Joakim Noah, Kevin Love

Report: Bulls have made better trade offer than Celtics for Kevin Love

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The Minnesota Timberwolves say they don’t want to trade Kevin Love. Seriously, they don’t. They insist.

OK, maybe they’ll trade him later. Minimum, they’ll keep him until draft night.

Despite all this posturing, the Timberwolves are getting offers for their disgruntled star player. As soon as word spread Love wants out of Minnesota – and likely even before – teams across the NBA began sending the Timberwolves trade proposals.

Minnesota can either completely ignore these offers or evaluate them. Seems like the latter is a wiser option, even if the Timberwolves don’t want to act on them.

The Bulls emerged early as a potential suitor, and the Celtics reportedly have interest too. Love fanned those flames by visiting Boston, but just two catches – the Celtics don’t have cap room, and Love isn’t a free agent anyway.

Reportedly, Boston made Minnesota an offer, though. It just isn’t good enough.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com:

The Timberwolves privately maintain they already have fielded better offers from other teams, among them the Chicago Bulls

On the merits, the Celtics can make pretty intriguing offers – more on that later – but they might have to come substantially stronger than other teams, because Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and president/coach Flip Saunders don’t jive with Boston.

MacMullan:

Taylor still hasn’t recovered from the last seismic Minnesota-Boston transaction, which led to a Celtics championship. In fact, sources in Minnesota say, the thought of conducting another major transaction with Boston gives Taylor great pause.

Some of McHale’s friends, including Ainge, felt Saunders undermined McHale, his former college teammate, during his final days in Minnesota.

When Doc Rivers hired Saunders as a “postseason consultant” for the Celtics during the 2012 playoffs, the interaction between Flip and Ainge was minimal and noticeably cool.

MacMullan doesn’t detail Chicago’s and Boston’s offers, but both teams have plenty of assets, including all their own future first-round picks.

The Bulls could offer some combination of:

  • No. 16 pick in 2014 draft
  • No. 19 pick in 2014 draft
  • Top-10 protected pick from the Kings between 2015 and 2017
  • Better of their own and the Cavaliers’ 2015 first-round picks (as long as Cleveland falls outside the lottery)
  • Nikola Mirotic’s rights
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Taj Gibson
  • Carlos Boozer’s expiring contract (to make salaries match without making Minnesota take a long

It’s easy to see how Chicago could put together a tempting offer. It’s just a matter of how much the Bulls want to trade for a player who’s locked up for only one – maybe two – more years.

But the Celtics, if they choose, could put together a pretty impressive offer of their own. In draft picks alone, they can offer a combination of:

  • No. 6 pick in 2014 draft
  • No. 17 pick in 2014 draft
  • Lottery-protected 2015 first-round pick from 76ers (if Philadelphia misses playoffs, it becomes two second rounders)
  • 2015 Clippers first-round pick
  • 2016 Nets first-round pick
  • Better of their own and the Net’s 2017 first-round picks
  • 2018 Nets first-round pick

For example, Boston could offer some combination of its draft picks – along with Joel Anthony, Keith Bogans, Chris Johnson and either Phil Pressey or Chris Babb  to make salaries match – for Love and agree to complete the trade as soon as the July moratorium ends.

Minnesota could immediately waive Bogans, Pressey, Johnson and Babb at no cost. Only the final year of Anthony’s contract ($3.8 million) would remain on the ledger. That’s significant – and more immediate than Chicago can offer – financial relief. The obvious hang-up is which picks to include.

Boston could also include Kelly Olynyk and/or Jared Sullinger, though that adds cost to the Timberwolves. Regardless, there are options.

Without question, the Celtics have more than enough to pry Love – at least unless the Bulls have made an incredible offer that exceeds expectations.

So, MacMullan’s report tells me either Chicago is offering too much for Love or Boston has, at least so far, refused to offer enough. But if the Celtics want Love, they probably have the assets to make a strong offer.

They just haven’t yet.

Karl-Anthony Towns carries Wolves past Nuggets, 111-108

Minnesota Timberwolves teammates Karl-Anthony Towns, center, and Tyus Jones (1) celebrate their lead in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Minneapolis. The Wolves won 111-108. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns had 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists and hit the go-ahead shot with 42.5 seconds to play to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 111-108 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night.

Towns hit 13 of 19 shots and also had four blocks and Andrew Wiggins scored 24 points in Minnesota’s fourth straight home win. Shabazz Muhammad scored 20 points off the bench and the Wolves rallied from nine points down midway through the fourth quarter for the win.

Gary Harris scored 22 points and Nikola Jokic had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back. Wilson Chandler and Jamal Murray added 17 points each for Denver, which played without Emmanuel Mudiay because of a sore back.

Kris Dunn had 10 points and nine assists for the Wolves while starting for Ricky Rubio, who missed the game to attend his grandmother’s funeral.

The Wolves were down 100-91 midway through the fourth quarter when Towns and Muhammad keyed a 12-2 run. Muhammad finished the spurt with a layup for a 103-102 lead, Wiggins hit a 3-pointer and Towns knocked down a jumper from the baseline to put the Wolves up for good in a thriller.

The game featured two of the best young big men in the game in Towns and Jokic. Both are considered the new breed of NBA center, able to shoot the ball like a shooting guard, pass it like a point guard and run the break like a small forward.

