LeBron James provided a historic distraction from the NBA’s upcoming Thursday trade deadline by becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
Now, all eyes return to trade discussions. With that in mind, below is a look at the latest intel gathered by HoopsHype.
Knicks interested in Josh Hart
The New York Knicks have expressed interest in trading for Portland Trail Blazers swingman Josh Hart, HoopsHype has learned.
Hart has a $12.96 million player option for next season and has been linked to the Heat and Cavaliers.
Hart – who won a national title at Villanova alongside current Knicks guards Jalen Brunson and Ryan Arcidiacano – is shooting a career-best 50.4 percent from the field and grabbing a career-high 8.2 rebounds per game.
Suns updates on Chris Paul, Deandre Ayton and Cam Johnson
The Phoenix Suns have been linked to Fred VanVleet, D’Angelo Russell, and, previously, Kyrie Irving on the trade market this season.
Following Phoenix’s win at Barclays Center, Suns guard Chris Paul was asked by HoopsHype during his postgame media availability how he dealt with reported trade rumors for Irving. “Control what you can control,” Paul replied. “We’re pros. A team is always going to do what’s in their best interest, as they should. Players have to have that same mindset. People talk crazy about players when they do it.”
With Paul approaching 38 in May, he was also asked by another reporter how long he plans to continue playing.
“I never woke up and was like, ‘This is my last year. I’ve got one or two left.’” Paul said. “More than anything, I miss my family. My wife and kids have been in L.A. the last four years. That’s the only thing that’ll affect my decision.”
Paul’s $30.8 million salary is guaranteed for $15.8 million next season, and his $30.8 million salary for the 2024-25 season is non-guaranteed, per our HoopsHype Suns salaries page.
Ayton has been on a tear in his last eight games, averaging 23.5 points and 13.1 rebounds. According to the former No. 1 pick, his improved health and motivation from critics has fueled his recent play.
“I see what people say about me,” Ayton said. “I had a bad start to the season. If it wasn’t ankle injuries, it was some other sickness or some bull crap that got in my way. This is more like an adversity type of season for me to show them what type of player I truly am, and me sticking with it and blocking out all the noise and haters, and getting back to the thing I do best, being dominant.”
Suns teammates Deandre Ayton and Cam Johnson expressed a desire for Paul to remain with the Suns past the trade deadline and continue the core’s path to compete for a championship.
“We love our current group,” Johnson said. “A lot of guys have been playing together for a while now, and that continuity is something that’s not easily overlooked. You build up chemistry playing with all these guys like (Deandre) Ayton, (Devin) Booker, (Mikal) Bridges, and myself. We’ve been playing for four years and with CP for three. We hear stuff, and rumors are flying all around. I’ve heard rumor after rumor for four years now, and the reality is most of them don’t come to fruition. If they do, and when they do, you’ve got to proceed. We, as a team, are focused on what we’re doing, and we’re excited. We have a great opportunity. We’ve done some pretty positive things in the last couple of years. We still feel like there’s so much more on the table to get.”
When asked by HoopsHype about his long-term future, Johnson hinted at wanting to return to Phoenix with restricted free agency looming this summer.
“I love being in Phoenix,” Johnson replied. “I love the team, the staff, and the city. The organization has treated me really well to this point. Whatever the future holds, the future holds. Phoenix has really become a home to me. These guys have become my brothers, which from my understanding, is not something you should take for granted in professional sports. Being with a group of guys that aren’t just your co-workers. I said earlier in my career that it almost felt like college the first couple of years in the league, with people like Mikal, Ayton, and Devin, where we’ve been able to spend so much time and grow together on and off the court.”
Johnson is one of the top free agents on the market this summer, according to our HoopsHype free agent rankings. After failing to agree to a contract extension before the season, Johnson will enter the market as a restricted free agent upon receiving his qualifying offer.
Spurs center Jakob Poeltl draws trade interest
San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl has drawn trade interest from a handful of teams leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, league sources told HoopsHype.
As noted in a previous HoopsHype NBA notebook, San Antonio’s asking price was two first-round picks, which rival executives questioned if the Spurs could get for a soon-to-be unrestricted free agent who is expected to command roughly $20 million annually this summer.
Third of the league interested in trading for 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle
Nearly a third of the league has expressed exploratory interest in trading for Sixers back-to-back All-Defensive player Matisse Thybulle at various points this season.
The list includes the Hawks and Kings, per Marc Stein, and Warriors, according to Keith Pompey. Other teams who’ve called include the Pacers, Blazers, Bucks, Mavericks, Hornets, Raptors, and Suns, HoopsHype has learned.
Thybulle is averaging a career-low 12.1 minutes per game and is eligible for a $6.28 million qualifying offer and restricted free agency this summer.
Nuggets interested in Taurean Prince
The Denver Nuggets expressed interest in Minnesota Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince, league sources told HoopsHype.
Prince is shooting a career-best 47.9 percent from the field this season. He’s also shooting 38.9 percent from downtown. Prince is under contract next season for $7.65 million.
Nuggets guard Bones Hyland and forward Zeke Nnaji are considered attainable players on Denver’s roster for an upgrade to help win this season, sources say.
You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) on Twitter.
MORE: Sources: Nets and Raptors trade talks involve Pascal Siakam, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, more
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