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NBA Daily: Trade Talk Is Heating Up

With the G-League Showcase getting underway in Las Vegas today, NBA teams will be spending the next few days in the same building together, likely fueling an increasingly active trade market.

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Trade Talk Is Heating Up

As the annual NBA G-League Showcase gets underway in Las Vegas today, every team in the NBA will gather under one roof and give teams a chance to casually explore their options as they evaluate minor league talent. Whenever teams are in such proximity, trade talk is an expected by-product, and there are a few situations to watch.

The Magic Are Looking

The word in NBA circles is the Orlando Magic are looking for deals. Ideally, anything the Magic do returns a starting caliber point guard. However, there doesn’t appear to be much out there for Orlando, but that hasn’t stopped teams from calling, especially as it pertains to the Magic’s expiring contracts guys.

There has been considerable interest in Magic guard Terrence Ross dating back to last season, even while injured. With Ross scorching the NBA from the three-point line and a sense that he’ll walk in free agency, Ross’ name comes up most frequently from teams that have been poking around the Magic’s roster.

The New York Time’s Marc Stein recently reported the Magic seem more interest in moving Jonathon Simmons than Ross, although league sources have said repeatedly that Ross would return far more value, even as a pending free agent.

Simmons is an interesting name to watch also, mainly because only $1 million of his 2019-20 salary is guaranteed, making him an interesting addition for a team looking to shed contract dollars next summer.

It’s not hard to see the Magic’s biggest roster need is a point guard. The Magic have been linked to the Philadelphia 76ers and former top pick Markelle Fultz, although Magic sources have downplayed how serious or in-depth those talks really were.

The Magic, according to sources, have started doing due diligence on some of the notable would-be free agent point guards, and they do have eyes for both Boston’s Terry Rozier and Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell. Rozier is considered the top option, but there is expected to be significant demand for Rozier, if and when he hits free agency.

The Magic seem to be willing to deal now, but not at the expense of their future, so this could be an interesting week regarding what gets offered to Orlando with so many teams saying the Magic are open for business.

What’s Cleveland’s Next Move

The Cleveland Cavaliers have kept no secret of their desire to move on from J.R. Smith and there seems to be some interest from would-be contenders in landing Smith for a postseason run, and then waiving his partially guaranteed deal this summer.

Smith isn’t the only Cavs veteran league source talk about. Recently acquired big man John Henson is believed to be on the move as well. Henson underwent wrist surgery in early December and is expected to make his return sometime in mid-to-late February. Henson is not in the long-term plan for the Cavs and is eligible to be aggregated in a trade at the trade deadline.

The Cavaliers have listened to offers on forward Kevin Love, but league sources doubted that Love’s contract could be moved in-season, given that it would likely take multiple players to make a deal work. Sources said there didn’t seem to be enough demand to think moving Love in-season was likely. Typically, NBA teams find more appetite for big-dollar deals in the off-season when they have the roster flexibility to add multiple players or teams into a deal.

A New Home For Caldwell-Pope

The Los Angeles Lakers seem to be more than open to moving guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. There were reports that the Lakers tried to acquire Trevor Ariza from the Suns in a Caldwell-Pope deal, even though Caldwell-Pope can veto a trade.

The prevailing thought in NBA circles is that Caldwell-Pope is open to a trade mainly because he knows he isn’t in the Lakers’ long-term plans, and that a team that acquires him would get the ability to re-sign him using his Early-Bird rights eligibility based on his current $12 million contract value.

The Philadelphia 76ers and the New Orleans Pelicans are believed to have a significant interest in Caldwell-Pope, so this could be an interesting week for Laker trade talk.

One More Guy

There is a sense that some of the teams sitting at the top will use this week in Vegas to see if they can obtain “one more guy.”

The Houston Rockets are looking for a trade partner to dump off the Carmelo Anthony minimum contract and avoid the double whammy of paying luxury tax on waiving Anthony and then paying tax on signing another player.

The Rockets have also dangled guard Brandon Knight in trade talks, although Knight has returned to playing after several injury-plagued seasons and there isn’t much demand for him. The Rockets seem to be looking for one more notable guy and the Knight contract ($14.6 million this season and $15.64 million next season) could be the salary needed to get Houston a bigger dollar guy.

The Philadelphia 76ers are looking for another wing player, specifically someone that can space the floor. The 76ers have been linked to a few names, but they seem unwilling to part with much to make a deal, so it will be interesting to see what surfaces this week.

The Chicago Bulls are looking to move off forward Jabari Parker and have been working with Parker’s agents to find him a home. His $20 million deal is basically an expiring contract, as the final year is a team option. The wrinkle for the Bulls is they seem unwilling to take back any significant salary into next season, but don’t seem to be holding Parker hostage for a serious return either. Parker is said to have a couple of interested suitors, so a deal to move him out of Chicago could take shape this week if the Bulls are genuinely willing to cut bait.

