Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett

Report: Garnett signs off on trade that would send him, Pierce to Brooklyn

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UPDATE #2 10:56 PM: Kevin Garnett will agree to waive his no-trade clause, clearing a major hurdle for the deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

That makes this deal far more likely. It is not finalized yet, and can’t be officially executed until July 10, but the teams are working to get the deal paramaters set by tomorrow. This looks like it could really happen.

UPDATE 5:50 pm: This trade is moving along and moving along quickly — the deal is in advanced talks and Kevin Garnett has had it presented to him to see if he would waive his no-trade clause, according to multiple reports.

The trade has actually grown to include more players, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The talks are centering around a package that would include Gerald Wallace, Tornike Shengelia, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and three future first-round picks (2014, ’16 and ’18), sources told Y! Sports.

Jason Terry also will be in the package going to the Nets, sources said. The Nets would send back Reggie Evans and do a sign-and-trade involving Keith Bogans and one more minimum-level player as part of package, a source said.

Marc Stein at ESPN reports Garnett has been approached about waiving his no trade clause to allow this deal.

The two sides could agree in principle to the trade in the next 24 hours, however it cannot be executed until July 10. That is because it requires Paul Pierce’s larger salary, which kicks in July 1, but there is a moratorium on trades being finalized at the start of the free agent period. That lasts until the 10th.

1:13 pm: If Nets GM Billy King can find a way to get out from under this roster he built, the man deserves a Harry Houdini award.

And he may have found his path — with the Boston Celtics.

The Nets and Celtics are discussing a blockbuster deal that would bring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

The talks are centering around a package that would include Gerald Wallace, Tomike Shengelia, the expiring deal of Kris Humphries and three future first-round picks, sources told Y! Sports.

Garnett has yet to be approached about waiving his no-trade clause, sources said, but there’s a belief that he could be convinced of agreeing to a deal should the Celtics and Nets be able to reach an agreement on terms. No deal is imminent.

First, this is not going to be done fast — it couldn’t be completed until after the moratorium is lifted on July 10 (because of Pierce’s salary).

Boston certainly wants to try and move Pierce and Garnett together — that way KG is more likely to waive his no-trade clause — but that is a lot of salary to move and few teams would be willing to take it on. Brooklyn apparently will consider it.

Those picks are spread out over a few years and there are complications — the Atlanta Hawks have the right to switch first round picks with the Nets in 2014 or 2015. The Nets can’t trade picks in consecutive years so this would space out for a while.

If it came to pass — and that’s still a big “if” — it would give the Nets Deron Williams at the point, Brook Lopez at center, Garnett at the four and Pierce at the five. There would be a lot of tax to be paid but the team would be a bigger threat (if they can stay healthy) to the elite of the East.

The picks would matter to the rebuilding Boston Celtics, but they would then be trying to move Gerald Wallace and the three years, $30 million still on his deal. That contract is an anchor and would be the hard part of the deal for Boston to swallow.

Whenever they do move Pierce and Garnett, other questions come up for Boston: How far down does the rebuilding go? Do you move Rajon Rondo too? Do the Celtics go all in on the “Woeful for Wiggins” train?

Check out top 50 plays from Kevin Garnett’s Hall of Fame career (VIDEO)

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First Kobe Bryant. Then Tim Duncan.

Now Kevin Garnett. The Hall of Fame class in five years is going to be stacked.

But before we move on from Garnett’s announcement this week that he is retiring after 21 years in the NBA, let’s look back at his greatest plays (compiled by the folks at NBA.com). Enjoy this for 11 minutes rather than watching your NFL fantasy team flounder. Again.

D’Angelo Russell said he used to play as Luke Walton on NBA 2K; Stephen Jackson calls that crap

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: D'Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers speaks during a news conference to discuss the controversy with teammate Nick Young before the start of the NBA game against the Miami Heat at Staples Center March 30, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using the photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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Did anyone ever fire up NBA 2K9 back in the day, decide to be the soon-to-be-champion Lakers, look at a roster with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom then say “I’m going to be Luke Walton”?

D'Angelo Russell says he did.

The Lakers young point guard has praised the new Laker coach at every turn — Russell and Byron Scott did not get along, the point guard is much happier now — and that includes talking about Walton’s playing days to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.

