Windhorst: Cavs extremely active in trade talks

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UPDATE 1:16 AM: ESPN.com’s Marc Stein: “Yes: Brendan Haywood is potential S-and-T piece for Mavs. But Mavs sources insist there is ‘no chance’ he moves in sign-and-trade for Shaq.”
Just after 12 AM Eastern on Thursday morning, Brian Windhorst’s twitter feed absolutely blew up with Cavalier-related rumors. The Cavaliers are obviously waiting on LeBron James’ free agency decision with bated breath, but they’re not just sitting around while they wait for his decision. Cleveland knows that it will have to make some real changes to its roster if they want to keep LeBron, and they don’t seem to be wasting any time in trying to improve. 
According to Windhorst, the Cavalier front office has been speaking to other teams about making the following moves:
-After watching Shaquille O’Neal struggle to keep up on defense during the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Cavs are reportedly discussing a “double-sign-and-trade” that would send O’Neal to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for center Brendan Haywood. 
O’Neal’s post scoring was supposed to give the Cavaliers a new dimension, but more often than not he stopped the ball on offense. Defensively, Shaq struggled to keep the faster players in the league in front of him, particularly when he was put in the pick-and-roll. If the Cavs move Shaq for Haywood, it would be a step towards the defense-first/drive-and-kick mentality that Cleveland had during the 2008-09 season. 
-The Cavs are also looking for an upgrade at the two; according to Windhorst, the Cavs are looking at Ray Allen, John Salmons, and Mike Miller in free agency. Allen would likely be their #1 choice, but with Doc Rivers returning it seems unlikely that Allen will leave Boston. 
Delonte West was a revelation at the two-guard position during the 08/09 season. Unfortunately, he never returned to his 08/09 form last season, and Anthony Parker was merely passable as a starting two-guard. Parker was a solid defender and made open threes, but the Cavs are clearly looking for more scoring punch in their backcourt. 
-Cleveland has interest in Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire, but it is unlikely that either would come to Cleveland if LeBron doesn’t re-sign with the team. Since LeBron may leave Cleveland unless the Cavaliers get a player like Bosh or Stoudemire, this could become something of a Catch-22. 
-The Cavaliers have also reportedly shown some interest in contacting Al Harrington. I can’t think of a very compelling explanation for that one. 
These rumors help to confirm what most NBA fans suspected: The Cavs are looking to make moves, and everything can be made available for the right price. That’s what can happen when a team finds itself in an all-or-nothing situation. 

Blazers C Meyers Leonard dunks on Celtics’ Mickey twice in five minutes (VIDEO)

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Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard is an athletic young guy who has made a name for himself as a fade man off the pick-and-roll. But against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Leonard decided to roll to the hoop instead, and it sort of worked out.

Unless you’re Jordan Mickey, in which case it didn’t.

The first poster dunk came during the final minute of the first quarter in Boston, where the Blazers were running a sideline out of bounds play.

Via Twitter:

The second came at 9:51 in the second quarter, with Leonard again rolling to the rack on a play with Allen Crabbe. Mickey again wound up as the help man, and again found himself on the wrong end of a highlight reel.

We’ll just forgive that off arm for now.

Jabari Parker held out of Bucks lineup vs. Heat for breaking team rule

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MIAMI (AP) Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker is out of the starting lineup for the first time this season Saturday night at Miami after breaking a team rule.

Parker will play coming off the bench, coach Jason Kidd said.

Kidd declined to elaborate on the move, which came after the Bucks held a long players-only meeting following a loss Friday at Orlando. The meeting got heated at times, and Parker said he wasn’t well received when he expressed his point of view.

Parker has scored at least 20 points in four consecutive games. He was replaced in the lineup by rookie Thon Maker, making his first career start.

Gregg Popovich on Trump: “Can’t believe anything that comes out of his mouth” (VIDEO)

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Today across the country many hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets as part of the Women’s March to protest Donald Trump, his misogyny as demonstrated in prior comments made about women, and policies he’s promised to put in place to weaken women’s health including defunding Planned Parenthood and gutting the Affordable Care Act. Gregg Popovich, no stranger to speaking his mind about Trump, was asked about the marches today and how he felt about the former reality TV star’s first hours in office.

Popovich responded for around four minutes, spanning a wide breadth of topics including Trump’s maturity level, respect for the presidential office, and Trump’s cabinet members waffling on implied meaning when he insulted a handicapped reporter in November of 2015.

Via Cleveland.com:

I wish that he was more — had the ability to be mature enough to do something that really is inclusive rather than just talking and saying ‘I’m going to include everybody.” He could talk to the groups that he disrespected and maligned during the primary and really make somebody believe it, but so far we’ve got a point where you really can’t believe anything that comes of his mouth.

Popovich also expressed his frustration with Trump’s insecurities, referencing his need to discuss the size of the inauguration crowd from Friday — reported widely by major news outlets in both text and video/photographic evidence — as far smaller than Barack Obama’s in 2009.

“I’d just feel better if somebody was in that position that showed the maturity, psychological, and emotional level of somebody that was his age,” said Popovich, adding, “It’s hard to be respectful of someone when we all have kids and we’re watching him be misogynistic and xenophobic and racist, and make fun of handicap people.”

It’s an interesting period in American history to be sure. Things are at such a fever pitch after Trump’s election that whether people like it or not — and no doubt many won’t like Popovich’s comments or this article about it — the lines between diversion and real life, including politics, has begun to blur.

It’s great to see that coaches and players in the NBA are able to speak their minds about topics openly like this, perhaps surprisingly so when you consider the amount of money involved for the league and teams.

If you’d like to read the full comments you can do so here:

Ricky Rubio will miss Nuggets game for personal reasons

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Ricky Rubio has left the Minnesota Timberwolves for personal reasons and will miss at least the next game on Sunday against Denver.

Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau says he expects Rubio to get back into town late Sunday and rejoin the team for practice on Monday.

Rubio did not play in the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night because of tightness in his left hip. Kris Dunn and Tyus Jones filled in admirably, helping the Wolves defeat the Clippers, 104-101.

Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for much of the season, with the belief that Thibodeau would prefer a point guard who shoots better from the perimeter. In his previous five full games, Rubio was averaging 13.2 points and 14.0 assists.