Report: Bulls have made better trade offer than Celtics for Kevin Love

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The Minnesota Timberwolves say they don’t want to trade Kevin Love. Seriously, they don’t. They insist.

OK, maybe they’ll trade him later. Minimum, they’ll keep him until draft night.

Despite all this posturing, the Timberwolves are getting offers for their disgruntled star player. As soon as word spread Love wants out of Minnesota – and likely even before – teams across the NBA began sending the Timberwolves trade proposals.

Minnesota can either completely ignore these offers or evaluate them. Seems like the latter is a wiser option, even if the Timberwolves don’t want to act on them.

The Bulls emerged early as a potential suitor, and the Celtics reportedly have interest too. Love fanned those flames by visiting Boston, but just two catches – the Celtics don’t have cap room, and Love isn’t a free agent anyway.

Reportedly, Boston made Minnesota an offer, though. It just isn’t good enough.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPNBoston.com:

The Timberwolves privately maintain they already have fielded better offers from other teams, among them the Chicago Bulls

On the merits, the Celtics can make pretty intriguing offers – more on that later – but they might have to come substantially stronger than other teams, because Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and president/coach Flip Saunders don’t jive with Boston.

MacMullan:

Taylor still hasn’t recovered from the last seismic Minnesota-Boston transaction, which led to a Celtics championship. In fact, sources in Minnesota say, the thought of conducting another major transaction with Boston gives Taylor great pause.

Some of McHale’s friends, including Ainge, felt Saunders undermined McHale, his former college teammate, during his final days in Minnesota.

When Doc Rivers hired Saunders as a “postseason consultant” for the Celtics during the 2012 playoffs, the interaction between Flip and Ainge was minimal and noticeably cool.

MacMullan doesn’t detail Chicago’s and Boston’s offers, but both teams have plenty of assets, including all their own future first-round picks.

The Bulls could offer some combination of:

  • No. 16 pick in 2014 draft
  • No. 19 pick in 2014 draft
  • Top-10 protected pick from the Kings between 2015 and 2017
  • Better of their own and the Cavaliers’ 2015 first-round picks (as long as Cleveland falls outside the lottery)
  • Nikola Mirotic’s rights
  • Jimmy Butler
  • Taj Gibson
  • Carlos Boozer’s expiring contract (to make salaries match without making Minnesota take a long

It’s easy to see how Chicago could put together a tempting offer. It’s just a matter of how much the Bulls want to trade for a player who’s locked up for only one – maybe two – more years.

But the Celtics, if they choose, could put together a pretty impressive offer of their own. In draft picks alone, they can offer a combination of:

  • No. 6 pick in 2014 draft
  • No. 17 pick in 2014 draft
  • Lottery-protected 2015 first-round pick from 76ers (if Philadelphia misses playoffs, it becomes two second rounders)
  • 2015 Clippers first-round pick
  • 2016 Nets first-round pick
  • Better of their own and the Net’s 2017 first-round picks
  • 2018 Nets first-round pick

For example, Boston could offer some combination of its draft picks – along with Joel Anthony, Keith Bogans, Chris Johnson and either Phil Pressey or Chris Babb  to make salaries match – for Love and agree to complete the trade as soon as the July moratorium ends.

Minnesota could immediately waive Bogans, Pressey, Johnson and Babb at no cost. Only the final year of Anthony’s contract ($3.8 million) would remain on the ledger. That’s significant – and more immediate than Chicago can offer – financial relief. The obvious hang-up is which picks to include.

Boston could also include Kelly Olynyk and/or Jared Sullinger, though that adds cost to the Timberwolves. Regardless, there are options.

Without question, the Celtics have more than enough to pry Love – at least unless the Bulls have made an incredible offer that exceeds expectations.

So, MacMullan’s report tells me either Chicago is offering too much for Love or Boston has, at least so far, refused to offer enough. But if the Celtics want Love, they probably have the assets to make a strong offer.

They just haven’t yet.

Report: 76ers happy with GM Elton Brand, who’s drawing Knicks interest

76ers owner Josh Harris and general manager Elton Brand
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The Knicks are reportedly interested in hiring 76ers general manager Elton Brand.

In New York, Brand would work under new Knicks president Leon Rose. Brand holds the top position in Philadelphia’s front office. So, Brand would likely go to New York only if fired by the 76ers.

Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:

A team source on Wednesday confirmed Brand is under contract beyond this season and said the organization is very happy with his work since being named GM in 2018. The source cited Brand’s leadership and strong working relationships with players, agents, and executives around the league.

The 76ers are so pleased with Brand… someone said so without under the cloak of anonymity. If he wants to back Brand, 76ers owner Josh Harris can do so publicly. Otherwise, this is so weak.

Teams generally express support toward employees while the employees are still working for the team – whether or not the employees actually hold approval. A key way to tell whether the support is genuine? Check the source. Harris doesn’t want to look like a hypocrite. If he endorses Brand now then fires him soon, Harris would look silly. With this sourcing, nobody would get egg on his or her face if Brand gets ousted, because we don’t know the source.

