Who: France vs Lithuania.
The French squad features five current NBA players in Tony Parker (Spurs), Nicolas Batum (Blazers), Boris Diaw (Spurs), Nando De Colo (Spurs) and Joffrey Lauvergne (Nuggets). Former NBA players Johan Petro, Alexis Ajinca and Mickael Gelabale are on the roster as well.
The Lithuanian squad features only two NBA players in Donatas Motiejunas (Rockets) and Jonas Valanciunas (Raptors). Linas Kleiza, who was released by the Raptors this offseason, is on the team as well.
What: Here’s what’s at stake. France has never won a European title, and it’s been ten years since Lithuania won gold. Both teams are hungry for a win, but Lithuania might have the mental edge going in. In the second round of EuroBasket back on September 11th, they crushed France 76-62 and limited Parker to just 11 points. Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points and 6 boards in just 16 minutes of playing time.
When: 12 pm PT
Where: Slovenia. Keep an eye on the Bronze Medal game beforehand between Spain and Croatia for more NBA players going at it.
Why: Here’s why you should watch. Tony Parker has played big minutes and put up big points all tournament, averaging 19.3 a game and leading all scorers. He’s been brilliant. Although you wouldn’t expect it, the French team has struggled behind the arc quite a bit, shooting 33 percent as a team. Can Parker continue to save the day offensively?
Valanciunas is the player to watch on the other end. Many have him pegged as breakout candidate this year after his summer domination, but Valanciunas hasn’t been as consistently great against much better competition. He does lead the Lithuanian squad in rebounds and blocked shots, however.
This is the very last of the best basketball you’ll see for nearly a month, and these are two great teams going at it in an emotionally charged setting. Enjoy it while you can.
The Toronto Raptors went into the last few weeks in a slump on the court and with the need to improve at the forward slot if they had any dreams of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals again.
Then the Raptors added Serge Ibaka.
Now they have added P.J. Tucker from the Suns to the mix, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
This is a strong move for Toronto. Tucker is a physical guy who can play the three or the four, and he brings a strong defensive presence to the court — he is statistically one of the better defending small forwards in the league this season. He and DeMarre Carroll can give the Raptors a needed boost on that end, and Tucker is going to be great as a defensive matchup in certain playoff situations.
Toronto has made its move — first they hope to get back up to the two or three seed in the East (and avoid Cleveland in the second round). Then to make a stronger run at Cleveland in the conference finals — remember they took the Cavs six games last year.
What the Suns wanted was the picks. Sullinger is a solid player who can step into their rotation now, but is a downgrade — especially defensively — from Tucker. What the Suns start doing is looking for draft steals they can find in the second round.
Back in 2014, the Bulls front office of John Paxson and Gar Forman traded two picks to the Denver Nuggets — picks that became Gary Harris and Josef Nurkic — to move up in the draft so they could pick Doug McDermott.
Thursday, the Bulls all but admitted that was a mistake.
Chicago traded McDermott and Taj Gibson to Oklahoma City for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne, and Anthony Morrow, as reported by Shams Charania of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports.
This is a good trade for Oklahoma City, especially while Enis Kanter remains sidelined. Gibson, in particular, gives them a rock-solid power forward out of the old school. Gibson can score inside and help Steven Adams, he can crash the boards, and while he’s not what he once was on that end he’s a solid defender.
Gibson is also a free agent this summer, and the Bulls were not going to pay the market value. Oklahoma City may, but Gibson will have options.
McDermott can shoot the three, hitting 37.6 percent this season, but that’s about all he brings to the table. Maybe that’s all the Thunder need. McDermott doesn’t create his own shot and he’s a big defensive liability. Maybe he can spread the floor a little for the Thunder, hang out at the arc waiting for a Russell Westbrook drive and dish, but he’s not doing much else.
Chicago gets a player with a lot of potential in Cameron Payne, he could be the point guard of the future there next to Jimmy Butler. That’s the best player on their end in this deal. But Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow are nice players who don’t actually move the needle.
This trade by the Bulls echoes their moves over the summer bringing in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo — what exactly is the plan? Payne could be part of the future, but are the Bulls a team rebuilding around Butler? It remains difficult to see what the vision is in Chicago. Which has to frustrate Butler.
K.J. McDaniels was already buried deep on the Rockets bench behind not just James Harden but guys such as Trevor Ariza and Sam Decker. Now Lou Williams comes to town and will get some of those minutes, and the Rockets decided to see if anyone wanted to take a flier on McDaniels.
Brooklyn did, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
For Brooklyn, why not take a flier on him — McDaniels put up some numbers and played fairly well a few seasons back in Philly, when they had nobody else to take shots. He went from there to Houston, where they had a lot of guys who were better shooters. Now he heads to Brooklyn, a team that could use the scoring, so he gets another shot.
As for Houston, this was a salary dump looking ahead.
The buzz is the Rockets would like to get Langston Galloway if the Kings decide to waive him, but there will be a number of quality players waived in the coming week, and the Rockets now have the roster spot and cap room to go after one of them.
The Pelicans have potentially the best front court in the NBA now with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins.
What they need is more help on the perimeter. A lot more help.
It’s not all going to come this season, but the Pelicans are going to take a look at their options. One of those options could be veteran and free agent Jarrett Jack, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
It’s a smart move by New Orleans. Jack averaged 12.8 points and 7.4 assists in 32 games for the Nets last season, but then he blew out his ACL. At 33, how well will he bounce back from that?
It may work, Jack relies far more on his outside shot than his ability to drive the paint (the hallmark of his game five years ago). He’s not going to be a great defender, but if healthy maybe he fits a bench role.