Report: Pelicans ‘aggressively’ targeting first-round pick

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The Jrue Holiday trade could go down as one of the worst deals in NBA history.

Of course, the 76ers haven’t gotten a single second of playing time from the play anyone acquired in the deal with the Pelicans. It’s far from certain Philadelphia will even win the trade with full hindsight.

But the potential definitely exists for an all-time robbery.

New Orleans sent Philadelphia both Nerlens Noel and a first rounder which became the No. 10 pick this year. Noel, if not for injury, likely would have gone No. 1 last year. If he hasn’t lost any athleticism, he has star potential. In this draft, the 76ers could also land a gem at 10.

On the other side, Holiday has done nothing more than tread water with the Pelicans. You wonder whether they would have made the trade if Holiday didn’t hold the coveted “All-Star” label. And remember, Holiday received the less-significant “All-“ honor only because his 2012-13 season flowed in the “right” order. Here are his pre- and post-All-Star Game splits:

  • Pre: 19.0 points on 45.1 percent shooting with 8.9 assists per game
  • Post: 15.8 points on 38.9 percent shooting with 6.7 assists per game

Had those been reversed, Holiday never would have even made the All-Star team. New Orleans probably should have seen this coming, which is just another reason the trade holds potential as a heist for the ages.

Anyway.

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

I bet the Pelicans wish they never traded the pick, but it’s too late now. They don’t have much to offer for a replacement first rounder.

Anthony Davis is far too valuable to trade. Eric Gordon, due to his contract and dispirited play, is too toxic. Holiday and Tyreke Evans are also paid too much to much to make a simple deal work, and I doubt New Orleans wants to admit defeat on either so soon. Austin Rivers’ value has probably sunk below a first rounder, especially in this loaded draft.

Ryan Anderson is the best trade candidate, but like others, his high salary ($8,308,500 on draft night) makes the cap complications difficult when the return is a pick that counts as $0 in a trade.

Maybe the Pelicans can trade future picks, but one future first rounder won’t buy a first rounder in this draft. Dealing future picks could get costly in a hurry.

New Orleans’ best bet might be getting  first rounder in exchange for taking a bad contract.

If Udonis Haslem opts in and the Heat want to pursue Carmelo Anthony, they might be open to trading the No. 26 pick as a sweetener for a team taking the final year of Haslem’s contract ($4.62 million). The Pelicans would have enough cap room to do that – on July 10. The teams could agree to a trade on draft night and complete it later, but Miami likely won’t even know then whether Haslem plants to opt in. The Heat probably wouldn’t let New Orleans dictate their first-round pick on the chance everything falls into line two weeks later.

If the Pelicans get a 2014 first-rounder, it’ll almost surely require a complicated trade.

If only it were was easy as dealing one away.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.