Author: Kurt Helin


Report: Grizzlies pursue Luol Deng, Jeff Green in possible trades


The Western Conference arms race continues.

Houston added Corey Brewer and Josh Smith. Dallas added Rajon Rondo. Oklahoma City took a flier on Dion Waiters.

The Memphis Grizzlies have been near the top of the West all season and at 25-10 are currently the three seed in the conference. They were already seen as a serious playoff threat. But now they are looking to add some depth on the wing for that playoff push — maybe adding either Miami’s Luol Deng or Boston’s Jeff Green. That according to Marc Stein or ESPN.

It is not immediately known how willing Miami would be to trade Deng, who is not yet even halfway through his first season of the two-year, $19.9 million contract he received from the Heat in the wake of LeBron James’ return to Cleveland via free agency….

Green, meanwhile, is widely believed to be available leading into the deadline in the wake of Boston’s deal to send Rondo to Dallas last month. Although Green told local reporters last week on the eve of Rondo’s first game at TD Garden as a visiting player that he doesn’t “want to know how that feels because I don’t want to be traded.”

Any Grizzlies offer for Deng or Green is likely to feature the $7.7 million expiring contract of Tayshaun Prince as well as the promise of future draft compensation.

Deng would be a great fit in Memphis — he is a good complimentary offensive player averaging 14.3 points a game on an above average 58.7 true shooting percentage, and hitting 36.3 percent from three. Plus he’s a quality defender. He fits right in with what they want to do in Memphis. However, I can’t imagine Miami trading Deng for Prince and the Pu Pu platter of picks, the Grizzlies will need to make this worth Miami’s while.

Green would bring increased athleticism to the Grizzlies wing, he’s far more dynamic than Prince. Green is scoring 17.9 points a game in Boston with a slightly above average 54.2 true shooting percentage. He’s a better spot up shooter than he gets credit for but his hitting just 31.1 percent from three this season. Green also has been inconsistent his entire career.

The real takeaway here is that the Grizzlies rightfully think they have a chance at advancing out of the West this season and they are looking to shore up a weak spot by being aggressive on the trade market. Which, if they land someone the quality of the two guys mentioned, should worry the rest of the West.

Also, a move like this (or even the rumors of a move like this) show free agent to be Marc Gasol that they are serious and will spend to win.

Either of those two guys would be big upgrades to an already formidable Memphis team.

Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert sprains ankle, does not return to game

Indiana Pacers v Golden State Warriors

Because the Pacers haven’t had enough injury issues…

Pacers’ center Roy Hibbert left the team’s game at the Golden State Warriors Wednesday when he sprained his ankle in the first quarter. He had to be helped to the locker room. He did come out to sit on the bench for the second half however the Warriors announced he would not return to the game.

We do not yet know how severe this sprain is.

Hibbert sprained that same ankle earlier this season and missed four games because of it.

He is averaging 11.6 points and 6.9 rebounds a game however he has not anchored the Pacers defense in the same way (they are actually 1.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he sits this season. The Pacers are 14-22 on the season and the ninth seed in the East.

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer dancing to Fergie is everything you could hope (VIDEO)

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Clippers

Fergie performed a song at the Lakers/Clippers game tonight.

That is Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer dancing to Fergie.

I have no words.

However, he will go to bed tonight roughly $2 billion richer than you or I, so I’m not going to mock him any more. When you’re that rich, you can dance however you wish.

Hat tip to fellow NDHS grad Arash Markazi for posting that.

Report: Clippers trade Jared Cunningham to Sixers

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers really did like Jared Cunningham, the athleticism he brought as a combo guard. They brought him in as a third point guard and he hasn’t seen many minutes — 89 total this season — behind Chris Paul and Jordan Farmar, but he was a good insurance policy.

However, what the Clippers needed more was money and a roster space as they try to get better at the trade deadline.

Rather than cut him outright, the Clippers traded him, reports Adrian Wojnaroski of Yahoo Sports.

The question yet to be answered is what comes back to the Clippers in this deal (likely a protected second round pick at best).

Cunningham is a fringe NBA player right out of the “everything that the AAU does wrong” mold — he’s an incredibly athletic and very raw basketball player. He doesn’t really have the handles to be a playmaking point guard and he lacks the shooting skills to be a threat as a two guard. The Cavaliers took him with the No. 24 pick a few drafts ago but gave up on his development.

We’ll see if another team will take him on as a gamble or if he is headed to the D-League.

Report: Grant Hill, Bryan Colangelo just two of many trying to buy Atlanta Hawks

Grant Hill

Things seem to be picking up steam in the sale of the Atlanta Hawks, in part because all three different current ownership groups — who often fought amongst themselves for power and with that hindered the franchise — have agreed to sell. Someone or some group can buy 100 percent of the team.

A couple of those interested have some big NBA name recognition — Grant Hill and former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo.

Over at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Chris Vivlamore laid out some of the rumored interested parties in buying the team.

* Jason Levian. The former Memphis Grizzlies CEO left the organization in May. He is a co-owner of the MLS franchise D.C. United.

* Steve Kaplan: The Los Angeles-based investor joined Robert Pera’s group as a limited investor to purchase the Memphis Grizzlies. He has reportedly made attempts to buy baseball’s San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers in recent years.

* Sheldon Adelson: The billionaire businessman is the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

* Byran Colangelo: The former President and CEO of the Toronto Raptors. The son of Jerry Colangelo, he was the NBA’s 2005 and 2007 Executive of the Year.

* Grant Hill: The former NBA player and current analyst joined Antony Ressler and Bruce Karsh with a $1.2 billion failed bid to by the Los Angeles Clippers. Hill deflected questions about his interest in the Hawks during a recent segment on NBA TV.

There are others interested as well from previous reports: Dikembe Mutombo, Chris Webber, entertainment lawyer Doug Davis, and Jesse Itzler, the rapper who has done some consulting work for the Hawks and is a regular at their games.

Either Hill or Colangelo would have to team with money men — like the guys above them on this list — to be able to afford it. However, there may be ownership groups willing to bring in Hill or Colangelo as the face of the group and let them run at least the basketball side of the operations. It is likely there will be a main money man with several of these people as minority partners.

There were tweeted reports from Bill Simmons of Grantland that some Seattle groups are interested in buying the Hawks and moving them.

I will tell you I have heard that there is almost zero chance of that happening. The NBA wants to keep a team in Atlanta, one of its key markets in the South. Think back to how hard Adam Silver worked to keep the Kings in Sacramento — he does not want to give up on a market that has not given up on the team. Atlanta has not, their attendance and television ratings have had big leaps this season as the Hawks have come together on the court and have the best record in the East.

Plus, remember that the NBA is very tight partners with Turner Broadcasting, which runs NBA TV, broadcasts Thursday showcase games on TNT (plus has the brilliant Inside the NBA) and also runs the Internet powerhouse Bleacher Report, which has heavy NBA content. Turner’s headquarters is in Atlanta, not far at all from Phillips Arena.

On top of that there are serious financial issues in trying to move the Hawks — there is a $75 million lease buyout right now plus the owners would have to pay off bonds used to renovate the arena. We’re talking a lot of cash added on top of an already steep sales price.

Which is to say, the Hawks aren’t leaving Atlanta.

The question is who will own them next in the city.