Report: Pacers make 2017 first rounder available in effort to get Paul George help

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One of the things dragging down the trade market with just more than a week to go before the trade deadline is nobody wants to give up a first-round pick in the coming draft. The 2017 draft is seen as deep with talent, and general managers are not making their picks available.

Except for the Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers.

They want to make a win-now move and are making their pick available, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

In an attempt to secure help for All-Star forward Paul George, the Indiana Pacers have made their 2017 first-round pick available in a trade, league sources said.

In what is considered to be a deep draft, the Pacers are hoping that such an asset would translate to the addition of either an established wing or established frontline player, according to sources.

While the Pacers want to stop their six-game losing streak that has them sliding down the East standings, this move has another big-picture motive — keeping George a Pacer.

George can opt out of his contract at the end of the 2017-18 season. The Pacers have a small window to provide him with a championship-type supporting cast. And whether he signs an extension this summer probably will be predicated on the moves the franchise can execute up to that point.

There is one other factor in George re-signing with the Pacers: If he makes an All-NBA team this season he will qualify for the “designated player” super-max contract that could weigh in at five-years, $209 million (exact figures will depend on the final cap number for the 2018-19 season, the first year the extension would kick in). If he didn’t qualify and the Pacers gave him a five-year extension it would be about $179 million over five years, while other teams could give him four years at $133 million guaranteed (but he would make money in that fifth year eventually, bringing him close but not all the way up to $179 million).

All of which is to say, if he qualifies for the designated player contract and the Pacers offer it, he’s not going anywhere regardless of who is around him.

But the trade will come first. If there is a trade (the Pacers are not going to want to take a lot of salary back on this deal, they are already at $90 million this season). There are a lot of bigs available — Brook Lopez of the Nets will cost more than this pick, but would this high-teens pick be enough to get someone like Danilo Gallinari out of Denver? It likely could get them Lou Williams from the Lakers, but does he fit the Pacers’ needs? Not exactly. Is it overpaying for P.J. Tucker in Phoenix? The Trail Blazers have some overpaid wings that may be available, if the Pacers like any of them.

Nothing may come of this, but it’s worth watching

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.