Report: Nets agreed to deal to get Marcus Thornton from Kings; Nets near adding Hill from Lakers

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We passed along the report this trade was being discussed yesterday. Apparently it’s about to be much more than discussed, and with that the Nets continue to laugh at the NBA’s new, stiffer luxury tax.

The Nets and Kings have agreed in principle to a trade that would send Marcus Thornton to the Nets in exchange for Jason Terry and Reggie Evans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. There are no picks or cash involved, just the players.

Thornton’s contract has two years and nearly $17 million remaining through the 2014-15 season. Terry, 36, has $10.7 million left on his deal, including $5.4 million next season.

Brooklyn had discussed a deal involving Terry for Cleveland’s Jarrett Jack, too, but sources tell Yahoo Sports that is an unlikely scenario based on the length of Jack’s contract, which guarantees a total of $12.6 million in the final two years of his deal through the 2015-16 season.

This move would save Sacramento just shy of $1 million, although most likely they would try to move Terry and Evans again this summer in future deals. It essentially breaks up the big Thornton contract into two smaller ones that may be easier to move.

The Nets clearly don’t care about the money because they are about to take on the salary of Jordan Hill from the Lakers.

The Nets’ $5.25 million Disabled Player Exception can be used in a trade or free-agent transaction until March 10 and they can use a portion of it to absorb the remaining $3.5 million on Hill’s expiring contract.

Nevertheless, the luxury tax penalty from absorbing Hill’s contract would be extraordinary for Brooklyn – nearly $17 million… If the Nets also were to complete a deal for Hill, the team’s salaries and luxury tax would reach $210 million.

That’s a lot of money to, at best, make the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Hill brings good energy on the court (although Mike D’Antoni was never a fan for several reasons including a lack of offensive skill) and could give the Nets some decent play at the four and five off the bench. But he’s a pedestrian NBA big about to cost the Nets $17 million. Ridiculous. It’s not my money and apparently Nets’ owner Mikhail Prokhorov doesn’t need it, but that is the definition of overpaying.

In the larger trade, basically these two teams are swapping disappointing players.

Thornton is in the midst of his worst season as a professional. Remember that two seasons ago he averaged 18.7 points a game with a true shooting percentage of 54.4 percent — back then he was seen as part of the Kings’ future.

What he’s evolved into is a volume scorer who is struggling to put points on the board. This season he is scoring 8.3 points a game with a true shooting percentage is 48.5. What made him dangerous before was his ability to knock down the three, but he is shooting just 31.8 percent from deep this season.

Brooklyn is betting that a change of scenery and surrounding him with veterans will bring back the old scorer and shooter. If so he certainly helps their wing depth.

Sacramento isn’t making this trade for the players. Terry’s game has been in decline for years — he can still shoot the three (37 percent, and he still loves the right corner) but he can’t create his own shot or defend well anymore. Reggie Evans brings energy and for that reason fans love him, and he works hard on the glass, but he is limited in just about every other way. He’s a decent big off the bench because of his effort but he’s a role player.

Jerry Colangelo: Team USA would’ve won FIBA World Cup if not for injuries

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Team USA finished seventh in the 2019 FIBA World Cup – the Americans’ worst-ever finish in a major tournament.

Why did the U.S. fare so poorly?

USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo had sharp words for the many stars who withdrew. But that’s not his only explanation.

Kyle Kuzma suffered an ankle injury that kept him off the roster. Jayson Tatum missed the final six games with his own ankle injury. Marcus Smart was banged up and missed time throughout the event.

Colangelo, via Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

“I believe that if we didn’t have those injuries, we would have won,” said Colangelo. “The injuries were just too much to absorb.”

Maybe.

Those players – especially Tatum and Smart, who occupied a roster spots – would’ve helped. But even with those two, the Americans were vulnerable. Australia beat them in an exhibition, and Turkey nearly upset them in the first round. France and Serbia clearly outplayed them in the knockout phase. Team USA just lacked its usual talent.

Perhaps more top Americans will play in the 2020 Olympics. That will make the biggest difference.

If USA Basketball had attracted more stars for the World Cup, it likely could’ve withstood a few injuries. This roster allowed little margin for error.

