Norman Powell

Raptors Notes: Brown, Powell, Trent, Barrett

With trade buzz building, multifaceted new Raptors guard Bruce Brown seems like an enticing plug-and-play option for a variety of rival clubs, writes Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Brown’s former Nuggets teammates recently spoke in reverential tones of his application as a utility player.

“I think he can fit any team,” wing Christian Braun remarked.

“Coach [Michael Malone] called him the Swiss Army knife — I think that’s spot-on,” Denver guard Jamal Murray said. “He can bring it up. He can get to the rim. He can shoot it enough. He can defend their best player. Run in transition.”

Brown has been linked to the Knicks as of late, as well as the Lakers. As a versatile wing who can fill multiple positional slots on the hardwood for a given team, the 6’4″ vet could be an excellent fit within Tom Thibodeau‘s gritty system.

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • The decision to trade former Raptors wing Norman Powell to the Trail Blazers in 2021 is beginning to look like another epic miscalculation for a floundering Toronto front office, according to Michael Grange of As Grange notes, the Raptors opted to offload Powell rather than risk having to pay him a pricey new deal in free agency that summer. In the trade, Toronto took back the younger Gary Trent Jr., whom the club was able to retain for less money. However, Powell has only continued to improve, while Trent has plateaued a bit.
  • The Raptors would like to see newly acquired young swingman RJ Barrett develop beyond his current heavy focus on scoring the rock, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “With (Barrett), it’s very clear that he has a lot of room to improve,” first-year Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic said of the Canadian. “Obviously, the Olympic Games are there in the middle of the summer, as well. I think that’s going to be a great opportunity for him to play on the big (stage). … I think he’s going to have great opportunities this summer to take (his) game to the next level.”
  • In case you missed it, two-way player Jontay Porter has managed to carve out legitimate rotation time on head coach Rajakovic’s roster, and has impressed during his meaningful minutes.

Pacific Notes: Suns Rumors, Caruso, Clippers, Powell, Barnes

Within a look at some of the potential trade targets who have recently been linked to the Suns, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports reports that a source close to the situation has described Phoenix as “very confident” about its ability to make a competitive offer for Hornets forward Miles Bridges. Bourguet adds that Charlotte center Nick Richards is also a target, but that the team would likely only be able to acquire one Hornet or the other due to salary-matching considerations.

Bourguet also confirms that Nets forward Royce O’Neale is a legitimate target for the Suns, observing that O’Neale is more attainable than Dorian Finney-Smith due to his expiring contract and smaller cap hit.

The Suns would almost certainly need to use Nassir Little ($6.25MM) as their primary outgoing salary piece in any trade and would need to get to within 10% of the incoming salary, so acquiring a player who is earning much more than O’Neale ($9.5MM) would be tricky. Phoenix would presumably need to add one or two minimum-salary players and multiple second-round picks to its package for either Bridges or O’Neale.

The buyout market could also prove fruitful for the Suns, Bourguet writes, even though they’ll be prohibited from signing a player whose pre-waiver salary exceeds $12.4MM. P.J. Tucker would have interest in Phoenix if he’s bought out, according to Bourguet, who says the team has also been in touch with center Bismack Biyombo, a current free agent.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Veteran guard Alex Caruso, who left the Lakers for the Bulls as a free agent in 2021, tells Melissa Rohlin of FOX Sports that he still sometimes thinks about how things would have played out if he had remained in Los Angeles. “Yeah, definitely,” Caruso said. “Just because of how well I played with them when I was here. I know how I supported them. And I’ve gotten better. I was expecting myself to get better. It’s actually what had to move me on. I kept getting better and eventually I was at a point where I couldn’t stay here. I definitely have always thought about it because those guys (LeBron James and Anthony Davis) are my brothers. We’ve been through a lot together. Always good seeing them. Every now and then you think about what could’ve been.”
  • Rival coaches and executives are praising Clippers head of basketball operations Lawrence Frank for the way his gamble on James Harden has paid off so far, according to Steve Bulpett of “I didn’t think it would work out,” one exec said. “A lot of people didn’t think it would work out. But he had it right. Russell (Westbrook) is playing within himself. Harden is sharing the ball. They have great chemistry right now.”
  • In a conversation with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Clippers wing Norman Powell spoke about his impressions of Harden and Westbrook as teammates, the role that coach Tyronn Lue has played in the team’s success, and how these Clippers compare to the 2019 champion Raptors, among other topics.
  • Viewed as a probable outgoing piece if the Kings make a major deadline trade, Harrison Barnes has been on a heater this week, scoring 32 points on Monday and a career-high 39 on Thursday, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes.

