Press
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Josh Jackson is not going Bo Jackson on us and playing baseball in the offseason.

The highly-rated forward out of Kansas who was the No. 4 pick of the Phoenix Suns was invited to throw out the first pitch before Friday night’s Diamondbacks game.

To quote Bob Uecker, he was just a bit outside. He tried the corner and missed.

Lonzo Ball was able to make his first pitch, ergo, he will turn out to be a much better NBA player. Obviously, these skills correlate.

Report: Re-signing Nerlens Noel Mavericks’ top off-season priority

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This is a Mark Cuban owned team, you don’t think the Mavericks are going to make a serious run at a free agent come July 1? Pelicans’ point guard Jrue Holiday has long been known to be a target, but there will be others.

But keeping their new core together, including restricted free agent Nerlens Noel, is the top priority, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Rumors like this are out there in part from Dallas to hope to chill the market for Noel. While he could be a defensive force who provides some scoring around the rim, with Noel’s injury history they may be able to get him at less than max money — because if he’s at the max the Mavericks are flirting with the luxury tax (and Cuban isn’t going to want to pay the tax for a borderline playoff team at best).

What Dallas fears is what Brooklyn did last season to Allen Crabbe in Portland and Tyler Johnson in Miami — some team to come in with a max or near-max offer sheet that drives up the price. Dallas will match, they will keep the young core together, it just gets more expensive.

Next season in Dallas will be a deserved big farewell to Dirk Nowitzki. He will be the focus, but behind him Dallas will try to be building for the future. They made the trade deadline move to make sure Noel is a part of that, the only question now is how much it costs them.