- Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo paid a huge compliment to Cavaliers second-year big man Evan Mobley after their meeting Friday night, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The two-time MVP suggested that Mobley might eventually be a better player than him. “I didn’t average what he is in my second season, so he’s already ahead of me,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s in his hands. If he stays humble, continues to work hard, focuses on the game and shows love to the game of basketball, he is going to be really good.”
Several teams have expressed interest in Suns forward Jae Crowder and there’s speculation that a trade could get done soon, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Crowder, who had been a starter during his first two years in Phoenix, is working out on his own while he waits for a deal to be completed.
The Bucks, Hawks and Warriors are among the most prominent suitors for Crowder, sources tell Pincus, and an unidentified executive believes the final version of the deal could include as many as five teams.
Pincus hears that Milwaukee has offered Grayson Allen for Crowder, while Atlanta is willing to part with some combination of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Holiday and John Collins. The Suns don’t have any immediate interest in either of those offers, Pincus adds.
As reported earlier today by Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Rockets could play an important role in a multi-team deal. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports stated last week that Phoenix had interest in Kenyon Martin Jr., and Pincus speculates that veteran guard Eric Gordon could also be included in a trade that sends Crowder and Dario Saric to another team. Pincus hears that Houston would want “real value” to get involved, whether it’s in the form of young talent or draft assets.
The Warriors could be a team to watch in the Crowder sweepstakes if they’ve become more willing to unload some of their young players after an 8-10 start, Pincus writes. Golden State’s defense has regressed after losing Gary Payton II and Otto Porter in free agency, and Crowder is the type of multi-positional defender who could fix those issues.
The Warriors also need help with rebounding after falling from seventh to 25th in the league in that category, and rival executives expect them to target another big man as well as a defensive wing. Pincus cites Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl as possibilities, though the Pacers may decide to keep Turner after their strong start. The Spurs are limited to less than $13MM as the starting point for an extension offer to Poeltl, and the team may be inclined to trade him rather than risk losing him in free agency.
Golden State would have to send out nearly $16MM in salary to acquire both Crowder and Poeltl, but it’s limited in what it can offer until Donte DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney become trade-eligible later this season.
Pincus offers a sample trade in which send the Warriors send James Wiseman and Ryan Rollins to the Spurs, while the Rockets get Jonathan Kuminga from Golden State and Saric from Phoenix. Another Pincus suggestion has the Warriors keeping Kuminga while shipping Moses Moody and either Patrick Baldwin or Rollins to the Rockets, while San Antonio gets Baldwin or Rollins along with Wiseman.
Team personnel around the NBA are keeping an eye on Pistons forward Saddiq Bey, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who says Detroit has received some calls from clubs inquiring about the third-year pro.
Bey has been considered part of the Pistons’ core since being selected 19th overall in the 2020 draft. However, his production has dipped so far this season and he was recently moved to a reserve role for one game before an Isaiah Stewart injury reopened a spot for him in the starting five. That brief demotion represented the first time Bey had come off the bench since the first half of his rookie season.
Still, while the Pistons may be more amenable to listening to inquiries on Bey than they have been in the past, Fischer says the team still seems intent on further evaluating the former first-round pick before seriously considering the idea of making him available.
- The Suns‘ interest in Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr., first reported by Shams Charania last week, has resulted in Houston getting involved in some three-team Jae Crowder trade discussions, Fischer reports. Sources also confirm to Yahoo Sports that the Bucks have tried to use Grayson Allen to acquire Crowder, but Phoenix and Milwaukee have yet to find common ground on a straight-up deal.
- There was “true momentum” toward a trade this past offseason that would have sent Hawks big man John Collins to the Kings, and the Wizards showed real interest in Collins prior to last season’s trade deadline, writes Fischer. However, Sacramento was happy to make a deal with Atlanta for Kevin Huerter instead, while Washington ended up landing Kristaps Porzingis to fortify its frontcourt. Fischer doesn’t say it outright, but the implication is that neither team is still pursuing Collins at this time.
- Fischer echoes a John Gambadoro report stating that the Suns aren’t interested in acquiring Collins, largely due to the long-term money still left on his contract (he’s in the second season of a five-year, $125MM deal). And Phoenix may not be the only team that feels that way — Collins’ contract could complicate the Hawks‘ efforts to find a trade partner, according to Fischer, who suggests that the deal is “perceived to be above market value.”
- Hawks wing Justin Holiday is worth monitoring as a possible trade candidate, per Fischer, especially if AJ Griffin continues to solidify a role in Atlanta’s regular rotation.
