Five players most likely to be on the move before Thursday’s trade deadline

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For all the talk of a tight trade market (and that is still the case in some quarters) we have already seen a blockbuster trade — Blake Griffin is now a Detroit Piston. We’ve also seen an expected trade, with Nikola Mirotic getting moved and the Pelicans stepping up to land him.

Who else could be on the move before the NBA’s trade deadline before Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern? There are a lot of names being bandied about around the league, but here are five to watch closely, the five most likely to have a new address by the end of the week.

1) Tyreke Evans, Memphis Grizzlies. If there is one sure thing on this list, it’s that Evans will have a new home, the Grizzlies have already shut him down to avoid an injury before the deadline. Evans is scoring 19.5 points a game and is shooting 39 percent from three in an impressive bounce-back season for the former Rookie of the Year who last summer had so little of a market he could only get a one-year, $3.3 million contract with Memphis. He’s played himself into a much bigger contract next season, one the capped-out Grizzlies can’t afford so they will trade him before the deadline to get something back.

So far the Celtics, Sixers, Cavaliers, Nuggets, Heat and other teams have inquired about Evans, who could be a bench spark for a playoff team, but Memphis is holding out for a first-round pick in the deal. Other teams are not offering that yet (more like a second rounder and a player on a cheap contract) because he is just a rental and teams would need to use cap space to re-sign him next summer (no Bird rights on a one-year contract). Which is why this one could well go down to the wire. Eventually either a team will cave and throw in a first-rounder, or Memphis will cave and take a couple of second-round picks for Evans. One way or another, he is certainly going to be on the move.

2) Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers. After the Blake Griffin trade, logic dictates the Clippers should move on from other veteran stars on their roster (except for Danilo Gallinari and his unmovable deal) and start a full-on rebuild. However, owner Steve Ballmer doesn’t want to bottom out, so the Clippers are holding out for real value at the deadline. Which brings us to Lou Williams — the current leader in the Sixth Man of the Year race averaging 23.5 points per game — who teams are calling about, but the Clippers are holding out for a first-round pick. Boston is the most mentioned team looking at Williams, but Toronto, Detroit, and Miami all also have been mentioned as possible destinations.

Unlike Memphis with Evans, the Clippers may well get a first-round pick for Evans, which is what they are demanding. The reason is that a trade for Williams brings his Bird rights, making it much easier for the team to re-sign him next summer.

3) Rodney Hood, Utah Jazz. I could have put Joe Johnson from Utah here too, because he wants out and his agent and the team are trying to make that happen. However, the reality is anyone not named Rudy Gobert or Donovan Mitchell is available from Utah, and shooter Rodney Hood is drawing a lot of interest. While there are other flaws in his game, Hood can shoot the rock from deep — averaging 16.4 points per game and hitting 38.7 percent from three — and that is a valuable commodity around the league. Denver is said to be interested, as are the Pistons among others.

One other name to watch from Utah at the deadline: Derrick Favors. He also is available and drawing some interest from teams.

4) Stanley Johnson, Detroit Pistons. An athletic and long wing with a world of potential but still not a reliable jumper, Stanley Johnson has not developed as hoped in Detroit. However, he’s just 21 years old, and other teams around the league think he could be a good player and want to see if a change of scenery and a different coach could break him out. He’s available in a trade, and has been mentioned as someone who could go to Utah for Hood (and Utah has one of the best player development programs in the league). Also reportedly interested are the Spurs among others. Detroit isn’t going to get a lot in return for him (no first-rounder for him in this market), but if Van Gundy is ready to move on a lesser deal may be enough.

5) DeAndre Jordan, Los Angeles Clippers. Much like Lou Williams, it would make sense for the Clippers to move on from Jordan, especially since he is a free agent this summer and, after the Griffin trade, it’s hard to see him re-signing with the Clips. The challenge in trading him is two-fold. First, he’s a more traditional pick-and-roll big man who can defend the rim, get boards, and finish around the basket for a team, but he can’t space the floor at all and his free throw shooting can make it hard to play him at the end of games. Not every team wants a traditional center like him now, and if a team is going to get DJ they need a good point guard (or ball handler) to run pick-and-rolls with Jordan and use his skill set well. Jordan is an All-NBA level player but he needs to be in a specific system to be truly effective.

The other problem for teams is they don’t want to put a lot of assets into a deal — and since Jordan makes $22 million this season it’s going to take a lot of assets in a trade to make it work — and then lose him as a free agent this summer. Teams will want behind-the-scenes assurances from Jordan he will re-sign (or that he would opt into his $24.1 million for next season, something he has so far been unwilling to do).

The Clippers want a first-round pick and a player for Jordan, and if a team believes it can re-sign him they may well get it. But not yet, and the Clippers may need to make a decision about taking less back or keeping him and then trying to re-sign him this summer.

Among the teams interested are Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Miami, and Orlando.

Curry drains 7 3-pointers, Nets start homestand with win over Blazers

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NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 31 points, Seth Curry added a season-high 29 off the bench and the Brooklyn Nets beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-94 on Sunday.

Curry was 7 for 10 on 3-pointers and had his highest point total with the Nets and the most by a Brooklyn reserve this season.

“I’ve always felt like if I get good shots I’m going to make them at a high clip,” Curry said. “Our offense was flowing pretty well. Guys found me open early on to start the game and I felt pretty good, aggressive.”

Kyrie Irving added 22 points for the Nets. Ben Simmons took just three shots but had 12 rebounds and eight assists.

“Ben did a great job of getting downhill,” Curry said. “He’s a great passer (and) he knows how to find me out there on the floor.”

