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As the Boston Celtics continue working to include forward Tayshaun Prince in a trade package, the organization plans to be accommodating with him on a contract buyout after the trade deadline should no deal emerge, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
As a free agent, Prince could become the most coveted player on the market this month – with the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers promising to be strong contenders, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Prince is a native of Los Angeles.
Prince, 34, is still capable of delivering solid minutes off the bench for a contender. The balance of his $7.7 million expiring deal makes it hard for Boston to find short-term expiring contracts in return for Prince.
After missing out on Amar'e Stoudemire, the Clippers' best chance to improve themselves for the playoff run will be securing a player – preferably Prince – on the free-agent market. For now, they simply don't have assets to make a deal for a difference-maker.
Nevertheless, the Clippers have probed the market with Jamal Crawford to see if there's a way to acquire a first-round pick that could help them make a competitive offer to Denver for Wilson Chandler or Arron Afflalo, league sources said. The Clippers have also had a continuing interest with Phoenix's Gerald Green, sources said.
The Clippers need a wing player so badly, they even took a hard look at Charlotte's Lance Stephenson in recent weeks, sending a scout to observe him for two games, league sources said. The Clippers moved on, without pursuing serious discussions.
Sacramento coach George Karl could try to add one assistant to the Kings staff for the balance of this season – perhaps Philadelphia's Vance Walberg – but he's already started to formulate possibilities for next season and beyond.
Among them, Karl plans to consider the assistant-coaching candidacy of Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Spurs hired the NBA's first full-time female assistant, Becky Hammon, this season. Lieberman coached the Dallas Mavericks' D-League team, leading it to the playoffs in 2010. She was also a GM and coach in the WNBA.
Several teams are hoping Jameer Nelson finds his way to a contract buyout and free agency this month, but currently Denver has no plans to cut him loose, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Nelson has a guaranteed deal for 2015-16, and Denver acquired him in a trade for Nate Robinson with the idea of keeping him.
Minnesota has two veterans open to moves to contenders – Kevin Martin and Thaddeus Young – but T'wolves president and coach Flip Saunders has shown little inclination to trade them, league sources said.
Portland has shown a stronger desire to make a deal with Denver for Wilson Chandler than Arron Afflalo, partly because Chandler is under contract next season. The Blazers have made Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, as well as a future first-rounder, available in talks for wing players, but clearly would be more motivated to sweeten a package for Chandler than Afflalo, league sources said.
Once Afflalo likely moves at the trade deadline, some teams unable to acquire him will likely take a longer look at Minnesota's Chase Budinger. Teams love his ability to spread the floor, but the fact he has a player option for $5 million in 2015-16 has been a hurdle for teams trying to keep financial flexibility, league sources said.
In a looming restricted free agency this summer, Golden State's Draymond Green has a significant interest with pursuing an offer sheet with his hometown Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Green has loved playing with the Warriors and winning, and naturally Golden State is determined to find a way to retain him. Still, the Warriors' salary structure almost dictates that Green has to go onto the market and get an offer sheet for them to match in July.
If the offer is too rich to match, the chance for Green to return to his beloved home state – where he grew up in Saginaw and played at Michigan State in East Lansing – has long intrigued him, sources said. Green still spends most of his time away from the NBA in Michigan.
Within the Warriors, there's a natural hesitation to pay Green more than the below-max extension of Klay Thompson that starts at $15.5 million next season, and Detroit has the motivation and space to complicate matters. Politically, it would be easier for the Warriors to pay Green more than Thompson because of matching an offer sheet that would cause them to lose him, versus simply making the offer themselves.
Detroit will likely lose Greg Monroe to free agency, clearing the way to make an aggressive run at Green. For the Pistons to have a chance to pry Green away, they'll have to be willing to push an offer closer to a maximum contract – or perhaps a max – to give themselves a real chance to acquire Green.
For the Warriors to find a way to keep Green, they'll have to move David Lee and the $15 million owed him in the 2015-16 season. Ownership has instructed management in Golden State that it doesn't need to find a deal for Lee before the trade deadline, because the organization simply doesn't want to upset the balance and chemistry of a championship contender.
Nevertheless, there are teams with interest in working deals for Lee that would include them receiving assets – primarily draft considerations – for taking on his salary and those could be options for Golden State before the deadline on Thursday, league sources said.
Utah's Enes Kanter wants a chance to be traded to a team that will have his Bird rights in restricted free agency this summer, and that's something the Jazz would only do for a considerable return, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The emergence of center Rudy Gobert with the Jazz could make Kanter more expendable, but rival front offices who have checked with the Jazz believe so far that nothing short of a good young player and a first-round pick will pry Kanter before Thursday's deadline.
Nevertheless, there are multiple teams with interest in Kanter, who many believe still can become a legitimate force on frontlines. As a restricted free agent this summer, Kanter could command $10 million-plus in this climate, and teams offering assets for him likely need to be ready to pay it.
Jazz management and Kanter's representative have been working peacefully together on Kanter's situation, free of acrimony.
Orlando Magic management remains reluctant to unload forward Andrew Nicholson for a marginal return, still wondering how a new coach next season would better utilize him offensively, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Jacque Vaughn and his interim successor, James Borrego, have been unable and unwilling to incorporate his inside-outside scoring abilities into their simplistic offensive systems. …Veteran point guard Bobby Brown finished his China season, and is a consideration for a few teams searching for backup point guards.