Denver coach Mike Malone said the Nuggets offense took off when he inserted Jokic into the starting lineup, and the Serbian gave his coach the luxury of being able to weather Mudiay’s absence by running the offense through him. Rookie Jamal Murray saw extended minutes at point guard, running the pick-and-roll with Jokic to perfection.

Towns knows there is a segment of the NBA analytics community that believe Jokic should have won rookie of the year honors last year, and he went right at Jokic every time he had the chance on Sunday night. Towns dunked on Jokic twice and had another blow-by for a dunk in the second quarter that got the crowd on its feet.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Denver committed 18 turnovers leading to 31 points for Minnesota. … Mudiay stayed home in Denver to get treatment for his back. The hope is that it is a short-term injury.

Timberwolves: Gorgui Dieng was limited to six minutes in the first half after picking up three quick fouls in the first quarter. … Rubio is expected to rejoin the team on Monday.

SHABAZZ SHINES

Muhammad made 9 of 14 shots, including two 3s and hustled on defense as well, giving the Wolves some much-needed production off the bench. Zach LaVine had another quiet night as he works his way back from a hip injury, but Muhammad picked up the scoring slack. He reached double figures for the fourth time in seven games.

 

Eric Bledsoe’s career day leads Suns over Raptors 115-103

Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) drives past Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry during first-half NBA basketball game action in Toronto, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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TORONTO (AP) — Eric Bledsoe scored a career-high 40 points and had 13 assists and the Phoenix Suns handed the Toronto Raptors their third straight loss, 115-103 on Sunday night.

Bledsoe was 11 of 17 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and Devin Booker added 20 points as the Suns won their second straight road game following Saturday’s win at New York. The victory also completed a season sweep of the Raptors for the first time since 2013-14 and improved Phoenix to 11-6 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

DeMar DeRozan had 22 points for Toronto and Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. It’s the first time the Raptors have lost three straight since Nov. 6-10, 2015.

Kyle Lowry was ejected with 1:30 left after a flagrant-two foul following contact with the head of Brandon Knight. It capped a night to forget for Lowry, who had 15 points but shot just 5 of 17, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range.

Toronto led from the 2:13 mark of the second quarter until the Suns tied it at 95 on a banked hook shot from Tyson Chandler with 7:29 to play. After DeMarre Carroll and Bledsoe exchanged baskets, Phoenix went on an 18-6 run the rest of the way to take the game away from the Raptors.

After falling behind on Bledsoe’s 3-pointer just 19 seconds in, the Raptors responded with a 12-0 run, punctuated by a spectacular alley-oop dunk by Lucas Nogueira from Lowry’s pass. The Raptors led 31-28 after 12 minutes.

DeRozan led the way in the second quarter, going 4 of 5 from the floor for 12 points as the Raptors built their lead to seven on a driving layup with 1:51 to play in the half. The Suns countered with a 10-4 run to go into the interval down 60-57.

The Raptors extended their lead to seven in the third but only shot 36.8 percent from the floor and were unable to pull away, settling for an 85-82 edge after 36 minutes.

TIP-INS

Suns: One night after setting the mark, Chandler ended his franchise record and career high of consecutive 15-plus rebound games at seven with nine rebounds on the night. … F Dragan Bender left with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter with a sore right ankle and did not return.

Raptors: F Patrick Patterson (left knee) missed his sixth consecutive game. … The Raptors got double-digit points from all five of their starting players.

HOME AT LAST

Toronto’s prized free-agent signing Jared Sullinger played his first home game for the Raptors on Sunday night. After missing the first 41 games of the season following left foot surgery, the forward made his debut in Friday’s loss in Charlotte before entering the fray Sunday with 3:56 to play in the first. He ultimately played 13 minutes, scoring nine points.

DRAWING LEVEL

With 22 points Sunday, DeRozan tied Chris Bosh for second in franchise history with 265 games with at least 20 points. Vince Carter leads the way with 273 such games.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

With 7:10 left in the third, Marquise Chriss made a spectacular, one-handed alley-oop dunk from T.J. Warren‘s lob pass that was slightly behind him, falling to the floor before rolling over and popping right back up.

 

Magic had one highlight: Aaron Gordon in transition with dunk (VIDEO)

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Golden State didn’t have much trouble with Orlando Sunday, pulling away in the second half as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each had seven threes.

But the Magic did have one highlight: Elfrid Payton found Aaron Gordon in transition and we know the man can finish. Enjoy.

 

As expected, Last Two-Minute report says DeMarcus Cousins didn’t foul Dwyane Wade

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It was an obviously wrong call. NBA officials get far, far more right than wrong over the course of a game — there are not better referees on the planet (watch FIBA ball someday) — but they are human, and they make mistakes. Sometimes pretty egregious ones. And that’s what happened at the end of the Kings/Bulls game.

And that’s what happened near the end of the Kings/Bulls game. Dwyane Wade went up for a layup/dunk he missed, but he landed a bit awkwardly and a referee apparently thought that was because DeMarcus Cousins touched him. The foul was called, even though Cousins did not foul Wade in the least.

The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report agreed:

Cousins (SAC) has his hand on Wade’s (CHI) back while he is airborne, but he does not extend his arm and push him and the contact does not affect the shot attempt.

This was expected. Of course, that does not mean the teams will replay the end of the game, it just means the NBA admits there was a mistake. One that may have changed the outcome of the game. But that original outcome stands.

DeMarcus, how do you feel about that?