After league review, Mavs complete trade to make Ajinca a Raptor

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Considering that the news that Peja Stojakovic had given the Mavs a verbal commitment to join the team essentially came paired with a report that Dallas would sent Alexis Ajinca to Stojakovic’s old team, the Toronto Raptors, in exchange for no tangible assets at all, it’s not surprising that league officials raised an eyebrow. Regardless, the NBA looked into the specifics of the Ajinca trade and apparently failed to find evidence of collusion; the Mavericks announced today that the deal has been completed, and that in exchange for Ajinca they will receive the rights to Georgios Printezis, who will likely never play in the NBA, and generate an Ajinca-sized $1.5 million trade exception.

Officially, these are two separate and unrelated moves, but unofficially the Mavs sent Ajinca — along with a wink and a nudge — to the Raptors in exchange for Stojakovic, who will cost Dallas far less than his previous annual salary of $15 million. Toronto will foot that bill, while Dallas will likely sign Peja for the league minimum.

Ajinca is a talented big, even if he has yet to find a real NBA home. Charlotte seemed like a poor fit from the very beginning, and though Rick Carlisle gave Ajinca some playing time as a reserve forward and center in Dallas, he was on the court to showcases his abilities for a potential trade, not to establish a long-term place with the Mavs. Ajinca never would have been a Maverick if not for the salary matching required in trades for teams over the salary cap, and Dallas had been shopping Ajinca in hopes of finding him an alternative home.

Toronto could be an interesting opportunity for Ajinca, who isn’t ready to play big minutes in the middle, but paradoxically could benefit from large amounts of playing time. Dallas couldn’t afford to play Ajinca all that much given how much they have at stake, but the Raptors are focused on development and team construction, not competing for a playoff spot. Ajinca could theoretically earn a regular spot in Jay Triano’s rotation, but the pressure is on him to learn the Raps’ system, and prove that he’s worthy of an investment of resources.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.

Kings hire former WNBA Seattle coach Jenny Boucek as assistant

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The NBA now has a third female assistant coach.

The first was Becky Hammon, who has been part of Gregg Popovich’s Spurs staff for several years (and has coached their Summer League team). The second was Nancy Leiberman, who has been on the staff in Sacramento for a couple of seasons now.

Now the Kings have hired former Seattle Storm coach Jenny Boucek as an assistant coach on Dave Joerger’s staff. She will work as an assistant player development coach.

A former WNBA player in the league’s inaugural season, the past three years she has coached the WNBA’s Seattle Storm (she was fired midway through the last season), and prior to that had been the head coach of the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09.