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Follow Live: Latest NBA trades, rumors all in one place as deadline nears

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The NBA’s trade deadline is at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday (Feb. 18), and that means a tsunami of rumors will wash over twitter. And in that maybe a few trades will happen (maybe more than a few trades, who knows?). We understand you’re a busy person with a life and a job/school to tend to and don’t have time just to sit around and follow trade rumors all day (well, unless you go to Arizona State). So we’ve compiled them all in one place, which will be updated as news breaks, and we will link to PBT’s longer stories on some of this news.

• 3:21 PM ET: There was a good one that just beat the trade deadline: The Clippers have traded Lance Stephenson to the Memphis Grizzlies for Jeff Green, a trade broken by Zach Lowe and Marc Stein of ESPN. I like this trade for the Clippers in that Green is erratic but that’s better than Stephenson, who had fallen out of Rivers’ rotation. This is an upgrade for the Clippers (does not vault them to contender, but an upgrade), but it came at a price. The Grizzlies take on the enigmatic Stephenson — who also has moments of strong play — plus they get a protected first-round pick from the Clippers (heavily protected 2019 first round pick). That’s a good haul for the Grizzlies.

• 3:10 PM ET:  We have one of those late trades — Kirk Hinrich is going from Chicago to Atlanta for a second round pick.

• 3:02 PM ET: The big names did not move: Dwight Howard is still with the Rockets, who were also unable to move Ty Lawson. Ryan Anderson is still with the Pelicans. Al Horford and Jeff Teague are still Rockets.

• 3:00 PM ET: The trade deadline has passed, although a few deals will still trickle in (they don’t get announced immediately).

• 2:44 PM ET: The Phoenix Suns have traded disgruntled power forward Markieff Morris to the Washington Wizards, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports. The Wizards want to get more athletic and add shooting to play better off John Wall, and good Morris does that. However disgruntled Morris is not a help, the Wizards are rolling the dice. But after a 23-28 start that has them three games out of the playoffs, they need to roll the dice. Phoenix got a good haul back: The serviceable Kris Humphries, DeJuan Blair, and a protected 2016 first round pick (protected top nine).

• 2:29 PM ET: If you’re looking for a deal that does go down in the final half-hour, keep an eye on Ben McLemore out of Sacramento. They want to make a roster upgrade and a playoff push and he is their best asset to dangle. The Bulls were in the mix among other, but Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says Dallas has moved into the discussions for McLemore.

• 2:22 PM ET: We have another minor deal, the Miami Heat have traded Brian Roberts to the Portland Trail Blazers for a second round pick. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports broke the news. Why did the teams do this? For Miami, this move (combined with others earlier in the day) gets them below the luxury tax line, saving $6 million. For Portland, they had a lot of cap space, now they are up to the salary floor, and in getting there they stockpiled picks. Neil Olshey in Portland remains one of the smartest GMs out there.

• 2:18 PM ET: Things have gotten quiet on the trade front, and part of the reason is a lot of executives are on their way to Oklahoma City for the memorial for Monty Williams’ beloved wife, Ramona Shelburne notes. Which is far more important.

• 2:10 PM ET: If there was one thing I was certain would happen at the deadline, it was Toronto getting an upgrade at the power forward spot (sorry Luis Scola). Nothing yet. They are offering the Knicks’ first round pick this season (which is the worse pick of the Nuggets or Knicks) and Patrick Patterson. That’s not a bad package, but nobody’s biting, according to Ken Berger at CBSSports.com.

• 1:56 PM ET: With just more than an hour to go until the trade deadline, a lot of deals seem to be falling apart. The Knicks had talked to the Timberwolves about Kevin Martin but that deal collapsed, reports Marc Stein of ESPN. Also, Minnesota and Milwaukee resumed Ricky Rubio trade talks, but nothing has come of them, reports Stein.

• 1:51 PM ET: With Channing Frye going to Cleveland, that is one less suitor for Ryan Anderson in New Orleans. With a good chance they lose him in free agency most expected the Pelicans to deal Anderson, but he could be around through the end of the season in the Big Easy.

• 1:45 PM ET: Randy Foye to Oklahoma City is a done deal, and now we have the details. Denver will get point guard D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak and two second-round picks. The Nuggets will try to flip Novak before the deadline.

• 1:40 PM ET: As had been rumored for a while, the Atlanta Hawks have shut down talks on Jeff Teague. They are going to stand pat with Teague and Al Horford, try to re-sign Horford this summer and re-consider trading one of their key point guards during the summer.

