Tom Izzo

Tom Izzo says he’s never met Pistons owner Tom Gores, blames media

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The Pistons owner Tom Gores is reportedly interested in hiring Tom Izzo. Izzo, for his part, didn’t deny his interest.

And that’s the extent of it – at least in reality.

In Izzo’s world…

Izzo on 1130 The Fan:

I’m upset with the media, because somebody’s sitting in the basement making up stuff. And it’s embarrassing to me. It’s embarrassing to me for the Detroit Pistons. When it comes on a across a headline “Tom Izzo says he has no interest” or whatever, that wasn’t even the case. The problem is nobody’s even talked to me. I get all these things. “I know you’ve talked to this person.” “I know you’ve talked to that person.” Because that makes it look embarrassing, like the Pistons have called me, and said something, and I’ve said I had no interest. First of all, nobody has contacted me in any way, shape or form. I don’t have an agent, so they can’t go through my agent. It’s just so ridiculous. Somebody can just make it up. And that’s the Twitter generation. You wonder why I don’t like it.

First of all, to media out there that started that thing, shame on you.

I’ve never met or talked to Tom Gores. I have a great respect has done. I pull for the Pistons every day. I feel for what Joe Dumars is going through. Never once met or talked to him. So, all the all the people who tell me how many times I’ve talked to him or done this, to be very blunt about it, Matt, it gets sickening.

First of all, it’s mother’s basement. If you’re going to say someone is writing from their basement, just go all the way and say mother’s basement.

Second of all, as far as I saw, no credible outlet (using the loosest standard possible) reported the Pistons have contacted Izzo.

Sam Amick of USA Today reported yesterday Gores is expected to pursue Izzo, which set off the latest round of Izzo-to-Pistons analysis. That echoes a report by Stephen A. Smith of ESPN last month, when he said Gores was interested in Izzo.

But neither said the Pistons have contacted Izzo.

The Pistons are surely plotting how they’ll handle their coaching position this offseason. With no permanent head coach in place – John Loyer is serving as interim coach following Maurice Cheeks’ firing – they must take take some type of action. They probably have multiple potential hires in mind, maybe even a favorite. Maybe that favorite is Izzo.

And if it is, that doesn’t mean they’ve contacted him.

The Pistons are the only team to fire their coaching during this season. They have the biggest head start on this process. At the latest, Michigan State’s season will end April 7. There’s no reason the Pistons, even if he’s by far their top choice, can’t wait until then to contact him.

Aside from Izzo tearing down a straw man, the interview yielded some useful information, namely that Izzo hasn’t met Gores.

It will take a special situation for Izzo to leave Michigan State, where he reiterated – truthfully, I’m sure – he’s happy. Maybe the hometown Pistons, whom he says he pulls for, can provide that. But if Izzo hasn’t met the owner, that might reduce the draw for Izzo.

Then again, he can get to know Gores in April, when this will actually pick up steam if it’s going anywhere.

Update: Izzo spoke with Dan Patrick about this issue, saying “I have no interest in coaching the Detroit Pistons right now.” Those last two words make all the difference.

Report: Bulls pushing to trade for 76ers’ Jahlil Okafor

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 14: Jahlil Okafor #8 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks to pass against Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on December 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Bulls reportedly reached out to the 76ers about Jahlil Okafor a few weeks ago.

After unfulfilled intrigue and maybe a trade that fell through, Okafor remains in Philadelphia. And Chicago apparently still wants him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

As constituted, the Bulls already have a few interior bigs: Robin Lopez, Taj Gibson and Cristiano Felicio. But one or more could go in an Okafor trade or another deal.

Okafor would make the Chicago younger, confusing its direction with Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade already in place.

Perhaps, the Bulls are pushing for a trade only because they’re offering so little. Okafor’s low-post game offers intrigue. At the right price, he’d be worth adding, no matter the fit and direction presented.

Maybe the 76ers don’t go for a lowball offer, but that’d be worth trying considering their center logjam with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. Otherwise, Chicago ought to tread carefully when pursuing Okafor.

Report: 76ers trading Ersan Ilyasova to Hawks for Tiago Splitter, picks

Atlanta Hawks guard Mike Dunleavy blocks the shot of Philadelphia 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, in Atlanta. Atlanta won 110-93. (AP Photo/John Amis)
AP Photo/John Amis
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The 76ers have played like a 64-win team when Joel Embiid and Ersan Ilyasova share the court and a 20-win team otherwise, using data from nbawowy!.

