Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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spurs_pacers.jpgOur game recaps from Wednesday, or what you missed during the Shaun Whiteout.

Spurs 90 Pacers 87: If you’d have told me Tim Duncan had 26 rebounds and Tony Parker had 28 points beforehand, I would have told you the Spurs won this game by 20. But the Pacers kept their feet moving, created some turnovers, and hung in there. With A.J. Price, though, the Pacers had no options at point, and Parker took advantage. DeJuan Blair looked human.

Grizzlies 109 Raptors 102: Even up by eight in the third, you could just tell the Grizzlies were going to blow the lead. And they did, as Chris Bosh took over down the stretch, and Bargnani was knocking down threes and putback hooks, Calderon was dishing, and the Raptors were running and…. wait, the Grizzlies won? Short answer: Down five with less than a minute, O.J. Mayo (OJAM) took over, knocking down a three, playing some defense leading to a teal for the Zach Randolph tying bucket. When the offense sputtered tonight, Mayo kicked it into gear. The Raptors looked like a legit Eastern Contender for stretches, but for all the talk of their second unit, it’s primarily made up of non-scorers, and it hurts them down the stretch like it did tonight.

Bulls 115 Knicks 109: Danil Gallinari will knock down five threes in a row, then airball the next. It’s uncanny. His airballs just seem to ride in on a gust of wind every now and then. Meanwhile, Taj Gibson may not be a very good rebounder, but if you let him rebound, you’re buried. You can’t let a guy who’s not good at something important do something important well. The Knicks did, and it was part of why they lost to the Bulls with Noah on the sideline and Salmons in a hotel room.

Rockets 127 Bucks 99:  If Trevor Ariza decides to go out and score efficiently, you’re dead before the ship even sinks. Ariza was 8-11 including 6-7 from the floor, and that’ll do it. The margin was mostly that the Rockets had seven guys in double figures and the Bucks had almost no ball movement. Just nothing. The Bucks struggled, they tried, but nothing was doing. Bogut had real trouble getting shots up in traffic. He’s got great versatility, but inside, there’s not one move he does better than anyone, yet.

Jazz 98 Hornets 90: The Jazz are playing so well right now that they can get away with a little mediocrity mixed in. The Hornets are not. The Jazz had a few stretches where they looked lost on defense, but towards the end, Kirilenko just wouldn’t let them lose, and the Hornets don’t have a playmaker with confidence in that situation with Paul out. One of those.

Mavs 107 Suns 97: Now this is what we thought we were getting. Caron Butler’s shooting percentage is not great. But he was hyper aggressive, snagged a few huge boards, and as opposed to last night, you could see him figuring out how to work with Nowitzki. It was terrible. Meanwhile, Brendan Haywood is tapping out shots to the perimeter for offensive glass. This team is going to be really scary in the playoffs. Amar’e was dominant for most of the game for a team that doesn’t want him, but then, he was probably showcasing as much as anything.

Miami 87, New Jersey 84: Dwyane Wade left in the first quarter with a strained calf and never returned, and without him the Heat had trouble creating consistent offense (just 36 second half points). That would have done them in against anyone but the Nets, who went 0-11 from the floor down the stretch (including Devin Harris missing some wide-open looks, that man is just not right). Courtney Lee pitched in with an 0-9 shooting night. Slow paced game, bad shooting, no D-Wade, if you missed this one you didn’t miss much.

Washington 108 Minnesota 99: Right before the game, a bunch of Wizards players were told they were traded, and that will screw up a locker room. Then the Timberwolves came out on an 8-0 run to start the game, and everyone was thinking the same thing, “This is going to get ugly.”  But like the little team that could, the Wizards started really playing some ball. Andray Blatche made this one of the five games a year where he decided to focus and dropped 33 and 13. The Wizards almost gave it back early in the fourth because, well they are the Wizards.  But behind Mike Miller’s shooting (5 of 5 from three) they got hot and they went on a 15-2 run late to get the win.

Credit here to the fans in the District, who were as loud and into the game as they have been all season, getting behind their upstart team.

Orlando 116, Detroit 91: It’s good to have Dwight Howard on your team. Ben Wallace is not quick enough to stop him, Jason Maxiell is just overmatched, and Howard could do what he wanted — 33 points on just 16 shots. Vince Carter continues his little hot streak, although he needs to do it for a lot longer before we buy in fully. Richard Hamilton was the only one on Detroit who showed any life on offense, he had 36, but then he doesn’t need to attack inside — where Howard dominated — and lived in the midrange.

Golden State 130, Sacramento 98: If CJ Watson drops 40 on you, you don’t deserve to win. Sacramento, I’m looking right at you. This was a blowout from the beginning, and the only thing of interest was Kevin Martin not playing in the second half because of a trade.

Atlanta 110, Los Angeles Clippers 92: No Baron Davis for the Clippers tonight, so newcomer Steve Blake and sophomore Eric Gordon have the ball handling duties. The result is 22 turnovers. Do that to the Hawks — let them get out running and get some easy baskets — and it is all over. This one was all over early, the Hawks got the taste of blood early and played good defense. Al Horford did whatever he wanted on offense, and the Hawks had 70 points in the paint. You think that happens if Marcus Camby is patrolling the paint? But the Clippers have cleared cap space heading into this summer, so they have that going for them. Which is nice.

