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Report: Wes Wilcox wanted to trade Paul Millsap, Mike Budenholzer wanted to keep Hawks intact

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The Hawks reportedly explored trading Paul Millsap then told him they wouldn’t deal him last summer. During the season, they again reportedly put him on the market then told other teams, Millsap himself and the public he’d stay in Atlanta.

Why the confusion?

The answer could partially explain why the Hawks demoted Mike Budenholzer (former president) and Wes Wilcox (former general manager).

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

Sources said Wilcox wanted to move Millsap and go all-in on the rebuild, focusing on the team’s young talent like Schroeder, Hardaway and rookies Taurean Prince and DeAndre’ Bembry. But Budenholzer, who had the final say on personnel moves, and who had approved the trade of Teague to Indiana last summer, nixed any more potential deals.

Millsap’s future is first and foremost. (No matter who is picked as GM, Millsap will be dealing directly with Ressler on his contract going forward, I’m told.) Budenholzer and the owners want to do everything possible to re-sign him — “there’s no disagreement on whether we’re going to try and keep him, and whether he’s great for the Atlanta Hawks,” Ressler said.

If he’s negotiating directly with Hawks owner Tony Ressler, that bodes well for Millsap re-signing. Ressler said Atlanta would “make every effort imaginable to keep him” – which would presumably start with a max contract, projected to be worth $205 million over five years. Even Wilcox sounds on board (not that he has much choice once the boss sets the directive).

The Hawks are in a tough spot, forced to pay Millsap major money from age 32 to 37 or lose him for nothing. If they let him walk, they’d be saddled with a highly paid and maybe unhappy Dwight Howard and an only passable young core comprised of Dennis Schroder, Taurean Prince, Tim Hardaway Jr. and DeAndre’ Bembry. Keep Millsap, and the upside is a playoff series or two per year.

Trading Millsap would have prevented this dilemma, though it also might have kept Atlanta out of the playoffs this year.

At this point, moderate winning seems to be the Hawks’ preferred choice, but they don’t control the situation. As an unrestricted free agent, Millsap holds most of the cards.

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.