Adidas Eurocamp - Day 2

Lucas Nogueira says he’s flexible on developing his skill set either in Europe or in the NBA

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TREVISO, Italy — Lucas Nogueira performed well during the first day of adidas Eurocamp, and perhaps even a bit better than expected. The competition level is always to be taken into account, but he showed a maturity on the floor and a controlled athleticism that made it easy to see why he’s projected as a first round draft choice.

“It went as I had planned,” Nogueira told NBCSports.com on Sunday, with the help of some translation assistance from his agent, Aylton Tesch. “I just tried to show what I could bring to an NBA team, which is protecting the rim, finishing plays at the rim, and running the floor. Just showing my athleticism. I feel comfortable (with how it went), but I know I have a lot of room for growth.”

The translation piece was a bit odd, considering a team source said that they were able to interview Nogueira completely in English. But speaking to the media in a second language can be a trickier proposition, so the precautionary measure wasn’t exactly a surprise.

Even with the translating happening, it was clear that Nogueira understood the majority of what was being said in English, and came across as relaxed, comfortable, and intelligent.

As far as areas where he needs to improve, Nogueira seemed to be aware of what scouts have been saying about him — especially as it relates to his size.

“Defense,” he said. “My vision of the court, and post defense. Because before I can block a shot, the offensive player will try to bang in the post. That comes into my physicality, and I’ll need to bulk up a little more. I’m also working on being more aggressive on the boards.”

The only real knock on Nogueira from scouts and NBA executives is his lack of muscle, which comes with it questions of whether or not he’ll be able to add the necessary bulk to be effective competing against bigs at the professional level. But Nogueira believes his overall talent should be able to overcome questions about his size.

“I will look to develop my body,” he said. “But at the same time, there’s something that I bring to the game that no one else does.”

Nogueira’s agent chimed in and stated the obvious — that knocking younger players for having a slender frame is a bit silly, considering that’s the case for most prospects, especially the ones like Nogueira who approach being seven feet tall.

“He’s just 20 years old,” Tesch said. “I think he could end up having the body of like a Jermaine O’Neal or a Joakim Noah. They may not have broad shoulders, but you can see how they were able to fill in.”

Besides the physical development, Nogueira knows that he needs to continue to develop as a player. Interestingly enough, he seems fine with doing that either in Europe or the states, depending on what the team that drafts him believes will ultimately be the best course of action.

“I think that the teams play a major role in the development of young players,” Tesch said. “We’re not here to force any NBA team to take him, because he’s still 20 years old. We know that he has to develop a lot, so we have to have a team on board with that to help him through this process, whether it takes a year or two more years in Europe, that’s fine. He’d still be just 22 at that point, so there’s plenty of time.”

Nogueira maintains a positive outlook on it all, and just seems to want to be drafted by an organization that will take the time necessary to invest in his future.

“I’ll leave that up to the team that picks me,” he said. “I’m flexible about going back to Europe, or staying in the NBA depending on what they feel is best. I just want a team that has a plan for me that I can follow.”

Report: Bulls pushing to trade for 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass against Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Bulls reportedly reached out to the 76ers about Jahlil Okafor a few weeks ago.

After unfulfilled intrigue and maybe a trade that fell through, Okafor remains in Philadelphia. And Chicago apparently still wants him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

As constituted, the Bulls already have a few interior bigs: Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio. But one or more could go in an Okafor trade or another deal.

Okafor would make the Chicago younger, confusing its direction with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade already in place.

Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.

Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.

Report: 76ers trading Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for Tiago Splitter, picks

Atlanta Hawks guard Mike Dunleavy blocks the shot of Philadelphia 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 110-93. (AP Photo/John Amis)
AP Photo/John Amis
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The 76ers have played like a 64-win team when Joel Embiid and Ersan Ilyasova share the court and a 20-win team otherwise, using data from nbawowy!.

That’s helpful for Philadelphia, which is learning what type of player — a stretch four — works best with its franchise player.