That’s helpful for Philadelphia, which is learning what type of player — a stretch four — works best with its franchise player.

But the Hawks can use more than just a lesson in the idea of Ersan Ilyasova. They can use actual Ersan Ilyasova.

And Atlanta will get him.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated:

Atlanta stills sound intent on keeping Paul Millsap, so Ilyasova will likely back him up. Ilyasova should work particularly well with Dwight Howard, whose interior play was a key factor in ushering in this stretch-four era by covering for the lighter power forward next to him.

In the last 21 months, Ilyasova has been traded five times: from the Bucks to the Pistons to the Magic to the Thunder to the 76ers and now to the Hawks. They can probably count on the veteran to settle in quickly as they try to improve their position in the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Atlanta is fifth, closer to third than sixth.

Both Ilyasova and Splitter have expiring contracts. The advantage of Splitter, who has missed the Hawks’ last 90 games, is that his full compensation counts toward the floor apparently without Philadelphia actually having to play all of his salary.

Plus, those picks could help the 76ers in a season where they can win something meaningful — like the Hawks have decided this season is for them.

Report: Other NBA executives believe Pacers not seriously shopping Paul George

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 12:  Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers in action during the NBA match between Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets at the O2 Arena on January 12, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Dan Mullan/Getty Images
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The Pacers are reportedly shopping Paul George, trying to line up a trade if they can’t get him help in another deal.

But it’s hard to find anyone who believes Indiana is genuinely looking to trade George before the upcoming trade deadline.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

If the Pacers are serious about trading George, they better convince other teams quickly. That’s the only way to draw out the best offers.

But it makes sense Indiana is only in the exploratory stage.

The Pacers — and only the Pacers — could offer George a designated-veteran-player contract extension (projected to be worth about $209 million over five years) this offseason if he makes an All-NBA team.

That’s probably a longshot. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James are locks for three of the six forward spots. Anthony DavisJimmy ButlerDraymond Green and Giannis Antetokounmpo should also rank ahead of George. Gordon HaywardPaul MillsapKevin Love are firmly in the mix, too. That’s a lot of ground to make up and other contenders to fend off.

But it’s likely worth it for the Pacers to keep George past the deadline and let him try. The upside is so high.

If George doesn’t make an All-NBA team, Indiana could always trade him at any point before the next trade deadline. He could also qualify as a designated veteran player by making a 2017-18 All-NBA team and re-signing as a free agent in 2018, but by then, it’d be too late for the Pacers to trade him if they don’t have the major financial advantage.

At some point, Indiana could ask George to pledge to stay for his max, whatever that winds up being. That wouldn’t be binding, but his response could be telling.

For now, if I were the Pacers, I’d hope he makes All-NBA this year and dare him to reject the designated-veteran-player extension. If he qualifies and turns that down, that would absolutely be telling.

But I’d also be exploring the trade market now, hoping for an offer that knocks my socks off but more realistically gaining understanding for when dealing George becomes more logical.

Report: Clippers’ Chris Paul cleared, could play against Warriors on Thursday

Los Angeles Clippers' Chris Paul shoots as Portland Trail Blazers' Al-Farouq Aminu watches during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Chris Paul tore a ligament in his left thumb last month, and the Clippers announced he’d miss 6-8 weeks.

He could return just over five weeks after injury, when the Clippers face the Warriors on Thursday.

Clippers coach Doc Rivers, via Andrew Han of ESPN:

“He looked great. He went through the whole practice [on Tuesday]. You know, so it was good. Really good,” Rivers said before practice on Wednesday. “He could play tomorrow. I mean, I can’t tell you if he will or not, but he’s been cleared medically. But we just want to make sure that he’s comfortable playing.”

The Clippers have slid to fourth in the West, leading the fifth-place Jazz by just half a game. It’s probably too late to catch the third-place Rockets, who are five games up. But maintaining home-court advantage in the first round is important.

Paul should help.

The Clippers remain dangerous when healthy. They’ve outscored teams by 15.1 points per 100 possessions when Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick share the court. With those four, they score and defend at rates that would lead the league if it weren’t for Golden State’s historic offensive rating.