Jerami Grant scored 29 points for Portland. Jusuf Nurkic had 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Anfernee Simons added 15 points and Justice Winslow had 14.

The Nets have won four of their last six games, while the Trail Blazers, who are playing without Damian Lillard, have dropped five of six.

“Tough little stretch that we’re in right now,” Portland coach Chauncey Billups said. “It is what it is. Every team goes through it.”

Brooklyn made 52.6% of its shots from the field overall, and 42.9% from 3-point range, in the second matchup between the teams in 10 days.

“It’s a make-or-miss league,” Durant said. “It’s about baskets.”

With the Nets leading by four entering the fourth, Curry scored Brooklyn’s first eight points of the quarter. Royce O'Neale‘s free throw gave the Nets a 93-87 lead and following a Portland turnover, Curry made a 3 that extended the advantage to nine.

Nurkic sandwiched a hook shot and free throw around two free throws by Irving to cut Brooklyn’s lead to 98-90. However, after a timeout, Durant hit a 3 to push the lead to 101-90.

Brooklyn led 58-57 at halftime, and 84-80 after the third quarter.

T.J. Warren targets Dec. 2 for return to court for Brooklyn Nets

2022-2023 Brooklyn Nets Media Day
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T.J. Warren was a breakout star in the bubble, averaging 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers.

Warren has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

The Nets signed him this season hoping he could get healthy and provide some depth off the bench at the four. We’re about to find out if that can happen on Dec. 2, with Warren targeting his return then Toronto, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Nets have not confirmed this timeline. However, coach Jacque Vaughn has recently talked up Warren’s workouts and hinted that a return is getting close.

A healthy Warren could be a big boost for a Nets team looking for more of a spark off the bench.

 

LeBron becomes oldest player with 39 points, 11 boards, seven 3-pointers (he’s also the youngest)

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The first question after LeBron James put up 21 and 8 to help the Lakers beat the Spurs Friday night was whether he would play in the back-to-back Saturday. He had just missed five games with a groin strain, after all.

Not only did LeBron play Saturday, he had a historic night.

LeBron had 39 points, 11 rebounds, and shot 7-of-12 from 3 — making him the oldest player in the history of the NBA with a 35+, 10+ with seven 3-pointer game.

The youngest player ever to put up that stat line? Also one LeBron James.

The 39 points were also the second most points ever scored by a player in his 20th NBA season, trailing only Kobe Bryant gunning his way to 60 in his final game.

The Lakers got the second straight win over the Spurs on Saturday behind LeBron, 143-138, a game more likely to be remembered for Zach Collins getting ejected for a foul that left Russell Westbrook bloody. The Lakers have won three straight and 5-of-6 but have done it against a very soft part of the schedule (three of the wins were over the tanking Spurs). Los Angeles beat the teams in front of it and started to show signs of life this season, but now they have to carry that over into a stretch against better teams, beginning Monday against the Pacers.

Watch Deandre Ayton put up 29 points, 21 rebounds, lead Suns past Jazz 113-112

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PHOENIX — There was much debate during the NBA offseason about whether Deandre Ayton was worth a max contract.

On nights like Saturday, the answer is a resounding yes.

Ayton notched season highs with 29 points and 21 rebounds, Devin Booker added 27 points and the Phoenix Suns held on for a hard-fought 113-112 win over the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz led 81-78 after three quarters, but the Suns pushed ahead 99-93 by midway through the fourth. The game remained tight through the final minutes, but Phoenix never lost the lead. On top of Ayton’s scoring and rebounding, he also had a crucial steal in the final minutes that helped thwart a final Jazz rally.

“I don’t know what he ate for Thanksgiving,” Booker said. “I should have been over there.”

Ayton grabbed his 21st rebound of the game on the final possession, securing Booker’s miss off a 3-pointer to keep the Jazz from a final possession. Ayton signed a four-year, $133 million deal during the offseason after the Suns matched an offer sheet from the Indiana Pacers.

“That young man has been coming to the gym at crazy hours, lifting with (coaches), so that he can be prepared for moments like this,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “It’s just good to see the work pay off. It’s good to see him have monster games against really good teams on a back-to-back. That’s pretty impressive.”

Ayton was the first player to have at least 28 points and 20 rebounds in a game for the Suns since Amar’e Stoudemire in 2007. He shot 11 of 19 from the field and added three assists and two blocks.

“I want to do more, I feel like I can do more,” Ayton said. “I’m just trying to do what I can to contribute to my team.”

Curiously, the Jazz didn’t foul the Suns on their final possession, essentially allowing them to run out the clock. Utah coach Will Hardy said the last play simply didn’t unfold like the team expected and there was some miscommunication.

“We wanted to get the ball out of Booker’s hands, and then foul,” Hardy said.

Ayton scored a season high for the second straight night. He poured in 28 points against the Pistons in a 108-102 win on Friday. Booker had a tough night shooting, making just 8 of 27 shots.

Utah was one of the NBA’s surprise teams in the first few weeks of the season, starting with a 10-3 record. The Jazz are just 3-7 since that point.

“One game, one stretch of the season doesn’t define your season,” Jazz forward Kelly Olynyk said. “You’ve got to go through ups-and-downs. Adversity – learn from it and come out the other side better for it.”

The Suns have an 11-1 record at home this season and have won four straight games.

Jordan Clarkson scored 22 points for the Jazz. Collin Sexton added 20 while Lauri Markkanen had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Jazz had a 54-51 lead at halftime. Clarkson led the Jazz with 12 points while Ayton had 11 points and seven rebounds.