Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Every weekday morning, Ball Don't Lie serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your porridge.

Marcus Thompson, Contra Costa Times: "So the Jamal Crawford(notes) camp is elated about his being traded to Atlanta. I’m told by team sources the Warriors have agreed in principle. The deal can’t be completed until the 2009-10 season begins on July 1. Crawford gets to play point guard on a playoff team. Plus, his son lives in Atlanta with his mom. The Warriors are elated, too. In essence, they are trading $19 million over the next two years for about $4 million. Speedy Claxton’s(notes) $5.2 million will likely be covered mostly by insurance (I think 80 percent) as the injured point guard isn’t expected to play. Law is scheduled to make $2.2 million next season. I've been told by Warriors insiders that neither Claxton nor Law is the Warriors’ answer to their point guard solutions. They are still in the market for a PG, so this trade does not rule out them drafting a point guard."

Jonathan Feigen, The Houston Chronicle: "While the Rockets spent the days leading up to tonight’s NBA draft trying to acquire the selection they lack, other teams have been interested in something the Rockets already have. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey described other teams’ pursuit of Tracy McGrady(notes) and the final season of his contract as 'very aggressive.' Morey seemed more interested in finding a way into the draft. But unlike last year, when he considered McGrady untouchable and even had him in Rockets owner Leslie Alexander’s office on draft night, Morey said he would consider offers. 'We’re getting a lot of interest on Tracy, and I do have to listen,' Morey said. 'It’s my job to make this team as ready to win the title as possible. I think the reason we are going to have a pretty high bar on moving him is because he still provides exactly what coach and I thought we were missing, which was a guy who can get a high-quality shot at the end of the game.'"

John Canzano, The Oregonian: "Portland has about $7.5 million in salary-cap flexibility for free agency this summer. It's good money, but not enough to make a dream come true. And so if we're reading the tea leaves and talking about the big picture — and we need to today — the Blazers are busy squeezing money off the payroll. Meanwhile, in Chicago, point guard Kirk Hinrich(notes) (aka "Captain Kirk") is apparently telling friends he thinks the Blazers are going to trade for him. A high-ranking league executive told me Wednesday that Portland is focused on free agency and freeing up as much lettuce as it possibly can. He said the Blazers would be sellers, not buyers, today. The Blazers are young enough. I don't see the point of selecting at No. 22 and picking another talented young player and extending the wait. If they can land Hinrich, and create some flexibility in free agency, the day would be a huge success."

Kate Fagan, Philadelphia Inquirer: "An NBA source has confirmed that Stefanski has shopped power forward Elton Brand(notes), last off-season's blockbuster acquisition. That same source indicated Brand is unlikely to be traded because he has four years and $65 million left on his deal and has health concerns because his last two seasons ended in injury. On Tuesday, Stefanski said he has inquired about moving up in the draft, but that the price has been too steep, with most teams wanting 'an integral piece from our team.' Stefanski named his young guys — Marreese Speights(notes), Thaddeus Young(notes), Lou Williams, and Jason Smith(notes) — as players other teams wanted in exchange. 'We're exploring moving up and moving back,' Stefanski said, adding that 'unless the demands get less, we won't be doing that.'"

Frank Isola, New York Daily News: "The Knicks are on the verge of acquiring the second pick of the NBA draft. The second pick of the 2003 draft, that is. A deal that would send Quentin Richardson(notes) to Memphis for Darko Milicic(notes), the player selected after LeBron James(notes) and before Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Dwyane Wade(notes), is close to being finalized. The 7-foot Milicic has been a disappointment since entering the league but he would give the Knicks a shot-blocker on their front line. Both Milicic and Richardson are entering the last year of their contracts. 'We're just having conversations,' said one Knicks source. 'Nothing is done yet.'"

Jerry Zgota, The Star Tribune: "Highlights from David Kahn's Wednesday news conference confirming Tuesday's trade that sends Randy Foye(notes) and Mike Miller(notes) to Washington for tonight's fifth pick and front-court players Etan Thomas(notes), Darius Songaila(notes) and Oleksiy Pecherov(notes) ... He said he definitely will not trade the fifth and sixth picks for Memphis' No. 2. 'I want to be really clear on this,' he said. 'We will not do that under no circumstances.' ... He said he's not selling the 28th pick to New York for $3 million. For now. He called it one of many options and offers and indicated many teams have called offering the maximum $3 million for a pick."

