Enes Kanter

Mock NBA expansion draft
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Mock NBA expansion draft: Celtics, Nets, Knicks, 76ers, Raptors

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The NBA season is on hiatus. NBC Sports is not – even if we have to venture into fantasy.

We’re holding a mock NBA expansion draft. Keith Smith is setting protected lists for existing teams. Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman will run two new teams as this project culminates in an expansion draft.

Current teams can protect up to eight players. Each team must make at least one player available. If selected, restricted free agents become unrestricted free agents. Pending options can be decided before or after the expansion draft at the discretion of the option-holder. Anyone selected in the expansion draft can’t return to his prior team for one year. Players entering unrestricted free agency and players on two-way contracts are essentially ignored.

We’re unveiling protected/unprotected lists by division. Players are listed with their 2020-21 salary. Up now, the Atlantic:

Boston Celtics

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 7

Ineligible – 0

Analysis: Boston’s decisions are fairly cut and dry. Jayson Tatum, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams are all on their rookie-scale contracts. Jaylen Brown will be starting a four-year contract extension. Kemba Walker was just signed to a max contract. Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis are good values and key rotation players.

The toughest decision was on Gordon Hayward. Carrying a salary over $34 million, the Celtics are betting he’ll go undrafted and will return to the team. Everyone else was a fairly easy decision to leave unprotected.

Brooklyn Nets

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 5

Ineligible – 2

Analysis: The Nets are keeping their big four in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen is still on his rookie-scale contract, so that’s an easy decision. With over $101 million on the books for just Durant, Irving, Dinwiddie and LeVert, Nicolas Claxton and Rodions Kurucs help bring some low-cost upside to the back-end of the roster.

DeAndre Jordan will likely go unselected, given his age and $30 million-plus owed through 2022-23. If Jordan is selected, Brooklyn can bank some potential luxury tax savings down the line. Taurean Prince was on the fence, but given his disappointing play this season, and lack of fit in a lineup featuring Durant, the Nets will take their chances he’ll be selected.

New York Knicks

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 6

Ineligible – 1

  • Maurice Harkless

Analysis: The Knicks are clearing the decks for a run at free agency this summer. The expansion draft could only help along that way. New York is protecting their young players with upside, as well as Julius Randle, last year’s big free agent addition. The Knicks are also protecting Damyean Dotson and Allonzo Trier. Not out of fear of losing them, but in hopes that either of the expansion teams will select a bigger salary and take it off the New York cap sheet.

Dennis Smith Jr. was the only questionable player to leave unprotected, but $5.7 million is simply too much for a player out of the rotation. The other five players aren’t part of the future in New York, so that decision was easy.

Philadelphia 76ers

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: Philadelphia’s decisions make themselves. The highly paid players are key rotation players. Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton are steals on minimum contracts. Matisse Thybulle is only entering year two of his rookie scale deal. Zhaire Smith was on the bubble, but he’s young enough, and under team control, that he’s worth protecting.

Al Horford is very unprotected. His signing simply hasn’t worked out for the Sixers. He’s a player Philadelphia is open to talking about a trade with either of the expansion teams. With an extra first-round pick, the 76ers hope to dangle it to entice a team to select Horford.

Toronto Raptors

Protected – 8

Unprotected – 3

Ineligible – 4

Analysis: The Raptors don’t have to expose any of their core rotation players in the expansion draft. Up front, Pascal Siakam just inked his contract extension, and OG Anunoby is still on his rookie scale deal. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all free agents. In the backcourt, Toronto can protect Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, along with undrafted find Terence Davis. And Fred VanVleet is a free agent.

The leaves just a handful of players who don’t have a role for the Raptors. Toronto could even entertain offering a second-round pick to entice either expansion team to select Stanley Johnson and take his $3.8 million off the cap/tax.

Rudy Gobert touches every reporter’s recorder, out for Jazz-Thunder game (illness)

Jazz center Rudy Gobert
Omar Rawlings/Getty Images
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Update: Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune:

 

Amid coronavirus concerns, the NBA has implemented procedures that isolate players from the media. The goal is reportedly keeping players 6-8 feet from the media. So, group interviews have generally been done with the player at a table or podium rather than in a scrum.

Jazz center Rudy Gobert has no respect for these precautions.

Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune:

And here’s video

The Jazz issued this update ahead of their game against the Thunder tonight:

Remember when Enes Kanter showed off eating seven burgers plus fries then missed the Knicks’ next practice due to illness?

This is the coronavirus version of that.

Don’t assume causation. But, man.

NBA Trade Deadline tracker: All the player movement, new teams, impact

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The NBA trade deadline has passed and it had a little bit of everything – big names on the move, important players being sent to contenders, and other teams shedding salaries.

