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One draft scenario could see Suns looking to trade Marcin Gortat

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The Suns have the fifth overall pick in next week’s NBA Draft, and due to a combination of both their own needs and the uncertainty about how the four picks before theirs are going to shake out, the team is wisely preparing for a wide variety of scenarios.

At least one of those might see Phoenix looking to trade Marcin Gortat, should one of the draft’s coveted big men fall to them at the five slot.

From Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic:

If the Suns go big, it would be because [Nerlens Noel] plummeted unexpectedly, but not impossibly, to No. 5. Noel, 19, is a 7-footer with premier shot-blocking skills and athleticism but is going through knee rehabilitation for a surgically repaired ACL. Len, a 7-footer from Ukraine, is a more versatile big man who Suns scouts have liked for his upside as a rebounder, paint protector and scorer who is also 19.

A big-man acquisition could spur trade talk involving center Marcin Gortat, particularly with the Suns being open to the idea of landing another first-round pick. Portland, which holds the No. 10 pick, has held an interest in Gortat and a draft slot like that could be used on a big man like Indiana’s athletically and fundamentally solid Cody Zeller or Pittsburgh’s raw-but-rising Steven Adams.

Gortat is a more-than-serviceable center who averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game with the Suns last season. But he’s shown an inability to completely mesh with point guard Goran Dragic, and the rebuilding Suns might be more interested in flipping the 29-year old in exchange for younger assets.

If Phoenix does decide to move Gortat, they should be able to get something more than decent in return. Gortat is in the final year of an affordable contract that pays him just over $7 million next season, so even if a team isn’t sold on Gortat’s fit with their franchise, they’ll certainly be enticed by an expiring deal that will free up some cap space for the following season.

Report: Rockets will leave Donatas Motiejunas’ offer sheet open

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 12:  Donatas Motiejunas #20 of the Houston Rockets and Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Brooklyn Nets fight for the loose ball at the Barclays Center on January 12, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.The Houston Rockets defeated the Brooklyn Nets 113-99. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Donatas Motiejunas’ agent, B.J. Armstrong, said he knows their rights.

Apparently, so does Houston.

Motiejunas has refused to take a physical with the Rockets since they matched his offer sheet from the Nets. So, Houston will hold him on that offer sheet indefinitely.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

https://twitter.com/Jonathan_Feigen/status/806915490262163456

Motiejunas can’t sign an offer sheet with another NBA team. He probably can’t even join an overseas team in a FIBA-accredited league, because his NBA holdout will prevent him from getting clearance.

All he can do is submit to a physical or negotiate a new deal with the Rockets.

Motiejunas could undergo a physical anytime between now and March 1. If he passes, he’d join Houston on the terms of his matched offer sheet. If he fails, he’d go to Brooklyn on the original offer-sheet terms (which are $6 million apart).

Motiejunas could also negotiate a new deal with the Rockets. They have immense leverage with his matched offer sheet in place, but perhaps a compromise could be forged. Motiejunas obviously wants a chance at that $6 million, but he’ll have to concede something in exchange. Maybe that’s a later guarantee date on his 2017-18 salary. If both sides agree to a different contract, Houston would withdraw its match, which would make Motiejunas a restricted free agent. Then, the Rockets could re-sign him.

They sure aren’t letting him out of this limbo just to seek a better offer sheet from another team. A new contract must already be agreed upon.

In the meantime, Motiejunas will continue to count toward the Nets’ team salary while the offer sheet is open, which is a nuisance but not hugely disruptive. They have plenty of cap space anyway, and the odds of adding significant salary in a trade are low.

Houston will continue to play without Motiejunas. That’s also not ideal for the Rockets, but they’ve been fine without him so far.

The qualifying offer will expire on March 2, when Motiejunas will no longer be eligible to sign an offer sheet with another team. He’d still be allowed to re-sign with Houston, though. Failing that, he’ll re-enter free agency next summer, when the Rockets could again make him restricted, and we’ll start the process all over again – with the caveat that the Nets can’t sign him for one year after his offer sheet expires.

Maybe something will break before it gets to that point, but Houston and Motiejunas have trudged deeper into this standoff than ever imaginable.

Stephen Curry skips pass between DeAndre Jordan’s legs, gets Zaza Pachulia a layup (video)

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Nicolas Batum wasn’t the only player to bounce a pass through an opponent’s legs last night.

Stephen Curry nutmegged DeAndre Jordan on this sweet assist to Zaza Pachulia.

Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell take turns dunking on Julius Randle (videos)

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Head Coach Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers talks with Julius Randle #30 during the second half of a 107-101 Jazz win at Staples Center on December 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Rough night for the Lakers, who lost 134-95 to the Rockets.

It was particularly harsh for Julius Randle, who got dunked on by Clint Capela:

And then Montrezl Harrell:

Giannis Antetokounmpo called for 10-second violation on free throw (video)

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This Giannis Antetokounmpo 10-second violation was a year in the making.

Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, it was too little, too late. Antetokounmpo still finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks and two steals in the Bucks’ 115-107 win.