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NBA Sunday: Kevin Love’s Best Option?

A look at the best options for Kevin Love as trade rumors swirl … Why Houston didn’t pick up Chandler Parsons’ option …

Bill Ingram

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Now that 28 teams have been officially eliminated from contention, it’s easy for the conversation around the NBA to focus on something other than what those final two teams are doing. That’s largely why Kevin Love has been the subject of protracted discussion this week and will continue to be until he has either been traded or re-upped with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Be sure you check out Basketball Insiders’ Lang Greene’s breakdown of the entire scenario in Minnesota as we take a quick look at the best destinations for Love, in no particular order.

Minnesota Timberwolves: It’s important to note that the Timberwolves have not sought out trade talks regarding their All-Star power forward, and while they have been fielding calls from 16 or more teams, that’s because Love’s agent is churning the rumor mill. There’s no question that Minnesota can pay him more than any other team when he becomes a free agent in 2015, but will money be the deciding factor? Love has emphasized time and again that he wants to win, and if the Timberwolves continue to struggle to put a playoff team around Love, it’s very likely he will take less money to play somewhere else. Team president and now head coach Flip Saunders recently pointed out that Minnesota can give Love five years, while other teams can only offer four, but the reality is that Love is going to play somewhere that fifth year, so it’s not as big an advantage as Saunders would like it to be.

Houston Rockets: Rockets GM Daryl Morey is not only hoping, but planning to add another All-Star to his roster in order to help Dwight Howard and James Harden get out of the first round of the playoffs next season. Kevin Love is very much on Houston’s radar, and if they could find a way to get him in town they would jump at it. Love is the perfect frontcourt complement to Howard because he stretches the defense out to the three-point line and he is an even better rebounder. With Howard and Love together the opposition would have little hope of getting an edge on the boards, and many games are won and lost on the glass. The rub, of course, is that Houston really doesn’t have much to offer beyond the ending deals of Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, and with both owed a $13.5 million balloon payment it’s a hard sell. The Timberwolves don’t need either player, so a third team would almost certainly have to be involved for Houston to get in the mix for Love.

Chicago Bulls: All things considered, Love’s best chance to get to the NBA Finals might be as a member of the Chicago Bulls. If Derrick Rose can play even half as well as he did prior to his repeated injuries he could be just the backcourt mate that Love was hoping to have in the vastly overrated Ricky Rubio. Joakim Noah took his game to a higher level this season and the Bulls have a history of filling out their roster with savvy veterans who contribute on a high level under the watchful eye of head coach Tom Thibodeau. Carlos Boozer’s ending deal could be sent to Minnesota, making the Timberwolves players in a 2015 free agency class that promises to be one for the ages. The Bulls would need a sweetener, though, as the Timberwolves would also have a huge amount of cap space if Love himself just walked away.

Golden State Warriors: Rumor has it that that the Warriors would like to deal David Lee, and if there is a player who is even better than Lee at power forward, it’s Love. Lee is under contract for two more seasons, meaning he would give the Timberwolves a comparable player while also postponing the free agency discussion. Love’s run-and-gun style of play would be a great fit with the Warriors, who are looking to take an aggressive step forward under new head coach Steve Kerr.

Los Angeles Lakers: It’s a poorly kept secret that the Lakers would love to make Love their next franchise cornerstone. If his contract with the Timberwolves simply expires and he goes shopping, expect his home town Lakers to be his very first stop. Of course, the Lakers are not poised to win at this juncture, and they have work to do if they expect to field a team even as good as Minnesota’s two seasons from now. It’s entirely possible that the Lakers would fail to offer Love any better shot at winning big than he currently has with the Timberwolves. The death of Jerry Buss has left the Lakers in limbo, and the next generation of Lakers management has their work cut out for them in their quest to restore the Lakers’ mystique.

It’s still very early in this process, of course, and while Love’s agent would love to keep his client’s name in the headlines, the reality is that Love is the Timberwolves’ player to lose. If they can make the right adjustments over the summer and put the team in a position to win, Love might be persuaded to stay. If, however, they continue to struggle to do that, we could see him traded before the summer is over.

