San Antonio Spurs Call Up Malcolm Thomas From D-League Showcase

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The NBA Development Showcase tipped off on Monday morning and, just two games into the four-day affair, the event has already shown why it’s useful. The San Antonio Spurs have decided to call-up Malcolm Thomas from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Pro Basketball Talk has learned from sources close the situation.

It’s an interesting first in-season NBA call-up considering it came just hours before Thomas was set to play his first game at the Showcase. The Spurs apparently had watched Thomas enough through his first eight games in the D-League, however, and didn’t want him to showcase himself too much to other teams so that they’d have competition in calling him up.

Thomas, a 6-foot-9 forward out of San Diego State, was one of a few intriguing rookie D-League prospects hoping for an NBA opportunity this year.  In eight games with the D-Fenders, the lanky forward averaged 14.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while playing for Eric Musselman. The rookie began the season in Korea, but decided to return stateside for an NBA opportunity after receiving a training camp invite from the Los Angeles Lakers — a decision that paid off, apparently, as his call-up with the Spurs shows.

Kawhi Leonard got the majority of the publicity with the San Diego State Aztecs last season, but Thomas was an integral part of the process as well.  He didn’t garner much attention on the defensive end, but his ability to play defense, hustle and do the dirty work will certainly suit him well with San Antonio. The Spurs have found quite a bit of value coming out of the Showcase as they were also the first team to call-up a player from last year’s Showcase when they signed swingman Larry Owens from the Tulsa 66ers.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.