Houston Rockets v Portland Trailblazers - Game Six

Damian Lillard’s desired free agent targets: Mo Williams, Channing Frye, Vince Carter, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza


LeBron James indicated a fondness for Shabazz Napier, and the Heat traded up to draft him.

No NBA player wields the power of LeBron. Seriously, I wonder whether Pat Riley needed any scouting beyond LeBron’s tweet to get Napier. When the King asks implies, especially when he’s headed into free agency, you listen.

Damian Lillard doesn’t have the same pull, but he’s definitely emerging as one of the NBA’s most marketable stars. If he wants to coerce the Trail Blazers into making a move, they should listen.

I’m not sure whether the guard is doing that here or just being a 23-year-old with an opinion.

Either way, Lillard is making his preferences known.

Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest:

Sunday night when CSNNW.com asked All-Star point guard Damian Lillard if there are any free agents of his preference, first and foremost, he went with his dynamic backup.

“Yeah…Mo Williams,” Lillard responded in a text.”

When pressed for other players he’d like the team to bring in or at least look at, Lillard sent a response text that included four names.

“Channing Frye, Vince Carter, Spencer Hawes, Trevor Ariza,” read Lillard’s text in that order.

Carter is “open” to the idea of coming to Portland and helping boost the bench up, we’re told by someone close to the veteran guard.

The Trail Blazers will have the non-taxpayer mid-level exception ($5,305,000) and bi-annual exception ($2,077,000) to spend on free agents. Everyone Lillard mentioned is likely to receive offers in the MLE range.

They’re also all quality shooters who would accentuate Portland’s offensive firepower. Either Lillard is taking responsibility for elevating the Trail Blazers’ defense himself, or he’s still not thinking enough about that end.

Williams gave Portland’s bench some life last season following a year of historic ineptness. It’d make sense to bring him back, but Portland would be wise to pay the declining 31-year-old based on what he’ll do during his next contract, not what he did last year.

If the Trail Blazers pay Williams more than $3,325,608 next season, they’ll have to use the mid-level exception to re-sign him. Otherwise, they can use the non-bird exception and save the MLE for someone else. As Lillard points out, there are plenty of quality options available.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.


Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins probable to play against Dallas Monday

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It’s this simple: The Sacramento Kings are 5-5 when DeMarcus Cousins plays this season, 1-7 when he sits. (And that win number is a big misleading, they looked like they would have beaten Charlotte with him, but when he left with back pain they lost, they could easily be 6-4 with him.)

So it’s good news that Cousins is expected to return to the Sacramento lineup Monday night. Well not good for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks, but good for the Kings, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea,com.

This season Cousins is averaging 27.9 points and 11.2 rebounds a game, he has a true shooting percentage above the league average (56.3 percent for Cousins) and he has a PER of 27.1 which is sixth best in the league.

Combine him with the numbers Rajon Rondo has put up lately the Kings become much more dangerous. They’d be even scarier if everyone stayed healthy and George Karl would settle on a lineup.

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.