Marreese Speights

Cavaliers, Grizzlies trade Speights and Selby for Leuer

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Memphis has been looking for a way to get under the luxury tax line for this season — they may have just found it without shipping Rudy Gay out the door.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN broke news of a trade that could benefit both teams on twitter, then Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports confirmed it as a done deal.

The trade sends Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a protected 2015 first-round pick to Cleveland for Jon Leuer.

For Memphis, this is all about the money. It is a cash dump. They are about $4 million over the NBA’s luxury tax line and this deal saves the a little more than $4 million, moving them under the line as payers.

One of the reasons Rudy Gay was being shopped around was to save money, this saves the cash while keeping the team’s core players intact for a playoff run. No Rudy Gay trade, no Zach Randolph trade. For now. Look for Gay to be shopped around more this summer.

For Cleveland, this is about getting some help on the front line with Anderson Varejao now ruled out for the season. Speights is a solid NBA big man, but one nobody sees because he is buried behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. But Speights has given Memphis 6.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game with an above average PER of 16.2.

Speights has a $4.5 million player option for next season and could veto the trade due to Bird Rights considerations, but that would be a surprise. The lightly used young guard Selby is still on his rookie deal.

Leuer, the forward out of the University of Wisconsin in his second NBA season, has played in just nine games for Cleveland. He may play less for Memphis.

The move brings the Grizzlies under the NBA roster league minimum, so look for a D-League call up or some other inexpensive addition to the roster.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.

PBT Extra: Who do you want to see most in first All-Star Game?

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Tonight the NBA All-Star Game starters will be announced. Then the coaches have a week to vote and the rest of the roster will be put together by them.

This year should see a few first-time All-Stars, guys bursting on the scene and grabbing fans attention — so we asked people on Twitter who they most wanted to see in his first All-Star Game and I break it down in this PBT Extra.

The winner? Giannis Antetokounmpo with 45 percent of the vote. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, he’s second in the fan voting for the frontcourt in the East (behind only LeBron James). Good news for those fans, the Greek Freak is almost guaranteed to be a starter, he’s getting plenty of media votes and likely a lot from the players as well.

Second place in the poll? Joel Embiid of the Sixers. I’d love to see him, but will players and media members vote in a guy on a minutes restriction? Will the coaches pick him for that same reason? He is on the bubble.