MINNEAPOLIS — Chicago center Joakim Noah delivered his fourth triple-double of the season and the seventh of his career in the Bulls’ 102-87 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, but it is all the things you cannot quantify that makes him so important to a team that won its sixth consecutive game.
The Bulls kept pace with the Toronto Raptors in pursuit of the Eastern Conference’s third playoff spot.
Noah’s 15-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist night allowed the Bulls to shake off a three-day break and handle a Wolves team that thumped San Antonio at home on Tuesday night and won at Miami in double overtime on Friday.
His 10th assist, which came fewer than four minutes into the fourth quarter, set a Bulls franchise record for most assists in a season by a center. His 398 assists are one more than the 397 that Tom Boerwinkle had during the 1970-71 season.
Triple-doubles are only one way to define Noah’s importance.
“It’s hard to measure all he does for your team,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “When you see him make three, four, five efforts on the same play, is there a stat for that? No. When he swings the ball quickly to somebody where he doesn’t get the assist, there’s not a stat for that. But all those things lead to winning. When you talk about leadership, what is leadership?
“It’s more than what you say. When you make great effort, great hustle plays, those things unite and inspire your team. That’s what makes him who he is and that’s why he’s good.”
All four of Noah’s triple-doubles this season have come since the beginning of February. He is tied with Indiana’s Lance Stephenson for the most in the NBA this season.
It only took 43 years for the assist record by a Bulls center to fall.
“It feels great, all of those things are humbling, but it just makes me hungrier to play even better,” Noah said. “I feel like I can still get better. I feel real comfortable making plays for my teammates, by being aggressive when I have to be. I’m just taking it day by day and trying to get better in every aspect of my game. All this stuff has just given me more confidence and I just wanted a lot more.”
After the game, teammate Taj Gibson picked up a discarded stat sheet off the Bulls’ locker room and his mouth opened after he surveyed it.
“He had a triple double?” Gibson asked. “I had no idea.”
Bulls starting point guard Kirk Hinrich scored nine of his 16 points in a transformational third quarter when Chicago outscored the Timberwolves 27-17 and turned a five-point halftime deficit into a 70-62 lead with 2:53 left in that third quarter.
They pushed that lead to as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Chicago reserve point guard DJ Augustin — a free-agent signee back in December after Toronto waived him — scored 20 points off the bench on 8-for-14 shooting from the field that included four 3-pointers.
“He was a good find,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said of Augustin. “One thing he has really done for them is he has shot the heck out of the ball.”
The Timberwolves had won three of their last four games before Wednesday, which was a rare back-to-back home game because Tuesday’s game against the Spurs was rescheduled from a Dec. 4 postponement in Mexico City.
Timberwolves star Kevin Love led his team with 17 points and 10 rebounds and played part of the game with a hyperextended elbow.
The Timberwolves also were missing five players, including starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, who were injured.
“It could be,” Adelman said, referring to injuries and fatigue. “I thought we got tired. They were here for three days waiting to play us. They had fresh legs and they are a good team. Plus, they have been playing well, too. … I thought we did a pretty good job in the first half. We ran out of gas in the second half.”
NOTES: Timberwolves reserve G JJ Barea missed Wednesday’s game because of neck and back spasms, an absence that left his team will only starter Ricky Rubio and combo G Alexey Shved left as options at that position. The Timberwolves again played without injured C Nikola Pekovic (foot), G Kevin Martin (foot), F Chase Budinger (sprained ankle) and F Shabazz Muhammad (sprained knee). … Newly signed Bulls G Ronnie Brewer was in uniform on Wednesday but was not expected to play. The Bulls signed Brewer on Monday after they waived rookie forward Erik Murphy last week to open a roster spot. “We’ll see how it unfolds, but the rotation is pretty much set right now,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. … Timberwolves star Kevin Love called his performance in Tuesday’s home blowout victory over San Antonio “terrible” for his 5-for-15 shooting night. It was an evaluation that left Thibodeau puzzled. “I saw his interview after the game where he said he didn’t play well and I’m watching it and you beat San Antonio by 20 points,” Thibodeau said. “You have 19 (points), 12 (rebounds) and four (assists), looks pretty good to me. I think that’s what makes him special.”
Grizzlies trade Jonas Valanciunas to Pelicans for Eric Bledsoe, Steven Adams
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Andrew Lopez, the New Orleans Pelicans are shipping guard Eric Bledsoe, center Steven Adams, the Nos. 10 and 40 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft, and two future first-round picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Jonas Valanciunas and the Nos. 17 and 51 picks of this week’s upcoming draft. So, the Pelicans are giving up the Lakers’ 2022 first-round pick. Valanciunas, the 29-year-old veteran center, averaged 17.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game in 62 games played throughout the 2020-21 season. He also shot 59 percent from the field. The seven-foot Lithuanian also ranks fourth overall in true shooting percentage (.616) among active players. On July 11, 2019, Valanciunas signed a three-year, $45 million contract with the Grizzlies. He is set to earn $4 million next season.
