Report: Warriors lower asking price in potential David Lee trades

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The Warriors have been linked to Kevin Love, and of course, acquiring Love would be great for Golden State.

It wouldn’t be so great for David Lee, currently the Warriors’ starting power forward.

That – and the fact the 31-year-old Lee probably wouldn’t intrigue the Timberwolves much beyond his ability to make salaries match – explains why Golden State is reportedly exploring Lee trades

Marcus Thompson of Bay Area News Group:

The Warriors have tried to move David Lee in the past. But it needed to be a no-brainer in order for them to pull the trigger. But now, per a couple league sources, the Warriors have lowered the bar realizing they’ve got to come off that contract so they can go after a co-star for Stephen Curry. Plus, with Steve Kerr acknowledging he wants a stretch-four, which Lee is not, the writing is really on the wall for Lee.

I’ve been told to watch out for Orlando as a potential trade partner for Golden State. They have cap space and after a second consecutive year finishing way down in the Eastern Conference standings, they need to make a move. They might be a taker for David Lee for the same reasons the Warriors were back in 2010: they need someone who can produce reliably and usher the franchise into respectability.

The Warriors might not want to trade Klay Thompson, but if they want Love, they might have to. It’s difficult to create a package including neither Thompson nor Stephen Curry, who’s not going anywhere, and tempt Minnesota.

So, not only would a Love-to-Golden State probably leave a hole at shooting guard, it would create a surplus of power forwards.

Enter Orlando.

The Magic could easily have as much as $26 million in cap space this offseason. It will be difficult for them, coming off back-to-back miserable seasons, to attract a free agent better than Lee, and they have to reach the team-salary floor.

So, this could be a good opportunity for Orlando to pluck Lee. Lee’s contract ($15,012,000 in 2014-15 and $15,493,680 in 2015-16) isn’t so costly that the Magic can request a sweetener from Golden State, but Lee’s salary certainly lowers his value.

On the plus side, Lee is still good enough to boost Orlando’s play. Maybe he can even have an Al Jefferson-like impact.

The Magic’s most obvious trade chip is Arron Afflalo. With Victor Oladipo emerging and Dante Exum or Marcus Smart possible picks at No. 4, Afflalo is becoming especially expendable.

But the Magic trading the cheaper Afflalo for Lee wouldn’t really be taking advantage of their advantageous position. They should do better in the end, but Afflalo-for-Lee can be a starting point.

And then there’s Golden State’s side.

Curry and Lee, teammates the last four seasons, have an excellent offensive chemistry. Knowing where each other will be, they have the confidence to whip passes back and forth – creating space that way. The Warriors shouldn’t throw that away just to chase a stretch four who spaces the floor more traditionally through outside shooting.

But Love isn’t just any stretch four.

If the Warriors have to trade Thompson and take a loss on a separate Lee trade – either giving up more to get Afflalo or accepting less from Orlando – that could very much be worth it.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.