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Report: Hawks may listen, but nowhere near trading Paul Millsap. Yet.

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On Sunday, the report came out that the Atlanta Hawks, fearing they would lose him when he opts out this summer to become a free agent, are listening to trade offers for Paul Millsap. And Kyle Korver. And Thabo Sefolosha. Atlanta doesn’t want a repeat of the situation of last summer when Al Horford left and the team got nothing in return.

On Monday, the Hawks were trying to pump the breaks on those rumors.

Atlanta may be listening but is nowhere near trading Millsap, and he’s not even sure if he’s going to opt out, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The fact they are listening doesn’t make anything imminent. It doesn’t mean something will ever happen. It may. The talk certainly doesn’t mean that Millsap is gone…

The Hawks are not close to trading Millsap at this point. He clearly has been their best player. It doesn’t make sense right now while the team is still trying to figure out a new roster…

In addition, a report surfaced that Millsap has already decided to opt out of the final year of his $21.5 million contract and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Simply, not true. While this is likely, due to basic economics, no decision has been made. Millsap told me this himself earlier this year and a source confirmed Sunday that not only has no decision been made but no discussion has been had.

First things first: Short of him getting seriously injured later this season, Millsap will opt out. Not that he has formally made that decision yet, but it’s going to happen. He has one year at $21.5 million left on his contract, if he opts out he gets at least four guaranteed years (the Hawks can offer five) and he would be a max player with a contract starting at more than $35 million. You really think Millsap is going to leave that money on the table?

Are the Hawks going to trade him because he can walk? That’s another question entirely. This is a franchise still trying to set a direction post Horford, still trying to figure out who they are — at points this season the Hawks have looked like the third best team in the East, at other points like they don’t belong in the playoffs. Mike Budenholzer is trying to map out a future for Atlanta. How badly does Millsap want to be a part of that, or does he want to test the market and look around? Then there is the question of what the Hawks are offered in return for Millsap or Korver or Sefolosha — if teams keep the offers low because they see those players as a rental, then the Hawks may just play the hand they have been dealt.

But they are listening. And that could make this an interesting trade deadline in Atlanta.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelicans Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.