Kurt Helin

Chicago Bulls v Minnesota Timberwolves

Kevin Martin expected to return to Timberwolves Wednesday after 34-game absence

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When we last saw Kevin Martin he was playing against the Knicks when he fractured the wrist on his shooting hand. That was Nov. 19.

Wednesday night he should be back in the Timberwolves’ rotation as they take on the Boston Celtics, reports Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune. (They will wait until after pre-game warmups to make it official.)

He had hoped to make his return last Wednesday against Dallas, but awoke that morning with it significantly swollen. He had fluid drained from it on Thursday and has had a compression brace on it since then….

He shot before the game in Oklahoma City, apparently very, very well. “Great,” he said when asked how it went. “That’s one thing I can do, shoot.”

Minnesota wants him to shoot — not so much to win more games, the Timberwolves are lottery bound, but to increase Martin’s trade value as the deadline approaches. Before the injury Martin was off to a hot start, averaging 24 points a game and shooting 48 percent from three.

Martin’s shooting could interest contenders looking to space the floor and you can bet the Timberwolves will be showing off his skill set. The challenge will be moving his salary — $7 million next season with a player option of $7.3 million for 2016-17 (and there’s a solid chance he picks up that option).

But if a team needs shooting that price may seem fair.

Report: Terrence Ross riding bench in Toronto but will not be traded

Philadelphia 76ers V Toronto Raptors

Terrence Ross is in a slump. Maybe it’s more than just that, but whatever it is it saw him moved to the bench so Greivis Vasquez could start because it was better for the team (despite Vasquez’s defensive issues). Maybe the bench will suit Ross better, he had a decent game Tuesday (5-of-10 shooting, moving well off the ball) but he’s got a long way to go to earn coach Dwane Casey’s trust again.

The benching has led to a lot of trade speculation about Ross, particularly up in Toronto. The idea is to pair him with a future first rounder to get some improved interior defense for a playoff run this year.

But that’s all just speculation, teams called to check and it’s not happening, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

But according to league sources, Ross is going nowhere. “Absolutely not,” one rival executive told Sporting News. “They still have a lot of belief in him and there is not much you could do to get him from them.”

The Raptors have been eager to find a way to strengthen their defense, which has been backsliding…. But, according to sources, the Raptors won’t use Ross to make that happen, despite his third-season struggles—which actually date back to last year’s postseason. Casey considered benching Ross then, but did not pull the trigger on the move. Ross averaged just 5.0 points in Toronto’s seven-game, first-round loss to Brooklyn, shooting an abysmal 29.8 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from the 3-point line.

Note that this isn’t Toronto denying they want to move him — of course teams do that — but if other league executives can’t get a foot in the door there is something to it.

A decision day on Ross is coming, but it’s not here yet. While he is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract after this season, it’s hard to imagine the Raptors giving him one unless it is at a very “fair” (read: low) price. It’s unlikely Ross takes that deal. More likely he played next season then becomes a restricted free agent in 2016 and the market sets his value.

That gives the Raptors time to see if they can tap the flashes of potential. It wasn’t just the 51-point game almost exactly a year ago, it was the improved shooting and play after the Rudy Gay trade that gave hope. Then Ross was terrible in the playoff series loss to Brooklyn (he shot 29.8 percent overall, 16 percent from three). His shooting this season regressed from last regular season, he’s still not efficient, and while nobody questions his athleticism his consistency on defense is lacking.

Maybe he can find a role on the bench. The Raptors seem willing to wait and find out.

Stephen Curry had a great passing night (VIDEO)

Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors
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We think of Stephen Curry as a shooter, but on Tuesday night against the Bulls his usual reliable jumper deserted him — he shot 4-of-16 outside the paint.

However Curry is an MVP front-runner because his game is more rounded than that — the man can pass, too.

And Tuesday night he was setting up teammates, too. There was the half-court alley-oop to Harrison Barnes, then this sweet dump-off to David Lee.

Unfortunately for the Warriors, it wasn’t enough as they fell to the Bulls in overtime.

Report: Bucks to sign Kenyon Martin through end of season

Kenyon Martin, Chris Bosh

Kenyon Martin hasn’t given the Milwaukee Bucks much on the court — he’s played 47 minutes over the 20 days he’s been with the team, averaged 1.3 points a game on 33.3 percent shooting, he’s pulled down a few boards. In his last game he got 12 minutes of run, was 0-of-3 shooting with three boards, but he was the team’s center on the court at the end of the game (not John Henson or Zaza Pachulia).