Jarrett Culver enlivens Timberwolves’ otherwise-quiet offseason

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NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

The Timberwolves are the only team with two max-salary players under age 29. Heck, they’re the only team with two max-salary players under age 25.

But Minnesota isn’t set.

Far from it.

Though Karl-Anthony Towns (23) is already a star and sometimes looks like a budding superstar, Andrew Wiggins (24) has stagnated on his max extension. Add expensive contracts for Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng, and the Timberwolves have limited cap flexibility. With veterans too good to allow deep tanking, Minnesota also has limited means to upgrade through the draft.

New Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas was likely always bound to limit his impact this summer. Minnesota faced few clear pressing decisions. Any big moves would start the clock toward Rosas getting evaluated on his prestigious job. In one of his main decisions, Rosas retained head coach Ryan Saunders, an ownership favorite.

Yet, in this environment, Rosas still found a simple way to add a potential long-term difference maker.

The Timberwolves entered the draft with the No. 11 pick – right after a near-consensus top 10 would’ve been off the board. They left the draft with No. 6 pick Jarrett Culver.

All it took to trade up with the Suns was Dario Saric, who would’ve helped Minnesota this season but probably not enough to achieve meaningful success. He’ll become a free agent next summer and is in line for a raise the Timberwolves might not wanted to give.

Culver is not a lock to flourish in the NBA. But Minnesota had no business adding a prospect with so much potential. This was a coup.

Otherwise, the Timberwolves remained predictably quiet, tinkering on the fringe of the rotation. They added Jake Layman (three years, $11,283,255) in a sign-and-trade with the Trail Blazers. They took Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham off the hands of the hard-capped Warriors, getting cash for their trouble. They signed Noah Vonleh (one year, $2 million) and Jordan Bell (one year, minimum). They claimed Tyrone Wallace off waivers.

With their own free agents getting bigger offers, Minnesota didn’t match Tyus Jones‘ offer sheet with the Grizzlies (three years, $26,451,429) and watched Derrick Rose walk to the Pistons (two years, $15 million). For where the Timberwolves are, the far-cheaper Napier should handle backup point guard just fine.

Minnesota is methodically gaining flexibility. Teague’s contract expires next summer, Dieng’s the summer after that. The big question is how to handle Wiggins, but that will wait.

With Towns locked in the next five years, Rosas has plenty of runway before he must take off. Nabbing Culver was a heck of a way to accelerate from the gate.

Offseason grade: B-

Report: Iman Shumpert rejects offer from Rockets, who’ll have several familiar names in minicamp

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Iman Shumpert is the best free agent available.

Why hasn’t he signed yet? Apparently because he spent the offseason negotiating with the Rockets, but those talks haven’t produced a deal.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Kelly Iko of The Athletic:

Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic:

I wonder whether Houston tried to sign Shumpert to a contract similar to Nene’s, creating another trade chip. The Rockets are close to the luxury tax and probably wouldn’t guarantee Shumpert much. It doesn’t take months to negotiate a simple minimum contract.

Shumpert (29) is a credible wing in a league starving for them. He played well for the Kings last season before getting traded to Houston, where he struggled. Other teams should be interested.

The Rockets have just nine players with guaranteed salaries. There’s plenty of room for some of these past-their-prime veterans to make the regular-season roster. It might mostly depend on which of Terrence Jones (27), Nick Young (34), Luc Mbah a Moute (33), Corey Brewer (33), Raymond Felton (35) and Thabo Sefolosha (35) are in the best shape at this stage.

Knicks’ rookie R.J. Barrett wants to posterize Kristaps Porzingis

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Fairly early into the season, on Nov. 14, Kristaps Porzingis — the one time savior of the New York Knicks, at least in the eyes of fans — returns to Madison Square Garden wearing a Dallas Mavericks’ uniform.

He can expect to feel the, um, “love” of Knicks fans.

And Knicks rookie R.J. Barrett wants to add to that, as he said in a Bleacher Report live chat with fans.

I want to know: who does he really want to dunk on but will not say? Zion Williamson? Going back in history to Jordan?

Against Porzingis he will get his chance. That said, it’s not easy to get up and over the 7’3″ unicorn, but guys have done it. Right Dwight Howard?