• 12:58 PM ET: Oklahoma City may be getting some help at the two guard that they desperately need. The Thuder are in “advanced talks” with Denver for Randy Foye. That would be a solid upgrade for OKC, considering Dion Waiters and Andre Roberson get the minutes now.

• 12:55 PM ET: Looking for a little point guard depth, the Chicago Bulls are talking to the Orlando about a trade for Shabazz Napier. This would be a pretty minor deal. Adrian Wojnarowski had the news.

• 12:50 PM ET: The Cleveland Cavaliers are acquiring Channing Frye from Orlando in a three-team deal that will ultimately send long-time Cav big man Anderson Varejao to Portland. Sam Amick of the USA Today broke the story. A lot of details still to follow in this one — Portland is going to have to get a heck of a sweetener to use their free cap space on Varejao — but the details are still coming. Remember the Clippers were in the front of the line for Channing Frye, but decided today to pull out of the deal (that could mean Lance Stephenson is headed elsewhere, although the buzz is the Clippers stand pat).

• 12:30 PM ET: The deal is done — Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton are headed to Detroit, in exchange the Rockets get little used (and with back issues) Joel Anthony and a protected 2016 first round pick. Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news. I like that move for Detroit, Stan Van Gundy has had a fantastic trade deadline. The Rockets free up salary cap space — they are now $1.2 million below the hard cap they brought on themselves — and have a roster spot, plus get a pick (it is top eight protected, which makes it highly unlikely the Pistons pick does not go to the Rockets this June).

• 12:16 PM ET: The Pistons have proposed a Joel Anthony for Donatas Motiejunas trade with the Rockets, according to Marc Stein of ESPN. No way the Rockets do that straight up, so there are going to have to be other picks/players to sweeten the deal. The Pistons have coveted Motiejunas for a while, he is the kind of stretch four needed next to Andre Drummond in Stan Van Gundy’s system.

• 12:12 PM ET: A number of teams are calling the Nuggets about solid veteran guard Randy Foye, the Nuggets are listening but may not move him (unless they get an offer they genuinely like).

• 12:05 PM ET: We have a trade! Not a big one, not a thrilling one, but a trade. The Miami Heat have moved Jarnell Stokes to the New Orleans Pelicans, something first reported by Zach Lowe of ESPN. Stokes, a 6’9 power forward/center, has bounced between Memphis and Miami this season and has played a total of 18 minutes for these teams. He’s not a game-changer for the Pelicans, who also are getting $700,000 in cash in this trade. Why do the Heat do it? Because it saves them nearly $3 million in luxury tax.

• 11:50 ET: The Jazz still would like an upgrade or some depth at the point, now that they are out of the Lawson talks (see the next note below), so they are looking at other options. One of them as a fallback is Shelvin Mack, the rarely used third point guard of the Atlanta Hawks.

• 11:28 ET: The Rockets trading Ty Lawson to the Jazz deal appears to be DOA, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. The Jazz were hesitant from the start about Lawson, will look for another point guard to bring in, Trey Burke is still on the trade block. Houston is having trouble finding takers for Lawson or Dwight Howard, even at reduced prices. Also, the Rockets do not plan to buy Lawson out.

• 11:25 ET: Atlanta tested the trade market for current All-Star Al Horford and former All-Star Jeff Teague, but the asking price was ridiculously high, as percieved by other teams. The Hawks never backed off much from that asking price (particularly for Horford). Now as the deadline nears, the Hawks are telling teams no deal, they are keeping the team together. The Hawks want to re-sign Horford this summer and stand a good chance of landing him.

• 11:12 ET: And already teams are calling brand new Nets GM Sean Marks to see if he wants to move Thaddeus Young, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. Not a shock, the Raptors and a few other teams are interested in Young.

• 11:01 ET: The Kevin Love to Boston in three-way trade that includes Ryan Anderson to Cleveland idea is not totally dead yet. It may take Miracle Max to save it, the Cavs are very hesitant to move Love as they are in a win-now place and need an upgrade, not a lateral move (and Anderson is not an upgrade, there needs to be more) but the talks are not dead.