Chandler Parsons Explained

The Houston Rockets caused a few raised eyebrows this week when they elected not to pick up the option on Chandler Parsons’ rookie contract. After all, Parsons is the third best player on a team that features the best players at two positions in James Harden and Dwight Howard. Parsons’ option was a steal of a bargain considering he was due just under $1 million next season and averaged 16.6 points per game during the regular season and 19.3 in postseason play. Still, Houston’s long-term plan for Parsons is better served by letting him test the waters of free agency.

As the Rockets did with players like Carl Landry and Chase Budinger, they did not pick up the final year option on Parsons’ contract so that he can become a restricted free agent. This allows some other team to set Parsons’ value and gives Houston the option to match whatever that number winds up being. The risk is that some team might value Parsons at a number that is much higher than Houston is willing to match, which would leave them without their coveted small forward of the future. As a point of reference, one league executive told Basketball Insiders this week that they would probably offer Parsons around $9-10 million per season as a free agent, but could easily see him getting $12 million from a team that was serious about pricing Houston out of the picture.

The other issue for the Rockets is that they would really like to lure another All-Star to town this summer, with Carmelo Anthony being prominently mentioned as someone they would like to add. If the Rockets add another top-dollar player to the roster they might not be as willing to pay Parsons an upper-echelon amount. On the other hand, if team owner Les Alexander is willing to shell out the big bucks to get Houston deeper into postseason play next season, they can wait to re-sign Parsons until after they have taken care of their other addition(s).

One way or the other, it’s reasonable to expect Parsons back in Houston next season.

NBA Chat with Bill Ingram

In case you missed my last NBA chat, find it by clicking here! You can also go ahead and submit a question for this week’s chat, which you can find here! I make an effort to answer every non-repeat question, and early questions are virtually guaranteed to be answered, so drop yours in now!

Twitter Follows:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton and @YannisNBA.
Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-sunday-future-looks-bright-in-sacramento/#QQ8sYXfPP5iu8QM8.99

NBA Chat with Bill IngramIn case you missed my last NBA chat, find it by clicking here! You can also go ahead and submit a question for this week’s chat, which you can find here! I make an effort to answer every non-repeat question, and early questions are virtually guaranteed to be answered, so drop yours in now!Twitter Follows:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton and @YannisNBA.
Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-sunday-future-looks-bright-in-sacramento/#QQ8sYXfPP5iu8QM8.99
NBA Chat with Bill IngramIn case you missed my last NBA chat, find it by clicking here! You can also go ahead and submit a question for this week’s chat, which you can find here! I make an effort to answer every non-repeat question, and early questions are virtually guaranteed to be answered, so drop yours in now!Twitter Follows:  Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @AlexKennedyNBA, @TheRocketGuy, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @SusanBible @TommyBeer, @JabariDavisNBA , @NateDuncanNBA , @MokeHamilton and @YannisNBA.
Read more at http://www.basketballinsiders.com/nba-sunday-future-looks-bright-in-sacramento/#QQ8sYXfPP5iu8QM8.99

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NBA AM: Nicolas Batum Is Helping The Hornets Get Organized

Dwight Howard has predictably struggled with scoring efficiency, but Nicolas Batum’s return is already helping.

Buddy Grizzard

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With the Charlotte Hornets below .500 and presently out of the playoff picture almost a quarter of the way into the season, it’s not too early to start looking at what has gone wrong. While Dwight Howard has, predictably, been an inefficient contributor on offense, the loss of Nicolas Batum for much of the early season was a major setback. With Batum averaging 13.5 points and 4.5 assists in his first four appearances since his return, can he be the catalyst to help Charlotte turn its season around?

Batum scored 16 with five rebounds and six assists in his first appearance of the season in a loss to the Cavaliers. Hornets coach Steve Clifford said it’s been a struggle to ease Batum back into the rotation due to his eagerness to be on the court.

“When he feels good, I just leave him out there,” said Clifford after Wednesday’s shootaround. “We just have to be careful because the first night, he gets going in the games and he wants to play more.”

Clifford added that Charlotte’s condensed schedule, featuring seven games in 11 days, has complicated efforts to bring Batum along slowly.

