Report: Suns to trade Marcin Gortat to Wizards for Emeka Okafor

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Washington wants to make the playoffs this year. Owner Ted Leonsis demands it. No more slow rebuild.

They are counting on John Wall to lead them (so he better find his jumper), but they need some balance inside and that has been hampered by the neck injury sidelining Emeka Okafor indefinitely.

So they are reaching out to the Suns for a trade, picking up Marcin Gortat and sending them the injured Okafor, something first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources said the deal sends Gortat and guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall to the Wizards for the expiring contract of veteran big man Emeka Okafor and a protected 2014 first-round pick (to No. 12).

That pick is the Wizards valuable 2014 No. 1, but it is protected through No. 12, Stein reports. The Suns now have four picks in next year’s deep first round of the draft.

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For the Wizards, this would be a great get. Gortat is rock solid — not elite, not spectacular, but will give you quality play at both ends of the court. He is a strong pick setter and roll man (he shot 56.6 percent as the roll man last year) and that should pair well with the speedy Wall. Gortat shot a respectable 45.4 percent from the post, he can move well off the ball and has good hands for catching off cuts. On the other end of the floor he is a good shot blocker and rebounder, a big body in the paint. The other thing this does for Washington is let them move Nene back to the four spot, where he is more comfortable.

In the last year of his contract ($7.7 million) and on the rebuilding Suns, Gortat was long on the trade block. This just came a little earlier than expected.

For the Suns… they are all in for the Wiggins lottery and this is just another step that direction. They can play Okafor eventually if they want to, or they can move him, but this is a team looking to rebuild through the draft and they both got another pick and got worse to help their own draft slot in the process.

Tell me again how there is nobody tanking in the NBA, David Stern (and Adam Silver).

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.