Report: Sixers, Bulls trying to move up in draft. Isn’t everyone?

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Now is the time of year when draft rumors abound, from ridiculous trade ideas (see the ‘Melo/Love to Boston rumors for example 1A) to teams throwing out smokescreens. All of which is to say, take your rumors with a grain or five of salt.

That said, the buzz from most around the league is there will be a lot of trades around the draft this year. After a quiet trade deadline a lot of teams are more willing to make moves.

That means a lot of rumors are floating around. For example, that the Philadelphia 76ers — already with the No. 3 pick — want to move up higher in the draft. The Bulls want to move up, too.

All that according to Chad Ford of ESPN in his latest mock draft ($$). (I first saw the story at CSN Philly.)

The Sixers actually have engaged the Cavs about moving to No. 1. They aren’t willing to give up both the Nos. 3 and 10 picks. But a combination of No. 3 and Thaddeus Young is a possibility. And it’s a great scenario for Wiggins, as well. Of the three top teams, his camp prefers the Sixers as the best possible fit. This could be a win-win for both.

The Bulls have been trying to move up in the draft to get an elite shooter. Their target has been Denver with an offer of the 16th and 19th pick for 11. If they get there, Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas will be the guy with them likely leaning toward Stauskas.

While you should take all that with the aforementioned salt, we should note the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting the Sixers are looking to move Thaddeus Young. They shopped him around at the deadline but didn’t get an offer they liked, so he was stuck on a tanking team. He wants out. The Sixers will move him but want some decent value back.

Still, lots of questions about these rumors.

Are the Sixers that sold on Wiggins? If so, and if they believe Cleveland will take him, then that is a good trade for them. But it only works if the Cavaliers are not as sold on Wiggins and think the guy they really want (Jarbari Parker or Joel Embiid) would fall to No. 3. Young would be a good fit for the Cavs, but he has an early termination after next season so, much like Luol Deng, the Cavaliers would have to persuade him to stay. How much are they willing to really give up for that?

The Bulls are looking everywhere for more shooting, the draft is part of that search.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.