Draft-day trades are coming, which ones are most likely?

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More than any year in recent memory, it feels like we are going to see a lot of trades, a lot of moves in the days, hours and minutes leading up to the draft.

While the consensus may be this a deep draft, some teams are willing to move to out while other teams are looking to move up. Plus, there are players (many bringing cash savings) on the market to get those picks.

Predicting future trades is about like predicting what Charlie Sheen will do next, but we can give you a few things to look for (with trades… not Sheen).

• Charlotte Bobcats and the No. 2 overall pick. From the seconds after the lottery put the Hornets on top of the draft pile, there have been rumors and reports of the Bobcats shopping the No. 2 pick. Even the Bobcats coach said making a trade makes sense for them. This rumor is picking up steam but don’t expect them to drop far — Charlotte reportedly doesn’t want to drop out of the lottery and wants a good young player in return or more picks. The Bobcats are getting calls but the most likely option appears to be the Cavaliers giving the Bobcats the No. 4 and No. 24 pick for the No. 2 (because the Cavaliers really want Bradley Beal of Florida and Washington will take him at No. 3 for sure). Maybe another deal jumps in front of this one, but it’s out there.

• Sacramento Kings and the No. 5 pick. This feels likely to happen, and maybe with the Rockets, but it will be a draft-night move. The Kings are willing to trade that pick and if someone is high on, say, Andre Drummond and he drops to No. 5 there could well be a deal. As ESPN noted, the Kings brought in a lot of guys for workouts who should be drafted in the teens. It’s a sign they are looking at what they could get if they have to make a trade.

Toronto Raptors and the No. 8 pick. They might as well have a KMart blue light special light going off over their pick. (Does KMart still do blue light specials?)

• Houston Rockets have made one trade and more are coming. The Houston Rockets have already made one trade, moving forward Chase Budinger for the No. 18 pick. That gives the Rockets the No. 14, No. 16 and No. 18 picks as well as some guys they could trade (Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Samuel Dalembert) as they head into draft night. Their goal is to get a couple picks in the top 10 then turn around and try to parlay those picks and a player or two to Orlando for Dwight Howard. If the Magic aren’t dealing (and they appear not to be, yet) then watch for a deal for Josh Smith from Atlanta.

• Portland moves picks No. 6 and No. 11 to move up in draft. All sorts of discussion of this and if they love a player a little higher — or get a good veteran to just move a pick — they would do it. New GM Neil Olshey is not afraid to gamble.

• Lakers or some other team without pick moves into late first round. If you want a pick and don’t have one, there are a whole lot of picks available in the 20s, according to reports. The Lakers reportedly have interest, the question becomes what is the price? Outside their bigs, the Lakers are not loaded with assets people want.

• Dwight Howard trade… nah. Not in a draft-day deal. Not yet. Despite how hard the Rockets push reports are new GM Rob Hennigan has not even met with Howard yet. But I bet you see Howard’s moved this summer.

• Luol Deng or Joakim Noah from Bulls. There is a lot of buzz about the Bulls moving Deng to get into the lottery, but I don’t see it as floated out there just to get picks and cap space. The Bulls are contenders and while they would love to lower their payroll (what team owner wouldn’t?) they are not going to hurt the roster just to make a move. There would have to be a veteran that could help the Bulls coming back to them with the pick.

• Andre Iguodala trade. As with some other rumors here it would be a surprise, but they have been shopping him off and on for years and eventually someone will bite.

• Lamar Odom trade. This would be a purely financial move for a team looking to save a few bucks — Odom is set to make more than $8 million but can be bought out for $2.4 million. If nobody trades for Odom, the Mavs will buy him out to get the cap space.

Watch the Knicks and Lakers make every shot for 2 straight minutes of game clock

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Tuesday night’s game between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers was a good one, with the teams going-back-and-forth all night. In an OT game that came down to the wire, a sequence in the third quarter was perhaps indicative of the kind of contest it was in Madison Square Garden.

Starting with a little more than six minutes to go in the third the teams traded eight consecutive baskets while MSG rose to an accompanying fever pitch.

The whole sequence was pretty hilarious, and lent to that feeling you get sometimes while watching competitive NBA games of complete exhilaration.

Via Twitter:

The gap spanned from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s missed 3-pointer with 6:21 left to Brook Lopez‘s missed shot with 3:51 to go.

New York wound up winning in OT, 113-109.

Joel Embiid says he thinks people are about to start hating him

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Philadelphia 76ers have been the Twitter darlings of the NBA for the past few years. Thanks to former general manager Sam Hinkie and the tanking process, guys like Joel Embiid have become even more admired now that the team is in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Of course, players like Embiid are part of the generation that is always online, and the fact that they play in the NBA doesn’t keep them from participating in social media with their contemporaries. Embiid has a great Twitter feed, and is often out on it trying to get dates from the likes of Rihanna while trolling other NBA stars on Instagram.