Report: LeBron James being hands off, letting Cavaliers front office handle Irving trade

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Okay, Koby Altman — the Cavs interim general manager about to have the first part of that title removed — and Dan Gilbert, the ball is in your court.

Kyrie Irving has told the Cleveland Cavaliers he wants to be traded, and he’s given them a list of preferred landing spots. Normally in this kind of situation, the team’s biggest star would not only be informed but consulted and asked his opinion, however this time around LeBron James is going to be hands off, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

LeBron James intends to let the Cleveland Cavaliers front office and owner Dan Gilbert take the lead in dealing with Kyrie Irving’s trade demands, sources told ESPN.

As the Cavs consider their options, sources said James has expressed to the team that he is focused on his offseason workout regimen and is planning to report to training camp with the intention of leading his teammates to a fourth consecutive Finals — no matter who those teammates are.

Despite the perception — and some reality, the team did try to make him happy — LeBron has not wanted to play GM of the Cavaliers in recent years. He has wanted to be more hands off, but has let his feelings be known at times. Part of that was he grew to trust David Griffin to make decisions. With Griffin out of the way, a lot of things feel different in Cleveland.

Consider this part of the crumbling of the foundation in Cleveland. LeBron is acting like an employee, one who shows up to do his job and that’s it — which is what he is, but stars can take on a larger role in the franchise. LeBron has, and does still to a degree, but he has scaled it back after his experiences over the years. Things feel like they are closing in on the Cavaliers, the only question is how fast?

Report: Cavaliers unhappy Kyrie Irving news leaked because it hurts trade value

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The news Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland came as a bolt of lightning to a finally slowed NBA offseason. Speculation about the future of LeBron James had been rampant, but discussions of Kyrie Irving’s future were usually tied to LeBron (if he left the Cavs, Irving would go, too).

Cleveland wanted to keep it under wraps, because it’s easier to do business that way. Now the word is out — including that he prefers to be traded to San Antonio, Minnesota, Miami, or New York — and the Cavaliers are not happy, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

It means that there will be a lot more leaks — teams that want to look like they are trying to do something but have no real interest/assets will make a call then leak it so it looks like they are trying. It will mean a lot of distracting headlines.

However, unlike Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks, the Cavaliers have leverage here. Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause so the Cavaliers can take the best offer. Irving is an All-Star level point guard, one of the five to eight best in the NBA (depending on how much you knock him for his defensive lapses, and who you classify as a point guard). He also has two seasons left on his contract, so teams that trade for him have a chance to win him over to stay.

That said, leaked info or not, they are not getting equal value back. It doesn’t work that way with stars generally. That said, everyone knowing he wants out doesn’t help the Cavaliers cause here.

Kyrie Irving’s reported preferred trade destinations: Knicks, Heat, Spurs, Timberwolves

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Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavaliers.

He even apparently provided a list of teams he prefers to join.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

That’s quite an eclectic mix.

The Knicks play in a major market near Irving’s native New Jersey, but they’re lousy. The Heat have a merely good team, excellent basketball culture, beautiful weather and a state with no income tax. The Spurs also offer a great basketball culture and no state income tax – plus Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard. The Timberwolves are an up-and-comer with multiple players – Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler (a friend) – on Irving’s timeline (though one would likely have to be traded for him) and a coach in Tom Thibodeau who worked with Irving through USA Basketball.

But Irving doesn’t possess a no-trade clause. Cleveland can trade him anywhere – or not at all.

Teams that Irving greenlights might offer more than teams he doesn’t, believing he’d be more likely to re-sign when his contract expires. But his free agency is still two years away. It doesn’t seem that will play a huge factor.

For Irving to work his way to a team he prefers, it will take a little luck in which team offers the Cavs the best package – or impressive finagling by his agent.

Report: Spurs re-signing Pau Gasol to three-year contract

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Even after Pau Gasol opted out, there it nearly certain he’d stay with the Spurs.

Now, a deal is done.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

I’m a little surprised San Antonio guaranteed Gasol’s salary next season. By rule, it must be within 5% of what he’ll earn this year.

The Spurs could have major flexibility to chase free agents next summer, making keeping the books clean a priority. Their only constraints with Gasol this year are paying him up to 120% of his prior salary (which comes out to $18.6 million), the hard cap ($125,266,000) and whatever expense ownership would endure. So, if Gasol were willing to play ball, San Antonio could have paid him a sizable salary this year and far less – the room exception or even the minimum – next year.

Instead, Gasol’s compensation will be more balanced between the seasons. We’ll see how much he’ll earn.

Gasol remains an effective scorer, in part because he increased his range beyond the 3-point arc. He rebounds well in his area, and his length and basketball intelligence make him a passable defender given his other skills. His immobility can be a major defensive liability in certain matchups, though.

He’s also 37, an age where players can drop off quickly – another reason a one-year deal would’ve been preferable. At least the partial guarantee in the third year will help San Antonio.