Trade deadline: McGrady could find his way to a contender

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Supposing the Sacramento Kings do in fact snare Tracy McGrady (the trade is not yet official) in a deal involving Kevin Martin and Carl Landry, there’s a distinct possibility that the Kings could cut McGrady loose via a contract buyout. After all, Sacramento is a young, growing team that needs to give playing time to the developing pieces of their roster, not an aged scorer who has seen the court little this season.

The Kings would obviously look to flip McGrady before the deadline or include another team (such as the Knicks) in their already structured trade; doing so would save Sacramento the money owed to McGrady through a potential buyout, and hopefully bring back a few assets (draft picks, young prospects) as well. According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, if McGrady and the Kings do eventually come to terms on a buyout, he hopes to latch on with the favorites for the Eastern or Western Conference crown: the Cavaliers or the Lakers.

It’s unclear exactly what McGrady can offer from a basketball standpoint, but he’d be best served in a reserve role given his lack of in-game conditioning and play against NBA-caliber competition. That could make both the Lakers and Cavaliers interesting fits for him, particularly the latter; while McGrady’s skill-set has obvious redundancies with Lamar Odom’s (not to mention McGrady’s nonexistent familiarity with L.A.’s triangle offense), T-Mac could offer an interesting alternative for the Cavs when LeBron needs a breather. As a long, tall small forward capable of making plays, McGrady could wind up as a decidedly less dominant but certainly usefl counterpart to LeBron in Cleveland’s rotation.

That is, if the Cavaliers, or the Lakers for that matter, are interested in McGrady at all. 

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

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Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

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Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

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This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

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In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.