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Clippers Propose Blockbuster Trade to Timberwolves

Michael Scotto

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The Los Angeles Clippers proposed a blockbuster deal to the Minnesota Timberwolves involving forward Blake Griffin and center Karl-Anthony Towns, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

The trade proposal didn’t advance past an exploratory call from the Clippers as Minnesota declined, league sources told Basketball Insiders. Minnesota views Towns, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, as a franchise-caliber player and a vital piece of the future who is not for sale at this time.

As a result, additional Timberwolves players needed to make the trade work financially were not discussed, league sources told Basketball Insiders.

Griffin makes $29.5 million and Towns only makes $6.2 million this season, which makes a one-for-one swap impossible due to the $23.3 million salary gap. At least two additional Timberwolves players would need to be included in a trade involving Griffin and Towns to make it work financially. The Clippers would’ve also needed to create another roster spot for the hypothetical incoming third Timberwolves player.

Griffin, a five-time All-Star and former No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft, signed a five-year, $171 million deal this past summer and is not eligible to be traded until January 15. Griffin’s deal includes a $39 million player option for the 2021-22 season according to our Clippers salary page.

The Clippers are trending downward at 20-21 overall and are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Furthermore, the future of several players is uncertain, including All-Star DeAndre Jordan and former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams.

Jordan has a $24.1 million player option for next season and nearly left Los Angeles to join the Dallas Mavericks in the summer of 2015. Jordan is averaging 11.8 points, 14.9 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.

Williams is playing at an All-Star level and will enter unrestricted free agency this summer. Williams is averaging a career-high 23.1 points and 5.0 assists in 31.6 minutes per game as the league’s top sixth man. Williams is also shooting a career-high 45 percent overall, 41 percent from beyond the arc, and 91 percent at the foul line.

Despite the free agent addition of Danilo Gallinari, the writing on the wall for a rebuild was evident when All-Star guard Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets.

It’s worth noting the Clippers are narrowly under the tax by $123,000, which will affect any trade discussions as the trade deadline nears on February 8.

As for Minnesota, the Timberwolves are currently in fourth place in the Western Conference and appear to have turned the corner after struggling as a franchise for over a decade.

Minnesota holds the record for the longest current playoff drought with 13 straight trips to the lottery. However, the Timberwolves are on pace to break that dubious streak this season thanks to the additions of All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, as well as proven veterans Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson.

Towns and Wiggins, the former No. 1 overall pick of the 2014 draft, are the cornerstones for the Timberwolves for the foreseeable future.

Michael Scotto is a Senior NBA Writer for Basketball Insiders in his sixth season covering the league. He also works for The Associated Press focusing on Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks game coverage.

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Clint Capela: ‘We are better’ than Golden State

Basketball Insiders

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Superstar guard James Harden called the Houston Rockets’ 116-108 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night important “for our swag,” which was soaring after the Rockets claimed the regular-season series over the defending NBA champions.

“We’re confident because we know if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re going to beat them,” Rockets center Clint Capela told ESPN. “We’ve got to keep playing. We know that they’re going to come back if we have the lead, and we’ve just got to keep that mindset. Sometimes I feel like, in the past, we were all dragging down after mistakes. But today, we were ready. I think that if we’re doing what we’re supposed to do on defense — all the switches, the weak side — and keep playing our offense by keeping that mentality all game long, we have the weapons to beat them.

“We are better than them.”

Houston won two of three meetings with Golden State this season. The Rockets rallied from a 17-point deficit for a road win in the season opener despite Chris Paul playing on a bruised knee that sidelined him for the next month. Golden State won in Houston on Jan. 4 in a game in which Warriors star Kevin Durant and MVP front-runner Harden sat out because of injuries. The Rockets withstood a Warriors rally from a 17-point deficit, with the lead changing six times in the fourth quarter, to claim a tiebreaker that Houston hopes to make relevant.

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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Report: Spurs Demote Tony Parker to Bench, to Start Dejounte Murray

Basketball Insiders

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San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker met with Gregg Popovich before Sunday’s 94-86 loss against the Indiana Pacers, and the coach told him he “thought it was time” to go with someone else in the starting lineup.

So, with second-year man Dejounte Murray hitting the court with the starters at point guard, Parker came off the bench for the 21st time of his 17-year career (postseason included), and for the first time since the 2010 playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks.

“I was like, ‘Oh, no problem,'” an upbeat Parker said of his reaction to Popovich’s decision. “Just like Manu [Ginobili], just like Pau [Gasol], that day’s going to come. And if Pop sees something that is good for the team, I’ll try to do my best. I support Pop’s decision, and I’ll try to help [Dejounte Murray] out as best I can, and try to be the best I can in that second unit with Manu [Ginobili] and Patty [Mills].”

After undergoing surgery to repair a torn quadriceps tendon last May, Parker spent seven months working through the rehabilitation process, and returned to the lineup Nov. 27 in a win over the Mavericks. Throughout Parker’s return, the Spurs have worked to manage the veteran’s minutes. But Parker admitted to “hitting a wall” recently, saying “I’m just more focused on my leg because I know I [still] have another two months before I feel 100 percent.”

Source: Michael C. Wright of ESPN

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Luke Walton: Lonzo Ball Uncertain for Five Game Road Trip Due to Sore Left Knee

Basketball Insiders

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Lonzo Ball’s return remains uncertain as Los Angeles Lakers coach Luke Walton doesn’t expect his rookie point guard to return to action in the near future.

Ball, who missed his fourth straight game on Sunday with a sore left knee, likely will not play in Tuesday’s game against the Boston Celtics. Ball — who watched the Lakers beat the Knicks, 127-107 — has yet to practice. While he will travel with the team, the point guard’s status for the Lakers’ upcoming five-game, 11-day road trip remains uncertain, according to Walton.

“They [Ball and the training staff] did more yesterday than the day before, and he says he feels good today but he is still out,” Walton said before the Lakers played the Knicks. “… I don’t expect him back [anytime soon]. I haven’t seen him on the court doing anything, but they’re looking at it, still just taking it day by day to see when the knee is feeling better.”

Source: Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN

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