Pacific Notes: Klay, Plumlee, Theis, N. Powell, Bol

It has been a disappointing first half of the season for Warriors wing Klay Thompson, whose average of 16.7 points per game is well below his career mark. His 42.0% shooting percentage on field goal attempts and 37.7% rate from beyond the three-point line would be career lows.

While Thompson’s slow start has affected his demeanor on and off the court, he said on Tuesday that a recent conversation with head coach Steve Kerr has helped him “relax a lot” and adjust his mindset, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“Sometimes I forget just how successful and how lucky I’ve been to be part of a championship team, All-Star games, gold medals,” Thompson said. “You want to get back to that level so badly you can kind of get in your own way. Rather than forcing it, we had a conversation about enjoying the last chapter of my career, how lucky I truly am to still be playing this game, doing it at a high level, being a better mentor for these young guys, leading by example, having my energy right every game.

“He helped me realize if I do have negative energy how that affects the team in a poor manner. So we had a great conversation that helped me change my whole mindset and forget about shooting splits or points per game or All-Star games and just to enjoy being in this Warriors uniform and appreciate what we’ve built. Because it’s such a rare opportunity for a professional athlete to be a part of so much success and to pass that torch to the young guys and keep this thing going.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers center Mason Plumlee was active on Monday for the first time since going down with an MCL sprain on November 6, but he didn’t see any action, as Janis Carr of The Orange County Register writes. “He is available, but we still want to make sure we are doing the right thing and making sure that we’re taking the slow (road) and ease him back in,” head coach Tyronn Lue explained. Fellow reserve center Daniel Theis said he hasn’t been told by the coaching staff how his role will be affected by Plumlee’s return.
  • With the Clippers healthier this year than in recent seasons, Norman Powell is averaging just 25.6 minutes per game off the bench, his lowest mark since 2018/19. However, the veteran wing says he’s willing to sacrifice some playing time and accept a reduced role if it’s the right move for the team as a whole, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. “This year with the way the team is constructed and the moves that we made, I’ve been taking a step back and not being so upset that my role isn’t going to be where I would like it to be, or where I want it to be or how I view myself, and accepting how the team is built, what the team is looking for and what we have to do to win,” Powell said.
  • Bol Bol made just eight appearances and logged only 19 total minutes in his first 32 games with the Suns, but he finally got an extended opportunity in Monday’s win over Portland and took advantage of it, putting up 11 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes. “I haven’t been able to show it, but I still have all the same confidence,” Bol said before the game, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I know what I’m capable of doing when given a chance.” Head coach Frank Vogel told reporters after the victory that the team was “really happy” with Bol’s performance and hinted that his opportunities to play non-garbage-time minutes may be more frequent going forward.

Clippers Notes: Brown, Harden, Powell, Consistency, Primo

Clippers forward Kobe Brown has usurped P.J. Tucker in the team’s rotation of late, per Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Brown, who was the final first-round pick of this year’s draft (30th overall), is receiving a rare opportunity for a Clippers rookie, Greif writes, as L.A. has been focused on contending in recent years — its young players typically receive playing time in the G League instead of the NBA.

That was also the case for Brown prior to the trade for James Harden, which saw the Clippers send out four forwards and only receive one in return (Tucker), creating a void at the position. The 23-year-old said his time with the Ontario Clippers was beneficial, Greif notes.

The G League definitely helped, a lot,” he said. “It’s the same stuff we do with the big team but the games are a lot slower, at least in my opinion, so you’re able to grasp onto stuff we’re doing a lot easier so when you come back up it’s like, everything slows down a little bit for me. That’s been the biggest thing for me, really.”