We’re here to help you sort everything that happened in the last few days, from the biggest trades to the smallest ones.

What trades happened?

• D’Angelo Russell traded to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins

Minnesota gets: D'Angelo Russell
Golden State gets: Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota’s 2021 first-round pick (top-three protected), a 2022 second-round pick

Analysis: Minnesota has desperately wanted Russell to pair with his good friend Karl-Anthony Towns, keeping the superstar Towns happy (he has expressed frustration lately, he hasn’t been on the court for a win since November). Golden State is betting its culture can push Wiggins to live up to his potential nightly (not just once every couple of weeks), giving them what Harrison Barnes once did.

• Andre Iguodala traded to Miami

Miami gets: Andre Iguodala, Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill
Memphis gets: Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, James Johnson

Analysis: At one point this was discussed as a three-team trade with Oklahoma City sending Danilo Gallinari to Miami, but that fell apart. With Iguodala and Crowder, Miami becomes more of a threat in the East. Memphis likes Winslow’s fit.

• Andre Drummond sent to Cleveland

Detroit gets: Brandon Knight, John Henson, second-round pick
Cleveland gets: Andre Drummond

Analysis: Let’s be honest: The Pistons dumped Drummond. It’s a minuscule return for an All-Star center, but that also speaks to exactly where the market is on Drummond — teams looked at his game, looked at that $28.8 million next season, and said no thanks.

• A 12-player, four-team trade that sends Clint Capela to Atlanta

Houston gets: Robert Covington, Jordan Bell
Atlanta gets: Clint Capela, Nene
Minnesota gets: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, Jarred Vanderbilt, a first-round pick
Denver gets: Shabazz Napier, Gerald Green, Keita Bates-Diop, Noah Vonleh, a first-round pick

Analysis: This is a win for Atlanta, which gets a good pick-and-roll center to pair with Trae Young. Houston is going all-in on small ball, with P.J. Tucker now their starting center.

• Clippers beat out Lakers for Marcus Morris

Los Angeles gets: Marcus Morris, Isaiah Thomas
New York gets: Moe Harkless, 2020 first-round pick
Washington: Jerome Robinson

Analysis: Morris will bring both floor spacing and some interior toughness to the Clippers (plus a few technicals). Morris leads the Knicks scoring at 18.5 points per game. The Clippers will not keep Thomas.

• Dwayne Dedmon traded back to Atlanta

Atlanta gets: Dwayne Dedmon, a 2020 and 2021 second-round pick
Sacramento gets: Jabari Parker, Alex Len

Analysis: Dedmon returns to Atlanta to be the backup center for Clint Capela.

• Warriors trade Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks to the 76ers

Philadelphia gets: Glenn Robinson III, Alec Burks
Golden State gets: Second-round picks in 2020 (Dallas), 2021 (Denver), and 2022 (Toronto)

Analysis: Philadelphia needs shooting and it just added some.

• Clippers trade Derrick Walton to Atlanta

Atlanta gets: Derrick Walton
L.A. Clippers get: A second-round pick, $1.3 million in cash

Analysis: This clears a roster spot for the Clippers to make another, more significant move.

• Denver flips Shabazz Napier to Washington for Jordan McRae

Washington gets: Shabazz Napier
Denver gets: Jordan McRae

Analysis: And interesting flip of reserve guards (both 28-years-old, both on expiring minimum contracts). Nappier has played well as he has grown out of LeBron’s shadow. I really like this deal for Denver, however, as McRae can just flat out go get buckets, and Denver could use more of that off the bench.

• Golden State trades Willie Cauley-Stein to Dallas

Dallas gets: Willie Cauley-Stein
Golden State gets: A second-round pick

Analysis: After Dwight Powell tore his Achilles Dallas needed depth at center.

• Cleveland trades Jordan Clarkson to Utah

Utah gets: Jordan Clarkson
Cleveland gets: Dante Exum, two second-round picks

Analysis: Utah needed more bench scoring and Jordan Clarkson provides that.

• Minnesota trades Jeff Teague to Atlanta

Atlanta gets: Jeff Teague, Treveon Graham
Minnesota gets: Allen Crabbe

Analysis: Atlanta needed a quality backup point guard for Trae Young, so they traded for one.

• Philadelphia trades James Ennis to Orlando

Orlando gets: James Ennis
Philadelphia gets: a second-round pick

Analysis: Long Beach State’s own James Ennis was going to be crowded out on the improved Philly bench so he waived his no-trade clause to be sent to Orlando, where he should provide desperately needed shooting.

