Emmanuel Mudiay

Stein’s Latest: George, Rockets, Spurs, Nuggets

News broke Sunday that the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers had discussed a three-way deal that would have sent Paul George to the Cavs and Kevin Love to Denver ahead of the draft. As we wrote about earlie, one variation of the potential deal would have sent Kenneth Faried to Cleveland as well.

In an article published at ESPN shortly thereafter, Marc Stein – who sent the initial tweet Sunday night – goes into more details, sharing information about the pre-draft conversations that took place surrounding the Pacers forward.

Here are some highlights from Stein’s latest piece, co-written with Haynes:

  • While the conversations between the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Pacers didn’t amount to anything before the draft, Cleveland haven’t abandoned its pursuit of the two-way All-Star. The Cavs legitimately believe that they could convince George to abandon his dreams of playing for his hometown Lakers, something he is expected to pursue when he hits free agency in 2018.
  • In addition to Cleveland’s ongoing pursuit and the Celtics discussions that came to light on draft day, Stein and Haynes note that the Rockets and Spurs both aggressively pursued George deals before the draft as well.
  • The Nuggets are looking to upgrade at power forward and it’s the reason why Love was included in the possible three-team deal. Denver similarly intends to make plays for pending free agents Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap.
  • All of Faried, Wilson Chandler and Emmanuel Mudiay are said to be available. Big man Nikola Jokic and second-year guard Jamal Murray are supposedly untouchable.
  • The pair also confirm what we wrote about on Friday following a Joe Vardon column at Cleveland.com; the Cavs are expected to pursue Carmelo Anthony should he be bought out by the Knicks.

Trade Rumors: Noah, Josh Jackson, Bledsoe, Mudiay

The Knicks would like to unload Joakim Noah‘s salary in any deal involving Kristaps Porzingis, according to a post by Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Noah was considered a major disappointment in his first year in New York after signing a four-year, $72MM deal last summer. Injuries and a suspension for violating the NBA drug policy limited him to 46 games, and he averaged just 5.0 points and 8.7 rebounds per night. Noah still has three years and $55MM left on his contract.

There’s more from a day filled with trade rumors:

  • Several teams are trying to convince the Suns to trade Josh Jackson, but Phoenix plans to keep the pick, tweets Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated. The Kansas forward was projected as a top three selection, but slipped to fourth behind Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum. Phoenix, which is loaded with backcourt players, can use the help at forward.
  • The Suns aren’t likely to trade Eric Bledsoe today, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 in Phoenix. The team reportedly had discussions with Denver earlier today on a possible deal. Bledsoe, 27, will make $29.5MM over the next two seasons.
  • The Nuggets called several teams to gauge interest in Emmanuel Mudiay, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link), who notes that New York has passed on Mudiay before.

Nuggets, Suns Discuss Bledsoe, Mudiay

6:01pm: Discussions between the Suns and Bulls on Bledsoe involved the No. 16 overall pick, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

5:39pm: The Suns currently have no trades on tap, and are preparing to use the No. 4 pick in the draft, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge.

5:25pm: The Nuggets and Suns have discussed a trade that would send Eric Bledsoe to Denver, with Emmanuel Mudiay and the No. 13 pick going to Phoenix, league sources tell Chris Haynes of ESPN.com (Twitter link). No deal is imminent, but talks remain “fluid,” per Haynes.

ESPN’s Chad Ford first reported that the Nuggets and Bulls were engaged with the Suns today on possible Bledsoe trade scenarios, while Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times tweeted that Phoenix was still looking to make a “major splash” with Bledsoe and/or the No. 4 pick.

According to Ford, if the Suns use the fourth overall pick on De’Aaron Fox, it will likely signal that they found a taker on Bledsoe. If Phoenix isn’t able to complete a Bledsoe trade tonight, Josh Jackson is the more probable pick at No. 4, assuming he’s still on the board, says Ford.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot for Bledsoe, who averaged a career-best 21.1 PPG and 6.3 APG in 66 games last year, before he was benched down the stretch by the tanking Suns. Although Mudiay is a former seventh overall pick, his development has been slow so far, leaving the Nuggets seeking a possible long-term alternative at the point guard position.

