Pau Gasol to Charlotte? That’s not likely, nor is any other Pau Gasol trade

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Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is trying. He doesn’t want to lose Pau Gasol for nothing.

The Lakers are talking to teams about moving Gasol at the trade deadline. However, finding a team that wants to rent a guy making $19.3 million (he is a free agent after this season) and give the Lakers anything of value in return has been very difficult. To put it mildly.

The latest talks were with the Charlotte Bobcats, reports Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, but those are unlikely as well.

The Charlotte Bobcats have been in contact with the Los Angeles Lakers concerning veteran big man Pau Gasol, but a source familiar with the discussion downplayed the likelihood Gasol would end up a Bobcat by Thursday’s NBA trade deadline.

Most likely after the trade deadline Gasol is a Laker.

First and foremost, teams are hesitant to deal for Gasol because he is not healthy, he has a lingering groin strain that has him out. He could potentially return and be showcased for one game before the trade deadline, that call has yet to be made, but is that really enough? Are teams going to make this kind of a deal for a guy battling a lingering issue?

To make this work Charlotte would have to send the expiring contract of Ben Gordon (unless Los Angeles wanted Al Jefferson) plus more out West. The Lakers are known to want a first round pick or a promising young player in any such deal, they want to jump start their rebuilding.

Charlotte has future picks from Portland and Detroit, but it want to slow its own rebuild down to have Gasol help them secure a low playoff seed? That shouldn’t be how they operate and Bonnell says it is not.

While adding Gasol could give the Bobcats the short-term boost to make the playoffs, giving up a first-round pick would make Gasol more of a long-term investment. That’s where the Bobcats would have pause.

Gasol turns 34 in July and is playing his 15th NBA season. Is he a long-term fit for the Bobcats, particularly the way Steve Clifford coaches defense? Would Gasol, a Spaniard who has played in Los Angeles the past six seasons, be receptive to finishing out his career in Charlotte?

The Suns are sort of in the same boat — they may have four first round picks this season to sweeten the deal (plus Emeka Okafor’s expiring deal) but is that worth it just to rent a banged-up Gasol for the playoffs? Phoenix is not giving up it’s protected top two first round picks (Minnesota’s and Washington’s), but maybe their bottom one (they own the Pacers’ pick) or their own with protections. Maybe.

Brandon Bass of the Celtics may be a more realistic option for Phoenix, reports Paul Coro at the Arizona Republic.

The Lakers are trying because Gasol is not going to be back with this team next season. Kobe Bryant may love him but he doesn’t fit with Mike D’Antoni’s system and he will get other offers (Chicago? Although they could have Nikola Mirotic coming) where the money and style of play suit him better. Both sides are ready to move on. We’ll see if the Lakers can get anything for him before he walks.

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.