Report: Cavs, Wolves, Pistons talky-talk; Cavs would get No. 1 and No. 2

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ESPN.com reports that the Cavaliers, Pistons, and Timberwolves are discussing a trade that is kind of complicated. Here are the pieces:

  • The Pistons send Rip Hamilton and the No. 8 to Cleveland for part of their massive trade exception from you-know-who, which gets the guy who caused a mutiny in the locker room off the squad.
  • Cleveland then turns around and swaps their No.4 pick and the No.8 pick from Detroit to Minnesota for the No.2 pick, which the Wolves don’t want because they don’t want to mess up that wonderful Michael Beasley-Anthony Randolph rotation they have going on.
  • The Timberwolves don’t have to draft Derrick Williams and get to draft Enes Kanter at No.4 and then their pick of any number of solid players at the No.8 spot.
The Detroit News reports that the deal is unlikely since Hamilton’s “almost an expiring.” Which is kind of true. But kind of not. Let me explain.
Hamilton’s on the books for $12.5 million in 2011-2012, and has $9 million of $12 million guaranteed in 2012-2013. (Thank you, Sham Sports.) The idea is that with the impending lockout, Hamilton’s contract becomes at once easier to pay off and easier to move. Let’s take a near-worst-case scenario approach as a hypothetical. The absolute worst case is the loss of a whole season, which makes Hamilton’s deal an expiring once the lockout ends. Easy. They either trade him as an expiring or cut a deal for a buyout over the remaining $9 million. But the more likely near-worst-case scenario is we lose half  a season, pick it up around the 42 game mark. That puts Hamilton in for $6 million next year and $9 million the year after for a grand total of $15 million. Even if the Pistons manage to talk him down for a buyout into the $10 million range, you’re still dealing with a locker room cancer until that’s resolved. Conversely, you move him, now, Cleveland treats him as dead weight payment for Derrick Williams, Hamilton agrees to a buyout with no other options, and everyone walks away happy, especially the Bulls when they get Hamilton for $2 million next season.
The other sticking point here is that the Pistons, in their first move under new ownership (pending approval) would lose a player and a pick for nothing. That’s a bad start. So the idea is they need to get something, anything back. But with both the Wolves and Cavs pretty much desperate to reshape their rosters, they can probably salvage this deal and get something back from one of those two teams to save face.
The big winner here is the Cavs should it go down, who get to start over with Kyrie Irving throwing lobs to Derrick Williams. That’s nice. Real nice. But maybe the better aspect of this is the COA angle. The Cavaliers can’t afford to lose out on a top draft pick and though Irving very much looks a lock, the draft is honestly a crap shoot half the time. This guarantees (almost) that one of their guys will wind up as a valuable player even if they do swing and miss on one or the other.

Austin Rivers opting in for $12.65 million with Clippers

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Austin Rivers‘ three-year, $35,475,000 contract caused resentment within the Clippers when his father – Clippers coach and then-president Doc Rivers – gave it to the guard in 2016.

But don’t think for a moment that will bother Austin into bypassing $12.65 million next season.

Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

That high salary will put a target even more squarely on Rivers’ back, but he’s used to it.

He’ll be overpaid, but he can still help the Clippers. Maybe that’s as an expiring contract used to facilitate a larger trade. Maybe that’s on the court. L.A. will reportedly drop guard Milos Teodosic. The Clippers, with the Nos. 12 and 13 picks in tonight’s draft, could select another guard, but few rookie point guards are reliable.

Report: Spurs ‘shut the door’ on Lakers’ Kawhi Leonard trade inquiry

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After shooting down trade inquiries before the trade deadline and brushing off proposals earlier this offseason, the Spurs are reportedly hearing out offers for Kawhi Leonard.

Except from the Lakers.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

The Lakers are reportedly Leonard’s preferred destination. Of course, San Antonio isn’t obligated to send him there. But he can influence the process by stating a plan to sign with only certain team(s) in 2019 unrestricted free agency.

The Celtics and 76ers might have better assets to send the Spurs. But if only the Lakers have a commitment from Leonard to re-sign, they might offer a greater share of their assets than Boston or Philadelphia would (especially if Los Angeles believes acquiring Leonard would be the first domino in also landing LeBron James and Paul George).

Between Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and future first-round picks, the Lakers could offer roughly commensurate value for Leonard. San Antonio might not like those particular players, but a third team could always get involved. Send some combination of Ball, Ingram, Kuzma and Hart to a team that wants them and have that third team convey players more desirable to the Spurs.

But that takes thoughtful negotiating, and San Antonio doesn’t seem interested.

There’s a belief San Antonio won’t trade Leonard to a Western Conference team, especially another historically strong franchise like the Lakers. That sentiment seems foolish to me, but it didn’t emerge out of thin air. There are real people – and real hurt feelings – involved here. Grudges sometimes trump rationality.

Maybe the Spurs will eventually explore whether the Lakers present the best offer. But this is at least circumstantial evidence San Antonio will handle this crisis stubbornly.

League buzz: Kings will take Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, Luka Doncic gone at three

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It’s hard to see through all the smoke and tell if things around the 2018 NBA Draft are solidifying as we get to fewer than three hours before the Phoenix Suns go on the clock.

The Suns are a lock to take DeAndre Ayton at No. 1.

After that, the Kings more and more seem to be leaning toward taking Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, according to multiple reports of those close to the team.

At three things really open up. Atlanta is listening to trade offers but one way or another is likely to pick Luka Doncic. There are rumors that multiple teams — Dallas, Orlando, others — would then trade their pick plus some other asset (young player/future pick) to the Hawks for Doncic. Who the Hawks reportedly really want is Trae Young, but they can move down to get him.

If the Slovenian is off the board, it’s more likely that Memphis trades the No. 4 pick, according to sources. However, there are questions about whether Memphis can get what it thinks is fair value for selling the No. 4. So maybe they just take Jaren Jackson Jr.

How is it going to shake out?

That follows my final mock draft, which was put together Wednesday for the video above. It has:

1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley
3. Atlanta: Luka Doncic
4. Memphis: Jaren Jackson
5. Dallas: Mo Bamba
6. Orlando: Trae Young
7. Chicago: Michael Porter Jr.
8. Cleveland: Wendell Carter Jr.
9. New York: Kevin Knox
10. Philadelphia: Mikail Bridges
11. Charlotte: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
12. LA Clippers: Robert Williams
13. LA Clippers: Collin Sexton
14. Denver: Miles Bridges

The problem with any mock draft now is accounting for trades, and those are coming.

Report: Spurs hearing out Kawhi Leonard trade offers, including from Lakers

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The Spurs shot down Kawhi Leonard trade offers before the trade deadline. They brushed off Leonard trade offers earlier this offseason.

Then, the already strained situation got even worse.

Leonard put out word he wanted to leave San Antonio, ideally for the Lakers. He met with Gregg Popovich this week in San Diego, reportedly directly telling the president-coach he wants out.

What are the Spurs doing now?

Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:

The Lakers are in that mix.

The Spurs can try to mend their relationship with Leonard. They could even use a super-max contract – projected to be worth $219 million over five years – to aid that process. They don’t have to trade him.

But the clock is ticking toward tonight’s draft, teams using their cap space in other ways and Leonard’s 2019 free agency.

San Antonio has no choice but to get more aggressive in handling Leonard’s future. This is a small step in that direction.