Texas Notes: Ntilikina, Mudiay, Paul, Rockets

Several Mavericks executives have traveled to Europe over the past month to watch French point guard Frank Ntilikina, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. At 6’5″, Ntilikina is among the bigger point guards in the draft, and he possesses athleticism and skill to go with his size. Dallas is believed to be targeting point guards after waiving Deron Williams in February so he could sign with a contender. The Mavericks hold the No. 9 pick, and Sefko expects Ntilikina to be among the players considered, along with North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen and Gonzaga’s Zach Collins.

There’s more news today out of Texas:

  • The Mavericks have a better shot at solving their point guard problems through the draft than by trading for someone like Emmanuel Mudiay, writes Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News. The seventh pick in the 2015 draft, Mudiay was a heralded prospect but has experienced shooting problems through his first two NBA seasons. He is a 37% shooter from the field and was stuck behind Jameer Nelson in the Nuggets’ rotation. Mosley says Ntilikina or Markkanen would be a better gamble with the No. 9 pick.
  • Signing Chris Paul may not get the Spurs any closer to challenging the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy, argues Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Adding the All-Star point guard would requiring sacrificing someone like LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol or Danny Green in a trade, and it would destroy the salary flexibility the team has set up for next summer.
  • North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks was the biggest name to attend a pre-draft workout for the Rockets this week, relays Tom Miller of The Grand Forks Herald. Also at the session were Quinton Hooker of North Dakota, Paris Lee of Illinois State, JaJuan Johnson of Marquette, Kavin Gilder-Tilbury of Texas State and Tacko Fall of Central Florida, who decided to withdraw from the draft and return to school. “My agent hadn’t said anything about the Rockets’ interest,” Hooker said. “I was anticipating at least one [NBA tryout]. But for the last month, I’ve just been waiting. It was definitely a humbling experience to get that first one and show my talents.” The Rockets own picks 43 and 45 in next month’s draft.

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Jokic, Oladipo

It wasn’t long ago when Emmanuel Mudiay was being touted as a key component of the Nuggets franchise. One year later, his future with the organization is uncertain, says Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post.

Over the course of the 2016/17 campaign, the second-year guard has seen his role in Denver shrink. In the eight games since the All-Star break, Mudiay has seen action just three times. It’s a precipitous drop for a 21-year-old once taken with the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft but an understandable one considering the stable of young talent on the Nuggets roster.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division.

  • The Timberwolves are running out of times to sneak into the Western Conference playoff picture, Jerry Zgoda of the StarTribune writes. With just 17 games left in the season, the Wolves will have to leapfrog three teams and make up 3.5 games in the standings.
  • After missing a pair of games with a flu, Nikola Jokic returned to action for the Nuggets. “I can still feel it in my chest, and my throat is a little sore when I start coughing,” Jokic told Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. “It feels really good to be back.”
  • Though he missed six games resting his back, the time off helped Victor Oladipo in more ways than one, Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman writes. “It was amazing for my wrist, actually,” Oladipo said. “I’m not one to complain. It wasn’t 100 percent, but that rest kind of helped it out a little bit. It’s a lot better now.”

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Plumlee, Jazz

The deal that landed Mason Plumlee may not be the last one the Nuggets make this month, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The reporter relays that his sources believe Denver could still move names like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and even second-year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

After years of stock piling assets, the Nuggets have emerged as a playoff contender in 2016/17. Leading the charge for the franchise has been sophomore center Nikola Jokic. With Jokic at the helm and the club finally focused on building around him, the the team is in a position to deal some valuable building blocks in an effort to fortify their new core.