But the Hawks can use more than just a lesson in the idea of Ersan Ilyasova. They can use actual Ersan Ilyasova.

And Atlanta will get him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated:

Atlanta stills sound intent on keeping Paul Millsap, so Ilyasova will likely back him up. Ilyasova should work particularly well with Dwight Howard, whose interior play was a key factor in ushering in this stretch-four era by covering for the lighter power forward next to him.

In the last 21 months, Ilyasova has been traded five times: from the Bucks to the Pistons to the Magic to the Thunder to the 76ers and now to the Hawks. They can probably count on the veteran to settle in quickly as they try to improve their position in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Atlanta is fifth, closer to third than sixth.

Both Ilyasova and Splitter have expiring contracts. The advantage of Splitter, who has missed the Hawks’ last 90 games, is that his full compensation counts toward the floor apparently without Philadelphia actually having to play all of his salary.

Plus, those picks could help the 76ers in a season where they can win something meaningful — like the Hawks have decided this season is for them.

Report: Other NBA executives believe Pacers not seriously shopping Paul George

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers in action during the NBA match between Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets at the O2 Arena on January 12, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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The Pacers are reportedly shopping Paul George, trying to line up a trade if they can’t get him help in another deal.

But it’s hard to find anyone who believes Indiana is genuinely looking to trade George before the upcoming trade deadline.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

If the Pacers are serious about trading George, they better convince other teams quickly. That’s the only way to draw out the best offers.

But it makes sense Indiana is only in the exploratory stage.

The Pacers — and only the Pacers — could offer George a designated-veteran-player contract extension (projected to be worth about $209 million over five years) this offseason if he makes an All-NBA team.

That’s probably a longshot. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James are locks for three of the six forward spots. Anthony DavisJimmy ButlerDraymond Green and Giannis Antetokounmpo should also rank ahead of George. Gordon HaywardPaul MillsapKevin Love are firmly in the mix, too. That’s a lot of ground to make up and other contenders to fend off.

But it’s likely worth it for the Pacers to keep George past the deadline and let him try. The upside is so high.

If George doesn’t make an All-NBA team, Indiana could always trade him at any point before the next trade deadline. He could also qualify as a designated veteran player by making a 2017-18 All-NBA team and re-signing as a free agent in 2018, but by then, it’d be too late for the Pacers to trade him if they don’t have the major financial advantage.

At some point, Indiana could ask George to pledge to stay for his max, whatever that winds up being. That wouldn’t be binding, but his response could be telling.

For now, if I were the Pacers, I’d hope he makes All-NBA this year and dare him to reject the designated-veteran-player extension. If he qualifies and turns that down, that would absolutely be telling.

But I’d also be exploring the trade market now, hoping for an offer that knocks my socks off but more realistically gaining understanding for when dealing George becomes more logical.

Report: Clippers’ Chris Paul cleared, could play against Warriors on Thursday

Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul shoots as Portland Trail Blazers' Al-Farouq Aminu watches during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Chris Paul tore a ligament in his left thumb last month, and the Clippers announced he’d miss 6-8 weeks.

He could return just over five weeks after injury, when the Clippers face the Warriors on Thursday.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, via Andrew Han of ESPN:

“He looked great. He went through the whole practice [on Tuesday]. You know, so it was good. Really good,” Rivers said before practice on Wednesday. “He could play tomorrow. I mean, I can’t tell you if he will or not, but he’s been cleared medically. But we just want to make sure that he’s comfortable playing.”

The Clippers have slid to fourth in the West, leading the fifth-place Jazz by just half a game. It’s probably too late to catch the third-place Rockets, who are five games up. But maintaining home-court advantage in the first round is important.

Paul should help.

The Clippers remain dangerous when healthy. They’ve outscored teams by 15.1 points per 100 possessions when Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick share the court. With those four, they score and defend at rates that would lead the league if it weren’t for Golden State’s historic offensive rating.