Heat’s Danny Granger: LeBron leaving ‘isn’t a terrible thing for me’

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Danny Granger was once an All-Star and the face of the Pacers franchise who averaged a career-best 25.8 points per game during the 2009 season.

Injuries have decimated his career, however, especially over the last two seasons.

Indiana gave up on him at the trade deadline, and sent him to Philadelphia in exchange for Evan Turner — which seemed like a good idea at the time, but ultimately didn’t work out for the Pacers. Granger’s contract was bought out, and he spent the remainder of the year with the Clippers, but wasn’t able to substantially impact L.A.’s roster.

The Heat locked up Granger on a two-year deal this summer, as part of the effort to add some free agents — any free agents — to show LeBron James that the team was improved to the point where re-signing in Miami actually made sense.

James bolted for Cleveland shortly thereafter, and Granger could have reconsidered since the contract had not yet been signed. But he chose to stay in Miami, partially because of the expanded opportunity he’d have to earn playing time now that James was gone.

From Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

He opted for less money in exchange for the opportunity to play alongside LeBron James.

And then, four days after Granger committed to Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, James committed to a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Able to rescind or even restructure his two-year, $4.2 million agreement, Granger kept his commitment.

“It’s two-fold,” he said. “Yeah, I think everybody would like a chance to play with LeBron. But in the same aspect, a guy like me, who’s trying to reestablish myself, him leaving isn’t a terrible thing for me. It gives me an opportunity to play more, affords to do more of what I used to do. My initial reaction was to come to play with him, but once he left, it still was a good situation for me.

“I reassessed a little bit, myself and my agent. But at the point where I was at, it was more about me reestablishing, rather than the money or something like that. I’ve made a bunch of money. I just want to reestablish myself as the player that I was previously.”

Granger is probably the only one in Miami that is feeling better about his position with LeBron out of the picture. But the opportunity to reestablish himself, and regain the form he once had means more to him at this point in his career than does making the most money possible, or contributing very little to a team with championship aspirations.

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.