I bet Brand does have good relationships with everyone. He has long connected well with others.

But his roster-building has fallen flat.

Inertia will probably keep him in his job. Philadelphia overachieving in the playoffs (whatever form they take) – certainly possible – would make that an easier call. It’s just difficult to build an affirmative case for Brand as a team’s lead executive.

Report: No chance of traditional NBA playoffs this season

NBA playoffs
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The NBA playoffs have a familiar format – four rounds, best-of-seven series, games in front of fans at home arenas.

But the coronavirus, which has forced the NBA into an indefinite stoppage and disrupted life around the world, makes that untenable. Don’t expect the league to wait until that’s workable, either.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

At this point, several team and league officials told SI.com, any chance of a traditional postseason is out.

A shortened playoffs in Las Vegas is gaining momentum. It’d allow the NBA, hemorrhaging money, to draw revenue sooner. A reduced postseason would also minimize disruption to future seasons.

But even that comes with major complications, especially containing coronavirus from undermining the entire operation. It could be a long time until its safe to hold games, even in a centralized location without fans.

It could be so long… a traditional playoffs could be back on the table. Though I find that unlikely, I’m still not convince people have a proper understanding of how lengthy this hiatus could be.

Everyone wants to finish the season. The playoffs are the NBA’s most lucrative time, and it feels right to crown a champion.

So, it’s good the focus is on alternative formats. It’d be naïve to expect business as usual when the NBA resumes.

Who should be drafted No. 1? Podcast talking NBC Sports mock NBA Draft.

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Should Anthony Edwards be the No. 1 pick?

Or James Wiseman? How would Obi Toppin fit with the Warriors?

More importantly, how is anyone preparing for a draft when nobody knows when it will take place?

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports — who just completed his mock draft — joins me to discuss what they know and don’t know about the 2020 NBA Draft, starting with having no idea when it will take place. We discuss Obi Toppin, Lonzo Ball, sleepers to watch, and everything in between in a draft preview podcast.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Bucks hoping to complete title pursuit after coronavirus stoppage

Milwaukee Bucks
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — The NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks remain confident the coronavirus pandemic won’t put a permanent halt to the season and that they’ll get to resume chasing their first league title in nearly half a century.

The Bucks had a league-best 53-12 record when play was suspended three weeks ago. With Giannis Antetokounmpo having a potential second straight MVP season, the Bucks seemed poised to make a run at the title that has eluded this franchise since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led them to an NBA championship in 1971.

Bucks general manager Jon Horst thinks they will get that opportunity.

“We believe that we’re going to play,” Horst said Wednesday in a conference call. “Everything that we’re doing every day in our communications, in our preparations, everything we talk about is being prepared to play at some point, finish out the season and have a resumption.”

That’s why Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer has spent part of this hiatus making sure the Bucks don’t lose their edge whenever they do get back on the floor.

He’s been studying the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets — the Bucks’ two most likely first-round playoff foes — as well as other Eastern Conference teams Milwaukee could see later in the postseason. He’s tried to learn from his experiences as a San Antonio Spurs assistant coach during the NBA’s most recent work stoppages.

“One of my reference points with the coaching staff has been lockouts,” Budenholzer said. “Sometimes when you come out of a lockout, things have been kind of slow, you haven’t been able to maybe do your normal routines and preparation, and things happen really fast. Whether it’s three games in three nights, or playoff series are shorter or the time between the end of the regular season to the first playoff game, everything can be shorter or can happen quicker.”

His instructions to his players have focused on conditioning while understanding they might not have as much time to spend working on their basketball skills.

“I think that we feel that there are things they can continue to do as far as continuing to stay strong, continuing to maintain a conditioning level and really just put a lot of time and effort and energy into their bodies,” Budenholzer said.

After blowing a 2-0 lead to the eventual league champion Toronto Raptors in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, Milwaukee appeared to have all the elements in place to make a serious championship run this year before the pandemic struck.

The Bucks had just returned from a winless three-game trip west when the hiatus occurred, but that was the first time they had lost as many as two straight contests all season.

Despite their optimism and their confidence that league officials will do what’s best for the safety of everyone, the Bucks realize that play might not resume. However, Budenholzer said they aren’t thinking about what impact canceling the season might have.

“If for some reason this season is not played or there’s nothing to look forward to or to complete, I’ll process it then,” Budenholzer said. “I would add that I don’t think it’s being totally head-in-the-sand. I think hopefully watching news, listening to the commissioner, listening to whether it be Tony Fauci or Dr. (Deborah) Birx or whoever it is, it does feel like there is I think some realistic hope and belief that we will get through this.

“I know that there are some negatives, some less optimistic modeling, but literally all we think about is we are going to play and we want to be the best team when we do play so how do we prepare for that, how do we get better? It’s a great way to get through this.”