Report: Bynum extension in Cleveland shows challenges of Howard trade

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On one hand this is not new news — everyone involved knew Cleveland would not trade for Andrew Bynum as part of a three-team deal that sends Dwight Howard to the Lakers unless Bynum was willing to commit long term.

And he might, in the past Cleveland was one of the three teams on a list of where he wants to land (Houston and Dallas were the others outside Los Angeles). While saying you would do it in the abstract and putting a pen to paper on a contract are very different things, there is at least a conversation to be had.

But a story by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo highlights why this trade is not just going to snap together overnight.

“Cleveland will only do the deal if Bynum extends,” a league official directly involved in the talks told Yahoo! Sports.

Los Angeles wants the structure of a three-team deal agreed in principle before letting Cleveland take that next step to communicate with Bynum and his representatives – and that won’t happen until Orlando makes a decision that it wants to also lock-in the framework of a trade, sources told Y!

So far, Orlando has shown a level of indecisiveness in the talks, sources involved in the negotiations said.

The deal as it stands now would send Howard to the Lakers, Bynum to the Cavaliers, and Anderson Varejao plus multiple picks to Orlando. But Orlando also wants to get rid of ugly contracts like Jason Richardson and/or Hedo Turkoglu and where they land add to the challenges.

Right now, it all comes back to Orlando and what they want. They are trying to create leverage and a bidding war, to get more picks or unload more contracts. They are being patient, playing hard to get. But you can hear the frustration with that strategy in leaks coming from people close to Howard or in Cleveland — the sides that want the deal done most of all. They are frustrated with what they see as a moving goal line in the same way Brooklyn was before.

Houston is still in the mix with picks, young players and the ability to take on salary. They would do it even to rent Dwight Howard. And it is becoming more and more clear what Orlando wants to do is blow the whole thing up and rebuild through the draft (remember new Magic GM Rob Hennigan came out of the Oklahoma City organization, where building through the draft was is prized).

So we sit and wait for Orlando to make a move, then for Cleveland to see if it can convince Andrew Bynum to stay and play with Kyrie Irving.

The Lakers still like Bynum as part of their roster and if this drags on too long they may start talking to him about him staying with them long term instead. Los Angeles may move on.

Watch Victor Oladipo score a career-high 47 points vs. Nuggets (VIDEO)

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Victor Oladipo was sent from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Indiana Pacers along with Domantas Sabonis as part of a major trade for Paul George.

Boy, Pacers fans have got to be glad things have turned out the way they have.

Oladipo is having a career season in terms of scoring, rebounding, blocks, 3-point shooting and field goal percentage. His advanced stats look good too, as Oladipo’s efficiency per-100 possessions in many offensive categories have seen a rise to go along with his box score bump.

On Sunday, Oladipo scored a career-high 47 points in an overtime win against the Denver Nuggets, 126-116.

Oladipo’s performance was incredible, adding seven rebounds, six assists, two steals, and a block to go along with his 47 points. Oladipo shot 15-28 from the field, including 6-of-12 from 3-point range, and added 11 points from the free-throw line.

Watch the full highlights of Oladipo’s performance in the video above.

Rumor: NBA executives think Rockets have shot at signing LeBron James

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LeBron James is now rumored to be headed to about 29 NBA teams this summer when he can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent. Earlier this week, we heard rumblings that LeBron could be interested in sharing a Los Angeles Lakers roster with Dallas Mavericks center-at-large Nerlens Noel.

Now we’re hearing that NBA executives think the Houston Rockets have a chance of nabbing The King in the summer of 2018.

All aboard the Banana Boat.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, both the Rockets themselves and rival execs think Houston is a real landing spot for James thanks in part to how well they are playing this season. James Harden is having another MVP-caliber year, and Chris Paul has played beautifully in his return.

Via USA Today:

While James has made it clear that he won’t deliberate his uncertain future until the Cavs’ season is complete, there is strong belief in Rockets circles that they’ll have a legitimate shot at landing the four-time MVP this summer. Rival executives also believe the Rockets will have a real chance. And once you really look at it, when you get past all the noise about the Lakers and even the compelling case for the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers, it makes all sorts of sense.

The only team we haven’t heard connecting rumors about is the Cleveland Cavaliers themselves. LeBron — whose family lives in LA — recently bought a new house there and all signs point to James heading to the Western Conference. Well, unless he goes to the Philadelphia 76ers, of course.

Then again it felt like a certainty that LeBron would head to the New York Knicks nearly a decade ago, an idea that seems hilarious in retrospect. The NBA is weird, and if LeBron dips from Cleveland expect it to get even weirder.

Sixers’ Robert Covington to miss at least one game after crashing into stands

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NBA fans love hustle from their players, but sometimes things go awry.

That’s what happened on Saturday night after Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington dove into the stands to try to save a loose ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The play came in the fourth quarter with under two minutes left and the Sixers down by just one point. Covington leapt into the far sideline just near the Cavaliers bench. He appeared to turn his ankle and land awkwardly on his back. The Cleveland floor has a small lip after the first row of seats that may have played a part in the injury.

Cleveland would go on to score on the play, and Covington had to be helped off the floor. The Cavaliers went on to win, 105-98.

Meanwhile, the 76ers will play Sunday in New Orleans against the Pelicans. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia, Covington will miss the game with a lower back contusion.

Via NBCSN Philadelphia:

X-rays and a CT scan came back negative. Covington is with the team in New Orleans and is doubtful for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota.

Covington tumbled out of bounds and over courtside seats while he tried to save a possession during a Sixers comeback attempt. There is an approximate four-to-five inch drop between the court and the area where Covington landed. Many of his teammates were unaware of Covington’s injury at first because it was out of their vision.

“It’s scary to see your teammate like that,” guard JJ Redick said. “They said he fell on his back. I wanted to make sure he’s walking and not in too much pain. But I just wish the best for him and hope he’s OK.”

Back injuries can be a complete hassle to recover from, especially when you’re deep in the middle of the season. Let’s hope the Sixers get Covington back soon.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dunked all over Rudy Gobert (VIDEO)

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Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks a lot. The Milwaukee Bucks forward is big, strong, and aggressive when it comes to attacking the rim.

But he doesn’t typically dunk this hard or this emphatically over perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates like Rudy Gobert.

That’s what made this one special.

As time was winding down in Milwaukee’s eventual 117-100 win over the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, Antetokounmpo put the exclamation point at the end of the sentence for the Bucks.

Gobert took the brunt of it. Via Twitter:

Goodness.