Report: Pistons want to trade for Rajon Rondo, Rudy Gay

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The Pistons have two of the NBA’s most promising big men, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and they’ve cleared more than $20 million in cap space this summer. They’re definitely in position to make a jump to the playoffs, which is what general manager Joe Dumars probably needs in the final season of his contract, if all goes well.

But the plan hit a snag when so many of the top available free agents ended up being power forwards and centers.

The Pistons are pursuing Andre Iguodala, but it sounds like it will be difficult to outbid the Nuggets. Josh Smith can play small forward, and he’s reportedly Detroit’s top target, but he’s a better power forward. Otherwise, the many of the best remaining free agents – Dwight Howard (not going to Detroit, anyway), Andrew Bynum and Paul Millsap – won’t work with Drummond and Monroe.

So, rather than overpay middling perimeter players in free agency, the Pistons might try to trade for a, in the eyes of some, more prestigious guard or small forward. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com:

the Pistons were among the first teams to reach out to the Celtics and express interest in acquiring Rondo, the All-Star point guard who is coming off an ACL injury, league sources told CBSSports.com. Having already made lucrative pitches to free agents Josh Smith and Andre Iguodala, Pistons president Joe Dumars also has registered interest in Raptors forward Rudy Gay, one source said.

The Pistons could use their cap room to take one the Celtics’ bad contracts (Gerald Wallace and maybe Courtney Lee), so Detroit would have to give up fewer positive assets for Rondo. Still, Monroe would likely have to be involved for Boston to have interest, though trading Monroe wouldn’t be as detrimental if the Pistons sign Smith. Of course, that’s also predicated on Danny Ainge changing from his public stance of keeping Rondo.

Gay himself has negative value, and that trade just sounds like Dumars asking for trouble. The Pistons reportedly tried to get Gay before Toronto did, but with Masai Ujiri now running the Raptors, Gay could be on the block again. Gay might become the go-to wing scorer the Pistons think they need, but he’s inefficient and wildly overpaid.

There are no perfect options for Detroit this summer, and a more patient route would probably be ideal. But with Dumars’ job on the line, I doubt that happens.

The Pistons are clearly trying to upgrade their talent this offseason, and, for better or worse, Rondo and/or Gay would accomplish that.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.