Gasol-Bynum trade talks update: Talks reportedly on hold as Lakers, Cavaliers can’t make deal work

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Don’t be shocked if word comes down Monday at that Andrew Bynum is on his way to the Utah Jazz. Or maybe the Cavaliers just decide to hold on to Bynum for a day then waive him themselves on Tuesday.

That’s because the much-discussed Bynum to the Los Angeles Lakers for Pau Gasol talks have stalled out on the same issues that have hung them up for days. The two sides will keep talking but with a real deadline here of Monday (if you are going to waive Bynum by Tuesday) a deal seems unlikely. Brian Windhorst and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN have the details.

Though the discussions have been varied and both sides considered numerous possibilities, the central issue never wavered, sources said.

The Lakers wanted more than just salary savings that trading for Bynum and waiving him would bring, primarily a young player or valuable draft pick. Trading for and cutting Bynum had the potential to save the Lakers more than $20 million in salary and luxury taxes. The Cavs, who stood to add millions to their own payroll with the deal, have resisted meeting the price because Gasol will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The two sides just see the value of Gasol differently. For the Lakers, they see themselves moving a former All-Star and NBA champion who is skilled in the post and can really help a team, and they want to be compensated as such. The Cavaliers want Gasol for those skills to help make a playoff run, but they expect he is a half-season rental and they wisely shouldn’t give up long-term rebuilding assets to make the playoffs this season.

Cleveland had been in talks with the Utah Jazz for a deal that would send Bynum to Utah for veteran swingman Richard Jefferson. That deal could still come together.

Or the Cavaliers could just waive Bynum themselves. Whoever waives Bynum on Jan. 7 will not have to pay the second $6.2 million he is owed for this season (or the $12.5 million he is owed next season).

Once Bynum does clear waivers there will be a few teams looking to bring in the big man with the bad knees to be a reserve for them. Teams like Miami and maybe the Clippers will have interest — but only on a minimum contract.

Magic Johnson winks at bringing Paul George to Lakers

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Paul George-to-the-Lakers rumors have swirled for a while.

New Lakers president Magic Johnson will only fuel them.

Asked how he’d interact with the Pacers star to avoid tampering if they ran into each other, Johnson said on Jimmy Kimmel Live:

We’re going to say hi, because we know each other. You just can’t say, “Hey, I want you to come to the Lakers,” even though I’m going to be wink-winking like [blinks repeatedly]. You know what that means, right?

In explaining how he’d avoid tampering, Johnson probably tampered. Accidental tampering appears to be his specialty.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement says team employees can’t permissibly “induce, persuade, or attempt to entice, induce or persuade, any Player who is under contract to, or whose exclusive negotiating rights are held by, any other Member of the Association to enter into negotiations for or relating to his services or negotiate or contract for such services.” But the league arbitrarily enforces tampering, so who knows whether he’ll be punished?

Johnson almost certainly could have gotten away with the hypothetical conversation he laid out. But going on television and describing it — even as fantasy, even not directly to George — could constitute tampering in itself,

If Johnson helps attract George to Los Angeles, it’d well be worth it. At least he’s trying something.

Report: Austin Rivers returning for Clippers-Jazz Game 5

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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There have been bigger injuries in the Clippers-Jazz first-round series: Blake Griffin‘s toe, Rudy Gobert‘s knee and Gordon Hayward‘s stomach.

But Clippers guard Austin Rivers has yet to play due to a strained hamstring.

It sounds as if that will change tomorrow.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is neither as big a deal as the Clippers will make it out to be nor as meaningless as Rivers’ many detractors will claim.

The 6-foot-4 Rivers will provide an important defensive upgrade on the perimeter. The Clippers haven’t successfully hidden Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton, allowing Utah too many quality looks. Here how the Jazz have shot when defended by each, per NBA.com:

  • Crawford: 18-of-36 (50%), including 7-of-17 on 3-pointers (41%)
  • Felton: 13-of-24 (54%), including 5-of-8 on 3-pointers (63%)

Rivers needn’t be great to help behind Chris Paul and J.J. Redick.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

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Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
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Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.