Brown’s statistics have been modest to this point, which is to be expected with so many ball-dominant players on the roster. But the team likes his versatility, and head coach Tyronn Lue has been encouraging him to remain confident even when he makes mistakes, according to Greif.

Here’s more on the Clippers:

  • L.A. reeled off six straight losses after acquiring Harden, but the Clippers have gone 7-3 over their past 10 games and are back at .500 with a 10-10 record. What has led to the turnaround? Law Murray of The Athletic explores that topic, writing that Harden is regaining his form, Norman Powell continues to provide a lift off the bench, and players growing more comfortable in their roles have all played factors in the team’s improved play.
  • Despite recent comeback wins over Golden State and Denver, the Clippers are still searching for consistency, Greif writes for The Los Angeles Times (subscription required). Evaluating the team through 20 games is nearly impossible because of all the changes to the roster and rotation, says Greif, but one thing seems certain — avoiding playing Harden and Russell Westbrook together is a must, with Lue saying the team plans to stagger their minutes late in games.
  • Guard Joshua Primo won’t face charges after being accused of “exposing himself to one individual” five different times over the course of several months, Greif tweets. The Bexar County District Attorney’s office cited a lack of evidence as the reason why Primo won’t be charged with a crime. The 20-year-old was given a second chance this fall by the Clippers after being waived by San Antonio last year for engaging in “inappropriate and offensive behavior by exposing himself to women.” The NBA imposed a four-game suspension and Primo has been undergoing therapy for his behavior, which allegedly included multiple incidents with Dr. Hillary Cauthen, a sports psychologist who worked for the Spurs during his time with the organization.

Pacific Notes: Green, Durant, Clippers, Lakers

Speaking to the media on Sunday for the first time since he received a five-game suspension for putting Rudy Gobert in a headlock for several seconds, Warriors forward/center Draymond Green expressed no remorse for actions, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN.

I don’t live my life with regrets,” Green said. “I’ll come to a teammate’s defense any time that I’m in a position to come to a teammate’s defense. … What matters to me is how the people that I care about feel, first and foremost. How are the people that I care about affected? How are the people I care about, what do they have to deal with? That’s it for me.”

Head coach Steve Kerr initially defended Green in the aftermath of the incident between Golden State and Minnesota, but he later changed his stance and said the forward’s behavior was “inexcusable” and the suspension was deserved. While Green didn’t outright disclose any specific details about the talks he had with Kerr and general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr., it’s pretty clear they want him to make better decisions going forward, according to Andrews.

The consensus amongst all of us is that I’m going to be me no matter what. That’s not going to change,” Green said. “But in saying that, there’s always a better way that something can be done. So it’s figuring out a better way. That’s the consensus among all of us.”

Green, who also complained about being harshly penalized in part due to his past transgressions, won’t be on a minutes restriction when he returns for Tuesday’s matchup in Sacramento since he wasn’t injured, Andrews notes.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Suns star Kevin Durant missed his second straight game on Sunday in New York due to right foot soreness, as relays. Durant, who warmed up before contest before being ruled out, is considered day-to-day. Phoenix’s next game isn’t until Wednesday in Toronto, so he’ll have some extra rest the next couple days.
  • Saturday’s decisive victory over Dallas showcased the Clippers‘ depth, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. With James Harden and Kawhi Leonard struggling for a second consecutive game, the Clips got key contributions from Russell Westbrook (14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, eight rebounds, seven assists), Terance Mann (17 points on 7-of-14 shooting), Norman Powell (15 points without missing a shot), and Ivica Zubac (11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 14 rebounds), Greif writes.
  • With Cam Reddish (left adductor), Rui Hachimura (nasal fracture), Jarred Vanderbilt (left heel bursitis) and Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion) all sidelined on Saturday in Cleveland, the Lakers used a shortened eight-man rotation, per Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group. Head coach Darvin Ham says they need to “weather the storm” until they get some players back. “You have to see the glass half full always, so I’d rather this happen now with some of our guys as opposed to late March, April going into that money time,” Ham said. “We just have to weather the storm. That’s why you try to put together a deep roster. I think the plan for our team that we put together and tried to execute this summer is coming to fruition. We’re needing these pieces, being deep at every position allows you a chance to weather all of this to try to get through it at the highest level possible.” After starting the season 3-5, the Lakers have won seven of their past nine games and hold a 10-7 record.

