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Grizzlies Pursue Jeff Green, Luol Deng

FRIDAY, 3:09pm: Discussion is heating up between Memphis and Boston about Green, reports Marc Stein of (Twitter link). “Hurdles” remain as the teams talk, but the Grizzlies are more serious in their pursuit of Green than any other team in the league, Stein adds (on Twitter).

THURSDAY, 2:12pm: There’s nothing going on regarding Deng, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra insisted today, and Deng added that he isn’t trying to force his way off the struggling Heat, notes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post (Twitter links).

1:36pm: The Grizzlies called the Heat to see if Deng was available, but the conversation didn’t advance from there, tweets Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. Presumably, that means the Heat aren’t open to trading him.

12:05pm: Boston’s asking price for Green is high, Zillgitt hears (Twitter link), though while the Celtics have made it known that they want a first-round pick in return for him, the prevailing belief around the league is that they’ll ultimately agree to take less, according to Chris Mannix of (on Twitter). President of basketball operations Danny Ainge called Green “our best player this year” in a radio appearance this morning with Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of Memphis’ first-round pick for 2015 is already promised to the Nuggets, the protections on the pick would make it difficult for the Grizzlies to convey a pick to another team anytime soon.

10:10am: The Celtics, Grizzlies and Cavs had discussed a three-team scenario that would have sent Green to Memphis, Koufos to Cleveland, and draft compensation to Boston, Lowe reports (Twitter links). The Cavs’ acquisition of Timofey Mozgov on Wednesday threw a wrench in that idea, Lowe adds.

9:14am: The Grizzlies are actively trying to pry Luol Deng from the Heat or Jeff Green from the Celtics, reports Marc Stein of Any offer Memphis makes is likely to include Tayshaun Prince and draft picks, Stein adds. Still, no deal is imminent, the ESPN scribe cautions.

Memphis, along with the Clippers and Pelicans, inquired about Green before the Rajon Rondo trade last month, as USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt reported then, though the Celtics were uninterested in trading him. Boston turned down an offer from the Lakers that included Jordan Hill, a first-round pick, and perhaps more, Zillgitt also reported at the time. Now, people around the league believe that Green is available, according to Stein, so perhaps Boston’s position has changed. Green has played well this season, as I noted when I looked at his trade candidacy, so the Celtics can capitalize on that to extract a strong return if they’re prepared to do so.

It’s unclear whether the Heat would be willing to part with Deng, who signed with the team just this past summer, though some around the league wonder whether the Heat are ready to start collecting assets for the future, Stein writes. Miami is 15-20 and occupies the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Prince and Kosta Koufos reportedly drew interest from the Cavs prior to their flurry of moves this week, but Memphis resisted a shakeup amid a strong start. The Grizzlies are 25-10 and still in third place in the Western Conference, but they’ve shown an eagerness for an upgrade, making a push to sign Josh Smith before he instead went to the Rockets. They “kicked around” the idea of trading Koufos, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe wrote late last month, around the time Brian Windhorst of identified the Kings as a suitor for the backup center.

A $3.135MM trade exception that Memphis netted from the deal that sent Jerryd Bayless to Boston last year expired Wednesday. Still, it was unlikely that the Grizzlies would have used it, since adding a player with a salary close to that figure would have put the team over the tax line, as Stein points out (on Twitter). Memphis is only about $1MM shy of the tax threshold, so the team would likely be careful to match salaries closely in any trade involving Green or Deng. Green is making $9.2MM this year with a player option for the same salary next season, while Deng is on the books for more than $9.714MM this season and holds a player option worth nearly $10.152MM for 2015/16.

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