Report: Four-team trade involving Howard to Lakers, Iguodala trade being discussed

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UPDATE 4:10 pm: Here’s a bit of an update on this complex blockbuster four-team Dwight Howard trade that illustrates how complex and potentially unlikely it is. From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo:

Orlando’s Jason Richardson has been significant name in 4-way talks too, sources tell Y! There’s a scenario where he goes with Howard to LA.

The Lakers would save about $10 million in a trade that would send out Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol and brings back Howard and Al Harrington, and that seems a reason the Lakers would do it. They are way over the tax line the next couple years and want to lower payroll. But it also gives them room to bring back someone like Richardson, who will make about $5.7 million next year but has three years left on his deal. That would dramatically cut the Lakers savings, give them a contract that goes three years out, and the question of if they are better on the court is still up in the air.

And that’s just one team’s concerns and issues in a four-team deal. These are very, very hard trades to pull together.

1:16 pm: While things publically have been blissfully quiet on the Dwight Howard front for the past couple of weeks, the Lakers and Magic have not given up efforts to find a deal that works for everyone to send Howard to the Lakers.

And to do that, things seem to have gotten more complex (maybe too much so) but are now picking up some steam, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the NBC Sports Network.

There are multiple moving parts in the fluid talks, but the framework of a possible deal includes Howard and Denver forward Al Harrington going to the Lakers, Philadelphia guard Andre Iguodala going to the Nuggets, Los Angeles center Andrew Bynum moving to the 76ers, and Los Angeles forward Pau Gasol and Denver guard Arron Affalo going to the Magic, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

The Magic would have a better chance of moving Gasol in another deal to get further assets, sources said, and eliminate the risk of Bynum leaving them as a free agent in 2013. Nevertheless, there was still a sense that Gasol’s and Bynum’s destinations could be fluid in the talks. Either way, one would go to Orlando and the other to Philadelphia, sources said.

I’m not saying it is impossible, but do not go thinking this deal is done — that is a whole lot of moving parts and a whole lot of questions.

First, you almost never see four-team trades (in any sport) because they are insanely complex and hard to pull off, both in terms of the cap and making a deal everyone likes. So that’s a strike.

Next, the Lakers have said they don’t want to give up both Gasol and Bynum in a deal, but that was before the Steve Nash trade. Is a Nash/Howard pick-and-roll with Kobe on the wing enough to contend in the West? Would the Lakers really give up both guys? Actually, they might to save money (Howard and Harrington as a combo save them about $10 million next season).

The next issue, both Philadelphia and Denver (and the Lakers) are teams over the salary cap, so nobody can just absorb more salary, and Orlando wants to unload the contracts of Hedo Turkoglu and/or Jason Richardson. Denver has a $13 million trade exception but they are not looking to take on more salary as an organization and wouldn’t do something to help the Lakers unless they got a lot of help in return. Olympian Iguodala might be enough. Might. I could see Philly being willing to move Iggy to get Gasol or Bynum, but how many picks and what else are they going to be asked to surrender?

Which is to say, right now there are more questions than answers.

But it’s out there. And it seems to have some substance.

Hawks, coach Mike Budenholzer agree to part ways

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This was expected.

It was pretty obvious Mike Budenholzer didn’t want to stick around and lose a lot of games with the Atlanta Hawks as they rebuild the next few years, especially after he had been stripped of his GM powers. Budenholzer went well down the road with the Phoenix Suns about their open coaching position before thinking better of it. Since then he has set up a meeting with the Knicks about their coaching vacancy, a job he reportedly wants badly.

At this point there was no need for the Hawks and Budenholzer to continue their sham marriage, so they have agreed to amicably separate, a story broken by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN and since confirmed by the Hawks.

Budenholzer said this to Wojnarowski of ESPN:

“I am grateful for the five years that I spent as coach of the Atlanta Hawks, and will always cherish the incredible contributions, commitment and accomplishments of the players that I was fortunate enough to work with here,” Budenholzer told ESPN on Wednesday night. “From ownership to management, support staff to the community, I’ll look back with great pride on what we were able to achieve together with the Hawks.”

