Raptors’ Ross wins dunk contest with Toronto tributes

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Terrence Ross pulled out the Vince Carter Raptors throwback jersey, then did a throwback Vince Carter dunk. Then he did a not-very-far throwback dunk of Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan. Then he dunked over a kid. All the while Toronto’s own Drake was jumping around in the first row like a giddy 12-year-old boy.

It all worked. The Raptors Terrence Ross is your 2013 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest champion.

“I think it’s paying homage to the guys who did this before me,” Ross said. “DeMar has been here before, tried to take his advice and honor him.”

Let’s be honest — this wasn’t a great dunk contest, maybe not even a good one. Ross shouldn’t have even been in the finals — he got a pretty generous perfect score on his first dunk after a few misses. Still the night it had its moments and Ross had enough of them.

His two dunks in the final round were quality. First was where he put on the Vince Carter throwback — he and a lot of guys his age (22) idolize Carter — then took a pass off the side of the backboard, turned 360 and slammed it. The second one he did was a a between the legs dunk over what everyone thought was a local ball boy but Evans said it was the son of one of Twitters founders and it was all set up by Ross’ agent.

“I told him the day before that I was going to jump over him, but I never told him I was going to go between the legs,” Ross said. “He was kind of nervous. When I first grabbed him he said, ‘You’re not going to hit me, right?’ I said ‘No, I’m not going to hit you.’ I had to calm his nerves.

There were some other great dunks that night. Gerald Green’s first dunk best of the night, off side of backboard, might well have been the best of the night. He tried an ambitious second dunk — he took off the net so he could do a double dunk, dunking, catching it and dunking again on one leap — but he couldn’t do it in the time allowed. He did it after that once. It was impressive but the judges had made their call and he was toast.

Knick and YouTube dunk sensation Jeremy White was a bust on the big stage. Which was disappointing.

Kenneth Faried’s second dunk — off the backboard and through the legs — was impressive.

Eric Bledsoe had a caught a high bouncing ball and turned it into an impressive reverse.

The other guy in the mix late was Jeremy Evans. Early on he dunked over a seated Mark Eton in a nod to Jazz history, and he dunked two balls, which got him into the finals.

There he had a pretty unique dunk — a lefthanded windmill over a covered painting, then he went back and unveiled the painting, which was of him dunking over a covered painting. It was a painting Evans himself had done. Then he signed it. Not the best dunk I’ve ever seen but it was different. Evans final dunk was taking a lob from a seated Dahntay Jones where Evans seemed to defy gravity for a second.

They were good, they were not good enough.

This was Toronto’s night.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.