Report: Cavaliers leading Kevin Love-trade sweepstakes

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If I ran the Minnesota Timberwolves, I’d accept the Cavaliers’ trade offer – presumed to include Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, a future first-round pick and maybe other pieces to make the cap numbers work – for Kevin Love.

Sure, I’d use some of these 30 days Wiggins can’t be traded to try to induce a higher offer. Taj Gibson, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott is a nice start, and maybe the Bulls improve that package. The Warriors wouldn’t trump Cleveland just by including Klay Thompson included, though maybe they come around.

But, most of all, I’m focused on Wiggins. He’s an incredible return for a player who can leave as a free agent in a year.

And it seems the Timberwolves are beginning to understand that.

Marc Stein and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Wolves, at present, are higher on a Cleveland trade package centered around Wiggins than any other offer on the table for Love.

One source insisted this week, however, that the Wolves — especially owner Glen Taylor — actually now prefer a package headlined by Wiggins to a Thompson-led haul for Love because Wiggins is widely seen as possessing superstar potential while also just starting out on a rookie contract. Thompson is eligible for a lucrative contract extension from the Warriors or any team he’s traded to between now and Halloween.

Preferring Wiggins to Thompson is completely logical, though logic alone doesn’t explain Minnesota’s change of heart. After all, Wiggins over Thompson was logical when reports emerged the Timberwolves preferred Thompson.

I see two leading possibilities for the turnaround:

1. This is just the Timberwolves encouraging teams to outbid each other. There has been circumstantial evidence of that already.

2. Glen Taylor and Flip Saunders are on different pages. Perhaps Saunders, who actually has to coach these guys and is evaluated on his won-loss record, wants players ready to compete now. Taylor can take a long-term view and bet on Wiggins’ potential. They could be providing countering leaks based on their separate agendas.

If No. 1  is the case, who knows?  Minnesota can do anything, but again, I’ll refer to the logic of taking Wiggins.

But if it’s No. 2, not only does logic dictate the Timberwolves take Cleveland’s offer, the owner usually gets his way – which means the Cavaliers are the true leaders in this race.

PBT Extra: Disciplined Celtics highlight bad habits of Milwaukee Bucks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has been every bit the top five NBA player in the postseason — 32.5 points per game on 63.2 percent shooting, plus with 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game.

Yet the Bucks are down 0-2 to Boston.

The Celtics have had a strong series from Al Horford and Terry Rozier, but the real difference is in the discipline this team has shown all season — Boston knows who it is. Clearly, Milwaukee does not. They turn the ball over too much and make too many mistakes.

I get into all of that in this PBT Extra, and I wonder if that’s something the Bucks can really turn around mid-playoffs.

Ettore Messina to coach Spurs in Game 3 following death of Gregg Popovich’s wife

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s wife, Erin, died yesterday.

That sad news was felt throughout the NBA, and it obviously affects San Antonio most closely. That includes for tonight’s Game 3 against the Warriors.

Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:

Ettore Messina was a longtime head coach in Europe. The Spurs lead assistant also took over for a few regular-season games Popovich missed. So, making – rather than advising – coaching decisions won’t be a brand new challenge to Messina.

But down 2-0 to defending-champion Golden State is a tough place to make an NBA playoff debut.

On the bright side, there will be no pressure. Not only has San Antonio been outclassed the first two games of the series, focus is rightly on the Popovich family. A win would be a pleasant surprise and help Messina – who’s up for the Hornets job – in his pursuit of a head-coaching position. A loss would be quickly forgotten with more important matters at hand.

To that end, hopefully the time away allows Popovich the space he needs to grieve. That matters far more than a basketball game.

Report: Knicks to interview Kenny Smith for head-coaching job

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The Knicks are casting a wide net in their coaching search.

It’ll apparently include a familiar, though surprising, name.

ESPN:

TNT analyst Kenny Smith will interview for the New York Knicks’ head-coaching job on Friday, a source told ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

A quality organization, the Rockets, interviewed Smith (in 2016, before hiring Mike D’Antoni). So, this isn’t proof of the Knicks’ oddball thinking. (There are plenty of better examples, if you wish).

Steve Kerr opened the door for former players to go straight from TV to being an NBA head coach without having any coaching experience. He’s been a smash hit with the Warriors.

But Kerr was also the Suns’ general manager before Golden State hired him. Smith has no front-office experience.

So, it’s tough to judge Smith, whose role on television is more to entertain than inform (though he does both). He’ll have to really wow in his interview to get the job.

But at least he has that opportunity.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan slips and falls while arguing call (video)

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Nate McMillan slipped up in his handling of Victor Oladipo‘s early fouls during the Pacers’ Game 2 loss to the Cavaliers last night.

Then, the Indiana coach literally slipped while arguing that LeBron James should have been called for offensively fouling Lance Stephenson.