Report: Bulls in talks to trade for Arron Afflalo from Orlando

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Orlando is looking to move Arron Afflalo this summer and he would be a good fit on a contending team — he scored 18.2 points a game, shot 42.7 percent from three last season, can put the ball on the floor and create, and is still a quality defender. Last season the Magic forced him into the role of No. 1 offensive option, but on a team where he is the second or third option he has real value.

Enter the Chicago Bulls.

They are in talks to acquire Afflalo, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The Chicago Bulls are pursuing a trade for Orlando Magic swingman Arron Afflalo, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Afflalo, 28, has two years left on his contract — including an Early Termination Option (ETO) provision next summer — and front office executives believe the Magic are prioritizing a trade for Afflalo over working to extend his contract.

Afflalo may have two years on his deal making $7.75 million per, but he is really a one year rental because he is expected to opt out and seek bigger dollars in a year.

The big question here is how does this impact the Bulls’ drive to get Carmelo Anthony? Trading for Afflalo — assuming the Bulls give up something like one of their two first round picks, 16 and 19, as well as Mike Dunleavy Jr. or another player — makes getting Anthony more difficult. This doesn’t remove salary from the Bulls’ payroll, which is what they need to do to bring in Anthony. Maybe this is the first in a series of moves.

Minnesota is said to be interested in Afflalo as part of a Kevin Love trade.

The other question is what is being exchanged for Afflalo? The Magic are rebuilding and have some nice young pieces — Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris — as well as the No. 4 and No. 12 pick in the draft. They would welcome another pick but that’s not enough to get a deal done, it is going to take a salary like Dunleavy. Maybe Orlando has interest in Jimmy Butler, who like Afflalo plays the two.

Afflalo would be a great fit next to a hopefully healthy Derrick Rose, as well as with Joakim Noah and the rest of the Bulls.

This trade conversation raises a lot of questions, but it’s ongoing and out there.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

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Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.