AP Photo/Winslow Townson

Report: Markelle Fultz (76ers), Jaylen Brown (Celtics) among players ‘off limits’ in Kawhi Leonard trade

7 Comments

Update: Perhaps, Wojnarowski meant Al Horford rather than Terry Rozier as a top-five player. Horford is better, but given age and salary, Terry Rozier might have more trade value. So, it’s ambiguous.

 

The 76ers and Celtics are rising powers, because they’re loaded with good, mostly young, players.

For the same reason, both teams are viable trade partners with the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard.

Philadelphia has Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz. Boston has Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier.

But apparently neither team is willing to deal those players to San Antonio.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz – they’re off limits. Boston’s really got their top five players off limits. Boston’s more willing to do a deal that’s pick-heavy. But the Spurs want good players back. They don’t want to rebuild. They want picks and guys who can help them stay in the playoffs.

Perhaps, the 76ers can construct a trade around Dario Saric and Robert Covington. Philadelphia also has the Heat’s 2021 first-round pick.

The Celtics are more loaded with draft picks – a Kings or 76ers first-rounder next year, a Grizzlies first-rounder and a Clippers first-rounder. But beyond its top five, Boston’s players aren’t exactly alluring.

Not that the Celtics should include any of those top five. Leonard reportedly isn’t that interested in Boston – a big deal because he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Perhaps, Philadelphia should dangle Fultz. Leonard might be more interested in staying there.

But his injury presents a big risk for any team that has him. Even a reliable pledge to re-sign would leave major questions.

Really, this shows how far the Spurs are from trading Leonard. They’re asking for the moon, and other teams refuse to include assets worthy of the superstar. That gap can get bridged quickly, but this is the stalemate typical of early trade talks.

Reports: Spurs want Celtics all-in for Kawhi Leonard trade talks, Boston slow playing it

Associated Press
7 Comments

The Spurs have come to grips with the fact they are going to have to trade Kawhi Leonard.

We know the Lakers are coming hard — if they can swing a Leonard trade in the next week they are almost assured of landing LeBron James in free agency. (As an aside, don’t buy the rumor that Leonard doesn’t want to play with LeBron, sources told me that is not the case.) The 76ers are trying to get in on the Leonard sweepstakes, too, although it’s fair to ask if their offer (centered around Markelle Fultz or Dario Saric and picks) will get much traction.

Who the Spurs want to get deeply involved with is the Boston Celtics. Boston has the combination of good young players (Jaylen Brown, for example) and picks (Boston could have four first rounders in 2019) that interests the Spurs more than Brandon Ingram an anything the Lakers can push into the pot.

Boston, however, is slow playing it. They are not all in yet, according to multiple reports. That starts with Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

I had heard before Jayson Tatum is not available for a Leonard trade. Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald confirmed that and reports that Boston wants medical reports and to talk to Leonard before they get serious.

As noted in a recent Herald story, the Celts would need assurances that Leonard’s quadriceps injury is healed and that he would be willing to stay with the team beyond next year. Leonard can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season. He played in just nine games this season because of the quad problem, and questions about whether he could and should have played more strained his relationship with the Spurs…

It’s not believed the Celts are willing to move either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, and whether they’d put the 2019 Sacramento first round pick (protected only if it’s No. 1 overall) on the table likely is dependent on the sides getting serious enough to allow the C’s permission to speak with Leonard, gauge his interest in Boston and check his medical information.

Brown and that Kings’ pick is what the Spurs are reportedly most interested in. So if the young studs are off the table, what exactly is Boston looking to trade. Meet Kyrie Irving, reports Jake Fischer at Sports Illustrated.

San Antonio has informed teams its preferred target in any Leonard trade is the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, sources say. Teams have noted this is likely a negotiating tactic, and it’s widely believed in league circles Boston is more likely to propose a deal centered around Kyrie Irving and future picks. But based on previous behavior, the Celtics are unlikely to overpay for Leonard.

It’s hard to picture the Spurs — who are doing some serious rebuilding if/when they trade Leonard — taking on Kyrie Irving, who will be a free agent in 2019.

