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Report: Magic close to trading Channing Frye to Clippers, unless Clippers send Lance Stephenson elsewhere

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Lance Stephenson is the Clippers’ best ticket to improvement.

Increasingly, it appears that will be because of his de facto $9 million expiring contract. (His team option for next season is a practical lock to be declined.)

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Channing Frye is a quality role player, and the stretch big would give the Clippers more versatility.

He’s a legitimate 3-point threat, unlike the Clippers’ rangiest big – Blake Griffin, who’s comfort zone extends only to mid-range. DeAndre Jordan and Cole Aldrich don’t even get that far. The Clippers have improved their spacing with Griffin sidelined by using small forwards at power forward, but Frye has the size to defend the post a little better.

Frye is a solid positional defender. But at 32, he lacks the athleticism to really excel on that end. The Clippers should be in position to limit his exposure there.

Likewise, Frye is at his best spotting up beyond the 3-point arc and waiting for teammates to find him. A team with Chris Paul and Griffin – one of the NBA’s best-passing bigs – should suffice. J.J. Redick zipping around screens and Jordan rolling to the rim would only draw more attention from Frye.

That’d be the ideal for the Clippers’ primary goal – a long playoff run. In the meantime, Frye could fill a bigger role with Griffin sidelined.

For the Magic, this would mostly be a salary dump. The deal would give Orlando an extra $7,134,897 in cap space next summer – the difference between Wilcox’s ($1,209,600) and Frye’s ($8,344,497) 2016-17 salaries.

C.J. Wilcox, the No. 28 pick in the 2014 draft, has played just 29 games in two years for the Clippers. He showed 3-and-D potential in college, but at age 25, he could use a change of scenery. He’s worth Orlando taking a flyer on. The second-rounder is another asset with at least a chance to provide value.

Lance Stephenson would be involved just to facilitate the trade with his salary. Orlando would obviously decline his team option in conjunction with waiving him.

Orlando acquired a better stretch big in Ersan Ilyasova earlier today in the Tobias Harris trade, another deal that increased the Magic’s 2016 cap space. They appear to be setting up to try a bigger move then.

Especially if they can make this deal with the Clippers.

The Cavaliers have a trade exception large enough to absorb Frye’s $8,193,029 salary. But doing so without sending out any salary would increase Cleveland’s impending luxury-tax bill by $35,947,181. That seems exhorinant for Frye, whose salary for next season would also complicate Cleveland’s financial picture.

This reads like Orlando trying to pressure the Clippers into getting the deal done.

Devin Booker not a fan of being doubled during pick-up run (VIDEO)

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This is going to turn into a thing. It shouldn’t, but it’s the NBA offseason and people are looking for something to talk about, so this — which is really not much of anything — will become a thing. And it’s going to suck for Devin Booker.

Booker was taking part in some summer run, got a pass in the corner, decided to hold the ball and hold the ball, then the double team came. Booker was no fan of the double.

We just do not have enough context from this video to say much. It’s some guys jawing during open gym — if you’ve played five minutes of pickup ball anywhere you know this is how it goes.

But, Booker comes off in this clip as a bit whiny. So for some it will become a thing. Even though it shouldn’t.

It’s going to be interesting to see how different Devin Booker’s game looks next season next to a quality NBA point guard in Ricky Rubio. It could lead to another step forward for the young guard, but like this video we will need to see more before commenting.

Tacko Fall’s agent confident if Celtics don’t keep him on roster another team will

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Tacko Fall was arguably the most popular player at Las Vegas Summer League (especially since Zion Williamson only played nine minutes). Fans chanted for him to get in games and then chanted “M-V-P” once he was in. Fall averaged 7.2 points a game on 77 percent shooting at Summer League and every play he made became a viral highlight.

But that was Summer League.

Now things are getting real and Fall is trying to make the Celtics’ roster. Fall signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Celtics, which is essentially a training camp invite.

It’s a longshot Fall makes the Celtics’ regular season roster for two reasons. First, Fall needs a lot more development to be NBA ready, both physically and in terms of understanding and reacting to the game and how fast it moves. That was evident in Las Vegas. Second, the Celtics have Enes Kanter starting at center with Daniel Theis and Robert Williams behind him, it’s unlikely they keep a fourth traditional center on the roster. Both of Boston’s two-way contracts are already filled.

If the Celtics cut Fall and he signs with Boston’s G-League affiliate the Maine Red Claws, Fall gets a $50,000 bonus.

However, Fall’s agent Justin Haynes says if Boston cuts Fall he believes another team will sign him, something Haynes told Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe.

“If the Celtics release him, I don’t think he goes unclaimed,” said Haynes, Fall’s agent. “I think somebody will take a shot on him because he’s done enough to show he can find a place in the NBA. I’m really hopeful that it’s Boston. I hope they find a way, and they do have a vision for him.”

I could see another team giving Fall one of their two-way contracts, but he needs a lot more development and time on the court. He needs time in the G-League. Maybe a team gives him a roster spot and develops him there, but that seems unlikely. Fall has the potential to be an NBA player, but it’s going to take a lot of work for him to get there.

Work that this year likely will take place in the G-League.

Gregg Popovich shows off some handles, and a midrange game (VIDEO)

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This is where you insert your “if one more player drops from USA Basketball” joke…

Team USA has flown to Australia for a series of FIBA World Cup tuneup games — two against Australia, one against Canada — and they are practicing there for a few days prior to those games. At one of those practices, USA (and Spurs) coach Gregg Popovich showed off a little behind-the-back dribble and midrange game, and Donovan Mitchell caught it on his camera and posted it.

Just as a reminder, Pop did play. Never in the NBA, but he was one of the last cuts of the 1972 USA Olympic team.

That said, I think the coaching gig worked out pretty well for him.

Team USA will play Australia on Aug. 22 and 24, then face Canada on Aug. 26. From there the USA flies to China where its first game is Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.

Atlanta Hawks promote, extend contract of GM Travis Schlenk

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Trae Young. John Collins. Kevin Huerter. De’Andre Hunter. Cam Reddish.

The Atlanta Hawks have quietly built one of the more intriguing young teams in the NBA the past couple of years, trading up and down in the draft to compile a young roster with a lot of potential. They moved on from Mike Budenholzer (he landed on his feet just fine, thanks) and brought in player development specialist in Llyod Pierce as coach. All that has yet to translate to a lot of wins, but it will — the trajectory of the Hawks is going to take off like a rocket.

Travis Schlenk, the Hawks general manager and architect of all of it, earned the contract extension and new title he was given, something announced by the team on Monday. Schlenk is now Atlanta’s President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.

“We are extremely pleased with the direction that Travis and our entire basketball operations team has us heading as a franchise. He has used the draft to build an impressive young core, hired one of the NBA’s top young coaches in Lloyd Pierce and positioned us to have the cap space, draft picks and financial flexibility needed to have long-term success in the NBA,” Hawks Principal Owner Tony Ressler said in a statement announcing the move.

Schlenk had been an assistant GM in Golden State before coming to Atlanta, and also had spent time in the Miami and Orlando organizations. He’s been in the NBA front office game for a couple of decades.

This is a smart decision by the Hawks. When things are going well, when you have good people in place, keep them there and get ownership out of the way. Let the basketball people do their jobs. Atlanta has figured that out.

The Hawks won 24 games during Schlenk’s first year and 29 last season, but expect that number to jump as the young talent on this roster continues to mature and get added to.