Report: Timberwolves, Anthony Bennett talking buyout

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Anthony Bennett played well for Canada this summer — he averaged 7.6 points per game on 64.7 percent shooting, plus pulled down 5.4 rebounds a game in the FIBA Americas tournament. He had some quality games in the run-up to the tournament as well.

But that doesn’t easily translate to playing well in the NBA — and the Timberwolves aren’t going to wait around to find out if it’s going to this time.

Bennett and the Timberwolves are talking buyout, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Bennett is owed $5.8 million this season, with a team option for $7.3 million next season (part of his rookie contract). The Timberwolves need to buy one of their players out, they have 16 guaranteed contracts currently and can only carry 15 when the season starts.

This news comes just days after Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he thought Bennett would remain on the team. Minnesota had tried to trade Bennet before, but there were no takers. Minnesota got Bennett from Cleveland in the Kevin Love trade (remember the Timberwolves tried to spin it as “we got two No. 1 picks for Love, although all they really wanted was Andrew Wiggins). The Cavaliers took Bennett with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft in a surprise move (most teams had him ranked between eighth and out of the lottery).

Minnesota is stacked up front. They have a five-man big rotation already of Karl-Anthony Towns, Kevin Garnett, Gorgui Dieng, Nikola Pekovic, and Adreian Payne. They don’t need Bennett.

But some team should give him a shot. Bennett is just 22 and entering his third NBA season, and while he’s never going to be a star it is possible he could develop into a solid rotation player. Maybe. He’s shown flashes of quality play before — 2014 Summer League, for example — but he hasn’t been able to sustain that into the NBA regular season. He also hasn’t been healthy until recently, which impacted is conditioning (one of the bigger issues surrounding Bennett).

Canadian national team coach Jay Triano gave Bennett excellent advice — simplify the game, find a thing or two you’re good at and focus on doing those things exceptionally well. Bennett is athletic, long, and can run the floor, but all of his skill still need polishing. In the right developmental setting, maybe he can step up his game. It would be a roll of the dice, but one worth taking.

But that is apparently not going to be in Minnesota.

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.