• 10:24 ET: Interesting note on the Ty Lawson to Utah rumors via the well-connected Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com: When Lawson dropped the guarantee on the final year of his contract to facilitate his trade to Houston, there was a gentlemen’s agreement that the Rockets would let Lawson become a free agent regardless of how he plays. Utah is not bound by that and if Lawson plays well for them may want to keep him for that next season. Lawson would like the cash that comes with free agency. It may not change the deal, but it’s an interesting wrinkle. Basically, Utah doesn’t want Lawson unless Lawson wants to be there, and in the past Lawson has publicly slammed Utah as “boring.”

• 10:20 ET: The Brooklyn Nets have hired Sean Marks away from the San Antonio front office to be their General Manager. Yes, the guy owner Mikhail Prokhorov said he didn’t know less than 24 hours ago. The Nets had to back up the Brinks truck, but they got their man. Marks could be a fantastic GM in Brooklyn — if Prokhorov and company give him space and let him do his job. This is not going to be quick rebuild, can the Russians be patient?

• 10:07 ET: Boston wants to add a true No. 1 option to their rotation, but they are not giving up their numerous assets for rentals of free agents to be Dwight Howard or Al Horford (according to Adrian Wojnarowski). The issue with Howard is about re-signing him — who wants to pay him a max over multiple years? — and with Horford the Hawks have not backed off requests for the moon.

• 10:02 ET: The Phoenix Suns are considering trading Mirza Teletovic to the Milwaukee Bucks.

• 10:00 ET: The Suns and Toronto are still talking about a potential P.J. Tucker trade. Expect the Raptors to make some kind of move today to bring in an upgrade at the power forward spot, Luis Scola isn’t cutting it. The Suns would like the Raptors to take Markieff Morris, the Raptors have no interest in him. Phoenix continues to shop Morris.

• RUMORS, TRADES LEADING INTO DEADLINE DAY

• The Sacramento Kings have made a strong push to land Pau Gasol in a trade with Chicago (because Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive wants to make the playoffs this year, and his constant meddling has always helped with that… oh, wait). The proposal on the table is Gasol and Tony Snell Sacramento for Kosta Koufos, Ben McLemore and a lessening of restrictions on a pick the Sixers owe the Bulls for the 2016 draft. For his part, Gasol wants to stay with the Bulls. The Kings also fired an assistant coach and close confidant of George Karl’s on Wednesday.

The Cleveland Cavaliers would like a stretch four, are talking to New Orleans about Ryan Anderson and Orlando about Channing Frye.

The Rockets and Jazz are in serious talks about a deal that would send struggling point guard Ty Lawson to Utah. Because Lawson’s contract is unguaranteed for next season, this is a low-risk gamble for the Jazz, who would send Trey Burke back as the centerpiece.

• The Bucks are not trading Greg Monroe. Michael Carter-Williams, on the other hand, still may be available (even though he’s been told he’s not being moved).

• Doc Rivers said the Clippers are not trading Blake Griffin. (At least not at the deadline, but that could be revisited this summer. The Clippers certainly listened to offers to gauge Griffin’s value in the marketplace.)

• Memphis sent Courtney Lee to the Charlotte Hornets in a three-team deal that also included the Miami Heat.

• Detroit acquired Tobias Harris in a trade that sent Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova to Orlando. I love this move long-term for the Pistons, and it is a good deal for Orlando as well if Scott Skiles has moved on from Harris.

LeBron James: I think Dan Gilbert’s letter was racial

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LeBron James left a job for a more appealing one in 2010. His previous employer, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, infamously published a letter that called LeBron’s decision a “cowardly betrayal,” “shameful display of selfishness and betrayal,” “shocking act of disloyalty” and “heartless and callous action.” Most ridiculously, Gilbert wrote, “Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.” Perhaps most hurtfully, Gilbert added LeBron’s choice “sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And ‘who’ we would want them to grow-up to become.”

Remember, LeBron completed his contract with Gilbert’s Cavs then sign with the Heat. Gilbert’s reaction was beyond over the top.

It was also probably rooted in racial attitudes that persist since a time rich white men held complete control over the lives of young black men.

LeBron, via Mark Anthony Green of GQ:

Did you feel like Dan Gilbert’s letter was racial?