With the G-League Showcase almost a month early this year, it will be interesting to see if so much proximity, sparks earlier than normal deal.

Basketball Insiders will be on the ground in Las Vegas this week, so stay tuned for more trade talk.

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Mike D’Antoni to step away as Nets assistant coach

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On Wednesday evening, the Brooklyn Nets organization announced that assistant coach Mike D’Antoni would not be returning to Steve Nash’s coaching staff for the 2021-22 NBA season. Coach D’Antoni is deciding to step down from his position after one season spent with the organization. The reason D’Antoni is deciding to leave the team is unknown. In late June, D’Antoni met with the Portland Trail Blazers for the vacant head-coaching position; he was interviewed twice.

From ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 70-year-old veteran coach is still seeking to pursue another job as head coach. Coach Nash commented on the story stating, “I will forever be grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together. Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Brooklyn and we wish Mike, Laurel, and their family the very best in what lies ahead.” This news has personally shocked Nash, considering their history together.

In his 16-year NBA head coaching career, D’Antoni’s W-L record is 718-555 (.564). Despite never winning an NBA championship, D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award with the Phoenix Suns when Nash was his star point guard, and he won his second award while coaching the Houston Rockets in 2017. The 2004-05 Suns finished 62-20 (.756), ranking first in the Pacific Division and first overall in the Western Conference. However, the Suns went on to lose four games to one against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

The 2017-18 Rockets ended their season 65-17 (.793), ranking first in the Southwest Division and first in the Western Conference Finals. Though, once again, D’Antoni’s team came up short, losing in Game 7 versus the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Coach D’Antoni was also the NBA All-Star Game head coach in 2007 and 2018. Moreover, the Nets lost another assistant coach this offseason after the Boston Celtics hired Ime Udoka to become their next head coach. On July 9, 2021, the Nets hired former Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool to their coaching staff.

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NBA Draft: Déjà Vu in Detroit

Tomorrow night the Detroit Pistons will make the first overall selection in the NBA Draft for just the second time in team history. They selected a Hall of Famer with that pick 51 years ago. Chad Smith details why it might happen again, this time with a player that resembles a guy that was once the face of their franchise.

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It has been 18 years since the Detroit Pistons had a top-three pick in the NBA Draft. Unfortunately, it was arguably the worst selection in the history of the event as they took Darko Milicic second overall ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. It was a night that everyone in Detroit would love to forget, and now they might be able to do just that.

Detroit will kick off the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday night in what has been labeled as a loaded draft class, especially at the top. The last time the Pistons had the top overall pick, they did well by selecting Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier out of St. Bonaventure in the 1970 draft. The organization is hopeful that history will repeat itself.

Cade Cunningham is the consensus number one pick this year, which speaks volumes when considering the other candidates. While Detroit has not publicly hinted that they will take Cunningham, it would be an absolute shocker if he does not end up in the Motor City. It is a place that Cunningham has already grown fond of.

Should things go according to plan on Thursday night, there could be some déjà vu in Detroit. Aside from the Darko debacle, the last top-three selection by the franchise came in 1994 when they took Grant Hill out of Duke. The physical attributes are quite clear. Both players are listed at 6’ 8” tall and around 220 pounds. Just as their build is the same, so too is their demeanor on and off of the court.

Both Cunningham and Hill have similar playing styles and share many of the same strengths and weaknesses. They have incredible vision and passing ability that allows them to create for teammates. They use their size and strength against smaller defenders near the basket and are incredibly versatile with the ball in their hands. They are able to initiate offense from anywhere on the floor and have a complete all-around game that includes defense.

Hill recorded 29 triple-doubles in his career. That is something that Detroit hopes to get out of the 19-year old playmaker. Unlike many situations where the top overall pick finds himself on a team lacking talent, the Pistons have done a marvelous job of transforming their roster under Troy Weaver. Most of their core is already under contract for next season and will be earning less than $6 million.

Cunningham will join Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee, as well as two All-Rookies in Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. With Killian Hayes missing much of his rookie season due to injury, the Pistons have plenty of talent surrounding their new floor general. With some more talent and veteran leadership possibly coming onboard during free agency, Detroit should be able to return to the postseason next year.

As gifted as Cunningham is, he is not the most explosive athlete for his size. He won’t blow by defenders on the perimeter or leap over them for a highlight dunk, but that doesn’t stop him from attacking the basket. Like Hill, he has shown the ability to either create for teammates, create for himself, or simply finish at the rim. He makes the right reads against traps and hard hedges, making him even more difficult to defend.

The versatility is on full display whether it be on offense or defense. Cunningham’s seven-foot wingspan adds another element to his game as a physical defender with active hands. His high basketball IQ allows him to capitalize on filling passing lanes and his timing on shot-blocking. His improved jump shot has also elevated him as a true dynamic threat, scoring from all three levels.

