Dwight Howard trade rumors heating up; maybe to Nets in three-team deal

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The Magic nearing a deal to ship out Ryan Anderson signals one thing — they are entering rebuilding mode, no joke, no holdovers.

Which means Dwight Howard rumors are picking up steam, fast. How much steam depends on who you ask — some sources sugest the deal could be done as soon as Monday, but there are a who lot of moving parts (maybe 11 players plus picks and three teams) and those kind of deals fall apart much faster than they come together.

The Brooklyn Nets — Howard’s preferred destination — have needed a third team to come in and take the soon-to-be-bloated sign-and-trade contract of Kris Humphries to make a deal with Orlando work (the Magic would take Brook Lopez and his soon-to-be bloated contract, plus a boatload of picks). They are making progress on that front, according to both Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (also seen on the NBC Sports Network ) and this from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com.

Cleveland has emerged as a “possible destination” for Humphries in such a scenario, in which the Nets would attempt to accumulate at least three first-round picks to send to the Magic in their package for Howard, one of the sources said.

The Cavs have as many as six first-round picks in the next three drafts — three of them from previous trades, with various levels of protection. However, with cap space to sign Humphries as a free agent, getting Humphries alone wouldn’t provide any incentive for Cleveland to surrender one of those picks.

Front office folk in the East didn’t think any team in that conference would be willing to help Brooklyn create a another “big three” — Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Dwight Howard. But we all may have underestimated Chris Grant, the Cleveland GM who made reaches in the last two drafts the Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters (to be fair, we should wait until those guys don’t live up to the No. 4 pick status before calling them reaches).

The Lakers are not out of this, but they have more hurdles to a deal and it seems to be falling apart. First, Los Angeles likes Andrew Bynum and acting owner Jim Buss would prefer to sign Bynum to an extension and win with his guy. Second, Howard has consistently said he would not sign an extension in Los Angeles, and while the Lakers are confident if he played in L.A. he would change his mind that is a massive risk to take. Finally, why would Orlando trade one unpredictable big man in the last year of his contract for Bynum, an unpredictable big man in the last year of his contract? Bynum is supposed to be interested in Dallas, Houston and other teams if he leaves Los Angeles, but there has been no mention of him wanting to play in Orlando (although, to use his phrase, they do have banks in Orlando).

The Rockets also are not giving up on Howard and are making a push using Marcus Camby as part of the bait.

But the Nets appear to be he front runners. Pulling off a three-team deal to get Howard to Brooklyn is far from easy and not yet where you should even call it likely. But things are picking up steam fast.

Rumor: LeBron James would ‘never’ join Clippers

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The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.

But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.

Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:

I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.

I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.

He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.

I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?

Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.

One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.

Hornets’ Malik Monk expected to miss Summer League with sprained ankle

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Malik Monk‘s game is a perfect fit for Summer League: The tempo is up, the guards have the ball in their hands, the plays are basic, and the defense is inconsistent (to be kind). Monk’s ability to create shots for himself, score in transition off pull-ups or attacking the rim, and his ability to score on spot-up chances coming off screens means he would put up numbers in the glorified pick-up games of Summer League.

Except we’re not going to get to see it this year. Monk will miss Summer League due to a sprained ankle suffered during the pre-draft workout process, the Charlotte Hornets announced. The team says his rehab process is 2-4 weeks, but they are not going to push their new player just to get him in some meaningless Summer League games.

Charlotte was lucky Monk fell down the draft board to them at 11, he was rated higher than that on most boards. He can score at the NBA level, how far his career goes will depend on his ability to do other things, particularly defend. His style of game is similar to Lou Williams or Monta Ellis, both of whom have had long NBA careers because they can just get buckets.

That would have been fun to see in Summer League, but maybe next year.

La La Anthony: I’m staying in New York, and Carmelo Anthony prioritizes staying close to our son

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Self-serving Knicks president Phil Jackson said Carmelo Anthonywould be better off somewhere else.”

Anthony’s wife, La La Anthony, revealed a different point of view when asked whether she’d divorce the star forward and about trade rumors involving him.

La La on The Wendy Williams Show:

Not right now. I’m not. You know, marriages are tough. And you know that. We all know that. It’s filled with ups and downs. And we’re just going through a time right now.

But him and I are the best of friends, and our number one commitment is to our son, Kiyan. We have to set an example to Kiyan, and that’s what’s most important to me. So, I would absolutely never say a bad thing about my husband. That is my son’s father, and he is an amazing dad. I could not ask for a better dad.

Every day, I see a different team. That’s for sure.

The most important thing with just that is to stay close to Kiyan. That’s my priority. That’s his priority.

So, wherever he ends up, of course we want him to be happy.

I am hood, and I want to stay close to the hood. So, New York is definitely where I’m at and where I’m staying.

The Knicks are lousy, and working for Jackson is no treat. Carmelo knows all that.

But this might reveal why Anthony hasn’t – and, according to Jackson, still won’t – waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal from New York. There are things that matter more than basketball.

Danilo Gallinari: Nuggets aren’t my first choice in free agency

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Pending free agents almost always express loyalty to their current team, whether or not they actually plan to re-sign.

That’s what makes Danilo Gallinari‘s comments stand out.

Gallinari, via Premium Sport, as translated by E. Carchia of Sportando:

“Nuggets are not my first choice but they are exactly at the same level of the other teams. Denver’s advantage is that they can offer me a five-year contract while other franchises can offer me a four-year deal. Nuggets are at the same level of the others” Gallinari said.

One way to look at this: If a player stating a desire to return to his team – even if he plans to leave – is the baseline, Gallinari is definitely gone from Denver.

Another: Gallinari is being exceedingly honest, and we should just take his comments at face value.