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.

Evan Fournier “hated” being left off the French national team

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 11:  Evan Fournier #10 of the Orlando Magic sets up the offense during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Amway Center on November 11, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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One of the most surprising developments of the summer came when Evan Fournier, coming off an excellent year with the Magic, was left off the French national team that went to Rio to compete in the Olympics. Fournier himself doesn’t have a good answer for why he wasn’t included, according to an interview with the French magazine L’Equipe (translation via EuroHoops.net).

“I hated not being in the Olympic Games,” he said. “I had suspected that I won’t make the cut a week before I was informed about it. I was reading interviews where only Rudy (Gobert) was mentioned among the players who didn’t play in the OQT but would go to Rio. In the end, I received a voicemail by Vincent Collet that briefly explained the reasons I was left out.”

Fournier said he didn’t have much communication with the national team, except for when head coach Vincent Collet asked him for tickets to a Magic game.

“The only time I’ve heard from the Federation this year was during a visit from Patrick Beesley (French NT technical director) in Orlando where he told me the dates of the qualifying tournament and Olympics. He didn’t tell me ‘If you do not come in Manila, then you do not come in Rio’. The second time was from an sms by Vincent Collet. It was our only contact outside competitions in the last three years. He was asking me for tickets to a game for his friends. I never closed the door to the French national team but these events sent me a clear message. That i’m not in the project. It’s that simple and it hurts.”

It’s a little bizarre that Fournier, at 23 years old and one of the better basketball players from France, isn’t on the team and a clear reason hasn’t been given. But it sounds like that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

Jamal Crawford rocks Seattle pro-am defender with fake behind-the-back dribble (video)

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 27:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts to a foul called on his team in a 108-98 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers during Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Seattle pro-am always produces great highlights.

Here’s another.

Jamal Crawford pretends to go behind his back with his dribble, leaving his defender off balance and whining about a carry. In a pro-am. However you can try to preserve your dignity, I guess.

51 Q: Tom Thibodeau can coach, is he ready to run a franchise?

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 12: Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls yells to his players in the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game Five in the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs 2015 at Quicken Loans Arena on May 12, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 106-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Minnesota Timberwolves were probably not going to get Tom Thibodeau without the promise of organizational control. After his contentious relationship with the Bulls’ front office led to his exit after five seasons in Chicago, he took a year-long sabbatical from coaching and observed how other organizations run their operations from both a coaching and a front-office standpoint. He was in high demand as a coaching free agent and could essentially name his price, and if he wanted personnel control too, he could have it. That’s what ended up happening in Minnesota, and Thibodeau will be the latest test case in whether the two-in-one model works. Thibodeau’s coaching ability is indisputable. How he’ll fare as an executive is a different question entirely.

The Timberwolves had a solid offseason after a rumored draft-night trade for Jimmy Butler fell apart. Given Thibodeau’s history of stubbornness and intractability, it was a valid fear that he’d take the same approach to roster-building as his former mentor Doc Rivers has in Los Angeles, simply bringing back all of his old mainstays from the Bulls days. With Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Pau Gasol and Kirk Hinrich on the market, the opportunity was there to get the band back together, spending too much money in the process and hindering the development of maybe the most promising young core in the NBA in the name of more wins in the short term.

But Thibodeau didn’t do that. Instead, he and GM Scott Layden plugged some holes with value deals. Getting Cold Aldrich for three years at $22 million gives them a more than serviceable backup center, and they landed Brandon Rush on a one-year deal for $3.5 million to provide some outside shooting. They didn’t do anything to sacrifice long-term flexibility and didn’t sign anyone that will get in the way of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins or Zach LaVine getting plenty of playing time.

The idea of a coach making personnel decisions is a dicey one for several reasons, not least of which being that it’s harder to have the emotional detachment to trade a player if you see them every day in practice. But the Chicago team Thibodeau inherited in 2010 was a readymade contender that needed a coaching upgrade. This Minnesota team isn’t there yet, and even his ability to get more wins than expected out of any roster he’s given won’t make them truly competitive in the upper echelon of the Western Conference playoff picture, at least not yet. So far, his moves reflect an understanding of that reality.

The first big roster decision Thibodeau will have to make during the season will be the point guard situation. Thibodeau loves Kris Dunn, whom he drafted at No. 5 overall in June, and Dunn provides shooting that Ricky Rubio does not. If Dunn takes the starting spot in training camp, Thibodeau will have to look long and hard at moving Rubio. Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad could also wind up on the block, depending on how the rotation shakes out, and how Thibodeau fares at getting a return on his trades will be worth monitoring.

With that said, it’s pretty hard to screw up a core that includes Wiggins and Towns, and Thibodeau seems to know what he has in those two. As long as he can put complementary pieces around them and keep their development up to pace on the court, this experiment should prove to be a success.

Julius Randle lacerates hand, to be re-evaluated in two weeks

Julius Randle
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Julius Randle suffered a season-ending injury in his first NBA game.

His third pro season includes an even earlier setback.

Lakers release:

Lakers forward Julius Randle suffered a laceration to his right hand (webbing between middle and ring fingers) yesterday while practicing. He received seven stitches and will be re-evaluated in approximately 14 days.

Thankfully, this doesn’t sound as major and happened well before training camp. Even if he needs twice as long to heal after his announced reevaluation, he’ll be ready for the preseason.

The key is getting Randle fully recovered. His ball-handling ability for a power forward is a key facet to his game, and a cut in his hand could impede it.