Kurt Helin

Report: Bulls, Raptors talked Taj Gibson for Patrick Patterson trade


The Toronto Raptors believe with a serious upgrade at power forward they can challenge Cleveland atop the East. The Chicago Bulls need to start reshaping their roster, especially in the frontcourt.

That had the two sides considering a trade, reported by Zach Lowe of ESPN, but those talks stalled. He goes on to discuss the challenges Toronto faces in making that upgrade they want to see at the four.

Chicago and Toronto had initial discussions on a Taj GibsonPatrick Patterson swap that would give Chicago yet another stretch power forward and trim its tax bill, but those discussions appear to have led nowhere so far….

You can understand why (Raptors GM Masai) Ujiri might be wary of trading a first-round pick for Ryan Anderson, Thaddeus Young, Gibson, Kenneth Faried or Markieff Morris. None of those guys changes your life as a franchise…. Horford is a different story. It would take almost everything in the Toronto’s arsenal to get him, but if they manage it, the Raps would have a good chance of re-signing him, sources say. Still, such a bold move is unlikely.

But even those non-Horford guys are better than what Toronto has, and that incremental improvement might be the difference in a quarter, a game, or a series for a team with ugly postseason demons.

The fan base in Toronto wants a move — and it is time. This is a team that, with an All-Star level four can push Cleveland. With a lesser upgrade at the four Toronto should see the Conference Finals (although an Anderson trade creates the same defensive questions that the Luis Scola/Jonas Valanciunas has now). They are not going after Morris, but any of those other guys is an improvement.

I think Toronto makes a deadline move, and Gibson would be a rock-solid upgrade for them. He defends, he boards, he scores efficiently, and he plays hard every time out. To use a baseball analogy, Gibson is not a home run, but he’s a solid single they could stretch into a double. Having Scola is more like hoping for a walk. That’s not going to do it for a team that needs a playoff series win or two.

Report: Hawks only dealing Al Horford, Jeff Teague in “Godfather offers”

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The Atlanta Hawks are looking for an offer they can’t refuse.

Otherwise, expect Al Horford and Jeff Teague to remain in Atlanta past Thursday’s trade deadline.

The buzz in league circles for weeks has been the Hawks were testing the trade market for Horford and Teague, but the asking price was ridiculous. The theory was that as things got closer to the trade deadline, the Hawks would become more realistic. That’s not the case, according to Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports on his Vertical podcast.

According to a couple of executives, Atlanta is not really serious about trading Teague or Horford. They’re just looking for one of those Godfather-type of deals.

Horford tried to play down trade speculation while in Toronto for the All-Star Game (he was called to replace Chris Bosh on the East).

For me right now my focus is take things day by day…” Horford said. “I’m going to keep doing the things that I do. I can’t control the level of things that are happening and speculations that are going on….

“Yeah, I mean, for me I asked (Hawks management) for guidance, but at the end of the day I understand the
business of everything. I know how everything works, and for me I just need to stay diligent, keep doing what I do, and whatever happens will happen.”

There are teams very interested in Horford, including right there in Toronto (they need a four and with Horford could challenge Cleveland), but he is also a free agent this summer so teams are hesitant to give up too much without knowing if they can retain him (those conversations happen through back channels, teams have an idea).

My guess is Horford stays, and probably re-signs with the Hawks this summer.

Teague is the guy more likely to be moved, but that also could be this summer. The Hawks can hold on to him, make their playoff run, then dangle him in July to teams who missed out on their free agency targets and see if they can extract a high price.

Report: Kings may bring in GM to work under Vlade Divac this summer

Associated Press


Stability and a long-term plan they stick to. For years.

That’s what’s needed in Sacramento — there is talent on the Kings’ roster, starting with DeMarcus Cousins, and the locker room is tight — but the organization seems to change plans and directions every six months.

The latest plan could lead to that stability. That plan is to get a GM to work with Vlade Divac, and to bring in a new coach this summer, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive and vice president of basketball operations Vlade Divac were using All-Star weekend in Toronto to canvass league officials on possible candidates to hire as general manager, league sources told The Vertical.

The Kings are starting to acknowledge that Divac has been overwhelmed with the complexities of the collective bargaining agreement and the sophisticated ways with which most NBA organizations are run now. Privately, the Kings have been telling people they plan to run a GM and a coaching search once the regular season ends. Sacramento has committed to keeping coach George Karl for the rest of the regular season, but has shown no inclination to bring him back next season, sources said.