“Um, I did. I did. It was another conversation I had to have with my kids. It was unfortunate, because I believed in my heart that I had gave that city and that owner, at that point in time, everything that I had. Unfortunately, I felt like, at that point in time, as an organization, we could not bring in enough talent to help us get to what my vision was. A lot of people say they want to win, but they really don’t know how hard it takes, or a lot of people don’t have the vision. So, you know, I don’t really like to go back on that letter, but it pops in my head a few times here, a few times there. I mean, it’s just human nature. I think that had a lot to do with race at that time, too, and that was another opportunity for me to kind of just sit back and say, ‘Okay, well, how can we get better? How can we get better? How can I get better?’ And if it happens again, then you’re able to have an even more positive outlook on it. It wasn’t the notion of I wanted to do it my way. It was the notion of I’m gonna play this game, and I’m gonna prepare myself so damn hard that when I decide to do something off the court, I want to be able to do it because I’ve paid my dues.”

We’ve obviously come a long way since slavery, but the racism used to justify that evil practice lingers. In 2017, few want to be racist. Many more do racist things. Racism is basked into our society, and it will require thoughtful recognition of it to eradicate it.

Gilbert’s letter contained racial undertones, Gilbert attempting to assert a control of LeBron he didn’t rightfully possess. If Gilbert considered how his letter fit into historical context, maybe he wouldn’t have written it. Whether or not Gilbert intended to be racist matters only so much. He danced in racist tones to vilify LeBron.

Now, maybe Gilbert has progressed. He apologized to LeBron for the letter (while trying to woo LeBron back to Cleveland in 2014) and said he’s learning more about the level of racism in this country.

But there’s still an apparent lingering distrust by LeBron toward Gilbert, and LeBron saying he still sometimes thinks about the letter only enhances that. That could matter as LeBron heads toward free agency.

Gregg Popovich rants, calls President Trump a “soulless coward” after recent comments

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Every time he speaks, it seems President Trump says something that is outright, provably false — a lie, if you will. The latest came in a Rose Garden press conference Monday where, when asked about two fallen American soldiers in Niger, he said he would call and “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls — a lot of them didn’t make calls — I like to make calls when it’s appropriate.” It didn’t take long for representatives from the former Obama administration — as well as the most recent Bush administration — to come out and say Trump was flat-out wrong, noting the numerous calls, letters, visits to troops at the hospital and more (all of which is easily verified). Even by the end of the same press conference, when pressed by reporters, Trump back pedaled saying maybe Obama did make calls, “I don’t know. That’s what I was told.”

That wasn’t near good enough for Air Force Academy graduate, frequent Trump critic, and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. He called up one of the people who understands the intersection of sports and politics, Dave Zirin of The Nation, and ranted.

“But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.

“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”

Popovich is a thoughtful man who highly prizes intellectual curiosity — he believes he needs to be worldly and understand it better just to properly lead a basketball team. If one is going to lead a nation — or, ostensibly, the world — one has to want to know about it, learn about it, respect its differences. Popovich has thought through things before he speaks. Trump does none of that, he goes by his gut and has no filter, and it makes him sort of Bizzaro Popovich. Which sets the Spurs’ coach off.

We can expect more rants from Pop, Steve Kerr, NBA players and a host of others over the course of the season. NBA players have been emboldened by Adam Silver and the league to speak out, and they will, knowing that with the NBA’s younger, more urban, and more diverse and global fanbase (compared to the NFL) they will not face much if any backlash.

NBA Power Rankings: Preseason rankings for every team from Warriors to Bulls

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They’re back. The weekly NBA Power Rankings from NBC Sports have returned as the NBA season tips off. As always the defending champions start on top — and in the case of the Warriors, the question is will there be more than one week they are not ranked No. 1 this season? These first rankings are pure gut, with a little preseason influence thrown in (once we move 15+ games into the season we have a mathematical system to help guide us, then those figures get massaged by the eye test.

Quick note, these rankings come out on Tuesday to start the season, but starting next week and throughout the NBA season they will come out on Wednesday.

 
Warriors small icon 1. Warriors (last season 67-15). Thanks in part to Kevin Durant’s willingness to sacrifice for the team, Golden State not just brought back but also improved the best team in the NBA. They are going to spend a lot of weeks on top of these rankings. The only question to open the season is does the hangover/jet lag from the China trip still impact them the first couple weeks of the season.

 
Rockets small icon 2. Rockets (55-27). Adding Chris Paul to the James Harden show was a brilliant move, the Rockets will have one of the top three offenses in the NBA this season. However, what may really get this to the conference Finals is the additions of defenders such as Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker on the wing. They Rockets outscored teams by 21.9 points per 100 possessions in the preseason, an NBA best number (don’t read much into it, but it’s interesting).

