Andrew Wiggins told his former college coach he hopes to be traded to Minnesota

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Andrew Wiggins has been put in an unusually difficult situation for a rookie, being immersed in trade rumors ever since being taken as the number one overall pick in this summer’s draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The selection of Wiggins came before LeBron James announced his decision to come to Cleveland as a free agent, which obviously changed the team’s outlook on the upcoming season.

With James in place, the Cavaliers went from a rebuilding, borderline playoff team in the East to one that could potentially contend for a title, and do so immediately — which means that acquiring proven All-Star talent in trade takes precedence over waiting for a newly-drafted rookie to reach his potential.

That brings us back to Wiggins, who in all likelihood will be headed to Minnesota as part of the deal that will bring Kevin Love to the Cavaliers.

It would be easy for him to feel slighted in some way, like he isn’t considered good enough to even play a small role on a team that’s expected to compete for a championship. But Wiggins is taking the high road, choosing to believe that the situation in Minnesota will be better for his long-term prospects.

From The Associated Press (via Sporting News):

Andrew Wiggins told Kansas coach Bill Self that he wants to be traded from Cleveland to Minnesota because the No. 1 overall pick believes it will be better for his long-term future. …

When all this trade stuff started, I talked to Andrew and Andrew told me, “I hope I get traded,” Self said. “And I’m like, ‘No you don’t.’ And he said, “Coach, I do. It’s better for me, knowing my personality and what I need to do, to go somewhere where I’m forced to be something as opposed to going in there where they’re going to be patient with me and I’m going to be a piece.” …

“Even though in a weird way everybody would love the opportunity to play with LeBron because you’re guaranteed winning,” Self said, “for the longevity of his career, he needs to develop that mindset to be the guy, for him to be great, and I think being Minnesota will help him do that.”

Wiggins backed up this sentiment with a post to his Instagram account on Saturday.

“I’m here to beat the odds that was set against me, wished the worst luck to anyone who bet against me,” the caption read.

Wiggins is essentially using this turn of events as motivation to succeed before his NBA career has even gotten started, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He will be forced into action much more quickly in Minnesota than he would have been in Cleveland, and he knows better than anyone if that’s going to be the best thing for him in terms of his personal and professional development.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.