Ronald Tillery, The Memphis Commercial Appeal: "Just because the Grizzlies are thinking big on the eve of this year's NBA draft doesn't mean they've settled on using the No. 2 overall pick to select 7-3 center Hasheem Thabeet. Or any player, for that matter. The Griz are just as likely to trade the pick — and it appears that is their preference. Exercising the second pick — almost certainly on Thabeet — in Thursday's draft will be Plan B, given how much the team's decision-makers have focused on trade scenarios involving up to five teams. 'The water still is a little muddy,' general manager Chris Wallace said. 'There are a lot of contingencies to go over before the draft.' The Grizzlies' goal has been twofold: acquire a proven NBA player or two and move down in the draft with former University of Memphis guard Tyreke Evans, Davidson's Stephen Curry or Arizona State's James Harden as targets. Memphis believes it can best maximize this high lottery position by coming away with multiple players who are ready to contribute."

Marc J. Spears, The Boston Globe: "The agent for Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo(notes) criticized team president Danny Ainge last night for being critical of his client yesterday morning on WEEI’s 'Dennis & Callahan' radio program. During the interview, Ainge commented that Rondo has 'got to grow up,' and added, 'his presence hurt us' against Orlando in the Eastern Conference semifinals, that Rondo wasn’t a 'max contract player,' and acknowledged Rondo was fined for being tardy to postseason games. 'I am just surprised that Danny is speaking, even if he considers it constructively, in a public setting [about Rondo],' agent Bill Duffy said in a phone interview. 'I don’t think that it’s appropriate to say that about one of your top players. Even if it’s spoken constructively, I don’t think it should be done in public. I don’t think [Ainge] would like it if [Celtics managing partner] Wyc [Grousbeck] was talking about him in public.' [...] The Louisville, Ky., native will make $2.09 million next season, his last year under his rookie contract, and the Celtics have from July 1 through Oct. 31 to sign him to an extension. If they don’t, he will likely be a coveted restricted free agent in the highly anticipated 2010 market."

Darnell Mayberry, The Oklahoman: "The burning question following the fourth pick in last year’s NBA Draft was posed in a single word. 'Who?' One year later, Oklahoma is no longer questioning its team’s decision-making. Ask a Thunder fan who they want with the third pick in tonight’s draft and you’ll likely be met with a counter that forfeits opinion and exudes faith. 'Whoever Sam Presti is having.' It’s a stance that almost comes as a shock when you consider the Thunder is still days away from only its one-year anniversary in Oklahoma City. But it’s taken Presti, the team’s general manager, less than 365 days to secure a stranglehold on his fan base’s trust and support. Presti will make his decision tonight, and the fans will live with it. The pick (or trade) could come as a complete shock, but the benefit of the doubt would reign supreme. 'I’m on the in-Sam-we-trust bandwagon,' said Bobby Wester, a fan from Oklahoma City. It’s a view that’s shared by many but one that doesn’t stop at the fans. It’s extends throughout the league, shared by scouts and coaches, GMs and owners, agents and analysts. It’s a testament to Presti prestige."

Frank Zicarelli, Toronto Sun: "Their situations are identical, their circumstances similar and their future with their current employer just as cloudy. The only difference between Chris Bosh(notes) and Dwyane Wade, outside from a playing perspective, involves perception and paranoia. Everyone seems to be writing Bosh off in Toronto. Everyone seems to be caught up in this imaginary world that would see Bosh join Wade in Miami. In Toronto, Bosh's every word gets taken out of context or it gets twisted to serve some agenda. The Raptors have been in existence since 1995, but the media in this market, in all forms, continues to be uneducated and easily swayed by the most baseless gossip. The bottom line with Bosh and Wade is that both players want to win because each will get the maximum amount of money available under whatever cap rules exist. It's as simple as that, even though too many people attempt to complicate matters."

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