Report: Pistons interested in Kyrie Irving, but is there a deal to be had?

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Most of the teams in the NBA are going to call up the Cleveland Cavaliers and at least inquire about the availability of Kyrie Irving. Call it due diligence. Not all will be serious suitors, but they will at least call.

Detroit might be more serious than most. They have a strong inside game with Andre Drummond (who they have listened to trade offers for), but Reggie Jackson has not worked out at the point so far as Stan Van Gundy envisioned, and Irving would vault them up into the ranks of more interesting teams in the East. There is interest, reports Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

A person with knowledge of the Pistons’ front office told the Free Press recently that the organization is interested in the four-time NBA All-Star, who nailed the winning shot to clinch the 2016 NBA title for the Cavs…

And team president and coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t even trying to hide Pistons interest, telling the team website earlier this week “the Pistons have had some level of conversation with the Cavs.”

Van Gundy may be serious about trying, but either way, this leak looks good to the fan base, “see, we’re trying.”

The problem for Detroit — like with every team trying to get involved with Cleveland on an Irving deal — is finding a way to make it work.

Cleveland’s top priority in a deal is getting back a young, elite, blue-chip player on a rookie contract. Stanley Johnson is nice, but he does not qualify. The Cavaliers also want veterans who can help them win now, and maybe the only Piston who qualifies there is Andre Drummond (who makes more than Irving right now). There is no deal between the two teams directly that makes sense.

Which means bringing in a third team, and that tends to be where things fall apart. Ellis in the Free Press talks about a three-way deal with the Clippers that came up on ESPN where:

The Pistons received: Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.
The Clippers received: Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson and a future Pistons first-round pick.
The Cavaliers received: DeAndre Jordan and Reggie Jackson.

The Cavaliers do not get the young player they want — call it LeBron James leaves insurance — in this trade. I’m not sure they do it. The Clippers might be willing to swap out centers who can’t hit free throws because they could lose DeAndre Jordan next summer where Drummond is locked up. But the Pistons would surrender Drummond, Johnson, Jackson and a future first-round pick to get Irving and Thompson, is that a good deal for them? I’m not sold.

Bottom line, the Pistons may be interested, but it’s hard to see how they pull off a deal. Something to watch, but don’t expect anything coming soon.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

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.