<span class="vcard">Dan Feldman</span>

Phoenix Suns' P.J. Tucker (17) shots over Toronto Raptors' DeMar DeRozan and Luis Scola, of Argentina, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Report: Raptors interested in trading for Suns’ P.J. Tucker

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The Suns, on a 2-20 stretch, are headed south quickly.

With Eric Bledsoe and T.J. Warren out for the season, there’s no hope for getting back in the playoff race. Phoenix’s best-case scenario for the rest of the year is landing the No. 1 seed in the lottery.

There’s no longer a place on this team for P.J. Tucker – a 30-year-old wing capable of helping teams now.

Expect him to draw plenty of interest.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Raptors interest in Tucker might be a negative indicator for DeMarre Carroll, who’s out after knee surgery. James Johnson being banged up doesn’t help, either. At least with DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, Toronto isn’t desperate for a wing.

But other tams might be.

There’s a dearth of shooting guards and small forwards in the NBA right now. That’s particularly important for contenders chasing Golden State. The Warriors are at their best when Draymond Green plays center with three wings – usually Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes – flanking him and Stephen Curry. Few opponents have the wing depth to keep up.

Tucker might not have the speed to hang with the zippy Warriors, but he’d fare better than most traditional bigs. A 3-and-D player, Tucker would help most contenders.

He makes a relatively cheap $5.5 million this year, and just $1.5 million his $5.3 million salary next season is guaranteed in case something goes awry. More likely, a team would get two years of valuable production from him.

The Suns are dealing from a position of strength. They can ask for plenty.

Mo Williams says he won’t ask Cavaliers for a trade

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Mo Williams (52) drives as Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Dec. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)
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Mo Williams excelled as the Cavaliers’ starting point guard early in the season, when Kyrie Irving was still recovering from injury.

But with Irving healthy and Matthew Dellavedova significantly improved, Williams has fallen from the rotation. He has played just 20 minutes in Cleveland’s last 16 games. Though he missed three games due to a death in the family, that’s still nine DNP-CDs in that span.

Williams hasn’t always looked pleased with his reduced role, but will he ask for a trade?

Williams, via Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

“Nah, man. I’ve moved my family around enough,” he said. I’m sticking this thing out.”

Williams has been playing through a thumb injury, and new coach Tyronn Lue has talked about getting him back in the rotation. Once Williams fully heals, that could happen more regularly.

When push comes to shove, Dellavedova will probably get more playing time. He’s a better defender, and his improved outside shooting makes him a good fit with Cleveland’s stars – who will get a large majority of the team’s most important minutes.

J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert have essentially locked up all the minutes at shooting guard, another position Williams can play.

But Williams – a ball-handler and scorer – gives the Cavs a different dimension than the players in front of him on the depth chart. That versatility is important for teams navigating a deep playoff track. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if Williams helps in a key postseason moment.

That probably boosts his desire to stay with Cleveland.

So does a chance at a championship.

Though the Warriors and Spurs have been playing at ridiculously high levels, the Cavaliers are a legitimate title contender. They’re clear favorites to win the East, and once in the Finals, they could have the breaks go their way.

Williams surely returned to Cleveland for many reasons, a championship chase among them. No matter what happens with his playing time, that hasn’t gone away.

Trey Lyles replacing Nikola Mirotic in Rising Stars Challenge

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When the NBA released rosters for the Rising Stars Challenge, many howled about one omission: Boban Marjanovic, the Spurs’ fan-favorite rookie.

Even with the World Team losing a frontcourt player to injury, Marjanovic still didn’t get the call.

NBA release:

Utah Jazz rookie forward Trey Lyles will replace injured World Team selection Nikola Mirotic of the Chicago Bulls in the 2016 BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge on Friday, Feb. 12 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

Mirotic sitting out this exhibition is no surprise. The question: When will he return to the Bulls after his second surgery?

And no offense to Lyles – a skilled Canadian big with a bright future – what will it take to get Marjanovic into the game?

Report: Celtics intend to buy out David Lee if they don’t trade him

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The Celtics have been trying to trade David Lee – who hasn’t played in the last 13 games – for a while.

But they’ve found no takers, so they’re preparing a contingency plan.

Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

Lee’s $15,493,680 salary makes dealing him tricky. Few teams can match that big amount without including a player more valuable than Lee.

But Boston will keep him through the trade deadline in case a high-priced star becomes available. With the Celtics’ most-valuable assets – future draft picks, including the Nets’ – counting $0 in trades, Lee’s contract could help facilitate a deal.

Absent that, a buyout makes some sense.

Lee is owed $5,012,661 after the trade deadline, and he would make $485,031 on a minimum salary the rest of the season – a difference of $4,527,630. How much would he sacrifice for the ability to choose his own team? Boston surely wouldn’t mind letting him go in exchange for a payroll reduction. Based on this report, I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount is already agreed upon.

I’m just not sure where Lee goes. He could probably find a team with less frontcourt depth than the Celtics, who have Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller. But he appears unlikely to crack the rotation of any championship contender. How far down the line must Lee go before finding a team that’ll play him? At age 32, he’s limited.

Before giving up any money, he ought to have a destination lined up. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Report: Celtics have talked Dwight Howard trade with Rockets

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Dwight Howard bothered plenty in Boston with his physical play during a 2010 Magic-Celtics playoff series.

But that doesn’t mean Boston general manager Danny Ainge holds a grudge.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Meanwhile, the Celtics have engaged the Houston Rockets in talks about a possible deal for Dwight Howard, the Daily News has learned.

The Rockets reportedly aren’t looking to trade Howard, who will surely opt out this summer. It still makes sense for Boston – with a ton of positive assets, but no star – to inquire.

It makes even more sense for the Celtics to pursue Howard in free agency in the summer, when they won’t have to deal anything besides cap space to sign him.

I’d be surprised if a Howard-to-Boston trade happens now, but this info might have revealed one of the star-hungry Celtics’ targets.