 
Thunder small icon 3. Thunder (47-35).. I think they may be second in this ranking by the end of the season, I like their defense (which should be Top 5), but I’m going to need to see Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony do more than just talk about sacrifices to fully buy in (they looked good together in limited preseason minutes). With Westbrook committed to OKC, George will be asked about his free agency at every turn this season, how will he handle that pressure?

 
Cavaliers small icon 4. Cavaliers (51-31). By the end of the season I think they will be the team best positioned to knock off Golden State — Isaiah Thomas will be healthy (*knocking on wood*), the Cavs still have LeBron James, and they will get to come out of a soft East while the Warriors will have to battle their way out of a deep West. That said, they are not healthy now and will be experimenting with Kevin Love at center.

 
Spurs small icon 5. Spurs (61-21). No Kawhi Leonard in the opener and the question is now much more time will he miss with a lingering quad injury. While the Spurs looked like a mess in the playoffs without Leonard that was against the Warriors, in the regular season they are 14-4 the past two seasons with him sitting. LaMarcus Aldridge is the go-to guy while Leonard is out and he can handle the role.

 
Celtics small icon 6. Celtics (53-29). It’s going to be a circus — one with lots of boos — with Kyrie Irving and company opening on the road in Cleveland. No Marcus Morris the first week of the season with a knee injury, that means rookie Jayson Tatum likely gets the starts. That could add to the one big question about the Celtics — can they get enough stops?

 
Wizards small icon 7. Wizards (49-33). The Wizards looked good and their bench improved during the preseason, which is a nice sign but now they have to do it when it matters. That bench will be tested more early with Markieff Morris missing time due to a sports hernia (the Wizards lost very little time from their starters due to injury last season, that has changed already).

 
Raptors small icon 8. Raptors (51-31). The Raptors are trying to change who they are on offense, with less isolation and more threes — and it worked in the preseason, they scored 110.1 points per 100 possessions. Can they sustain that when the defenses get serious? And how much will they miss the depth that DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, and Patrick Patterson provided?

 
timberwolves small icon 9. Timberwolves (31-51). They added Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford to an already promising young team led by Karl-Anthony Towns — Minnesota is ready to make a leap. Well, if they can defend. They were 27th in defensive rating last season, and they need to get up to the middle of the NBA pack at least. Butler helps, but it’s Towns and Andrew Wiggins learning what to do and putting in the effort night in and night out that will make the biggest difference on that end.

 
Bucks small icon 10. Bucks (42-40). Is this too high a ranking for the Bucks? Maybe. I am betting on a lot of internal improvement with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker, Kris Middleton, and Malcolm Brogdon. However, the real key to the Bucks season is if Jason Kidd tweaks his gambling defensive system so the Bucks don’t get torched every time the ball swings sides, do that and this team can move into East’s top four.

 
Nuggets small icon 11. Nuggets (40-42). Denver looked good this preseason in the minutes that both Nicola Jokic and Paul Millsap shared the floor, but the questions are everyone around them. Gary Harris needs to live up to his lofty new contract, and Jamal Murray needs to start looking like the point guard the Nuggets thought they had at the end of last season. Also, is Denver going to defend well enough to make the playoffs?

 
Clippers small icon 12. Clippers (51-31). Talk about a changed roster, new to the Clippers are Danilo Gallinari, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Willie Reed, Sam Dekker, and Montrezl Harrell. Everything still flows through Blake Griffin, and his three-point shot looks improved. The Clippers should be solid on both ends and play faster than they did in the Chris Paul era. This is a playoff team if they can stay healthy, but with this roster it’s a big if (they had their share of minor injuries in the preseason).

 
Blazers small icon 13. Trail Blazers (41-41). It’s just the preseason, but the facts that Portland went 5-0 and Evan Turner found his shooting stroke are both good signs. C.J. Mccollum is suspended for the opener (you can’t leave the bench during an altercation, this isn’t a new rule) so look for Pat Connaughton to get the start.

 
Grizzlies small icon 14. Grizzlies (43-39). The Grizzlies are trying to change their style of play — they played at the fourth fastest pace of any team in the preseason (they were 19th overall in the NBA last season, which was up from previous years). We’ll see if the pace sticks. We’ll see how much the Grizzlies can get out of Chandler Parsons as well (he averaged 14 minutes a game and shot 33 percent in the preseason).

