Dwight Howard isn’t talking trade, but everyone else is

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Three times on Friday and Saturday I heard a reporter try to broach the topic of trade demands and where he might play in the future with Dwight Howard, and every time he has responded that he is not talking about anything past All-Star Weekend.

“The situation we are in right now is All-Star Weekend. That’s the only thing that matters right now,” Howard said Friday. “This is for the fans and we’re going to enjoy ourselves. All that stuff can go on after the All-Star break.”

But everyone else is talking about Howard and with that Deron Williams.

Will those two play together? If so, does it happen in Brooklyn? If the Nets don’t move Williams that means they think they can get Howard, either in a trade or via free agency this summer.

Then there is Dallas. Interesting note here by Mitch Lawrence in the New York Daily News.

Williams privately told members of the Mavs last June during their Finals celebration that he would love to go back home and be a part of team with Dirk Nowitzki. But he said Friday he wants to continue to be a Net. So until further notice, the Nets think they still have a good shot to move into Brooklyn with Williams and Howard.

If the Mavericks can find a taker for Shawn Williams contract, they can amnesty Brendan Haywood and they would have the money next summer to pair Williams and Howard with Dirk Nowitzki. The rest of the roster would look like last year’s Miami Heat — which is to say, poor after the big three — but they could do it.

Really, it all comes back to Orlando. Will they move Howard? They don’t want to, but if they realize he is gone after this season and they cannot resign him — right now they still think they can keep him — and the offers that come in near the deadline improve, well, we could have another blockbuster on our hands.

On Monday, that speculation will start to pick up a lot of steam heading to the March 15 trade deadline.

Rumor: Bulls’ belief in Zach LaVine waning

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Zach LaVine was the centerpiece in the Bulls’ return for trading a star. Chicago was reportedly willing to match a max offer sheet for LaVine in restricted free agency.

But maybe the Bulls have at least somewhat soured on him.

Nick Friedell of ESPN:

I don’t know why the Bulls would be down on LaVine now. I also don’t know why they were so high on him the first place.

LaVine is a good 3-point shooter and impressive dunker. But, despite his athleticism, his all-around contributions are lacking. He also hasn’t looked completely over his February 2017 ACL tear.

This leak could just be strategy. Instead of trying to scare off teams with the threat of matching any offer to LaVine, Chicago could be trying to dissuade suitors by projecting its own reluctance.

The Bulls don’t want to overpay LaVine. But they also don’t want to lose him for nothing.

Will anyone make a hard push for the 23-year-old? He surely wants a lucrative long-term contract, whether he re-signs directly with Chicago or gets an offer sheet. But, if the Bulls aren’t sold on him, I’m not sure any team will is.

LaVine’s qualifying offer will be $4,333,932. That might wind up his next salary.

PBT Extra: Grading the top of the NBA Draft

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The Phoenix Suns got it right at the top of the draft — they took Deandre Ayton.

But what of their move to trade for Mikal Bridges, the No. 10 pick, surrendering a valuable pick and the potential of Zhaire Smith for what should be a solid “3&D” wing to go with their athletic stars?

How did the Kings do at No. 2? What about Dallas’ big trade up to land Luka Doncic at three, or the Atlanta bet on Trae Young?

In this PBT Extra, I grade the top 10 picks in the draft, from the moves I like (I think Dallas did well) to ones I’m not sold on (sorry Chicago).

 

Have questions leading up to free agency? Submit your questions via e-mail for our PBT Mailbag feature. Drop us a line at pbtmailbag@gmail.com.

Lakers’ recruiting pitch for Paul George leaks

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LeBron James doesn’t want elaborate pitches in free agency.

Paul George never said that, though.

So, the Lakers are apparently planning to put some showbiz into their recruitment.

Robin Lundberg of Sports Illustrated, citing a “Hollywood source,” revealed a Lakers pitch for George. The direction:

Less Morgan Freeman/Denzel Washington, and more Jamie Foxx. A bit more edge an attitude to their voice, and a bit less aspirational

The text:

When you were just a kid

In your room
Dreaming from Palmdale

We were dreaming too.

While you dreamt, we built – built for your arrival

And while we dreamt, you built too
Becoming one of the world’s greatest.

Life’s most powerful dream are the one we realize ourselves.

The ones that turn us into legends.
That kid from Palmdale always knew it
Now the world will, too

Who wrote this, noted storyteller Kobe Bryant?

My bigger question: Did or did not the Lakers, who’ve gone to great lengths to make their interest in George known, want this to leak before the official start of free agency?

Report: No divide between Chris Paul and Rockets over contract

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That rumor of tension between Chris Paul and the Rockets over his contract?

Sam Amick of USA Today:

As for the recent report from Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard that there are rising tensions between the two sides because Paul wants the full max and isn’t sure if he’ll get it, two people with knowledge of the situation refuted the idea there is any friction between the sides.

Remember, everyone who leaks something has an agenda. But I find this report far more credible than the initial rumor.

Paul’s max projects to be about $205 million over five years. That’s a lot to commit to a 33-year-old, but Paul took a discount to facilitate an opt-in-and-trade to Houston last year. He expects to be made whole.

Until Broussard’s report, all indications were the Rockets would appease him. Barring more information, that should remain the expectation.