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May 7, 2015 Updates

The big blockbusters have not done much for the Nets. So now General Manager Billy King is looking to improve from within. Just don’t rule out another trade. Keeping Brook Lopez is the priority, while moving Deron Williams and Joe Johnson could be options if King decides to break up the Nets’ core. “Joe may have summed it up best,” King said Wednesday. “It may be the group, just together — maybe it’s time to maybe split it up, or maybe add to it to help them. So we’ll look to add to complement them, to make them better. Or do you look to maybe move a piece to add some other pieces to it?” New York Times

”Without Brook Lopez, there’s no way we even get to where we go to this year. What you saw in the playoffs, teams are double-teaming, game-planning how to stop him. And so that to me, when you’ve got a guy that can average 20 and is rebounding the basketball and getting double-doubles, there’s not a lot of guys that can do that.” New York Times

He did, however, acknowledge that it may behoove the organization to take a step backwards in order to reach Ujiri's oft-stated goal of long-term excellence. "That's an option," Ujiri told TSN. "Everything we are going to do is going to be what's good for this organization and competing for a championship in the future." The Score

May 6, 2015 Updates
May 5, 2015 Updates

The Celtics canvassed the league last year looking for a team willing to give up a disgruntled star, but there were none available, and there are not likely to be many available this summer, either. They might pursue, say, DeMarcus Cousins or Chandler Parsons should the Kings or Mavericks begin a deconstruction, but it is unlikely either of those guys gets moved in the end. One of the consequences of the coming salary cap explosion is that teams that might otherwise be wringing their hands over a potential luxury tax hit — the Warriors, Bulls, Clippers and Thunder, for instance — figure to be more willing to absorb the blow with knowledge that it’s a one-year indulgence. So players that might otherwise be on the market — Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, DeAndre Jordan, Enes Kanter, etc. — aren’t likely to leave their current teams, nor are those teams finding it necessary to trade players to clear space to keep them. The Celtics have cap space available and Danny Ainge will continue to burn up phone lines trying to find a feature player, but don’t expect him to come up with anything just yet. Sporting News

There might be some slippage on defense, but Houston has done fine on that end with Jason freaking Terry, and it has the trade assets to entice Denver: the Pelicans’ pick in this draft, plus two young bigs in Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas.4 But don’t count out the Celtics just because they have Thomas — a warning that should apply to lots of teams with established starting point guards. Lawson is really good, and Denver’s thinning trade market presents opportunity for a surprise suitor to strike. Denver will need a point guard if it deals Lawson,5 and the Celtics acquired Thomas in part because his cheapo contract is so easy to trade. Grantland

One scenario on the personnel grapevine gaining steam is the notion that the Spurs could elect to explore the possibility of dealing away Tiago Splitter to create more financial flexibility. Splitter has two years left on his contract valued at just under $17 million and is quietly regarded as a key contributor in San Antonio given how well he fits as a frontcourt sidekick next to Duncan. But if you're the Spurs -- and if the increasingly loud rumbles about Aldridge having San Antonio as the preferred destination atop his wish list prove true -- examining Splitter's trade market might suddenly become unavoidable. ESPN.com

Will Batum be on the Blazers roster next season to avenge his bad play? He’s scheduled to make around $11.8 million for the 2015-16 season, which is the final of his four-year contract. There have been rumblings the Blazers could look to move Batum this offseason, maybe around draft time, where GM Neil Olshey promised the team would be “very active.” Asked about the possibility of being traded this offseason, Batum said: “If that happens, it happens. That’s the business, I understand that. I mean, I can’t control that. All I can control is what I put on the court. I know what I am going to do this summer is try to get better.” CSNNW.com

May 4, 2015 Updates

The Nets can go two different routes, depending on how their salary-cap situation plays out. If they move far enough below the projected “hard cap” of $85 million, they could potentially use the full $5.464 million mid-level exception, the $2.139 million bi-annual exception and be eligible to make sign-and-trades in which they receive a player signing a new contract. However, that would mean the Nets would not be allowed to go above $85 million in spending at any point during the 2015-16 season. New York Post

Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists in his 46 regular-season appearances for the Mavs. He then played just 37 total minutes in the playoffs before exiting Game 2 with a back injury, leaving the team shortly after that while seeking additional medical opinions. Still, according to team president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks wouldn’t hesitate to make the trade again in order to increase their odds of securing a second title in franchise history. “That was definitely something worth pulling the trigger on,” Nelson explained. “In our opinion, that was kind of the one piece that was missing. … We’ve had a history of doing well with pass-first point guards. Sometimes, when things are written down on paper, they look great. When things are going into the oven, they feel great. And a lot of times, when it comes out, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It was one of those things that in our estimation certainly wasn’t risk-free, but it was certainly worth the risk. If we would’ve had to do it all over again, we would’ve pulled the trigger again.” mavs.com

May 3, 2015 Updates

Once considered an untouchable on the Nuggets' roster, the point guard's actions over the past two years have done everything to remove himself from that space. His new reality? He's as susceptible to the next good trade offer as any other tradeable player in the NBA. If Lawson wants to remain with the Nuggets, he has an uphill battle to convince the organization there are enough good reasons to put him back on the untouchable list. And there isn't enough time to completely turn the tide by one of the biggest wheeling-and-dealing times of the year, the June draft. Denver Post

During the latter stages of the regular season, word circulated throughout the league that Lawson wanted out of Denver. While that does not appear to be the case right now, it was clear that former Nuggets coach Brian Shaw and Lawson did not get along, and that left Shaw in position time and again to try to explain why he couldn't get Lawson to be more aggressive. Denver Post

May 2, 2015 Updates

Joe Johnson, the team’s highest-paid player, knows this perhaps better than anyone else. From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: “I have no idea. Something’s going to happen. I don’t know what. I don’t see us coming back as the same team. This is my third year here. I could see if we were getting better each year, but it’s kind of been the opposite. So to not even be a .500 ball club in the East. It’s disheartening and I don’t know. I think everyone in that locker room is unsure of the future here. So we’ll see what happens going into the summer.” NBCSports.com

May 1, 2015 Updates

The Kings want to make a playoff run next season with DeMarcus Cousins as the centerpiece of the franchise, league sources told CSNCalifornia.com. The Celtics reportedly have significant interest in Cousins and are expected to utilize their bevy of draft picks to secure the 6-foot-11 center from Sacramento, according to an ESPN report. CSNBayArea.com

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