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Grizzlies GM Wallace on not trading Tyreke Evans: “offers weren’t sufficient”

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If you asked anyone around the NBA 24 hours before the trade deadline what one player was the most likely guy to get traded, the answer from executives to media members was always the same — Tyreke Evans. Memphis had pulled him away from the team in Indiana, sent him home to Memphis and told him he was out until they traded him.

Except they didn’t. Evans is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies.

What happened? Everyone knows Memphis wanted a first-round pick for Evans, but first-round picks were not available at this deadline. The Clippers couldn’t get one for Lou Williams (and he’s playing at an All-Star level this season). The only first-rounders moved all deadline were for Blake Griffin (a legit star) and to the Lakers in the Isaiah Thomas/Jordan Clarkson trade — and Cleveland has taken heat for throwing in a first for that deal (even their own first, in the mid-20s).

Friday, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace spoke to the media and explained the decision to keep Evans past the deadline, via the Associated Press.

“Basically, we felt that the offers weren’t sufficient for a player of Tyreke’s caliber and potential,” Wallace said. “And particularly they weren’t sufficient when weighed against the potential benefits of having him here for the rest of the season. So, we decided not to do anything.”

Potential benefits of keeping him around? For what? The Grizzlies are not making the playoffs this season, so his play is not that big a benefit. Maybe Evans is excellent in the locker room, maybe he makes a killer Lasagne and brings it in for team potlucks, but is that reason to keep him around? Wouldn’t two second-round picks have benefitted the team more as they try to upgrade the roster talent and save money? Or, how about getting Emmanuel Mudiay and a second-rounder out of Denver for him (that was on the table, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN)? Both those seem like better potential benefits.

More than likely, the Grizzlies are hoping that with a depressed market — Williams just re-signed for the Clippers for less than the full mid-level exception, and a team option on the third year — they can get Evans back for the mid-level (whether they can offer the full mid-level or tax-payer mid-level depends on other moves). In theory getting Mike Conley back from injury, with Evans and Marc Gasolwho was not available via trade — can make Memphis a playoff team again. If everything goes right.

However, if Evans makes more than $4 million next season — and he certainly will — all the Grizzlies can offer is the exception, and other teams can offer that or more. Whatever is offered the Grizzlies have no financial advantage to keep him. Evans is free to choose whichever team he wants.

Evans very well could be gone from Memphis this summer, and Memphis will have blown the chance to get anything for him. That said, he didn’t want to go anywhere, and he’s back with the team now, providing his benefits.

“I always wanted to stay here. It wasn’t like I asked for a trade,” Evans said. “I have a bond with my teammates. I was put in a situation where I thought I was going to be traded, but it didn’t happen.

“Everybody knows this is a business.”

 

Dikembe Mutombo to receive Sager Strong Award

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NEW YORK (AP) — Hall of Fame basketball player Dikembe Mutombo will receive the Sager Strong Award at this year’s NBA Awards show.

The award is named for longtime Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager and presented annually to an individual who has been a trailblazer while exemplifying courage, faith, compassion and grace.

Mutombo’s honor was announced Tuesday by the NBA and Turner.

The four-time Defensive Player of the Year created the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to improve conditions for people in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital has treated nearly a quarter of a million people since opening in 2007.

He will receive a colorful suit jacket, the kind Sager fashioned during his years on air before dying of leukemia. The award will be presented on June 25 in Santa Monica, California.

Former New Orleans coach Monty Williams was last year’s inaugural recipient.

Kyle Kuzma says Lonzo Ball hitting weight room hard this offseason

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It wasn’t just Lonzo Ball‘s awkward jumper that was a problem for him, so was his finishing around the rim — Ball shot less than 50 percent in the restricted area and 43.6 percent inside eight feet. In today’s NBA, he has to become more of a consistent scoring threat to open up his passing lanes.

Part of that is Ball getting physically stronger, something that also would help him avoid injuries and play in more than 52 games (what he did as a rookie). That part he is working on already, Kyle Kuzma told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

“Consistency in the weight room, that is the biggest thing,” Kuzma said on Tuesday of what he has seen out of Ball this offseason so far. “He has been in there pretty much every day I have been in here around this time. You can tell he is taking the weight room a lot more serious and that is going to help him by allowing him to recover faster and hopefully next year be on the court more because of that weight room.”

The Lakers are counting on the development of their young core — Ball, Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, etc. — as well as free agents they can attract this summer to lift them into the playoffs next season.

Magic Johnson told Ball this is going to be the most important summer of his life, that now he has to put in the work to take his body and game to the next level. To play like a No. 2 pick.

So far, so good.

Re-watch highlights from the final minutes of Houston’s series-tying win

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After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team ran out of gas, which is what led to their 3-of-18 fourth-quarter shooting and just 12 points. There’s some truth to that, particularly with Andre Iguodala out forcing other guys into the rotation and a heavier load on the stars.

But give the Rockets credit here.

Part of what wore down the Warriors was fantastic pressure defense from Houston that made Golden State really work on offense. As Golden State got tired, players settled for midrange jumpers, not getting to the rim much (three times in the quarter) and not having the legs under their threes (0-of-6 in the quarter).

Meanwhile, it wasn’t pretty, but James Harden and Chris Paul were making plays.

Check out those plays again in the video above — we finally got a good game in a series, we should savor that.

Steve Kerr on Warriors’ late possession vs. Rockets: “I wanted the timeout”

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The Houston Rockets leveled the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night by a margin of 95-92. The win for the Rockets was ugly, but it leveled the series at 2-2 heading back to Houston.

It was a close game down the stretch, and it looked like Golden State’s last chance to get the win was going to come on a possession with 11 seconds to go following a missed James Harden jumper.

The Warriors immediately turned up the floor and did not call a timeout. The resulting possession was messy, and it wound up ending on a difficult Klay Thompson turnaround jumper. Golden State would get another shot at a 3-pointer with half a second left thanks to a foul on Thompson’s miss, but many were still left wondering why Steve Kerr did not choose to call a timeout during the possession before.

Kerr addressed the decision after the game.

Via Twitter:

You sort of have to side with Kerr in principle, but if you’d seen the way the Warriors played the rest of that fourth quarter you would probably err on calling a timeout and letting them set something up. Curry was 1-of-8 in the fourth, Durant shot poorly most of the game, and Golden State scored 12 total points in the final period.

When you consider Curry got a look at a wide open 3-pointer in the corner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock when the Warriors did call a timeout on the next possession, it makes it look even worse.

In any case, Houston beat out Golden State in a close game and we’re headed back to Texas for Game 5 on Thursday.