Kyler suggests that the emergence of Juan Hernangomez, too, could expedite a formal regime change in Denver. The Nuggets currently sit eighth in the Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly acquired Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic spoke with the media about his new home. “I think it’s the perfect place for me,” he told the media. “They need me, and I need them.” The 22-year-old also mentioned that he didn’t mind whether head coach Terry Stotts slotted him into the starting lineup or brought him off the bench.
  • The Nuggets don’t anticipate having any issues working Mason Plumlee into their rotation, writes Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone expects to seamlessly integrate the new big man, adding that Plumlee’s playmaking abilities should help the team’s offense continue to flow well when Nikola Jokic is on the bench.
  • The Trail Blazers will send $2.85MM to the Nuggets as part of the Nurkic/Plumlee swap, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That, Pincus says, explains why Denver included a first-round pick in their outgoing package. For more details of the trade, consider Mark Deeks of Give Me Sport‘s break down of the deal.
  • A Utah-based analytics firm will sponsor Jazz jerseys in 2017/18, but rather than plug the company’s own logo, they’ll promote that of a charitable organization generating funds for cancer research. The 5 For The Fight patch will be on Jazz jerseys for at least the first year of the organization’s three-year commitment with the team, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

Community Shootaround: Denver’s Trade Chips

Despite a 22-28 record, the Nuggets find themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Staked to a half-game lead in the eighth seed, Denver has outperformed expectations behind a breakout season from Nikola Jokic.

As Mark Kiszla pointed out in a Denver Post column, the Nuggets have a decision to make: pursue a No. 7 or 8 seed, or sell off their assets by the trade deadline? Wilson Chandler has been critical of his role (or occasional lack thereof) under coach Michael Malone, making him a logical trade candidate.

Malone firmly denied Emmanuel Mudiay‘s availability via trade, but several Nuggets remain viable trade chips; particularly Danilo Gallinari and Jusuf Nurkic. As of late January, Nurkic was rumored to be available in a package deal with veteran forward Kenneth Faried.

We know Nuggets GM Tim Connelly has a history of trade deadline activity; here’s what we want to know as February 23rd approaches…

Who would you like to see the Nuggets shop at the deadline? Would it be worthwhile for Connelly to keep his team intact while pursuing a playoff spot? Which team would be the most logical destination for Chandler?

Let us know in the comments section!

Lowe’s Latest: Bledsoe, Knight, Nuggets, Mudiay

Eric Bledsoe is enjoying the best season of his NBA career so far in 2016/17, putting up career-best marks in PPG (21.6), APG (6.2), and several other categories. As Zach Lowe of ESPN.com writes, Bledsoe’s impressive season raises the question of whether the Suns should sell high on the veteran point guard or commit to him a part of the team’s long-term future.

Phoenix projects to have a top pick in a 2017 draft that will be loaded with point guards, and Bledsoe has undergone three knee surgeries already, so there’s a case to be made that the Suns would be wise to sell high on him. However, don’t count head coach Earl Watson among those who feels that way. “I can almost guarantee Devin [Booker] and Eric will be on the same team next year,” Watson said, per Lowe.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • As a parenthetical aside in his discussion of Bledsoe, Lowe writes that “nobody wants” Suns guard Brandon Knight. Knight has been mentioned more frequently than Bledsoe as a trade candidate, but if Phoenix hopes to secure a substantial return, it doesn’t sound like moving Knight will accomplish that.
  • The Nuggets are “quietly exploring” what sort of return they could get for a package of Emmanuel Mudiay and multiple picks, sources tell Lowe. The ESPN analyst isn’t sure the Suns would be a logical trade partner for Denver though, since Phoenix will have the opportunity to draft a point guard in the summer. Lowe adds that Denver is in no rush to move Mudiay.
  • The Suns would have to consider moving Bledsoe if the right team were to offer a “good wing or center, plus a high first-round pick,” according to Lowe. However, he adds that most teams are reluctant to move probable lottery picks at this time of year, when it’s still not clear where they’ll land in the draft.
  • Although there’s no indication that the two teams are discussing such a deal, and he acknowledges that there would be roadblocks, Lowe offers his favorite hypothetical Bledsoe deal, involving the Magic: Lowe’s proposal would see Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja, and Orlando’s 2017 pick go to the Suns in exchange for Bledsoe and Alex Len. Per Lowe, the Magic front office remains “divided” on whether or not Elfrid Payton is the club’s long-term solution at point guard.
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