All of the chatter leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline is a blast for fans to take in, but it’s far less enjoyable for the players whose names continually pop up as being part of reported rumors or discussions.
Rajon Rondo is an interesting case, because he seems like exactly the type of player a team in a rebuilding situation would want to use as its foundation. Rondo is an All-Star talent who has won a championship with his current team, and is devoted to both the city and the franchise.
But for a variety of reasons, Celtics GM Danny Ainge has made it known that Rondo is available in trade, albeit for a fairly steep price. Rondo has seen his name surface in these types of reports in the past, so he seems to have come up with a way to deal with it with as little stress as possible.
He sat down with CSNNE Celtics sideline reporter Abby Chin in Phoenix, before the C’s faced the Suns in their first game after the All-Star break on Wednesday night, and again talked of how he tunes out the rumors.
“Stay focused,” Rondo said. “I can only control so much. Right now, I’m a Celtic and I’m going to go out tonight and play as hard as I can if I’m still here.”
Rondo has forged a solid relationship with new head coach Brad Stevens, and seems well-suited to be the one to lead the team back to the postseason. But should the right offer come along, the Celtics won’t hesitate to trade him to continue their rebuilding process.
76ers center Joel Embiid made clear he’s eying a playoff spot.
Markelle Fultz went a step further.
Fultz, via Matt Bowker of CSN Philly:
“We’re going to be in the playoffs this year, and I think everybody is willing to put forth their best effort and listen to the coaches and listen to the bench. We’ve got to just do whatever it takes to get there,” Fultz told CSNPhilly. “That’s practicing even harder, that’s doing extra work in the gym by ourselves, I mean, we’re going to do whatever it takes.”
That’s a fine goal for Philadelphia, and as Fultz underscores, chasing the playoffs should bring out the best in everyone. Even if the 76ers fall short, they’ll make valuable strides in pursuit.
Will they fall short, though?
They have an undeniably bright future behind Embiid, Fultz, Ben Simmons and the rest of their young core. But they might not be ready next season. At least Robert Covington is already a solid starter, and J.J. Redick plugs a big hole at shooting guard.
The weak Eastern Conference also provides hope. Only the Cavaliers, Celtics, Raptors and Wizards look like playoff locks. The Bucks also look likely to me, and plenty of people believe in the Heat. But the bottom couple spots are up for grabs. It might not take much for Philadelphia to grab one.
The Kings need to replace Scott Perry – an important vacancy in what has been a clownish front office run by Vlade Divac and overseen by Vivek Ranadive.
Sacramento won’t be hiring Otis Smith, the former Magic general manager who met with the Kings.
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:
I wouldn’t beat up the Kings about this. They quite possibly chose not to hire Smith and allowed it be framed this way as a favor to him – a fairly common courtesy.
But that the Kings were even considering Smith, despite all his failings in Orlando, doesn’t bode well for their search.
NEW DELHI (AP) Kevin Durant is in India to help the NBA make inroads in a nation of 1.3 billion.
Durant took part in a camp in New Delhi, where the Golden State Warriors star helped set a Guinness world record Friday for the largest basketball lesson – 3,459 participants across multiple venues. The NBA Finals MVP met young players at the NBA Academy, with hundreds more joining by satellite from four other cities across the country.
Durant’s first trip to India is the latest move by the league to grow the game there, much as it is doing in China.
The academy opened in May to train some of the country’s top talents. Since 2008, the NBA has staged more than 1,500 events in 30 Indian cities.
The six teams – Spurs, Clippers, Suns, Timberwolves, Knicks, Heat – that have reportedly proposed trades to the Cavaliers for Kyrie Irving are falling by the wayside, one by one.
The Heat denied making an offer. And it sounds as if the Clippers’ offer is leading them out of the chase.
Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers have DeAndre Jordan, who has made All-NBA teams in the last three years. They also have Patrick Beverley whose dogged defense and quality spot-up 3-point shooting would fit well with LeBron James, and Beverley would be a lower-paid replacement for Irving at point guard. Their only player on a rookie-scale contract is Brice Johnson, who has disappointed. But they can still trade their 2022 and 2024 first-rounders, theoretically one to Cleveland and one to get a rookie-scale player already in the league.
Jordan would be a bad fit in a frontcourt that already includes Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love and LeBron. But it seems a three-team trade could work.
Alas, if the Clippers have resigned themselves to not finding a three-team trade, that matters much more than whether one is plausible.