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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Basketball

Report: Rockets want Jimmy Butler in sign-and-trade deal

Jimmy Butler

The Houston Rockets see an opportunity to go for a championship next season with the Golden State Warriors dealing with injuries and are trying to pull off a big move this summer.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets are trying to convince Butler to persuade the Philadelphia 76ers to work a sign-and-trade deal with them.

A report last week said that the Rockets were expected to make an aggressive pursuit of Butler. Given the Rockets’ lack of salary cap space, many wondered how exactly they would make such a pursuit. But Woj says their effort would be to have Butler ask Philly for a sign-and-trade with Houston.

The Rockets could let the 76ers sign Butler to a larger deal using his Bird rights and then take on his contract, potentially offering them Clint Capela and Eric Gordon to make the salaries match in a deal.

Though the Rockets’ plan sounds dandy, the big question is whether Philly would have any motivation to make such a deal. They’re reportedly prepared to make a big effort to try and retain Butler. If Butler wants to leave, they might prefer to use the available money to re-sign Tobias Harris and/or JJ Redick rather than take on Capela, Gordon, or anyone else Houston offers. In that case, Butler would be able to sign elsewhere, but not with Houston due to their lack of space.

The Rockets would require cooperation from the Sixers to make this happen, and there’s no reason to believe they would get it.

JR Smith, Kyle Korver reportedly could be options for Lakers

JR Smith

The Los Angeles Lakers need to fill out their roster after agreeing to a trade for Anthony Davis, and a few familiar players could be options for them.

JR Smith and Kyle Korver are two players the Lakers could look at, with Yahoo’s Chris Haynes saying he believes Smith will end up with the Lakers.

A few things need to happen with each player first before they become available.

Smith only has a partial guarantee of the $15.7 million he is set to make for next season. The full amount becomes guaranteed on June 30, so the Cavaliers are looking to trade him to a team now that will try to pay him his minimal guarantee and then waive him so they can gain the cap space. If that happens, the Lakers could be a destination for him considering he has teamed with LeBron in Cleveland in the past.

Korver was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies as part of the Mike Conley trade. The Grizzlies may look to buy him out, at which point he could be an option for the Lakers. Like Smith, he played with LeBron in the past and offers the kind of 3-point shooting James needs around him. Korver is set to make $7.5 million next season. Only $3.44 million would be guaranteed if he is waived before July 7.

Report: Mavericks will offer Kristaps Porzingis max contract

Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis has yet to step on the floor for the Dallas Mavericks after they acquired him in a trade with the New York Knicks back in February, but the team is ready to commit as much money as possible to the star big man.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that the Mavericks are expected to meet with Porzingis at the start of free agency, and they plan to offer him a max contract worth $158 million.

Porzingis will almost certainly accept, especially given that he is coming off a major injury and will not have played in over a year when the 2019-20 season tips off. The 7-foot-3 forward is scheduled to become a restricted free agent a year from now.

Porzingis has made headlines for the wrong reason on more than one occasion since the trade, but the Mavericks clearly don’t have any character concerns with him. He was involved in a physical altercation in his home country of Latvia last month that left him bleeding from the head, but the Mavericks have said he was attacked and won’t be disciplined by the team. Porzingis’ attorney also says the allegations that surfaced against him prior to that incident are unfounded.

Knicks only willing to give these three players a max contract?

Kevin Durant

The New York Knicks are hoping this will be the summer they can start turning things around for their tormented franchise, but they are not going to panic and recklessly spend money just to make a big splash.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks are only willing to offer a max contract to Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. They might consider offering that kind of money to Kemba Walker, but only if Durant agrees to sign first and wants to play with the point guard. If the Knicks miss out on Durant, Leonard and Irving, Berman says president Steve Mills is comfortable signing a few “savvy veterans” to one-year deals and saving his salary cap space for next summer.

Knicks fans would probably consider that a disaster of an offseason, but it makes some sense. Anthony Davis is still scheduled to become a free agent a year from now, and he reportedly wants to sign long-term with either the Los Angeles Lakers or Knicks. If things don’t go well in LA this year, it would not be out of the question that he will want to leave.

Of course, Berman’s reported offseason plan means the Knicks are not willing to offer max money to Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler. Neither of those players are in the same class as a Durant and Leonard, so teams that are willing to sign them to max deals probably want them as their second-biggest or third-biggest star.

All indications are that the Knicks are willing to sign Durant to a max contract even though his torn Achilles is expected to keep him out for all of next season. But if you believe what Andre Iguodala said this week, Knicks fans may have to wait at least another year for their franchise to find its next savior.

Report: Patrick Beverley, Mavericks view each other as ‘perfect fit’

Patrick Beverley is expected to draw plenty of interest on the free agent market next month, but the Dallas Mavericks may have the best chance of signing him if they are willing to offer the right deal.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News reports that Beverley is a top target for the Mavericks, and the veteran guard and the team view one another as a “perfect fit.” The two sides are expected to meet at the start of free agency, and whether or not Dallas signs Beverley will depend upon their salary cap situation and how much money the 30-year-old commands.

In other words, Beverley and the Mavs want to make something work. However, Beverley has already hinted that he is going to follow the money, so that could create an obstacle.

It makes sense for the Mavericks to want to pair a defensive-minded guard with Luka Doncic, and that is exactly what Beverley is. He averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 assists per game in 78 appearances for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, and he was one of the most important players on a team that surprisingly won 48 games. He would be a nice addition for Dallas.

Lakers reportedly have meeting set with D’Angelo Russell

The Los Angeles Lakers have been viewed as a logical fit for D’Angelo Russell if he ends up leaving the Brooklyn Nets, and the team appears to agree that the star point guard is worth a second look.

Fred Roggin of NBC LA reported on Tuesday that the Lakers have already scheduled a meeting with Russell, who is set to become a restricted free agent.

The Nets will have the ability to match any offer Russell receives, but they may not be motivated to do so if they sign Kyrie Irving and/or Kevin Durant. The Lakers have a need at point guard after trading Lonzo Ball as part of a package to land Anthony Davis, so a reunion makes plenty of sense

Russell had a breakout season with the Nets last year. He averaged a career-high 21.1 points and 7.0 assists per game and was named to his first All-Star team. All signs point to him at least entertaining the thought of a reunion now that Magic Johnson is no longer a part of LA’s front office, and something he said a couple years back makes it seem like the Lakers have assembled his dream roster.

Report: Celtics emerging as suitor for Kemba Walker

Kemba Walker

The Boston Celtics may be dealing with a lot of changeover and at least two star players leaving in free agency this summer, but that does not mean general manager Danny Ainge is going to accept not being competitive next season.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that the Celtics are gaining traction as a “stealth suitor” for Kemba Walker. While they still have some major details to sort out, they could have plenty of salary cap space if both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford sign elsewhere.

Walker has plenty of history with the New England area, as he put UConn on his back and led the Huskies to a national title back in 2011. The 29-year-old is eligible for a supermax contract and has expressed a desire to remain with the Charlotte Hornets, but he has also given hints that money will not be the deciding factor for him.

Replacing Irving with Walker would be close to a lateral move for Boston. While Irving is a better player overall, Walker averaged a career-high 25.6 points last season and has tremendous leadership ability. The problems Irving had leading the Celtics this past season were well documented, so perhaps Walker would be a better fit.