Report: Pelicans want to sign Luke Babbitt but it’s going to cost them

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To answer your first question, Luke Babbitt has been playing for BC Nizhny Novgorod in central Russia. A city where the high temperature Thursday is predicted to be zero. You might imagine he’d like to get back stateside.

And the Pelicans want to bring him back for the rest of the season, but the question is how much they are willing to pay to do it, reports Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com.

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward Luke Babbitt and the New Orleans Pelicans were in the final stages of reaching an agreement on a deal for the remainder of the season, one league source informed CSNNW.com…

However, BC Nizhny Novgorod isn’t facilitating that move having recently issued a statement saying they won’t sign his letter of clearance, disallowing him to sign with any other team. One person briefed on the situation tells CSNNW.com, “It’s going to be a battle” getting him out of that contract.

That statement is the sign of an international team looking for a payday. NBA teams are only allowed to offer $500,000 to get a player out of a contract, although whether they would really pay anywhere near that to get the stretch four Babbitt out of Russia remains to be seen

The Pelicans could use another stretch four off the bench with Ryan Anderson out indefinitely due to a back injury, Babbitt could fill that role. The question is how much owner Tom Benson is willing to pay in salary (minimum deal, certainly) and buyout to get Babbitt.

In his three seasons in Portland Babbitt shot 36.7 percent from three and did particularly well matched against power forwards. However, his defense kept a series of coaches from trusting him much — he could score but got abused by bigger power forwards and isn’t quick enough on the perimeter to guard NBA threes.

The Pelicans would like to give him another NBA chance, we’ll see if they get to. It’s going to come down to money, like it always does.

DeMarcus Cousins answers first several Kings-related questions same way (video)

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DeMarcus Cousins had a bitter exit from the Kings, but that won’t be the last they see of him.

Cousins’ Pelicans will host Sacramento tomorrow night.

Not that Cousins rushed to talk about the matchup.

Justin Verrier of ESPN:

Cousins is pretty funny when joking with the media, and his smile is contagious. Just listen to all the laughs Cousins generates as he goes through his shtick.

Bonus points to Cousins for eventually breaking down and providing real answers. Some of his relationships in Sacramento were clearly meaningful to him, and he wanted to acknowledge those — even if he’d prefer just to get past this awkward game and all the talk it invites.

Report: Sweet-shooting 7-footer Lauri Markkanen leaving Arizona for NBA draft

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Lauri Markkanen is 7-foot and made 42% of his 3-pointers this season.

That combination alone will have NBA teams drooling, and the Arizona freshman will capitalize.

Evan Daniels of Scout:

Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen is declaring for the NBA Draft and is expected to sign with an agent, multiple sources told Scout.

Markkanen seems pretty certain to get picked in the lottery, likely in the top 10.

Calling him a good shooter for his height undersells him. It’s not just he shoots so efficiently from deep, it’s that he can generate 3-pointers in so many ways — pick-and-pops, spot-ups, off off-ball screens and even running pick-and-rolls himself. Having the height to shoot over defenders is his most noticeable asset, but don’t undersell his mobility.

Markkanen also finishes well at the rim and offensively rebounds at extremely impressive clip for someone who spends so much time on the perimeter. Those interior skills instill belief he will eventually become a suitable defender.

There are a couple red flags. He’s old for a freshman, turning 20 before the draft. He leaves plenty to be desired defensively, especially due to his lack of strength.

But his size and shooting are tantalizing. That’s plenty for now.

Dwyane Wade wowed by jumping, around-the-back alley-oop pass in McDonald’s All-American Game (video)

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Watch for Collin Sexton in the 2018 NBA draft.

In the meantime, the Alabama commit had all eyes — include Dwyane Wade‘s — on him with this pass in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night.

Carmelo Anthony on shrinking role with Knicks: ‘I see the writing on the wall… I’m at peace with that’

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Carmelo Anthony scored just nine points on 12 shots in the Knicks loss to the Heat last night — well below his season averages of 22 points on 19 shots per game.

Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN:

“I see the writing on the wall. I see what it is,” Anthony said late Wednesday night. “I see what they’re trying to do, and it’s just me accepting that. That’s what puts me at peace. Just knowing and understanding how things work. I’m at peace with that.”

Is Anthony talking about just the Knicks’ final dozen games of this season, when they’re clearly interesting in testing less-proven players? Or is he referring to his entire tenure in New York?

Anthony has said he’d consider waiving his no-trade clause if the Knicks want to rebuild, and they’ll reportedly try again to trade him this offseason. Perhaps, this is Anthony indicating he’s warming up to the idea of allowing a trade.

Anthony’s and Kristaps Porzingis‘ timelines are barely compatible, if at all. It’d make sense for the Knicks to go in a different direction.

Could Anthony be at peace with that?