On paper, Ricky Rubio seemed a good fit for the Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves: He’s a gifted passer and strong defender who knows how to run a team. In practice, his lack of shooting on a team of slashers and a big man inside — Karl-Anthony Towns — allowed teams to clog the lane.
So the Timberwolves are working hard to find a landing spot for him before the trade deadline at 3 p.m. Eastern, according to multiple reports.
This has led to talks with the Knicks of a Ricky Rubio for Derrick Rose swap, and there is more than just smoke with this. Although, if there is enough fire to get a deal done is another question entirely.
A Rose/Rubio swap is a small win for the Knicks — Rubio would find a way to get the ball to Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony, plus he improves their defense. Also, it means they don’t have to overpay Rose or another point guard this summer as Rubio is under contract for next season.
For the Timberwolves, they get a guy who will get them some buckets on the drive but who also takes opportunities out of the hands of Towns, Andrew Wiggins and everyone else. Plus Minnesota’s defense gets worse. I’m not sure how that gets them to the playoffs.
BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese Basketball Association has voted unanimously to appoint NBA Hall of Famer Yao Ming as its president.
The CBA’s social media account quoted Yao as saying at a ceremony on Thursday that he hoped to reform the domestic league’s draft system and push more Chinese players into the international arena.
Yao’s appointment is considered as a reform step for an association which until now has typically been led by government sports officials.
Yao, 36, was one of the first Chinese athletes to become an international household name when the Houston Rockets drafted him with the first pick in 2002. The 2.29-meter (7-foot-6) center played for eight seasons before retiring in 2011, citing chronic injuries.
The Shanghai-born Yao was elected to the NBA Hall of Fame in 2016.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George showed up to work Wednesday wearing the same Indiana Pacers uniform he has all season.
He has no changes planned for Thursday either.
With rumors swirling about George’s future and the NBA’s trade deadline set for 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, the four-time All-Star tried to tamp down speculation by staying focused on his current job.
“I’ve got a team to turn around in the second half, and that’s what I’m committed to,” he said Wednesday after an evening practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
George could have avoided a bit of conflict if he had used those same words in an interview Friday on ESPN radio.
Instead, he talked about his desire to “play on a winning team” after being asked about a possible extension with the Pacers, leading some to wonder if George is uneasy about a longterm deal in Indiana. An unwillingness to sign could land him on the trading block.
George knows it’s all part of the basketball business, even if it’s tricky for big-name players.
If he is actually available, the 26-year-old star would be one of the hottest commodities on the market.
George is again one of the league’s best scorers, has appeared on the league’s all-defensive team three times and was the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2013. He’s led his team to two conference finals and won an Olympic gold medal. And he has a propensity for delivering on promises, like when he swore to come back better than ever after breaking his lower right leg in a horrifying scene 2+ years ago.
Now Pacers fans want to know whether George will make good on another promise: Bringing the franchise its first NBA title.
The decision may rest more with Bird, the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, than George.
Bird is trying to do what’s best for the short and long term. Indiana has lost six straight and is currently seeded sixth in the Eastern Conference.
George wants to be a part of the solution.
“I think we can make moves to get better,” he said. “I’m confident in where we’re at and what we can do.”
George’s contract has added a twist to the traditional discussions.
While Bird has already offered a max contract extension, George can opt out of his current deal after next season. He seemed to indicate he might do just that during last week’s All-Star activities.
“As I told Larry, I always want to play on a winning team. I always want to be part of a team that has a chance to win it (all). That’s important,” George said Friday. “Say what you want; I want to compete for something. It’s frustrating just playing the game for stats or for numbers or to showcase yourself. Man, I want a chance to play for a chance to win a championship.
“I wanted to be the first and want to be the first to be able to bring a championship to Indiana,” George added. “So that’s still on my mind … and something I definitely want to achieve in Indiana.”
The Indianapolis Star reported Wednesday that George and team owner Herb Simon met in New Orleans, a subject George declined to discuss Wednesday.
George did say that he and Bird are “on the same page.”
What exactly that means for Thursday remains unclear.
Bird must decide what works best – strengthening George’s supporting cast, or collecting players and draft picks so they can go in a different direction.
George’s teammates are hopeful the star is still around for Friday night’s game against Memphis.
“I would hope so,” point guard Jeff Teague said. “I enjoy playing with him. He’s the reason I wanted to be here.”
Kings general manager Vlade Divac felt pressure on multiple fronts.
First, as he said, he had a better offer two days prior and feared the return would only get worse. Cognizant of losing out on the designated-veteran-player extension, Cousins’ agent was threatening not to re-sign with teams that traded for Cousins, and that apparently spooked one at least one potential suitor.
And then there’s Sacramento owner Vivek Ranadive, who reportedly has been intent on keeping Cousins.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports on The Vertical Podcast with Chris Mannix:
They wanted to do this deal before Vivek Ranadive changed his mind again. This talk about this new list of transgressions by Cousins over the last few weeks — the incident with the Golden State fan, the technical fouls now that it turned into suspensions — these were very consistent with what’s gone on. These weren’t new. Now, they used that to say, “Well, we just decided we couldn’t go forward with him.” Management, the front office, they’ve wanted to trade him for a very long time. And they could not get Vivek on board. Once they had Vivek on board, they didn’t want him to change his mind again. A, that was part of the reason they rushed on Sunday to get the deal done.
Marc Stein of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:
Vivek has been resistant to a DeMarcus Cousins trade for so long. He was into the Buddy Hield-New Orleans package idea, and the Kings’ front-office people wanted to push this thing through as fast they could before the owner changed his mind. I think that’s where the urgency came.
But if you have to rush through a trade before other teams (like the Lakers) have a chance to improve their offers just so your Buddy-Hield loving owner won’t harmfully meddle, maybe jettisoning Cousins won’t eliminate all the dysfunction.