Report: Nets agreed to deal to get Marcus Thornton from Kings; Nets near adding Hill from Lakers

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We passed along the report this trade was being discussed yesterday. Apparently it’s about to be much more than discussed, and with that the Nets continue to laugh at the NBA’s new, stiffer luxury tax.

The Nets and Kings have agreed in principle to a trade that would send Marcus Thornton to the Nets in exchange for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. There are no picks or cash involved, just the players.

Thornton’s contract has two years and nearly $17 million remaining through the 2014-15 season. Terry, 36, has $10.7 million left on his deal, including $5.4 million next season.

Brooklyn had discussed a deal involving Terry for Cleveland’s Jarrett Jack, too, but sources tell Yahoo Sports that is an unlikely scenario based on the length of Jack’s contract, which guarantees a total of $12.6 million in the final two years of his deal through the 2015-16 season.

This move would save Sacramento just shy of $1 million, although most likely they would try to move Terry and Evans again this summer in future deals. It essentially breaks up the big Thornton contract into two smaller ones that may be easier to move.

The Nets clearly don’t care about the money because they are about to take on the salary of Jordan Hill from the Lakers.

The Nets’ $5.25 million Disabled Player Exception can be used in a trade or free-agent transaction until March 10 and they can use a portion of it to absorb the remaining $3.5 million on Hill’s expiring contract.

Nevertheless, the luxury tax penalty from absorbing Hill’s contract would be extraordinary for Brooklyn – nearly $17 million… If the Nets also were to complete a deal for Hill, the team’s salaries and luxury tax would reach $210 million.

That’s a lot of money to, at best, make the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Hill brings good energy on the court (although Mike D’Antoni was never a fan for several reasons including a lack of offensive skill) and could give the Nets some decent play at the four and five off the bench. But he’s a pedestrian NBA big about to cost the Nets $17 million. Ridiculous. It’s not my money and apparently Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t need it, but that is the definition of overpaying.

In the larger trade, basically these two teams are swapping disappointing players.

Thornton is in the midst of his worst season as a professional. Remember that two seasons ago he averaged 18.7 points a game with a true shooting percentage of 54.4 percent — back then he was seen as part of the Kings’ future.

What he’s evolved into is a volume scorer who is struggling to put points on the board. This season he is scoring 8.3 points a game with a true shooting percentage is 48.5. What made him dangerous before was his ability to knock down the three, but he is shooting just 31.8 percent from deep this season.

Brooklyn is betting that a change of scenery and surrounding him with veterans will bring back the old scorer and shooter. If so he certainly helps their wing depth.

Sacramento isn’t making this trade for the players. Terry’s game has been in decline for years — he can still shoot the three (37 percent, and he still loves the right corner) but he can’t create his own shot or defend well anymore. Reggie Evans brings energy and for that reason fans love him, and he works hard on the glass, but he is limited in just about every other way. He’s a decent big off the bench because of his effort but he’s a role player.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.