Report: Minnesota willing to move Derrick Williams, Alexey Shved for veterans

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Derrick Williams and Alexey Shved are reportedly on the market but this is all about Kevin Love.

If that sounds strange, follow along here. Minnesota is entering a “win now” phase and they are off to a nice 5-3 start this season thanks to their expected strong offense and a better than expected defense. They look like a playoff team if they can stay healthy.

But that is not enough. This note from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports — in a story primarily about how the Knicks are selling Carmelo Anthony on how they will go after Love in 2015 — includes this interesting tidbit about the Timberwolves efforts to keep Love in house and how that may impact the roster.

Kevin Love is on deck to be recruited to New York in 2015, and that’s among the reasons the Timberwolves are so determined to make deals to climb deep into the playoffs these next two years. Young Minnesota players Derrick Williams and Alexey Shved are available in deals for veterans to help these T’wolves now, league executives told Yahoo Sports.

Thanks to the legacy of David Kahn (who refused to give him a five year max contract extension), Love can opt out in the summer of 2015 and almost certainly will. It’s no secret around the league that Love has had his frustrations with the Timberwolves and he is seen as a guy who could bolt. He will be the marquee free agent of 2015 and likely will have the Knicks, Lakers and maybe even Bulls among others knocking on his door.

Minnesota finally kicked Kahn to the curb last summer and brought in Flip Saunders as the head of basketball operations with the goal of repairing the organization’s relationship with Love and building a winner that will make him want to stay.

Winning will be the key. Minnesota can offer one more year and larger raises than all the other 2015 suitors, but what really makes it hard for Love to leave Minnesota is if he thinks he is walking away from a contender or potential contender. In two years, can this core with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic grow into something that can challenge the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers and Warriors out West?

Saunders knows he needs more, hence the idea of moving good young players in Williams and Shved for guys more ready to help now.

Minnesota is getting out of the player development, “we’re happy to be up-and-comers” role and into something more serious. With that could come some interesting player movement in the next couple years.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.

Video Breakdown: Rockets launch Eric Gordon from 3-point range against Thunder in Game 4

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The Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, 113-109, and now the series heads back to Texas with the Rockets in the lead, 3-1.

Houston and OKC played a weird game, with Nene scoring 28 points off the bench for the Rockets and serious mischief in the final moments. The end of the game included a purposely missed free throw by Steven Adams that allowed Russell Westbrook to grab a quick 3-pointer and a missed call when James Harden shoved Alex Abrines out of the way like an NFL tackle.

While the Rockets didn’t shoot a stellar percentage from 3-point range — just 31.5 percent — they still knocked down 11 buckets from deep. Part of that action was a play run for Sixth Man of the Year candidate Eric Gordon that included a little semi-Pistol action, and a stagger screen that allowed Gordon to work his way free.

I picked this play to go over this week because it exemplifies just how committed to the 3-point shot the Rockets are. Plus, Gordon ran around three screens just to get this one bucket, which is always fun to see.

Watch the full video breakdown above.