- George Hill and Jrue Holiday are among the Bucks veterans who believe center Brook Lopez should be the leading candidate for this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “You want my honest opinion?” Hill said. “He should have been Defensive Player of the Year for many years now.”
- Longtime Bucks scout Ron Stewart passed away unexpectedly on Friday, the team tweets. Stewart scouted pro and college players for Milwaukee after previously serving as the head women’s basketball coach at Western Michigan.
Having made just 4-of-15 free throw attempts in an eight-point loss in Philadelphia on Friday night, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo came back out onto the Wells Fargo Center court after the game, hoping to make 10 shots in a row from the foul line before calling it a night.
However, as detailed in reports from Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Joe Vardon of The Athletic, and Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, after Antetokounmpo had made seven consecutive free throws, Sixers big man Montrezl Harrell came and took the ball away on Giannis’ eighth attempt. Harrell and Sixers player development coach Jason Love refused to give the ball back to Antetokounmpo, who wanted to finish his shooting routine and reportedly told Harrell that there was room for both players to shoot.
“This isn’t f—ing Milwaukee,” Harrell shouted at Antetokounmpo, according to The Athletic. “Get that s–t out of there.”
Unable to get the ball back from Harrell and Love, Antetokounmpo left the court and returned with two new balls to continue shooting free throws. By that point, however, Sixers arena workers had positioned a large ladder in front of the basket Giannis had been using. When the staffers refused to move the ladder out of the way, Antetokounmpo tried to shove it aside and ended up knocking it over, as captured in a Twitter video.
Antetokounmpo ultimately did finish his foul shooting while Harrell worked out at the other end of the court and continued to shout at him. Once Giannis left the court for good, his brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo came out and spoke to Harrell, according to Vardon, who says Harrell told Thanasis, “I’ll beat your a–“ and “You better send that s–t back to the locker room.”
Harrell, believed to be upset that Giannis was preventing him from doing his own on-court postgame work on the 76ers’ home court, left without speaking to reporters. Giannis – described by both Vardon and Owczarski as “agitated” – discussed the incident at length.
“Obviously I had a very bad night from the free throw line,” Antetokounmpo said, per Owczarksi. “Now, I take pride in getting better every single day. After the game I decided to go try and make some free throws. My goal, every time I step on the line is to make 10 in a row and I was shooting free throws. I was at seven, I think. A player, I don’t want to mention names, and a coach, basically told me to leave the court, while behind me there was another space to do their routine.
“I respect every player. I know some players don’t play now, they want to get some extra work, want to work on their skills and stuff, and I said, obviously we can shoot together. They told me no, this is their court, I should leave. I was like, ‘I have three more free throws, I was at seven, I want to try to make 10 in a row.’ I shot my eighth one. Came and took the ball away from me and I was very surprised. I feel like it’s very unprofessional. I would never take the ball away from a professional athlete when he’s trying to do his job.”
Harrell did post a tweet late on Friday night, briefly explaining his side of the interaction: “Aye make sure you get the complete story I ask the man can he get off the court so I can workout they had to change the court over he ignore me so hey that’s what you get! Respect is respect! GOODNIGHT!”
As for the video that showed him pushing down the ladder that arena staffers had put in front of the basket, Giannis said he wasn’t trying to disrespect anyone.
“Did I meant to push the ladder all the way down? I totally did not. I think I pushed it and it got caught and fell,” Antetokounmpo said. “But people are going to make it look the way they want it to look. I know what happened.
“I don’t know if I should apologize because I don’t feel like I did anything wrong, except the ladder just fell. I feel like it’s my right for me to work on my skills after a horrible night from the free throw line. I think anybody in my position that had a night like me would go out and work on his free throws. And if they didn’t, they don’t really care about their game.”
It’s unclear at this point whether or not any of the players involved in the postgame incident will be fined by the NBA.
7:00pm: The Jazz have also shown recent interest in Collins, Charania said in an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link).
3:06pm: John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 disputes Charania’s claim that the Suns are a potential suitor for Collins, tweeting that Phoenix doesn’t have interest in the veteran forward.
Gambadoro adds (via Twitter) that the Suns and Kings had a discussion about Barnes over the summer, but with Sacramento playing well and Mike Brown a fan of the veteran forward, the Kings don’t intend to move Barnes.
According to Charania, the Hawks have opened “preliminary” trade talks involving Collins, with the Suns among the teams showing interest in the 25-year-old. Sources tell The Athletic that a Collins trade doesn’t appear imminent, and Charania cites executives who believe it could take weeks or months for the Hawks to find a deal they like — if they move him at all.
