Report: Bulls, Raptors discuss Bargnani for Boozer trade; nothing imminent

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UPDATE  8:52 pm: Aggrey Sam of of CSNChicago.com did some poking around and found out yes, the two sides did talk about a potential trade based around Andrea Bargnani for Carlos Boozer. But that is a long way from anything being close, Sam reports:

League sources have confirmed to CSNChicago.com that the discussions did indeed take place, but as one person with knowledge of the situation said, “There’s nothing to it. Nothing’s going on.”

However, another individual, who wasn’t authorized to speak on behalf of either team, believes the proposed deal–which would package Boozer and backup point guard Nate Robinson in exchange for Bargnani and former Bulls fan favorite John Lucas III–is still on the table, though Toronto is hesitant to take on the remaining salary on Boozer’s contract.

Basically, the Raptors don’t love this deal so they are going to keep looking around. They want to move Bargnani and if they can’t get a better offer they could come back around to this one. Maybe.

I’d still be shocked if the Bulls did it, personally. They should ride out Boozer for the rest of this year then amnesty him if the money is a concern.

6:40 pm: “Here, you take our problem and we’ll take yours.”

The Toronto Raptors are actively shopping Andrea Bargnani around and they may have found an interested party in the Chicago Bulls. Marc Stein at ESPN says that the two sides have had “exploratory trade discussions.”

From Chicago’s perspective, sources said, Bargnani’s arrival could help address their glaring lack of 3-point shooting and brighten the overall look of its payroll, given that the Italian forward makes $5 million less than Boozer this season. Despite his well-chronicled defensive deficiencies, Bargnani would figure to be an effective pick-and-roll partner for Derrick Rose, once Rose makes his expected return from knee surgery after the All-Star break….

Although Toronto’s desire to upgrade its front line is an open secret — as confirmed by their long-running interest in trading for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Pau Gasol before Gasol’s foot injury this week — it’s believed the luxury-tax implications of trading for Boozer could ultimately dissuade the Raptors from such a deal, even if Chicago proved willing.

Can you picture Tom Thibodeau trying to coach Bargnani? And doing it without committing a capital crime?

The Bulls are likely to amnesty Boozer this summer, so from a financial sense this trade makes some sense. The Boozer and Bargnani deals run the same length of time so the Bulls would save money going forward. But if this is really about saving money, why not just amnesty Boozer.

But the money is the only way, because on the court this is a huge Raptors win — Boozer is playing much, much better than Bargnani. Boozer is scoring 15.7 points a game with 9.6 rebounds a game, he is shooting 47.2 percent and has a PER of 17.3. Boozer was discussed as a possible All-Star. Bargnani is scoring 16 points a game but is shooting 39.8% percent and 31.9% from three. His PER this season is 12.4. He gives you no rebounding or defense.

If Bulls fans are frustrated with Boozer, wait until they get a load of Bargnani up close.

To me this deal doesn’t make a lot of sense either way — Toronto can’t afford it really (or shouldn’t) and the Bulls get measurably worse when they are still a potential contender with a healthy Derrick Rose.

But stranger things have happened. Bargnani was the No. 1 overall pick, overall.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.