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Report: Lakers were interested in trading for Hawks’ Paul Millsap

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The Hawks reportedly told Paul Millsap over the summer they wouldn’t trade him. A few days ago they were reportedly actively talking about dealing him. Then, they reportedly took him off the market.

The point? Atlanta keeps wavering on its Millsap stance, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he emerges again as a trade candidate before the trade deadline. Removing him from the market could just be a leverage ploy.

So, it’s worth monitoring the teams interested in him. We know about the Raptors, Nuggets, Kings, 76ers and Pelicans – and now the Lakers.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Millsap can be a free agent this summer, and multiple teams – including Denver, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers – had an interest in making a deal for him, sources said.

What would the Lakers trade for Millsap? The Hawks reportedly wanted a substantial first-round pick, but the Lakers can’t guarantee conveying one until 2021. The Lakers have plenty of intriguing young players, but dealing them for a player on an expiring contract would probably be a mistake (though Julius Randle would be somewhat superfluous in the short term with Millsap).

On the other hand, the Lakers are hardly immune from mistakes. They could delude themselves that being just two games from playoff position warrants accelerating their timeline – especially given Jim Buss’ pledge.

I’m inclined to give the Lakers the benefit of the doubt: They’re interested because Millsap is a good player, and who wouldn’t be interested in a good player? That doesn’t mean they came close to matching Atlanta’s lofty asking price.

This leak benefits the Hawks, who want to demand maximum return if they make Millsap available – which can be accomplished by emphasizing the number of suitors. It also benefits the Lakers, who want to appease impatient fans who are looking for a quicker fix.

But that doesn’t mean a Millsap-to-Lakers trade will happen. Those are just reasons for either or both sides to insinuate it might.

Still, it’s worth monitoring the Lakers’ Millsap interest as the trade deadline – and free agency – approach. Even if Atlanta never makes Millsap available in a trade, this could indicate the Lakers’ desire to sign him next summer.

LeBron James: ‘I still got Pandora with commercials’

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Dwyane Wade revealed last year that LeBron James refuses to use his phone internationally unless he’s on Wi-Fi.

LeBron’s friend and new Cavaliers teammate again brought up that claim, and LeBron confirmed – then went even further about his own cheapness.

LeBron in a joint interview with Wade on ESPN:

No. I’m not doing that. I’m not turning on data roaming. I’m not buying no apps. I still got Pandora with commercials.

LeBron – he’s just like us!

As funny as that line is, keep watching to see LeBron hilariously explain how his hairline affects his interviews.

PBT Extra: LeBron as MVP and other NBA postseason award predictions

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Last year, Russell Westbrook had a historic season on his way to the MVP award, with James Harden and Kawhi Leonard right on his heels. But heading into this season, the dynamic for MVP — and many of the NBA awards — feels very different and wide open.

In this latest PBT Extra, I lay out my preseason predictions for every award — LeBron James for MVP, Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year, and on down the list. There are a few leaps and surprises in there (predicting Most Improved or Sixth Man before the season is a crap shoot, so why not gamble).

Now the predictions season is over, let’s get on to the games.

Jazz: Dante Exum undergoing surgery after shoulder injury

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Jazz point guard Dante Exum hurt his shoulder in a preseason game – an injury that immediately looked like it could be season-ending.

Though Utah doesn’t outright say Exum is done for the year, this doesn’t engender much hope.

Jazz release:

The following is a medical update on Utah Jazz guard Danté Exum who suffered a separated left shoulder on October 6 vs. Phoenix.

After further evaluation, Exum (6-6, 190, Australia) has elected to undergo surgery to stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The surgery is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 24 in Los Angeles. Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Exum (obviously) didn’t receive a contract extension before today’s deadline, so he’ll become a free agent next summer. After one full missed season already and two years of limited effectiveness, it’s not even clear Utah will extend Exum a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent. The former No. 5 pick almost certainly won’t meet the starter criteria, which means his qualifying offer would be worth $4,333,931 (down from $6,619,903 based on his draft slot).

The Jazz will start Ricky Rubio, and Raul Neto will be the primary point guard behind him. Wings Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles can all share facilitating duties.

Utah will probably be just fine without Exum this season, which speaks to his marginal place long-term.

Sprained ankle has LeBron James questionable for opener vs. Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — LeBron James‘ playing status for Tuesday’s season opener against Boston remains unclear.

James has been slowed by a sprained left ankle for more than two weeks and it’s still not known whether he’ll be on the floor when the Cavaliers take on the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, who asked to be traded by Cleveland this summer.

Following Monday’s practice, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said “I really don’t know” when asked if James will play.

James took part in some post-practice shooting drills with teammates. He did not speak with the media as the Cavaliers prepared for their opener, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

James has never missed an opener in his NBA career, and teammate J.R. Smith doesn’t expect him to miss this one.

“Oh, he’s going to go,” Smith said. “He’s going to go, trust me that. I don’t care what he’s got to do, he’s going to play.”