• Rockets send Jordan Bell to Grizz

Houston gets: Bruno Caboclo, Second-round 2023 pick
Minnesota gets: Jordan Bell, Second-round 2023 pick

Analysis: Bell doesn’t fit as well in Memphis with the Grizzlies also acquiring Gorgui Dieng. But I’d generally rather have Bell than Caboclo.

• Blazers trade Skal Labissiere to Atlanta

Atlanta gets: Skal Labissiere, plus $2M
Portland gets: Luxury-tax savings

Analysis: The Hawks get a more-than-fully subsidized flier on Labissiere, who’s due $924,968 the rest of this season then will be a free agent this summer.

Kings sent Trevor Ariza to Portland for Kent Bazemore

Sacramento gets: Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver, two second-round picks
Portland gets: Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, Wenyen Gabriel

Analysis: Portland had the highest payroll in the league and was going to shell out a lot of luxury tax for a team that might not even make the playoffs. This trade cut their tax bill by more than half. Ariza also has played well for Portland.

Three Things to Know: Nothing is finalized. Yet. An NBA trade deadline rumors update.

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Nothing is finalized… yet. Here’s your NBA trade deadline rumors update. With the NBA trade deadline just about 48 hours away, NBA teams are getting serious with their offers and the rumors are flying… but no deals. Yet. Here are some of the latest rumors flying around the NBA.

• A three-team deal that would have sent Clint Capela to Atlanta, Robert Covington to Houston, and picks to Minnesota for it to flip into D'Angelo Russell has died because the Warriors shot down trading Russell for those picks, reports Kevin O’Conner at the Ringer.

The Warriors have said all along they want to see what a Russell/Stephen Curry backcourt looks like before they trade Russell. Also, because Russell came in a sign-and-trade the Warriors are hard-capped and believe they can find a better trade (for themselves) after July 1 when that restriction is out of the way.

Otherwise, this trade gets Houston the wing they wanted (although if they trade Capela they need to bring back another rim-protecting center somehow), and Atlanta gets its center (which would mean John Collins becomes available via trade now or this summer). Speaking of Capela…

Houston and Boston are talking about a Capela trade. In this scenario (possibly with a third team), the Celtics would get Capela as their playoff center, and Minnesota would get Enes Kanter or Daniel Theis back from Boston plus one of Boston’s three first-round picks for 2020. That pick could be part of a package flipped to Golden State for Russell. Except, as mentioned above, the Warriors aren’t eager to trade Russell right now.

Whatever Houston does, don’t be surprised if they also maneuver to get below the luxury tax line.

• As an aside, the Timberwolves with Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns would be an offensive force, but could they get any stops? That’s a troubling defensive combo, and opposing coaches are going to drag Russell and KAT into all the pick-and-rolls.

• The Knicks reportedly have interest in Russell, too, but are not throwing their (likely very high) 2020 pick in the mix. Instead, it seems Kevin Knox and Bobby Portis plus a future pick are the bait. Hard to see the Warriors biting on that.

• The Clippers have been rumored in a lot of trades (looking for an upgrade at center and more shooting) but Paul George likes the roster Los Angeles has.

The Hornets are talking to the Knicks about a possible Julius Randle trade. That would raise the floor in Charlotte, but can the Hornets get the Knicks enough players/picks to make it interesting?

The Phoenix Suns need shooting and are talking with the Pistons about a Luke Kennard trade, with a first-round pick going back to Detroit in the deal.

Andre Iguodala let it be known (through sources) that he would sit out the rest of the season if not traded to “agreed-upon teams.” So there’s a list. This was leaked to scare off teams not on that list who are calling Memphis, it should not scare off Memphis. The Grizzlies need to get the best deal they can for Iguodala, it’s the other team’s problem if he doesn’t want to be there. Meanwhile, Dillon Brooks and Ja Morant want Iguodala traded so they can go at him on another team for not wanting to play with them.

• The Cavaliers have made Tristan Thompson available via trade as Cleveland reportedly goes into “asset acquisition mode.” What other mode have they been in for two years?

The Spurs are working on a DeMarre Carroll trade, and reportedly Rudy Gay also is available for the right price.

• There continues to be little market for Andre Drummond of Detroit, multiple sources tell NBC Sports. Drummond has game — he is the best rebounder in the league and can get buckets around the basket — but he is not a great rim protector, does not space the floor, the game is moving away from his style of play, and he makes $27 million this season then can opt-out to become a free agent next summer. That’s a lot of matching salary to put in a trade, then a lot of money spent next summer to keep him, for whatever team trades for Drummond. It’s hard to construct a trade teams will take around that.

