Winners, losers from the Clippers, Trail Blazers trade of Norman Powell

Dallas Mavericks v Portland Trail Blazers
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We have our first significant trade of the deadline season, with the Clippers and Trail Blazers completing a five-player trade that looks like a steal for Los Angeles in terms of talent, but is a step down the road Portland wants to take.

Let’s break down the winners and losers from this trade. But first, here is the deal:

The Clippers receive: Norman Powell, Robert Covington
The Trail Blazers receive: Justise Winslow, Eric Bledsoe, Keon Johnson, Detroit’s 2025 second-round pick (the Clippers had the rights from the Luke Kennard trade)

WINNER: LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS… NEXT SEASON

Another smart move by the Lawrence Frank and the Clippers front office — and a move only a free-spending team like the Clippers under Steve Ballmer could make.

This is a trade all about next season, when Powell — a quality, switchable, two-way wing, averaging 18.7 points a game and shooting 40.6% from 3 this season — can be a sixth man and either fill in for or play behind a (hopefully) healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (Tyronn Lue said again this week he doesn’t expect Leonard back this season). Don’t forget that Leonard and Powell have won a ring together before in Toronto. Powell is under contract for four more seasons after this one, and at starter-level money.

“Norm is a two-way player who can score from all three levels, spread the floor with his shooting and guard multiple positions with his length and versatility,” said Frank in a released statement. “He was part of a championship team in Toronto before joining the Blazers. Norm has SoCal roots, having grown up in San Diego and starred at UCLA, and we’re thrilled to bring him back.”

Most teams in the tax, like the Clippers, would have kept Bledsoe, who makes similar money to Powell but only has a $3.9 million guarantee next season, allowing them to trim costs going forward. Ballmer doesn’t care, he can add to the payroll as he did here and keep rolling along.

Covington has taken a step back in Portland this season but is still a solid defender and role player. He is a free agent this summer but the Clippers now have his Bird rights and can re-sign him if they wish.

Both Powell and Covington also fit and help a gritty Clippers team this season, a team hanging around .500 and likely headed to the play-in. Even without their stars.

WINNER: NORMAN POWELL

Want to play for a contender again? Wait until next year, when the Clippers — at least on paper — will be one of the favorites in the West (it’s all about health with this team). Powell will have a significant role, whether starting or as a sixth man, and should fit in beautifully with this roster.

As noted by Frank, Powell also gets to come home to Southern California, where he grew up and be close to family and friends.

LOSER: ERIC BLEDSOE

Mostly this is a financial loss for Bledsoe, who is under contract for $19.4 million next season but hasn’t played near that level for the Clippers. He has a $3.9 million buyout; you can bet the Trail Blazers will use it to free up money for next season.

He will be an unrestricted free agent after the buyout and there likely will be interest in him by several teams looking for point guard depth, but for much less money than he is making now.

WINNER: Anfernee Simons

Simons is having a breakout season in Portland in his fourth year, averaging 15.7 points a game and shooting 39.6% from 3. The way he has grabbed his opportunity this season is the silver lining on the storm clouds of this season in Portland.

This trade shows they are betting on Simons, trading away the other 6’3″ wing in Powell who could eat up his minutes. This offseason the Blazers will bet big again on Simons when he comes up as a restricted free agent — the man is about to get paid.

ASK AGAIN LATER: PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

This trade accomplished one thing the Trail Blazers wanted: It got them under the luxury tax. Ownership understandably didn’t want to pay the tax for this team this season, and by getting under that number, not only do they not pay the tax, they also get some of the tax windfall payout from teams over the tax (the money teams over the tax line pay is divided among the teams under the tax line). Financially, this was a good move for Portland.

Keon Johnson is also a good roll of the dice for the Blazers. He’s a divisive young prospect — an incredible athlete who set an NBA Draft Combine record with a 48-inch vertical leap, but who is very, very raw on offense — and this gives Chauncey Billups and staff a chance to see if they can develop him.

On the court… it depends on what follows. This was just the first domino. Trade rumors are swirling around the league about CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, one or both of them could be on the move. Interim GM Joe Cronin is talking to Lillard, and they want to retool this roster around him into something that can compete with the best teams in the West. There’s a long way to go, but this trade will allow Portland to pay Simons next summer and still have their mid-level exception to go get a player that fits with Lillard.

