Report: Clippers, Jazz talking Bledsoe for Millsap trade

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The Los Angeles Clippers remain hesitant to deal young guard Eric Bledsoe — he’s a valuable part of the “tribe called bench” that has been a big part of Los Angeles’ success, plus he is their insurance at the point should Chris Paul unexpectedly decide to sign elsewhere this summer.

But as the offers get better and better near the deadline, it may be hard to keep saying no.

Like this report from Marc Stein and ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne that they are talking with the Jazz about Paul Millsap.

Sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com late Saturday there is a level of mutual interest between the Clippers and Utah Jazz in exploring a deal that would feature Bledsoe as the headliner in a trade package for Jazz forward Paul Millsap….

The appeal of Millsap, by contrast, is he’d conceivably help the Clippers in the frontcourt immediately, as well as in the future because of his age (28). Utah’s interest in finding a good young point guard, meanwhile, is an open secret around the league that has led to longstanding speculation that either Millsap or Al Jefferson would be moved by the deadline, given that both are scheduled to become free agents such as Paul in July.

The report goes on to say that rival executives are saying that the Clippers don’t seem eager to move Bledsoe at the deadline and that may make any deal unlikely.

Plus, the Bledsoe and Millsap salaries are about $8 million apart so the Clippers would need to ad a player or players (someone like Caron Butler would work) to make the numbers match. But then the front office would really be messing with a roster they like. As a team executive said over the weekend, there is a lot of talent on the Clippers roster and it will be up to the coach to figure out how to win with it — the front office is putting the pressure on Vinny Del Negro.

For the Jazz, who desperately want a point guard, this kind of deal makes a lot of sense. They almost certainly will move Millsap or Jefferson before the deadline.

It also makes some basketball sense for the Clippers — if they are not going to trust DeAndre Jordan at the end of games (Lamar Odom has gotten some of his run) then Millsap would be an upgrade. Of course, he’s going to get a big pay raise this summer and there are questions about whether the Clippers would want to pay that and a max offer for CP3.

As for the Clippers reported idea of moving Bledsoe as part of a package for Kevin Garnett, both the Clippers have denied it and Garnett said he will use his no trade clause to block a move. So maybe we should all move on from that one.

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

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Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.

Stephen Curry drains shots from near half court during warmups like they’re layups

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Stephen Curry‘s pregame warmups draw people into the arena early, it’s a show in and of itself.

Before Game 4 Monday night, Curry was taking a couple shots from the center-court logo. And draining them. Like layups. Because he can.

We’ll see if he can put on that kind of show when the game tips off.

Gregg Popovich makes it official: No Kawhi Leonard for Game 4

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This was expected. It still sucks to hear.

Kawhi Leonard is out for Game 4 vs. the Warriors Monday night.

Leonard has sprained his left ankle in Game 5 against the Rockets and sat out Game 6 of that series (a San Antonio win), then returned for Game 1 against the Warriors. He re-injured his ankle twice in that game — once stepping on David Lee‘s foot, once when Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper and took away his landing space. Leonard left that game with his team up 23 points, but the Warriors rallied back to win Game 1 and have controlled the series ever since. Leonard has not returned to the series.

San Antonio will play with pride on Monday night, but it may not be enough. You can bet the Warriors were reminded all day about taking their foot off the gas after what happened with Cleveland Sunday.

Report: Orlando hires Toronto GM Jeff Weltman to be president of basketball operations

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In Toronto, Masai Ujiri is the head of basketball operations and the guy with the hammer on deals. Jeff Weltman was his right-hand man and team GM.

Make that was his right-hand man, Weltman has been hired by the Orlando Magic to run its basketball operations, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Orlando Magic have hired Toronto Raptors general manager Jeff Weltman as the franchise’s president of basketball operations, league sources told The Vertical.

Weltman met with Orlando CEO Alex Martins and ownership on Monday, finalizing a five-year deal, league sources said.

Orlando officials had been intrigued with Cleveland GM David Griffin, but moved steadily toward Weltman as they became further engaged with his candidacy in recent weeks, league sources said. Weltman has been deeply involved in every aspect of the Raptors’ front office under president Masai Ujiri as Toronto became a perennial Eastern Conference contender.

Making a move now is smart in this sense: The Magic have the No. 5 pick in this draft and would want the guy making the big picture decisions about this roster on board to make this selection.

That roster already has some quality pieces — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — but has underachieved. There were questions about the culture and a lack of accountability, and that blame ultimately fell on GM Rob Hennigan and he was let go. Frank Vogel is locked in as

Frank Vogel is locked in as coach, so how well Weltman and Vogel work together — and share a vision — will be key.

Weltman is well-respected around the league. He spent five seasons as an assistant GM in Milwaukee, and has been with the Raptors since 2013 as that team has risen up the Eastern Conference standings and had its best run in franchise history. He also has worked with the Clippers and in Denver. He’s been one of those guys expected to get a chance in the big chair for a few years now.

He’s got it, and it’s an interesting challenge in Orlando.