2) Ben Simmons calls Sixers soft after another road loss. Miami continues to play good basketball, and on Monday night Jimmy Butler went off for a season-high 38 points — and he didn’t even need to play the fourth quarter — as the Heat scored a franchise-record 81 points in the second half and crushed the 76ers 137-106.

The Sixers are now 22-2 at home but just 9-18 on the road, including having dropped 10-of-12 away from the Wells Fargo Center. A frustrated Ben Simmons called Philadelphia “soft” after the loss.

Does trading for Robert Covington solve that problem? This was a game where the Sixers defense — sixth-best in the NBA this season — just got torched by Butler, Bad Adebayo and the Heat.

As an aside, and just my gut feel, but at some point Brett Brown is going to be the fall guy in Philly. That ultimately may not solve the problem that Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are both All-Star/All-NBA level players whose games simply don’t mesh. Still, teams will dump the coach and try that approach before coming to the realization they need to break up two outstanding players. That is always the last resort.

3) The coronavirus outbreak has shut down the Chinese Basketball Association indefinitely. As Americans, we tend to like our sports as an escape from reality, even though it never really works that way.

It’s certainly not in China right now, where the Coronavirus — which has become a pandemic, infecting more than 17,000 people in 23 countries (including the United States) and killed more than 360 — has restricted travel and led to precautions to halt the spread of the virus.

That has shut down the Chinese Basketball Association for now, and a lot of American players in that league have already come home. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony was Tweeting about this a few days ago, but the information is still relevant.

Mix in fraught USA/China relations, and it’s easy to see how this could come out poorly for the players involved.

Jeremy Lin said on Instagram: “The CBA season’s been postponed indefinitely and I’m on standby, training and staying ready if the season resumes.” In the wake of the disease, the death of Kobe Bryant, and much more, Lin talks about the need to live life to the fullest because “Today isn’t guaranteed. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Nothing in life is guaranteed.” He also rails against the fools using this virus and human suffering to promote their racist viewpoints.

View this post on Instagram

Time flies and life is a blur. As I sit back and reflect, all I can say is this past year has been so crazy. The NBA and China’s relationship soured, my friend Godfrey suddenly died filming on set, last year’s Beijing Ducks captain G-Man was diagnosed w a terminal disease midseason and passed away, the coronavirus became a global health emergency, and Kobe/Gianna/7 others passed away in a tragic accident. The CBA season’s been postponed indefinitely and I’m on standby, training and staying ready if the season resumes. Since last summer I haven’t had much to say on social media, but I felt very strongly about this post. Today isn’t guaranteed. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Live life to the fullest, pursue the best version of yourself. If you aren’t content along the journey, you won’t be content at your destination. I learned this lesson the hard way. Find joy, find purpose, find truth. Love radically, serve generously. Life is too short and too precious for time to be wasted. I’ve lived in China this past season and now being back on US soil, I’m saddened by the racist comments regarding the virus in China. There are real people suffering and real heroes working around the clock in service to others – please don’t let your fear or ignorance rob you of seeing that. This world needs more compassion and empathy. We are all imperfect humans – we all need grace. You have one life to live, focus on what really matters in life. And pray that God blesses us with the chance to see tmrw 🙏🏼

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Report: Celtics engage Rockets on Clint Capela trade

Clint Capela vs. Celtics
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The Rockets want a good forward like Robert Covington, Andre Iguodala or Marcus Morris. That’s why Clint Capela is on the trade block. Sending out his salary is the most logical way for Houston to add an expensive wing.

But the Rockets are already thin at center. If they deal Capela for just a wing, their center rotation will become untenable.

Enter the Celtics.

Boston could really use an upgrade at center. Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter are solid, but Capela would be better. And if the Celtics got Capela, they’d have far less need for both Theis and Kanter. So, one could go to Houston in a three-team trade that also netted Houston a big-time wing.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Daniel Theis, Vincent Poirier and Romeo Langford could work as a framework. But it’s unclear how much Houston values Langford.

The Rockets want to avoid the luxury tax. The Celtics don’t want to disrupt their core.

So, what John Hollinger dubbed a stepladder trade could work. One idea:

Boston trades Theis and Poirier to the Thunder for Andre Roberson‘s expiring contract. The Celtics could then flip Roberson and a pick for Capela.

From Houston’s perspective, it’d be a three-way trade with Capela (and maybe other players) outgoing and a wing like Covington incoming. Perhaps, Theis – on the move just to make the math work – could be routed to the Rockets, who could use him.

Houston would obviously have to add pick(s) to pry loose the quality wing. The pick from Boston would be available for inclusion.

There’s definitely room to create a reasonable trade here for Thursday’s deadline.