As a Freshman at Oklahoma State, Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 44 percent from the floor. He plays under control and never looks rushed or uncomfortable. It may take him some time to adjust to the NBA game but he has all of the tools and attributes you would want a top prospect to possess.

The fit in Detroit is tailor-made for the versatile guard. Cunningham can do a little bit of everything and elevates the play of his teammates. Whether he is facilitating, scoring, or playing off the ball, his impact on the court is significant. Despite not being an elite athlete, he can initiate the offense and get his own shot when needed.

Detroit clearly lacked guard play last season, with Hayes out of the lineup. They relied upon Grant and Plumlee to fuel their offense, with the rookies filling in at times. With the addition of Cunningham and the return of Hayes, the Pistons will have a sensational young backcourt to go along with their already established frontcourt.

There is also the potential for Detroit to have one of the most improved defenses in the conference. With their length and athleticism, this young core fits right in with the culture of a blue-collar team built around defense. Much of their success will ride on the shoulders of Dwane Casey, as he returns for his fourth season in Detroit.

Both Hill and Cunningham are from Texas and their birth dates are just ten days apart. Hill spent his first six seasons in Detroit, where he enjoyed the prime years of his playing career that included the Rookie of the Year Award. Five of his seven All-Star seasons came as a member of the Pistons and he was often seen as the next great superstar.

While injuries derailed his career, Hill’s journey ended with a trip to the Hall of Fame. While it is too early to put those expectations on a 19-year old, it is safe to say that the Pistons are in good hands for many years to come.

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Draft Kings

Team Argentina vs. Spain – Preview, Prediction, & Betting Picks

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On Thursday, July 29th at 8:00 a.m. (EST), Argentina will take on Spain in this Group C preliminary round matchup. The Spaniards will enter this game as the selected favorites, while the Argentinians embrace their underdog role, as they lost their opening game 118-100 against Mavericks’ guard Luka Doncic and the Slovenian team. The last time Spain won the gold medal for the men’s team was at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, where they defeated Argentina 95-75.

Game Details

Date & Time: Thursday, July 29th at 8:00 a.m. (EST)

Location: Saitama Super Arena; Saitama, Japan

Availability: Peacock (live) & NBC Sports Network (delayed)

Spread: Spain -8.5 (+100) (per DraftKings Sportsbook) 

Over/Under: 167

Best Moneyline: Spain -400, Argentina +300

  • Table odds retrieved from DraftKings

Argentina vs. Spain Preview

Team Argentina’s starting lineup in Thursday morning’s game consists of Facundo Campazzo, Luca Vildoza, Patricio Garino, Luis Scola, and Marcos Delia. In the team’s 118-100 defeat versus Slovenia, in 27 minutes played, forward Scola led the team on the stat sheet, accumulating 23 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one block. Guard Campazzo also earned 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, and three steals. According to Bovada’s Olympic futures odds, the Argentinians have the eighth best odds to win the gold medal, with +8000 futures odds. Argentina has the third best odds (+2000) of winning Group C.Argentina vs. Spain Preview

Moreover, the starting lineup for Spain consists of Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Hernangomez, Victor Claver, and Marc Gasol. Their bench also includes two-time NBA champion center Pau Gasol. In the Spaniards’ 88-77 victory over Japan, Rubio led the team all across the board, leading the team with 20 points, two rebounds, and nine assists. Forward Claver finished his performance with 13 points, nine rebounds, and one steal. Additionally, with +1000 futures odds, Spain has the fifth best odds of winning the gold. Spain has the second best odds (EVEN) of winning Group C.

Prediction: Spain wins by 8 points

Team Spain are the more trustworthy, superior bet in this matchup. Pau Gasol, the seven-foot-one six-time NBA All-Star, is 41-years-old. Marc, his brother, is also 36. Leading into the Tokyo Olympic Games, basketball experts and bettors were wondering if age would be a significant factor for the Spaniards. However, thus far, it has been quite the contrary. Ricky Rubio has also proven to be an important piece for helping the team to become legitimate title contenders. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Rubio averaged 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists.

As for Argentina, Scola and Campazzo are carrying the team right now. In their 18-point loss to Slovenia, the Argentinians shot 5-for-31 (16.1 percent) from beyond the arc. To add insult to injury, the team was out-rebounded 59 to 32 overall. This cannot happen against the top contenders, such as versus Slovenia, France, Spain, or the USA. Sooner or later, the wheels on the wagon will eventually fall off. There are bettors giving Spain a -12.5 point spread in this matchup, but it might be best to stick with the -8.5 spread, first provided by DraftKings. In this game, some bettors are anticipating a 20-point blowout repeat of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Final.

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