Other moves are coming, it’s too early to judge on just this one trade — even if they gave up the best player in the deal. This could be the first step toward an impressive roster remake, but we need to see things play out before making a call.

Jimmy Butler returns, hits clutch shots to lift Heat past Celtics

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
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BOSTON (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored 28 points, Tyler Herro had 26 and the Miami Heat completed a split of two games in Boston, beating the Celtics 120-116 on Friday night after Jaylen Brown banked in a long 3-pointer to force overtime.

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup and had 25 points in 36 minutes after missing the previous seven games with a sore right knee. He added 15 rebounds.

“Obviously having JB back is big time for us,” Herro said. “He helps us in so many different ways.”

Kyle Lowry chipped in with 20 points before fouling out in OT for the Heat, who sent Boston to just its second loss in 16 games.

“My team welcomed me back and let me do what I do,” Butler said. “It was a big `W’ for the team.”

Brown sent the game to overtime by banking in his long 3 with 1.7 seconds to play in regulation. He finished with 37 points.

“It felt good coming off my hand,” Brown said. “I know we wanted to get a shot up off the rim as fast as possible, just in case we missed we could get a rebound, a tip out.”

The Celtics had won 10 straight at TD Garden.

Boston star Jayson Tatum scored just 14 points on a cold shooting night, going 5 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 on 3-point attempts. He had 49 points in the Celtics’ 134-121 victory on Wednesday night.

“That’s the biggest thing about the league; you’re not going to stop anybody from just scoring,” Adebayo said. “I feel like (we’re) making him take tough shots every time we play him and living with the result.”

Butler hit a clutch jumper over Al Horford, making it 110-107 with 5.1 seconds left in regulation before Brown took a pass near midcourt, dribbled to his right and nailed his shot.

In OT, the teams were tied twice before Butler nailed a foul-line jumper over Horford with 1:45 left, but Brown hit two free throws to tie it.

Adebayo nailed two free throws and, after Tatum misfired on a 3, Butler hit a jumper to seal it.

“Jimmy made two tough, tough baskets,” Brown said. “That’s just a credit to his work and his skill and his development. He gets going in games like this; on the road in a hostile environment. … Tonight, two shots that in our defensive scheme we could live with, but Jimmy a big-time player made both of them.”

Unlike Wednesday, when shots were open more and both teams were making them effectively (each shot over 50%), defense was tighter and it resembled more of the postseason matchup last season between the pair that went seven games before Boston captured the Eastern Conference title.

Anthony Davis scores 44, outduels Antetokounmpo (40) leading Lakers past Bucks

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Anthony Davis and LeBron James tore apart the NBA’s top-rated defense and gave Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham a triumphant return to Milwaukee.

Davis scored a season-high 44 points and James passed Magic Johnson on the NBA’s career assists list Friday night in the Lakers’ thrilling 133-129 victory over the Bucks.

It marked Ham’s first game in Milwaukee since taking over as Lakers coach after working as an assistant on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff from 2018-22.

Ham and Budenholzer shared a big hug before the game.

“It was a beautiful night,” said Ham, who also played for the Bucks from 1999-2002.

It also was quite a night for Davis, a Green Bay Packers fan who delivered his big performance with Aaron Rodgers in the stands. Davis spoke with the Packers’ four-time MVP quarterback before and after the game.

“I saw him before the game and he said, `I need 30 tonight,”‘ Davis said. “I just saw him and he said, `I only said 30, not 40.’ It’s always good for him to come out and watch the Lakers play.”

James made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:22 left and finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He upped his career assist total to 10,144 and moved into sixth place, ahead of Johnson’s 10,133.

“It means a lot, obviously,” James said. “The way Magic approached the game, it was very infectious. His teammates loved playing with him because of the joy he played with and the ability to pass the ball and get other guys involved. He was always excited about seeing his teammates be great. I always admired that in him. What’s even more humbling and super duper cool is the fact that I’m doing it in a Laker uniform and knowing how much Magic means to the Laker franchise.”

