Nets push Teletović to take mini mid-level so Howard, other doors open up

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The Nets like to make things hard on themselves. But they apparently have just cleared one more hurdle to making the very difficult trade to bring Dwight Howard to Brooklyn a little more possible.

They may have reached a deal to get Mirza Teletović to take a smaller offer than they verbally agreed to, which will keep the hard salary cap they nearly imposed on themselves away, according to ESPN’s Larry Coon and CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger. Removing that cap makes the finances of a Dwight Howard trade possible.

This gets complex, so stick with me.

Tuesday it was announced the Nets had agreed to terms with European stretch four Mirza Teletović for the $5 million mid-level exception for three years. Something they could offer.

However, because with salary and “cap holds” (slots reserved for their free agents to re-sign) the Nets were over the salary cap ($58 million) and below the luxury tax line ($70 million), so on July 11 when they signed Teletovic to that deal they would activate the “apron” or hard salary cap in the new CBA, which is at $74.3 million. This provision was put in the CBA at the insistence of smaller market owners who didn’t like to see the high-spending teams (Lakers, Celtics, Knicks etc..) keep adding players via the mid-level exception every season with impunity.

If the Nets had that hard cap there was really no way to pull off a Howard trade — Howard will make $19 million, Joe Johnson makes $19 million, Deron Williams $17 million, Gerald Wallace $10 million and throw in the rookies and you have a Nets roster at about $70 million and still needing to add at least seven players. Even at minimum deals you can’t really pulls that off in the NBA, not with any kind of quality.

However, the Nets are close to getting Teletović to take the mini mid-level of $3 million. If they do that, there is no hard cap triggered and the Nets can take on more salary back in a Dwight Howard trade. Or really make any other large move.

Now, that’s just the math of it. The Nets still need to convince the Magic that the package they have been rejecting for nearly a year — Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and some picks — is now good enough for them. And to make it work, they need at least a third team to take on Humphries and what likely is an oversized new deal.

So good luck with that. But at least the math could be there now.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.

 

Memphis Grizzlies sign former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) The Memphis Grizzlies have signed former Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, a second-round pick in last month’s NBA draft.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Brooks was selected by the Houston Rockets with the 45th overall pick. The Grizzlies acquired him in exchange for a future second-round pick.

Brooks, 21, averaged 16.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists as a junior at Oregon last season. He was named the Pac-12 player of the year and helped Oregon earn its first Final Four berth since 1939.

 

Report: Even after Kyrie Irving requests trade, Carmelo Anthony still focused on Rockets, not Cavaliers

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Carmelo Anthony was reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Rockets or Cavaliers. Cleveland never seemed overly interested, but Houston was. Anthony became set on the Rockets, even reportedly expecting a trade to Houston.

Then, Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cavs.

That has thrown everything for a loop. Maybe Cleveland is more keen on trading for Anthony now? The Knicks are reportedly interested in trading Anthony and draft picks for Irving.

But any deal still depends on Anthony’s approval, and it’s now unclear he’d still grant that for the Cavaliers.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

However, a source close to Anthony said late Friday that the All Star forward is focused on getting a deal done with Houston.

Consider this another indication LeBron James will leave Cleveland next summer. Of course, Anthony might have other reasons for preferring Houston. But when reading tea leaves on LeBron’s future, this is a clue.

I doubt LeBron has completely decided his plan, and he hasn’t even necessarily shared his thinking with Anthony, a close friend. Remember, LeBron edited his coming-home essay while on a flight with an unknowing Dwyane Wade, another close friend. But it was one thing for LeBron to strand Wade in Miami, a desirable city where Wade was happy even before LeBron arrived. It’d be something else entirely for LeBron to ditch Anthony in Cleveland. If LeBron is considering leaving, maybe he’d tell Anthony to stay clear.

Anthony could also be operating without hearing directly from LeBron. But if LeBron’s friend believes LeBron might leave, that’d still say something (though obviously not as much).

Back to the possibility that Anthony prefers the Rockets for other reasons. What happens if New York and Cleveland agree to a trade? Does Anthony still hold out for his top choice? Or does he relent and accept what was once his second choice? For now, it seems as if he’s still angling for Houston and will cross other bridges if he reaches them.