What we could see before the trade deadline?

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Thumbnail image for NBA_mcgrady.jpgA lot of the big shoes dropped yesterday — Antawn Jamison going to Cleveland was the size 16 shoe of those moves — but there are still some trades hanging in the balance. What could happen?

The Knicks could get Tracy McGrady. The Rockets and Kings have a deal that sends McGrady, hard-working Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Kings for sharp-shooter (at least before this season) Kevin Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong and the ugly contract that is Kenny Thomas.

But that is not what McGrady’s agent, Arn Tellum, had in mind. He was picturing the bright lights of Madison Square Garden, and that could still happen. That two team deal could expand to bring in a third team deal that includes the Knicks. The scenario would likely involve Rodriguez and McGrady going to New York, and Jared Jeffries heading out. However, who would get him and who else would be involved is still being negotiated.

If the three team deal does not work, the two-team deal will go forward.

The Heat could get Amar’e Stoudemire. The trade to get Jamison in Cleveland was as much — or more — about making LeBron James happy and getting him to re-sign as it was about winning a title this year (although they could get both).

Miami has one of those frustrated free-agent-to-be stars in Dwyane Wade, and keeping him happy is why they may make a move. Stoudemire, with his tremendous athleticism and versatile offensive game, would be a good fit and add an offensive spark to the Heat. But, the nagging question is what Miami would give up. Second year forward Michael Beasley has been mentioned, but the deal is going to need a lot more than that.

There have been rumors that the Heat don’t want to make a big move, that the interest in Amar’e was simply to placate Wade. The Heat may be focused more on the free agent class this summer to bring help to Wade than right now. Stoudemire said he doesn’t think he’s going anywhere. But, stranger things have happened. Like Ray Romano having a hit show.

The Heat could trade Dorell Wright. This would be all about the cash — right now the Heat are just a hair over the luxury tax threshold. If they don’t go big with Stoudemire, they may want to go small and trade Dorell Wright and his $2.75 million expiring contract just to save the tax money.

Possible trading partners (those under the tax or with a trade exception they would use) are the Grizzlies, Wizards (after all their recent moves), the Nets and the Clippers. Those teams may want more than just Wright to make this happen (a second round draft pick, for example).

The Bulls could trade Tyrus Thomas/Kirk Hinrich. Chicago is still looking for anyone who wants Tyrus Thomas, in part for cap reasons and in part because he and Coach Vinny just don’t get along. They will listen to offers if a team wants to take on a very talented, not always so focused forward.

The Bulls showcased Kirk Hinrich last night, giving him 40 minutes on the court, and he had 10 points on 5 of 14 shooting. Since Chicago moved John Salmons, they may not be as inclined to find a deal, however Hinrich is owed $17 million over the next two seasons, and that is a lot of money. One possible rumored destination was the Lakers, but the defending champions said they likely would not be making any moves.

Nate Robinson deal finalized. While the news the Knicks and Celtics were close to a deal to send Nate Robinson to the Celtics to backup Rajon Rondo are true, the deal has yet to be finalized and get a thumbs up from the league office. We will see what the final details of this deal look like.

Indiana tries to trade Troy Murphy. It’s the hottest thing in the NBA — doesn’t everybody want a stretch four? Doesn’t everyone just like to say stretch four? Murphy is probably the best available at the deadline, and Indiana would love to be involved in talks where they are not just being used as leverage.

Golden State could trade Corey Maggette. Anywhere. Golden State would love to unload Corey Maggette’s deal, which goes three seasons after this one, starting at $9.6 million and climbing to $10.9 million. Maggettee is the perfect scorer/sixth man, and gets to the line with the best of them, but plays poor team defense and is not a good passer. Which is to say he is overpaid. Golden State is going to have a hard time moving this contract, but they will try.

The Spurs could move Antonio McDyess. Frankly, what the Spurs would like to do is move Richard Jefferson’s deal, but if all the other GMs are sober today nobody is taking that deal on. A lesser option being thrown around is to move Antonio McDyess. That would not be a surprise.

Charlotte could trade DJ Augustin. The Bobcats are shopping around second year point guard DJ Augustin. The former University of Texas player is still on his rookie deal, which is affordable, if someone is looking for a backup point guard. The Bobcats want a power forward in return.

Memphis could add depth. The Grizzlies like their team and will not be making major tweaks that could change future prospects, but they would like a little more depth. Discussion of all reasonably priced bench players welcome.

PBT Podcast: Thunder/Spurs, Hawks/Cavs, and Game 6s talk with Dan Feldman

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 28:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder tries to block Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter of a NBA game at the Chesapeake Energy Center on October 28, 2015 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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Friday night sees some big Game 6s across the NBA playoffs — Indiana has the best chance of forcing a Game 7 — but everyone is looking ahead to Oklahoma vs. San Antonio in the next round.

That includes Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com, who in this latest podcast discuss that series and the Atlanta and Cleveland series that tips off next week. Also they talk about the Friday night Game 6 matchups, and if Portland could beat Golden State if the Warriors do not get Stephen Curry back.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Report: Celtics believe they’ll get meeting with Kevin Durant

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) looks to move on Boston Celtics' Marcus Smart (36) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The Thunder won 130-109. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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The Celtics will chase Kevin Durant this summer.

Will it work?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

Ainge will be aggressive in free agency, team sources told The Vertical, and yes, that means a run at Kevin Durant. The Celtics believe Durant will meet with them this summer, but they know that meeting won’t accomplish much unless there are significant moves leading into it.

The Celtics are optimistic about meeting with Durant. The Warriors are optimistic about signing Durant.

That might just speak to different mindsets within the organizations – why shouldn’t Golden State be confident about everything? – but it also might handicap the odds of Durant’s next team. The Warriors definitely appear more likely than the Celtics.

