Joe Dumars denies Brandon Knight-for-Rajon Rondo, Brandon Jennings trade talks

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The Pistons talking to the Celtics about trading Brandon Knight for Rajon Rondo or the Bucks about Brandon Jennings in general – not true, according to Joe Dumars. Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“Never happened, never even a conversation about Brandon,” Dumars said of the Boston Globe report over the weekend. “And today I saw something about Brandon Jennings.

“John Hammond and I were on the phone talking about our dogs.”

The Pistons have several options at point guard, none of them overwhelmingly appealing. Jennings or Rondo would likely upgrade the position for Detroit, but either would require a larger financial commitment plus giving up assets (though Jennings is a free agent, the Pistons no longer have the cap room to sign him outright, so a sign-and-trade would be necessary).

If the Pistons are serious about making the playoffs, they should be at least exploring ways to get Rondo or Jennings. That doesn’t mean there’s a good trade available, but it’s at least worth investigating.

So, why wouldn’t Dumars talk to Danny Ainge about Knight? And why wouldn’t he talk to Hammond about Jennings? There is no good reason, just as there’s no good reason to alienate Knight over a trade that probably won’t happen.

Dumars isn’t under oath. General managers mislead the media all the time, sometimes going as far as outright lying. Is that the case here? I have no idea, but it’s standard protocol for general managers to deny all trade talks until a deal is actually reached.

Likely, we’ll never find out whether Dumars discussed these options with the Bucks and Celtics.

Though he’d be a marginal upgrade, Jennings isn’t a great fit with a frontline of non-shooters in Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, and Jennings would cost much more than Knight, who has two years remaining on his rookie deal.  Rondo would be a much bigger upgrade, especially defensively, but again, his lack of shooting doesn’t mesh well. A Rondo trade might change Detroit’s need for backcourt shooting if the deal involves Drummond (really doubt the Pistons does that) or Monroe (possibly workable) going to the Celtics. But a deal based on Knight for Rondo? I can’t see how Ainge accepts that.

At best, these were probably discussions that went nowhere. Or perhaps, Dumars is being completely forthright. Either way, the result will be the same.

Likely No. 1 pick Zion Williamson leaves Duke-North Carolina game with knee injury

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Zion Williamson will probably be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.

He’s a generationally good prospect. The rest of this draft also looks relatively weak.

In fact, Williamson has such a stranglehold on the top pick, some have suggested he sit out the rest of his freshman season.

His injury during Duke’s game against North Carolina tonight will only heighten those calls.

Duke:

Hopefully, Williamson is OK.

And hopefully, the system changes. The NCAA is a cartel in which schools conspire to cap compensation for athletes at a scholarship plus some expenses. In a free market, Williamson would earn far more.

Unfortunately, it probably can’t be both. If Williamson escapes this without major injury, the status quo will likely endure.

But, if this injury even allows him to play again this season, it might be a warning shot that causes him to sit until he can enter the NBA draft.

Again, I hope he’s healthy enough to make that decision for himself.

Jayson Tatum guarantees Celtics will win 2019 NBA championship

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Friday morning, Jayson Tatum guaranteed the U.S. team would beat the World team in the Rising Stars game that night. The U.S. team won.

So, Tatum was asked Saturday morning whether he wanted to guarantee anything for that night. He guaranteed he’d win the Skills Challenge. He won.

So, then ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Tatum whether he wants to guarantee anything else. And he really let it ride.

Tatum:

We’re going to win the Finals this year. February 16th, mark it. Jayson Tatum says we’re going to win the Finals this year.

Obviously, Tatum wasn’t going to pick against Boston. But this wasn’t that. He could have easily avoided such a grand proclamation.

Instead, even if he were just caught up in the emotion of an All-Star Saturday Night victory and taking the interview especially seriously, Tatum put a little more attention and pressure on the Celtics.

I’m not convinced that’s what this team needs.

Kristaps Porzingis reportedly gave Knicks wish list of trade destinations: Nets, Clippers, Heat, Raptors

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Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Kristaps Porzingis will sign long-term with Dallas this summer, and Porzingis he was on the same page.

But he will be a free agent. Restricted, but a free agent, nonetheless.

Porzingis’ exit from the Knicks provided a clue about where he’d want to go if he explores leaving the Mavericks.

Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:

The four teams Porzingis had on his wish list of trade destinations were the Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors, according to two people with knowledge of the list who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Porzingis had little leverage to get to any of these teams. Because he’ll be a restricted free agent, the Knicks or any team acquiring him would retain immense team control over him.

The Nets and Clippers project to have cap space this summer. The Heat and Raptors don’t.

But even if Porzingis signs an offer sheet elsewhere, Dallas will will likely match it.

Still, Porzingis will become an unrestricted free agent someday – 2020 in the unlikely event he accepts his qualifying offer or a future year if he signs a multi-year deal this summer. It’s probably best to file away this list until then.

Kyrie Irving on video with Kevin Durant: ‘Me and one of my best friends talking’

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The Knicks opened double-max cap space for next summer. Kevin Durant‘s company is moving to a new office in New York. Kyrie Irving backed away from his commitment to re-sign with the Celtics.

Plenty of people were already connecting dots when this video emerged of Durant and Irving talking at the All-Star game (in which, not for nothing, they jelled).

Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops:

Irving, via MassLive (warning: language in the above video):

It’s just crazy. This is the stuff that just doesn’t make the league fun. It doesn’t make the league fun. Nobody helps promote the league even more by doing bulls— like that, of just putting fictitious things on what we’re talking about. It’s crazy.

It’s a video of me and one of my best friends talking. And then it turns out to be a dissection of a free agency meeting? Do you get that? Like, do you get that? And then I’m asked questions about it? That’s what disconnects me from all that s—.

That wasn’t a denial.

Still, it’s hard to believe Durant and Irving really discussed free agency in a hallway with so many people passing. There are far more discreet places to have that conversation.

Like a restaurant in Miami where they were spotted together:

I understand Irving’s exasperation with this, just as I understood Durant’s testiness over constant speculation. They should be allowed to spend time together as friends without it turning into a bigger deal.

But there is immense interest in where they play next year. People will continue to search for clues – some that prove insignificant, some that might prove significant – about the stars’ futures.

So, I’m at least glad Irving addressed this. It’s going to get discussed either way. Better for him to enter his perspective into the conversation.