Clippers Notes: Harden, Rotation, Westbrook, Plumlee

The Clippers are winless since trading for James Harden and P.J. Tucker on November 1 and they don’t appear close to having a cohesive rotation, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Greif notes that Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook are still figuring out how they’ll work together after being primary scorers throughout their careers.

Coach Tyronn Lue made an adjustment Friday in Dallas, Greif adds, taking George and Westbrook out of the game earlier than usual in the first quarter and having them replace Harden and Leonard later on. A lineup with George, Westbrook, Tucker, Norman Powell and Terance Mann was outscored by nine points in two minutes, but Lue indicated that he wants to give that combination more opportunities to succeed.

“At some point it’s going to work and nobody’s going to talk about the rotations and guys on the floor and personnel,” George said. “And at some point we’re going to figure it out.”

Harden also remains confident, telling reporters, including Law Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link), “For me individually, this is only my third game. I didn’t have a training camp, I didn’t have a preseason, so everything is still moving fast speed for me. I need about a 10-game window then kind of see where I am from there.”

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Lue believes he needs to keep a center on the court to maximize Harden’s pick-and-roll abilities, but Mann, a 6’5″ swingman, started in the middle ahead of Ivica Zubac to begin the second half Friday, Greif adds. Lue dismissed it as a desperation move, saying he wanted to try something different with a 30-point deficit. L.A. is missing its normal backup center, Mason Plumlee, who is expected to be sidelined for a significant part of the season with an MCL sprain in his left knee.
  • Westbrook has been most impacted by the addition of Harden, Greif observes. He’s averaging 32 fewer touches in the three games that Harden has played, compared to 14 fewer for Leonard and seven fewer for George. In a full story, Murray suggests that Lue is unlikely to remove Westbrook from the starting lineup, so it might be up to the front office to determine Westbrook’s future with the team.
  • Before being injured, Plumlee talked to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about why he decided to re-sign with the Clippers this summer. “I feel like in the whole time I’ve been in the league, there’s been one team (Denver in the 2020 Western Conference Finals) I’ve been on where I felt like we had a chance to win the whole thing,” Plumlee said. “This was another one of those chances. It took a little bit of sacrifice to choose to come back here, but it’s been well worth it and makes it fun to come in each day.”

Pacific Notes: Booker, Beal, Goodwin, Mann, Powell, Lakers, Warriors

There’s no specific timetable for the return of either Devin Booker (ankle) or Bradley Beal (back), Suns head coach Frank Vogel said on Tuesday, per Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports (Twitter links). Both players have been doing some on-court work, but it has mostly been light shooting, so they haven’t fully ramped up for game action yet.

While Beal has yet to make his Suns debut, Jordan Goodwin – the other player the team acquired in that blockbuster summer deal – has been playing regular minutes in his first four games in Phoenix.

Known known more as a defender, Goodwin has provided some scoring and play-making off the bench with Booker and Beal out, writes Dana Scott of The Arizona Republic. He has made just 34.3% of his shots from the floor, but has posted solid averages of 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 21.0 minutes per night.