For Budenholzer, the long-time Spurs assistant and a strong Xs and Os coach, look for him to both push for the Knicks job and be in the running if/when the Milwaukee Bucks job opens up whenever their season ends. In both cases he’s a fit — those are teams that need a culture and system reset, and Budenholzer proved he can bring that to Atlanta (that was a good team before they let Al Horford and Paul Millsap walk for nothing).

With Atlanta, they likely will turn to a top assistant coach who will get a chance to develop young players on that team (and not cost Atlanta as much as an established coach). Stephen Silas of the Hornets is a rumored name, but there are others.

LeBron James overrules controversial finish with game-winning 3-pointer (video)

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LeBron James‘ turnover with the game tied late looked like a bad call. LeBron’s block of Victor Oladipo on the ensuing possession looked like a goaltend.

Did the Cavaliers get robbed of a crucial possession? Did the Pacers get robbed of two go-ahead points?

LeBron nullified those questions with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Cleveland a 98-95 win and a 3-2 series lead. The game-winner capped a great game by LeBron (44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) and moves the Cavs to the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

The odds are even better with LeBron. LeBron has won 11 straight closeout games, nine of them on the road. He’ll have another opportunity Friday with Game 6 in Indiana.

Raptors’ ‘culture reset’ shines in Game 5 win over Wizards

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The Raptors promoted ball movement. They emphasized 3-point shooting. They empowered their reserves.

This was why.

Backups Delon Wright and C.J. Miles and starting center Jonas Valanciunas – who was benched in previous postseasons due to his old-fashioned style, but expanded his game beyond the arc this year – scored Toronto’s final 18 points in a 108-98 Game 5 win over the Wizards on Wednesday. Stars DeMar DeRozan (0-for-4 from the field) and Kyle Lowry (0-for-1 from the field, 0-for-2 on free throws) struggled down the stretch, as the Raptors burst open what had been a one-point lead.

Though DeRozan (32 points) and Lowry (17 points and 10 assists) were good overall, they succumbed late in previous playoff games. Toronto didn’t want that duo stuck with the burden of creating so much in a stagnate offense.

Hence, Masai Ujiri’s famous “culture reset.”

The results have been mixed so far against a tougher-than-average-eight-seed Washington. But at least the Raptors – up 3-2 entering Friday’s Game 6 in Washington – are on the verge of advancing.

When a team with home-court advantage can close out a best-of-seven series with a road Game 6, it has 52% of the time. It has won the series 92% of the time.

Raptors honor victims of van attack before Game 5 (photos)

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TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Raptors honored the victims the deadly van attack Monday with a moment of silence Wednesday night before Game 5 of their playoff series against the Washington Wizards.

Players from both teams held up banners with the hashtag #TORONTOSTRONG as they stood on the court during the tribute and the national anthems that followed:

The Raptors, the Wizards and the NBA will make a donation to a fund for victims and those affected by the incident.

Raptors President Masai Ujiri spoke about the attack after the Raptors practiced Tuesday.

“What we do doesn’t really matter sometimes,” Ujiri said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be on that sidewalk.”

Guard Kyle Lowry said he was impressed by the actions of Const. Ken Lam, who earned international acclaim for peacefully arresting of suspect Alek Minassian.

“In America he would definitely have been shot up,” Lowry said. “He did an amazing job of making a judgment call. I think more people could learn from that.”

Coach Dwane Casey was struck by how close the carnage occurred to his own Toronto neighborhood,

“It’s not too far from up the street from where I live,” Casey said.

Casey and his coaches were in the midst of a meeting Monday afternoon when assistant Rex Kalamian’s phone buzzed with someone informing him of the tragedy. The coaches stopped their meeting and turned on a television to find out what had happened.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Casey said. “Just this weekend I was talking to people saying how safe Toronto is, how it’s a melting pot and you don’t have the same crime. Hopefully though, sport can offer a relief, some reprieve.”

Like Casey, Ujiri said he is proud of Toronto’s reputation as a safe, welcoming place.

“Everywhere I go, I brag about this city,” Ujiri said. “It’s the safest place in the world. It’s the best city in the world and it’s going to continue to be the best place and the best city in the world.”

Toronto police said the 10 people killed and 14 injured in the attack were “predominantly” women, but have declined so far to discuss a motive. The 25-year-old Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.