 
Heat small icon 15. Heat (41-41, LW 15). Erik Spoelstra will spend the first part of the season figuring out his rotations (Kelly Olynyk is starting now, James Johnson is coming off the bench), and he needs more of Goran Dragic than the two preseason games he played, but this is a deeper team that should get off to a faster start than last season (but not close the season as fast, either).

 
Jazz small icon 16. Jazz (51-31, LW 7). Utah went 5-0 in the preseason and its offense was the fifth most efficient in the NBA. That’s not going to last, but it’s a good sign that maybe the offense will be somewhat better than projected with Rodney Hood as the playmaker. The defense will be elite with DPOY candidate Rudy Gobert.

 
Pelicans small icon 17. Pelicans (34-48). They have their big two — DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis — plus Jrue Holiday at the point, but the supporting cast is already banged up. Rajon Rondo will miss time with a sports hernia, and Solomon Hill may miss the entire season with a torn hamstring. This team remains one of the big question marks heading into the season, but if it goes sideways things could get ugly fast.

 
Sixers small icon 18. 76ers (28-54). Joel Embiid will start the season on a minutes restriction — Brett Brown said in the teens — and the big man doesn’t like it. Expect the Sixers to be cautious with him all season, we’ll see if he even gets to 55 games. My big question is how good the defense is with him off the court? After a strong preseason, Ben Simmons has moved to the top off everyone’s Rookie of the Year award prediction list.

 
Hornets small icon 19. Hornets (36-46). The Nicolas Batum injury to start the season is a blow. First, they were already thin on the wing and needed his defense, and second the Hornets toughest stretch of the schedule is the first month, so they could get in a hole that’s tough to dig out of. No Batum means rookie Malik Monk gets more run. A lot of people will tune in to see the Dwight Howard redemption project version 3.0, but stay to watch Kemba Walker — he is one of the most entertaining players to watch in the NBA.

Pistons small icon 20. Pistons (37-45. . How did the Pistons’ starting five look in the preseason? Don’t know, they didn’t play a minute together. What we do know is Reggie Jackson — the lynchpin for this team’s playoff chances this season — struggled, like he did much of last season. One thing of note, Andre Drummond was 16-of-20 on free throws in the preseason, if he is knocking those down he just got a lot more dangerous at the end of games.

 
Mavericks small icon 21. Mavericks (33-49). We need to savor having another season of Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA, he remains an all-time great. This season is about developing Dennis Smith Jr. and have him develop chemistry with Harrison Barnes (who was underrated as an isolation scorer last season but now needs to learn to be a playmaker. The Mavericks start out with a tough schedule the first couple of months that puts them in a hole they can’t dig out of.

 
Lakers small icon 22. Lakers (26-56, LW 29). It’s the Lonzo Ball show in Los Angeles, as he brings a buzz on and off the court to this team. Well, unless Kyle Kuzma steals the show again (the Lakers are overloaded at the four thanks to him). Ball will get a boost playing with Brook Lopez on offense. The bigger concern is Brandon Ingram, who shot 37.7 percent in preseason (25 percent from three) and likes to face up in isolation but doesn’t execute that well yet.

 
Kings small icon 23. Kings (32-50). So much to watch development wise with this team. How does De’Aaron Fox come along running the offense (he will come off the bench behind George Hill to start the season)? Can Skal Labissiere and Willie Cauley-Stein form an impressive front line? Is Buddy Hield going to be a starting two guard in the NBA or is he a future gunner sixth man? Also, how will coach Dave Joerger balance minutes for the young players and the veterans on his roster such as Zach Randolph?

 
Magic small icon 24. Magic (29-53). This may be too low for the Magic, who have a lot of talent on paper. Aaron Gordon is back at the four, where he should be, and he looked good this preseason. Jonathon Simmons also looked good and helped the team’s defense this preseason. The pieces still are an odd fit on this team, but Frank Vogel is trying to find rotations that work.

 
Knicks small icon 25. Knicks (31-51 LW 26). Carmelo Anthony is gone but the Knicks biggest problem persists — this is going to be a bad defensive team. With the full triangle offense having been exiled with Phil Jackson, coach Jeff Hornacek wants to run, but to run well a team has to get stops. Is Kristaps Porzingis ready for the load about to be put on his shoulders?

 
Pacers small icon 26. Pacers (42-40, LW 16). This is Myles Turner’s team now, but he will miss having Glenn Robinson III’s floor spacing around him (Robinson’s ankle injury has him out until 2018). On the bright side T.J. Leaf looked better in preseason than he did in Summer League, he will get some run. This team will put the ball in Lance Stephenson’s hands, which is always entertaining.