Boston has plenty going for it: Brad Stevens, a solid young roster, extra draft picks (including the Nets’ first-rounder this year) and cap flexibility. But Durant wants to win now, so those more youthful assets mean only so much. It’s on Danny Ainge to prove he can turn that cap space into another helpful player, deal a Brooklyn pick or two for a veteran. That would become much easier if the Celtics win the lottery.

There’s a lot happening at once. If Durant isn’t coming, Boston might prefer to keep its draft picks and build slowly. Other free agents might not come. But if Durant is on board, that makes trades preferable and other free agents landable.

Of course, Durant should be the top option.

It appears the Celtics at least have their foot in the door.

Playoff preview: Four key questions about San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant, center, scores against the San Antonio Spurs during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Between 2011 and 2014, the Spurs and Thunder combined for six Western Conferences Finals appearances with at least one reaching it each year. Last season featured Warriors vs. Rockets. This year, one – but only one – of San Antonio and Oklahoma City will return.

1. Are these Kevin Durant‘s final games with the Thunder?

Let’s get this out of the way. Durant, as you well know, will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. At this point, the best thing Oklahoma City can do to keep him is win. He knows the city. He knows the franchise. He knows the roster (which would likely return in similar form if he re-signs). Whether the Thunder send him into free agency with a good taste in his mouth is the biggest variable.

Will Durant leave just because Oklahoma City loses to the Spurs? Of course not. Will Durant stay just because Oklahoma City beats the Spurs? Of course not.

But this is a big opportunity for the Thunder to accentuate their positives – and the Spurs, another team in the Durant hunt, to do the same.

2. Who wins the Kevin Durant vs. Kawhi Leonard matchup?

More directly on the court… Durant is involved in what might be the best individual matchup of the 2016 playoffs

Durant and Leonard should both finish top five in MVP voting. If they do, it’d be the first time two players top five in MVP voting who play the same position met in the playoffs since 2012, when LeBron James and Durant faced off in the Finals.

The matchup should be fun on both ends of the court, but it’ll be particularly intriguing when Oklahoma City has the ball. Durant is one of the NBA’s best offensive players, Leonard the best defender. I can’t wait to watch them go at it.

3. How do the Spurs handle Oklahoma City’s athleticism?

In his last 20 games against San Antonio, Serge Ibaka is 15-5. Ibaka embodies the athletic advantage the Thunder hold over the Spurs. At his best, Ibaka attacks with hops and speed the Spurs’ bigs can’t match. Ibaka looked old throughout much of the regular season, but he appeared rejuvenated in the first round against the Mavericks. If he was just saving his energy for the playoffs, following the Dwight Howard model in previous years, Ibaka could play a major role.

Ditto Russell Westbrook, who will challenge Tony Parker to keep up. San Antonio could cross match with Danny Green, but that presents complications in transition.

The Spurs are collectively more skilled, but the Thunder have done a better job than most at neutralizing that advantage.

4. Has Billy Donovan found a rotation that narrows the gap?

Billy Donovan passed his first playoff test against Rick Carlisle. Now the challenge grows even greater against Gregg Popovich.

One thing Donovan did right: Putting Nick Collison, not Kyle Singler, in the playoff rotation. Collison’s minutes could be key against a Spurs team that often plays two slower bigs. I guesses Singler rather than Collison would play regularly, which lowered Oklahoma City’s adjusted net rating by a few points per 100 possessions when projecting using only players in the playoff rotation.

I’ll again use nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s postseason rotation, once the first round ends. But for now, here are San Antonio’s and Oklahoma City’s ratings, from the regular season adjusted to only lineups that include five players projected to be in the playoff rotation:

2. San Antonio Spurs

  • Offensive rating: 110.5 to 110.0
  • Defensive rating: 99.4 to 96.1
  • Net rating: +11.1 to +13.9

3. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Offensive rating: 113.6 to 117.3
  • Defensive rating: 106.0 to 104.6
  • Net rating: +7.6 to +12.7

Both teams — already strong by this measure — benefited from beating up on their first-round competition, and the Thunder got a bump for using Collison over Singler. Oklahoma City still trails the Spurs, but the gap is much closer than overall regular-season results would suggest.

Prediction: Spurs in 7

Report: Deron Williams opting out of Mavericks contract

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 03:  Deron Williams #8 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball agains Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors at American Airlines Center on November 3, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Deron Williams sacrificed $16 million to leave the Nets in a buyout last summer. He recouped $5,378,974 with the Mavericks this season.

Now – instead of exercising his $5,621,026 player option – he’s looking to get more.

Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Deron Williams intends to opt out of the second season of his contract with the Mavericks, sources told ESPN.com.

Williams could return to the Mavericks. They’re one of the few teams that need a starting point guard, and two others that do – the Nets and Knicks – are probably off the table given Williams’ antipathy for a large market. Expect Dallas to at least try for an upgrade like Mike Conley first.

But even if Williams signs as a backup, he can still probably command more than $6 million next season. With the salary cap skyrocketing to about $92 million and so many teams flush with cap space, the salary picture is changing.

This also increases the Mavericks’ potential cap space.

They project to fall about $24 million under the cap, counting cap holds for Williams, Chandler Parsons (who has a player option that could go either way) and Dwight Powell. In other words, Dallas could spend that $24 million then exceed the cap to re-sign Williams, Parsons and/or Powell.

Renouncing Williams ($6,454,769 cap hold), Parsons ($19,969,950 cap hold only if he opts out) and/or Powell ($1,180,431) could clear additional cap room. Parsons opting in would restrict the Mavericks’ ability to clear space .

Williams would have been a bargain if he opted in. Instead, Dallas gains flexibility.