Rockets looking to obtain number one pick
Trade and draft rumors continue to circulate throughout the league and we start with the Houston Rockets aggressively trying to pursue the number one pick. They hold the second overall pick but are looking to pass Detroit for the number one spot to potentially get Oklahoma State product Cade Cunningham. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony claims the Pistons might not be completely sold on Cunningham and have considered moving back. The two teams are in tough spots as they desperately need a number one talent, so it will be interesting to see who they believe can help turn their franchise around.
Pelicans might trade number 10 pick
The New Orleans Pelicans are rumored to examine options about trading the number 10 overall pick. Zach Harper of The Athletic alleges people around the league are “expecting them to move this pick for some veteran help.” Their GM David Griffin has been known to be aggressive with trades in the past. Their roster is filled with young players, so this notion seems to make sense as they hope to pair their two stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram with talented, veteran leadership.
Pelicans might move on from Lonzo Ball
Another piece of Pelicans news is their young guard Lonzo Ball possibly leaving during free agency. Shams Charania of The Athletic says the Pelicans are “unlikely to match a significant offer sheet.” He also discusses the idea of the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Clippers being interested in the former second overall pick.
Although Ball struggled offensively early in his career, he rejuvenated his shot with New Orleans averaging a career-high 14.6 points per game shooting 41% from the field. He’s an all-around type of player averaging 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.5 steals last season. The Pelicans are interested in the potential of their number 17 overall pick in the 2019 draft Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and that could be the reason for a possible Lonzo Ball departure.
Knicks want Sexton
The Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly made their guard Colin Sexton available because they are not likely to sign him to a max deal. The Cavs selected Sexton with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 draft, and he increased his production averaging 24 points and 4.4 assists in his third NBA season.
According to Shams Charania, the Knicks are the “most aggressive trade suitor” for the talented guard. They are looking to pair their star Julius Randle with another star after their disappointing first-round playoff series against the Hawks. They will most likely have to pay Sexton a pretty penny as he nears the end of his rookie deal. Although the Knicks pride themselves on defense and Sexton is not much of a defender, they desperately need consistent scoring and they hope this is the piece to make a deep playoff run.
Head coaching hires
The Orlando Magic announced on Sunday former Nuggets and recent Mavericks assistant coach Jamahl Mosley will become the 15th head coach in franchise history. He spent the previous 15 seasons as an assistant and now has agreed to a four-year deal to lead the Magic.
Fresh off a 21-51 record last season, they hope to rebuild with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft combined with talented, young prospects like Cole Anthony and former Nugget guard R.J. Hampton.
The Atlanta Hawks removed the interim head coaching tag from Nate McMillan and are formulating a contract to keep him in Atlanta long term. After a very slow start to the season with Llyod Pierce at the helm, McMillan led the Hawks to the fifth seed in this year’s playoff and a competitive series throughout the Eastern Conference Finals. They have a very talented squad with budding superstar Trae Young assisted by athletic big Clint Capela and young shooters Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter.
Furthermore, the New Orleans Pelicans are reportedly gearing for a deal with Suns assistant coach Willie Green. Green was a 12-year NBA veteran and has had a successful coaching run as well. He spent the previous two seasons with Phoenix and prior to his arrival with the Suns, he spent three seasons on the Golden State Warriors coaching staff.
Team USA starts 1-2 in exhibition play
One of the more puzzling storylines is Team USA beginning their Olympic season with two straight losses. Nigeria beat the U.S. 90-87 and then Australia cruised past them 91-83. The United States led at halftime through both games but could not continue the same production in the second.
Nigeria and Australia reminded Team USA they cannot just proceed through the tournament solely on talent, but the United States responded against Argentina. They dominated in a 108-80 victory. They had five players in double figures led by Durant and Beal with 17 apiece. Nuggets guard Facu Campazzo contributed well with 12 points along with former veteran NBA player Luis Scola with 16.
Zach LaVine throws down a nasty poster dunk as Team USA tries to actually win a game. pic.twitter.com/J3Ivexpvet
— The Comeback (@thecomeback) July 13, 2021
These two teams with face each other again on Friday in another exhibition. Team USA remains the favorite to bring back the gold, but these exhibition games are an effective reminder that the U.S. is not the only country that can hoop.
An interesting note to their slow start is how Team USA is adapting to the officiating. These stars are used to flopping and getting ticky-tack NBA calls which is not happening as often with FIBA officiating. Senior NBA Insider for Yahoo Sports Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) reports, “Throughout the games, multiple players, from Jayson Tatum to Bradley Beal, have been staring down officials following no-calls as they’re accustomed to receiving touch fouls.”
For those who are not fans of NBA touch fouls, myself included, have people wondering and hoping the NBA adopts some of the FIBA officiating tactics. It is not likely to happen but a boy can dream.
These guys are STRUGGLING without NBA refs lol pic.twitter.com/xK6hssOffC
— Cranjis McBasketball (@Tim_NBA) July 13, 2021
Bucks win at home, series now 2-1
The Milwaukee Bucks finally cooled off the Suns on Sunday winning 120-100. Giannis is proving to possibly be the most dominant force in the NBA as he scored 40+ points for the second game in a row. He is now the second player in NBA Finals history with back-to-back games scoring 40+ points and 10+ rebounds. Jrue Holiday regained form scoring 21 points and 9 assists on 5-10 shooting from three. The Bucks had five players in double figures and held a hot Suns squad to 29% from beyond the arc.
GIANNIS NEVER GAVE UP pic.twitter.com/Rz4zTN6iA1
— ESPN (@espn) July 12, 2021
Suns star guard Devin Booker struggled, shooting 3-14 from the field with only 10 points. It was his worst performance of the postseason, but he will be ready and focused to bounce back in Game 4.
The Bucks have a great home-court advantage as Milwaukee is a very underrated basketball town. It was their first NBA finals home game in 47 years, and they expressed their pent-up energy on Sunday night. They fill inside and outside the arena, and that spirit helped ignite confidence in a Bucks squad that was down 2-0.
One area of focus for Milwaukee was getting Deandre Ayton in foul trouble and it worked in Game 3. Since Dario Saric tore his ACL early in the series, Phoenix is very thin inside without Ayton and it showed on Sunday. They look to continue to be aggressive inside and ride that energetic crowd tonight as they look to tie the series at two apiece.