Additionally, in 71 games played last season, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. The six-foot-one guard also shot 42.1 percent from the field in the 2020-21 season. On November 23, 2020, as part of a four-team trade, Bledsoe and Adams were traded to the Pelicans from the Oklahoma City Thunder, along with two future first-round picks and the right to swap two additional first-round picks. Last season, in 71 games played, Bledsoe averaged 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. His field goal percentage was 42.1 percent as well. The 11-year veteran is set to earn $18,125,000 in the 2021-22 season. Before he was traded to New Orleans, on March 4, 2019, the guard signed a four-year, $70 million extension. He earned his first All-Defensive second-team selection in the 2019-20 season.
The Grizzlies and Pelicans have agreed on a trade to send Jonas Valanciunas, 2021 Nos. 17 and 51 picks to New Orleans for Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe, 2021 picks Nos. 10 and 40 and a protected 2022 first-round pick via the Lakers, per @wojespn pic.twitter.com/q7ZoqzpJjt
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 26, 2021
Moreover, in 58 games played last season, Adams averaged 7.6 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. The six-foot-eleven center ranks fifth among active players for effective field goal shooting percentage (.591). The eight-year veteran also ranks third in offensive rebounding percentage, with an active statistic of 14 percent. On November 23, 2020, the same day Adams was traded to the Pelicans, he signed a two-year, $35 million extension. For next season, he is projected to earn $17,073,171. To add to this trade news, the Grizzlies and Pelicans are swapping second-round picks in this year’s draft, too. Referencing NBA.com’s “Consensus Mock Draft” article, with the No. 10 pick of the draft, the Pelicans were originally expected to draft either Josh Giddey or Davion Mitchell at this number. However, plans have now changed.
From ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the trade will not be finalized until August 6th, and this is because of the annual salaries of these said players. Free agency will begin on August 2, 6:00 p.m. (EST). Furthermore, per Spotrac’s 2021-22 NBA salary cap table, next season’s luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. The team’s current available luxury tax space is $22,555,195. The Pelicans and Grizzlies have a salary cap maximum of $112,414,000. Brandon Ingram, Bledsoe, and Adams had a combined cap percentage of 39.2 percent. Considering that Bledsoe and Adams are traded away, this will clear up $35,198,171 of dead cap space.
Yesterday, CBS Sports reported the news pertaining to Lonzo Ball’s desire to remain in New Orleans. With extra cap space, the team is expected to re-sign the 23-year-old guard. Likewise, for the Grizzlies, the teams has a luxury tax space of $37,019,952. Their current cap space is $8,321,229. As stated before, the transactions have not yet been finalized. The Grizzlies’ outgoing cap is now $14 million, but from the contracts of Adams and Bledsoe, they are bringing in $35,198,171.
NBA Trade Rumors: Jazz considering trade offers for Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neale, and No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
Per one interesting announcement from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the Utah Jazz are open to trading forward Bojan Bogdanovic, forward-guard Joe Ingles, small forward Royce O’Neale, and the No. 30 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Fischer stated, “The Utah Jazz are known to be one of the few teams actually searching to move playoff-tested talent. Retaining Mike Conley is an offseason priority, sources said, and the Jazz have held numerous discussions with teams around the league about offloading salary to create for Conley in free agency.” Point guard Mike Conley is set to become a free agent this offseason. Though, general manager Justin Zanik will aim to re-sign the 33-year-old guard in the coming weeks. Conley earned $34.5 million in the 2020-21 season.
“League personnel most often mention Joe Ingles as the Jazz wing to watch, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also considered available for trade as Utah narrows its focus towards building a contender around Donovan Mitchel. The Jazz are also open to discuss trading their No. 30 pick, sources said.” In the 2020-21 season, in 72 games played, Bogdanovic averaged 17 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. On May 1, 2021, in the team’s 106-102 victory over the Toronto Raptors, the six-foot-seven Croatian scored a season-high 34 points, shooting 12-for-22, and he finished his performance with four rebounds and four assists as well. On July 7, 2019, he signed a four-year, $73 million contract with the Jazz.
In 67 games played last season, Ingles averaged 12.1 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. The six-foot-eight forward is set to earn $14 million in the 2021-22 season. Plus, among the mentioned players, Royce O’Neale has contributed the least. In 71 games played last season, he averaged seven points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. On January 19, 2020, the forward signed a four-year, $36 million extension with the team. He will earn $8.6 million next season. According to The Athletic, in the team’s seventh workout for draft prospects, they viewed Quentin Grimes, David Duke, Matt Mitchell, and a few other players. In the first round, if the team chooses not to draft any of the players they are holding workouts for, the organization will trade the No. 30 pick.
