Storyline: Robert Covington Trade?

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Clippers interested in Thompson, Love and Dedmon

The Clippers have been aggressive, no surprise considering they have the $11.5 million Mo Harkless contract and a first round pick to deal. Considering if LA doesn’t trade the pick it can’t deal another one until we colonize Mars, there is some urgency in the LA front office to get a deal done. The Clippers have kicked the tires on Kevin Love and could grab disgruntled Kings center Dewayne Dedmon, but neither are preferred options. There is some interest in Tristan Thompson in LA’s front office, per sources, as LA’s coaching staff has fretted about the team’s rebounding, particularly when Ivica Zubac is off the floor. Wing depth is a consideration for the Clippers, with Robert Covington and Iguodala among the possibilities discussed.

The Athletic: Does that cut both ways, I wonder? Like if the front office makes a move that wasn’t on your radar and then in hindsight you’re looking at it saying, ‘I’m not sure I like that…’ Karl-Anthony Towns: I think it would hurt the star player or player (that’s) highly regarded in the organization if they didn’t feel confidence in the front office. I do. I feel very confident in Gerss and (coach) Ryan (Saunders) and all of them. So like I said, whatever they do, I’m going to support because I know they’re trying to make the right decisions for us to win.

The Star-Tribune: So you’d understand it, even if it would be tough to take? Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean, you’ve been through my journey. You’ve seen how much change I went through. Obviously there’s a lot of decisions (where), obviously, as a person — person to person — you obviously don’t like, and as a player you may not like, but it’s something you’ve got to live with. And that comes with just having trust in those guys, so I’m not going to say either — anything. Like I said, I don’t get paid to make those decisions. Those are tough decisions, but here’s to hoping that I see Cov on Friday I guess. … Look man, he’s a great guy, a great dude. He’s a great player. He’s helped me tremendously and he’s continuing to help me every day. He just gives me such comfort out there.

The Star-Tribune: How much would you want Cov to stay here, because he’s been a focus of all this? Karl-Anthony Towns: I mean I think it’s very, very, very — for you, especially (he says to beat reporter Chris Hine) — I think it’s very obvious (that) he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen. Um, you know, but like with Zach LaVine (who was traded from Minnesota to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler trade in June 2017) , you know this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that. That’s why we have Gerss and them, so…

Would Towns still be happy if Covington was one of the players the front office felt like it had to deal? “I think it’s very obvious he’s my best friend on the team, so it would be very difficult if something like that was going to happen,” Towns said. “But like with Zach LaVine, this is a business. So like I said, I’m the one who just plays the game. I don’t get paid to make rosters and stuff like that. That’s why we have [Rosas] and them.”

Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Denver are interested in Covington, sources say. Dallas and Denver have minimal interest, which puts Houston and Philadelphia in pole position for one of the league’s most reputable 3-and-D wings. Covington isn’t moving as nimbly on defense as he has in past seasons following knee surgery last April, but he’s still a solid, reliable defender who could help a playoff team and shoot at an above-average clip from 3, which explains Houston’s interest.

Minnesota has been engaged in talks regarding Covington, whose suitors include Dallas, Houston and Milwaukee, according to sources. The Mavericks and Rockets discussed potential deals for Covington in the offseason, with the Mavericks having their 2020 Golden State second-rounder and the Rockets dangling future first-round compensation. Still, some executives have worries about Covington’s remaining two years and $25 million deal and injury concerns.

The Sixers have been linked to a resurgent Derrick Rose, their former forward Covington and sharpshooter Davis Bertans. But the asking price, particularly for Covington, one source said, has been too steep. As in: Matisse Thybulle, plus a first-rounder — a hang-up worthy offer. In negotiations, both sides typically get more desperate as the deadline nears. Maybe the asking price for a guy like Rose or Covington lowers to a more appealing level or the Sixers decide something like a future first-rounder is worth it.

The Warriors are aware of this dynamic. It automatically bumps up Russell’s market value in conversations with the Wolves. Minnesota has dangled Andrew Wiggins, who is on a similar contract as Russell and fills a greater positional need. But from a Warriors’ perspective, that’s still a questionable talent-for-talent swap. Most around the league view Russell as better than Wiggins. It’s a move only a panicked front office would make. But the Warriors aren’t in a panic about Russell. Unless the Wolves unload the vault — something like Robert Covington and Josh Okogie plus a basket of appealing, unprotected picks — it’s wiser for the Warriors to wait until past this deadline on Russell and perhaps well beyond.