“Just take advantage of the opportunity. Once we get all of our guys back, those shots, the ones I’m taking right now are gonna be even more open,” Goodwin told Scott over the weekend.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Clippers wings Terance Mann and Norman Powell were mentioned frequently in James Harden trade rumors in recent months, so they were relieved not to be on the move in the deal L.A. eventually made for the star guard, per Mark Medina of Sportskeeda. “It shows the value that they see in us,” Powell said. “You always want that as a player in a league like this: to find a team, organization, and front office that believes in your ability, believes in what you bring to the table, and believes you can help them win at a high level.”
  • After promising to make tweaks to his rotation following Sunday’s loss to Sacramento, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham leaned on bigger lineups in Monday’s victory over Orlando, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Both Christian Wood (27) and Jaxson Hayes (10) set new season highs in minutes played, as the team frequently deployed a second big man alongside Anthony Davis. “Whenever (Wood is) in there with (Davis), they’re just two huge presences on the defensive glass,” Ham said. “Christian gets some of the toughest defensive rebounds I’ve ever seen anyone get. So, he and (Davis) being combined for, I think it was 25 defensive rebounds, we needed every one of them.”
  • Although it’s a small sample size, the Warriors‘ second unit is thriving and the team’s depth has been a strength in the early going this season, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic and Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Stephen Curry believes the strong play of the second unit – led by Chris Paul – is having a ripple effect on the starters. “That’s different for us, when that unit is so impactful,” Curry said, per Slater. “We’re over on the bench enjoying what we’re watching. When you’re watching good basketball, you feel good about how we’re all playing. It flows.”

Atlantic Notes: Bridges, Simmons, Powell, Uzoh

Mikal Bridges‘ performance in the World Cup should confirm the Nets’ confidence that he can be their team leader, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Bridges already had a major breakthrough after being acquired in the Kevin Durant trade in February, increasing his scoring average from 17.2 PPG in 56 games with Phoenix to 26.1 in 27 games with Brooklyn. He also proved to be effective in international basketball, finishing as Team USA’s second-leading scorer behind Anthony Edwards. Lewis points out that Bridges had the best efficiency rating on the team as a result of his shooting percentages (63.3% from the floor and 55.6% from behind the arc) and his contributions on defense.

U.S. coach Steve Kerr was impressed by what Bridges and Nets teammate Cameron Johnson were able to bring to the team.

“I already knew what kind of players they were from coaching against them,” Kerr said. “But they’re so mature: There’s a calming sense from both guys. And they’re also modern-day basketball players: shoot the three, guard multiple positions, long athletically. They’re huge components to this team.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets will be one of the teams least affected by the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy, Lewis adds. The regulations put restrictions on the amount of rest permissible for star players, but the only Net who currently qualifies is Ben Simmons, who has been dealing with legitimate injuries ever since arriving in Brooklyn. Lewis notes that Bridges could eventually join Simmons if he becomes an All-Star this season, but he hasn’t missed a game in his NBA career.
  • In an interview with Fix Media Network (video link) Clippers guard Norman Powell said it’s much easier to go out in public in Los Angeles without being recognized than it was when he played for the Raptors (hat tip to Fan Nation). “The support is crazy,” Powell said of playing in Canada. “It’s so bad, and it’s one thing that I do like now that I’m in L.A., because no matter where you’re at, eyes are on you in Canada. You can’t even go to restaurants, you can’t go to the mall, like you can’t walk down the street. … Don’t go to Vancouver or somewhere where they don’t have the Raptors, you’re getting mobbed, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Ben Uzoh, who briefly played for the Raptors in 2012, has joined the organization as a scout, tweets Blake Murphy of

Eastern Notes: DeRozan, Turner, Simmons, Powell

All-Star Bulls small forward DeMar DeRozan is eligible for a four-year contract extension worth up to $179MM, prompting K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago to consider the case for Chicago’s retention of the 34-year-old wing.

Across his two seasons with the Bulls, DeRozan has posted impressive regular season averages of 26.2 PPG, 5.0 APG and 4.9 RPG. Chicago returned to the playoffs in one of those two seasons, falling in five quick games to the Bucks in 2022.

Johnson believes that the Bulls might want to consider keeping DeRozan on a deal closer to Khris Middleton‘s new three-year, $102MM agreement with Milwaukee, and wonders if the three-time All-NBA honoree and Chicago could come to terms on a new contract that would make both sides happy.