Just for a reminder, retrieved from Spotrac, the 2021-22 NBA luxury tax threshold is $136,606,000. Utah’s active roster cap is $133,284,695, the maximum cap is $112,414,000, and the current cap space is $72,990,215. Furthermore, center Rudy Gobert currently has the highest guaranteed contract on the team. On December 20, 2020, Gobert signed a five-year, $205 million extension with the organization. Gobert is set to earn $35.3 million in the coming season, whereas Donovan Mitchell will earn $28.1 million. Gobert and Mitchell combined consume 47.6 percent of the team’s salary cap. For the upcoming 2021-22 season, the Jazz have a guaranteed total of $129,719,453. Based on the team’s future outlook, the Jazz will have to make a trade or two in order to retain their star players. This should go without saying.
NBA Analysis Network reported a few days ago that a potential Jazz-Knicks trade target is Bojan Bogdanovic. Greg Patuto proposed the Knicks receiving Bogdanovic, while the Jazz would receive Kevin Knox II, and the Nos. 19 and No. 32 picks of the 2021 NBA Draft. Now, this could still happen at some point during this draft week, but then again, sports bettors and fans alike understand that these news reports could be just rumors. The most intelligent, unforthcoming general managers know not to leave bread crumb trails for the media, especially leading into the offseason. They will do everything necessary to protect their foolproof plans.
Raptors, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings, and Cavaliers among teams showing interest in Ben Simmons
According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, five teams have shown interest in pursuing Ben Simmons from the Philadelphia 76ers. Fischer reported, “Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto all showed interest in acquiring the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year.” Furthermore, the teams are wanting Simmons to change position from point guard to forward. “Multiple executives from those teams, when contacted by Bleacher Report, mentioned their excitement at incorporating Simmons as a play-making forward—not at the point guard position he’s played in Philadelphia.” The six-foot-eleven guard averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists in the 2020-21 NBA season. This might sound fine for a young rookie, but as a five-year player, these aforementioned statistics were career lows.
However, the 25-year-old also earned his third NBA All-Star selection and second All-Defensive first-team selection last season. After a less than mediocre performance in his third postseason of his NBA career, the majority of 76ers’ fans would agree that it’s now time for Simmons to have a change in scenery. With a regular season record of 49-23 (.681), the No. 1 ranked 76ers in the Eastern Conference entered the conference semifinals as favorites over the Atlanta Hawks. Leading into this series, some NBA analysts were predicting Philadelphia to prevail four games to two. The 2016 first overall pick was expected to limit Trae Young in scoring and rally his team from point deficits, but none of this ever manifested.
Raptors, Wolves, Cavs, Pacers and Kings have all showed interest in acquiring Ben Simmons, per B/R's @JakeLFischer
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 25, 2021
Pertaining to postseason averages, Simmons had a playoff series-low of 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in the conference semifinals against the Hawks. This lackluster showing proved to be a more significant downfall for the superstar, considering Simmons had only five points, eight rebounds, and 13 assists in Game 7 versus the Hawks. In the 2019-20 season, he averaged 2.1 steals per game, leading all other players in the league. Moreover, Simmons currently ranks sixth in the NBA for active player triple-doubles (32). With a total of 32 career triple-doubles, he ranks 13th on the all-time list, tied with Clippers’ guard Rajon Rondo.
On July 16, 2019, Simmons signed a five-year, $169.65 million contract extension with the 76ers. He is set to earn $30.5 million in the 2021-22 season. Among these teams interested in Simmons, Cavs’ Kevin Love has the fourth largest contract guarantee of $91.4 million. Love is due to earn $31.3 million next season, and the 13-year veteran’s contract consumes 26 percent of the team’s salary cap. He could be traded this offseason. Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns has a contract guarantee of $130.8 million. The 25-year-old Wolves center will earn $31.6 million in the upcoming season.
Plus, Kings’ 2017 first-round pick De’Aaron Fox has a guaranteed contract of $171.1 million. Fox will earn $28.1 million next season. To add to that, Raptors’ Pascal Siakim has a contract guarantee of $131.4 million. Not to mention, reported by Yahoo Sports via trade rumors yesterday, the Golden State Warriors are a potential trade partner for Toronto. The Warriors could make a move on Siakim, clearing up space on the Raptors for Simmons. Per Spotrac, the 2021-22 season cap maximum is $112,414,000. In the coming weeks, one of these said five teams might make a substantial trade offer to the 76ers’ organization that they cannot refuse.
NBA DAILY2 weeks ago
Suns vs. Bucks NBA Finals Props – Game 4 Best Prop Bets
NBA2 weeks ago
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Phoenix Suns – NBA Finals Game 5 Preview, Odds, & Prediction
NBA2 weeks ago
Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks – NBA Finals Game 4 Preview, Odds, & Prediction
NBA1 week ago
Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks – NBA Finals 2021 Live Streaming – How to watch Game 6 of the NBA Finals live online?