Associated Press

Rumor: Sixers want to move into top five in draft


Philadelphia is loaded with young talent — Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Markelle Fultz — and they are about to add to that with the No. 10 pick in the draft.

That, however, may not be enough.

The Sixers are exploring moving up in the draft, according to former Cavaliers GM David Griffin, speaking on SiriusXM NBA Radio Friday.

Who are they targeting? The expected top five (in some order) right now are DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Mo Bamba. Getting the No. 1 pick away from the Suns is highly unlikely (unless you’re the Spurs with Kawhi Leonard), but it could be any of the other four that the Sixers covet. Or Michael Porter.

The other fundamental question: What would the Sixers have to give up to move up five spots? The trade would be the No. 10 pick and a player that’s good but they’re willing to surrender. Dario Saric?

The Sixers also want to keep their assets around in the chase for Kawhi Leonard, so how serious they truly are about moving up remains to be seen. But Griffin is well connected, this is not conjecture.

Report: Suns to explore No. 1 pick for Kawhi Leonard. Or not.

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There are 29 teams that want to talk Kawhi Leonard trade with the Spurs (once they start taking those calls, they are going to be deliberate about it. Leonard has some leverage here to limit the number of teams by saying he won’t re-sign with them, but a few teams (not just the Lakers) are in the mix.

The Suns are not one of those teams.

However, they have a big chip in the No. 1 pick and GM Ryan McDonough wants to explore the chances, reports Kevin O’Connor at The Ringer.

Several league sources told me they anticipate Suns general manager Ryan McDonough to probe a Leonard deal using the no. 1 pick. Phoenix explored Irving trades last summer but was reluctant to deal Josh Jackson, whom they selected with the fourth overall pick. Leonard is better than Irving, so perhaps it’s time for the Suns to strike now, when they’re armed with assets and an opportunity to trade for a transcendent player. There’s also a sense from league sources that the Suns presumed selection of Arizona big man DeAndre Ayton at no. 1 isn’t a guarantee because of the outside possibility that they’ll get a good enough deal to trade down or out of the draft entirely. Now that Leonard reportedly wants out, anything is possible.

The Suns quickly reached out to a trusted beat writer to quash this rumor.

The Suns should not be in the Kawhi sweepstakes. Here the problem for Phoenix: Even if the Spurs are into a trade that looks something like the No. 1 pick, Josh Jackson, and Tyson Chandler to balance out the salaries, what have the Suns’ got? Kawhi Leonard, Devin Booker, and Dragan Bender — probably not enough to even make the playoffs in the West. Then Leonard bolts as a free agent in 2019 and the Suns are out the No. 1 pick.

Leonard’s team will make it clear to the Suns he’s not re-signing in Phoenix, and that will be that.

However, it is good for the Suns’ fan base to hear their GM is trying, so stuff like this gets leaked. Expect similar reports from other teams in the coming days.

Andre Iguodala told Jordan Bell to “stop doing that stupid stuff” during parade

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No Warriors celebrated winning a title like Jordan Bell.

There was him drinking a lot of Hennessey, and when he ran out going into the crowd to get more, which by the end of the day left him in a state where standing over the air conditioner to cool down — in front of live cameras — seemed appropriate.

Andre Iguodala told Bell to stop doing stupid stuff — then took a shot at the University of Oregon (Bell’s alma mater). Via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“I told him to stop doing that stupid stuff, but he’s a rookie,” the 2015 Finals MVP said on KNBR 680. “He enjoyed himself. It was his first time….

“And obviously at Oregon, they don’t teach guys certain things. The Oregon guys aren’t used to being professional basketball players.

“Arizona, we just have a plethora of alumni who played professional basketball. We know how to enjoy success. You gotta give Jordan a pass.”

Jordan Bell, don’t stop being you. Whatever your grandfather older teammates tell you.

Lakers, Celtics betting favorites to land Kawhi Leonard

Associated Press

Where will Kawhi Leonard play next season?

It’s THE question going around the NBA right now. Everybody wants in the bidding — Orlando and Sacramento have leaked they would make offers — but only a few teams have a real chance.

Of course, you can bet on this — legally in more and more states, but that’s a discussion for another day. Bookmakers get paid to understand both how this will shake out and how people will bet on it, so what odds are they posting?

From overseas online betting site Bovada.

LA Lakers 5/7
Boston Celtics 15/4
Philadelphia 76ers 5/1
San Antonio Spurs 5/1
Cleveland Cavaliers 10/1
LA Clippers 10/1

There are other sites as well putting up numbers.

The Lakers are the heavy favorite everywhere, with good reason. One, Leonard wants to go there. Second, they have the assets to put together an interesting trade offer (Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, the No. 25 pick this year, a future first, and Luol Deng to make the salaries work). Also, thier odds are lower because Lakers’ nation is huge and a lot of fans will bet on them because it’s what they want to happen. All that makes the Lakers not a good bet because you don’t get value on the pick. You have to risk a lot.

I think the Celtics — who can piece together several versions of offers to tempt the Spurs, and they have a ton of firsts coming up to deal — are a better value bet. So are the Spurs — San Antonio is not likely to move fast here. If they don’t get an offer they like, they’ll wait it out. The Boston offers will still be there, San Antonio would love to create a bidding war, and that could drag into next season (awkward though it would be).

Report: Jimmy Butler “had problems” with Andrew Wiggins last season

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The line of people frustrated with Andrew Wiggins not reaching his potential as a player — due to work ethic and an at times passive personality — is longer than the lines for the new Pixar rides at Disneyland this summer. It goes back to Bill Self and most of Jayhawk nation in Kansas, continues through Flip Saunders and Sam Mitchell, and goes right up to Tom Thibodeau and his unflinching glare.

Jimmy Butler has jumped in that line, too, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News.

Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t.

Not even close — Wiggins regressed. Butler and Wiggins play a similar position and style, in the face of that Wiggins ceded shots (nearly six fewer per game in similar minutes) and with that his efficiency dropped — he shot 33.1 percent from three and his true shooting percentage of 50.1 was well below the league average, as was his PER of 13.

Butler is right to be frustrated, but this may be who Wiggins is.

It matters because Butler is entering the last year of his contract, and while he’s technically extension eligible right now he makes a lot more money becoming a free agent then re-signing with the Timberwolves next summer. However, if he’s even more frustrated after next season, would he still re-sign? Might he bolt?

If your first thought was “well then just trade Wiggins” good luck with that. Wiggins $146.5 million extension he just signed last summer kicks in this summer and other teams have seen what Butler has seen. Not even his hometown team of Toronto is going to jump at Wiggins with that contract.

For a team that should be on the rise — the Timberwolves did win 16 more games than the season before and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004 — with elite players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Butler, there is a lot of turbulence around the franchise. Butler loves Thibodeau and his hard-driving style, Towns not so much. Thibodeau’s long-standing habit of riding his starters hard wears on guys — the Timberwolves starting five played more minutes than any five-man unit in the league (330 more than the third-place team, that’s almost seven full games worth) and three Timberwolves were in the top 15 in minutes played total.

Throw in the Wiggins dynamic, and this feels like a Minnesota team that could take another step forward next season, or implode. Whichever direction it goes, Wiggins will be one of the main reasons.