Report: Celtics express willingness to take salary dumps

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When a team no longer wants to pay a player, Sam Hinkie is on speed dial.

The Philadelphia 76ers have made trades for Jared Cunningham, Andrei Kirilenko, Ronny Turiaf, Travis Outlaw, Marquis Teague, Keith Bogans Hasheem Thabeet – not a single one of whom has played for the 76ers this season.

Philadelphia takes and waives (or attempts to flip) these players so their previous teams don’t have to. The previous team gets cap relief and/or a trade exception, and the 76ers get a draft pick for their trouble.

But the Celtics want to make clear Philadelphia doesn’t have this market cornered.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Boston has been calling around the league over the last week, reminding GMs that Philly isn’t the only team with salary space to rent out as we approach the February 19 trade deadline.

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Thanks to the Celtics own flurry of trades, they have several trade exceptions to absorb players:

  • $12,909,090 (Rajon Rondo)
  • $5,000,000 (Brandan Wright)
  • $2,439,840 (Austin Rivers)
  • $1,334,092 (Kris Humphries)
  • $625,280 (Jameer Nelson)
  • $507,336 (Dwight Powell)

Those exceptions can’t be combined, so they’re not quite as flexible as Philadelphia’s cap space. But there are enough of them in varied sizes that it probably won’t matter.

The 76ers have one big advantage over Boston: They’re probably still below the salary floor. Any shortfall is charged to the team and divided among its players, so Philadelphia has to spend that money anyway. Might as well spend it in a way that convinces another team to surrender a drat pick, no matter how low.

For the Celtics, the added salary would be a real cost. So, they’ll likely be more particular about accepting dead weight – especially as they near the luxury-tax line, which they’re about $12 million shy of.

But this could be a good way for Danny Ainge to add to his treasure trove of drat picks. The Celtics aren’t trying to win this season anyway, so accepting an overpaid player with a pick attached carries only as much downside as the length of the player’s contract and the real costs associated with it.

This competition between the 76ers and Celtics is good for the rest of the league. It should drive down the cost of dumping bad contracts.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Boston will continue to stock up for the future.

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.