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Trail Blazers trade Mason Plumlee to Nuggets for Jusuf Nurkic and first rounder

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The Portland Trail Blazers finally made a trade. Pending approval from the league office on Monday, GM Neil Olshey has sent starting center Mason Plumlee and a 2018 second round pick to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for Jusuf Nurkic and a 2017 first round pick, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

The trade gives the Blazers three first round picks in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.

Via Twitter:

Portland had to make a move at some point thanks to deals given out this summer to Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe. Plumlee, while critical to the Blazers’ offensive attack thanks to his passing, is a liability on defense. At $2.2 million this season coming off his rookie contract, he’s also due a huge pay increase that the Blazers couldn’t afford to pay even if they wanted to.

For Denver, it’s an interesting move considering they already have a young, passing big man in Nikola Jokic. While there is a potential for either Jokic or Plumlee to play the power forward position — both have in the past — it’s not immediately clear what the long-term plan is in Denver with these two big men.

Then again, having watched Plumlee extensively in Portland, his best role at this point is as a backup center that could help destroy opposing second unit defenses. If that is the long-term plan in Denver, it could be an excellent move for a team that still has moves to make. Emmanuel Mudiay is rumored to be extremely available.

Portland, meanwhile, starts the long process of thinning out the herd. Olshey’s roster was built to be traded, and I’m frankly a little surprised that he was able to bounce Plumlee first. With a low cap figure on Plumlee and the Blazers underwater with Turner and Crabbe, my compatriots and I in the Portland media sphere thought it would be unlikely they could move him without moving either of the wings first. To get back Nurkic and another first rounder is Olshey pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

We’re almost certainly going to see another trade from Portland, whether it’s at the deadline or come draft time. They aren’t going to sit on those three first round draft picks, so it should be fun to see what they do with them.

ESPN has written that the Blazers are looking to move injured center Festus Ezeli to a team that may need to get to the salary floor. That would include the Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Brooklyn Nets.

Trade season is upon us, and two of the teams who needed to make moves have done so with a little more than 10 days to go.

Russell Westbrook scores most points ever in triple-double, 57

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Russell Westbrook led a double-digit comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Been there done, that.

Westbrook hit a defining buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Been there done, that.

Westbrook posted a historic triple-double. Been there, done that.

All three in one game?

That’s a new level for Westbrook, who lifted the Thunder to a 114-106 win over the Magic tonight while posting an incredible stat line: 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

James Harden scored 53 in a triple-double just this season, and Westbrook has already one-upped that record.

This MVP race is one for the ages.

Russell Westbrook’s 3-pointer caps incredible Thunder comeback, send Magic game to OT (video)

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The Thunder trailed the Magic by 21 points in the second half and 14 points midway through the fourth quarter.

Russell Westbrook capped the incredible comeback with this 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.

This becoming the norm for Oklahoma City.

NBA: Timberwolves got away with key late foul in win over Pacers

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Paul George expressed extreme dismay after the Pacers’ loss to the Timberwolves last night — the latest cause for concern in Indiana with its biggest star just one season from free agency.

But perhaps George wouldn’t have sounded so disillusioned if that game featured correct officiating down the stretch.

Minnesota’s Kris Dunn got away with fouling Jeff Teague by disrupting the Pacers guard’s speed/quickness/balance rhythm with 21.6 seconds left, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report:

Dunn (MIN) makes contact to Teague’s (IND) arm that affects his SQBR and causes him to lose control of the ball.

Because the Timberwolves were in the penalty, a correct would’ve sent Teague — who’s making 86% of his free throws this season and 84% for his career — to the line. He would’ve had two attempts to build on Indiana’s two-point lead.

Instead, he forced an off-balance shot, which Minnesota rebounded. Ricky Rubio drew a shooting foul on a 3-pointer on the other end, and his three free throws lifted the Timberwolves to a 115-114 win.

The two-minute report featured a few other missed calls: George getting away with pushing off then Wiggins getting away with fouling George on a possession where George missed anyway, Andrew Wiggins getting away with a travel on a possession where Minnesota turned the ball over anyway. But those were effectively wash’s. Dunn’s uncalled foul was the one of consequence — especially if it contributes, even in a small way, to George’s exit from the Pacers.

Edmond Sumner declares for NBA draft despite torn ACL

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Edmond Sumner has grown about five inches since high school.

That has helped turn the 6-foot-5 Xavier point guard into an intriguing NBA prospect — but also seemingly contributed to physical complications. Sumner missed nearly all of his freshman year with knee tendinitis. Then, after a promising second season and start to his third, he tore his ACL in January.

Still, he’s entering the NBA draft.

Sumner:

Rick Broering of Musketeer Report:

Like with Duke’s Harry Giles, medical testing will be huge with Sumner. But at least Giles ended the season on the court. Sumner might not be healthy at all during the pre-draft process.

Sumner looked like a borderline first-round pick before the injury. This probably pushes him into the second round.

His long strides provide impressive speed and quickness, and he’s still shifty. Add quality court vision, and his ability to drive by defenders is even more valuable.

A 6-foot-8 wingspan and good lateral mobility also help make him a quality defender.

But it’s also concerning that so much of his positives could be undermined by his knee issues, especially considering his unreliable jumper. If Sumner can’t move like he did before getting hurt, I don’t see how he sticks in the NBA.

If Sumner’s knees check out, it’s worth rolling the dice on him and hoping his jumper develops. He might even be OK without shooting range, though that’d lower his ceiling considerably.

Again, though, the first thing is examining his knees.