Cavs and Wolves swap Delonte West, Ramon Sessions, and more

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UPDATE 10:07 PM: The Timberwolves will waiveDelonte West.jpg Delonte West, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, making him an unrestricted free agent. Minnesota will save $3.1 million in ’10-’11 if they keep Telfair. They also ditched the $8.8 million owed to Sessions over the following two seasons.

UPDATE 9:11 PM: According to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the unspecified pick will be a 2013 second rounder. Kahn is saved; nobody wins the deal, but nobody loses. It’s just two teams swapping parts for savings, below average rotation players for more of the same but at different positions.

9:08 PM: Those “advanced talks” between the Cavaliers and the Wolves must have been rather productive, because according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, Cleveland will send Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to Minnesota for Ramon Sessions, Ryan Hollins, and an unspecified draft pick.

Both Sessions and Hollins were mired in crowded positional rotations with Minnesota, but should have some room to breathe in Cleveland. The Cavs could opt to play Sessions and Mo Williams together in a small backcourt, or bring one of them off the bench in favor of Anthony Carter. Hollins would have played minimal minutes next season for the Wolves, but now will compete in a fairly open competition for minutes at center along with Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, and possibly Leon Powe. There’s nothing special about Hollins, but he’s athletic, active, and was actually a fairly decent offensive rebounder prior to the ’09-’10 season.

There’s nothing too fantastical about this deal, though it should be
interesting to see how the acquisition of Ramon Sessions affects Mo
Williams’ status. Williams and Sessions are close friends, yet their
defensive deficiencies make them an odd backcourt pairing. The Cavs shouldn’t be all that choosy right now, but trading for Sessions seems like
a strange move if Cleveland intends to hold on to Williams through the
end of next season.

However, the Cavs were wise to use Delonte West’s contract as a trade chip while they still could, even if Ramon Sessions isn’t an ideal fit or prize.

The Wolves are expected to waive West, as only $500,000 of the $4,500,000 he’s owed is guaranteed. Spears also noted that Minnesota may try to move Telfair, though it’s unknown where he would be moved to or for whom. David Kahn is clearing out the redundancies of his roster and saving some cash while he’s at it, but the big kicker in this deal is the draft pick Minnesota owes Cleveland. If it’s a second rounder, no big. If it’s a first rounder, then Kahn has struck again. We won’t know until we know, but I wouldn’t blame T-Wolves fans for fearing the worst.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.