 
Nets small icon 27. Nets (20-62). They have an interesting backcourt with Jeremy Lin — the undrafted guard who has worked hard on his game and scrapped his way to a solid NBA career — and D’Angelo Russell, the No. 2 pick whose work ethic frustrated the Lakers and they were willing to move on from (he was the sweetener in dumping Timofey Mozgov’s salary). Soft start to the schedule gives them the chance at a decent start.

 
Hawks small icon 28. Hawks (43-39). It’s all about Dennis Schroder and Kent Bazemore creating shots and Mike Budenholzer’s team playing solid defense. This is a rebuilding team (Al Horford and Paul Millsap left in successive summers) and their string of making the playoffs 10 years in a row will end, but they should play hard and be in games, just not able to close them out. They start the season with a five-game road trip.

 
Suns small icon 29. Suns (24-58). They have some interesting young talent in Phoenix with Devin Booker and now rookie Josh Jackson (14 points per game and shot 42 percent from three in the preseason). With Eric Bledsoe running the point the Suns should be able to put up some points, but will the young team get enough stops?

 
Bulls small icon 30. Bulls (41-41, LW 13). Chicago has finally, fully embraced the rebuild. Lauri Markkanen will be the guy to watch this season, he was up-and-down during preseason (1-of-9 in debut, good game against Toronto to close it out) but how does he develop over the course of the season. Rough first week of the season with the Raptors, Spurs, and Cavaliers.

Chris Paul’s free agency decision becomes a documentary

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Chris Paul had a new home in Los Angeles and the potential for a $200 million contract if he stayed with the Clippers.

He also had reason to doubt a championship would ever come there.

So sometime between walking off the floor after a Game 7 loss with the Clippers last spring and walking back onto it Tuesday night in a Houston Rockets uniform, Paul decided he needed to pack up his family and try for a title elsewhere.

“I just felt that it was time,” Paul said.

His free agency process and decision is the subject of a three-part documentary series titled “Chris Paul’s Chapter 3” that debuts Thursday on ESPN.

The first episode shows Paul’s frustration following the Clippers’ ouster against Utah in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs and his questioning the Clippers’ culture. He had helped them become a perennial playoff team since his arrival in 2011, but not one that ever seriously contended for a title,

“Somewhere, I don’t know when it was – I’m not a saint by any means, it could have a lot do to with me also – but we just weren’t having as much fun,” he said.

He talked with his family and business partners about possibilities with Boston and San Antonio – where he feared Gregg Popovich might only coach for a couple more years – and visited music mogul Jay-Z and Disney CEO Bob Iger for their advice. He began to view Houston as the best option and eventually accepted a trade in late June, agreeing to opt in for the final year of his contract and delaying free agency until next summer.

All that after he had bought a house in Los Angeles across the street from Clippers teammate Paul Pierce, moving his in-laws in last January.

“Truthfully, I didn’t think there was no way that Chris would leave the Clippers,” said Pierce, now retired and an ESPN analyst. “He really built up something special, you know, with getting the Clippers back to being legitimate, make the playoffs every year, (winning) 55 games. He just bought a new home like less than a year ago. He had a $200 million offer on the table. So that really shocked me that he would leave.”

Paul never planned for his first real foray into free agency to become public.

“When it all came together and we saw how it looked it was like, man this would be cool to tell the story of how it’s not just cut and dry, you just pick a team,” Paul said. “We showed the move and everything that goes into it.”

Paul laments having to always have the ball in his hands in Los Angeles – which won’t be a problem alongside James Harden in Houston. And he worries about having to move his two young children, eventually telling his son he can’t go do his job without him. And after they finally move, Hurricane Harvey devastates Houston, a focus of the second episode.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities to bring fans closer to athletes in order to better understand their experience. In this series, Chris Paul gives fans a truly unprecedented look at his free agent decision-making process and how he thinks about both his basketball career and his life off the court,” said Connor Schell, ESPN executive vice president of content.

All three episodes will be available on the ESPN App and on-demand beginning Friday. They will then air next Tuesday from 8-9:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN.

Paul said he learned a lot about the free agency process – but would love to avoid having to do it again next summer.

“In a perfect world you win a championship and there’s nothing to even talk about,” he said.