Dan Feldman

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Report: Magic trade Elfrid Payton to Suns for second-rounder

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Former Magic coach Scott Skiles gave up on Elfrid Payton. Former Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan, who believed in Payton, got fired. And now Hennigan’s successor, Jeff Weltman, has given up on Payton.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is a tremendous buy-low move by the Suns at a position of need. Brandon Knight‘s ghost wasn’t getting the job done at point guard. Payton might.

The 23-year-old has shown promise, but his clunky outside shot is a severe limitation. Still, his defense and penetrating ability could complement franchise player Devin Booker in the backcourt.

Orlando clearly didn’t want to pay Payton in restricted free agency next summer. Better to get a second-rounder for him now rather than just let him walk for nothing.

Report: Trail Blazers trade Noah Vonleh and cash to Bulls, dodge luxury tax

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The Trail Blazers are just 29-25 and owner Paul Allen is investigating where to assign blame.

There was no way he was going to pay the luxury tax for this team.

So, Portland is dumping Noah Vonleh and his $3,505,233 salary on the Bulls.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This moves Portland below the luxury-tax line – the culmination of a process that started last summer. It’s logical economically, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Trail Blazers disassembling his supporting cast sits with star Damian Lillard.

At least shedding Vonleh is unlikely to be a flashpoint.

Vonleh has mostly struggled in his four NBA seasons, and he was out of the rotation. There’s a reason Portland dumped him as opposed to, say, Shabazz Napier and a minimum player.

But Vonleh is just 22 and still has the talent that made him the No. 9 pick in 2014. This is a good flier by Chicago – especially if the Trail Blazers cover all or a portion of his $1,227,822 remaining salary. If all goes well, the Bulls can make him a restricted free agent this summer. If not, they’re not on the hook for anything beyond this season.

Report: Knicks get Emmanuel Mudiay in three-team trade with Nuggets and Mavericks

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After the Knicks passed on him with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft, Emmanuel Mudiay reportedly said he was happy to avoid New York  and the triangle offense. With Phil Jackson and the triangle gone, Mudiay might feel more welcome with the Knicks now.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Mudiay, whom the Nuggets drafted No. 7, has struggled in three NBA seasons. And New York already has a promising point guard in Frank Ntilikina.

But Mudiay is just 21, and point guards tend to develop later. There’s value in hedging bets, and Ntilikina can defend multiple positions. This is an excellent low-cost, buy-low move by the Knicks.

The Nuggets get a more-experienced point guard in Devin Harris, who should play behind Jamal Murray and help their playoff push this season. Harris is also on an expiring contract, so he won’t complicate Denver’s looming luxury-tax concerns.

The rebuilding Mavericks can use the 26-year-old McDermott more than the 34-year-old Harris, but I’d rather have Mudiay. Yes, Dallas has Dennis Smith Jr., but again, there’s value in hedging bets. I don’t why the Mavericks didn’t just cut the Knicks out of this deal.

Report: Cavaliers trade Dwyane Wade (to Heat!), Jae Crowder (to Utah), get Rodney Hood and George Hill

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Crunched by the disastrous results of the Kyrie Irving trade so far and LeBron James‘ impending free agency, the Cavaliers are undergoing a massive overhaul.

They already traded the destructive Isaiah Thomas to the Lakers (with Channing Frye and a protected first-round pick for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson). Now, the other rotation player in the Irving trade – Jae Crowder, who has disappointed in Cleveland – is going to the Jazz in a three-team trade involving the Kings.

Oh, and Dwyane Wade is returning to the Heat.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Cavs sold low on Crowder, who’s locked into a team-friendly contract (due $7,305,825 and $7,815,533 the next two years) if he’s playing well. But at least they got good return.

George Hill will likely start at point guard and will be a HUGE upgrade defensively over Thomas. Hill is also more comfortable off the ball than Thomas, which is important with LeBron. Hill is owed a lot of money, but that – and the Kings’ losing – was why he was available.

Rodney Hood could start at shooting guard the way J.R. Smith has played this season. Hood is also a good spot-up 3-point shooter, again a skill enhanced by LeBron.

Both guards should be invigorated by their fresh start on a contender. The Cavaliers desperately need that fresh attitude.

They also needed Wade less after getting Clarkson, who should take over as lead playmaker on reserve units. Clarkson’s role makes much more sense now. How LeBron feels about losing his good friend Wade is another question, but it seems Wade signed off on this trade.

Wade’s Miami homecoming will be emotional, and this erases the tension between him and Pat Riley. Wade might even help the Heat on the court with Dion Waiters out for the season. In limited minutes, Wade can attack the basket and distribute.

The Jazz get Crowder after coveting him a while. If he returns to the form he showed with the Celtics, this will be a great trade. If not… at least Hood and Joe Johnson weren’t long-term pieces anyway.

The Kings clear $8,988,766 in future salary – Hill’s guarantees minus Iman Shumpert‘s $11,011,234 player option for next season. Johnson, on an expiring contract, is a prime buyout candidate. The pick and straight cash (homie) also help Sacramento.

This might be the end of Derrick Rose‘s career, one that included an MVP but so many injury-fueled lows since. He’s just 29, but I’m not sure he has the desire to keep playing. I’m not sure a team has the desire to sign him.

Report: Pistons trade second-rounder, Brice Johnson to Grizzlies for James Ennis

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The Pistons are staying busy.

They already flipped one of the additional players acquired in the Blake Griffin trade (Willie Reed, to the Bulls with a pick swap for Jameer Nelson). Now, they’re moving the other – Brice Johnson, to the Grizzlies with a second-round pick for James Ennis.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal:

The Pistons are clearly pushing to make the playoffs this season. Ennis is older (27 vs. 23) and more expensive ($3,028,410 vs. $1,331,160) than Johnson, and the pick only adds to Detroit’s cost. But Ennis is better.

Ennis can share minutes at small forward with Stanley Johnson when the match up is too big for Reggie Bullock or Bullock plays shooting guard (which might happen less with the Pistons acquiring Nelson, who reduces the need the for Langston Galloway at point guard). When the opposing power forward isn’t too big, Ennis can also play there  behind Griffin and Anthony Tolliver, as Griffin is also Detroit’s de facto backup center.

Both Ennis and Johnson are on expiring contracts. The Pistons could try to re-sign Ennis, but considering their luxury-tax concerns, this is more about this season.

For Memphis, this is about the pick and cost savings. Johnson showed little in two seasons with the Clippers, and – with his third-year option declined – he’s probably on his way out of the league.