Of course, as we’ve seen with players in the past, good fortune does not always shine forever. Indeed, conscious of this fact, Embiid as much to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne during a recent interview.

Via ESPN:

People love you at the beginning,” Embiid explains. “But at some point they’re gonna start hating you. LeBron. Russell Westbrook. All the superstars. Even Steph. He’s so likable. He does nothing wrong, but some people still hate him. It just comes with the nature of it. I’ve seen it.

“I feel like I’m about to go through it. I think it’s coming. People always want something new.”

The ups and downs of how NBA fandom changes the perception of certain players is fascinating, and some even try to directly manipulate that. And indeed, while Embiid is certainly hilarious on social media, the best thing to keep fans at bay will be him staying on the floor and playing games for the Sixers.

Let’s hope that keeps happening and nobody turns on him anytime soon.

Gregg Popovich says he was ‘guilty of over-coaching’ LaMarcus Aldridge

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LaMarcus Aldridge has been much better for the San Antonio Spurs this season. This comes after a tumultuous offseason in which it became clear that Aldridge was unhappy with his time in Texas.

That information came to light over the summer, and indeed both Aldridge and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sat down to have a discussion to work out their differences in preparation for the upcoming season.

The results have been stupendous, with Aldridge playing better than ever in San Antonio despite the team lacking star Kawhi Leonard. Aldridge is averaging career highs in points per-100 possessions, which makes sense given his career-high 119 offensive rating.

Apparently part of Popovich’s change in dealing with Aldridge was how he coached him. Popovich told NBA.com recently that he made the mistake of over coaching Aldridge, saying that the veteran didn’t need as much guidance as young star players did when they came to him in the past.

Via NBA.com:

“We broke bread a few times, talked about it, laughed about it, discussed what we thought needed to happen, and frankly 95 percent of it fell on me because I made an error in trying to change him too much. That might sound odd, but he’d been in the league nine years and there’s one way he plays on the offensive end and feels comfortable with. I tried to turn him into Jack Sikma, told him I was going to teach you how to play on the elbow, go on the wing, face up. It was confusing for him. It really didn’t fit his style of play. I was guilty of over coaching in a sense.

“We came to an agreement on what had to happen. Well, on defense, I told him ‘I’m going to get on you like I do everyone else. But on offense, I don’t even want to talk to you. When they double you, kick it. Other than that, you be LaMarcus Aldridge.’ You see the result right now. He’s happy, confident and kicking everybody’s butt.”

Now that everything is sorted for the Spurs, we just have to watch out for them as they gain momentum heading into 2018. Leonard made his debut for the season on Tuesday night against the Dallas Mavericks, and as a publication time he had nine points in 10 minutes.

God help us if Gregg Popovich has finally found a way to make the mercurial LaMarcus Aldridge happy and pair him with a fully healthy Leonard.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas offers advice to Ball brothers on Lithuania

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Lithuania is a hoops-mad country.

The Baltic nation has fewer people in it than the Seattle-Tacoma metropolitan area, yet it has three players in the NBA right now — Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas, and Mindaugas Kuzminskas — and has put 11 players in the league total (such as Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Arvydas Sabonis, and Sarunas Marciulionis). The country has won three bronze medals in the Olympics ( 1992, 1996, and 2000). It’s Lithuanian league also has been the launching pad for Celtics’ Aron Baynes to make the NBA.

Now the Ball brothers LiAngelo and LaMelo are headed there on professional contracts.

One of those players — the Raptors’ Valanciunas, had advice for the Ball brothers, speaking to ESPN.

“They’re getting themselves into a great opportunity. Lithuania is beautiful country… We have great basketball history. We’re such a small country, but we have many, many great players. Our basketball school is good., so they chose a really good school. They just gotta work hard — it’s all about working. You can be as good as you can be by working. Talent is one thing, but work you put in, that’s gonna show up.

“If they have any problems, let me know. I can help them out.”

Good luck finding anyone around the NBA who thinks this ends well, especially those who know the Ball family. They are sending a college freshman and a high school junior to a small city in a former Soviet bloc country with a very different culture, that will be a major adjustment. The coach doesn’t speak English and his former American players have not spoken highly of him. The Lithuanian league itself has men — far more physically developed than the Ball brothers — and is known for a physical style of play. It’s also known as a league where the players have a reasonably high hoops IQ and don’t like undisciplined players.

But if LiAngelo and LaMelo have any problems, they can call Valanciunas.