The Lakers had the highest point total and field-goal percentage (.536) the Bucks had allowed all season. Milwaukee entered Friday with the NBA’s top defensive rating.

“It was too easy, too easy, too easy,” Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “They were living in the paint. That’s not who we are.”

Los Angeles withstood a 40-point performance from Antetokounmpo, who also had seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers also spoiled the 2022-23 debut of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, who had 17 points and seven assists in his return from offseason wrist surgery.

Milwaukee missed two potential tying 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds.

After Davis missed a fadeaway jumper, the Bucks called a timeout with 21.4 seconds left and then found an open Grayson Allen, whose 3-point attempt went off the side of the rim.

The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, but Jrue Holiday couldn’t connect on a 3-pointer with just over five seconds left. Davis made a clinching free throw with 4.5 seconds left.

“Grayson got a good look,” Budenholzer said. “Good execution. Good screening. We’ll live with that shot all the time. And Jrue, similar. We got the kick ahead, playing against a defense that’s not set. Jrue, kind of a good rhythm shot for him. It was contested, but Jrue was 6 of 12 tonight (from 3-point range). He was feeling it.”

Holiday had 28 points for the Bucks, and Bobby Portis added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Westbrook had 15 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers.

Hawks’ Collins out weeks with sprained ankle, Hunter also at least a week

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks will be without both of their starting forwards for at least the next three games.

John Collins will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left ankle and De'Andre Hunter will be sidelined for at least one week with a right hip flexor strain, the Hawks said Thursday.

Both departed with injuries during Wednesday night’s win over Orlando. Hunter played only seven minutes and Collins was hurt after a dunk that didn’t count at the halftime buzzer.

Hunter is third on the Hawks in scoring at 14.9 points per game, and Collins is fourth at 12.3 points.

Hunter, a fourth-year player out of Virginia, has yet to play a full season because of various injuries.

Draymond Green wants to play 4-5 more years, ideally with Warriors, not stressed about contract

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Jordan Poole got a contract extension from the Warriors this summer. So did Andrew Wiggins.

Draymond Green did not — and he punched Poole and was away from the team for a time.

All this has led to speculation about the future of Green in Golden State. He has a $27.6 million player option for next season, but he could become a free agent this summer. With the Warriors’ payroll through the roof — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are on max extensions, Poole and Wiggins just got paid, and contract extensions for Jonathan Kuminga and the rest of the young players are coming — there are questions about how long Green will be in the Bay Area.

In an open and honest interview with Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape, Green talked about everything from his relationship with Poole after the punch to his future. Here are a few highlights:

“I want to play another four or five more years. That would be enough for me.”

“You can look around the NBA right now. There are five guys that’s been on a team for 11 years-plus. We have three of them [along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson]. It’s a very rare thing. There’s 470, 480 players in the NBA? There are five guys that’s been with his team for 11 years plus. That’s amazing. So, you don’t just give that away. So, absolutely I’d be interested in that.”

On rumors he wants to play with LeBron James and the Lakers: “I never said that. People can say what they want. I’m also not really one to react much to what one may say. I react to things when I want to react to it. I don’t react to things just because somebody said it.”

Is he worried about his next contract: “No, not at all. I have a great agent [Rich Paul]. The best agent in the business. That’s why you align yourself with an incredible agent, because they handle the business. I play basketball. That’s what I want.”

I don’t doubt there is mutual interest in Green staying with the Warriors, the question is at what price. It’s not a max. As for the threat of him bolting, Green is still an elite defender and secondary playmaker, but it’s fair to wonder what the free agent market would look like for him. Green is not the scoring threat he once was, and his unique skill set is not a plug-and-play fit with every roster and system (does he really fit on the Lakers, for example).

The conventional wisdom around the league right now is that Green will opt into the final year of his contract with the Warriors — especially if they make another deep playoff run — because that level of money is not out there for him. That said, it only takes one owner to fall in love with the idea and send his GM out to get the deal done. The market may be there for him after all, or he may be open to the security of three or four years with another team but at a lower per-year dollar amount.

Green also talks about his relationship with Poole in the Q&A and makes it sound professional and business-like. Which is all it has to be, but it’s not the “playing with joy” model the Warriors are built upon.