However, off the court coach Jason Kidd has said he likes the veteran presence he brings to the young Bucks’ locker room.

So they are going to keep him on through the end of the season, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Milwaukee Bucks will sign former All-Star power forward Kenyon Martin to a rest-of-the-season contract this week, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Martin, who completes his second 10-day deal with the Bucks on Wednesday, has lent a welcome veteran touch to a young locker room since reuniting with first-year Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd, with whom he played in New Jersey.

This is a young, playoff bound team and a veteran who can provide some leadership would be welcome. I’d just hate to see him steal minutes from players the Bucks should be trying to develop — they may be playoff bound this season but they are a work in progress still.

The Bucks may now be on to their next 10-day contract, Stein added.

The Bucks, sources say, are also planning to call up point guard Jorge Gutierrez — another Kidd favorite — on a 10-day deal out of the NBA D-League to bolster the backcourt depth in the wake of Kendall Marshall’s recent season-ending knee injury.

What We Learned in NBA Tuesday Night: Bulls fans should want more of this attacking Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls v Golden State Warriors

If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while watching a baby turtle eat a strawberry

He wasn’t perfect by any means, but Bulls fans should want more of this aggressive Derrick Rose. This Derrick Rose from Tuesday night reminded me of the MVP Derrick Rose — fearless, aggressive, going right at his man. Was he efficient? Not even close — 30 points on 33 shots, plus he had 11 turnovers to one assist. (Although, to be fair, he set up some guys who missed good looks — we’re looking at you, Kirk Hinrich.) Of course, Rose wasn’t terribly efficient in that MVP season. Tuesday night Rose’s shot selection late in the game was terrible. But the Bulls don’t beat the Warriors without this Rose, and I don’t just mean the game-winning step-back jumper. I mean the one that worked hard all night defensively to harass Stephen Curry into an off night shooting. The one that made Klay Thompson really work hard on defense. He’s not the only reason the Warriors went 0-of-14 from three after halftime (that was a fluke) but he was part of it. This whole game was a little weird at times. But what Bulls fans should be excited about is that the fearless, attacking Derrick Rose seems to be back — if they have dreams of getting out of the East they need that Rose. Ideally a more efficient version of him, but that Rose. Nightly.

Golden State is the most entertaining team in the league when they get out and run. The Warriors were running early, they were hitting threes, and when they are doing those things there is no more entertaining team in the Association. Klay Thompson had 15 first quarter points and for a second looked like the 37 points in a quarter guy of last week. When they run the Warriors make plays like this.

And this.

Cleveland is defending, which should scare everybody. The Cleveland Cavaliers have won seven games in a row now after beating the Pistons 103-95 on Tuesday, and there are a few reasons for the run. Tuesday night one was Kyrie Irving who put up 38 points (with six threes), plus six assists. But what we said about the Cavaliers before the season started remains true — they will go as far as their defense takes them. They will score, but can they stop teams from scoring? Well in their last 5 games they are allowing jus 97.4 points per 100 possessions, sixth best in the NBA (however, if you stretch it out to the seven game win streak it is 102.6 allowed per 100, 12th in the league). Outside Sunday’s win over Oklahoma City the Cavs haven’t played good offenses in this stretch, which may mask the numbers, but the Cavaliers defense is clearly improving. How much it’s improved will determine their playoff run.

You’d think they tried them all, but the Lakers are finding new ways to lose. Stats don’t say it all, but sometimes they can say a lot. And in the case of the Wizard’s comeback win over the Lakers Tuesday night at Staples Center, it says plenty about this season’s Lakers’ squad.

Toronto is finding its groove again. Maybe. The Toronto Raptors have won four of five, including a 104-91 win over Indiana on Tuesday night. So has the team that was the hottest in the East early on really found its groove? Well, those wins are over the Pacers, banged-up Pistons, Sixers and Bucks. We can say the book is still out on this, but the good news is the soft schedule continues through Feb. 6, when a run of eight tough games in a row (Clippers, Spurs, Wizards, Hawks, Rockets, Pelicans, Mavericks, Warriors) might give us a better sense of how far back the Raptors have bounced.