“He just needed to play some,” said Clifford. “I think once we get through this stretch he’ll be good. He eats up minutes anyway.”

Batum working his way back into the rotation could help the Hornets address one of the early issues, which has been the incorporation of Howard into the offense. Batum gives Charlotte another proficient pick and roll ball handler in addition to Kemba Walker, and he should help put Howard in better positions to score.

“It’s a lot different being out there with Nic,” said Walker. “He just takes so much pressure off a lot of us. It’s really good to have him back. He just makes the game easy for a lot of us.”

Three Hornets have executed over 20 pick and rolls as the roll man this season. Cody Zeller has scored 1.14 points per 100 possessions on 22 such possessions. Frank Kaminsky has scored 1.15 per 100 on 33 possessions as a roll man. This scoring efficiency for both players ranks just above the league average.

For Howard, in 24 possessions as a roll man, he’s scored .75 per 100, which ranks in the eighth percentile. In other words, Howard ranks in the bottom 10 percent of the league in pick and roll scoring efficiency. Just as Howard was unable to establish a consistent pick and roll partnership in Atlanta last season with point guard Dennis Schroder, Howard’s possessions as a roll man in Charlotte account for only nine percent of his total possessions.

By contrast, Howard has used 95 possessions this season in post isolation, which accounts for more than a third of his total possessions (35 percent). He’s scoring a ghastly .66 per 100 possessions, which ranks in the 15th percentile league-wide. Of the 17 players who have used at least 50 post-up possessions this season, Howard ranks dead last in scoring efficiency.

Despite these struggles, Clifford said Batum’s re-integration into the lineup has already resulted in more opportunities for Howard, both from direct and indirect assists.

“Since Nic came back now he’s getting the ball a lot more,” said Clifford. “That’s how Nic plays. It’s not only directly from Nic, but Nic will see how he’s playing and touch the ball to somebody else so they can get it to him.”

Clifford sounds relieved to have Batum back in the rotation, almost as if he’s an assistant coach on the floor.

“Certainly [it helps] our efficiency and organization on both ends of the floor,” said Clifford. “It’s the very nature of how he plays.”

With the Hornets just outside the playoff picture in the East, Batum’s return should help stabilize the team in its quest for the postseason. Batum wasn’t available to help ease Howard’s integration in the early part of the season. But now that he’s back, according to Clifford, he’s already been a huge asset to the team’s cohesion.

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NBA

Life After Philadelphia is Just Fine For Turner

Evan Turner goes 1-on-1 with Basketball Insiders to explain how life in Philadelphia shaped the rest of his career.

Dennis Chambers

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Once upon a time, Evan Turner was the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, and the next man in line to save the Philadelphia 76ers.

After finishing his junior year at Ohio State University, Turner declared for the draft and eventually was taken directly after John Wall by the Sixers. Turner joined a team that won just 27 games the year before, but had more than a few promising young pieces.

Andre Iguodala, a former Sixers top-10 pick in his own right, was the oldest of the core bunch, at just 27. After him, the likes of Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes were all under the age of 24. All in all, adding a No. 2 pick to that mix looked to set up the Sixers for years to come.

For the most part, the beginning of Turner’s career was successful. After making the playoffs his rookie season and losing in the first round to the Miami HEAT four games to one, the Sixers pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals during the 2011-12 season.

Turner started 12 of those 13 playoff games during his second season, averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 points per game.

Just as Turner seemed to be coming into his own, though, the tides in Philadelphia began to turn, and turn quickly.

His third year in the league, and first year as a full-time starter, came and went for Turner. He posted decent numbers. His 13.6 points per game were second only to Holiday. He was third on the team in assists and sixth in rebounds. In the midst of his fourth season, while averaging a career-high 17.4 points, Turner was traded to the Indiana Pacers.

Newly hired president of basketball operations, Sam Hinkie, had a plan in place that didn’t include Turner. It didn’t include Holiday either, as he was shipped off during the 2013 draft for Nerlens Noel and future first-round pick.

Just as the Sixers were becoming “his” team, Turner was sent packing to a new zip code. In his mind, he never got a fair shake at trying to the be the guy he was drafted to be in Philadelphia.