The Spurs have to be careful with the timing of their moves. On the one hand, they would be happy to drag this out for a while, see if they can get more teams involved, and if that makes life difficult for the Lakers then that’s a nice bonus. However, wait too long and have Boston pull out of the running altogether, and suddenly they lose leverage. If the Spurs can pressure the Lakers to going all in on this (likely with a third team to absorb Luol Deng‘s contract, hello Atlanta), that may get it done. It depends on the signals Boston sends.

There are so many moving parts, all of this could still go just about any direction.

Report: Celtics have assets Spurs most desire in Kawhi Leonard trade

Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images
10 Comments

The Spurs finally appear ready to trade Kawhi Leonard.

But where?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Lakers – with the trickle-down effect of becoming more appealing to LeBron James and Paul George – are mostly strongly incentivized to trade for Leonard. Los Angeles should consider its increased chances of landing those other stars when offering San Antonio.

Trading for Leonard would get the Celtics Leonard and only Leonard. But Boston is so loaded with assets – Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, the Kings’ first-rounder, the Grizzlies’ first-rounder and more. The Celtics could deal a lot for Leonard and still have a lot leftover, which is why they should consider trading for the superstar even without a pledge of him re-signing next summer.

Which of those Celtics players and picks do the Spurs especially covet? Boston’s list of valuable pieces is too long even to guess.

It’s also possible the Spurs leaked that, true or not, to extract more from the Lakers.

Ben Simmons wins NBA Rookie of the Year

21 Comments

It was a real debate.

Donovan Mitchell came out of nowhere to lead the Utah Jazz to the playoffs. Jayson Tatum came out strong, then reminded everyone during the playoffs (which was after the voting) how well he fit what Boston was doing.

But in the end, Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Rookie of the Year award.

Simmons brought a real all-around game: 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists per game, plus he played excellent defense. He looked every bit the future All-NBA player, and he was racking up rookie triple-doubles like he was Magic Johnson.

Simmons had 90 of the 101 first-place votes cast by select media members. Donovan Mitchell came in second and had the other 11 first-place votes. After that, it was Jayson Tatum, Kyle Kuzma, and Dennis Smith Jr. receiving votes.

Markelle Fultz’s new trainer describes him as having ‘yips’

Getty Images
12 Comments

It was about this time last year that Markelle Fultz started to change his shot. As Sixers coach Brett Brown said just before the start of training camp: “Markelle has made some personal adjustments to his shot since we last saw him in Vegas, we’ve done stuff with him but really he’s been with his personal trainer over the month of August and since Summer League ended.” What followed was a chicken-and-egg debate about whether the new shooting form caused his shoulder problems or the injury forced the change, either way the combination of the two sidelined for most of his rookie season.

Fultz’s new trainer — the well known and respected Drew Hanlen, who has worked with Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, and many others — admitted Fultz now has the “yips” and he needs to get the young player back to who he was in college. Hanlen spoke on the Talking Schmidt Podcast (hat tip Bleacher Report and Kyle Neubeck) about Fultz.

“With Markelle, obviously he has one of the most documented cases of kind of the yips of basketball in recent years, where he completely forgot how to shoot and had multiple hitches in his shot. So for me it was, ‘Hey listen, how can I get this kid that was No. 1 in last year’s draft back rolling and get him to the point where he was before, if not better?’…

“We’ve been working hard every day, working on rewiring his body and getting a kind of smooth stroke back into his shot. We’re way ahead of pace where I thought we were going to be, I thought it was going to take me at least six weeks before we had kind of a serviceable jump shot, and we’re already starting to shoot with a jump in week two.

“It’s not perfect yet, but I think by the end of the summer it will be perfect, he’ll be back rolling and he’ll show people why he was the No. 1 pick. Even though I still give him trouble on a daily basis and tell him and remind him I still believe Jayson Tatum was the best player in that draft.”

That should light a fire under Fultz.

It’s far too early to write off Fultz as some want to do, we just do not know yet what kind of player he will be at the NBA level. His rookie year was lost to the yips, and someday there will be a great 30-for-30 (or maybe just a Drunk History segment) about what happened to Fultz’s shot. It will get the full D.B. Cooper treatment.

The Sixers just want the guy they drafted back, not the one who came to camp last fall. With where he is in the process, we may not see Fultz at Summer League (the Sixers have yet to release their Summer League roster). It may be training camp before we get a good look at his reworked form.