There’s more out of the East:

  • Three-and-D Pacers center Myles Turner is hoping to elevate his shooting to an elite level this season. The 6’11” big man indicated in a new conversation with hosts Alex Golden and Michael Facci on their Setting The Pace podcast (h/t to Tony East of All Pacers for the transcription) that he wants to join the 50/40/90 shooting club, something few players in league history have ever done. “Working on multiple things,” Turner said. “Obviously, still improving my shot. Get my numbers up there. I really strive to be like a 50/40/90 guy… I think it’s possible… a lofty goal at that, but something I know I’m capable of doing.” In 2022/23, Turner averaged 18.0 PPG on .548/.373/.783 shooting splits, along with 7.5 RPG, 2.3 BPG, 1.4 APG and 0.6 SPG. He has never shot better than 80.9% from the charity stripe in a single season, or better than 38.8% on three-pointers.
  • The revamped Nets are hoping that former All-Star point guard Ben Simmons can return to his winning ways. Simmons was out of the team’s rotation by the end of the year. Per Anthony Puccio of NetsDaily, a recent site survey shows that a majority of fans (62%) are optimistic Simmons will be the club’s starting point guard in April. 87% of Brooklyn fans are also convinced that the team will win more than 38 contests in 2023/24.
  • Clippers reserve guard Norman Powell recently looked back on the 2021 trade that sent him from the Raptors to the Trail Blazers (Twitter video link via Basketball On X). “I didn’t want to leave Toronto,” Powell revealed. “I wanted to stay. The core that we had with Fred [VanVleet], Pascal [Siakam], OG [Anunoby], me, could’ve been what Boston Celtics are today.”

Fischer’s Latest: Lillard, Harden, Saric, Christopher, N. Powell

After a busy first two days of free agency on Friday and Saturday, the pace has slowed down on Sunday and Monday, with minimum-salary deals, rookie agreements, and two-way signings dominating headlines at Hoops Rumors.

While that shift is partly due to the fact that most of this year’s top free agents have come off the board, it’s also related to the trade requests submitted by Damian Lillard and James Harden, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who suggests that neither the Trail Blazers nor the Sixers are in a rush to make a deal. Some areas of the free agency market may be on hold until those situations are resolved, Fischer explains.

For instance, the Heat – who are Lillard’s top suitor – have told several free agents, including Malik Beasley, that they won’t be moving forward with veteran’s minimum signings until they have more clarity on the Lillard situation. Miami would presumably be a more attractive destination for veteran free agents with Lillard on the roster — and would have more roster openings to fill.

According to Fischer, Dario Saric and Josh Christopher are among the players who “could be involved” with the Heat depending on what happens with Lillard. Saric is a free agent, while Christopher is reportedly being traded from Houston to Memphis, so perhaps there are scenarios in which he’d be re-routed to Miami. Beasley apparently decided not to wait on the Heat, having agreed to sign with Milwaukee.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Like Lillard with the Heat, Harden has conveyed a strong preference that he end up with the Clippers, according to Fischer. The fact that the two stars are each focused on a single destination is one reason why the Trail Blazers and Sixers are moving so deliberately, Fischer notes, since they don’t want to be “backed into a corner” and accept pennies on the dollar. It will be a challenge for Portland and Philadelphia to extract the best possible package they can for their respective stars without opening up the market to other teams, either as potential Lillard/Harden destinations or as third or fourth clubs in multi-team deals that get the star guards to their desired landing spots.
  • The Clippers appear better positioned to work out a deal with the Sixers for Harden than the Heat are with the Trail Blazers for Lillard, in part because Philadelphia is prioritizing expiring contracts and Los Angeles has plenty of those to offer, Fischer says. Still, he wonders if Clippers swingman Norman Powell – who has three years left on his contract – might hold some appeal for the Sixers, whose new head coach Nick Nurse had Powell on his 2019 title team in Toronto.
  • The fact that Harden has just one year left on his contract – compared to Lillard’s four – may make a dark-horse suitor more comfortable about rolling the dice on the Sixers guard, knowing that if it doesn’t go well, he’ll be off the books in a year and it won’t be a long-term problem, Fischer writes. On the other hand, team executives around the NBA aren’t necessarily convinced that Lillard, who has a reputation for being a consummate professional and can’t reach free agency until at least 2026, would play hardball and refuse to report to camp if he’s sent to a non-Heat team, Fischer adds.