Report: Warriors “aggressive” suitor to rent Dwight Howard

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Dwight Howard gave the Magic a list of places where he would sign an extension (New Jersey, Dallas, the Los Angeles Lakers). The Magic said they would listen to offers from teams willing to “rent” Howard for this season without the guarantee he would opt in for another year at least (as Chris Paul did) or sign outright with them to stay.

The Golden State Warriors have been one of the most aggressive of those looking to rent, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

For the Magic to become intrigued with package, two things would likely have to appeal to them: rebuilding around young point guard Stephen Curry; and the Warriors’ salary-cap space to absorb the three years and $34 million left on Hedo Turkoglu’s contract. The possibility of the pursuit could be complicated by questions about the sturdiness of Curry’s surgically repaired right ankle.

There also would be future draft picks thrown in. How much more would Golden State be willing to put in the pot just to rent Howard? Probably not much, but this is a new ownership group. That said, it’s kind of hard to picture Dwight Howard in a City uniform.

As we stand right now, the Magic are still not willing to move Howard, so all this discussion is hypothetical now until minds change in Orlando.

But is what Golden State offers really the best package for Orlando? There is the New Jersey package that brings in Brook Lopez and picks (and gets rid of the Turkoglu deal. The Lakers reportedly were willing to offer Andrew Bynum (but not Pau Gasol, too). Both of those packages may be better to build on that Curry and picks.

Plus, if and when the Magic get serious, 26 other teams will make offers, too. The Magic will have plenty to consider.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.