Collins was considered a trade candidate during the year leading up to his restricted free agency in 2021, but signed a five-year, $125MM contract to remain in Atlanta. That deal did little to quiet the trade rumors surrounding him though — those rumors popped up again at the 2022 trade deadline and during this past offseason, prompting Hawks general manager Landry Fields to tell reporters on Media Day in September that Collins was “still here for a reason.”
In 15 games so far this season, Collins has struggled to produce consistently. His average of 12.6 points per game is his lowest since his rookie year, and his .493 FG% is a career-worst mark, as is his .227 3PT%. Still, given his track record, the power forward should bounce back and will be an intriguing trade target for any team looking to acquire an impact frontcourt player.
As Charania notes, the Hawks have been one of the primary suitors for Suns forward Jae Crowder and have been engaged with Phoenix in trade talks in recent weeks, so it’s plausible the two teams could come together for a bigger deal involving both Crowder and Collins.
In order to match Collins’ salary, Phoenix would have to include at least one more mid-level type contract besides Crowder’s expiring deal. Dario Saric ($9.24MM expiring contract) and Landry Shamet ($9.5MM in 2022/23, plus $21.25MM across two more guaranteed years) would be the top candidates.
However, the Suns may be averse to the idea of taking on Collins’ long-term contract, according to Charania. He’s owed $23.5MM in 2022/23 and nearly $52MM in the following two seasons, with a $26.6MM player option for ’25/26. With the Suns facing a possible ownership change, it’s unclear how comfortable they are adding more big long-term financial commitments to their books.
In addition to Collins, the Suns have expressed interests in forwards such as Harrison Barnes of the Kings, Kyle Kuzma of the Wizards, and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Rockets, sources tell Charania. Phoenix has also reportedly engaged in Crowder-related trade talks with the Bucks, with one report suggesting Milwaukee is the frontrunner to land the veteran forward.
After reporting earlier in the week that the Suns appeared to be making real progress on trading Jae Crowder – perhaps in a three-team scenario – Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports was hesitant to offer many specific details in the latest episode of his Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast on Thursday, noting that he has yet to confirm the exact framework of the deals Phoenix is discussing. However, Fischer was able to identify a presumed frontrunner for Crowder.
“The only other thing I really feel comfortable sharing and confident sharing is that people around the situation have said that Milwaukee is the most likely team to land him,” Fischer said. “I can say that.”
As Fischer notes, he reported last week that the Bucks – who have long been identified as a possible suitor for Crowder – were gauging Grayson Allen‘s trade value around the league. So if Milwaukee does make a deal for Crowder, it seems likely that Allen would be an outgoing piece, either to Phoenix or to a third team.
Here’s more from around the Central:
- After missing most of last season due to a back injury, Bucks center Brook Lopez is healthy and making a significant impact on the defensive end this season, according to Nekias Duncan of BasketballNews.com, who argues that the big man should be in the early Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Lopez is on an expiring contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
- Logan Murdock of The Ringer takes a look at the Cavaliers‘ recent slump and their efforts to become a title contender without LeBron James for the first time in the 21st century. “I think for all of us, everyone is preaching championship,” Cavs wing Caris LeVert told Murdock. “I’ve been around a lot of teams, and it’s a long season. A lot of things happen within the season. So I think for us, just staying focused on the day-to-day, getting the most of each day, trying to maximize our potential each and every day will take care of all the rest of the stuff.”
- Pistons center Jalen Duren is the NBA’s youngest player and the only one who was born after LeBron James made his NBA debut in 2003, but his teammates and coaches have been impressed with his maturity, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN.com. “He don’t feel 18. He’s not built like he’s 18,” Isaiah Stewart said of Duren, who turns 19 on Friday. “He’s built like a grown man. He’s very mature for his age.”
- In a pair of stories for The Chicago Sun-Times, Joe Cowley considers what’s next for the enigmatic Coby White once he gets healthy and wonders if some lineup changes are in store for the struggling Bulls.
- After being upgraded from questionable to probable for Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, Bucks wing Pat Connaughton was ultimately ruled out, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. However, head coach Mike Budenholzer insisted that Connaughton didn’t suffer a setback, telling reporters that the team was just playing it safe, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Connaughton has yet to play this season due to a calf strain, but appears to be on the verge of returning.
- Bucks swingman Jordan Nwora scored a season-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win, making 5-of-9 three-pointers. Bobby Portis was among those thrilled by the success of his teammate, who re-signed with Milwaukee as a restricted free agent in September. “We’re always hard on him about just being a complete basketball player and not just being a scorer, sharing the basketball and things like that and I finally think just the light bulb is turning on for him a little bit,” Portis said, according to Nehm.