Report: Cavaliers, Timberwolves still talking Kevin Love for Andrew Wiggins trade, with Bennett also in now

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LAS VEGAS — The Cavaliers are trying to keep Andrew Wiggins out of the spotlight at Summer League. Thursday night he was not made available to the media after the Cavaliers game, leaving new coach Dave Blatt to expound upon how Wiggins is dealing with the trade rumors swirling around him before he ever signed a contract.

“Rumors are rumors, that’s why they call them rumors,” Blatt said after a game where Wiggins was aggressive and got to the free throw line 20 times. “Sooner or later in one’s career you’re going to have to deal with it. So if he has to deal with it now so be it. It’s Summer League, he’s learning everything as he goes along.”

But those rumors will not die.

Chris Broussard of ESPN had a non-update update of sorts on where the reported talks between the Cavaliers and Timberwolves stand, but with a few more details.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers have discussed a blockbuster trade centered on Kevin Love and the league’s past two No. 1 draft picks, league sources told ESPN.

In an attempt to add Love, a three-time All-Star, the Cavaliers are willing to part with Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. One source said the Cavs also are willing to give up a first-round draft pick for next season.

Bennett was the No. 1 overall pick the year before and after a rough rookie season he has come to Summer League in shape and has been one of the more impressive players in Las Vegas, working hard on the glass and showing a pretty good touch around the rim. He’s not a future superstar, but he looks like a solid young rotation big man.

There are still a lot of games being played here.

Minnesota is trying to drive up the price they are getting back for Love, ideally getting Golden State into the bidding offering Klay Thompson. The buzz in Las Vegas is Thompson is still not part of the deal.

The other question on the table: Will Kevin Love opt-in to the last year of his deal for whatever team trades for him? This is what Chris Paul did when the Clippers traded for him. If the Cavaliers are willing to give up two No. 1 picks for him plus a future first rounder (or if the Warriors throw in Thompson) that’s a lot to give up for a guy who could walk at the end of the season as a free agent. He reportedly has said he would want to stay with LeBron James in Cleveland, but Dwight Howard’s people said early on the big man wanted to stay in Los Angeles. Things change. The Cavaliers would be foolish to give up the potential of Wiggins without that security of an extra year from Love.

But the sides are talking.

Kendall Marshall, Marshall Plumlee headline Team USA’s AmeriCup roster

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AmeriCup, previously called the FIBA Americas Championship, lost its luster when FIBA decided the continental tournament wouldn’t double as World Cup qualifying.

But the U.S. is still sending a team, coached by Jeff Van Gundy. The roster (team last season):

  • Billy Baron (UCAM Murcia, Spain)
  • Alec Brown (Windy City Bulls)
  • Larry Drew II (Sioux Falls Skyforce)
  • Reggie Hearn (Reno Bighorns)
  • Darrun Hilliard (Detroit Pistons)
  • Jonathan Holmes (Canton Charge);
  • Kendall Marshall (Reno Bighorns)
  • Xavier Munford (Greensboro Swarm)
  • Marshall Plumlee (New York Knicks)
  • Jameel Warney (Texas Legends)
  • C.J. Williams (Texas Legends)
  • Reggie Williams (Oklahoma City Blue)

The Americans should still be favored, though obviously not as overwhelming as they’d be with NBA players, in a field also comprised of Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Uruguay, Panama and U.S. Virgin Islands.

This will be a good benchmark, as the U.S. might take a similar roster into World Cup qualifying.

Report: Tampering investigation stems from Magic Johnson’s TV interview

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In April, new Lakers president Magic Johnson went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and discussed then-Pacers forward Paul George:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

Now, the Lakers – at Indiana’s request – are being investigated for tampering.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

The investigation, which has been going on since May, stemmed from comments Magic Johnson made on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” that angered Pacers owner Herb Simon, according to several NBA officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

This doesn’t mean the Pacers believe Johnson tampered with his televised comments. It seems as if that was the last straw following numerous rumors about George going to Los Angeles.

However, there’s a case Johnson’s televised remarks alone would constitute tampering. The Collective Bargaining Agreement prohibits “assurances of intent, or understandings of any kind (whether disclosed or undisclosed to the NBA), between a player (or any person or entity controlled by, related to, or acting with authority on behalf of, such player) and any Team (or Team Affiliate)” – and even attempts to solicit assurance of intent or understanding – when the player is still under contract with another team. Johnson sure appeared to do that.

But it’d be shocking if Johnson or the Lakers were punished for the interview alone. Indiana probably needs more evidence.

Then again, the arbitrary way the NBA enforces tampering, who knows?

Report: Nerlens Noel hires Rich Paul as agent, looking for big deal from Mavericks

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It’s been a rough year for restricted free agents (and plenty of unrestricted ones). After NBA teams spent like drunken sailors on shore leave last summer, this time around — with the cap not rising as much as had been expected — the market got tight quickly, and few questionable contracts were handed out. A year ago the Brooklyn Nets were making the Miami Heat pay big to retain Tyler Johnson and the Trail Blazers pay big to keep Allen Crabbe. This year teams were not biting the same way on restricted free agents.

Which left guys like Nerlens Noel, who expected to be maxed out by the Mavericks (or someone), still looking for a deal. Noel was frustrated enough to switch agents, picking up Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

Paul is LeBron James‘ agent, and in recent years has done well getting Tristan Thompson and Eric Bledsoe good contracts as extensions to their rookie deals. In both cases, he showed a fearlessness in holding out longer and being willing to push the envelope. That had to appeal to Noel.

But it doesn’t change the underlying dynamics at play — and not just with Noel. Paul also represents restricted free agents this summer Shabazz Muhammad — who has yet to sign a deal — and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who had to take a one-year deal with the Lakers for $18 million (well below his max). Throw in Noel’s injury history, and teams were not eager to jump in with a big offer for the athletic big man.

At this point, no team has the money to offer Noel a max contract right now — the Bulls have the most available money at $17.3 million, the Sixers and Suns have about $15 million and $14 million. Noel’s max is $24.7 million a year. Dallas is playing hardball because they can — without another offer on the table, Noel’s only real threat is to sign the qualifying offer (about $6 million) and play the season for that, then become an unrestricted free agent next summer. That’s possible, but a guy with Noe’s history of injuries may want to be careful betting on himself like that.

With Paul in the negotiations, expect them to drag out. That’s about the only sure thing.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.