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.

Reports: Pelicans to sign Jameer Nelson with Rondo out

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With Rajon Rondo out 4-6 weeks with a sports hernia, the New Orleans Pelicans were looking for a solid backup point guard.

This week, to make room to sign Richard Jefferson, the Denver Nuggets waived veteran Jameer Nelson.

While other teams such as the Rockets were calling, the Pelicans and Nelson have reached a deal, reports both Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports added this.

Nelson, in his 14th NBA season, became the top free agent on the market and received interest from contenders such as the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder and several other franchises that hoped to add the respected and accomplished veteran. But for Nelson, the Pelicans represent an opportunity to play significant minutes and provide leadership.

The Pelicans had a full roster of 15 players, they could have waited until next Tuesday and gotten a disabled player exception to add a 16th player, but they decided to go with something more permanent.

Jrue Holiday starts at the point for the Pelicans but with Rondo out — he was supposed to start next to Holiday — there is no depth at the position. The Pelicans can have Nelson step in and get minutes from the first time he steps on the court.

Nelson is still a solid pick-and-roll point guard, but what he brings to the table the Pelicans need more is shooting — he shot 38.8 percent from three last season and is a good spot up player. He can penetrate and make plays off handoffs as well, but it’s his shooting on a team that needs it that will be most valued.

The Pelicans have started the season 0-2 with losses to Memphis and Golden State. They take on the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night.

DeMarcus Cousins fined $25,000 for cursing at fan

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Near the end of New Orleans’ season-opening loss in Memphis, DeMarcus Cousins started getting into a war of words with a female Grizzlies fan, an exchange where allegedly “F-bombs” were dropped in both directions.

That’s going to cost Cousins.

Saturday the league announced that the Pelicans’ center has been fined $25,000 for “directing inappropriate language towards a fan.”

Cousins got a technical foul during this exchange, and that has been rescinded.

Cousins has averaged 31 points and 10 rebounds a game through two games this season, but it hasn’t been enough as New Orleans has started the season 0-2.

It’s not about the shoes: Kevin Durant loses his, blocks two shots anyway

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Shoes? Kevin Durant don’t need no stinkin’ shoes.

Early in the second quarter of the Warriors win in New Orleans Friday, Durant came out of his shoes on a layup in the lane. He then picked up his shoe, carried it to the other end, flipped it to the bench, and played defense without it, and while he got moved out of the way allowing an offensive rebound for the Pelicans he then proceeded to block Tony Allen twice at the rim.

Durant — after deciding to play the rest of the game in shoes — had seven blocks on the night, to go with 22 points.

Joel Embiid frustrated, wants more post touches, to play back-to-backs

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Joel Embiid remains a frustrated man.

He wants to be unleashed on the NBA, and he feels he’s being held back.

Part of that is not playing in back-to-backs — Embiid started Friday night against Boston but will sit out by plan Saturday night against the Raptors in Toronto. Embiid knows the plan to help protect a body that has played only 31 games in three seasons before this one and was not cleared for most of training camp, but that doesn’t mean he likes it, as he told Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia.

“I just want to feel like an NBA player,” Embiid said.  “I feel like I’m not an NBA player because I can’t play back-to-back.”

I get his frustration, but can you blame the Sixers for treating the guy like he’s made of glass at this point? Hopefully, later in the season, he can be cleared to play on both ends.

His second frustration came from the loss to the Celtics on Friday — he wants more post touches. In the video above he is clear, “I didn’t get the ball enough in the post.”

He’s right here. Embiid had three post-ups all game, one in each of the game’s first three quarters (stat via Synergy Sports). Embiid is efficient in the post — he has shot 9-of-12 on those plays overall this season and the Sixers score 1.33 points per possession when he does. That will work especially well against teams going small (for example, the Cavaliers with Kevin Love at the five), although Friday night Boston had big man Aron Baynes starting at center (in part because of Embiid, in part because Marcus Smart was out injured). Still, Embiid can score on Baynes.

Take a look at Embiid’s shot chart from Friday night.

Part of this is on him with all the threes, but they have to utilize him better. It’s part of the Sixers growing pains that will come this season.