“I don’t think I really ever had a chance to shoulder it, to tell you the truth,” Turner told Basketball Insiders. “I didn’t start my first two years, but numbers wise I thought I did well. Nobody averaged more than 13 or 14. We were a great unit. My third year, my first year starting, I thought I did pretty well for a first-year starter. We missed the playoffs, which is always tough. Within the next year, it got blown up.”

Turner reiterated that in his mind, he wasn’t allowed the leash to become a franchise guy. But it wasn’t all for naught in Philadelphia.

“Honest opinion, I don’t think I ever fully got the chance,” Turner said. “But I got the chance to do a lot of great things. Learn how to win, learn how to defend, learn how to prepare.”

Since leaving Philly, Turner’s role in the NBA has shifted from a potential franchise player to a serviceable role man on a playoff caliber team.

Last summer, Turner inked a four-year, $70 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers after his stint with Indiana, and then two years with the Boston Celtics. Beyond the years in Philly, Turner’s life in the Association has been kind to him.

“It’s been fine,” Turner said. “On the up and up, I was fortunate to make the playoffs every year since leaving Philly. I made the playoffs two out of three, or three out of the four years that I was here. It’s cool, it’s a blessing. Healthy, stable, and living the dream.”

On Wednesday night, Turner returned to Philadelphia and the Wells Fargo Center to square off against his old team. Nowadays, this version of the Sixers is much different than the one he left behind. A process that nearly began with jettisoning Turner to the Pacers feels near completion, and the energy Turner once felt on the court in a Sixers uniform is returning in full force.

When walking around the building, this time as a visitor, Turner takes appreciation in seeing some old faces. The guys “behind the scenes” as he put it, always are welcoming. Brett Brown, Turner’s former coach, never fails to show him love, and the arena in South Philly, Turner says, is always a great reminder of where he came from.

Turner thinks the process that was kicked off with getting rid of him and his core teammates is promising, though.

“It’s turning around,” Turner said.  “Just off the first eye glance, I know Coach Brown can coach his butt off. Even the fact that they’re getting up a real practice facility says a lot. Obviously on the court, the energy. You see on tv before, it’s more sold out. When you see the Sixers sometimes it would be a joke, in regards to how many games they lost, or whatever. But now it’s kind of like you’re going to see some great highlights, you’re watching a lot of energy from the crowd and things. I’m happy for them. It seems like it’s trending in the right direction.”

It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine for Turner in Philadelphia; he would be reminded of that as he was greeted with boo’s from the crowd when he checked into the game for the first time Wednesday night. The city of brotherly love has a reputation that doesn’t necessarily precede its name.

“Much is given, much is expected,” he said. “One thing is, when you get kind of labeled as whatever, you kind of get tagged for the most critical stuff. I saw how sometimes Iguodala would get blamed for everything, and then I kind of moved into that. I went from the cute little kid, to moving into that responsibility. Then MCW (Michael Carter-Williams) went from that position. It’s just kind of, you know, part of the game.”

The harshness of the city, and Turner’s situation particularly, helped guide him through his career after Philadelphia. In Turner’s words, “The only way to go from here, in a certain sense, is up.”

Portland’s sixth man has lived a long, lucrative life in the NBA, even if it didn’t go exactly how it was initially planned to. Turner was quick to point out that any time he heard someone complain during his travels around the league, at least they weren’t facing the wrath of Philadelphia.

“Going into new situations, people are like, ‘Hey they do this or they do that,’ and I’m like are y’all serious,” Turner said with a smile. “Go to Philly and see what they’ll do to y’all.”

Maybe his time spent in Philadelphia didn’t turn out the way fans had hoped, but Turner found out quickly there was a spot for him in the league as a former second overall pick, and that his career has gone just the way it was supposed to.

“I’m a firm believer in everything is supposed to happen how it’s supposed to happen,” Turner said. “Regardless of which, it’s a blessing.”

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Mock Drafts

NBA AM: The First 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

Steve Kyler

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The Thanksgiving 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

So with that in mind here is my first Mock Draft of the 2018 Season, look for more of these are we march on (and hopefully you like the new Mock Draft table design.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this summer.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out our Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

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