The Mavericks are continuously cited by league sources as a potential landing spot for Grizzlies wing Andre Iguodala, who could help them this season as a secondary ball handler without compromising their future cap space. The Mavs have also made offers to the Timberwolves for Robert Covington, but those have been declined, according to multiple league sources. Covington won’t make many plays off the dribble, but he’d be an upgrade over Dorian Finney-Smith as a 3-and-D wing. It remains to be seen whether Dallas has the ammo to complete a trade, but it’s clear that the team is looking to bolster its postseason odds.

A rapidly escalating arms race for this star role player is pitting the league’s elite against each other. As much as the Minnesota Timberwolves want to keep him, they’re a longshot to make the playoffs, and this might be the time to maximize their return on Covington. He has no shortage of suitors. The Lakers, Clippers, Mavericks, Rockets and 76ers are among the teams that have expressed some Covington interest, according to people familiar with the matter. Before they can battle for a championship, they have to bid against each other.

Covington’s tardiness prompted a short benching at the start of the game. Saunders insisted that he didn’t believe that the timing of Covington’s mistake was anything more than a coincidence. But the losses are piling up and his name is starting to surface in trade rumors. Covington said he took ownership of his tardiness and agreed with Saunders’ decision to pull him from the starting lineup. Then he went 5 for 17 from the field and 3 for 11 from 3-point range.

Rockets targeting Robert Covington

The Houston Rockets have serious interest in Covington, league sources say. The Rockets are in the market for wings; with James Harden having another MVP-caliber season, they’re a team that should go all in no matter who the target is. They have the ammo to do so: Despite the pile of picks it sent Oklahoma City in the Chris Paul–for–Russell Westbrook blockbuster, Houston can still dangle its first-round picks in 2020 and 2022.
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August 3, 2020 | 4:42 pm EDT Update
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“Zion is not on their injury report,” said Brian Windhorst on his podcast. “They are treating him as though he’s coming back from an injury, but he’s not on their injury report. I cannot make an assumption as to what’s going on there. When you watch him play, he clearly is not in condition to compete at the highest level. As I’ve watched him play two games, I don’t actually think they should have played him at all with the way he’s playing. I talked to a scout who said to me he shouldn’t be out there right now with the condition he is in. He said to me, ‘He’s moving worse than he did in Summer League last summer when he got hurt in his first or second game.’ “I don’t know if that’s because he’s out of condition, or that’s because he’s got something that they’re not discussing. This is one of the things that the Pelicans have to deal with… this is a guy who has a history of knee injuries and is not right either because of conditioning or because of something else.”
1 hour ago via RealGM
Williamson was gone from the Pelicans for over a week and then was under quarantine for a few days when he returned to Orlando. “He does not look right,” said Kirk Goldsberry. “It does not look good. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say he shouldn’t be out there because I don’t know… Something smells fishy here. I don’t know what’s going on. He does not look like the kid that was dominating the league in March.”
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Now that the Wizards have lost their first two games at Disney World, that rule is coming back into the forefront. The Wizards are currently tied in the loss column with the Hornets, who aren’t in Orlando but are locked in with the eighth-best lottery odds. What that means is if the Wizards continue to lose, they can’t gain more ping-pong balls for lottery night, which is set for Aug. 25. And now there is a distinct possibility they could have worse odds than a team with a better win percentage than them.
Storyline: Draft Lottery
It would be a cruel twist for the Wizards, who need as much help as they can get in this year’s draft as they hope to find another blue chip prospect to add to their burgeoning young core. Making that pick count is especially important given their salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal on the books, which has left them with fewer resources to work with. They could get another key rotation player on a rookie contract. The good news is that the lottery rules were changed more permanently before last year’s drawing in order to create more parity in the annual event. It smoothed out the odds to discourage tanking and the results in its first year were as-intended.
August 3, 2020 | 2:49 pm EDT Update
Zalgiris big man Jock Landale will be playing in a different team next season. With the request of the player, Jock Landale and Zalgiris have mutually agreed to part ways, as the Aussie continues to seek out his dream of playing in the NBA. A member of the Australian men’s national team signed a deal with Zalgiris last summer and had a running contract for next season. After the two sides reached an agreement, the 24-year-old addressed the fans and the Zalgiris organization. “I just wanted to reach out and say thank you for everything you’ve done for the past year. It was such an incredible experience coming to Lithuania and playing for such a historic club and a legendary coach. To the organization, I appreciate what you guys have done. Everyone’s got goals and ambitions, and you really helped me reach mine. You’ve got a fan in me for life.”
Storyline: Jock Landale Free Agency
August 3, 2020 | 2:11 pm EDT Update
August 3, 2020 | 12:55 pm EDT Update
While watching Sunday night’s box-office affair between the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks, perhaps the saying speaks more to the mental exercise of what it takes to play defense and get stops. “Heart and will,” James Harden said. “Everybody says we’re undersized — and they got a couple of offensive rebounds on us just cause they have 7-footers and whatnot — but you gotta just keep fighting, keep fighting. Once we get that ball, we’re out, so it just takes good spirit, fighting and making sure we’re communicating defensively and in our right positions.”
Westbrook finished with 31 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but it’s more important to note how he kept Houston afloat while Harden sat with foul trouble. He constantly put pressure on the Bucks’ defense, forcing them to concede open shots to Green, Tucker, Ben McLemore, and others. In addition, it seemed like him and Harden struck a good balance of when to attack versus when to move the ball and look for others. When Harden struggles offensively, Westbrook is more than capable of picking up the slack. “Yeah, I think we’re comfortable now,” Harden said of the pair’s chemistry. “I think with that training camp, we’re in a good place. We found ourselves.”
Storyline: Harden-Westbrook Dynamic
“We loaded up,” House explained. “We talked. The most important thing was to stop him before he got downhill, of course. We did a good job about locating him before he could get the ball or even after he got the ball to make sure that we were on the help side and that guys were already communicating with one another. That’s been a big help and a big factor for us — communication on defense. So we don’t have those “my bad” moments.” “Very important,” Harden added on their late-game defense. “I think throughout the course of the game we played some really good defense. Obviously, they’re a really good offensive team, but throughout the course of the game we got stops when we needed to.”
Jonathan Isaac suffered a torn ACL on Sunday night and will be out for the remainder of the season, and the injury came at a time when the Orlando Magic star was gaining tremendous popularity. Isaac’s jersey sales have skyrocketed recently, with only LeBron James having a hotter-selling jersey. The increase in sales was likely a response to Isaac refusing to kneel during the national anthem recently.
August 3, 2020 | 11:16 am EDT Update

