Report: Timberwolves trying to trade J.J. Barea, Luc Mbah a Moute, Alexey Shved

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The Timberwolves will get a great package if the Kevin Love trade goes through as reported.

I would have dealt Love for just Andrew Wiggins if it were allowed and all I could get, but Anthony Bennett and a future first rounder are nice assets, too. Minnesota did really well for itself, no question.

But the Timberwolves won’t unload any of their bad contracts – someone like Kevin Martin (three years and $21,255,000 remaining) – in the deal with the Cavaliers.

Flip Saunders hasn’t given up, though.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Minnesota still has a goal of freeing itself of J.J. Barea, Luc Mbah a Moute and Alexey Shved, league sources said.

Barea ($4,519,500), Mbah a Moute ($4,382,576) and Shved ($3,282,056) all have expiring contracts. So, “freeing itself” is strange wording considering Minnesota can just let all three walk next offseason.

Assuming that’s an accurate portrayal of the situation, though, I see a couple possibilities:

1. The Timberwolves know they won’t contend for a playoff berth this season, and they believe Barea, Mbah a Moute and Shved can help teams now. So, Minnesota wants to flip those three for future assets like draft picks(and maybe the expiring contract of a worse player to satisfy trade rules) while still possible.

2. The Timberwolves are so desperate to trim salary – even beyond the $4,644,503 they drop in the Love trade – they want to deal those three players now.

Quite possibly, a combination of both factors is in play. If Minnesota doesn’t believe its roster is playoff-worthy, drawing fans won’t be easy.

None of the three players has much value, though.

Shved, 25, regressed from his rookie year – a troubling sign for a low-efficiency gunner. It seemed he’d settle into NBA play, but he’s just getting further from the target.

Barea has trended downward since helping the Mavericks win the 2011 NBA Finals. The undersized point guard just doesn’t finish at the rim like he used to. That might be due to a lack of burst as he’s passed the wrong side of 30, but there’s at least a little hope he could thrive again in the right system.

Mbah a Moute seems to have slipped from his defensive peak, though he’s still pretty good in isolation. He still can’t shoot or serve as a playmaker, bigger issues when his defense isn’t as stout.

Minnesota has a chance to move any of the three if it finds a team with very specific needs, but none of the three will generate much buzz league-wide.

If they’re are really desperate to unload the trio, the Timberwolves could always offer draft picks as sweeteners. Or maybe they can attach one to Bennett in a Thaddeus Young trade. The 76ers have the cap room to absorb a bad contract (or three) if it nets a positive asset.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.