Are the Milwaukee Bucks interested in Josh Smith?

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The Milwaukee Bucks have the potential to be one of the biggest players at the trade deadline.

They have one of the league’s best shooters on an affordable deal in Mike Dunleavy. They have a serviceable backup big man on an expiring deal in Samuel Dalembert. They have point guard Brandon Jennings, who will be a restricted free agent this offseason, and Monta Ellis, who has one year remaining on his deal. And for a team looking for a piece that’s locked in, you could do worse than Ersan Ilyasova as a stretch four.

The Bucks have the assets and the cap relief necessary to acquire a big piece. Could that piece be Josh Smith?

One team that hasn’t been publicly mentioned in the Smith Sweepstakes is Milwaukee, although there are whispers the Bucks are interested. The Bucks are in position to offer the Hawks as good of a deal as anyone for Smith, especially if Jennings or Ellis is involved. Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova, whom the Nets seriously courted during free agency last summer and are still interested in, could also come into play.

Via Gery Woelfel | Racine Journal Times

The big question here is whether Milwaukee thinks they have a legitimate shot at keeping Josh Smith beyond the next few months. Smith has been an Atlanta guy his whole life, and going from hot to cold on another team that’s a middling contender in the Eastern Conference might not be the most attractive situation. Jennings and Ellis aren’t exactly the type of guards that big men are lining up to play with, either.

While Smith may not be a candidate to stick around in Milwaukee, the Bucks could stand to do something with their big expiring contracts (Dalembert, Beno Udrih) for once instead of simply letting them expire. Unlikely to be a player in free agency, this may be the time to try and acquire a valuable piece.

For Atlanta, they’d need to decide whether Ersan Ilyasova is worth his contract. They don’t need Jennings (I like Teague better, personally) and Lou Williams should be able to recover from his season ending injury and do a lot of the same things Monta Ellis does for half the price. That leaves Ilyasova and his 5 year/$45 million dollar deal as the probable exchange for Smith, which probably doesn’t fall in line with Atlanta’s rebuilding process.

The Bucks could offer something along the lines of Udrih/Dalembert/John Henson and draft picks, which would probably be more appealing for Atlanta. Again though, it’s hard to see Milwaukee making a deal like that unless they thought Smith would re-sign with them.

These could just be whispers and nothing more, but Atlanta and Milwaukee certainly seem like two teams in position to make a move before Thursday’s deadline.

One last look back: Best dunks of All-Star Weekend (VIDEO)

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Defense? That’s one thing that rarely makes an appearance All-Star weekend.

Combine that with the game’s best athletes and what you get are three days of insane dunks.

The NBA put this together, the best dunks of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. Enjoy.

Wizards’ Bradley Beal: ‘Recruiting process is really going alright…I’m trying’

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LeBron James went out of his way to say he was not recruiting guys on his free-agent heavy All-Star Team.

Bradley Beal had no such hesitation, he tried to recruit guys, as he told Chase Huges of NBC Sports Washington.

“The recruiting process is really going alright. It’s going alright. I’m trying,” Beal said. “This is new for me. I’m definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for.”

Beal was too smart to name names — that would have brought a fine from the league — but he said some guys asked if he was happy where he was, while other guys he talked to about the possibilities in Washington.

The problem is while the Wizards will have some cap space after trading Otto Porter and Markieff Morris (and assuming they don’t pick up the option on Jabari Parker) but they will be nowhere near the max cap space needed to land the elite free agents at the All-Star Game (Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, etc.). Even the second-tier All-Star free agents such as Khris Middleton will get max offers. Same with players who just missed the game, such as Tobias Harris.

If the Wizards renounce free agents they can get to $9 million in cap space, stretch and waive Ian Mahinmi and they can get to $18 million. That’s the top end. Meaning the Wizards will have room to make moves for good rotation players, but with John Wall‘s supermax extension kicking in at $38 million next season flexibility is limited. Genuine upgrades will be hard to come by.

Predicting what Washington GM Ernie Grunfeld will do next summer is a fool’s errand, but Beal is doing his part to try and bring more talent into Washington.

Kevin Garnett says 2000 Olympic team had $1 million bounty to dunk on Yao Ming

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Team USA earned a Gold Medal in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, led by Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, and Alonzo Mourning. Lithuania made the Americans work that year, losing by just nine in pool play then by two points in the semi-finals.

That’s not what anyone remembers from those Olympics, they remember Vince Carter doing this to 7-footer Fredric Weiss of France.

Recently Garnett sat down with Dwyane Wade for an interview (which airs on NBA TV today) and he told a fantastic story about that dunk. (Hat tip to Yahoo Sports)

Everything just paused. First of all, people didn’t know, we had a bounty out on Yao Ming. The whole USA team had a bet. We had a million dollar bet on who was going to be the first person to dunk on Yao Ming. None of us did. We all tried to dunk on Yao, but he would block it or we would miss. So, the first thing I thought of when I saw Vince dunk over Frederic was oh s***, you won the million dollars. But then I realized it obviously wasn’t Yao. I pushed Vince, and if you look at the clip, he almost punches me in the face by accident. But my first thought was, oh s***, you won, you got the million.

KG has the best stories.

MSG denies rumor James Dolan looking to sell Knicks

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Rumors that James Dolan is considering selling the Knicks — which elicits a “Hallelujah” chorus from Knicks fans — have been cropping up for a couple of years now. There were rumors he wanted to spin off the Knicks and Rangers into their own company to be sold. That’s just one, there are others — he confirmed he got a feeler $5 billion, but never a firm offer, for the Knicks — and each time he has shot them down.

This is no different.

On his latest Podcast, the Ringer’s Bill Simmons said he had heard that Dolan wanted to focus more on concerts/in-game experiences in Madison Square Garden and that the Knicks were “available.”

The Madison Square Garden Company released this statement (hat tip New York Daily News).

“The story is 100% false. There has been nothing. No discussions. No plans to have discussions – nothing.”

That’s pretty unequivocal.

While Dolan may entertain the idea on some level of selling the Knicks, until he takes concrete steps to do so — not rumors, but actual, documented moves — I’m not buying it. He’s sitting on a gold mine that keeps going up in value, despite how he manages it, so why sell now? Knicks fans that buy this rumor will likely end up like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football.