First, there is almost nobody around the league who thinks Karl will return for a second season in Sacramento (Ranadive is going to get to sell eating that salary to frustrated minority owners). Another mid-season coaching fire/hire last week would not have helped this season, but Karl is not long for this job.

As for bringing in a GM to work with Divac, that goes back to the stability point — bringing in an experienced NBA front office person is a good call, if you let that person do their job. For years. Find a candidate — and there are plenty out there — then figure out what kind of team you are trying to build. Next, get a coach who can execute that style of play, and start rounding out the roster with players who fit that style.

Then, and this is the big one, stick with that GM, coach and style for at least a couple full seasons. No more meddling from Ranadive. No more midstream course corrections. No more “no idea is a bad idea/let’s try everything” strategy. Set a course, stick to the course. Let the basketball people make basketball decisions.

Ranadive can ask Spurs owner Peter Holt at the next owners’ meeting how often he has a hand in basketball/roster decisions. And how that has worked out for him.

Report: Suns asking for pick plus young player for Markieff Morris

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The Suns have been shopping disgruntled forward Markieff Morris since weeks into the season, but the market for him has been thin (to the point earlier this season teams told Phoenix they’d have to throw in a sweetener to get them to take Morris). His scoring is down, he’s shooting less than 40 percent, he has argued with Suns coaches and players, all this after last summer being fined for saying he wanted a trade.

As the trade deadline approaches Feb. 18 and talks get serious, the Suns are still asking a lot for Morris, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Suns general manager Ryan McDonough has been pursuing a package that includes a younger player and a first-round pick, league executives said. The Suns are motivated to honor Morris’ desire for a trade – and have no intention of bringing him back next season – but teams are starting to think the Suns could hold onto Morris past the Thursday trade deadline without a deal that brings back a player of value with a first-round pick.

The Suns could wait until the summer to move Morris when teams who have missed on free-agent priorities return aggressively into the trade market for the power forward. Morris’ contract has three years, $24 million left after this season, which is still on the low end for a player of his talent – whatever the recurring issues with his attitude and professionalism.

No doubt the Suns want the pick and player, the question is come that Thursday deadline will Phoenix back off that request?  Will just a pick get the job done? Or will a team in need of an upgrade at the four cave to that higher offer? Teams shift what they will take in the final 48 hours before the deadline, when everyone finally plays their best hand.

But if the Suns GM is willing to be patient (and owner Robert Saver will let him), it’s not a bad play. This summer expectations will be high for a lot of teams — from fans to owners — because of the cap space they will have thanks to the influx of new television deal money bumping up the cap. The free agent pool is not that deep. This could lead to teams coming back to a deal like this and taking it in an effort to make a splashy move.

Report: Cavaliers offering Iman Shumpert in deals to shore up bench


Iman Shumpert has struggled this season in Cleveland. Expected to provide defense and floor-spacing shooting, he has taken a step back from what he gave them in the playoffs last season (as evidenced by his PER of 8.3, the kind of number you expect from a guy bouncing between the D-League and NBA). He’s an athletic defender who is good but not as good as his reputation (the Cavs defense is 0.9 points per 100 possessions better when he is on the court rather than off it). He is shooting just 32.2 percent from three, and he spends time trying to create shots rather than playing a catch-and-shoot outlet for LeBron James or Kyrie Irving.

The bottom line, depending on what stats you use, the Cavaliers are either a little bit better or a little bit worse with him on the court, but he’s not making the impact of a guy who signed a four-year, $40 million contract this summer.

The Cavaliers want a deeper bench heading into the playoffs, and they are shopping Shumpert to see if they can get it, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

Sources say that the Cavs, though, have been more and more active in recent days in pursuing upgrades to their bench, with center Timofey Mozgov and swingman Iman Shumpert — both in the midst of down seasons after their midseason arrivals in 2014-15 — said to be available. Players who interest Cleveland, sources say, include dream target Kyle Korver (who would naturally be very difficult to pry from Atlanta) and Kings reserves Ben McLemore and Kosta Koufos.

Korver is a pipe dream, the Hawks are asking a lot for their key pieces right now. The Kings are shopping McLemore, and he is shooting better from three (37.5 percent), but he is a considerably worse defender than Shumpert. Yes, you could trade the four players Stein mentions for each other, but why would the Kings do that?

That said, don’t be shocked if a lot of Shumpert rumors come up this week.