Report: Sacramento Kings want to trade No. 8 pick

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The Sacramento Kings have their share of young players — DeMarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, Ray McCallum.

What they don’t really want is another, they would prefer a veteran that can help them climb into the playoffs in the West next season.

So you can have their No. 8 pick if you send them a veteran, ideally one who can defend on the perimeter and has a reliable outside shot. That’s what Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com reports.

The Kings put the No. 8 pick in the draft on the trade block immediately after the lottery Tuesday night, league sources told NBA.com, clearly looking to add at least one impact veteran in an attempt to push into the playoff conversation next season rather than wait for another rookie prospect to develop.

While several teams choosing in the top 10 on June 26 will be fielding trade offers as part of a deep draft with several intriguing prospects, the Kings have signaled they will take a proactive approach in hoping to make a deal.

It comes down to this: How quality a veteran will teams surrender to snap up for the players likely to be around at No. 8 — Doug McDermott, Aaron Gordon, James Young, international guys like Dario Saric?

Teams may well be interested in a deal for financial reasons — if they believe they can unload a more expensive veteran rotation player for a rotation player on a rookie contract, it makes sense. Under the current CBA rookie contracts are incredibly valuable for that reason. Don’t take my word for it, check out the graphs at fivethirtyeight.com (that’s not what the article is supposed to be about, but it makes my point).

These kind of trades often get done draft night — the team with the veteran has their eye on one specific player and waits to make sure he falls to them before pulling the trigger. The Kings draft him and Player X goes up on stage, shakes Adam Silver’s hand while wearing a Sacramento Kings hat, then finds out five minutes later he needs a different hat.

Just something to watch on draft night. This seems very plausible.

PBT Podcast: Breaking down rookie class’s start to NBA season

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Markelle Fultz has barely seen the court. Lonzo Ball has had a couple of triple-doubles but his shot is way off, and he’s drawing extra scrutiny thanks to his father. Right now, Danny Ainge looks like the smartest guy in the room trading down and walking away with Jayson Tatum. Some of the best players out of this draft early — Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell — were drafted well down the board.

It’s been a draft class with real highs, some ugly lows, some polarizing figures — and Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports break it down.

They go through all the guys taken in the lottery and discuss what they have seen, then talk about some of the guys outside the draft who have had strong seasons so far.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

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LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?