“I told him I remember playing with him on (NBA) 2K; I used to always play as him. I’m a fan. I’m definitely a fan. Because he was a point forward. I can’t speak on Elgin Baylor and all those guys, but my era, I know he was a point forward.”

Really? NBA veteran and current analyst Stephen Jackson called Russell out on that.

Jackson has a point.

Report: No, J.R. Smith isn’t talking to Sixers

CLEVELAND, OH -  JUNE 22: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers celebrates with the fans during the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 championship victory parade and rally on June 22, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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What is with the ridiculous, unrealistic Philadelphia 76ers rumors of late? Last I checked recreational use was not legal in Pennsylvania. Not that the law is stopping anyone.

The latest silliness follows this logic:

This summer the Sixers made runs at veteran guards such as Jamal Crawford and Manu Ginobili (and they forced the Spurs to pay up for the Argentinian to keep him).

The Cleveland Cavaliers and J.R. Smith are in a staring contest, and Smith remains a free agent.

The Sixers have more than $22 million in cap space still.

So…

No. Not happening.

Or, we could have just asked Smith who has said he is not talking to other teams and doesn’t want to play anywhere but Cleveland.

I can get why Sixers management would want to bring a veteran and beloved, hard-working pro such as Ginobili in to lead and mentor a young team. Does Smith bring that same demeanor? I get that Smith in Cleveland has developed his game, and that he has matured and backed off his hard-partying ways (he gets a hall pass for the days after winning a championship), but is Smith the veteran you bring into a young locker room?

Can we move on from the ridiculous in Pennslyvania? Well, probably not until after the election, that is a battleground state.

Paul George says “I’m ready” to challenge LeBron James for supremacy in East

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 29: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks for a pass while under pressure from Paul George #13 of the Indiana Pacers during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on February 29, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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LeBron James is the best basketball player walking the face of the earth. The only guy who could start to challenge that supremacy the past couple of years has been Stephen Curry, and last season’s NBA Finals answered that question for now.

In the Eastern Conference, for years now it has been LeBron James and his team then a step back to everyone else — LeBron has been to six straight NBA Finals, four in Miami and the last two in Cleveland. Most pundits (myself included) think that’s going to be seven in-a-row because the Cavaliers are clear and away the class of the East.

Paul George says he and the Pacers are ready to change that narrative. Here is what he told Michael Lee of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“Honestly, I look at us challenging them. I’ve been in the East and I’ve been No. 1 with LeBron being on a team,” George told The Vertical in a recent telephone interview, harkening back to when the Pacers finished with the best regular-season record in the East in 2013-14, the season before his gruesome Team USA leg injury….

“I’ve always matched up with him like, ‘I know he can do this, I know he can do that,’ ” George told The Vertical about James. “Not in an awe fashion, but it’s more so, ‘I’m not supposed to win these games. This is supposed to be the best dude in the NBA. I’m trying to challenge him. I know what I’m up against.’ Now it’s, ‘I’m ready. I’m ready for you. I’m a veteran. I know you, you know me. Let’s meet here, let’s get this job done.’ I’m prepared. I’ve had time to figure this out. I’ve had time to lick my wounds. I’m ready.”

Good for George — this is exactly what you want an elite competitor and top player to say heading into the season. He sees Everest in front of him, and he wants to climb it.

I’m also higher on the Pacers than most; I think they are a top-four team in the East that can finish top two. They upgraded at the point with Jeff Teague, plus they added the underrated Thaddeus Young (although they will miss Solomon Hill) and depth up front with Al Jefferson. I don’t get Larry Bird pushing Frank Vogel out the door at all, but Nate McMillan is a solid NBA coach to take his place. I think the Pacers are taking a step forward this season, maybe a fairly significant one.

But they’re still not in the Cavaliers’ class.

The East is still Cleveland then everyone else. Last season Toronto won 56 games and had its best season in franchise history, and they were still a step or two below the Cavaliers. No team in the East — not the Raptors, not the Celtics, not the Pacers — are making up those steps. Unless injuries or something else unforeseen brings the Cavaliers back to the pack, the Eastern Conference once again will look like Secretariat at the Belmont.