George Hill, Tony Parker, Channing Frye

NBA Draft day morning rumor roundup

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The NBA has seen more rumors in the last 24 hours than the morning after a Charlie Sheen party. At least we didn’t wake up wondering where we were. We’ll be bringing you all the latest over the course of Thursday right up to the draft (and plenty of pick-by-pick draft coverage, too) but to get you started here are a bunch of the rumors collected on Thursday morning:

We’ve been telling you about all the rumored Tony Parker trades (and there are a lot of them), but the Spurs also may be shopping George Hill to move up in this draft. The Spurs rumored target is sharpshooter Klay Thompson.

The Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks are discussing a deal that would send Ersan Ilyasova to the Rockets along with the No. 10 pick for a package that includes the No. 23 and No. 24 picks plus another player.

The Rockets have had talks with a number of teams because they want to move up, including Detroit at No. 8. Apparently they want a big man and like Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas. (A lot of teams like him, look for him to go early.)

The key pick in this draft remains the Jazz at No. 3. They would love it if Derrick Williams falls to them. If not, if they have to choose between Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter, put your money on Kanter. He doesn’t fill a need but the Jazz are a “best player available” team.

There are a lot of rumors that Tristan Thompson could go as high as No. 4. Which seems crazy to me, but there it is.

If I were placing my money on one team to trade their lottery pick this draft, it would be the Bucks.

Would you believe the Lakers and Warriors talked about a deal that was Monta Ellis for Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown? That’s what Ken Berger reports at CBSSports. I have trouble seeing how Monta Ellis and Kobe Bryant work together in the back court, frankly.

Just so you know, Minnesota is still shopping the No. 2 pick and still not finding any takers at their price.

Roy Hibbert’s name popped up in trade rumors but Larry Bird shot them down, the Pacers want to keep him.

Apparently those rumors of Andre Iguodala to the Clippers for Chris Kaman are dead — the Sixers didn’t even make a counter offer.

If all the Europeans in this draft are confusing you, here is a great breakdown of what you can expect from them.

Statistically, who did the players in this draft match up to, who do they project to be? Some interesting stuff from Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus.

Soon to be top three pick Derrick Williams says not to compare him to LeBron — compare him to Dirk Nowitzki instead. Yes, that sounds far less egotistical.

One final one, not really draft related but it made me laugh: Magic GM Otis Smith wants Gilbert Arenas to play less basketball this summer. Arenas is having none of that, saying he is a professional basketball player after all.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.

James Harden presents fan with game ball on her 100th birthday (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.

Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.

Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.

The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.

Paul George dunks on DeMarcus Cousins while getting whacked in the face (video)

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Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.

But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.

Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.