Bynum Cavaliers

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.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 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.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

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.