August 3, 2020 | 9:07 am EDT Update
T.J. Warren? Really nice player, an amazing acquisition from the clueless Phoenix Suns, who gave him away for “cash considerations,” but you could have gotten a trillion-to-1 odds on Warren going for 50-plus on the very first regular-season game in the bubble. Or in any game. Anywhere. “We fed the dragon,” Oladipo said, smiling. “A guy that hot, you try to get him the ball, and I thought all our guys were trying to do that,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “T.J. was as hot as I’ve ever seen him. And I thought his teammates did a good job of sacrificing, of screening and getting him the ball and giving him proper spacing. You’ve got to milk him. I thought our point guards (Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell), they combined for 18 assists, we had 44 assists in the game, so our ball movement was good, and a lot of that was ending up in T.J.’s hands.”
Even if he remained almost 1,500 miles away, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum sensed he was not too far from family. His son, Deuce, joined the virtual fan section and became giddy after seeing his dad on the screen in uniform for Sunday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. “He’s a fan favorite,” Tatum said. “I was happy he was able to watch the game.” Deuce saw his old man help the Celtics to a 128-124 win over the Trail Blazers by scoring 34 points on 11-of-22 shooting. He also saw Tatum have a bounce-back game coincidentally after getting a haircut here on the NBA Disney campus.

JJ Redick starting podcast company

Now, Redick hopes to expand his platform. In a telephone interview, he said he was set to start his podcast company, ThreeFourTwo Productions, this week with his co-host and business partner, Tommy Alter, along with a new weekly podcast, “The Old Man and the Three,” which ticks the obligatory podcast box of having a pun in its title. “It’s a little play on Hemingway,” Redick said. “I’m the old man in this scenario.”